One Nation - by Carly

In the midst of all my papers, exams, and orchestra rehearsals, the presidential election a few weeks ago seemed to occupy a lot of my time.  Whether I was on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or watching TV, there was a buzz about the election.  I love hearing about politics, but the one thing that really made me crinkle my nose was that everyone was so divided!  My Twitter feed was polluted with arguments about which side was right.  Quite frankly it drove me nuts!  I myself am a very conservative minded individual, but I would be lying to you if I said that everything the republican party said was golden.  To be a well-informed voter and citizen, you have to figure out what really matters to you and stick to your guns!  However, being confident in your opinions does not need to result in arguments.  It seemed to me that people were forgetting that we are one nation.  At the end of the election there would be a winner and a loser whether we liked who it was or not.  No matter who represents us, we stand as a single United States.  We are all one family who has to respect one another and their opinions.  We all want a successful country, it is just that the different sides of the political spectrum have opposing ways of accomplishing that. 

I think it is time for the voters to take a stand and only support those politicians who are willing to walk the line between the aisle.  Nothing can be accomplished if everyone is too busy arguing!  It is time for a new wave of creative politicians who can concoct a new recipe for success.  As for the voters and citizens (that’s all of you reading this!), it is time to get informed!  Read as much as you can, from all kinds of media.  It is no secret that news stations are biased, so watch them all!  From Fox News to MSNBC to the Washington Post to the New York Times, pull out as many facts as you can and then make your own opinions.  And we must also remember that it is great to have opinions, but not everyone has the same ones!  It is time to stand together as one nation.  It doesn’t matter if you are Pro Life, Pro Choice, like the Affordable Care Act, like private healthcare, support government involvement in the economy, or want to let the economy be run privately—we are still one country.  For the next four years, even though I am a conservative, I plan to back President Obama one hundred percent.  It is impossible for our country to rise to greatness if we are too busy fighting between ourselves.  So, I challenge all of you to get informed!  And next time politics come up, practice your compromising skills rather than your argumentative skills!

Carly Henry is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in biochemistry with a minor is business. Originally from York, Pennsylvania, Carly was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2012. Learn more about Carly here!

Things I Wish I Could’ve Told Myself In High School - by Ali

1. I wish I could’ve told myself to get more involved. I look back at my high school years and I always wish I had gotten involved in more community service projects. Not only do they look great on scholarship applications or * wink wink * a registration form for Distinguished Young Women, but they make you feel absolutely wonderful inside. Helping your community not only benefits those surrounding you but it benefits the person you’ll become. 

2. I wish I could’ve told myself to apply for as many scholarships as possible. Seriously, it is the worst. It’s tedious and obnoxious filling out the same information over and over again. Why do you have to fill out the same amount of information for a $500 scholarship versus a $10,000 one? However, every dollar counts. It may not seem like it compared to that big, scary tuition bill but I promise, it’ll help. Someone once told me to think of it this way: It takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour to fill out a scholarship application. Now think about working a job. If you get the scholarship, it’s almost like you received $500 for an hour of work! Yes please! 

3. I wish I could’ve told myself to spend more time with people that loved me. Going to college has made me realize how much I truly miss my friends and family. The first few weeks of college were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to experience. I didn’t like being away from my parents! However, now that I’ve adjusted to the college life (and absolutely love it!), it makes going home so much more exciting. 

4. I wish I could’ve told myself to forget about those silly boys. I remember how exciting it was to be asked out on my first real date during my freshman year of high school! The butterflies I got in my stomach when I passed him in the hallway. The dance I did around my room when I got home. I also remember my first heartbreak and how absolutely awful it felt. 

5. I wish I could’ve told myself that labels don’t matter. I thought it was the most important thing in the world to have the newest clothes with the best brands. But why? Why does it matter if I had a sweater that was $100 versus one that looked identical that was $15? Jessie J sang it best when she sang, “Ain’t about the cha-ching-cha-ching, ain’t about the ba-bling-ba-bling. Just wanna make the world dance, forget about the price tag.” 

6. I wish I could’ve told myself to work harder in my academics. I firmly believe that you can never be “too smart” or “too educated.”  

