Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding Your Place

Ali and her sister
I got my sister to do the
THON Diamond!
Being out on your own for the first time can be terrifying. No Mom and Dad waiting at home, no little siblings annoying you, and no more snuggling up with the family pet. It can be very hard transitioning from living at home to living at school.  Sure, you get your first real taste of freedom but in addition to that is your first real taste of being an adult. You have to learn to take care of all aspects of yourself. Planning when to do schoolwork, how to spend your money, and remembering to clean your place can seem so overwhelming at first.

The bright side of all of this is that you find out what you are capable of and where you belong. The new freedoms allow you to find things that interest you. Whether it’s trying new things or meeting new people you have the freedom to choose what you are going to do and who you are going to be. It’s really worth it if you think about it!

Being at Penn State Berks gives students a leg up in my opinion. The variety of clubs, people, and opportunities cater to almost every type of person. Whether you love comic books or public speaking, there is an activity for you do here on campus. Through whatever activity you choose, you end up meeting people who share your interests. This can result in making some of the best friends you’ll ever have. All that you have to do is be open to doing things you enjoy.

Ali and her friend Shannon
Here I am at a Reading Royals
game with Shannon (left).
For me, I enjoy helping people any way that I can. This led me to the groups Lion Ambassadors and THON. In Lion Ambassadors, I get to meet prospective students and show them the campus. I get to tell them about the opportunities here and talk about their interests.  For THON, I serve as an executive to plan and help with events for the club. I get to hang out with fun people and help a great cause while doing it. I have met some of my favorite people in these groups and I would not trade that for the world.

From my involvement, I have had the chance to gain some awesome friends. From my friends I have had the chance to try new things. I met my boyfriend in my first year here and he has helped me to discover things I never thought I would like. From professional wrestling (WWE style) to every concert we have attended, I have discovered new things about myself and have found someone I will always be able to count on.

I have also met a few other people I know I can always count on. I met my good friend Shannon through Lion Ambassadors and I can always count on having fun and laughing until it hurts when she is around. I met my suitemate Katie here as well and I can always count on her for a friendly smile, thoughtful notes, and good style tips.

Ali's cat at Christmas
My cat loves Christmas so much
he sleeps under the tree!
All of these opportunities gave me the chance to find things I like and the places I like to be. This is not limited to social events though. Through the classes I took as electives and even from talking to faculty and staff at Penn State Berks, I have found my declared major and even more things about myself. I love to write, speak, and plan events. This is what my Communication Arts and Sciences major offers. I have influenced my future just from taking classes that I found interesting. Classes and professors have played a huge role in my finding a place here. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for this. The opportunities I have received led me to my interests and what I would like to do for the rest of my life. 

The moral to my story is to be open to trying new things. Being out on your own can be the scariest thing you have faced, but by following your interests it can turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever done. Remember to keep an open mind, talk to people who share your interests, and learn about things that you like to do. Although I miss my family and my cat at times, I know that I am getting chances to do and learn about what I love here and that makes it worth it.

Until next time,


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