Author: schiff (page 2 of 14)

“The Necessity of Risk in Personal Development” by Carlos Benito

As any UD student can attest to, risk is an everyday part of our lives. The vast majority of us risked 4 years at this university in the hope to be rewarded by a stable, well paying job that brings us some amount of happiness. However, it is essential that we use these 4 years to take risks that we are not be able to in the future. At no other point in our lifetime will we have as dense of a concentration of resources as we do now, and it would be a great personal loss if we didn’t capitalize on them.

This university provides a vast amount of opportunities — from academic opportunities to opportunities to improve your health and so many more. Although some of these opportunities entail a financial risk, most only require a time commitment. I would argue that these opportunities are the highest risk opportunities because they all ask for a piece of our most valuable resource: time. Time, or our frequent lack of it, drives many of our daily decisions and prevents us from developing into our best selves. Every moment we commit to a new activity risks losing time that we can never get back.

However, our generation has a unique relationship with risk that jeopardizes our personal development. Most of us were around 7-11 years old when the 2008 recession hit, and that single event changed us all forever. We all watched our parents get laid off or take second jobs in order to make ends meet and heard their lectures about getting a good job. Now, more than anything else, our generation strives for job security, a foundation to a happy middle class lifestyle. We all saw the emotional toll job insecurity had on our parents and we all still fear a similar fate. In order to overcome this fear we first have to accept a very terrifying reality: job security is a myth. Job security was a given when our parents were growing up, but now it’s impossible to spend a whole career in one company, and no company wants to invest in the training and development of their workforce. So, we are left to train ourselves for a position that we may not be in for very long. We have to risk our own time and money for job training, yet we do not know whether it will be worthwhile. 

That is what we are all doing at the moment, risking our time and money in the hopes that it will pay off. No can say for sure if it will, but what we can say is if you already took this kind of risk, there is no reason to be afraid of taking a few much smaller ones. Take a gym class you have never seen, minor in something that will give you a unique skill, or even start a club or business. We all have taken a huge risk, but by taking a few smaller chances, no matter how our big gamble is, we will have the knowledge and experience to figure it out.

“Learning to Inspire Positive Change” by Abhigna Rao

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, I attended the highly anticipated Changemakers Conference on campus. A changemaker is defined as someone who has a desire to change something about the world and uses imagination, empathy, and collaboration in the right ways to create that change. 

This is the first year that a concept of a conference surrounding that idea has come to life. The day was broken down into sessions, some of which were required for everyone to attend together, and some of which we had workshop options to choose from. 

I had an amazing time there, developing new skills and networking with other students while I was at it. So, to give you a little glimpse into my day at the conference, I’m going to take you through my itinerary and share some key ideas that I learned at each session I attended!

Check-In & Morning Session: The morning session was held in the Trabant Multipurpose Rooms with all conference attendees. Susan Luchey, the Conference Chair, welcomed us, introduced how this conference came together and what she hoped we would take away from it, and really got us in the open and determined mindset that we would need for the workshops. 

Opening Keynote with Bryan Terrell Clark: Next up was a phenomenal speech by the one and only Bryan Terrell Clark. Clark is an actor, singer, songwriter, and plays George Washington on a little show called Hamilton on Broadway! He is also the co-founder of an initiative called inDEFINED, through which he teaches others how to use their spheres of influence to work towards eliminating societal labels. In his presentation, Clark talked a lot about his childhood experiences and his parental influences, how those shaped his upbringing, and what he learned from them. Here are some key points that I took away:

  • Build up enough passion to fuel the long journey that change takes. 
  • Talent and execution are not enough to be a leader—you need to believe in yourself.
  • Develop a connection with your inner voice: there is guidance within you that ALWAYS leads you to safety and success. Listen to it and strengthen your relationship with it now so that when you need it, you can trust it.
  • Master what you manifest: thoughts become things, and you can become a leader if you learn to command your thoughts.
  • Purpose is when your gifts and talents meet a need. 
  • Happiness comes when you become clear on both your passion and your purpose and they both align with one another. 
  • When you are fighting for change, you cannot pick topics out of a hat. It needs to be connected to you; it needs to make you feel something.
  • It’s not always about attacking the big idea—start with your own sphere of influence and begin with the people you know.
  • You can be powerful beyond measure if you connect with yourself. 
  • Do your best to be your authentic self.

