Girls in STEM

STEM, short for career fields in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math, careers are at the height of their demand. With this demand comes the push for more girls to join these fields and pursue these majors in college. This might be a recent revelation, but some major companies are on board for these changes. Google intends to compliment this growing demand with their programs to educate girls about computer coding, and scholarship foundations eagerly await female applicants so they can fund a college career because the world wants more girls doing great things. In the interest of getting a feel for what opportunities a STEM major can help you achieve, the following are some interviews from girls pursuing science majors and the amazing opportunities they have experienced:

Celina ProvencioTrinity University junior and Biology major with a Spanish minor, Celina Provencio, became interested in the medical field shortly after arriving at college her freshmen year.  She had previously enjoyed her AP biology class in high school, but she wasn’t set on being a doctor until college. She says, “[Her] love for science and knowledge of the human body has brought [her] to this decision.” When asked if she feels exceptional as a girl pursuing this career she says that, “The challenge is equal for men and women, but I do see less women, which might intimidate others.”

During the summer of 2014, she was a student research assistant at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where she interned in a lab conducting studies on the effects of a drug as potential treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.  In this position, she assisted in examining the drug’s effects on mice with dementia. Celina will continue with this research project in the fall where she will help present the findings in December 2014. She also hopes to attend a conference for Neuroscience research in Washington D.C. in the fall. Her advice for Latinitas readers pursuing a medical career is: “Although it can be intimidating, as long as you have a passion for it… you can be successful in college and a medical career, and this applies to any pursuit.”

Alyssa IzquierdoAnother Trinity University junior, Alyssa Izquierdo, who is majoring in Neuroscience for a career in research and clinical psychology, tells Latinitas about her research internship and why she loves science. When she looked in to Trinity, she knew she wished to pursue  something in cognitive health, and she was interested in exploring how to help people with mental illnesses. With a degree in Neuroscience, she hopes to combine her love of biology and cognitive health for a fresh perspective on the treatment of mental health.

This past summer, she was a student assistant in a research project involving a drug that mimicked Parkinson’s disease in marmoset monkeys for the purpose of detecting the disease with an earlier diagnosis via the help of behavioral tests. Her role as a student assisted was counting and documenting diseased neurons for research data. Alyssa also hopes to attend a conference for Neuroscience research in Washington D.C. in the fall. As a student research assistant, she finds that it is encouraging that she has mentor professor and peer tutor who are both female. “I hope people start seeing that just because you’re a woman, it does not mean you can’t get your name out there in science. The female [professors] I have met at Trinity are some of the most brilliant scientists I can think of,” she said.

Her advice for girls is: “Take [a variety] of classes to see what you like, and talk to professors of different fields.” She also encourages girls, even those not interested in pursuing a medical career, to never fear taking science classes, as it can be a very rewarding experience.

Caileen TallantContrary to what we might believe, pursuing a medical career does not necessarily mean you have to eat, sleep, and breath science all of the time. Caileen Tallant,a junior at Trinity University offers her perspective on being a Music Composition major with minors in Biology and Chemistry. Caileen feels that she is making the most of her time spent at college by majoring in one of her greatest passions while also working towards a future career in medicine. She hopes to appeal to medical school in her application by majoring in something outside of the standard chemistry and biology majors.

The research that she is involved in consists of a  computational chemistry lab, where she programs the computer to run tests on alternative ways to remove toxins from the environment. The potential use of this research is meant to offer a way to make cleaner water and she looks forward to continuing this research in the fall. She wishes to leave these encouraging words for readers: “Go for it. You can do whatever you put your mind to. Look towards your end goal, and if you work your hardest, you can reach it”.

For more information on STEM related careers, visit: http://nerdgirls.com. A website for girls and teens interested in embracing their smart-girl individuality. 

College VS High School

1377110_668942723116921_1505867867_nIt’s been a year since I’ve graduated from high school. While I was in high school, my teachers constantly told me I was going to have loads of homework, would not have any free-time, and professors would be strict.  Now that I have experienced a full year of college, it isn’t quite as scary as I feared. On my first day of school at the El Paso Community College, I was worried about getting lost in a big campus, but, once I passed through the sliding doors, everything turned out okay. At first I was nervous and scared, but I had more confidence in myself when a professor greeted and me helped with my classes.

My favorite part of college is the freedom to pick your own classes, make your own schedule and spend time where you like. Going to college gives you more freedom and responsibilities that were not offered in high school.

