Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We’re always excited to meet fellow bookworms, so you can imagine how fun it was chatting with Jacqueline Clair, who runs the blog York Avenue, about all things blogging, photography, and of course, books! Not only is Jacqueline a blogger, but she’s also an operating room registered nurse. (Pretty awesome slash career, right?) Jackie decided to pursue nursing after earning her degree in Psychology, and she spends her days caring for patients, managing the equipment off the sterile field, and working under pressure.

When she’s not at the hospital, Jackie is exploring New York City with her camera in tow to snap photos of great places around Manhattan. Lucky for us, she also shares interior design tips and book recommendations. Keep reading to find out what it’s like to be an OR nurse, how Jackie balances her job with blogging, and how she makes time to read.

Name: Jacqueline Clair
Education: BA in Psychology, BS in Nursing
Follow: YorkAvenueBlog.com / Instagram / Twitter

CJ: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’? 

JC: I would define seizing your youth as seeking out opportunities and making the most of any opportunities that come your way. I would define it as also enjoying your youth, but at the same time making smart decisions to set yourself up for the future.

CJ: Where did you go to college and what did you major in? How did you decide what to study?

JC: I went for the first two years to SUNY Fredonia and then transferred to Stony Brook University for my last two years, where I finished up my Bachelors in Psychology. Then I went back for an accelerated nursing program and got a second Bachelors in nursing, which is how I became an RN. I decided to study Psychology because I just loved it. I thought all of my classes were so interesting and intriguing. 

CJ: How did you decide to earn your nursing degree? How did you go about finding the right nursing school for you?

JC: I decided to earn a nursing degree because I wasn’t quite sure where to go with my Psychology degree. I wanted to do something active, where I wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk, and I was looking for a career where I could learn something new every day and always be doing something different. Nursing certainly fit the bill! I talked to a few nurses and it seemed like a good fit. I also liked that it incorporated Psychology in a way, since you’re dealing a lot with people.

CJ: You are an Operating Room Registered Nurse. What does your role entail, and what do your daily tasks look like?

JC: As an OR nurse, you’re either the Circulating Nurse during a surgical procedure, or the Scrub Nurse. When you’re scrubbed, you work directly with the surgical team, passing instruments, sponges, and sharps. You’re in charge of maintaining the sterile field, and together with the circulator you’re responsible for surgical counts. As a circulator, you interview the patient at the door, and help position them and maintain their safety during the procedure. You’re the one in the room who isn’t sterile, so you’re responsible for managing the equipment off the sterile field and getting anything that is needed during the procedure, like extra sponges and sutures, extra instruments, additional pieces of equipment, etc. You also do the charting, obtain medications needed during surgery, and discharge the patient from the OR to the recovery area.

CJ: What are the top three skills you need to excel as an Operating Room Registered Nurse?

JC: I would say you need to be adaptable, you need to be able to work well in a team setting, and you need to be able to work well under pressure.

JC A

CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to be an Operating Room Registered Nurse do to set him or herself up for success?

JC: If you’re in nursing school and you think you may be interested in the OR, talk to your teachers and advisors and express that interest. See if they can set you up with any mentors, an OR rotation, or anything else. They may be able to set you up with someone you can talk to about it or interview, to get a sense of what it’s like. They may even be able to secure you a clinical rotation in an OR setting. You could also try volunteering in a hospital and expressing an interest in the OR or the procedure areas. You could also look into volunteering in some kind of outpatient or ambulatory clinic. Your OB rotation is likely to bring you into the labor and delivery area or into the OR for C-sections, so that’s where you really want to focus your efforts if you’re interested in the OR as a career choice.

CJ: You are also the blogger behind York AvenueHow do you balance blogging with your day job?

JC: I work on my blog after work and on the weekends. On weekends I’ll get started on a post or two and edit photos, or I’ll take photos of something I’m baking, something I want to feature on the blog, or places that I visit and am shooting for the blog. During the week, after work, I’ll edit pictures and write posts. Sometimes I use a vacation day to be able to visit a place that I want to photograph for the blog on a weekday, when it won’t be super crowded!

CJ: You have an entire category dedicated to books on your blog. We love that! What are some books that have changed your life?

JC: Well, I’m not sure that any books have changed my life, per say, but I certainly do have a few favorites! Recently I loved The Goldfinch, and some other favorites are The Little Stranger, I am Charlotte Simmons, and The Ruins. They weren’t life-changing, I just loved them.

CJ: What tips do you have for making time to read?

JC: The biggest thing that has freed up time to read for me personally has been giving up television for the most part. I’m not that into TV anyway so it wasn’t very hard, and I’m saving lots of money on cable. I’ll never give up Girls and Game of Thrones though!

CJ: How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?

JC: Unfortunately I don’t devote as much time to fitness as I should, but I do make it a habit to basically walk everywhere, even in the winter. I actually love walking around the city so it’s not very hard. I basically have been refusing to take cabs as of late, and it’s saving me tons of money and providing me with more opportunities for exercise. I do take the subway though!

CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?

JC: When I have really hard days I usually just think back to other hard days I’ve had, and remember how those were just moments that passed, and so I know the current bad moment will pass. I try to do things I enjoy if I’m feeling down, like go for walks, read, take photographs, or treat myself to a new book or a box of macarons or something. Talking to my Mom and Dad always helps too!

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? Why?

JC: I get pretty passionate about the food industry. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal Vegetable Miracle, and some Michael Pollan articles I became pretty disgusted by all of the questionable and unnecessary additives and chemicals that are pumped into processed foods, even seemingly innocuous ones like bread and cereal. I’m not a particularly healthy eater (anyone who reads my blog knows about my massive sweet tooth), but I try to eat sweets that are handmade and small batch, many of which I’ve written about on my blog.

The places that I write about on my blog are usually the small producers that are making high-quality items by hand, with amazing ingredients, like Stick With Me Sweets and Orwasher’s. If I’m going to treat myself to something, I don’t want it to be full of artificial dyes and other weird things made in a lab. I strive to eat mostly organic when it comes to produce, dairy, and meat, and to eat as little packaged food as possible. It’s not easy because I absolutely have a weakness for cereal, but I just don’t trust the food industry at all. So I’m pretty passionate about the whole issue of GMO labeling, which I absolutely think should be required.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

JC: I’m constantly working on saving, de-cluttering, and paring down. Saving especially is something that I’m really working on. It’s so, so important to have a 6-8 month emergency fund and to start contributing to your 401k the MINUTE you start working. Youth is the biggest advantage you have on your side when it comes to growing a retirement fund – the more time your savings has to grow, the more money you’ll have down the line – and you will need it.

CJ: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

JC: Don’t rush things. I thought I needed to have everything figured out and nailed down right when I graduated college, but looking back, that wasn’t the case.

Jackie Clair Qs 1

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s perfectly fitting that Maurissa Walls, a senior at The George Washington University, is also the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Smart Girls Group (SGG). She’s definitely one of the smartest people we’ve met and undoubtedly has an extremely bright future ahead of her. We found out about this inspiring woman by word of mouth – her name kept popping up in conversation around campus and it was no secret that she was a leader at GWU, making her mark one student at a time through freshman orientations and volunteerism.

As both a student and aspiring market strategist, Maurissa has never shied away from a challenge. For over two years she has strategized all of the marketing and advertising campaigns for SGG, manages a full team of Smart Girls, and even contributes to the digital magazine – The Smart Girl’s Guide. We are elated to introduce to you Maurissa Walls!

Name: Maurissa Walls
Age: 22
Education: George Washington University, Bachelor of Business Administration concentration in Marketing
Follow Personal: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Maurissa Walls: Finding the balance between preparing yourself for adulthood and all of the responsibilities and pressures that come with it and being completely spontaneous enough to try as many things out of your comfort zone as you can. I think seizing your youth in this way allows you to make a life out of prioritizing having new, fun, adventurous experiences without compromising being a responsible adult because you’ve already made a habit out of finding the balance between the two.

CJ: What made you decide to attend college in Washington, DC, and how has the experience influenced you as an individual?

MW: I honestly ended up in DC because I was too scared at the time of moving to and living New York. I thought it would be a bit too overwhelming and hard for me to adjust. There’s nothing wrong with pacing yourself, if you know what would be best for you, and I truly believe DC is what was best for me at the time. I really wanted to be in an exciting city , and going to college in DC has impacted who I am today tremendously. Going to GW and living in DC has taught me not only to have an appreciation for culture and people but to also celebrate them. Being here has been an incredibly freeing experience. As I’ve developed and changed here I’ve allowed myself to celebrate my own complexities. I’ve learned from other people here that they can be a professional, and artists, and a mentor, and an activist, and so many things at once. I’ve learned not to limit other people or myself to just one box.

CJ: You are currently the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Smart Girls Group. What does your role entail?

MW: My role at Smart Girls Group includes overseeing the strategic marketing and public relations vision of the company. I work with a really talented group of social media managers, PR managers, graphic designers, and writers to help drive our branding online and promote all of Smart Girls’ amazing offerings, services, and products.

CJ: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with SGG so far?

MW: Working with my team and our wonderful staff has been my favorite part of Smart Girls Group. I love seeing people grow in their positions. Going back to see work of girls on my team from a year or two years ago looks completely different from what they are able to do now. It’s so rewarding to watch people on my team develop their skills, talents, and professionalism and gain confidence in their own capabilities.

Maurissa 3 crop HZCJ: What has been the most unexpectedly exciting part of being involved with a young and growing company?

MW: I didn’t think it would be possible to grow such strong bonds with people online through emails and video conferencing. Those of us on staff are at several different colleges around the US and had never meet in the same room before. When we met for the first time all together at our first conference last summer, it was hard for us to convince people we were physically meeting for the first time. We get along and work so well together. We’ve created such strong bonds and I didn’t expect that to happen. Seeing this come to life at our conference for so many other girls that work together was so rewarding. It definitely proved to me that big results and big impact can come out of small packages.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move forward?

MW: Remembering that I’ll still be alive in the end. There’s nothing more humbling and no easier way to calm yourself down than using a birds-eye view on a tough situation situation. My tough situations don’t even seem valid, considering what is going on in the world. Nowadays I’m usually laughing at my problems. There are some tough times that are harder to laugh through and I will just let myself feel what I am feeling for a moment. Crying, yelling, or whatever I need to do to get it out. But ultimately I realize I can either let myself just exist being upset or I can take action by doing the best that I can. The next day is probably coming, difficult or not, whether I like it or not, so I can at least try to make the best adjustments that I can to make it better.

CJ: What two main pieces of advice would you give to an incoming freshman college student?

MW: I told all of my new students the same advice all summer: use your resources and just take as much stuff as you can. You don’t realize how many “free” things that you are paying for in college until you start budgeting for life after. Then you realize how much free stuff and helpful resources that you left behind. There are so many departments at offices and schools that are begging for students to use their services and as a freshman I thought that I needed to work my way up in order to take advantage. Obviously that’s not true, you can jump in and start taking advantage. That’s not limit to school resources. I encourage freshman to apply for that internships they don’t think they can have or visit that place that they don’t think they can go to. The world is very forgiving of college students – especially freshman.

CJ: You are an aspiring marketing strategist. What originally drew you to this career choice and why?

MW: I’ve wanted to be in marketing since the 6th grade. I liked a writing project that we did where we had to design an ad and create the copy for a cereal commercial. I learned through that project that I like to influence people and I’ve kept with it because I realize there are multiple ways to do it. I’ll be going into buying in the retail industry, and that still feels like marketing to me, because I am in a position to influence and shape people’s experiences when they walk into a store. I like that marketing challenges you find new ways to influence because people are changing all the time.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

MW: My dad always told me growing up to stay connected with people. It’s becoming harder to do as you get older and busier, but I think it is extremely important. When people that I meet abroad, at school, or in programs have a real impact on me I try to stay connected to them. I think it helps to keep you aware of what you learned and how you’ve grown by be surrounded by the people that have helped to get you to that place.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

MW: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Maurissa Group HZCJ: How do you stay organized and juggle all of your responsibilities? Are there specific tools you use?

MW: I’m not a master yet, but I have system that seems to works for me. I use a combination of iCal, a plan book, and a clipboard of to-do lists. I’ve found that it helps me to have multiple touch points. If I have something on my iCal for the day with a notification before, see it in my planner, and have it on my to do list it usually will get done.

Color-coding is also really important and I make sure that I use the same color codes across my three planners. I like being able to look at my schedule at the beginning of the week and visually see that there are a lot of orange student org activities and know that it will be a fun week or to see a lot of blue academic slots to know that I have to crack down early in the week.

CJ: You will be graduating from the George Washington University in 2015. What are your next steps?

MW: I’ll be working in the Merchant (buying/planning) executive program at Macy’s HQ in New York. I am really excited about my job, I think it is well suited for my skills and it will challenge me in new ways. I think it will be a more creative and challenging way for me to use marketing to influence people.

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

MW: I would tell myself that I am exactly who I am supposed to be. I’ve mostly had the same personality, spirit, and energy my entire life and I’ve always known that. I would tell myself to keep listening to myself. I’d promise myself that I would be really grateful for being exactly who I am later down the road and that it is for a good purpose.

Maurissa Walls Qs

Photos courtesy of Hannah Ziegler, Emily Raleigh, and Veronica Graves

CultureLearn

If Ireland is on your list of places to go, take some time to read this combination of Irish authors, history, memoirs, and fictional tales before your travels. Reading about a country you will soon explore will make your adventures rich with knowledge and more fulfilling. Whether you’re reading a book by an Irish author or learning about how the Irish used to live in the 1900’s, there’s nothing like learning as much as you can before a trip to get the most out of it and see those stories come to life.

ireland 1ULYSSES BY JAMES JOYCE

Ulysses is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature. In this classic novel by Irish writer, James Joyce, the encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin on June 16, 1904, are chronicled. Though lengthy, this book is a must-read.

 

ireland 2HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION BY THOMAS CAHILL

If you’re a history buff, this untold story of Ireland’s role in maintaining Western Culture and how Ireland helped Europe transition and evolve from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era will be right up your alley.

 

ireland 3A SECRET MAP OF IRELAND BY ROSITA BOLAND

Rosita Boland takes readers on a tour through Ireland’s 32 counties and shares her extraordinary (and very unusual) travels.

 

ireland 4TO SCHOOL THROUGH THE FIELDS BY ALICE TAYLOR

A charming memoir by Alice Taylor who shares her Irish childhood and the memories that accompany it.

 

ireland 5LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN BY COLUM McCANN

Though this novel takes place in New York City in the 1970’s, Irish author Colum McCann’s writing is worth getting to know before making your way to his homeland.

 

ireland 6THE BACK OF BEYOND: A SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF IRELAND BY JAMES CHARLES ROY

A noted authority on Irish travel and history, James Charles Roy guides readers (and in the book, a group of Americans), through the backwaters of ancient Ireland.

 

 

ireland 7GULLIVER’S TRAVELS BY JONATHAN SWIFT

A classic of English literature, this novel by Irish writer Jonathan Swift is a satire on human nature and a parody of the traveler’s tales sub-genre. For a literary adventure, pick this book up before your real-life adventures.

 

ireland 8DUBLINERS BY JAMES JOYCE

In Joyce’s collection of short stories, he describes with great detail his observations of the life of Dublin’s poorer classes. As Joyce brings Dublin to life, there’s no way you won’t be immersed in lives of Dubliners in the 1900’s.

 

ireland 9A SHORT HISTORY OF IRELAND BY RICHARD KILLEEN

For a quick read about Irish history. A good starting point and overview before your travels.

 

 

ireland 10THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE

Irish writer Oscar Wilde wrote this philosophical novel in 1890, and it’s worth reading before traveling to this author’s homeland.

 

ireland 12THE MODERNISATION OF IRISH SOCIETY: 1848 – 1918 BY JOSEPH LEE

For history and political fans, read about how Ireland became one of the most modern and advanced political cultures in the world at that time. Get a more in-depth look at Ireland’s history and how it modernized.

 

What books on Ireland have you found interesting? Happy reading and safe travels!

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Nick Rubin is one seriously impressive 17-year-old. We met up with Nick for coffee in Seattle and discussed the many amazing projects he’s working on, including the app Greenhouse (which he built himself), a youth-run organization connector called YouthCorp, and his college applications.

As a high school student, Nick has loads of homework and the typical stress that comes with being near the end of your high school career. But Nick is approaching his time in high school differently by making the most of his time outside of class. He partakes in extracurriculars, spends time pursuing hobbies such as graphic design and photography, and makes time for himself by going on hikes and bike rides.

Nick undoubtedly seizes his youth. Read on to learn about how Nick learned to code, the inspiration behind his projects, and the top tips he would give someone who is just about to enter high school.

Name: Nicholas Rubin
Education: Lakeside School
Follow:
nicholasrub.in / @nickrubin / Greenhouse / Instagram

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

Nicholas Rubin: I define “Seizing Your Youth” as taking advantage of the many opportunities that being young offers. For example, free time. We tend to have more free time than adults, which gives us time to focus on our passions and interests. Many people say that kids can’t make change, but I think that the opposite is true. I think it’s easier for kids to make a change – not only are we able to focus on what we’re interested in, but there’s something about youth that’s special.

CJ: You are the creator of Greenhouse, a free browser extension for Chrome Firefox, and Safari that exposes the role money plays in Congress. What inspired you to create Greenhouse?

NR: Ever since giving a presentation in a 7th grade social studies class, I’ve been really interested in the issue of money-in-politics. It’s not usually something kids care about, but even though I’m 17 and can’t vote for another year, I wanted to change that. I thought that the information about sources of funding of members of Congress wasn’t being made accessible to people, to the average citizen. It’s being buried away. The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is the agency that’s in charge of making this information accessible to the public, but they aren’t doing a good job. It’s tucked away, and since most people don’t know where or how to find it, I wanted to put it where it’s more useful – on the web pages where people read about the actions of members of Congress every day.

CJ: How did you go about actually building Greenhouse?

NR: When I first came up with the idea, I didn’t really know how to code. I taught myself using a series of online resources, and this year I’m taking a formal computer science class in school. There are so many great instructional websites these days – Kahn Academy, Codecademy, and my favorite, Treehouse – which are all geared toward youth, so it’s easy to understand for a beginner.

I spent about 10 months and 400 hours working on Greenhouse. For the data itself, I’m collecting it from an organization called the Center for Responsive Politics, which takes the FEC data and makes it available to developers.

CJ: What cause or issue do you care greatly about and why?

NR: I’ve been working on one other important project since this summer. In August, I went to the Yale Young Global Scholars Program, and met 200 other kids from all over the world who all shared a passion for change and global affairs. Four of us recognized this, and we started something called YouthCorp. It’s an organization that connects youth-run nonprofits, projects, initiatives, and companies and combines their resources to fight a common issue.

We’re still figuring out the details, but in the first two months we’ve had around 20 youth-run organizations join us from all over the world. It’s great, and is something that I’ll definitely continue working on.

Nick Rubin d

CJ: You are also a photographer. What sparked your interest in photography and what camera do you use?

NR: I don’t really remember exactly when I started photography, but it’s been a long time. Back in middle school I went to a camp in the San Juans that had film photography as an activity. I learned how to use a manual camera, develop film, and more. Ever since then, I’ve loved it. I got my first point-and-shoot in 6th grade, eventually graduating to a film camera, and then a DSLR. Now I’m in my third year of photography at school, where I do both film and digital photography. My favorite type would probably be travel photography and portraits. They’re both fun to take.

CJ: You have done quite a bit of design work. Where do you draw inspiration and what tools do you use for your design work?

NR: I’ve been interested in design since a 7th grade art class, when we did some linoleum printing. I wasn’t much of an art student, but I really enjoyed carving out and printing shapes. I like simple, minimalist design, and use Photography and Illustrator to do most of my work.

CJ: You were a Top-10 finalist at MHacks IV for Quink, a free browser extension for Chrome and Safari that lets you read the news faster without leaving the page you’re on. What was that experience like and what advice do you have for pitching and making it all the way to the Top 10?

NR: It was an amazing experience. A 36-hour programming competition with almost no sleep may sound miserable, but it was actually tons of fun. Hard, but a great experience. The community tends to be more about learning, rather than competition, so it creates a great environment. Some hackathons have cash prizes, but many of these events are turning away from that and discouraging people from only going with the prizes in mind. Most people go for the experience, and that’s really what makes these events special.

My advice for kids interested in these events is that you don’t have to be an amazing coder, or even know how to code at all. Many attend as designers or simply attend workshops and learn as they go on.

CJ: How do you stay organized, and what are your time management tips?

NR: Truthfully, I’m not the best with organization and time management, but there’s an app called Things that has basically saved my life. It’s a to-do list, where you simply check things off when you’re done. I could probably work to be a bit more organized, and use things like calendars, but something simple like Things is enough for me. I don’t like being too structured.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on school, work, and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

NR: On a typical Monday, I wake up at 7AM, drive my sisters to school, and go to my classes. After school, I continue to dedicate a quite a bit of time to Greenhouse, even though the attention surrounding it has died down a bit. I’ll spend an hour or two every day working on updates or responding to emails. Other than that, and my homework, I like to play tennis and go on hikes and bike rides.

CJ: What three tips would you give someone entering high school?

NR:
1. Try to make free time for yourself. School may be tough with homework, but it’s possible to have free time if you manage it properly. That’s what makes youth special, having time to do what you want. Making that time is important.

2. Don’t worry too much. That’s something I struggled with for the past few years. I’ve toned it down now, but don’t spend a lot of time stressing about school and your social life.

3. Do what you’re interested in, both in school and out. Pick classes and extracurriculars that interest you. For example, computer science is an elective course that I’m taking. Use your school’s resources to further your interests.

CJ: The college application process is ahead. What are you doing now to prepare for that?

NR: The process is just starting for me – I was actually assigned my college counselor yesterday. I’m probably planning on going on a school tour during spring break. I haven’t given the process much thought, but one thing that I’ve heard from people is to definitely start early. I may procrastinate with school assignments, but with something as big as college essays and applications, I’m going to be sure to start as early as possible.

CJ: What is one of your favorite books?

NR: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

NR: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

NR: Communication and reaching out to people. There are definitely a lot of people who could be useful to me and the projects that I’m working on, and reaching out to some of them would be really beneficial. When I need help, I tend to refrain from asking others, but I definitely want to change this.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

NR: Whenever I’m having a bad day, I try and find something to get my mind off of it. I like to play with my dog, or go on a hike or bike ride. Leaving things behind and not letting them get to me is important. Being in nature and spending time away from society really helps, and it puts me in a good state of mind.

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

NR: My parents and grandparents always told me before tests, “Good skills” instead of “Good luck.”

CJ: What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

NR: Don’t worry as much! I worried about everything, and it would take up a lot of my time. I would spend more time worrying about an experience than actually enjoying it. This definitely could have changed earlier on.

Nick Rubin Qs

Image: Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met up with Ian Manheimer on one of the coldest days New York has seen in a long time. A leader in youth empowerment and an entrepreneur, we were extremely excited to get the opportunity to meet Ian in person. Ian is currently the Vice President of Product Management at Charitybuzz where he improves user experience and exercises his leadership skills by managing a team.

Ian is also the founder and president of RFK Young Leaders, a program of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. When he’s not busy creating new relationships at Charitybuzz, helping young human rights defenders take action for social justice and human rights, or generously helping those he’s met reach higher goals, he can be found working on some seriously cool projects like a book about pizza in NYC. Carpe Juvenis is excited to share the Spotlight of the inspirational and talented Ian Manheimer!

Name: Ian Manheimer
Education: BA in Communications and English from Tulane University
Follow: rfkcenter.org@ianmanheimer

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

Ian Manheimer: There’s a famous speech Robert F. Kennedy gave called “Day of Affirmation” that was given to a student group in South Africa during apartheid. It goes:

“This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.”

He’s talking about a quality of youth where you’re willing to take risks and live in a much more open world of possibilities. Something happens when you get older where those possibilities become less, so he’s talking about trying to spread that spirit around the world to all people. Robert F. Kennedy is a huge part of the work I do and his shadow looms large over it.

CJ: You studied Communications and English for your undergraduate degree at Tulane University. How did you determine what to study?

IM: I love to read. I was always educating myself and reading books, even if they weren’t in the syllabus. They were the books I wanted to read. My major came from a passion of reading, writing, spreading around ideas, and having the boldness to think that I had an idea or two worth sharing at the time.

Communications and English are about expression. I love journalism, and the intersection of media and democracy. A functioning press in critical to democracy. In 2005, I graduated and a couple big, old newspapers were starting to shudder. I was writing in New Orleans for a couple of papers, but I didn’t think it was the right time to stake a career in that industry so I sat on the sidelines for a bit. I fuse those journalistic practices that I learned into my career.

CJ: You co-founded Glassbooth.org, a nonprofit site to help people decide who to vote for in public elections, when you were 24-years-old. The success of Glassbooth.org inspired you to pursue another online model, Measy.com, that could help people make decisions. How did you know when the right time to take the risk of starting your own company was?

IM: That was a really intuitive jump where I wasn’t the most informed or most capable, but there was an earnest feeling that if I made something I wanted to make and use, there would be others who also wanted to use it. I thought it could be a real thing of value, and then I went for it really hard. I had nothing to lose, and I still try and live as if I have nothing to lose. “Why not?” is always a great question, and a great way to overcome fears. I just grabbed some of the talented people around me and asked, Why not? For me, going from nothing to something for the first time just let me know that I was capable. You just have to jump in.

CJ: You are the founder and president of RFK Young Leaders (RFKYL), which is dedicated to empowering young human rights defenders and motivating a diverse community of young people to take action for social justice and human rights. What has it meant to you to be someone who is inspiring youth and helping people put into action what they want to do?

IM: It’s been humbling and amazing to be able to carry the torch for the work Robert Kennedy started. When he was killed, rather than build a huge monument to his person, his work lives on through his foundation and it allows his vision and dream to extend past his early expiration. Being able to carry that mission out to new generations has been amazing. It means a lot to me.

For me, what means the most is to bring young people into their first experience with social justice and civics, and for them to have a positive experience, and realize their power. This experience leads to a lifelong practice of civics and social justice. When I see those things happening, and those light bulbs going off, that’s what gets me excited.

We’re an all-volunteer program so I also have a day job. My role at RFKYL includes extending campaigns, like our main campaign, which is organizing New York farmworkers. Working with farmworkers, meeting with farmworkers, meeting with advocates of farmworkers. We’re growing the organization and opening new chapters across the country. We meet with young leaders across the country and connect young people with human rights defenders out there to spread inspiration and get young people excited about social justice issues. We’re trying to capture an entrepreneurial spirit of our generation within the confines of foundation’s work.

CJ: You are the VP of Product Management at Charitybuzz. What does your role entail?

IM: I’m responsible for internal products and the products you see on desktop and mobile. I extend business goals via our digital assets and try to create a better experience for our users. We work on making their lives easier and help them find the awesome things we have to offer. I lead a team of developers and designers. It’s a lot of interdisciplinary work bringing a whole company together around our main business goals as they manifest in digital.

CJ: In many of your roles it sounds like you take on a leadership position. What are two of the biggest lessons about being an effective leader?

IM: One thing I’ve learned about being a leader is that you have to let people create their own boundaries and then let them excel or fail within those. I never give someone a deadline, ever. I always ask when they think they’ll be able to get a task done and then hold them to their own expressions of what they’re capable of. It’s always better to give people the autonomy to succeed.

For me a leader is really an administrator and has a certain role, but he or she doesn’t have more votes than anyone else. It’s my role to inspire and to help people become their best selves. I love to invest in people and help them grow. It’s always a team. You’re a leader, but it’s no different a position than a designer or developer.

CJ: How did you go about learning the logistics of starting your companies (logo design, website/e-commerce platform, marketing, finance/budgeting, etc.)?

IM: I’ve never done anything that’s just me. I don’t think you can ever be successful when it’s not in a team. Everything you do will be the success of the team. For me it’s always been sourcing and aggregating talented people. I’m a bit of a generalist and I don’t have too many technical skills, but I can get a team together, chef it and whip it up, and it comes out great.

I have deep respect for technically talented people and always want to respect their craft and learn as much as I can. While I’m not a developer, I’m constantly learning everything my layman’s mind can take on. With anyone I work with, I try to understand what they do, out of respect.

CJ: What has been one of the most unexpectedly interesting parts of your career to date?

IM: I worked for this very ambitious organization called Dropping Knowledge and it was a combination of a team at MIT and artists in Berlin and they were trying to create this global knowledge platform. It was weird and wild and wonderful. I spent a month in Berlin with people who had open lifestyles, and it completely opened my horizons. For me that was an opportunity to do this wild thing, and that alone was enough for me to want to take that on.

CJ: What are your time management tips? How do you stay organized and efficient?

IM: I love products and tools to help you make your life more efficient. I surround myself with an ecosystem of products that will do the work for me. There’s a hubris people have about their own sense of time and concentration that leads to failure. For example, if you have a thought and you tell yourself you’ll remember it later, how many times do you go to conjure that thought and it’s gone? Having those things around you to manage your life is helpful.

For my daily management I use a tool called OmniFocus, which takes the Getting Things Done methodology and puts it into software form. It’s about getting the thoughts out of your head immediately and then sorting them later. There is one tool that I love called Boomerang, and what it does is ping me if I haven’t heard from you after sending an email. I then don’t have to remember our conversation and stress about it because the email will come back to me so I can keep the conversation moving.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

IM: If I’m looking to make a hire at my organization, their interest in becoming better at the thing they do, is the number one quality I look for. I believe that you don’t have a mind that’s in a fixed state. I’m interested in growing my mind and being with other people who have that same appetite for self-improvement.

I’m interested in self-improvement in the form of expanding my mind through meditation or just trying to grapple with new concepts that are foreign and difficult. If I read an article about mathematics I won’t grasp too much of it, but it will challenge me in a way that will create new neural pathways. I’m constantly trying to immerse myself in some challenging things. Right now I’m learning how to code, which is challenging, but the challenge alone is the value.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

IM: My approach to mood is psychosomatic – there’s a mind body bridge. I try to be aware of that. I love to play basketball, do yoga, and these types of things to treat my body well and get as many chemicals firing in my brain. At the end of the day, gratitude is the most grounding concept that you go back to. If you’re having a bad day, think of someone having a worse day. It always works.

CJ: What book influenced you when you were younger?

IM: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

IM: Nothing I’ve done has ever been just me. At a young age, I would be mindful about people around you who are great at the thing that they do. Be good to those people and do things for them and stay in touch with those people. Grow your network. After years of that practice, you can activate on anything.

I would also put a couple of dollars away. A couple of dollars when you’re 20 is a lot of dollars when you’re older. Think about your future self. I have a character who is Future Ian and I’m also thinking about this guy.

Ian Manheimer Qs

Image: Ian Manheimer; unsplash

CultureLearn

With low temperatures and high winds keeping you inside, you’re going to need some reading material. These great reads make late winter look pretty darn appealing…

late 6THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN BY PAULA HAWKINS

We’re excited to read this novel about a woman who sees something
shocking during her commute on the train. Reminding us a bit of
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (because of the mystery
and the train, of course), we look forward to being completely consumed
by this story.

 

 

 

late 5

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE BY ANTHONY DOERR

This novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths
collide in occupied France as they try to survive the devastation of
World War II looks powerful and emotional.

 

 

 

 

late 3FUNNY GIRL BY NICK HORNBY

Author Nick Hornby is back with Funny Girl, a story set
in the 1960’s in London and follows the adventures of
an innocent young woman and her transformation into
a television starlet.

 

 

 

late 2LAUGHING WITHOUT AN ACCENT: ADVENTURES OF
A GLOBAL CITIZEN BY FIROOZEH DUMAS

Firoozeh Dumas explores her Persian heritage and shares
stories about her family, culture, and being a citizen of the world.
Dumas’s wit and insight makes this book look like a humorous
and fun read.

 

 

 

late 7WE MAMMALS IN HOSPITABLE TIMES BY JYNNE DILLING MARTIN

This book of poetry looks captivating. Jynne Dilling Martin spent six
weeks living in Antarctica shadowing scientists and writing about
what she witnessed. We’re already hooked.

 

 

 

 

late 10 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD BY HARPER LEE

We can’t help but love this classic novel from our childhood.
Author Harper Lee is releasing her anticipated novel Go Set a Watchman
in July 2015, and we can’t wait to re-read this beloved book.

 

 

 

 

late 9 THE GOOD EARTH BY PEARL S. BUCK

Pearl S. Buck writes a beautiful and painful story about China
in the 1920’s. The story of farmer Wang Lung and his wife
O-Lan spans decades, and the changes in history and tradition
are apparent as the years pass.

 

 

 

late 8AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED BY KHALED HOSSEINI

We loved The Kite Runner so much, and it’s almost embarrassing
that we haven’t yet read Hosseini’s newest novel. Hosseini
explores the way families nurture, betray, and sacrifice for
one another.

 

 

 

What’s on your late winter reading list?

CultureWeekly Reads

reads 1

These are the articles #TeamCarpe read and loved this week. What did you enjoy reading?

Inspire

A great response to a bully? “I love what you’re wearing.” This is what a teenager from Oregon is teaching kids: how to battle bullying with kindness.

Save

Love being online? Being plugged-in for hours on end can cost you.

Sleep

Having trouble falling asleep? Use the 4-7-8 breathing trick.

Read

The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe by Dan Falk examines how Shakespeare was influenced by observational astronomy. Shakespeare and science? Looks like a fascinating read to us!

Innovate

This TED talk from Jack Andraka, a teenager who developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer, is sure to inspire you.

Try

Try these seven habits of optimistic people. Who knows, you might just find yourself smiling more!

Image: Carpe Juvenis

CultureSkills

The New Year has come! It’s time for… New Year’s resolutions. Yikes. For some, this means eating healthy. For others, it means going to the gym more. It can be saving money, getting better grades, cutting down on the caffeine, or even finally cleaning out your closet!

But there are some unique resolutions that you might not have thought of that can be pretty fun!

Alphabet Book Checklist

Read a book with the title starting with each letter of the alphabet. Twenty six books, 12 months, about two books a month. You never know what you may find. Make a checklist of the things you’ve been wanting to read (romance novels, nonfiction short stories, poetry, anything!) and go to your local bookstore. It’s a low key resolution, no stress, just a small thing you can do for yourself.

Eat the Rainbow

No, not Skittles. I mean, eat each color of the rainbow. This might be kind of silly, but it’ll make you eat a variety of foods. There’s probably a health thing out there somewhere, but for you, it should be something that’s fun! You can try to eat the rainbow every day, or maybe split it up to make it a weekly goal. Fruits, leafy greens, meats (or not, if you’re a vegetarian), grains. For more challenging colors like blues and purples, you can say browns, like bread. I never ate quinoa (pronounced kinwa) but once I tried it, I discovered how yummy it was!

Stand Up Straight

Yes. You heard right. Stand up straight! I never realized how much I slouched until I started wearing heels. Then I realized that my balance was way off, and it was evident in the way my back and chest hurt from being pushed back into its original upright position. Commit to standing up straight when you’re waiting for the bus, when you’re in line at the grocery store, even when you’re showering. Do the Superwoman stance, with your hands on your hips and head facing forward. Over time, your body and your mind will develop and strengthen. Think about how confident you feel now, and how much more confident you will feel after you learn to hold your head up high. At the very least, this will sort out your backaches.

These are a few low-key resolutions you can take on. Read a bit more, eat better, try new things, boost your confidence. Whatever you’re comfortable with, do. Whatever scares you a little, try. Whatever makes you happy, go for it! Have a great new year!

Image: sanazmy97

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Meet Emily Armstrong. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and insanely talented. At just 23 years old, she is a graphic designer at Barneys New York and is tasked with projects such as creating woodland creature masks for children, designing posters for brand invitations, and collaborating on exclusive cosmetic bags that are incredibly chic.

Passionate about art and illustrating, Emily raves about modern art, her love of design, and how she one day hopes to live in Paris. She is a big-time reader and loves to spend her free time at The Strand. We’re big fans of Emily and her work, and we love the best advice she’s ever received: ‘Make yourself proud every day’ and ‘Focus on your cool.’ It’s pretty obvious that she’s got the cool part down pat.

Name: Emily Armstrong
Age: 23
Education: B.F.A. in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia
Follow: Blog / Portfolio / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Emily Armstrong: I realized that when I was in school, I had such an advantage. People were more likely to reach out to me because I was a student and young. They were willing to share advice because they didn’t see me as competition yet. Seizing my youth meant realizing that I was at such an advantageous place and not letting that hinder me but taking advantage of it.

CJ: You received your BFA in Graphic Design and Drawing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. What sparked your love of design?

EA: My love of art came before my love of design. Art started for me when I was very young. In second grade I was drawing caricatures of my classmates. I realized that I liked to draw clothes and people, but design came later. In college I decided to study art, and my parents were a little hesitant. They introduced graphic design to me as a more marketable skill. I ended up loving it after I took a few classes. Those classes sparked my love for design.

Design is everywhere. The visual language is more personal when you’re so close to design.

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CJ: What was your favorite class in college?

EA: I loved multicultural literature. We read a book about a different culture every few weeks and discussed it and gave presentations. I love reading, and I think it’s a romantic skill and related to art from a storytelling aspect.

I liked my beginning physics class a lot.

My favorite class was my portfolio class. Our first assignment was to create 20 images in any medium, and we only had a couple of weeks. The professor just wanted us to start hashing out our ideas that we had built up and to not overthink the images we were making. I ended up with a lot of cool images that I’m still proud of even though it was my junior year in college. I’m inspired to continue adding on to that body of work.

CJ: You are a Graphic Designer at Barneys New York. What does your role entail?

EA: I’m a print graphic designer, so I make our print collateral – things from signage in the stores to books and catalogs in the mail and invitations for events. I can be really creative with these projects. For example, if a designer uses a print in their collection a lot, we might pull that image and make it a liner in the envelope. I love seeing the finished product and having it in your hands.

Right now I’m working on a special project that is in collaboration with Baz Luhrmann, and I get to do some fun drawings. I drew masks of woodland animals for children who come visit the stores. Barneys gives me the freedom to use my skills and have freedom with my work. I’m so excited to be a part of the Baz campaign – he’s a hero of mine.

Emily A 5

Emily A 4

CJ: You’ve interned at some amazing places such as Donna Karan and Barneys New York. What are your biggest takeaways from these experiences?

EA: A lot of my experience with Donna Karan was really about New York. It was about getting acclimated to New York as well as the internship. No one thought it was lame that I was from Missouri – I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I felt really empowered by the city and having this internship. I had never learned about fabric before, and my internship was in the fabric department. They would give me a swatch of fabric and I had to source it in the city. I had to find a similar weight and content of that fabric swatch with a specific price point. I was set free to do the project, and while that might seem overwhelming, to be able to complete a task like that and do it well was the most empowering thing. Donna Karan was about me feeling confident with myself and in the city.

My Barneys internship was instrumental in getting my job now. Because I had the New York experience before, I learned a lot of skills and how to be detail-oriented. I was learning from the best, and this internship was helpful with my aesthetic sensibility.

Emily A 2

CJ: You were a Student Ambassador for Stylitics, the largest digital closet platform on the web. What were your duties as a Student Ambassador?

EA: That was such a crazy chapter in my life because during my first summer here there was a Parsons program put on that I attended. At the networking brunch, I met the founders of Stylitics and they asked me to be a part of this program. My duties were to spread the word about Stylitics, so I did street style photography on-campus, I talked to student reporters, and generated buzz for this company.

The founders wanted to start a high school program, and my sister was in high school at the time, and I offered to help make a promotional poster. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal saw my poster and she reached out. The conversation was about Stylitics and the ambassador program, but I formed that bond with her and ended up being in that huge newspaper.

CJ: What is the best part about being a designer? The most challenging part?

EA: I love arranging elements, making beautiful compositions, and making textures with text.

The most challenging part is my tendency to always want to illustrate everything. I can’t help it. Restraining myself from illustrating, creating something graphic, and working with type.

CJ: Every day in your life must be different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

EA: I like to wake up a little early at 8am so I can make my French press coffee and bagel, and then take some time to read. I get ready, take the train to Rockefeller Center. Recently I’ve been working on a brand’s invitation and poster. After work I love going to yoga. I encourage everyone to do yoga – you get strong, healthy, and energized. Then I go home and eat leftovers.

Emily A 6

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

EA: I try not to let it show in the office ever. After work it’s nice to do some cardio so your brain can be free. Taking that energy from the stress and replacing it in a better way is so important.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

EA: Just Kids by Patti Smith or 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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

EA: If you don’t like volleyball, that’s okay. Focus your attention somewhere else. You don’t have to be the best at everything. You should not feel lame about wanting to do art, embrace the music you like, and don’t be overwhelmed with social situations. There’s a huge reset button when you graduate high school. Do the best you can and not be wrapped up. I’m so happy for all the reset buttons in my life!

Emily Armstrong Qs

Images: Emily Armstrong; Lauren Jessen

Culture

1. Holidays

The obvious: it’s holiday season. You may celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or just plain old New Year’s Eve. December means shopping. It means pigging out on all year-round-forbidden foods. And it means seeing family and friends and reconnecting with those who you have maybe lost touch with throughout the entire year. I see December as a month of reunion.

2. Hot Drinks

Don’t tell me you don’t participate in PSL season. Okay, if you had to look up PSL, maybe not. Either way, we all know there is nothing more comforting or satisfying than sipping on a searing cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in cold December. It is the time where coziness reaches its climax. Drinking away your calories is acceptable, but only in December.

3. Smell

December has a smell – that is fact. It smells like cinnamon. It has the aroma of pine trees. And it has the faint scent of deliciously baked goods. Am I wrong?

4. Winter Clothes

Summer is definitely a desired season, but during this time you can finally dress in sophisticated coats and elegant scarves that you’ve secretly been waiting to wear all year long.  It’s cold, but not cold enough where you’re forced to wear bulky parkas. Also, it calls for some fun when putting an outfit together – scarves, boots, pants, jackets, ear muffs, hats, and gloves! There is much opportunity to be a fashionista – get creative, my friends.

5. Cozy, Cozy, Cozy

Not only do you get the chance to drink sugar and calories, but December also means sitting by mellow fireplaces, candles, and an excuse to just be lazy for once! The sun sets earlier, therefore your days end earlier and getting home early in the midst of some comforting dim lights is very tempting. Readers: what’s better than spending a night reading a captivating novel by the fireplace?

6. Netflix

Let’s be honest, not all of us have boyfriends and girlfriends to cuddle with. However, Netflix is always there to comfort all singles worldwide. From interesting documentaries to addicting TV shows to the movies we just never had the time to watch during the year, Netflix is our best friend.

7. Vay-cay

December is the time to reunite with family and friends, as previously touched on. However, it is also a time of travels and vacations – be it to see those family and friends or to travel with those family and friends. December is a time to bond with family and friends and get closer to your loved ones while still getting the chance to visit familiar or unfamiliar places!

8. Fluffy Snow

December introduces many parts of the world with snow. By January, the snow is no longer “pretty” because by then, it has turned yellow or brown and icy. However, in December, it is a beautiful thing to see blankets and blankets of freshly fallen snow! Snow angels better be on that to-do list!

9. ABC Family

December tends to revolve around child hood memories and this includes flipping the television channels only to find Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Polar Express on. For some of us, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas is on our calendar – spare the judgments, please.

10. Reflection and Renewal

Above all, December is a month of renewal. It is a time to wrap up the year, to wrap up old habits, to plan for new ones; it is a time of reflection and preparation. This is a beautiful time that invites reminiscing and change. Plan to embrace the goals you have for 2015 and think about what you would like to leave behind in 2014. December is the close for the year – enjoy every last moment and squeeze out the best remaining bits of it!

How will you enjoy December?

Image: Stanford

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Every year a handful of students are accepted to the George Washington University’s Seven-Year B.A./M.D. Program. What that means is that seniors in high school who know that they want to attend medical school after earning their undergraduate degrees apply to this highly selective program and earn both degrees in a shortened period of time. We know, it’s pretty crazy-impressive. We had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Payette, a member of this program, recent GWU undergrad alum, and current first year GWU Medical School student. He gave us the low-down on what it takes to get academic work done while balancing work responsibilities and personal time. While it’s no easy feat, Chris somehow manages it all and does it with a genuine smile on his face. From sharing his successful-study-secrets to details about his semester abroad in South Africa, Chris is without a doubt seizing his youth and making the most of every opportunity.

Name: Chris Payette
Age: 21
Education: B.S. from the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences | The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Follow: LinkedIn

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

Chris Payette: Doing whatever you need to do right now that will set you up to be doing what you want to be doing later, whether it’s in the immediate now or in the future. So for me I think it’s much more for the future. Obviously right now I don’t necessarily want to be spending all of my time in the library studying, but – and I know this might sound slightly morbid – it’s a means to an end.

And also to make time for yourself and your friends and family. When you’re trying to make things the best for you, sometimes you don’t necessarily think about the whole picture, and other people’s happiness. But I think that it’s important to make time for the people you care about.

CJ: You knew from a young age that you wanted to study medicine, but what would you say to someone who doesn’t know what his or her passion is yet?

CP: Do everything. I do everything and it’s interesting because even though I’m in medical school I feel like there are so many other things I could do and be totally happy with. And it’s nice to know that even though I have a set path, there are so many other things I would be super happy to do. I’ve worked at restaurants for a while now, and I know that if anything ever happened with the medical stuff I would be happy waiting tables. I think that not having a diverse experience limits you. By trying a little bit of everything you can find what you like, and if you don’t know yet then you should keep trying everything.

CJ: What tools do you use to keep yourself organized and on track?

CP: Notability. iCalendar. Honestly so many. I try to reevaluate where I’m at and where I need to be at the end of every day, just so I can know where I am for the week, where I am for the month, where I am for my next exam, where I am for the next social event I want to go to. For example if I have a lot of friends in town and I know that I’ll want to set aside Saturday and Sunday to just see people, I’ll do extra schoolwork during the week based on how my overall schedule looks.

CP 2

CJ: How do you prepare for medical school exams?

CP: First I go through all of my lecture notes individually. I compile all of the “learning objectives” from each lecture and sort them into files based on what I think would be best to study together. Then I go through each learning objective and I add in everything pertinent from the lecture into one lengthy document. I include images as well. I go back to that document about two weeks before an exam and transcribe that onto one hand-written page. That page is what I use up until the exam to study – I really condense the information.

I use so many tools for this process – my suite of Microsoft tools, my Apple tools, my favorite Sharpie fine point pens and white printer paper. I just started using this system in med school and it’s been going really well. It’s good because it makes me first synthesize the data, and then condense it and get the most important pieces from it. That study sheet is when I really have to master the material, because one sheet can take one to two hours to make. A lot of it is just planning.

CJ: You went into college knowing that you would also be going to medical school – did you ever have moments of panic/anxiety about that decision? How did you overcome that?

CP: I get really excited about things. So there will be times when I get excited about one thing and think “I want to pursue that! That should be my job!” And knowing that it wouldn’t be, since I was already accepted into medical school, was weird sometimes. I went into high school in a magnet science program, so basically by eighth grade I was already committing to medicine. Which is good because I’ve always known that this would be my path, but it’s also challenging to think that in undergrad had I not already been accepted to medical school, might my path have totally changed?

I think for me personally it’s good that I have that structure, and I think that at the same time it gave me the freedom to have those moments of exploring other things because I knew that once I was in medical school I would have required responsibilities. So for example my research in undergrad was totally unrelated to medicine, my jobs were unrelated to medicine, volunteering was not clinical at all. I didn’t do one clinical thing at all in undergrad. So I had that time and ability to purposefully explore while I had the opportunity.

CJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

CP: Wow, I don’t know. That’s tough. One big thing that has always stuck with me is that my dad always tells me that regardless of being on the medical track, I can still do whatever I want. I think that a lot of people are pushed in one way by their parents, but my parents’ professions are not medically related at all. So it’s nice knowing that if at any time I don’t want to do what I’m doing anymore, hearing that out loud from my parents has helped me feel a little bit freer. Just knowing that I can pursue whatever I want in my career has been very comforting.

CJ: What advice would you give to a freshman starting the same 7-year program you are part of?

CP: Do everything that you want to do. You’re already accepted to medical school, you have your future laid out, so right now is your time to travel and see your friends and family. It’s your time to make art, go outside, be able to do stupid things and ask for guidance. That’s another thing – not that there’s no guidance when you graduate, but when you’re in undergrad there are built-in systems of support to hold your hand and help you get through college. So seek help, get mentors. There are no office hours when you graduate. The only office you’ll get to go to once you graduate is your boss’.

CJ: How did you get involved with Street Sense as in intern?

CP: I took a lot of service learning course at GWU because one of the things that’s expected of you going into the medical field is to always have volunteer experience. I like doing service learning because it’s was a really easy way to integrate that into my life and schedule. During my last year of undergrad I took an urban sociology class and that’s how I got connected with Street Sense. From there we created a role where I was in charge of social media. So I worked not only with the people who sell the newspaper, but also with the administrative back end. I really liked it so I stayed a little bit longer after the semester ended and worked with them in a larger capacity. It was an amazing experience – you get to meet a lot of really interesting people when you’re working with the homeless community.

CJ: What is your favorite book?

CP: Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk.

CJ: Despite being in a shortened 3 year undergraduate program, you still made the time to study abroad in South Africa – what compelled you to make the choice and how has it influenced you?