Brunch: After that amazing and inspiring speech, we headed to the Trabant Food Court for brunch. There was a great spread, including pancakes, eggs, fruits, and coffee. I attended the conference with some of my residents in Redding, and it was great to reflect on Clark’s words and talk about the sessions we planned to attend over a delicious meal.

Breakout Session 1: The first session I attended was called “Design Your Leadership Like an Entrepreneur.” The workshop was led by Dr. Anthony Middlebrooks, an Associate Professor in Community Organization and Leadership here at UD, along with some of his students. The purpose of this workshop was to teach students how to enhance their performance as a leader by reframing problems as opportunities and embracing the following mindset:

  • Leadership is the process of influencing others towards a common goal.
  • Entrepreneurship is pursuing the creation, delivery, and capture of values from new ideas.
  • The debilitating myth of musical chairs: if there is no room for you, it doesn’t mean you’re out. Bring your own chair to the game, or better yet, start your own table. 
  • Let go of attachments that are leading you in the opposite direction of where you want to go.
  • Reframe problems as opportunities. For instance, instead of seeing a team member as rigid and uncooperative, seeing them instead as organized, assertive, and independent will allow you to seek out ways to work with them.
  • Unique value proposition: recognize what unique values you bring and think about how you want to communicate that.
  • Think about the resources and aspects of your life that you can better utilize—something you may need could have been right in front of you the whole time!
  • Avoid self-sabotaging thoughts and reinforce yourself with positive affirmations.
  • Everything you need is already within you.

Afternoon Keynote with Toshia Shaw: Toshia Shaw is a published author, speaker, spiritual life coach, holistic mental health professional, and a survivor of trauma. She is the founder of the Purple W.I.N.G.S. nonprofit organization, which works towards helping and empowering young girls who suffered from drug addiction, sexual trauma, domestic violence, and other traumatic experiences. In her talk, she talked a lot about her personal experiences with trauma, and how it shaped the way that she saw and thought about the world around her. Here are some important things I learned: 

  • Don’t allow the way a person looks to be a factor in what you think of that individual.
  • Transforming means surrendering yourself to a higher purpose. Find out what that is, and then live and walk your truth.
  • Sometimes we complain about what needs to be done because we are waiting for someone else to do it. But maybe that someone is you.
  • It is not enough to acknowledge what needs to be changed, it is your responsibility to change it.

Breakout Session 2: The second session I attended was called “How to Solve Any Problem,” presented by Nishant Chintala and Garrett Currie, UD students and coaches of the Collegiate Leadership Competition Team. They taught us that problems are usually how to solve the problem, not the problem itself. We learned how to approach any problem with the SOLVE strategy, which is an especially useful method when the solution to an issue is not obvious. We participated in a team activity that involved making 60 paper airplanes at our tables in 6 minutes, which we repeated again at the end of the workshop after learning the SOLVE method. Here it is, outlined below:

  • Set Roles: determine necessary roles, distribute strengths, adapt to obstacles.
  • Outline the Problem: define problem, set rules, explore potential setbacks, ask questions.
  • List Multiple Strategies: brainstorm different paths, utilize relevant experiences.
  • Veer Towards Consensus: hear all voices, choose three solid ideas, move forward with top.
  • Evaluate the Results: schedule pause points to check progress, develop improved plan.

The take-home message of the presentation was when solving problems, embrace chaos, be open to new ideas, learn from failure, and be fearless. Even though you may find yourself uncomfortable at first, from discomfort comes growth, which is what being a leader is all about.

Dessert & Coffee: I guess now would be an ideal time for my monthly #CoffeeRoast! The food, snacks, and coffee for this event overall was provided generously by UD Catering, so I do feel a little obligated to promote their concessions.  I will say that the coffee was decent enough, but not what I would opt for on a daily basis. However, it was FREE, which was unlike the brews I usually order, so this one gets an A+ in my book. In addition to cups of caffeine, Insomnia cookies were present. I indulged in a double chocolate chunk cookie and smuggled a chocolate chip and M&M cookie for later. 

Closing Keynote with Nyle DiMarco: Nyle DiMarco is a model, actor, dancer, and an activist for the Deaf. Being Deaf since birth himself, he is known for putting forth major efforts to de-stigmatize disabilities and creating opportunities that are not available for people who are hard of hearing or live with complete Deafness. Through his talk, he spoke about his experiences as the first Deaf contestant on America’s Next Top Model as well as Dancing with the Stars, and how he went on to win both competitions despite the many challenges he faced while in the spotlight. Every day, he works towards using his influence and platform to expand his reach and advocate for language and literacy equality. This was an incredible speech to watch, as DiMarco signed everything he wanted to say while having an interpreter speak his gestures. This is what I learned from him: 

  • Never let what you might think is a setback stop you from achieving your goals. Instead, find a novel way to let it be your strength.
  • There is so much power that comes with not letting what people do and say bother you and truly loving who you are.
  • Don’t try to fix something that is not broken: our identities are all we have.
  • Come up with your own definition of what it means to be yourself, and let that be the driving factor in your journey.
  • Trust that you have the strength to solve your own problems. 

