Friends With Benefits/She's Just Not That Right For You - by Megan

Everyone who has read an advice column or spoken with an older friend about college has heard these two words of advice for the future: “Don’t room with your best friend,” and “It’s ok. You’re never friends with all the same people next semester anyway.”
The truth of the matter is you’re going to find that both of these quotes are true AND false. While I haven’t personally experienced rooming with my best friend, I know of multiple occasions where this has worked out. However, I encourage you to keep an open mind and think of the possibilities rooming with a stranger could create. Yes, you may end up with someone completely opposite from you, but you could also end up finding a life-long friend as well. As a student of the largest freshman class in Belmont University’s history, I was put into a room made for four people with six of us. Initially, I was terrified. My roommates were from all over –California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Colorado, and Illinois. I was afraid my down-home West Virginia roots may not mesh with someone used to Colorado life; however, I was (thankfully) extremely wrong. I went into college unaware of anything about any of the five girls, but now, they’re all an integral part of my life and I don’t know what I would do without them. Even though my best friend went to Marshall University back home in West Virginia, I’m thankful that I was forced to room with strangers here. In the beginning, yes, there were conflicts. The sleeping schedules were erratic, we weren’t used to each others eating habits, and we definitely weren’t used to not being able to leave our dirty clothes in the middle of the room. Now, in the second semester, we’ve learned to coexist a lot better. So much even, that next year, we’re all living together again. The level of friendship I have with these girls is beneficial in numerous ways: when I was sick, they knew exactly what groceries to bring back for me; after my first college relationship ended, Ben & Jerry’s was waiting with six spoons; when doing homework, they were ready to offer their skills to help. What can I say? We’re “Friends With Benefits.”

I cannot stress enough how important the relationships you make can affect your college experience. Make sure you choose your friends wisely. Here’s a list to help you ensure that the good ones remain for semester two and the bad ones disappear. This can help you identify when “She’s Just Not that Right For You.” (Also the “She” can be a “He” too!)

1.    If the only thing you have in common is a crush, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”
My roommate and her two friends seemed to instantly click. They wore the same size, bought the same make-up, and liked the same boys. After months of sneaking behind each others backs in order to ‘get the guy,’ she finally realized “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”

2.    If they leave you alone, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”
At 3 a.m. the three of us who stayed home received a text saying “They left me.” What had started as a night of fun, ended in the others leaving for a “better” party and my roommate being stuck where no one could find her. Fortunately, a classmate helped her get a cab home; however, the next morning we realized “She’s Just Not that Right For You.” 

3.    If they pressure you to be under the influence, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”
Don’t feel uncomfortable not meeting up to go out with someone again who pressures you. Remember, your friends are a direct reflection of you. If all she wants to do is party, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”

4.    If they don’t make an effort to be your friend, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”
My roommate had a friend first semester who would constantly ditch her for her boyfriend. After about two months worth of trying to hang out, we finally realized “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”

5.     If they don’t make you happy, “She’s Just Not that Right For You.”
Surround yourself with people who make you smile. Everyone has their days, but there’s no reason to trouble yourself with someone who’s “Just Not that Right For You.”
Megan Jack is a college freshman at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee majoring in Entertainment Industry Studies with a minor in Mathematics. Originally from Moundsville, West Virginia, Megan was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of West Virginia for 2011. Learn more about Megan here!

Dorm Decor 101 - by Ann

Ann Clancy is a college freshman at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama majoring in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. Originally from Ferrisburgh, Vermont, Ann was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Vermont for 2011. Learn more about Ann here!

10 Places I Want to See Before I Die - by Jacky

Jacky Arness is a college freshman at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota majoring in Political Science/International Relations with a minor in Theatre Arts. Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Jacky was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of North Dakota for 2011. Learn more about Jacky here! 

Go Greek! - by Veronica

Entering college allows one the chance to experience joining something much bigger than themselves. In fact, this group does not just exist within one school, but many across the country. This concept, known as the sorority, has recently entered my life and has made more of an impact than I could ever imagine. "Going Greek," although I am still new to Greek life at my school, is already one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I encourage everyone, whether you plan on joining/have already joined/have absolutely no desire to rush, to hear me out and see what Greek life is all about.
As a student at the University of Delaware, I have a very full plate. I’m a member of the All-Girl cheerleading squad, the Honors Program, am captain on my floor, am a contributor for UDress magazine (a fashion publication) and more. Greek life definitely exists at my school, but it still is a small percentage of student life here at UD. Formal rush does not occur until the spring, so I had time to settle in during the fall and truly enjoy my time at college, besides working my butt off in my classes to ensure I excelled. Once the spring semester started, formal rush began, and we had the chance to register. In high school, if you told me I was going to be in a sorority, I probably would have laughed at you. I was always so about being an individual and I believed all the stereotypes of sororities that were out there. However, I definitely have a fear of missing out, and as college started to pass by, I grew more and more curious about the chance of rushing and finding a group of girls I could call my sisters. At our first official meeting for formal recruitment, the Panhellenic Council members played this video, and my mind was changed for good:

After going through the extensive process of recruitment, and after four weeks of my new member period, I am now an official sister of the sorority Alpha Xi Delta. Although I have only had AZD in my life for a few weeks, I feel as though it has already changed me for the better. I have certainly gained real sisters through the girls in my pledge class, and with the older girls already in the sorority. I cannot wait for next year, where I am living in the AZD house, and to one day hold a leadership position within the sorority and help make a positive contribution to the fabulous sisterhood we possess. 

So, why should you go Greek? Take a look at this list and see all the absolutely wonderful components that make joining a sorority absolutely magical.

1)    Sisterhood – Joining a sorority allows you to gain a whole new family. Despite the belief that a sorority is about “paying to have friends”, a sorority is truly about gaining sisters that share common values and beliefs that you do and who will always have your back no matter what. Many people may think that a sorority consists of girls that are all the same, but this is absolutely NOT true! Girls throughout my sorority come from a variety of different backgrounds, majors, interests, likes, dislikes, and much, much more! The diverse group of girls that is brought together to represent one cause and love is truly what makes everyone so close and is what a family is all about. Not only do you get the sisters in your pledge class and beyond, but you gain a BIG sister! We recently had big-little week where my big sister came and spoiled me for an entire week, whether she decorated my room and had boys deliver cupcakes to me, she certainly displayed her love and I am SO blessed to be a part of her family. No matter what happens and no matter how much time passes by, she will always be my big sister.

2)    Philanthropy
– While sisterhood may bring us all closer, philanthropy is what makes us better people. Each Greek organization has a philanthropy that they hold near and dear to their heart, and they constantly work to make a positive contribution to the world by fundraising and participating in events. Not only does each Greek organization have their own philanthropy for which they advocate, but each sorority and fraternity attend events put on by other Greek groups on campus in order to support them and be sure their philanthropy succeeds! Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropy is Autism Speaks, and throughout the semester we will be working closely with them in order to raise money and awareness. Philanthropies such as these truly open our eyes and allow us to use our God-given talents to touch the lives of others. Last week, a group of learning-disabled children came to UD to put on a play for Greek organizations on campus. If I hadn’t gone Greek, I wouldn’t have been able to witness this truly magical and enthusiastic group of kids that memorized their own lines and even came up with the idea and story lines for these plays. I’m looking forward to being able to make a great impact in my local and national community with Greek philanthropy events!

3)    Social Benefits – Now that I am sister of Alpha Xi Delta, I will get to experience loads of fun events, dances, competitions, and more throughout my time at the University of Delaware. All this is well and good, but I’m all about meeting new people! Not only does going Greek give you the opportunity to learn and get close to a whole new group of women, but every Greek organization on campus. Since I am an Alpha Xi Delta, I am sisters with other AZD girls all across the United States. Imagine the networking opportunities available! If you attend a big school like I do, joining a Greek organization truly makes the campus smaller and allows you to meet some lifelong friends.

So, whether you are feeling compelled to go Greek or not, I hope you are aware of the multitude of benefits that can arise from joining a sorority. I’m so incredibly glad I was able to rush and find a group of girls I can call my sisters, and I’m more than looking forward to my college years as a member of Alpha Xi Delta. Going Greek has opened my eyes and has shown me that sororities aren’t just about wearing letters and going to parties, but rather about bettering the community, your sisters around you, and ultimately, yourself.

Veronica Townsend is a college freshman at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware majoring in Fashion Merchandising. Originally from Dagsboro, Delaware, Veronica was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Delaware for 2011. Learn more about Veronica here!