CP: I went to South Africa the summer after I did a GWU orientation program. The summer had been a lot of DC and a lot of GWU. It just felt like too much. I needed to spend the semester away, so I applied to go abroad. And I decided very last minute – my parents mailed me my passport the week before applications were due. I really just needed a semester away to experience somewhere different and travel without doing it during the summer. I followed my instinct to go somewhere. I would go back in a heartbeat – I’m already trying. Certain programs at my school require you to travel and work abroad, so I definitely think ill go back at some point.

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

CP: It depends. My schedule varies day to day because of classes. Some days I’ll go to class at 8AM and end around 6PM, even 8PM. Other days I have independent study so I’ll wake up, make a cup of coffee, sit in my living rom and study. I’ll usually stay after class in the library most days just to do a little extra. I also work at Cove because I can get work done, and at a restaurant some nights. I try to have most of what I’m doing planned out a few weeks in advanced.

CJ: What advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

CP: Start exercising now, because when you’re 21 your metabolism will stop. And also do whatever you want. But seriously, exercise. I took a health class freshman year and one of our assignments was to make a behavior change. Mine was to start running, and I’ve been running ever since.

Chris Payette Qs

Skills

By the end of a tough year of school, it’s easy to get burned out. Even if you’re not in school, doing the same routine everyday can bore you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid learning all together though. The more you use your mind, the better it will be. Here are a few ways to have fun while improving your mind:

1. Read

We all have those books we want to read if only we had the time. If you have the free hour, take the time. You may not be able to finish your book for awhile, but reading will transport you to somewhere else. More importantly, your brain will still be working on a new task while you’re relaxing.

2. Do Puzzles

Puzzles are an easy way to challenge yourself. This can include classic puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, or any other puzzles you can think of. You’ll get a fun sense of accomplishment when you’re done.

3. Learn A New Skill

If you’re bored or burned out in your every day life, introducing something new can be just the change you need. Learning a new skill will challenge you in a new way. Plus, maybe you’ll learn something useful like how to cook.

4. Free Write

Writing is a good way to free your mind of distractions. Have you ever had a problem focusing because something was weighing on your mind too much? You can write a story, a letter or anything else you want to get out. You can unburden yourself and improve your writing at the same time. You could even create a new masterpiece.

5. Get New Experiences

You never know how many new things you will learn just by getting out there and doing something that you’ve never tried before. Even trying a dish you never had before will give you a new experience. When traveling, you have to train yourself to know your way around which will give you a sense of direction. Meeting new people will strengthen your memory when you have to learn faces, names, and details. It will all expand your mind while being perfectly painless.

Get out there and try to re-energize yourself. Don’t stop learning. Taking a little time out of your day to improve yourself will be helpful in the long run, even if it is something as simple as taking an hour to read. Be your best self and have fun doing it!

How do you keep your brain active?

Image: opensource.com

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We love discovering people who are just as passionate about reading as we are, and Matthew Richardson is one of these people. We learned about Matthew Richardson through his company, Gramr Gratidue Co., which helps people make gratitude a habit through the form of thank you notes. Amazing, right? Matthew’s campaign to start a cultural movement for gratitude involves encouraging others to send thank-you notes, articles on The Huffington Post educating people on how to incorporate gratitude into their lives, and by sending thank-you notes himself. This is exactly the type of campaign we can get behind 100%.

Matthew is passionate about his pursuits, and when he finds something that moves him, he explores it further. Case in point: Matthew took a year off during his studies at Claremont McKenna College to hitchhike across 14 countries after reading the works of Henry David Thoreau. Inspired yet? Even now as a busy entrepreneur, Matthew makes time to read, write, remain curious about the world around him, and express gratitude daily. And we couldn’t agree more with the advice Matthew would tell his 15-year-old self: “Read.”

Name: Matthew Richardson
Age: 25
Education: B.A. in Literature from Claremont McKenna College
Follow: Gramr Gratitude Co. / Twitter / MattRyanRich.com

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Matthew Richardson: I think that it means very nearly the same thing as “Seize the Day” — that is, for as long as you’re able to see the importance of taking ownership of your own life and circumstances, then you have that spark of youth in you… you have as much energy and passion as it takes to create something of value for the world.

Also, I may be biased but as an entrepreneur with an academic background in Literature, I can’t help but equate siezing one’s youth or life or day, with creating something artistic, something that wouldn’t otherwise exist if you didn’t step up and pull resources together to make it happen.

CJ: You majored in Literature at Claremont McKenna College. How did you determine what to study?

MR: Like most every undergraduate I changed my major a few times before hitting my stride. I started out as an economics major with a focus on finance… but really couldn’t get passionate about anything that I was learning. It seemed both overly practical and totally impractical. I saw the value of economics in everyday decisions, but that very fact seemed soul-less to me.

I took a course in Russian Literature, read Tolstoy; which allowed me to see the infinitely reaching application of classic literature and philosophy. This led to Thoreau, which caused me to leave CMC for a year and hitchhike/camp across 14 countries, and read everything I could get my hands on. I returned to school with a passion for literature, and I felt as if I had made up for some lost time by reading dozens and dozens of classic works during that year off. Without going into it deeply here, I feel as though Literature is the best liberal arts discipline if your interest is ultimately in becoming an entrepreneur.

Gramr 1

CJ: You are the Co-Founder of Gramr Gratitude Co., a company that helps people make gratitude a habit through the form of thank you notes. What inspired the idea for Gramr Gratitude Co.?

MR: In the beginning we wanted to shake up the greeting card game and create an alternative to Hallmark that was so cool and trendy that they wouldn’t be able to help but acquire it. Very quickly, Brett (my co-founder) and I found that we were trying to run before we could walk and that we also didn’t care much about greeting cards in general. One niche that was particularly compelling, however, was the thank-you note. It didn’t depend on a holiday or an obligation — it had the potential to suggest a lifestyle. Gratitude seemed very important to us, and often overlooked as a virtue because it had no tangible commodity to represent it.

Meanwhile every business under the sun was developing programs for social benefit — following the lead of TOMS shoes which gives one pair of shoes to underprivileged children for every pair of shoes they sell. Generosity, then, was booming, because you could wear it on your feet, or chest, or wrist. But gratitude didn’t have anything like that, and we decided to make a concerted effort at becoming the face of the virtue. It was a word and a concept that was up for grabs, and we were the first to market — now we are continuing to try to think of ways to cement our concept into the contemporary context that is consumed by technology and efficiency. It is challenging but infinitely rewarding.

CJ: What responsibilities do you have as the Co-Founder?

MR: I lead creative projects, design, and partnerships.

CJ: How do you and your Co-Founder balance the workload?

MR: My Co-Founder is in charge of operations and business processes. But there is huge overlap — we are both frequently consulting each other and helping carry different loads that fall outside of the bounds of our broad responsibilities.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?

MR: It’s very hard and there are many hundreds of things you don’t think about or plan on when idealizing a company from the outside looking in.

CJ: What do you wish you had known before starting Gramr Gratitude Co.?

MR: That your website should be a minimum viable product because building something before you know how people will interact with it is a guessing game. We guessed wrong on several things, including our web host, and e-commerce platform. Both mistakes that are costly and time consuming to redevelop.

Gramr 3

CJ: What advice do you have on how to finance and budget when running your own business?

MR: In the beginning, ask people you know, who you trust, and who can give you more than just capital. We happen to have a very strong core of advisors, and that is more important than capital. We also raised 63k on Kickstarter. Crowdfunding is a good option for bootstrappers, but it also has scores of drawbacks that you can’t know until you’ve been hosed by them.

CJ: What can a teenager or young adult who wants to start their own company do now to set themselves up for success?

MR: Read.

CJ: What would you say to people who are uncertain about starting a business? What motivated you to take the leap?

MR: Surround yourself with people who fit more into a day than you fit into a week.

CJ: You write articles for The Huffington Post about gratitude. What are your favorite ways to show gratitude?

MR: Writing thank-you notes, or Gramrs. Especially to people who wouldn’t expect it. One of my favorite thank-you notes I ever wrote was to the server at Dr. Grubbs, a year after I last went there, for being such a joyful and wonderful person over the few years that I patronized that incredible restaurant.

CJ: You are an avid reader. How do you fit reading into your day, and which book has had the greatest impact on you?

MR: When I am in a good rhythm I am getting up at 5am and reading for an hour before I start my day. This allows you to get through about a book a week. This is my favorite time of the day.

I recommend East of Eden by John Steinbeck to everyone I meet. Sometimes before I introduce myself. It is enormously valuable.