Conference Wrap-Up and Call to Action: After the final keynote, we were joined by Susan Luchey once again, who provided us with an action plan that change cannot start without:

  • Start with brainstorming what bothers you on your campus, in your community, in the world, and in your personal life.
  • Decide which of those problems you are most passionate about, and zero in on how you can realistically create change surrounding it. 
  • Once you have identified the problem, conduct research surrounding who is responsible for the cause, what conditions contribute to the problem, when the problem originated, why it is important to you, and how it impacts you, your campus, your community, and the world.
  • Find out what resources and data you need to develop solutions, who else has or is currently tackling the problem, what has been done already towards this cause, and become and expert on the issue.
  • Brainstorm as many possible solutions as you can by moving from general to specific answers, combining ideas with others, breaking down ideas into more detailed pieces, prioritizing, and exercising zero judgement.
  • Figure out ways in which you can generate support for your cause. Make goals, develop a strategy, outline tasks, set a timeline, and create an assessment plan to measure your progress and success.
  • Implement!

And that wrapped up my day at Changemakers! I was extremely impressed with how well put together this occasion was, and especially with the effort the organizers put towards making this event as welcoming, accessible, and inclusive as possible. It was truly a phenomenal conference, and one that I hope to experience again next year!

Below, I have attached three links, which will take you to previous documented talks given by the keynote speakers from Changemakers that are similar to what they spoke about last Sunday. I encourage you to watch them, and I hope you learn something new that motivates you to inspire positive change yourself!

Bryan Terrell Clark:

Toshia Shaw:

Nyle DiMarco:

And in case you would like to check out the conference page to see more about what it was all about and get motivated to attend next year: 

Changemakers Conference Homepage:


“My Research Experience” by Brittany Connely

Research. Honestly, the thought of it is simultaneously exciting and intimidating. Everyone tells you to get involved as soon as possible, especially when you’re on the path towards medical and graduate school.

 But how do you even get involved? When I was a freshman in the honors program this was my main question. It was daunting, all the people I had met just said to email around and ask professors if they had spots open in their labs, to just look around and explore. You might get rejected, but I was told I’d eventually find a place right for me. I was overall lost in the whole process though. I didn’t have any idea of what to do research in and if I was even interested in pursuing it while in college. I only knew that’s what others said I should do.

So when I was scrolling through Handshake and saw a job listing for a student research assistant, I applied. I was nervous, scared I wasn’t going to have the skills needed, and wondering what it would even be like. Little did I know, interviewing for that new position would lead me down a whole new path.

I am now part of the University of Delaware Center of Health Assessment Research and Translation as a research assistant. My main job has been coding, but not in the traditional sense that most people would think of. I go through transcripts of past study groups and apply a codebook to them in a program called “Nvivo”. The goal of my part of this is to find which symptoms correspond and overlap for people with major injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

I absolutely love my job and being part of this research project. While going through 70 page transcripts doesn’t sound exciting, being able to read and hear about people’s stories makes the time pass by. Through reading the effects one’s injury has had on their life not only physically but emotionally, I feel like I am learning another side to the story. As a neuroscience major I have learned about the causes and effects and symptoms of certain things like TBI, however, my job allows me to be in someone else’s shoes and see it not just through the eye of a clinician but also a patient.

This was not what I expected research to be like. Honestly, when I was first looking into research I was expecting to be in a lab doing benchwork. But through learning more about clinical research, I have discovered a whole new world that I want to continue being part of. I believe learning more not only about issues medically but also how they affect others in different ways will make me a better doctor and help me on the path towards my future career.

I think that being part of something new and constantly evolving is thrilling. Being involved in research is something I am extremely grateful for and think that everyone should at least try to do once. So I encourage you to gain the courage, take a chance, and email that professor and or apply for the position. You never know how much impact it’ll have on you unless you try. 


“A Win for Winter!” by Jenny Gloyd

This winter, I was fortunate enough to be part of undergraduate research on campus. I learned new laboratory techniques and experienced some new chemistry first hand. I also found out that I really enjoy what winter at the University of Delaware has to offer, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts here. 