What Would Madonna Do? - by Amanda

Pink mesh gloves, neon pink leg warmers, white Keds, ripped tights, hot pink sports bra, white-washed jean shorts, white crop tank top, punk hairband, black and white checkered suspenders, teased hair, a leather jacket, and a bare midriff. I had but one assignment for Monday. Dress like the 80s, and honestly I was not looking forward to it. I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of the entire student body. I'm not a fashionista in any generation, let alone the 80s. My wardrobe consists of a few spring dresses, a few business suits, three pairs of non-holey jeans, and a gazillion t-shirts. I had safely lived in my conservative, non-expressive bubble my entire life, so this assignment threw me for a loop. My good friend Julia and I were in the same boat. How were we going to dress? One trip to Claire's and our prayers were answered. After buying several accessories, we felt like we could find the rest of our outfits from other girls living in our dorm. I gathered a few things from my friend Ann, and then I was set. I woke up Monday morning excited to get ready. After taking care of my daily routine of showering, brushing my teeth, etc., I sat in front of the mirror and stared at my reflection. First, I applied my foundation, sweeping the brush softly over my cheekbones and jawline. I took another brush and gently skimmed the surface of my cheeks with a bright pink blush.

Now the eyes. Dark red eyeshadow with black winged eyeliner. Then I had to fix my hair which was crimpy from the braids I had slept in the night before. My hair was too short for an awkwardly high side ponytail, so I turned to my loyal friend, Google. I "googled" 80s hair and the first picture that appeared inspired the rest of my appearance. The image that was staring back into my face was that of Madonna. She was staring into the depths of my extremely fashion-ignorant soul. She seemed to whisper to me the correct course of action. I began to backcomb my hair, spraying it with sculpting spray nonstop. I placed a hairband in, and moved on to the next step in getting ready: the clothes. I put on my ripped tights, leg warmers, and all that jazz. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was that my midriff was in clear view. How did I not realize that my stomach would show? Immediately, I began to doubt if I could pull off this look. Then I thought about my inspiration. What would Madonna do? 

“Don't just stand there; let's get to it. Strike a pose, there's nothing to it.” 

That was it. The final step in completing my outfit was putting on the proper attitude. I grabbed my friend Ann's leather jacket and started singing "I'm Sexy and I Know It" in my mind. I looked awesome. My bare midriff was not going to leave me feeling self-conscious. Instead, I embraced my new look. I strutted to class as students stared (obviously, in insane jealousy). I could rule the world, and I'm convinced that for a day, I did. Madonna would be proud.

The events of that morning led me to think more about Madonna, and how she lived her life. I wondered, what could I learn from her? Madonna’s teachings reach far beyond the boundaries of fashion. For all intents and purposes, I now consider Madonna my life coach. I happen to despise her music, but she is a genius. When I need life advice I'll turn to the pop icon and simply ask WWMD?

“When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.” 

I speak my mind, because to not, is unnatural. We must always say how we feel, for how will others ever know what we're thinking?

“I've been popular and unpopular successful and unsuccessful loved and loathed and I know how meaningless it all is. Therefore I feel free to take whatever risks I want.” 

Risks are how we see how far we can go. Taking risks make you grow as a person. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't, but Madonna's right. When you've been successful and unsuccessful you do feel more comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone. Madonna hasn't always been perfect, but she gets back up and owns her mistakes. Better than that, she learns from them.

“To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don't want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt.” 

I even trust her for love advice, despite her insane not-so private life. We have one life, and what is a life if there is no love? Even if it means we experience love several times like Madonna, we must experience it fully and completely.

“I laugh at myself. I don't take myself completely seriously. I think that's another quality that people have to hold on to... you have to laugh, especially at yourself.” 

When you fall, the first person to laugh should be you. Humor is how we remind ourselves that we're only human. If we neglect our ability to laugh at ourselves, we begin to dwell on the mistakes that we make. That is no way to live.

Although there are hundreds of other lessons that Madonna can teach the world, the last I will share with you is this, “Poor is the man whose pleasure depends on the permission of another.” You must live for one person, and one person alone: yourself. Do what makes you happy! Never sacrifice your happiness to please someone else. Be yourself; be your best self! Be yourself even when it's not the most popular option.

Overall, she teaches one thing above all else: courage. We must have the courage to feel comfortable being crazy, to say what we feel, to take risks, to love without holding back, to always have a sense of humor, and most of all the courage to be yourself, because no one can do you better than you.

525,600 Minutes - by Rebecca

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. I’m sure almost all of you have heard that famous song, “Seasons of Love,” from the musical Rent. If you have, I apologize if me mentioning it has now stuck it in your head and you can’t get it out! That happens to me all the time—the best thing I find to do is just belt it out at the top of your lungs, and get it stuck in everyone else’s head. Just pass on the love! For those of you who haven’t heard the song (along with those of you who don’t quite remember the words), let’s look at the lyrics:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?