Here are some tips to help make your transition from high school to college a little easier:

1. BUY YOUR BOOKS ONLINE OR USED!
College is not always fun and games. For me, purchasing expensive books every semester was my least and most difficult part of my freshman year. College books are very expensive! They range from $40.00-$300.00. On my first semester I spent $250 on 3 books — that’s right, only 3 books.

During my second semester as a college student, I learned that buying used books or buying them online was a cheaper alternative.  I bought a used book for $8 and I rented my other book for $30. Some colleges provide the opportunity to rent your books, but there are also online vendors, like Chegg.com and Amazon.com, that offer a cheaper renting option for students. It’s always best to compare prices at the book store and online before making a decision. Therefore, never buy new books, unless that’s your last option, and always investigate before hand, just in case.

2. NEVER, EVER, PROCRASTINATE ON PROJECTS.
I had to learn this the hard way; it gets to you pretty bad when you fall behind. Sometimes, professors assign a project at the beginning of the semester, which is due towards the end of the semester. Instead of waiting until the last week to work on the project, start right away on the first day and break up the project into smaller pieces. The more you procrastinate, the more you’ll regret it.

3. MAKE FRIENDS IN CLASS AND EXCHANGE CONTACT INFORMATION.
Not making friends is the one thing I regret not doing during my first year of college. During class, I would stay quiet and mind my own business. I did talk to some people, but I never switched numbers. Trust me on this one! If a teacher assigns something and you have questions about the guidelines or when it’s due, having a buddy or two for back up will help.

4. IF YOU’RE ILL, CONTACT YOUR PROFESSOR A.S.A.P.
There are times when your immune system decides to give up and you magically catch a cold. You might think that you’ll never get sick, but don’t let your body fool you, it can happen in 24 hours. When this happens, it’s best to either: A.) E-mail your professor B.) Call your professor AND/OR C.) Call or text your buddy to inform them you won’t be attending class

5. IF YOU OWN A VEHICLE, PARK OUTSIDE THE CAMPUS OR BUY THE PARKING STICKER.
Most colleges or universities will charge you for a parking sticker/permit, which can range from $45-$600 for the school year. The last thing you want is to have to pay a fine for parking illegally. Check with your school’s parking website for more information. If paying to park is a hassle, consider taking the bus to school — make sure you’re never late!

6. BRING MONEY OR LUNCH, YOU’LL GET HUNGRY.
Unless you’re on a meal plan, chances are you’re going to have to pay for your own lunch. Most colleges have their own food court, food stands, and snacks available throughout campus. Dining at school may not always be an option so pack your lunch. I always bring snacks during my breaks in order to avoid driving home and back  to school when I get hungry.

7. GO TO CLASS!
Remember how in high school you would get detention for being late to class or ditching class? Well, in college you have more freedom and don’t get detention. Don’t let this fool you! Your actions do have consequences. If you don’t attend class, it can affect your grade or enrollment in the class. Some professors count attendance and participation as a portion of your grade. Always attend class and make sure to pay attention to the lesson.

8. FIND YOUR FAVORITE SPOT.
Sometimes school can push you to the edge, so it’s important to find your favorite spots around campus to relax for a few minutes or even have a good place to study. Don’t be afraid to explore your campus, you never know what you might find. My favorite spot would be the student union and the library. At the union I would play video games and meet new people, while the library would give me the peace and quiet I needed. Plus, visiting the library helped me catch up homework so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at home.

College can have its ups and downs, but you have more freedom and opportunities to meet the most amazing people! So, before you go off thinking college is going to be hard, test the waters first and then decide whether it’s fun or not. Just remember these few tips and have an excellent freshman year!

In Defense of MAS

DSCN1653Universities are slowly beginning to offer more opportunities in cultural studies for its students. As a Latina, knowing that the university I currently attend – the University of Texas at Austin – offers students the ability to get a degree in Asian, Asian American, Islamic, Jewish, and Middle Eastern Studies (just to name a few), really made me want to learn about the Mexican American Studies degree. Sooner than later, I decided to double major in it. For me, my heritage played a lot into this decision, but it really does not matter if you identify as Mexican American or not. It also does not matter if you know a lot of this culture because there are so many more things the Mexican American Studies degree can do for you.

Is a Mexican American Studies degree worth it?

It is important to understand the criticism that the idea of Mexican American Studies has been facing for the past couple of years. With schools in Arizona, Texas, and California struggling to offer Mexican American Studies in their schools, it is only harder for colleges and universities to do the same– especially when the degree can definitely be put into good use.