7. I wish I could’ve told myself that popularity isn’t everything. I went through a phase in which I was obsessed with being “popular.” However, with that popularity I became a mean girl. I was so rude to other people. I’m so happy that I finally realized that there is nothing cool or popular about being mean to others. I broke away from that bad obsession and worked to become the best friend and person that I could be. 

8. I wish I could’ve told myself to lay off the makeup!! This one just speaks for itself. 

9. I wish I could’ve told myself to step out of my comfort zone. For most of my high school life, I did everything to blend into the crowd. However, when I broke free of that, it was the best feeling in the world. I finally was myself. 

10. But I didn’t tell myself these things. All these things I’ve listed above are things that I wish I had told myself in high school…but I didn’t. I wouldn’t call them regrets because I don’t believe in regretting anything. However, it’s more of a reminder of who I am today. I didn’t do these things in high school and if I had, I possibly may be a different person than I am right here, right now. I have come to love the person I’ve become. I may not be perfect but that’s just who I am. 

Ali Houser is a college freshman at The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota majoring in Dental Hygiene. Originally from Beresford, South Dakota, Ali was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of South Dakota for 2012. Learn more about Ali here!

A 140 Generation Constantly Changing - by Marin

 If something very important happened in our World today and you wanted to get every single detail so you could be properly informed, would these words be enough for you? I would say if you were born around or after the 90s then ‘Yes’ would be your answer. For my generation, 140 characters is all we need. But what does that mean for the generation after us? Twitter and Facebook are great ways to positively connect with friends and family, but there needs to be some recognition of how social media sites are slowly changing our generations vocabulary and thinking right before our eyes.

Take for instance the phrase, “Are they F.B.O. yet?” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase asked throughout high school and now college between classmates. Parents, if you are unsure of what this acronym means, I will let you know right now the ‘B’ and ‘F’ have nothing to do with “Beiber Fever.” However, it is an acronym that is feverishly catching on. It simply stands for “Facebook Official” and it is only asked when one wants to know if two people are dating. Thinking about how commonly this phrase is just thrown around, it makes me wonder about past generations who didn’t have computers or Facebook. How would anyone know if two people were dating? Simple. They’d ask. So how has this simple task been turned into a simple phrase asked among peers other than the F.B.O. couple themselves? It’s not necessarily a bad thing using acronyms for sayings, but when it hinders our ability to talk to each other directly, then it must be questioned.

“Waking up to your college roommate singing Whitney Houston into a fake microphone at the tops of her lungs…#Firstworldproblems.” Now, if you have never seen the hash-tag that is at the end of that sentence, what would you think, “first world problems” means? If you’ve figured it out, are you at all slightly offended that the common phrase “third world problems” (which arose during the Cold War Era) has morphed into somewhat of a joke for our generation today? I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, and hash tagging is great when you want to really point out something or get that Twitter Feed buzzing. But next time your roommate is belting out the final key to “I Will Always Love You,” please think to yourself, is it really necessary to label that event as a  “first world problem”? Maybe there’s a better way to say it.

Media is a useful tool. It has the power to impact masses of people simultaneously. Whether this power is for the better or worse, it is accurate to say we truly are a “sound bite generation.” From 140 characters on Twitter to YouTube videos and Facebook, we are simply a generation of short, straight to the point posts. If it weren’t for the singer Drake, the phrase “YOLO” would not have been used by my high school principle to encourage creativity, or said by my friend when she decided to talk to the cute boy she’d been eyeing. I wouldn’t have been made aware of the situation in Uganda or Kony had it not been for the YouTube video that has over ninety-three million views. Media has a way of connecting the world and its people, making the planet we live on a little bit smaller. I’m not upset that instead of asking a couple if they’re together we whisper “F.B.O.?” to our friends. Or instead of “Carpe Diem” we shout “YOLO.” In fact, it makes our generation unique. But, if we become unaware of the negative effects of media in our everyday lives (our 140 character limit on expression, hash tagging about “first world problems”), our generation will be in for a wake-up call later down the road. So before I end this post, I have one last piece of advice: Be aware of the ever-changing world of technology and how it shapes our generation. Don’t blindly follow, but make your own way and discover the positive effects of media to spread your message, and to let your voice be heard in a positive light.

