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Every year, my college’s athletics program puts on a dinner for the athletes and hand out awards to deserving students for their athletic and academic achievements. It’s a night to commemorate the hard work that is being put in every day as both a student and an athlete, which is not always an easy feat to juggle school work and practice times, along with every other aspect of being a college student. As my final year in college comes to a close, this year’s banquet was extra special to me. As a senior, I swam for all four years, and played softball for the past three. I’ve watched the program grow and improve, making friends and long-lasting relationships along the way. So here’s a summary of all that I’ve learned during my time as a college athlete.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Everyone likes to win, but more importantly, no one likes to lose. When you put all those hours of practice in, going to a sporting event and doing your best, coming in second or losing a game can be devastating. After that, people can usually take it one of two ways: ask themselves ‘why do I keep doing this’; or tell themselves ‘here is where I can improve.’ Being able to get up after a loss is a feat in itself. Being a swimmer taught me to look at hurdles and obstacles in life in a similar manner. Sometimes, someone is just better than you. Sometimes, you beat yourself, and your best wasn’t truly your best.

Regardless, it’s necessary to understand where you can be better. It’s not easy being rejected from a job or doing poorly on a test, but that just means there is room for improvement. Having never even picked up a softball until my time in college meant that I needed to be clinically and technically good at the sport. I could not just skim on by, only putting in a little heart and energy. I had to give it my all to even be halfway decent, and even then I had to work just that much harder than my teammates who had been playing since they were children. And it paid off. While I wasn’t starting on the field as often as some of the other girls, I still earned a place and respect on the team from my coaches and fellow teammates. Gaining that respect counted as a win in my eyes.

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Know the Difference Between Being Friends and Being Teammates

Sports bring together an eclectic group of people with all different backgrounds and interests. Because of that, you’re going to run into a few people that might not have the same views or opinions as you do. With that, it’s important to understand the distinction between friends and teammates. Oftentimes my teammates become my friends, because of going through the same pain every day and the countless hours spent together. However, there was always someone that rubbed me the wrong way, someone I didn’t always get along with, or just someone that didn’t become a close friend. And that was fine, because we still learned how to work together and be a team, and be the support network we all needed at our lowest points. It didn’t matter if we went out to dinner after a practice as one massive team – it mattered that we came together and worked well with one another when we needed to.

Your Coach Is There For You

Your coach is there to push you. They’re there to find your limits and extend them, break you down just to build you back up. But they’re also there as support, a shoulder to lean on, and a mentor. While not all coaches will be that open, I’ve had the pleasure of having fantastic coaches that let me open up and talk about my personal life with them and help me work through my problems, even if they were minute. Having that mentor in my life was extremely necessary during my time in college. For some, they find that role in a professor or a friend, but with the amount of time I spent with my coach, I developed more than just a player-coach relationship, but a true friendship.

Know How to Trust Your Team

Along the same lines as working with your team, you need to learn how to trust them. You need to learn their strengths and weaknesses to fully understand how you all work together. Similarly when working with a group of people in an office setting, knowing where someone excels more than another can allow for more efficient working. With softball, it was important to know how hard my teammate could throw, or knowing how fast they could run in order for the team to operate as efficiently as possible. With game sports like softball where there is a set number of people playing at a time, there is an automatic sense of competition within a team that is bigger than the number of people playing. When you spend so much time practicing, you want to be able to showcase your talent and make the practices seem worthwhile; yet, when someone is consistently better than you, they are going to take your position and chance to play. So it is necessary to understand and trust your teammates’ abilities, and only use that to drive your own excellence.

Be There For Your Teammates

I spent the last three years as a captain for my swim team, which taught me a lot about people and how to interact around them. Firstly, I learned to never flaunt the title of captain. If anything, I was a teammate first, and a captain second. My role was to be a liaison between my coach and my teammates if need be, a shoulder to lean on for my teammates, and to be a mentor for those in need of guidance. I would always tell my teammates that if they needed anything – a study buddy, a wall to vent to, or just someone to eat lunch with – that I would be there for them, and all they have to do is ask.