With a Mexican American Studies degree, for example, you can become a Study Abroad Coordinator for a university or Marketing and Advertising Manager for a big international corporation.

The degree also allows you to tailor another interest you might be pursuing as well. For example, if you are a government major and decide to get another degree at the same time in Mexican American Studies, then you can possibly become an Affirmative Action Specialist. If you’re a communications major and get a dual degree, you can possibly become a writer for a Latin@ based organization, or a foreign policy news analyst.

For Estela Maldonado, coming back to school to get a Mexican American studies degree meant being able to help more people. After having a son, she said coming back to school to major in Mexican American Studies meant she would be able to tell her son “more about where he comes from.” A frequent volunteer in events that raise awareness over immigration and labor form, she said, “with my degree, I can be a more informed member of the community I choose to take part in.”

Where can I study this?

Texas is not the only state that offers a Mexican American studies degree. There are different programs such as the Latino Studies Program at Cornell University, the Center for Latino Policy Research at UC Berkeley, and the Hispanic Research Center where this or a similar degree can be studied.  Within these programs there are classes that are offered in areas such as Spanish literature, anthropology, and political science. Some course titles offered at the University of Texas at Austin, for example, include classes like “Introduction to Cultural Studies; “Mexico: From Aztlan to Zapata”; and “Chicanos and Film: Representation of la Raza.” At the University of Houston, you might take “MAS 3341: Mexican American Experience through Film” or “MAS 3342: Mexican Immigration to the United States.” If you go out of state, you can take classes like “MAS 485: Mexicana/Chicana Women’s History” or “MAS 369: Mexico Since Independence” at the University of Arizona.

Taking classes in these degree programs ask for an array of skills. It is not like your typical degree program where you might only be conducting experiments or attending meetings. Depending on the institution and track you choose (i.e. cultural studies, policy studies), the things you will be doing coincide.

For example, if you want to focus on studying the cultural side of Mexican American studies, you might be studying Mexican American literature, movies, and history.  Because the Mexican American Studies degree is more of a specialization in cultural studies (since you can also study Asian American History, African American History, etc.), schools usually have an option for you to focus more on the political or social history side of Mexican American Studies. Other universities, such as Our Lady of the Lake University, offer more general courses in Mexican American Studies focusing on more of an overview in the area.

Recently, South Texas College in McAllen, Texas became the first college to offer a Mexican American Studies degree that can be earned completely online. There are currently 28 colleges and universities across the United States that offer a Mexican American Studies as a degree. But in other schools such as the University of Arizona, new Ph.D. and doctoral programs are now being offered.

So whatever the case may be, there are many possibilities for you to make the Mexican American studies fit to your needs. Do not be afraid to do some research and reach out to admissions offices about their Mexican American studies degree. You will not regret your decision!

Literature in the Classroom

booksIn Arizona, a ban prohibited Mexican-American literature from being taught and distributed inside the classroom. While the ban was later lifted, this stemmed an outrage that spread much further than upset Arizona residents. Mexican American Studies activists protested and created the Librotraficante movement to help bring awareness to the representation of Latinos in the classroom.  The banning of books led to a wider discussion of the incorporation of Mexican-American literature and courses in high schools.

“As a Mexican-American, Chicana, Latina female I always loved when I got the chance to read literature from my own culture… At Fulmore we read The House On Mango Street and it was great because for once I could connect to what I was reading,” said Elena Galdeano, 18.

Mexican-American literature has many different influences and roots that don’t come from other types of literature. Chicana literature can teach lessons historically, and morally, about the plight of Latino culture throughout history.

“I never had a Mexican-American literature class when I was in [college] there may have been some on Southwestern Literature but I didn’t know they were there,” said Patricia Garcia, professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Looking back at the progress of Mexican-American literature in the classroom, Garcia said she “… didn’t realize that that was a possibility to make that [Mexican American Studies] [her] field at the time.”

Now, more colleges and universities are incorporating Latin American and Mexican American Studies degrees, also known as Chican@ Studies, and courses, but the representation of Latinos in the classroom and literary field continue to be underrepresented.

According to a study performed by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Education, of the 5,000 children’s books published by people of color during the year 2013, about 57 of them were about Latinos. While in 2002, there were actually 94. The number of Latino authors boomed in 2009, with a total of 60 authors, however, in 2013, the number dropped to 48.

“In classes it was usually ‘white’ stories written by ‘white’ people, and while some on those stories were great, but different, [with Latino literature] I was able to relate to how the author had lived and how people looked at them,” Galdeano said.