CJ: Describe a day in your life.

MR: Wake up at 5. Make coffee. Read for an hour. Write for an hour. Sometimes workout for an hour. Start trying to get through the three biggest priorities I’ve set for the day — try and finish this before 12. Meetings, calls, work from 12 to 6-ish. Wind down in a variety of ways. Drink wine and Yerba Mate. Try and read some more. Write down the three things I must get done the following day before noon. Go to sleep ~11pm.

CJ: How do you balance your career roles and goals? How do you stay organized and efficient?

MR: This is something I constantly try and optimize — but OmniFocus is good, and Mailbox App keeps emails organized and out of the way. The best thing I’ve found is that figuring out what the three things you need to get done before noon are is the best way to get stuff done.

CJ: How do you like to enjoy your free time?

MR: I read, eat tacos, spend up to 10 minutes creating cups of single origin coffee, and tinker around with a handful of side projects.

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

MR: Read.

Matt Rich Qs

Culture

October is drawing to close. Leaves are falling, the air is crisper, even the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte has made its triumphant return. For students, this final transition from summer to fall, and into winter, marks the time to buckle down and surrender to the tsunami of work that is imminent on the horizon. Such are the changes implied by the coming of November. For book fans and writers alike, the month of November marks the end of Booktober (a celebration for book lovers to read as many books as possible) and the beginning of Novel November.

Unbeknownst to most people, November is actually National Novel Writing Month, and last year there were over 300,000 participants. Of course, for most students, another assignment is the last thing needed, especially when the school year is just hitting its stride. However, the point of Novel November isn’t to layer more work on top of everything else. It’s to find something that inspires you, and to run with it as far as you can. It also helps build self-discipline by writing a little bit every day. And the end result is the best of all – at the end of the month, if all goes well, you’ll have your very own novel. It never hurts to try, especially if writing is a passion you’re attached to, but you just can’t seem to find time. At the very least, you’ll have a start-up that will continue to grow into something spectacular.

There are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself on track during Novel November:

1. Schedule a specific time each day to write.

It’s just like working out or practicing an instrument; as long as you dedicate a small chunk of time to it each day, your work will grow exponentially. Sure, that might mean dropping an hour that normally would’ve been dedicated to Netflix or scrolling through the Internet, but consider it time well spent.

2. Never leave your story on a cliffhanger.

I know from experience that if you leave your writing on a cliffhanger without a solid idea of where the plot is going to go next, it will be a struggle to try and figure out how to resolve the conflict in question, however brilliant it may be. Always know where you’re going, and putting in that extra hour will be easy, just a continuation of an idea you had yesterday.

3. Stick with it!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. A book won’t just spring up out of nowhere; it’s a project that has to be pieced together chapter by chapter, day by day, and as long as you stay committed to it and manage your time wisely, by the end of the month, you’ll be a novelist.

Will you be participating in Novel November?

Image: Tim Geers

Culture

Everything’s quiet. No outside noise, no blabbing people. The only sound is the quiet whisper of pages turning, and the occasional low voice. Ahh, bookstores… a place for every self-proclaimed literary nerd to find sanctuary. Books will always be a source of comfort, and with most people still avidly reading books, there is no threat to the literary society going extinct. So what’s happening to the bookstores?

Over the past few years, popular chains such as Borders (now bankrupt) and Barnes and Noble have been suffering heavy losses. What’s causing this alarming downward trend? Simple: the Internet. The Internet, in all its wonderfully convenient glory, is a staple in the lives of almost every person on the planet. However, with the ability to have nearly all the information, shopping, and entertainment one could ever want at the click of the button, people have begun to overlook the physical world for the digital world, and nowhere is that more apparent than bookstores.

With plenty of shopping sites (Amazon being the most notable) available for people to purchase their books on, as well as eReaders and Kindles for people to read said books on, the need for an actual bookstore with actual print books is slowly decreasing, and while some may consider this a good thing, it also has a pretty severe downside.

The first reason, which is also very practical, is that a bookstore provides income for many people. Places like Barnes and Noble, or even the local neighborhood store, provide jobs for people in the community.

Secondly, bookstores allow book nerds (myself included) to meet other like minded literary junkies. Additionally, bookstores broaden the number of books that can quickly be obtained (let’s be honest – books aren’t cheap, and having to pay shipping, or even worse, wait several weeks for new books to arrive, is much worse than just traipsing down to the store).

Lastly, bookstores create a haven for people to simply enjoy being around literature. For myself and others, just being around books provides a calming influence, and being surrounded by as many as a bookstore provides is one of the best feelings in the world. The simple presence of all that literary magic is enough to warrant a trip to the bookstore. It’s a feeling unavailable on the Internet, and one that should be preserved forever. Booklovers, literary geeks, and anyone who loves a good read, unite. Bring back the bookstores!

EducationHealth

The semester is well underway and I’m sure, aside from getting involved in a gazillion clubs, juggling a job or an internship, and trying to have some kind of a social life, everyone is swamped with loads of homework. As I’m typing, many people are probably rushing to finish up their calculus problems or putting the final touches on a paper that is due in a few days. Whatever the case may be, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Pulling all-nighters and working well after midnight aren’t unusual scenarios. We fall asleep on our textbooks only to wake up in the morning ready to fall back into the same routine. College is extremely hard and the moments when you get to kick back and relax are extremely rare. Even then, the days when you do get a chance to take a break from schoolwork (i.e. the weekend) are usually not as laid-back as you would like them to be because there is always an exam to study for, a paper to write, or an assignment to complete.

They say coffee is a college student’s best friend, but spending the day (or even the night) working on homework isn’t the way to go about college because overworking yourself can cause your brain to melt into a pile of mush. Maybe that isn’t what really happens but, without the occasional break from schoolwork, you’ll eventually stress yourself out, and being stressed has many negative effects on your mind and body.

Whenever you’re at that point where you just want to rip your hair out, step away from your computer, put down the book you’re reading, and set aside that calculator. Your work will be there once you take a 10-15 break (or however long you think you need). It’s not going to get up and walk away, so use some of your time to rest your brain and stretch those legs because I’m sure you spend hours on end plastered to a chair (or your bed) whenever you do homework. If you can’t figure out to do with your free time, here is a list of things to do to help you unwind.

  1. Get a snack: Studying and homework is almost impossible to do on an empty stomach, so get something to munch on and something to drink so you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients you need. For better brain power, try eating healthy snacks. And no, potato chips are not an essential part of the food pyramid.
  2. Stretching/exercising: I have a friend who does lunges whenever she needs a break from doing her homework. You don’t have to do lunges, but stretching might be a good thing to do to keep your body from cramping up after hours of sitting. If you really want to get that heart pounding, try doing some jumping jacks.
  3. Read a book: And I don’t mean a textbook. Pick up a book that isn’t for school and read one or two chapters to get your mind off of your homework and allow yourself to slip into another world.
  4. Listen to music: Turn on your favorite band or singer and rock out to your favorite songs. You can sing along or dance or do whatever it takes for you to destress.
  5. Go for a walk: You don’t have to go too far, but you can walk around your residence hall or apartment complex a few times just to get some fresh air and get out of the confines of the four walls of your room so you don’t go stir crazy.
  6. Play a game: Games are a great way to keep your mind busy. More importantly, you get to have fun!
  7. Straighten up your room: I’m not sure about you, but my side of the room always seems to get out of hand whenever I’m studying or doing homework. I can’t do anything until my side of the room is in order and everything that was out of place is back into place.
  8. Check your email: When we’re busy with class and school work, sometimes we forget to check our inboxes to see if we received any important emails. Use your free time to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Talk to people: Start up a conversation with your roommate, text a friend, or call a family member. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it’s important to get your mind off of your homework for a bit and what better way to do that than to converse with people about things that have nothing to do with homework.
  10. Set your alarm and take a nap: Of course I had to save the best for last. If you find yourself not wanting to do anything on this list, it might be time for a nap. After 30-45 minutes of resting your eyes, you should feel refreshed and ready to finish your homework.

There are a variety of things you can do to take a break from homework. Just remember not to spend too much time (more than an hour) taking a break. Also, don’t feel bad about taking a break. We all need one so our bodies and brain don’t shut down after hours of staring at the pages of a thick textbook or a computer screen. You might feel like there is not enough time in the day, but you have the power to make time, so try to work taking breaks into your schedule the best you can because you deserve it.

Image: Unsplash