Image: Courtesy of Sam Amberchan

CollegeEducation

Senioritis is all too real, especially with it being finals season, and even graduation soon for some students. While procrastination is already heavily prevalent across all colleges, senioritis is exceptionally worse. Keep reading to learn some strategies on how to stay focused on work, graduation, and post-grad plans.

The end of the semester is either the last thing on your mind because of the mounds and mounds of work you have left to do, or the very first thing on your mind – summer vacation! Yet for many seniors, the prospect of the end of the semester is both exciting and terrifying. Not only are you worrying about all of your classwork, you’re also pouring over graduate school or job applications, apartment listings, and trying to hang out with your friends as often as possible before you all go off into the real world.

How seniors approach the end of the semester can either be stressing out about all of the above, or just acting very apathetic to the work in front of them. Many fall somewhere in between, yet neither is quite healthy for your mind or your grades. Here are some tips to stay focused all the way to the end and still enjoy their last semester in college.

Stay Organized

The quickest way to senioritis, skipping classes, and unintentionally lowering your grades is by not staying organized. If you have your schedule written out on five different pieces of paper and you’ve suddenly reverted to being a freshman in high school and losing all of your homework, you need to either invest in a school planner, or start using a calendar on your phone. Between a constantly changing softball schedule, class hours and my on campus job, Google calendar is my lifesaver.

I’m a list maker. I make lists for literally everything: groceries, homework due, what I’m eating during the day, what non-homework things I need to get done, you name it. So because of that, I have two constant lists: Homework To Do, and Other To Do. Oftentimes the “other” is what I call “productive procrastination” – looking at job sites, car dealerships, recipes my friends and I want to try when we’re off the meal plan, and things my parents want to do when they come out for my graduation. These are all things I have to do at some point anyway, so whenever I’m feeling extra unmotivated to do homework, I switch over to my other list and see what I need to get done.

Juggling all that needs to get done before graduation can cause anyone’s head to whirl. Sometimes it can be too much, but it doesn’t have to be. Alternate what kind of work you do which days: Monday/Wednesday/Friday you do school work, and Tuesday/Thursday you spend the day job searching and apartment hunting. That way, you stay on top of both without stressing yourself out too much.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself is knowing what you can and cannot do during the day without going insane. That includes getting as much good sleep as possible, eating well multiple times a day (taking snacks to class if you don’t have time for lunch works well), and even exercising on a semi-regular basis. These small things are often overlooked, but are essential to not going crazy.

Instead of attempting to pull an all-nighter, when you feel like you’re too tired to do any more work, take a shower and go to bed. It’s better to do it the next day when you are feeling more energized than attempt to carry on working in a half-zombie state of mind.

Take an hour or so out of your day to go to the gym or take a nice walk. It can also be a social hour if you feel like you haven’t been able to spend enough time with friends.

Spend Time With Your Friends

Before you know it, your friend group is going to be pulled apart in different directions as people follow their dream job or attend grad school. Make some time every day to catch up with someone, it can be as small as getting coffee or as big as a shopping day or going to a baseball game, so that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your last semester of college.

Find Motivation

This might be an odd thing to have on a list of way to keep yourself motivated, but sometimes it’s really that simple. For some, their motivating drive stems from getting their work done so that the end of the semester can be spent relaxing with friends. For others, it can be the pending email about a job prospect. Yet for a whole other group, they need small, attainable goals to keep them motivated for the last two months of the semester. It’s very easy to be so stressed out that you end up doing nothing productive – don’t fall into that black hole. Instead, set a small goal of completing your homework for the day and rewarding yourself with an episode of your favorite show (ONE episode – small goal, small reward!).

