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Last updateTue, 23 Apr 2019 4pm

Features

The Perks of Creating Your Own Blog

Creating Own BlogWhen people hear the word “blog,” they think of a place to put someone’s opinion. However, the dictionary defines it as, “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” One thing that I think both are missing is the fact that blogs are basically an online portfolio for the writer/creator, and it can serve as a platform where they can find their writing voice and style.

Nicole Notar, a senior communication student, started her blog (itsnikkiscorner.com) as a simple one that she didn’t keep up with routinely. Once she got into her Social Media in Public Relations course with Mary Harris,  a specialist professor of communication, she was forced to keep on it to help it grow. “Then, I started my freelance business little by little and added my own work to it,” Notar said.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes; a push from someone to create something that they know we’re capable of. There are people in our lives that know we can do more than we let on or credit ourselves with. If you listen to them, something pretty amazing can come from it.

“Now, it’s bigger than I thought, but I love it and I’m so proud of it,” Notar said. Through her blog that displays her freelance work with companies, press releases she’s worked on, along with beauty and fashion related posts, she’s been able to receive products to review. Her blog is an extensive online portfolio of work that she has done over her college career, and it’s very impressive.

She credits Harris with how her freelance business and blog has turned out. “Without her I don’t think I would even have my freelance business,” Notar added.

This whole experience has been one giant hands-on experience for her. It is important that we all put work into our interests beyond the classroom.

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The Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Benefits Drinking CoffeeYou wake up a little later than you wanted for your 8:30 a.m. class. You rush to get ready, but there is one thing in your routine you cannot miss -- a warm (or iced) cup of coffee to get you through the day.

Whether it is a stop at Dunkin Donuts, Rook Coffee or you brew your own at home, coffee is an essential part of many people’s day. However, for years, we have heard about the dangers of drinking too much coffee. And while caffeine is addictive, there are many positives to coffee that will make you feel a little less worried when reaching for that coffee cup.

The Harvard Medical School published an article which claimed that people who were avid coffee drinkers have reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and liver cancer, among other diseases.

Maria Ruiz, a senior biology student with a concentration in molecular cell physiology, said that she loves her morning cup of coffee and the health benefits it provides. “Being Colombian, coffee is just a part of the culture. But the antioxidants in coffee are great for your skin,” she said.

In Colombia, she recalls seeing first-hand accounts of the workers that worked with their coffee. “Coffee is great for your skin, which is why a lot of people use it in face masks. In Colombia, the people who pick the coffee have sun damage in their faces, but their hands are incredibly smooth. It’s an amazing sight.” Adding a bit of coffee to your daily routine could not only keep you awake in class, but possible improve your complexion too.

According to Heathline, “Many controlled studies in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function — including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function.”

Essentially, coffee can help improve memory, which is why it really is a great friend during study sessions.

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Cameron Oakley’s Blessing Bag Brigade

Cameron Oakley BrigadeA passion stems from our experiences, our wishes, and our skills. For health studies sophomore Cameron Oakley, her passion for helping the homeless has led her to the path of directing Blessing Bag Brigade NJ, a nonprofit organization that distributes blessing bags to the homeless.

A project of compassion and humanitarianism, Blessing Bag Brigade makes a difference in the lives of the homeless who can’t obtain basic necessities.

“A blessing bag is a bag that contains essential items for the homeless such as socks, soap, shampoo, snacks, lotion, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and miscellaneous items people will donate such as combs, hair ties, tissues, and wipes,” Oakley explained.

Oakley, along with the organization’s staff and volunteers, distributes blessing bags around Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex counties, as well as New York City a few Wednesday nights a month.

“We drop off to places like soup kitchens, churches, and The Center in Asbury Park, which is an AIDS center. We drop off anywhere; if they need our help and we can get to them, we’ll help them,” she said.

As the director of Blessing Bag Brigade, Oakley has watched the organization grow as a result of the power of the community. Beginning in December 2016 as a holiday project, donations kept materializing, resulting in an expansion from 150 bags distributed a week to 1500 bags a week almost two years later. The exponential growth of the organization leaves lasting impressions on Oakley, the volunteers who help out, and especially those who receive the bags.

“I have always had a passion to help people, but I never really had a way until I heard about Blessing Bag,” she said.

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Alena Graedon’s Dystopian World

Alena Graedon's WorldAn apartment fire that burned her books inspired the theme of Alena Graedon’s first novel, The Word Exchange. A dictionary gifted by her parents influenced the first scene. A family of readers and a mother who read aloud stories gave her an appreciation for science fiction and fantasy. These are just some of the life experiences that shaped Graedon into the writer she is today.

Graedon, an assistant professor of English and creative writing, shared her journey as an author. She published The Word Exchange in 2014. The science fiction novel centers around a futuristic alternate reality where a virus spread from machines to humans makes communication impossible.

