Study Tips - by Ali

Have you ever studied for hours and felt really confident going into a test only to get your score back and see that you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped? Sadly, most of us have experienced this heartbreak at least once. This week, I definitely experienced this feeling of complete disappointment but I was able to learn from it and figure out how I can improve for the next one! I have put together a list of 5 tips to help when it comes to studying and managing your time during crazy weeks like mine!

1.    Start early. This week I had three midterm exams, seven quizzes, six chapters to read (each about 30 pages long!) and on top of that, I had to prepare to coach my hometown dance team at Nationals this past weekend. Welcome to college, right? There will be times when your exams and assignments may fall on the same week or maybe even the same day. My advice would be to start studying early! You will know when every exam is at the beginning of the semester so you will be able to plan it out ahead of time. Try to mix it up by studying for one class for an hour and then the other class for the next hour. Studying one subject for hours at a time doesn’t help as much!

2.    Say “No”. You will be tempted to go out. Friends will ask you to go out with them this weekend or there may be an event with a group your involved in (for me, it was my sorority) but you have to try and refrain. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take breaks or become a hermit or something like that but if you do choose to go out, try to make it short (an hour or two). Trust me, there will be weekends when you’ll have nothing to do and you can go out then! 

3.    Again, take breaks! There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break from studying. If you feel like your brain is about to explode, take a quick walk or eat a snack. It’s kind of like hitting the refresh button on your Internet. Sometimes, you just need a break. I read somewhere that for every hour you study you should give yourself a 15-minute break. Powernap, ready, set, go!

4.    Just breathe. Try your best not to stress too much because that will just make things worse. I almost had a meltdown this week but I found it really helpful to call my mom and just talk to her for a few minutes. She really calmed me down and settled my nerves. Also, writing down what you need to do before the test really helps as well. Seeing what you need to do visually can really help calm you down and you can check things off as you finish them as well. Most of all, just remember to breathe and that things will get better soon!

5.    Learn. Like me, your test may not go the way you would have liked it to no matter how long you study. I took a practice test for my exam 100 times (this is no exaggeration… it was 103 actually.) I felt really good going into the test and when I was done, I wasn’t so sure anymore. However, there is nothing you can really do at that point. I got my score back and didn’t do as well as I had hoped. (So this is why this class is the 2nd most failed class offered here…) I was disappointed and at first, very angry. However, I decided that there was nothing I could do about it. I worked as hard as I could in order to prepare for it so I did the best I could. I chose to learn from my experiences and prepare to study differently for my next exam. Hopefully, I will do much better for the next one!

Good luck to everyone with exams soon or in the future! Just try to remember these tips and also, make your own. Some of these may not work for you and others may work great! You know your strengths so apply them to your work and you will do amazing things!

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!

Home - by Carly


Six months ago I left my childhood home.  Those first few weeks I was a little homesick, but then things began to change.  After a semester and a half of college, I no longer became homesick; because I am already home here at school.  Now, the house on Ironstone Hill Road that I grew up in is still my home, but I have a new one as well.  For, I have learned at least one thing from my college education—home is where your heart is.  It is a total cliché, but it is the truth!  I have discovered that home is not a house or a college; home is a million and one different things!  Here are some conclusions about what I now understand home to be:

A) Home is where you feel safe.  If I’m looking for some safety, I travel to my safe haven on top of a horse.  Believe it or not, having 1,000 pounds of animal beneath you can be pretty calming.  Since I learned to walk, horses have been my home away from home.  

B) Home is wherever your bunch of crazies are (quote from Pinterest!).  We all have those crazy friends—those are your bunch of crazies!  As long as I have one of them by my side, I can conquer the world.  The same goes for my family.  They are a little quirky, but I love them dearly.  Without those crazies life would be dull.  I like to keep my friends and family close by because then I always feel at home.

C) Home is where your soul can smile.  I was raised in a lush valley in Pennsylvania, so rolling pastures, green forests, and starry nights put my soul at ease.  No matter where my life will take me, Pennsylvania will always hold a special place in my heart.