I’ve heard these lyrics a countless number of times (mostly a version by myself sung in the shower), but I’ve never, until recently, really reflected what these words meant. I mean, think about it—we only have five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes in a year. That seems like a lot, until you realize what your life schedule is really like. Unless you spend every single night staying up late “doing homework” *coughcoughCHECKINGFACEBOOKcoughcough*, you’re probably using up over a quarter of those minutes sleeping. Then factor in all the other crazy scheduled activities everyone has these days—sports, extracurriculars, school, eating, hanging with friends, and everything else in which you may be involved. Your minutes available to you are numbered, and it feels like there just aren’t enough hours (or minutes) in a day.

So this is where the problem comes in: how can you make the most of those minutes?
First of all, try this one: TURN THE TV OFF. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you just turn that magic box of entertainment off. I will admit that I am a “telestudier”—I almost always keep the TV on while I study. I always like having some background noise behind me while I study—it keeps the awkward silence between you and your roommate at a minimum, and it also prevents me from hearing small noises that could be mistaken for the Boogie Man. However, I finally realized that the moms on “Dance Moms,” the brides on “Say Yes to the Dress,” and Bear Grylls from “Man Vs. Wild” are not going to pop out of the TV and help me with my homework or cleaning my room or anything else I would be doing that was productive. Try going through a day without any TV. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done.

After getting that major distraction out of the way, try getting the other distractions out of the way. Yes, you can live one day without Facebook and your computer, unless it’s homework (or if you’re reading this blog!). Try cutting out any internet activity that is not homework for just one day, and see how many hours you can save. I mean, let’s be honest—what do you really gain from going through people’s entire collection of Facebook photo albums? Facebook stalking eats up time FAST. Trust me, I know how enjoyable it is at the time, but looking back on it, does it really matter if you’re the first one to know that Krissy and Jake are now dating?? Go one day without it and see what I mean. Video games, texting, and anything else of that kind will eat up time that can be precious to your day. Just think about it throughout your day—reflect on how much time you spend doing any of these activities. I think you’ll be amazed.

Now we come down to really utilizing the minutes of your day.

First of all, realize that you were given each minute for a reason. Each day, each breath, every moment, is a blessing. Everything in life happens for a reason, and in that, LIFE happens for a reason. If you are breathing right now, there is a purpose for you right now. I can guarantee you that your purpose in life is not to just sit like a bum in front of the television all day, doing nothing. In your free time, utilize it well by completing homework, practicing, eating, cleaning, and other necessary things first, then use the remainder of the time to truly live life to the fullest. You were made for a purpose, but you were also given life as a gift. Seize opportunities that lay ahead of you, because you never know what will happen in your life. Enjoy time with friends and family. Build relationships. Do what you love to do. Help out your community. Do what you were made to do.

Don’t dwell on the past. What’s done is done, and you can’t go back and change that. If you dwell on the negatives of the past, you will never be able to find a positive in the future. I found a photo one time that said “You can’t reach for tomorrow’s treasure if your hands are full of yesterday’s junk.” Yesterday is history, and it’s never coming back. Let it be. Find hope and joy in the present and the future, because that is what is going to determine how you live the rest of your life.

Most of all, live life with a positive attitude. Negative thinking limits your perspective, success, and relationships. If you go through your day trying to see the glass “half-full” instead of “half-empty,” a world of opportunities is opened to you. You stop constraining yourself into your own small world of self-pity, and start seeing the world for what it really is—huge, magnificent, and full of amazing options. Having this kind of view not only affects you, but others, as well. It’s amazing how much one positive attitude can snowball through a community. One smile, one greeting, and one moment of making a positive comment rather than a negative one, all give someone a reason to believe that there is something great in this world. If you see it, they’ll see it, too. I hope I don’t sound like a pyro-maniac when I say that I enjoyed playing with matches as a kid (with parental supervision, of course!! Well, mostly…). But by watching the match light up, I learned that it just takes one spark to start a fire. Will you set that fire in your community by being the positive attitude that people are drawn to? Try going through a day without complaining—a whole day just focusing and voicing the positives of a situation. It is amazing what a difference just that small adjustment can make.

If you’ve gotten nothing else from this blog entry, remember this: life is a gift, and your days are not guaranteed. You must make the most of every second that you have, whether you’re in an organized activity or not. Every thought and every action matter. You have the power to do amazing things in the lives of other people in everything you do. Be the person that makes a difference, just by being you—by setting an example and living for others. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t waste your life away. Again, you are here for a reason. Don’t waste that. You have been given this day for a purpose, and that purpose is not to sit around inside watching an electronic screen. It’s time to get up and make a difference in the world! Carpe diem! Seize the day! Be the impact in a world that needs a glimpse of hope! Ultimately, I can ramble on as much as I want, but now the question comes to you: how will you measure a day in your life?

Rebecca Mitchell is a college freshman at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama majoring in Elementary Education. Originally from Ijamsville, Maryland, Rebecca was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Maryland for 2011. Learn more about Rebecca here!

Music for Different Moods & Occasions - by Devin

Music flows through my veins. My favorite feeling in the world is being immersed in a song that has the ability to make you feel what the artist intended the listener to feel. There is nothing more powerful than being moved to tears by a particularly resonant melody. Music exists for all types of feelings and events, so I've compiled a brief list of some of my favorites and their corresponding occasions!
To Relax:
"Banana Pancakes" Jack Johnson
"Your Song" Ellie Goulding
"Like a Star" Corinne Bailey Rae
"Quando, Quando, Quando" Michael Buble
"Breakable" Ingrid Michaelson
To Put You in a Good Mood:
"Beauty in the World" Macy Gray
"Higher Love" Steve Winwood
"Mmmbop" Hanson (never fails to put a smile on my face)
"Let's Just Fall in Love Again" Jason Castro
"You Make My Dreams" Hall & Oates (classic)

To Dance To:
"Forever" Chris Brown
"Church" T-Pain (feat. Teddi Verseti)
"Levels" Avicii
"Wop" J. Dash (Make sure you learn the dance to this!)
"Bottoms Up" Keke Palmer (just too good)

To Cry To:
"Comes and Goes (In Waves)" Greg Laswell
"Washed By the Water (Acoustic Version)" Needtobreathe
"Timshel" Mumford & Sons
"Hallelujah" Leonard Cohen
"Everything" Lifehouse

Devin Kerns is a college freshman at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas majoring in Communications Studies with a minor in Italian. Originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, Devin was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Oklahoma for 2011. Learn more about Devin here!

Boys: How to Pick 'Em - by Katye

Okay, y’all.  Don’t lie.  You all know that one of the college experiences you are most excited about is the sea of college boys—cute, flattering, smart college boys—that you will immerse yourselves in come next fall.  It’s a fresh start for all of you.  I don’t know about you, but I grew up knowing the same boys from kindergarten to senior year.  By the time graduation rolled around, I knew everything about each one of them, which did not make any of them appealing.  So here is the good news: you will meet SO MANY BOYS. The bad news? Not all of them are ones you want to hang around with.  So, here is what I have learned about boys from my first year in college.

All of you are beautiful, and it is no surprise that the boys in this world can see that.  However, if that is ALL they care about, they aren’t serious about you or your feelings. Take compliments with a grain of salt; in other words, enjoy them, but don’t assume they mean that a guy wants to fall in love and get married.

This sounds kind of sadistic, but all I really mean is hold out for a real date! Don’t fall for a boy over text message or Facebook.  Sure, his profile picture is AH-dorable, but what if he is a complete jerk or eats like a pig? You probably want to learn someone’s background before getting emotionally involved.  Maybe it’s my southern roots, but a boy better take me out, open my car door, and pay for my meal.  It’s just how things are done!

There are parties in college.  Surprised?  If you are, you must be living under a rock.  I haven’t actually attended any “ragers” in my time at UT; however, I have many friends who are much more into that scene than I am, and, believe me, I have heard stories.  I know you’ve heard a thousand times, “Don’t accept a drink from anyone; always fix your own!” This is so true, but there is more! Know your limits, girls.  I have seen too many cases of the dreaded “blackout,” where a girl doesn’t even remember what happened the night before.  Boys will try to offer you drink after drink, so that you lose control of yourself and give in to what they want.  These boys are NO GOOD.  The ones that are constantly at parties looking for girls at parties are only interested in being involved with girls at parties.  See the trend?  Those boys are playing the field, not considering each girl’s feelings.
You will have a lot of friends in college, and a lot of these friends will probably find boyfriends.  Don’t feel left out if you don’t find Prince Charming during your first semester.  Guard your hearts against meaningless relationships.  Hold out for that one guy that truly cares about you!  It is easy to feel pressured to be in a relationship, but don’t settle for the boy that isn’t good enough for you.  You all deserve the best there is.

Girls go crazy in college, y’all.  It’s commonly called “shacking.”  This is when a member of the opposite sex spontaneously spends the night with the other.  Don’t be forced to do the "walk of shame."  People know when you’re doing it.  Boys will tell you anything to get you to satisfy their hormonal desires.  Take sex as seriously as it should be taken. 

Those are just a few guidelines.  A special note to those of you with boyfriends: don’t assume there is something better.  I have a wonderful boyfriend that encourages me in the Lord and in all my endeavors.  If you have something amazing going into college, don’t just give it up to explore other options!  You all are beautiful, and remember: Stay Distinguished!

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ “ 
Philippians 1:9-10

Katye Brock is a college freshman at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee majoring in International Studies. Originally from Tullahoma, Tennessee, Katye was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2011 and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2011. Learn more about Katye here!

Sometimes You Just Want to Feel Pretty - by Kelsey

You know what? Sometimes, you just want to feel pretty. We all know that we’re beautiful on the inside and outside, and that we’re blessed with a thousand different gifts and talents. But, it really is okay to pamper yourself every once in a while! Here are a few of my favorite pampering tips (DIY and $$$). After all, girls just wanna have fun!  :)

A. Skin/Make up tricks

(DIY) When washing your face, wash upward. Your pores naturally grow “facing down.” If you wash with an upward motion, you’ll actually be able to get in your pores and clean them out!

($$$) One of the products I have found especially helpful when cleaning my face is Astringent (I use Sea Breeze, it’s cheap and effective!).

(DIY) A relatively newer eye make up trend is the color smokey eye. Take three colors. (For example, a light gold, a medium-light silver, and a dark purple). Put your lightest color (the gold) all over your eye, from eyelashes all the way up to your eyebrow. [Easy! Its easier to add color than to remove it, so start with a little and add more as you want!] Next, highlight the part where your eyelid folds into “your crease” with the medium-light color (silver). Finally, put your dark color (purple) in the outside corner of your eyelid. Do not go above your crease. Put a lot of the color in the very corner, and slowly fade it out until about ¾ of your eyelid has the color on it. Use a brush to blend to your desired effect!

($$$) Another product I recommend is air-brush foundation (I use Sally Hansen). The less you touch your face the better, so using the air-brush foundation minimizes contact while giving you a nice, smooth complexion. Use foam triangle makeup applicators to smooth/even out the foundation until you reach your desired effect!

($$$) The reason you should avoid touching your face is that your hands have natural oils that will cause your face to break out, plus all of bacteria that your hands come in contact with every day can also cause break outs. Carry around a pocket size anti-bacterial hand sanitizer with you so when you know you’re going to touch your face, at least your hands are as clean as they can be! 

B. Spa Day!

($$$) Treat yourself to a pedicure! Not only will your toenails look super cute, but most places give you a leg/foot massage too! 

(DIY) Facemasks are a great way to care for your skin and pamper yourself! There are tons of different home made masks, but here’s a really simple one for you to try! 

Honey Facemask: Run some water until it’s hot, and soak a washrag in the hot water. Heat up a small amount of honey in a small dish (Approximately 2 tablespoons in a small dish in the microwave for about 15 seconds should work!). Apply the washrag to your face for about a minute (this allows your pores to open up!). Remove the washrag and apply the honey to your face. The natural stickiness of the honey can help pull out the dirt in your pores as well as pull away dead skin cells! Leave the honey on for about 10-15 minutes and then rinse honey off with warm water.

($$$) Go to your favorite hair stylist and get a new haircut! Sometimes just a new ‘do can put you in a good mood! 

(DIY) Ask your mom, dad, friend, brother, sister or cousin to trade back massages! Not into back massages? Get some gel pens and draw on each other’s backs; my mom and I used to take turns doing this. Not only does it feel good, but when they’re done, they can tell you all of the pictures they drew!

C. Clothes!

($$$) Okay, when it comes to clothes, there’s not much you can do without spending a little bit of money. But I’ll try to help you guys with a few ideas! The most obvious way to get a new wardrobe is to hit the mall with your mom and BFF’s! My favorite store is Forever 21. They always have cute, cheap clothes! What are your favorite stores? Leave me a comment so I know where I should shop next!

(DIY) One way to save money is to give your old clothes a make over! I took one of my dad’s oversized gray t-shirts and made it into a fitted tunic with a giant bow that I made from another old shirt! There are ton’s of How-To blogs, videos, and step by step instruction websites for how to sew or turn old clothes into something new! My favorite place to get inspiration for these things is Pinterest!