“It’s sort of an allegory, but it’s also meant to be really represented in the novel in practical terms,” Graedon said.

“I got the idea for it because I watched this shift from the way we used to interact with text and language and communicate with each other, and then it changed and became heavily influenced by new digital technologies, and it made me think about what would happen if it was possible to actually manipulate language,” she continued.

Graedon’s appreciation and expertise in the craft of writing not only has the power to drive an allegorical novel, but it also has the power to inspire students in her creative writing classes. The way she structures her class is especially impactful for students; she engages the class in workshops that allow students to share their input on others’ stories.

“There’s so much value to her teaching style. It gets myself thinking about things; I find it eye-opening to see people’s different responses to my work,” said Melissa Lauria, a sophomore English, creative writing, student.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Fall Break

Fall BreakAs the semester begins to feel hectic, with everything seemingly being due at the same time, we naturally begin to countdown the days until fall break. We will have no classes Oct. 15 and 16, giving us all some time to destress.

This four-day weekend is a great opportunity to have a mini vacation. With cities like Philadelphia and New York close by, a couple days of adventure is in reach. If you’re willing to extend the duration of your road-trip a little bit, Washington D.C. is about four hours away.

Sara Sikora, a senior communication student, said, “I’m spending my fall break in Washington D.C. On Saturday, I am going to the Maryland vs. Rutgers football game, and the rest of the break, I plan on exploring the nightlife in D.C.”

If you would rather just stay local, there is plenty to see near campus. Sometimes we become so overwhelmed with school and our extracurriculars, that we forget to appreciate all the cool sights that we have in our area. “A great local spot for a day trip is Pier Village. They have plenty of great shops and restaurants to try, and you’re right by the beach,” Sikora said.

If you don’t want to make any plans, you can still have a great fall break. Relaxation is key during fall break, and if a trip feels like too much stress, then it may not be the best option for you.

Nicole Notar, a senior communication student, said, “I don’t have any big plans for fall break, but I think everyone should just enjoy some free-time post midterms. A nice way to relax would be to have a spa day at Ocean Resort and Spa in Long Branch.”

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The Best Part-Time Jobs for Full-Time Students

Part Time JobsBeing a full-time student is fulfilling, but it can be difficult. It is especially hard when you’re balancing a schedule that also includes a job. We all want the degree, but we also need money to get through the degree. While that may feel like a struggle, it’s not impossible.

There are many options when choosing where to work, specifically if it’s best for you to work on or off campus.

If you choose to work off-campus, you do not need to travel far. A commute to work can be very time-consuming and if you have a full workload with your classes, time is the last thing you can afford to lose.

In addition to Monmouth Mall being close by, there are plenty of other off-campus options. There are several Rook Coffee locations suitable for early birds, and various bartending options in Asbury for of-age night owls.

If you are a commuter student, it may be best for you to select an off-campus job that is close to your home instead of school. Samantha Losurdo, a junior communication student, said, “I work at a gym called Tilton Fitness in my hometown. I commute to campus and live about 20 minutes away, so it would be a little crazy for me to drive back and forth.”

Off-campus jobs also allow you to immerse yourself in an atmosphere outside of campus. “I also really like the fact that I have time away from campus and another source of meeting people and establishing relationships elsewhere,” Losurdo added.

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There are Literary Ghosts in the Library

Literary Ghosts LibraryHalloween is getting closer every day and Monmouth University is quickly transitioning from the September back-to-school posters into spooky events and exhibits. Monmouth’s Guggenheim Library is featuring its own exhibit, showcasing all of the classic horror and gothic stories.

Located on the second floor across the hall from the university librarian’s office, students will find a grotesque poster featuring a disturbing skull taken from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher to get students in the Halloween mood. The exhibit is going to be running from now until Halloween.

George Germek, the Director of the Special Collections and Rare Book Room, has created a list of classic horror stories and has assigned myself, as well graduate assistant Robert Zadotti, to create the display and respective signs.

Zadotti, a graduate arts and creative writing student, noted, “Though the display is not completely gothic in a literary sense, the display is gothic in that it celebrates horror in literature.”

When one thinks of horror, immediately poltergeists and zombies appear in their mind. In the world of literature, those freakish scenarios are expressed in a vivid way. The illustrations depicted help readers to envision the unique nature of the author’s descriptions.

To help readers really see these horrors, illustrators are hired to etch, paint, draw, or even make woodcuts of disturbing or aesthetically pleasing images relative to the text. What is special about these horror stories, in relevance to the exhibit itself, is that the publication works to feature both the text and illustrations in conjunction.

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Why Internships are Important

Internships ImportantMonmouth students are used to opening their email inboxes to find information about internship opportunities. However, among the overwhelming amount of emails students get every day, information about internships may get lost in a digital sea of spike-ball tournaments and academic workshops.