In April 2014, the Texas Board of Education denied the implementation of a Mexican-American studies elective in high schools, and instead voted to include ethnic studies electives dealing with not only Mexican-American studio, but also about African-American, American Indian and Asian-Americans studies. In July 2014, the Texas Board of Education postponed the adoption of Proposition 2016 materials to November 2015.

“A lot of schools already have it, and the argument is ‘schools are already doing this, let’s formalize it so that a school that wants to have this class already has a curriculum they can adopt,” said Garcia.

In light of what studies have shown, and what the Texas Board of Education is trying to do, some attitudes on Mexican-American studies in the classroom are changing, however, it appears there is still a ways to go.

Self-Respect is the Best Respect

Change the worldWhat comes to mind when you hear the phrase “self-respect”?  Ask yourself this: how much do you value self-respect? Self-respect is valued differently by people, but, bottom line, self- respect is something very important to have.

What is self-respect?

The reason self-respect is so great to have is because you know yourself best, and the first rule about having self-respect is being happy with you are. In order to be happy, you need to treat yourself with love and care first. Like who you are, and respect that. Never be ashamed of who you are.

Juli Mayhan, junior at the University of Incarnate World,  agrees that self-respect is a necessary thing to have, especially as a teen. “Young women are constantly judged by the way they look. A woman needs to hold herself with self-respect, and people will start treating her with respect. We don’t want to be used and taken for granted, so in order to get the respect we want, we need to have self-respect for ourselves,” says Juli.

Isabella Benitez, 14, says she has self-respect for herself by not cussing and not undergoing peer-pressure.  “I like that I can be myself by not having to dress a certain way or what every girl at school is wearing. I wear what I want to wear because it’s more comfortable for me. Also, I think I sound better by not having to cuss. Sometimes, it just doesn’t sound good.” Isabella knows what she likes, and she’s going by her rules! Isabella is setting a good example by not trying too hard for attention, like others may be trying to do.

If you feel something is not right, and this isn’t the usual choice you would make, then don’t do it. Impressing someone by being the unique lady you truly are is ten-times better instead of looking fooling and making a joke out of yourself.

Though there are girls who may be getting attention, some are doing it in a way that does not benefit them. You can get people to like you by not having to lower your standards. It will also be good for you to have those friends who value the same self-respect. Why? Because they will most likely be a better friend towards you by respecting how you are.

“I think self-respect [occurs] when a lady knows her worth and doesn’t settle for anything less than that. It also means standing by your morals and beliefs and not to let anything or anyone interfere with them. I have self-respect by standing by my morals and what I believe in and following through with them by the actions I make,” says Juli.

You may be asking how you can boost your self-respect. Well, here are 5 ways how:

  1. Try to always have good mannerisms, such as saying please and thank you, and always be considerate towards others. Others will respect you more for doing this.
  2. Never cuss! It is not lady-like and sounds very tacky. Use other words instead that show you are smarter than having to stoop low by using profanity.
  3. If you feel whatever you may be wearing isn’t appropriate or if it’s uncomfortable for you, don’t wear it.
  4. Love yourself for who you are, and also take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as best as you can.
  5. Treat yourself the way you would want others to treat you! Demonstrate to others how much you value yourself and show them your worth. Hopefully, this will show them how you want to be treated.

Always remember, if you want to get further in life, it’ll be easier to have self-respect than to constantly seek everyone else’s approval and respect. With self-respect they will see you are a strong lady who has a good head on her shoulders; be classy!

From Inadequacy to Fabulosity

FRIENSHIPSometimes, when you are young (and even when you are older!), it is hard to look at your friends and feel that you do not measure up to them. You see them and feel worthless because they own nicer things than you or they get better grades than you. You might feel as if people like them more, that they are prettier in some way, or that there is something they have that you do not. What you are feeling is inadequacy, meaning that you fee “inadequate”; as if you are not good enough when you compare yourself to your friends and other people. What is worse, according to the NYC Girls Project, “girls report struggling with body image and self-esteem at younger and younger ages…”

“I grew up constantly comparing myself to others, always seeing how much better they were than me because they got the guy or the grades. I never believed that who I was was good enough nor would I ever be,” said Jamie Cardenas, 18.

It is always hard to remember that you are special in your own way because you cannot see yourself from an outsider’s point of view. All you see are you own mistakes and then you get caught up in believing that this what everyone sees.