($$$) I work at a Hollister, and I spend a lot of time in the back with all the clothes. When we change a floor set, most of the clothes that were on the floor all get marked down. There isn’t room for all the clothes that filled the entire store in just a few clearance shelves, so a lot of the clearance gets put in the back. Ask someone who works at the store if they have (for example) t-shirts in your size (for however much you’re willing to spend) in the back. 99% of the time there are clothes that you’ll love that fit your budget AND the workers are more than happy to help you out! I just bought my brother a brand new coat for $7 using this method!

Are there any tips you have for me/everyone else? Anything that you’re looking for tips about that isn’t mentioned here? Let me know and I’ll find something for you!

Kelsey Quin is a college freshman at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana majoring in General Health with a Pre-medicine concentration. Originally from Peru, Indiana, Kelsey was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2011. Learn more about Kelsey here! 

Distractions - by Rachel

When I was in high school, distraction meant taking a nap, checking my Facebook on the family computer, watching TV, or hanging out with my friends. I thought I was distracted then. Goodness, how things have changed.

In college, distractions seem almost impossible to avoid because you find yourself cornered by an environment that is the embodiment of distraction! From your laptop, to the local cinema, to something as seemingly harmless as a long-board ride across campus with a friend. Distractions are everywhere. Even while writing this blog I’m getting distracted!

So, what are MY biggest distractions, you ask? 

1. Facebook  

No big surprise there. I love catching up with all of my Distinguished Young Women ladies, sharing pictures with family members, and just talking with friends about dinner plans. Facebook can be a very useful tool, but it can also be a major distraction.

2. Pinterest
I’ve known about Pinterest for quite some time now, but I never knew how awesome it was until about two months ago. I love seeing what other people like while also finding things that I enjoy. I can easily waste hours upon hours on this website.

3. Letters to Crushes
Have you ever heard of this site? I just happened across it one day and I am obsessed (I’ve even written a few letters myself). Whenever I am having a tough time with relationships or I just want to read a cute story, this is the site I go to. I lose way too much sleep because of this website.

4. I Waste So Much Time
Another website that may be kind of obscure to you all, Though, just as the name implies, I do waste so much time laughing at all of the humorous pictures. I mean I literally laugh out loud. 

Okay, so aside from being distracted on my computer, (which is where the majority of my distractions originate) I can be easily sidetracked by my friends inviting me to go to the dining hall, the bookstore, or insert place on campus here. Of course, I am still distracted by naps, that one will never go away I’m afraid.

So how do we manage to avoid being distracted? 

Self-control-- and we have to embrace it.
With regard to websites, there is no way you can lock yourself out of them, so self-control is really the only answer. If you’re doing work that doesn’t require your computer, I would say close ‘er up and shove ‘er in a drawer somewhere. Out of sight out of mind is what I always say. If you need to use your computer, set up time slots where you buckle down and do your work for a solid hour. Then give yourself a 5-to-10-minute break so you can look over Facebook, Twitter, or what-have-you.

When it comes to friends as distractions, you have to have self-discipline. Organize your time so you can get your work done, and then enjoy your friends. It is critical that you tell your friends that you are buckling down. They should respect your decision.

Remember, if these websites and other things are important for your happiness, make sure you understand the appropriate time to be distracted by them—ultimately when they aren’t actually being “distracting.”
You have to know what you want, and you have put yourself in the state of mind that you are going to get there. Only you can do it. I mean really, you can’t count on other people to reach your goals for you, can you?

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
-Saul Bellow

Rachel Williams is a college freshman at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico majoring in International Studies. Originally from Kirtland, New Mexico, Rachel was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Mexico for 2011. Learn more about Rachel here!

Watch This Video...Change the World!! - by Kelsey


Kelsey Quin is a college freshman at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana majoring in General Health with a Pre-medicine concentration. Originally from Peru, Indiana, Kelsey was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2011. Learn more about Kelsey here!

Self-Esteem in a Self-Obsessed World - by Hannah

So, I have recently become an avid Pinterest user.  It’s great—I highly suggest creating one; but, I have recently been noticing the amount of “Motivation” boards on the site.  (For those of you that don’t know, on Pinterest, you make different “pin boards” for different themes, food, pets, etc.)  Well anyway, these boards usually consist of 80-lb. super models and bronzed to-the-max female athletes with unattainable features and bodies.  Whether or not you use Pinterest, everyone should use healthy and realistic methods for motivation.