Joking aside, these emails may just be the most important ones you receive, especially if you are a sophomore or junior, so make sure to pay attention to them. Sophomore and junior years are the best times to start applying to internships, so that you create a resume that stands out in the crowd.

Every future college graduate needs to make themselves unique. Employers look for field-related experience that also emphasizes your personality and academic interests.

Yes, you have gone through the motions of college. You have written your papers and sat through all your Gen Eds, but an employer will look for more. What is going to set you aside from the next applicant with the exact same history? Experience.      

Build your resume. This might seem trivial because the purpose of internships is to gain experience. But stay focused on scoring an internship that is within your major or interests because that will help you in your future career; do not settle for an internship that will simply fulfill a requirement.

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How You Know You Chose the Right Major

Choose Right MajorPassion, happiness, and enthusiasm are the three essential ingredients to consider when choosing a major or second-guessing whether your current major is right for you. Our college majors reflect our careers after graduation, so it’s imperative that we know we made the right choices.

Choosing a major when you’re undecided may feel like a weight on your chest that never goes away, but once you go with your gut feeling, the decision process will be easier than expected. It’s also perfectly fine to change your major before finding where you fit like a perfect puzzle piece. In fact junior English student, Caitlyn Hartigan, had this experience.

“I was two different majors before I finally settled on English,” she said. “I was psychology, and then I did education for two semesters. When I was thinking about switching to English, I just wanted a major that could be creative, because that’s my strongest ability and I love writing and reading.”

When reflecting upon your major, or deciding which one to choose, consider the phrase “do what you love”. Your skills and interests will guide you to the major that was meant to be.

Dylan Griswold, a junior computer science student, said, “There’s a lot of stuff you can make with a computer science degree, whether it’s coding, video games, simulations, or Artificial Intelligence. It really opens up my very creative mind.”

You don’t have to be an expert at a subject to major in it. The classes you take in your major will help you build your skills and grow your appreciation for the subject.

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Books That Have Changed My Life

Books Changed My LifeBooks are my life, and even that’s pretty much an understatement. It’s crazy how much a reader can take away from one, even the ones that weren’t intended to be teaching anything.

That’s the absolutely crazy and astonishing thing about reading books: everyone can read the same words but get a different meaning out of them. Hopefully, whatever that person has taken away from the specific book, sticks with them throughout their life.

Katie Sharkey, a junior communication student, said that a book that left an impression on her life was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The book kept things so new and fresh that Sharkey repeatedly kept saying, “I couldn’t put it down.”

She loved to watch the developments of the characters throughout the book. Sharkey read The Help during her freshman year of college and it got her back into reading.

Shannon Burke, a junior communication student, said that The Book Thief by Markus Zusak made the biggest impact on her life. Told from the perspective of death, the novel offers an unusual viewpoint.

Burke read this during middle school and still remembers the tale that takes place during the Holocaust very clearly.

“It made me realize that we point fingers at people, but they do what they have to do to survive,” she said.

Donna Dolphin, an associate professor of communication, thought back to her own college experience when she was asked about a book that was influential in her life. The Awakening by Kate Chopin was a book that she initially read during a course on American women writers, and it’s one that she’s reread throughout the years.

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How Animals Help Relieve Anxiety

Animals Help AnxietyAs it turns out, man’s best friend is also man’s best chance at some relaxation.  While the calming teas and naps may not always reduce your stress and anxiety, sitting down with an animal for a little while just might do the trick.

As a pet owner, I can confidently say that being around my little Maltese-Shi-Tzu instantly makes me feel better.  She plops down on my lap and relishes the belly rubs she greedily accepts from me.  It’s as if every stress-inducing nuisance that is clouding my thoughts melts away when I’m running my hand back and forth through her fur.  But why does this happen?

Andrew Lee, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said, “Spending some time petting an animal can reduce some anxiety; it can lower heart rate and lower blood pressure.”  So if you think you’re imagining the effects your furry friend has on your mental well-being, you’re not. 

There have even been studies that show the benefits of animal assisted therapies.  In the case of an older patient, these studies have been proven to aid in the improvement of cognitive disabilities such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to Everyday Health.

From the eyes of a student who struggles with mental health, animals are more than just a pet to senior psychology student, Andrea Castro.  Her dog, Luna, provides her with the emotional support she needs while dealing with depression and anxiety.  “Whenever I get anxious or I am going through a depressive stage, I hug her and she licks my face and even if it is just for a few minutes, I am happy and calm,” said Castro. 

“Small gestures like licking my face or cuddling up next to me in bed mean the world to me. They are gestures that show unconditional love, and those are reminders that I need when I am at my lowest,” Castro added.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu