Advice to My Freshman Self

My four years of college will be over next week, and I’m still coming to terms with all the emotions and changes that come with this time of life. As I look back on my time in college, the following are some things I would tell the freshman version of myself and freshmen in general.

studyingCherish every minute you spend with your friends in college, even if it’s studying.

Even if it’s time spent in the library, don’t take it for granted. When I look back on my time in college, some of my fondest memories are of times spent gathered around a giant conglomeration of tables my friends and I have put together in the library during finals week. Finals week is when everyone bonds over stress, anxiety and, ultimately, delirium. As weird and unbelievable as it may sound, you will miss finals weeks. (Enjoy this picture of me with friends in the library from freshman year.)

 

Sleep is better for your grades than squeezing in a few more hours of studying.

I didn’t pull many all-nighters in college, but when I did, they didn’t really help. I have learned that staying up all night studying is not as effective as it may sound. We’re only human, and our brains need a few hours to rest and soak in all the information we’re trying to jam into them. Furthermore, when it comes to actually thinking during the test, our brains function much better with some sleep. When the clock hits 3 a.m., shut the books and catch some z’s.

Talk to your professors.

Looking back on my time at university, there are a few professors that stand out in my memory, and they’re the ones with whom I formed relationships. I am so thankful for my professors and the way they have helped shape the way I see the world. Don’t be afraid to get to know your professors and let them get to know you; they became professors for a reason, and it’s not money – it’s to invest in students like you.

Spend time on yourself.

Whether it’s reading books, learning new skills, making your faith your own or going to the gym, spend time in college bettering yourself. College is usually the first time you’re away from home and on your own; take charge of your own life and build yourself to be who you want to be. You’ll never have more freedom and less responsibility; do something productive with it.

vsco-photo-1.jpgMeet people who are different from you.

When you get outside your comfort zone and meet people with interests, views and backgrounds that differ from your own, you grow. Everyone won’t be like you, but most people are nice; talk to them. Get to know people with different views and from different cultures. Some of my closest friends are nothing like me.

 

Be patient.

This sounds vague, and it’s meant to be. Whether you’re ready for graduation or ready to find romance, be patient. Be thankful for the season of life that you’re in. Don’t be so busy hoping for your future that you forget to make the most of your present circumstances. Everything will work out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Public Relations?

samford.jpgIf you are struggling to choose a major or you are unsure about whether the major you are in is right for you, you are not alone. I was a biomedical sciences major (pre-med) in the College of Science and Math for a year and a half before deciding to change my major to public relations and pick up minors in business and Spanish. Here is the reasoning behind my decision and some reasons you might consider choosing public relations as well.

I’m all about flexibility; I’m not afraid of commitment, but in most areas of life, I’m not big on planning or being locked into one trajectory. When I was going through ultra-specific science classes in pursuit of a major that is almost always followed by years more of professional school, it left me questioning if I had chosen the right major. Furthermore, I am a musician, and doors were starting to open up for me in the music world, so I wanted an undergraduate degree with more career choices straight out of undergrad. After talking it over with my honors college adviser and doing some research of my own, I decided to change into the College of Liberal Arts and major in public relations.

Public relations is a healthy mixture of business and creativity, and that is one of the aspects that attracted me to the major. As a public relations student, you are exposed to and learn about a variety of useful subjects such as writing, journalism, advertising, marketing and management. As you might imagine, this mix was appealing to me because it offers the chance to learn skills in areas that can be useful and open up doors in many fields in the postgraduate workforce. Furthermore, I believe the unique mixed coursework that majoring in public relations requires will make you a more well rounded human being.

Moving on to the subject of postgraduate life, choosing public relations offers a plethora of internship and career options. Whether you want to work at a PR firm, a record label or in a corporation, public relations can get you there. Furthermore, public relations jobs often lead to opportunities and advancement in areas not specifically dealing with public relations.

With public relations, you can be conPR-office.jpgfident in your chances of being employed; the need that businesses have to relate to their publics will never disappear, and it actually seems to be growing stronger in this digital age where the world is more connected than ever. In fact, the number of public relations jobs available is expected to increase by 6 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Do not be afraid of choosing public relations simply because of the negative connotation you might think lurks behind a liberal arts degree. If all of this sounds appealing to you, public relations might be the major and career field for you.

My Spring Break as Told by a PR Plan

Spring break is almost here, and everyone is making their plans to have their most successful spring break yet. Just like in public relations, planning is important if you want to have a “successful” week off school (however you might define that). With the importance of planning goals, objectives and strategies in mind, I set out to make a PR plan in order to best capitalize on the opportunity spring break presents.


 

Opportunity Statement

With graduation quickly approaching, my time of freedom as a college student is coming to a close, and my last spring break gives me the opportunity to use a week off of school to make the most of my dwindling time as an unemployed, (comparatively) worry-free student.


Goal

  • To experience the most fun and fulfilling week possible with the people I love

 

Objectives

 

To spend six days with my girlfriend and friends in California

Strategies to achieve this objective

Ace-Hotel-Palm-Springs.jpgFly to Los Angeles on Thursday, March 10 to meet up with my girlfriend and some friends.

Drive to Palm Springs to spend a day and a half hiking and relaxing by the pool at the Ace Hotel. (They serve Stumptown coffee AT THE HOTEL!)

Drive back to Los Angeles to spend the remaining four days in Los Angeles eating, hiking and exploring with my friends.

To spend four days with my family in Georgia

Strategies to achieve this objective

IMG_7475Fly back from Los Angeles to Atlanta on Wednesday, March 16 to meet up with my family.

Drive north from Atlanta to the Appalachian Trail on Thursday, March 17 to hit the trail.

Spend three days backpacking the Appalachian Trail with my mom, dad and brother.

To increase my awareness of at least three cities from March 10 to March 20

Strategies to achieve this objective

Explore the town and visit at least two coffee shops in Palm Springs.

Attend Zoe Church in Los Angeles and hike the Hollywood sign for the first time.

Go to a restaurant or coffee shop I’ve never been to in Atlanta. (Coffee problem?! What do you mean I have a coffee problem?!)


 

How will I measure the success of my plan, you ask? Easy. I will measure the success of my spring break plan by the quality and quantity of memories made with the people I love. I can’t see the future, but I’m pretty I saved my best spring break for last.

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Here’s an infographic I created to illustrate all the adventure

Long-Distance Dating: A SWOT Analysis

Long-distance dating seems impossible to some people (especially your grandparents who don’t know FaceTime exists), but it can be a beautiful thing when it’s done right. Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, I took some time to break the subject down with a SWOT analysis.

Strengths

Long-distance relationships are inherently more meaningful than (many) close-distance ones, because there are no games to be played; unlike with many close-distance relationships, people don’t get into long-distance relationships just to have fun or because they are lonely. When you are thousands of miles apart, the two of you have to be equally committed to make the relationship work.IMG_7855.GIF

When the only contact between you for weeks happens via mail, Skype, text message, Snapchat and phone calls, the words each of you have to say have a much higher value.

When you value communication so much, any disagreements or arguments are resolved much quicker, because you can’t just take a break from each other and then make up when you see each other the next day; you have to talk it out.

When you only get to kiss your human for a couple days a month (if you’re lucky), the relationship is obviously not centered around either person’s need for physical affection, so you know it’s real.

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Because you get to see each other far less often than you could if you lived close, the time you spend together is not taken for granted like it can be with couples who see each other every day. When you finally get to hang out, you’re like, “LET’S DO ALL THE THINGS!”

You can still be social and spend quality time with your friends instead of being the couple who starts dating and shuts themselves off from the rest of the world; you are independent in your relationship.

When the only person you care to impress lives in IMG_7858another city, you can literally wear whatever you want; you don’t have to look presentable all the time.

Weaknesses

Obviously you miss each other a whole lot.

Even though you are in a healthy relationship, you still miss out on most double dates and couples’ activities with your friends who are in close-distance relationships.

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You sometimes get jealous of couples you see who don’t realize how lucky they are.

Transportation to and from your favorite human is expensive; you could be using those bills for sweet dates.

IMG_7860.GIFWhen you want to give each other gifts/surprise each other, you have to wait at least a few days for the package to be mailed.

 

Some people might think you made your girlfriend/boyfriend up and that you’re just a Photoshop wizard.

Sometimes it feels like you’re always having to say goodbye.

Opportunities

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When you live thousands of miles away from each other, there are a lot of opportunities to surprise your girlfriend/boyfriend. Just yesterday I surprised my girlfriend with a Valentine’s Day package; she was super excited.

 

Your girlfriend/boyfriend living in another city gives you the opportunity to make a lot of new friendships and connections in a different part of the country.

IMG_7863.GIFSimilarly, the fact that your person lives in another city gives you a great reason to travel as often as you can to/with each other.

It’s much more acceptable to bring your girlfriend/boyfriend on your extravagant family vacation when you seldom get to spend time with both parties at the same time.

Threats

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Because your girlfriend/boyfriend is a total babe, people might try to make advances toward her/him in your absence.

 

The lack of contact could make you lose sight of why you started dating each other in the first place, and if that happens, the relationship is in deep trouble.

IMG_7865.GIFThe uncertainty of when the two of you will finally get to be in the same place permanently could cause stress and second-guessing, which could lead to instability in the relationship.

An Adventurer’s Guide to Nashville

When most people think of Nashville, they think of coffee shops, country music, and the downtown strip, but most out-of-towners don’t know about all of the historic and scenic attractions that Nashville has to offer. Here are five of the most Nashvillian places to go when you visit Music City.

1. The Ryman

One of the most historic and iconic venues in music, Ryman Auditorium has been called “the church of country music”…or just music in general, really. Most artists consider performing at the Ryman to be a benchmark in their career – once you have performed at the Ryman, you’ve made it. This hallowed concert hall was home to the Grand Ole Opry during its golden years and has seen the greats from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

You can experience the Ryman by either taking an informational and entertaining daytime tour or by actually going to a concert in the venue – I suggest the latter.

2. The Parthenon/Centennial Park

Centennial Park is a 132-acre park in the heart of the city and is home to a massive replica of the Greek Parthenon. When the weather is nice, you can find locals out at the park playing frisbee, picnicking, suntanning, or exploring the Parthenon. Explore the Parthenon by walking around the outside and admiring its gargantuan columns and doors or pay a few dollars and go inside to see an impressive statue of the Greek goddess Athena standing 42 feet tall.

3. Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art

Cheekwood, a 55-acre estate on the west side of Nashville, has a lot to explore. At Cheekwood, you can wander around the art museum inside of an incredible 30,000-square-foot Georgian-style mansion that was formerly the family home of Nashville’s Cheek family. After you’re done looking at the 600 paintings and 5,000 prints, drawings and photographs inside the 86-year-old mansion, step outside and walk through the botanical gardens that sprawl across all 55 acres of land. The property has many styles of garden design and plants from all over the world.

4. Love Circle

Of all places on this list, Love Circle is probably the most “local Nashvillian” place to go. Love Circle sits atop one of the tallest hills in Nashville and, therefore, has one of the best views of the city. Just take a turn off Broadway and you will start to wind your way up the urban mountain. On the drive up, you will pass a mixture of both classic, quaint Nashville-y homes and modern, architecturally spectacular houses; you may also notice a giant, modern house towards the summit with a gate that reads, “Mt. Richmore” – that house belongs to Rich from the country duo Big & Rich. When you reach the top, you can park your car and walk up some steps on the grassy hill and sit and look over the city, have a picnic, or really do whatever you like to do when you have an awesome view. The view looks over downtown, and you can see all of the iconic Nashville skyline. I would even suggest going twice – once during the day and once at night.

5. Pinewood Social

This new, modern style establishment is hard to put into a box as a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or just a hangout. It’s all of the above…and maybe even more. Pinewood Social is built around the idea of creating a space for community and social interaction at all times of the day, morning, afternoon, and night. Not only does Pinewood offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night food, but it also has a pool, vintage bowling lanes, bocce ball, and spaces for hanging out both inside and outside. If you find yourself struggling on what exactly you and your friends would like to do, you can’t go wrong with Pinewood Social; it’s so many things in one.

Wes Pendleton: 34 Years of Life and Music

Vinyl records crackling. Dust glimmering in shafts of sunlight flooding in through the windows. In a house in the suburbs of Philly, melodies of classics fill the air behind muffled family conversations and the clangs and sweeping sounds of mundane household chores, a Saturday tradition.

These are some of the earliest and fondest memories that come to mind for Wes Pendleton when he reflects on his childhood and the genesis of his lifelong love for music.

Pendleton, a 34-year-old, Philadelphia-based hip-hop producer/rapper, began making music and developing his own sound around 2003, and has since worked with the likes of Lecrae, muzeONE, Phanatik, The Ambasssador, Everyday Process, and many others.

With a self-described hip-hop/soul hybrid style, Pendleton credits Mos Def as his biggest influence in the early days of his career, saying that Mos Def’s influence is “pretty much the reason why I started making the music I make even now.”  Nowadays, though, Pendleton plays to the beat of his own drum per say; he doesn’t take nods from other artists. “That tends to happen the more you get into making music professionally,” Pendleton says. “You find your own style, and develop a lane that works for you.”

Stay Mellow: Wes rocks a tee that describes his style well

Part of Pendleton’s “lane” is the incorporation of his faith and storytelling into his music. “I hope to bring an east coast/soul sound mixed with stories of life and the proclamation of my faith in Christ,” says Pendleton. His faith, strong work ethic and passion for hip-hop and soul are what have set Pendleton apart and defined his career throughout his 12 years in the game.

Though he started making his own music with GarageBand software officially in 2003, Pendleton has been immersed in music his entire life. His whole family on his mother’s side is very musical, he says. “It’s not hard to get into it when all your cousins play one instrument or another; I came out of the womb with an instrument in my hand basically,” Pendleton says with a laugh. 

Even though he was exposed at an early age to what he calls “some of the greatest music available” and set up with a promising springboard from which to launch into the music industry, Pendleton’s career progression has not always been as buttery smooth as his beats.

“It’s not easy – it’s not easy at all. The break you need has the possibility of never coming…even if you’re really good at what you do.”

At one point, Pendleton seriously considered putting the pads away professionally because his music career was taking too much away from him; he was losing more than he was saving in trying to balance his music career and his family life with his wife and daughter.

an essential part of Wes’s craft is sampling vinyl records

A few months after this low, however, things started looking up for the hip-hop dad. Since then, Pendleton has had some breakthrough years for himself, 2014 being the best yet; he released four projects and even went on tour with artists Taelor Gray and Tragic Hero. When asked if he could see himself ever stopping music completely, Pendleton responded: “Probably not. It’s almost like an extra arm at this point, and I couldn’t live without it.”

Currently, Pendleton is working on new music and hopes to put a project out before the year is over. The number of projects he does in the future may be throttled back, but boom bap fans will surely continue to enjoy Pendleton’s presence in the industry.