Point Number One: The majority of these photos have been photo-shopped and retouched beyond recognition.

Point Number Two: Girls should not aspire to look like other girls—it will never happen.
“Motivation” boards, or really using pictures of “perfect” girls for motivation in general, is not a healthy or productive habit to possess.  Instead, use healthy or inspiring pictures for motivation and goals.

For example:

  • Pictures of things on your “Bucket List” 
  • Pictures of healthy fruits and veggies 
  • Pictures of places you would like to go/see 
  • Pictures of your future occupation/goal
Almost anything can be used for positive motivation, other than the pictures of others, of course.  Provide yourself with motivational quotes and healthy alternatives of motivation as opposed to Victoria’s Secret models and pro athletes.  Finally, learn to be happy with who you already are—your best self!

Hannah Roberts is a college freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi majoring in Biochemistry with a Pre-medical emphasis. Originally from Mount Olive, Mississippi, Hannah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi for 2011. Learn more about Hannah here!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...About College - by Gabrielle

1) Naps - There is no such thing as sleep with all the work you receive in college. I find taking little naps here and there throughout the week can really help you pull through.

2) Fridge with food - The college dinging halls are not that great and you lose interest from the choices you are given very easily. I recommend you go to a local grocery store, or a store on campus and stack your fridge with tons of delicious snacks. I have discovered it is a lot of fun to see what you can come up with in your own fridge rather than struggling amongst your non favorable options. I have included a link to the website my friends and I refer to for new cooking ideas.

3) Planner - I could not live without my daily planner/agenda. It holds all of my homework and events I have going on that day. I color coordinate my subjects and often have a corresponding calendar to keep myself on track. My planner basically holds my
life. So much is going on in college and you cannot possibly remember everything that
is going on or what you have to do. This is a way you can be certain that you are kept
on your toes. Student agendas can be purchased at the school store or even online if
you are looking for a good deal.

4) Water bottle - Staying hydrated is very important to me. I find my skin looks healthier
and I feel better about myself when I drink a good amount of water. You do not realize
how dehydrated your body becomes with every day activity. Especially because I am
often on the go, I find it is best to have a non disposable, environmentally friendly water
bottle. When I first started college I got a brita one If you do not love plain water, try flavored or add a
Crystal Light.

5) Lipstick -This is my go to touch up after a day of classes and then meeting someone
for dinner or out for the night. Find what looks best on you and wear it proudly, it adds
that pop of color that everyone notices. My personal favorite is Red Lizard by NARS
from Sephora

6) Scarves - One of my most favorite things to accent my outfits with is a scarf. When I
am even in a hurry I can always manage to throw on a nice shirt, jeans, and
accessorize with a scarf. It is the one accessory in your wardrobe that has limitless
styling possibilities. Nordstrom has some of my most favorite.

7) Study groups - What sounds better than socializing and studying at the same time?
I am a biology major and studying with a group of friends is the best. I find I am always
able to comprehend things better in a group then when I am by myself. We share notes
and are able to talk the material through, clearing up any problems someone in the
group may have. If you are not already part of one, I recommend you start one because
it becomes a useful study habit and has impressive results.

8) Friends and getting involved - The best way to get to know people in college is to
get involved in a sport or club. There you can make bonds with people who have the
same interests as you do. The friends you make in college are the friends you will have
for life. Unlike high school, in college you live with people who have all sorts of different
majors and preferences. The fact that you all can adapt to each other’s ways and
compromise is advantageous. You will learn so much from others that you did not know,
and maybe even find out things about yourself.

9) Pen pal - I have never had a pen pal before until last semester. It is not time
consuming, is inexpensive, and you both benefit from it. With the letters, I am able to
keep track of detailed events in my life and I get to learn a lot about myself when
answering questions. These letters are an old method used in a way of learning
something new. Things today are so instant with texting and email, and the letter writing
makes you wait which is even better. There is something about knowing you are going
to receive a letter that gets you through a hectic week. I love to hear about other things
people are doing with their lives and what achievements they are making for
themselves. I recommend you start by writing to your close friend from high school.
Write to each other each week and update one another about what is going on. Who
knows where one response will take you?...

The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the
extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.
” -Veronique Vienne

Stay Distinguished,
Gabrielle xo!

Gabrielle Walter is a college freshman at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York majoring in Biology/Pre-medicine. Originally from East Amherst, New York, Gabrielle was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New York for 2011. Learn more about Gabrielle here!