First, it was an entirely different feeling from fall and spring semesters at UD. The whole campus was much quieter, and most buildings and restaurants around campus had reduced hours. It was a good change of pace, there were less people walking across the green, and shorter lines at places such as Einstein’s Bagels — which I frequented over the winter session. Places that were normally noisy became quiet study spots and the reduced hours for many buildings forced me to be efficient with my time, and to stay organized. I also took advantage of the lack of crowds to start going to the Little Bob more often. I developed a gym routine I liked, and made a habit of going by the time spring semester started. 

Second, really focusing on one task was a very valuable experience in my opinion. I was able to put all of my effort into research this winter, without also having to juggle multiple classes. It turned into a morning routine to sit down with a coffee and read from chemistry journals, something I had told myself I was going to do, but never could find the time for until this winter. I learned about the type of chemistry I was involved in, and what my research group was working on, as well as reminding myself of the basics. I understand now why people sit down with a coffee and a newspaper in the morning; it was very peaceful and I felt like I accomplished something before the day even started. On top of that, when spring semester rolled around, I had already been able to dedicate the time to understand the research I was doing, and to learn new laboratory techniques important to the project. I am now more confident in the lab, and it has allowed me to accomplish more this semester despite splitting my time between classes and research. 

I also would recommend, if you stay for the winter, to use it as an opportunity to work within your future field. I have already mentioned that I have learned an insane amount of chemistry over these past weeks, but I also was able to learn what it is like to work in an academic lab. I am one of the only undergraduates in my lab, and so I am mostly working with professionals. It was very valuable to see how others with more experience were able to collaborate and problem solve. I learned how best to communicate my ideas, and to ask questions. I saw how others in the lab communicated their ideas in our weekly meetings, and it inspired me to be a good and informative scientist.

Winter at UD is very worthwhile to gain a different perspective on campus and to dedicate your time to something you care about. I hope this encourages others to seek out more opportunities on campus outside of the fall and spring semesters.

“Opinions on a Busy Week” by John Salsini-Tobias

Three exams, two papers, and hours upon hours of online homework. And it isn’t even midterms week yet. Honors students are expected to put in plenty of work for their classes, especially for first year students who must take twelve or more credits of honors coursework. Combine this with extracurriculars like clubs with deadlines, interviews for new positions, and fraternity or sorority rush. It is easy to see how students can get behind on work that just builds on top of previous assignments. So how can studious undergrads put in the effort to stay on top of school while maintaining their social life and other fun activities? 

Procrastination is always the easy way out of work and favored by many smart honors students who are finally receiving a challenge with schoolwork. This habit will have to end as the semester plows ahead, leaving any stragglers behind. Setting a goal for the day and planning for the weeks ahead will help in time management, and will let you visualize and manage due dates with a to do list. This can be as simple as using Notes on your iPhone, which allows you to sync to your Mac, or even using dedicated annotation and checklist software such as Google Keep or Evernote. Extend this to specific classes or clubs and you’ll be all set to see what is on the table for the week and where you should focus your time. Once you find what you need to do, how can you find motivation to start?

Again, planning is key here. A goal in mind and determination is not always enough, so it helps to keep a reward in mind for completing the assignment. Depending on your enthusiasm for the work, the prize could be the enjoyment of writing a blog post for your interesting elective class. For many of us, a more realistic trophy might be a short study break with snacks and a few scrolls on Instagram. Keeping yourself on task until this study break may be the hardest part of studying, making it extremely important to minimize distractions and putting yourself in the right mindset.

Redding Hall provides many wonderful lounges to sit down and grind out an essay, but many tight-knit floor communities also make great use of the lounge for recreation and hanging out. This results in a poor study environment, but luckily Redding and the greater campus have many solutions to this problem. A variety of lounges for group or silent work can be found on the first floor, and if these fill up (during finals week they will), then the library offers the next logical solution. One great benefit of this location is the easy access to print and online sources, but again it can get crowded during busy weeks. Some of my favorite spots on campus where I can solely focus on my work are at the very modern ISE building or while enjoying a great coffee at Brew-HaHa! When the weather finally turns into spring, the expanse of The Green is great for a solar powered study session. 

With these tips, it is easy to divvy up a potentially dreadful week into several easy blocks of work. Make it your mission to finish your work on time and with your best effort. Honors students get work done! You own the game, don’t let the game own you!

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