Home is a word that holds so much meaning for each individual.  Learning to make everywhere you travel a little bit like home, will make you beam from inside out.  Coming to college has taught me to roll out the welcome mat in each and every new place.  Because of this, I now look fearlessly into the future with high hopes of adventure because home will travel wherever I go. 

 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!

Everyday A to Z - by Lauren

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.”

 - Humphry Davy

It may be an over used saying that “the little things make all the difference.” However, even though each little thing may seem insignificant by itself, the culmination of them all can be incredible. Here is my top A to Z little things to do to make any day or life just a little bit better!

A accept what you can’t change and focus on what you can
B – be open to new opportunities
C– create a new memory every day
D – determination
E – exercise
F – find a new club/activity/sport to try
G – give a little of your time back to the community
H – have hope
I – invent a new goal for yourself
J – jokes! There’s always a good witty line to make you smile J
K – keep focused on the bigger picture rather than minor set backs
L – laugh….a lot!
M – make connections with all types of people
N – never give up
O – outgoing
P – patience
Q - quit procrastinating
R – recognize the positive things you see in yourself
S – sing
T – take chances
U – use mistakes as ways to grow
V – visit with friends from the past
W – wake up and say “Today will be great!”
X – x-ray through different personalities to see the positive in    everyone
Y – yoga
Z – zumba….because we all have to dance at some point

Much love, 
Lauren Hoppa

Lauren Hoppa is a college freshman at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma majoring in Athletic Training. Originally from Parker, Colorado, Lauren was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Colorado for 2012. Learn more about Lauren here!

Five Ways to Avoid the Freshmen Fifteen - by Stephanie

Entering college comes with a lot of big lifestyle changes.  One of the things that worried me most was gaining the dreaded “freshmen fifteen”.  I heard from so many people that between munching during late night study sessions, no longer participating in high school varsity sports and having free range in a dining hall make it very easy to gain a few unwanted pounds.  However, in my first semester, I’ve found a few ways to help gain control over this potential issue. 

1.    Use the gym!

Take advantage of the huge gym facilities that most schools offer students.  I know it can sometimes be a little overwhelming to walk into the weight room, filled with jacked-beyond-belief men, but trust me-they’re not that scary!  Actually, I’ve found that if you just act like you belong, they accept and respect you.  If weight machines aren’t really your thing, opt for the many different cardio machines, the lap pool, or try a group fitness class.  Yoga’s a great stress reliever, Pilates helps to build a strong core and Zumba is basically a big dance party!

2.    Just because you CAN eat unhealthy meals doesn’t mean you HAVE to

There’s no doubt that when you have the option to eat pizza, French fries and cake for every meal, it’s difficult to avoid doing so.  However, even though it seems like there are many unhealthy options, there are just as many healthy ones.  At most schools, a full salad bar or fruit bar are available during most times of the day.  On top of this, many schools having recently been implementing programs that point out menu options that are more nutritious, so making better decisions is becoming easier for students.

3.    Walk to class whenever possible

If your school has a campus transportation system, I understand that sometimes if you’re tired and not in the mood to walk, using it can seem very appealing-that’s fine!  The transportation system is in place for a reason and there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of it.  However, try not to get into the habit of taking the bus everywhere and making it a daily thing.  Walking is not only a great form of exercise, but it allows you to really get to know the different areas and aspects of campus that you might not be able to see from a bus window.  

4.    Try to avoid unhealthy late night munchies

Let’s be honest-college students stay up late.  It’s not uncommon, when you’re up late studying for that big exam, to suddenly feel that familiar rumble in your belly.  Late night snacks are not necessarily a bad thing because when you’re system is “running on low”, your brain isn’t nearly as productive.  However, do yourself a favor and keep healthy snacks, like fruits or nuts in your room, and avoid ordering in late-night wings or cookies.

5.    Learn a new sport or hobby!

Most universities offer so many different types of clubs and sports.  You don’t have to be a varsity athlete to participate in sports and have a good time.  Join an intramural mural team that plays your favorite sport from high school, or try something totally new.  Some of the activities that are offered might surprise you.  Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone!

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!

Love - by Keyna

It’s that time of year again! The stores are full of reds and pinks and CHOCOLATE! Valentine’s Day is, without a doubt, one of my favorite holidays. It is not just about romance, but all kinds of love. If you find that Valentine’s Day puts in a little bit of a slump, do something kind for someone else! It can be for a friend or someone that you don’t even know. By brightening someone else’s day, you will immediately cheer up so spread some LOVE this Valentine’s Day with Random Acts of Kindness! Here are some ideas to get you started:

•    Hold the door open for someone.
•    Let someone go ahead of you in line.
•    Sit by someone new at lunch…you just might make a new friend!
•    Pay for the person behind you!
•    Write a “Thank you” letter to someone that has made a difference in your life.
•    Have a friend that’s also stuck in a Valentine’s Day slump? Send her flowers.
•    Give someone a hug!
•    Share a compliment.
•    Call a friend that you haven’t seen in a while.
•     Smile at everyone you see!
•    Tape change to vending machines!

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! How much love will you spread?

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!

How to Spot a Northerner Anywhere - by Emily

When I first arrived in Mobile for the Distinguished Young Women finals, I stuck out like a sore thumb.  Here I am from Boston walking around say “Wow! This place is wicked cool!” It was pretty easy to pick me and the other Northerners out amongst all the “y’alls” and southern drawls. When I read Christina’s post about how to spot a southerner anywhere, I felt I needed to educate the world on the ways of the North, particularly New England.

1) Defining “New England”

New England is made up of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It does not include New York or New Jersey. That’s pretty much it.

2) We sadly don’t have Krispy Kreme or Chick Fil-A

As Christina pointed out, people from the North don’t know of Krispy Kreme or Chick Fil-A. Before coming to Mobile, I had never tried Krispy Kreme or Chick Fil-A, in fact I had never even heard of Chick Fil-A. We do make up for it with Papa Gino’s pizza and Friendly’s ice cream. I always knew that Papa Gino’s was a New England thing, but I didn’t know the same was true about Friendly’s until I went to Mobile. I mentioned it to my host family and they both asked what Friendly’s was. For all of you asking the same question, Friendly’s is a diner style restaurant famous for the gourmet sundaes. Many are kid-friendly (no pun intended) like the Monster Mash. My favorite is the Giant Crowd pleaser, which is meant to be shared; 12 scoops of ice cream and 6 toppings! You can mix and match and get as creative as you want.


3) We don’t say “y’all”, but we do say “wicked”…

…and we often fahget to use the lettah “r”. We also call water fountains “bubblers” (a term I was laughed at for using in Mobile).

4) Don’t even bother checking the weather because it will most likely change in an hour.

Last week it was 45 degrees and partly sunny. This weekend was a blizzard. Today it’s raining. Tomorrow will be in the 40s again. 

5) The slogan may be “America Runs on Dunkin”, but it should be “New England runs on Dunkin.”

There are 4 Dunkin Donuts in my town.  And regardless of the weather, people will most likely be drinking an iced coffee. Hot coffee really isn’t our thing.  

6) We take our sports very seriously.

New England, and Boston in particular, has some die-hard sports fans. Walking around Boston wearing Yankees gear during baseball season is probably not the best idea. We are full of pride and team spirit.

7) The best part about New England is the four seasons

I will never get sick of experiencing a hot summer day in July, a crisp fall day in October where the leaves change, a white Christmas in December, a blizzard in January, and the warm spring that melts it all away. I can never say which season is my favorite, and I love that I get to experience the height of each one every year.

Unlike Christina, I stayed in New England for College but I have still been able to recognize the differences between New England and other places around the country. Some of my classmates are from places like Ohio and Illinois, and they often point out the differences I just talked about. I love living in New England, and I love sharing our unique culture with others. 

Emily Thomas is a college freshman at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts majoring in Chemistry and Secondary Education. Originally from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Emily was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts for 2012. Learn more about Emily here!

Music: The Best Medicine - by Marin

Have you ever heard the saying “Music makes the World go round”?  I am sure you have. But have you ever really thought about what that saying really means? After talking with some friends and adults about music and what it means to them, I was astonished at how it is true that music does makes our World go round!
When you’re really sad, or down about something, what is something that makes you feel better? Or when something really awesome happens, how do you celebrate? Music. Whether it’s a Beethoven kind of day, or Jimi Hendrix, music has such a powerful and great impact on our lives. How cool is that? Well, let me just tell you.

A study done by Dr. Mike Miller from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore has proven how music can literally help a person during times of stress. Patient’s hearts were monitored while they listened to pleasing music and the results were astonishing to Dr. Miller. He claimed, "The inner lining of the blood vessel relaxed, opened up and produced chemicals that are protective to the heart.” But when he played music that the patients did not enjoy or like, he found, “the vessels actually began to close up, which is the same effect as stress to the heart.” So, it is proven that music (that you enjoy) is actually, medically good for you! But all science aside, music has a way of turning any situation into something positive.
For instance, just this morning right at the beginning of ballet class, I could already tell it was going to be rough. Everyone looked tired and even our teacher knew we weren’t feeling it. So, in between combinations as our teacher was discussing the mechanics of the ligaments and muscles in our hip, he somehow changed the lecture into music and “how could you not know who George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic is?” Yes, this was happening during ballet class. My teacher gave our pianist a look and walked over to the sound system to plug in his iPod. I could not believe my ears as this music poured out of the speakers and everyone in our class went ballistic. Instantly, the mood changed, and for the rest of the class, everyone was more awake and chipper.

The more I think about how music impacts not just my life but also others, the more excited I get. How wonderful is it that music, which is all around us, has the power to change people? As I finish this post,  “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles is slowly coming to a close. However, I am not sad that this happy song has ended, but elated. Because I know that today is going to be a great day!

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!

Fotos de salas modernas

La sala representa la carta de presentación por excelencia de nuestro hogar a la hora de recibir visitas, es por eso que esta tiene que estar correctamente decorada y bien diseñada. Existe una amplia variedad de mobiliarios y decorados exclusivos para la sala y el estar, y todo depende de los gustos de los compradores. Habitualmente, una sala común está compuesta por sofas, mesas de centro, lámparas decorativas, alfombras, estanterías, abanicos de techo, mesas decorativas, floreros, etc. A continuación hemos publicado algunas fotos sobre salas modernas. Esperamos que las disfruten.

Fotos de muebles de madera

Los muebles de madera dan ese toque ideal a la hora de decorar tu sala o estar. Una gran cantidad de personas acuden a las tiendas, centros comerciales y negocios especializados en la venta de muebles en busca de un mueble de madera que les guste y que se acomode a su hogar o residencia. Y es que los muebles de madera son realmente cómodos, duraderos y baratos, dependiendo del tipo de madera que se elija. A continuación hemos publicado algunas fotos de muebles de madera, esperamos que sean de su agrado.

Fotos de ventanas de aluminio

Las ventanas de aluminio son muy solicitadas hoy en dia a la hora de instalar el ventanal de casas, apartamentos y edificios en general. Y es que el aluminio proporciona seguridad y elegancia, además de que es un material barato comparado con los demás tipos de ventanas, como las de vidrio. Una gran cantidad de hogares optan por instalar ventanas de aluminio en sus viviendas, y es que estas familias se sienten mucho mas seguras a la hora de instalarlas. A continuación les presentamos algunas fotos de ventanas de aluminio publicadas en…

Fotos de cocinas americanas

Las cocinas americanas son muy solicitadas hoy en dia en el fascinante mundo de la decoración en general. A continuación hemos publicado algunas fotos sobre cocinas en general, esperamos que les gusten.

Fotos de decoracion de livings

Tengo tiempo decorando todo tipo de livings, y en mi larga carrera como decorador de interior he podido ver y aplicar nuevas técnicas de decoración para aplicarlos en este interesante espacio dentro de la vivienda. Un livings bien decorado aumenta la reputación personal del propietario del inmueble, pues está comprobado que el tipo de decoración interior que utilizamos refleja nuestra personalidad, pues cada decorado va a corde con los gustos y necesidades habituales de los que habitan el espacio. A continuación hemos publicado algunas fotos sobre livings que siempre me han gustado. Espero que les agraden estas imágenes.

Fotos de decoracion de cuartos

Decorar un cuarto es una genial idea a la hora de agregar confort y elegancia a este espacio tan importante de tu casa o residencia. Muchas personas optan por decorar ellos mismos sus cuartos, dependiendo y teniendo siempre en cuenta cada uno de sus gustos. De nosotros dependerá la decoración final que se adapte a nuestros gustos y nuestras necesidades en general. El color y el mobiliario son muy utilizados en cuenta a la hora de decorar, y la técnica es conseguir una unidad, osea, que cada uno de los elementos que componen esta nueva decoración interior se vean como un todo perfectamente combinado, agradable a la vista y completamente funcional.

Fotos de estudio

Estudiar arquitectura se ha vuelto una tendencia en los últimos años. Cada vez mas estudiantes optan por iniciar una carrera universitaria relacionada con el fascinante mundo de las construcciones en general. Muchos de estos estudiantes optan por estudiar ingeniería civil, otros por estudiar arquitectura o decoración interior, pero al final las tres carreras llevan una relación entre ellas, y es el hecho de que ambas buscan terminar una construcción cómoda y confortable para el uso del hombre.

salas modernas

Bathroom design ideas and photos galllery
In older houses especially, the bathroom is usually the first thing that bugs its new occupants and a bathroom renovation is soon on the cards.

Whether its a full bathroom remodeling or just updating the accessories, the options are almost limitless - the design options of fixtures, the vanity, cabinet, shower, mirror, bathtubs, tiles and more have only grown over the years.

Maybe you want a contemporary bathroom or Victorian style; large, modern tiles or discount tiles for the budget-conscious. A less fancy consideration is your exhaust fan, or try a heated towel rail for added luxury.

Browse below for bathroom renovation pictures, general design idea photos or quite specific inspiration:

Looking for Endless Master Bathroom Ideas
There are endless luxuries that can be added to your master bathroom through a design or remodeling project today! Remodeling or designing your master bath into something unique and beautiful can easily set your home apart from others in the area. Here are some topics to focus on when developing a master bathroom:

Light Fixtures: Deciding what kinds of fixtures you want and where you want them placed is a very important design decision that you have to make when lighting your bathroom. Dimmer switches and heat light fixtures are two particular additions that you should consider adding to your light fixture list because of their usefulness.
Flooring: There are many choices in flooring material that can be laid out in a bathroom. Tile, granite, linoleum are three popular options but there are many other choices besides those that you can use to personalize the bathroom.
Sink Countertops: Sink countertops endure a lot of use overtime and finding the appropriate material for your countertop is important because of that. This should be designed along with your cabinet and shelving in the process of coming up with your master bathroom ideas.
Shower Glass Door vs. No Door: Deciding whether you want an enclosed shower with a door or an open shower that requires a curtain is an option many encounter as well.
Cabinets & Shelves: Allow your master bathroom to have more space for personal storage through creative cabinet layouts and more drawer space. Picking out the material that your cabinet and shelves are made from is also important when creating a more unique bathroom to your liking.
Luxurious Bath Tub: Make it so that your master bathroom feels like a spa every time you take a bath by installing a jetted or deep soaking-style tub. While homeowners enjoy oversized tubs for their comfort and special features, such tubs carry the added bonus of increasing the home's resale value.
Fogless Mirror: Eliminate the annoyance of exiting your daily hot shower and having to wait for your bathroom mirror to de-fog.
Windows: Adding in a bay window to look out of from your sunken tub can bring beauty to any master bath. Skylight installation is a nice way to bring in natural sunlight and allow your bathroom to be more energy efficient.
Vanities: Whether you want a single or shared vanity is your decision!

The ideas above are just a few features to think about when considering your master bathroom ideas, but the possibilities don't end there.

Taking your ideas for a remodeled bathroom and making them a reality not only guarantees that you'll be happy with the newfound leisure that your remodel brings, but the value of your home will go up because of your luxurious new bathroom too! Don't delay!

Are you interested in bathroom remodeling or learning more about bath remodeling in general? Starcom Design/Build has been helping home owners in Towson, Lutherville, Owings Mills, Columbia, and Ellicott City Maryland create the prefect bathroom renovation, sunroom addition, custom home design and family room addition for over 20 years. Contact them today and get expert help with your next home remodeling project.