Make Playlists for Different Moods

Some people do this for fun, and some dread it (like myself). As someone that will listen to anything, I’m not always aware of what kinds of music affects me when. However, I’ve noticed that I do more and better work when I’m listening to instrumental music rather than top 40 hits. But to get out of bed, I need something pop-y and fresh to get me going for my 9:30am class. Whether you make your own playlists or borrow from Spotify (that’s what I do), find your fit.

Set Aside Guilt-Free Time For Fun

It’s still college, after all. You will remember that time you and your friend spent all day contemplating the importance of a (very) attractive side character of your favorite show than the night you spent doing work. After landing your first job or getting your master’s degree, your GPA won’t matter. It’s about the experiences and memories. Know what is important and what is important to you, and find the best balance of both. If that means forcing your friend to do homework with you so that you can see her AND study for that test on Friday, then do it. If you choose to go out with the boys tonight, just remember to make up that work the next day. Life is all about balance, so find yours.

Image: Flickr

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s difficult to not think of Max Levine when we consider what it means to Seize Your Youth. Not too long ago we ran into Max at four in the afternoon on a Saturday, having just got off of his 24 hour shift as an EMT for the George Washington University Hospital. Despite his sleepless day, he was vibrant and excited to share what he had just spent the last 24 hours doing. It goes without saying that this is a person whose passion is contagious, and we are excited to share his experiences and advice with you. As a pre-med student at GWU, Max knows what it means to commit blood (literally), sweat, and tears into achieving his dreams.

Name: Max Levine
Age: 21
Education: B.S. in Biology and Spanish from the George Washington University
Discover: EMeRG

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Max Levine: I would define seizing your youth as recognizing the times when it’s okay to not care about the future or really anything in general and just do what you want to do.

CJ: What has been the most unexpected aspect of college?

ML: The most surprising part of college has been working as an EMT as a student. I never would have thought that this was even a possibility never mind something that I would take up as a hobby.

CJ: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

ML: Mostly class and an urgent need to urinate. That and morning breath that even offends me.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

ML: Do what needs to be done, but do whatever makes you happy.

CJ: What has been your favorite college class so far? Why?

ML: My freshman University Writing course called “American Myth Through Western Film.” This class was awesome. All we did was watch sweet old western movies and then write papers about them. Our final project was to make up our own plot for a film and then write a brief summary of what the movie would be. It was fantastic.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

ML: It starts with four scrambled eggs and some cold water ( I can’t stand room temperature water.) Shower, dress myself with pretty little thought regarding color/pattern coordination. I’ll usually go to class and end up skipping lunch. Then I’ll either go to EMeRG shift, the parasite lab, or then go do homework and end up going to sleep around 12.

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CJ: How did you get involved in parasitology? What are the benefits and difficulties with that work?

ML: The parasitology class is offered to undergrads and I took it for my major. I ended up volunteering in the lab because I needed some lab experience for medical school and ended up loving the people I met there. The benefits are incredible. I have been given many projects to work on that are getting me invaluable experience in research methods and lab work in general. I am getting published by the end of this semester and will be looking to get a phenomenal recommendation from my professor as well. The difficulties of the lab include the time commitment and the general frustration of failing science experiments however I would hardly say that these are difficulties. The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot.

CJ: What advice would you give to incoming freshman who want to be pre-med in college?

I would say to not worry about the other pre-med kids because they’re usually pretty obnoxious and will do anything to let you know when they’ve succeeded and you’ve failed. Get out and do other things and learn how to be a social human being. Although grades are important, you won’t be a good doctor unless you genuinely know how to talk to and relate to people in a sincere manner. Also be open to other options, there are plenty of other things to do for jobs in the BIO field, not just medicine.

CJ: You spent a summer working at hospitals in Chile. Could you please tell us more about that experience and how it influenced you?

ML: I worked in both a public and private hospital in Santiago, Chile for 3 months. The private hospital was much like any modernized hospital you would find in the US, just in Spanish. Working here, I had the privilege of observing numerous operations that ranged from gastrointestinal procedures to vascular complications. These were the best surgeons and doctors in the country (possibly the continent) operating in this hospital.