Marin Helppie-Schmieder is a college freshman at the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania majoring in Modern Dance. Originally from Carrollton, Texas, Marin was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Texas for 2012. Learn more about Marin here!

Beauty Tips - by Keyna

How often do you find yourself comparing yourself to the girls around you? If you’re anything like me, the answer is A LOT. 

“She is so much prettier than me.”
“Why can’t I be skinny like her?”
“Ughh. Why is my hair always so frizzy?”
“Why am I so clumsy?!”
“I just want him to think I’m beautiful.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you that I had the secret to achieving the beauty that we all so desperately desire?

Guess what…

I do.

1. Forget the lipgloss.

2. Eye shadow? Mascara?  You don’t need it.

3. STOP DIETING!!!! Seriously.

4. You know you’re just damaging your hair with that straightener right?

5. Tired of tripping up the stairs? Worry no more.



by Sam Levenson
made famous by Audrey Hepburn

Being a girl in today’s world is hard. We are expected to be “cookie-cutter beautiful,” but you need to remember that your beauty comes from the inside! It’s not about how you look, but rather how you act and treat the people around you.  It doesn’t matter if you have blue eyes or brown, if you weigh 90 pounds or 200, whether your hair is straight or curly. The only thing that matters is that you are the best YOU that you can be! You don’t need to change who you are or the way you look to fit in with a certain group of people or to get that guy you’re crushing on to like you. You are beautiful just way you are!

Keyna Hoselton is a college freshman at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma majoring in Dance Performance with a possible minor in History. Originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Keyna was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of North Dakota for 2012. Learn more about Keyna here!

Top Ten Things I Love About College - by Stephanie

1. The Parties
No I don’t mean frat parties….I’m talking about Thursday night dance parties in our room.  After a long Thursday starting with an African culture class and ending at 9 pm with a chemistry lab, the only way my roommate and I get through homework without going insane is by getting up and dancing.  We choose a variety of music, but the night usually starts out with Waka Waka and ends with the Hoedown Throwdown…thank you Shakira and Miley. 

2. The Food
Besides the eight dining halls located all over campus, nearly every building has some type of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Panda Express, or campus café.  Besides that, surrounding campus, there are multiple wings restaurants (college students love wings…a lot).  On top of all this, the freshman honors dorm is conveniently a 2-minute walk from a newly built plaza that features a Subway, an old-fashioned candy shop, a Fro-Yo World, and of course, an Insomnia Cookie’s, which delivers until 3 AM.
3. The Ethnic Diversity 
Coming from a tiny town in New Hampshire and graduating with only 62 other students, my town did not represent many ethnicities.  Since coming here, I have been exposed to so many people with backgrounds so different from mine and with such interesting stories.  In just the past two months, my eyes have been opened to so many new ideas and cultures.  
4. The TAs 
They’re awesome. End of story.  In my case at least, for some of my classes having a good teaching assistant has made tackling some tough classes so much more manageable and even enjoyable.  The cool thing about TAs is that they’ve been in school for a few years so they have the knowledge to help you if you have questions, but on the other hand they’re still students too so sometimes they’re more approachable than professors.  Oh and I shouldn’t forget to mention that if you’re as lucky as I am, your TA will let you and your lab partner use the beads you’re supposed to be using to replicate DNA to make him and yourself friendship bracelets….and yes I said him.
5. The Options for Classes and Class Scheduling
Only in college is it considered acceptable and legit to have classes begin at 8 AM on Tuesdays, 1 PM on Wednesdays and have no classes on Thursdays.  You have the opportunity to create your own schedule and make it exactly what you want it to be.  Furthermore, you have the opportunity to take some of the most absurd sounding classes….for example next semester one of my friends is taking a puppeteer class on Mondays and Tuesdays and a class about wizards, dungeons and dragons on Thursdays….just because.
6. Life is a Constant Sleepover
Growing up as an only child, I never had the opportunity/horror of sharing my room with anyone.  However, in August, I welcomed into my life the joys of freshman housing and a new roommate.  Throughout the whole summer, I worried that my roommate and I wouldn’t get along, wouldn’t have similar enough living habits or just wouldn’t “mesh well together”.  However, living with my roommate (and coincidentally one of my new best friends) has been a blast.  We’ve laughed together and pulled all-nighters together….basically living with her is like a big sleepover.  

