Friday, December 12, 2014

Saturday with the Orange Canning Team

Being a student at Penn State Berks gives me the amazing opportunity to become involved in a plethora of different clubs, groups, and organizations.  You’ve seen many blogs lately about becoming more involved, and it’s all true!

But if for some reason you don’t believe them, here is my testament that becoming involved can truly change your life and teach you extremely powerful messages that you may have never considered before.

One of the clubs that I am involved with is Berks benefitting THON, which raises money for children suffering from cancer. One of the biggest ways that we raise money is through canning, which is when we donate our time to stand outside stores and at intersections to collect money.

So after canning on Satuday, December 6th for about 9.5 hours with some of my amazing Orange Canning Team (of which I am a co-captain) my life has definitely been changed. This is because during these hours I had some of the most empowering and inspiring interactions, with amazing life lessons.

1.) A man overheard the conversation between me and two fellow Orange Team canners about eventually graduating, getting a job, and starting our own families. (When you are outside for a long time in cold weather, random topics come up!) He walks up to us and says, "Think about marriage for awhile. I didn't. I married a girl eight years younger than me, you know what happened? She divorced me. While we finalized the papers she got pregnant by the man who she went to prom with." He had a sarcastic smile when he saw the looks of horror on our faces. "She had the nerve to ask me for help on her car. But ... I helped her anyway." We smiled and told him how nice he was. He shook his head and said, "No it means I'm stupid." He continued explaining, "She eventually got married to him and had another kid. Ironically, she divorced him too." He laughed again, "Then the poor guy asked me for help on his car. I helped him too." He shook his head. "Well that shows you're a REALLY good guy!" we said with a smile. He responded, "No it shows I'm REALLY stupid." He smiled, and we could tell that he didn't really think that. His smile showed that he had a genuine heart and wanted to do what's best for people ... no matter what they did to him.
Moral: Be kind to others, no matter what.

2.) I met a man who had his daughter with him that who had excited look on her face as she dropped a couple dollars in the can. Her father explained to Maria and I that his son was a THON child in 2001-02. His son was only ten months old when he was a THON child. Now, in only a few months his son will be turning 16-years-old and he said, "I have the Four Diamonds and THON to thank for that." He said between the aid financially, and emotionally, his family is forever grateful for what THON does.
Moral: Your hard work, as minuscule as it may seem, makes a WORLD of difference to someone else.

3.) A man walked up to us and dropped a dollar in there. He walked away, but then turned around. With a serious look on his face he said, "Remember they said such HORRIBLE things about Penn State? Of all of the horrible and rude things they said, they always failed to mention anything good." He pointed to the word "THON" on our can. "THIS. This is what they failed to mention. The difference you make in the lives of those who need it. Children. THIS is what people conveniently 'forget' and it makes me furious. Thank you for what you do to make those horrible statements false."
Moral: Don't let bad apples spoil the bunch. 

I hope these stories have proved to you that inspiration is possible if you only stop and take the time to utilize the opportunities Berks offers.

Have an amazing week, and happy holidays to everyone! 


Friday, December 5, 2014

The Wonders of Getting Involved

"Only you can control your future." 
                                          - Dr. Seuss

Getting involved on campus has done wonders for me. I’ve met so many wonderful people and created so many wonderful memories. I can really say that getting involved is something that everyone should do and the earlier the better! Why do I say this? Because I am the vivid example of how much it can change a person in a short amount of time.

Meet my awesome Lion Ambassador Family!
During my first year of college, I didn’t get involved AT ALL! A typical school day for me was: get to school, go to class, and go straight home. Yup, that was it. Pretty boring, huh? I didn’t talk to anyone unless I had to. That’s why I spent my first semester of school pretty much alone. BUT all of that changed when the “getting involving on campus bug attacked!” The first thing that came my way was the Lion Ambassadors application. At first I thought I wasn’t going to get in, but for my luck I did. Now, I am giving tours around campus, doing phone-a-thons, helping out with open houses, etc. Since I started being an L.A. I’ve changed so much. I started to be more confident in myself, be more sociable, improve my public speaking skills, and much more. I’ve been getting out of my comfort zone little by little and my fellow Lion Ambassadors are the ones who made that happen.

Meet my Orientation Leader family!
Pretty colorful, huh?!
Now, my second family on campus is a very colorful and large one. With them, I can be as silly as I want and have a reason for it. Orientation has to be one of the best experiences that I’ve had since I got to Berks. Being able to share my experiences and meeting the first-year students is just the best. Let’s not forget how I did the wobble dance all they long and I “went bananas” (from the banana song) too.

Here I am with some of the members of
my Latino Unity family!
Last but not least, I want to mention my LUC family. Through the Latino Unity Club, I’ve been able to participate in several community service activities that have been wonderful. I have to say, having the chance to scare little kids at a YMCA’s haunted wagon ride was the best. Whether it’s raising money for a scholarship to going on a trip to the Baltimore aquarium, these guys know how to make me smile the entire day.