The public hospital was in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Santiago that treated about 1.5 million patients a year and was named the busiest public hospital in Chile. The building itself was an old tuberculosis asylum that was converted into a hospital and the majority of people that come are pretty short on cash. I had met a younger doctor at the private hospital that was also doing rotations at the public hospital so I would go with him to and from shift. Here I was able to get my hands dirty, so to speak, and I learned how to give stitches and was fortunately able to participate/assist in a range of surgical procedures. This included appendectomies, cholecystectomies (gallbladder removal), one leg amputation, and a handful of other procedures. The leg amputation was the most memorable by far simply due to the gravity of what was going on. A woman with severe diabetes had neglected an infection in her leg, which had led to the necrosis of the majority of her lower limb. We amputated the leg from just above the knee in order to saver her life. It was a powerful and surreal experience that I will never forget. I won’t get too graphic with this but the most profound moment was the moment the leg was cut free. I had been holding the leg in a fixed position from the start of the operation and as it detached, I remember holding the leg and just looking at it and taking in what was in my hands and what this meant for the woman who had lost this limb. It’s hard to say how this has affected me, however I know for sure that this will be a lasting memory.

CJ: You are double majoring with Biology and Spanish. Can you explain why and if it’s been worth it?

ML: I have been taking Spanish since the 6th grade. I can’t imagine my life without the ability to use Spanish in some way shape or form. Additionally, Spanish is a really useful language to know in this country and has helped me in the medical setting, being able to communicate with Spanish speaking patients. On more than one occasion I have had to use Spanish on a call with EMeRG and even more so in Chile. Learning Spanish has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and the Spanish/ South American culture is definitely a prominent part of who I am today.

CJ: Between academics, working in the research lab, working as an EMT, and spending time on yourself, how do you juggle it all?

ML: There are three categories in college and everyone can only choose two. They are: Social life, Sleep, Good Grades. I have chosen to have a social life and “good grades” (in my case just study a lot and get okay grades) and I don’t really sleep a ton. I take medication for ADHD every day and it’s an amphetamine, which helps to keep me awake during the days (don’t worry it’s prescribed). I’m also just used to being tired all the time so little sleep isn’t a huge deal.

CJ: What is your favorite city?

ML: Boston. Hands down the best city on the planet. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and it’s a city with a great personality and is more personal that New York.

CJ: What’s your favorite book?

ML: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

ML: Don’t let high school get you down and don’t worry about your social status. The kids who peak in high school get what’s coming to them in college and don’t really amount to a whole lot. Don’t worry about what’s ahead; go run around without a wallet, cell phone or keys while you can because those days are long gone now.

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EducationHealthSkills

As we mentioned in this week’s Leadership Trait, maintaining an organized schedule is life-changing. There are many ways to keep track of your day-to-day routine, to-do’s, and classes, and everyone has their own system and way of doing things. It took me years to figure out a system that worked best for me. I tried binders, plain notebooks that I drew lines into, stickers with hours on them, and every daily, weekly, and monthly calendar out there. Once I finally established a system that worked, it was something I no longer had to think about and I could focus on my actual tasks.

If you, however, do not yet have a system, or if you are looking to improve the way you currently organize your life, these planners will definitely come in handy…

1. At-A-Glance – The Action PlannerPlain and simple, this planner is nothing fancy but it gets the job done.

2. Gallery Leather Weekly Desk PlannerAn upgrade from black and white, this red leather weekly planner is a touch fancier.

3. Moleskine 12 Months Weekly PlannerOrganize your months and days with a solid planner.

4. Quo Vadis Compact Daily Desk PlannerPlan out each day by the hour and still have plenty of room for notes.

5. Russel+Hazel Signature Pattern Binder with InsertsThis binder is the epitome of organization, complete with weekly planner sheet inserts and a sturdy rubber band to keep your pages secure.

Do you use a planner to organize your life?