7. The Research Opportunities
As a science major, I never doubted that there would be plenty of research opportunities.  However, I didn’t expect them to come until junior or senior year at least.  To my complete surprise, the very first week of school my advisor mentioned that on campus there are a variety of options available for students as early as second semester of freshman year and that the possibilities are endless.  
8. The Clubs and Organizations
Of course there were different clubs and organizations that I could join at my high school, but as you probably guessed when I said I graduated with 62 people…my high school was SMALL so we didn’t have resources available to support a huge variety of clubs.  However, on campus there are over 300 different organizations and since I’ve been here, I’ve had the opportunity to learn both ballroom dancing and Irish Step Dancing.  Both are so much fun and great ways to stay in shape!

9. The Location
What other place besides on a college campus can you get to a variety of restaurants, a gym, stores, an arcade, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a soccer field, a basketball stadium, a post office, a skating rink, a book store and a variety of multicultural centers within a 15 minute walk?
10. The Breaks
As much fun as I’ve been having, there is no doubt that I miss my home, family and friends.  Being in a different area has made me appreciate where I grew up so much more.  This leads me to mention one of the best things about college….breaks are SO LONG!  For example, as I write this, everyone in my dorm is packing up to leave for a much needed 10 day long Thanksgiving break.

Stephanie Brady is a college freshman at the University of Connecticut in Storrs-Mansfield, Connecticut majoring in pre-pharmacy. Originally from New Market, New Hampshire, Stephanie was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of New Hampshire for 2012. Learn more about Stephanie here!

Reflections on 70% of a Semester - by Jordan

Now that I'm just two weeks away from finishing my first semester of freshman year, I've learned a few things, things that I wish I would have known just a few months ago when I left for Auburn University. With a little freshman wisdom, here's my advice for you.
  1. Organization and cleanliness are key! I'm really glad that I have had an organized, color-coded notebook and folder for each class. It makes organization so much easier, and I love having all of my notes in one place rather than flipping through a giant five-subject notebook. I am constantly using my agenda, not only to mark down important deadlines but to plan the rest of my day. Time-blocking is an important time-management strategy to plan your work, so that you can maximize your free time. I've also noticed that having a clean room and study environment makes me feel more relaxed and less stressed.
  2. Get involved! I'm really glad I took a big leap of faith to join Greek life and a social sorority the week before school started. It's been a lot of time, but I'm really happy and excited to be part of something bigger than myself. However, I do have one word of caution: don't get too involved! One of my friends is overloading herself with extra-curriculars, and she has complained to me on a few occasions that her grades are slipping, and she doesn't have as much free time. I would say get involved, but limit your involvement to one social extra-curricular and one community service extra-curricular. I'm now on the committee for the Big Event, Auburn's huge community outreach day, and I know that our pre-planning for this wonderful activity will bring such a sense of fulfillment, knowing that I have helped others, even in a simple way.
  3. Make new friends, AND keep the old! I'm really glad there are technologies like Facebook to keep me updated on all of my friends from back home, as well as my Distinguished Young Women sisters! It's been so fun to see everyone's college journeys unfold, and to be able to message my friends every once in a while. It's also really important to make new friends on campus. Hang out in your dorm lobby and meet the people you share a building with. Chat someone up while you're in line at the salad bar. Join up with your friends after your club meeting and go see a movie or grab some fro-yo! It's important to make connections with others, it will make your college life that much more enjoyable.
That's all I have for now! I'm looking forward to seeing my family for the first time since August! Thanksgiving break is finally here!

Have an awesome holiday!

Jordan Orris is a college freshman at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphasis on Marketing and Convergence Journalism. Originally from Henderson, Nevada, Jordan was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Nevada for 2012. Learn more about Julia here!

Thankful - by Ankhita

Before I start off this post, I just wanted to take a moment to say that I have one of the greatest support systems in the world – I LOVE my family to pieces and I don’t know where I’d be without them! My family is my backbone and amazes me with their support every day. My friends are my sunshine and part of the reason for my humorous outlook on life. My heavenly Father is the reason I am the way I am and the everlasting fuel for my fire. I’m going to cut it off right there; the reason I’m not talking about my obvious reasons for thankfulness is because I could write an entire book about them. So I’m going to dedicate this blog post to the blessings everyone tends to overlook. So here you are: 

The Simple Undervalued Joys in Life that Deserve Some Acknowledgement

I’m a girl of simple pleasures. Pockets make me happy. I like walking barefoot on tar-based roads and the smell of leaves. Sometimes, I’ll take a very long roundabout walk back to the dorms, just because the clouds seemed extra puffy and I liked looking at them.

So, for my second blog post and in honor of November, I thought I’d make a list of things I’m thankful for – but I’m going to talk about the wonderful things that go unnoticed by the world on Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for…
  1. Rap/Hip Hop. When I’m disappointed/upset/angry, do you think I’m going to listen to Taylor Swift? NO. That succeeds in bringing me down even further because then I feel depressed about her problems on top of being upset about my problems and the whole thing is just one big gloomy mess. Imma (yes, “Imma”, go ahead and judge) listen to some good old EMINEM or 50 CENT. Because that stuff gives me a sense of (no matter how false it might be) invincibility. Try it some time, you’ll be amazed at how much better it’ll make you feel.
  2. EASY MAC. Without this processed cheesy goodness of “Enriched wheat flour, glycerol, etc.” I probably would have gone hungry many a time. Seriously, someone needs to give that entire company some sort of award. At one point this semester, I had consumed so much macaroni, that I’m pretty sure my entire body composition solely consisted of Kraft Mac’N’Cheese.
  3. The existence of Narwhals. I mean, swimming unicorns. The collective level of happiness in the world should raise an entire level purely from this knowledge.
  4. Ovens. Most people would say “food” or if you really want to get into specifics, “cookies” or “turkey”. But let’s be honest. If it weren’t for ovens, how would we even begin to try to cook food? And for those of you who are going to point out that the obviously the Pilgrims survived without ovens, let’s remember that the invention of cookies would not have been possible without the invention of the oven. Can you even begin to imagine trying to roast cookies on a spit? You have ovens to thank for this.
  5. Febreeze. God bless the inventor of Febreeze.
  6. Noses. They’re probably the most unappreciated body appendage. Can you imagine how strange we would look without them? You would just have one long expanse of skin between your eyes and mouth. Plus, you wouldn’t be able to smell things like cookies (Thank you again, Ovens) or Febreeze! Without noses, there would essentially be 7 billion Voldemorts walking around this planet.
  7. Horror movies. Now let me clarify. I am NOT a horror movie person AT ALL. My floor made me sit through my first horror movie and I’ve seen two and a half since then (I say half because I covered my eyes and ears 45 minutes into my second one). I’m thankful for the existence of horror movies because it’s taught me to NEVER go anywhere by myself in the dark, especially if I’m feeling the slightest bit uneasy, because the first person to die is always that stupid person who decides it’s a good idea to wander off alone.
  8. Gloves with the retractable fingers. I discovered these in the dollar section of Target last year and I was pretty much floored. My friends make/made of me because I refused to take them off and tried to see how much I could accomplish with these gloves. Hey, I have every right to be excited; they keep your hands SO WARM and you can get things done! Magic!

So there. You have at least 8 things that you can celebrate about this Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday! I’ll talk to you guys again in December.

Much Love,

p.s. I had a friend of mine take some pictures of me so you can see what I look like now =) so there you go!

Ankhita Samuel is a first year medical student studying to earn a BLA major with a Spanish minor in the six year medical program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri. Originally from Olathe, Kansas, Ankhita was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Kansas for 2012. Learn more about Ankhita here!