To make the story short, getting involved on campus has given me the opportunity to change for the better. If I could have the chance to go back in time, I would definitely start joining clubs on day one. The people that I’ve met along the way have helped me grow as a person and I really consider them my second family. As I said, getting involved has done so much for me, and I know that it can do wonders to you too, so LET’S GET INVOLVED!

Catch you later!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Learning to Give Back

Hola! Hello again!

This past week I was able to participate in a first-year seminar class. It took me back to when I was a freshman and was a bit lost, because I didn’t know too much about the campus at the time. Helping out in the panel for the first-year students made me understand how important it is to give back. I was reminded that just like the freshmen, I too was filled with questions and curiosities when I was in their shoes. I wondered where college would take me and knew I would need a lot of help along the way. Being able to answer questions and hear the stories of my friends’ experiences as they started college filled me with passion and excitement.

Lion Ambassadors being silly

It made my love for helping others grow. Helping others and placing a grain of sand for future Penn State graduates is something we might not see as influential in the moment, but it is something that families do. I am blessed to say that I am part of the loving Penn State family that strives to make you the best you can be. My Seventh Day Adventist family has also steered me in a positive direction.

Melissa with friends

Just like teachers and students helped me grow, I would like to continue lending a hand and you can do it too. I learned in high school as I listened to a guest speaker “once you reach your floor, don’t forget to send the elevator back down.” While achieving our dreams we can help others get closer to theirs as well. Let’s not be afraid to reach out to others and bring their beautiful smiles out too.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Heb 10:24)

Until next time,

Melissa Reyes

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Find What Interests You

Hello readers! 

Have you ever had that gut feeling in your stomach when you say, “Wow I want to do that one day”? Well if you have then this blog entry is for you! I am writing this to share my story on why I decided to pursue Kinesiology as my degree and one day make my dream come true of being a physical therapist.

I have always been fascinated with the body, especially because I spent a lot of time at the physical therapy office (athlete problems). Every time I would go in their office, they would greet me by first name because I was a regular. Every day I went, they used a different rehab technique on me and I fell in love with their methods. It has always been fascinating to me how a rubber band could strengthen different muscles and tendons in the body. From the day they used this method on me I knew that I wanted to help people in the same way when I grow up.

Now that I am here at Penn State Berks, I am working as hard as I can to make that dream a reality. Rome was not built in a day and I know that hard work leads to success. I hope that my story has touched all of you and that you look at what you’re studying as an opportunity to make your dreams come true.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Getting Involved

The number one thing students are told to do in college is to get involved. Get involved with everything and anything that might be offered to you. It might not be necessarily something that you love to do but, something you enjoy. I would like to think of myself as a student who is heavily involved around campus. I am secretary of the Dance Team, a Lion Ambassador, an Orientation Leader, a Canner for THON, a member of Hotel Restaurant Society, and a blogger. All of these clubs have special events that they host in which they participate.

Students serving at Opportunity House
Recently, the Hotel Restaurant Society had the occasion of partaking in an event at the Opportunity House. The Opportunity House is a homeless shelter for those who need a place to stay and for those who need to be fed, located in downtown Reading. A typical dinner at the Opportunity House includes the residents of the homeless shelter coming to a window in the cafeteria and getting their hot meal, something like an elementary school style lunch. However, the next time would be much different for the residents, because the Hotel Restaurant Society was asked to make the simple cafeteria into a five-star restaurant.

Student and Chef preparing food at Opportunity HouseWhen the HRS club heard this, we were all ready for the challenge. We decided on what we would make and serve, what type of decorations we would use, and what type of centerpieces we would make. Since the HRS club is mostly made up of Hospitality Management majors, the planning of this event was easy and fast. We chose fall theme decorations with an Italian menu. The club compromised on serving them an appetizer of Caesar salads and bruschetta, the entrée of either chicken parmesan or chicken Alfredo, a side of mixed vegetables or pasta with red sauce, and for dessert, a brownie topped with Creamery ice cream. Members of the HRS club, as well as volunteers, not only decorated the place, but they were also servers, hostesses, and chefs in the kitchen for the night. We even had two chefs from a local hotel come help make the meals.

The dining room dressed up for guests
When the residents started to arrive, they were highly surprised yet confused as to why the cafeteria was decorated. Then when we told them that they were not going to serve themselves, but we were going to serve them, their mouths dropped. The residents did not leave their seats that night, everything came to them: the drinks, the appetizers, the entrée, and the sides, and of course, the desserts. It was a night for the residents to feel special and appreciated. All the residents I talked to were extremely thankful to have had a night like that.

Not only did it make the residents grateful but it also made the HRS club and volunteers grateful too to be a part of this opportunity. We might have made their night but it also made ours. It was an experience that I will never forget and I am so thankful to be a part of a wonderful opportunity. Now, I challenge you to go out into the community and do something that makes you feel good about yourself. We all did it.

Until next time Penn Staters,

Caroline Kunisky