The good news, though, is that this is not the case. What you probably did not realize, especially if you tend not talk about the days when you are feeling low, is that many of your friends and classmates are feeling the exact same way.According to the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, “7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships.”

Everyone has these feelings at some point or another in his/her life and it is a struggle for many to get through it. This does not mean there is not any hope because there is!

Here are a few ways to help you overcome your feelings of inadequacy:

  • Talk to your friends about how you are feeling. You will be surprised by what you learn from them.
  • Find something you really like to do and keep doing it! You will get better at it, trust me. You will realize that if you have something you love to do, it does not matter what others think about it because it makes you happy.
  • Lose yourself during the moments where you feel really bad, whether it is by exercising, crafting, watching a show or a movie, or reading. Find something to take your mind off the issue, even if it is just for a little while!
  • If you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to a professional — like a counselor or a therapist. While a lot of people tend to shy away from this option, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to someone who can help. That is their job and they are more than willing to talk to you!

When asked if the feeling of inadequacy has gotten easier to deal with over time, Cassandra Cazares, 22, says “Compared to when I was younger, when I thought everyone’s opinion of me mattered, yeah. I find myself remembering … that even though I’m feeling low about myself, I am and will alwaysbe enough where it matters.”

Remember: you are not being judged nearly as hard as you think you are. Really though, you are your own worst critic. The sooner you realize this then the sooner you can learn to become comfortable with yourself and learn to love who you are. Whether you know it yet or not, you are a fabulous person!

9 Tips For The Busy Girl-On-The-Go

Time management

The road to success can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are nine helpful tips for your busy life!

1. List out your weekly schedule.

Organization is the most important thing to master when trying to balance all of your assignments and extracurricular activities. Seeing everything written down on a calendar is a lot easier than just going by a list you made in your head. There are plenty of cute personal planners available to match your style and personality, too!

2. Attack each task one at a time.

Check off each task as you finish them. It is better to complete one task and move onto the next one than to be overwhelmed with a lot of unfinished tasks. Rank them according to the most time consuming and get the easier – or most urgent – ones done first.

3. Time yourself.

Give yourself time limits to plan ahead, stay on track and prevent procrastination and stress that comes along with poor time management. Use a watch, set your phone’s timer, or find a friend to help you out!

4. Invest your time wisely.

Your time is precious. Prioritize it! Sometimes it’s hard to say no to friends who want to hang out when you don’t feel like doing homework, but success takes sacrifice. Remember, college is not too far away, so school should be one of your highest priorities. Did you know that colleges pay students with good grades to go to their school? That is called scholarships!

5. Never skip meals.

Your body needs healthy, consistent meals to stay active and properly fueled for all the wonderful things it wants to do. Skipping meals can disturb your body’s natural functions, such as lower your metabolism, increase fatigue and even cause unwanted weight gain. Try to prepare on-the-go snacks for yourself, and choose fresh fruit and vegetables over heavily processed foods when possible.

6. Imagine where you want to be after high school – and make it reality.

It is never too early to start planning for your future. And it’s always important to dream. The only thing that can prevent you from turning those dreams into achieved goals is letting negativity, including your own, hold you back. There are plenty of resources available and people willing to help you if you seek it. It just depends on how badly you want it and fight for it.

7. Talk it out.

If something in your life or schedule is bothering, worrying, or even exciting you, voice it. Whether it is a family member, best friend or school counselor, find someone whom you can trust to be your mentor or listening ear. Staying emotionally healthy and sane is crucial on your journey to success. Also, telling someone your goals can help them keep you accountable of reaching them.

8. Act professional.

A busy schedule is no excuse for a horrible attitude or the mistreatment of others. People are watching whether you know it or not. Positive relationships and a good reputation are invaluable. You will later need letters of recommendation for college applications, and if you act professional now, asking your teachers to write them will be no problem.

9. Set aside time for yourself.

Get away from the drama and other distractions and spend time with yourself. Pick up a fun, positive hobby to relieve some stress or learn something new. It is okay to be selfish. You would be amazed at how much more emotionally and physically refreshed you feel when you do things that make YOU happy – not what others want or think you should do.

Too many to remember? Check out the first letter of each tip, and what does it spell?

Everyone Needs a Mentor

IMG_2764Growing up, the term “mentor” is mentioned all the time. Some people, like myself, are not told what the word me ands or why it is important to have a mentor.  According to “Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet” by Dr. Glenn Omatus, a mentor is defined as “a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate, and a caring role model. An effective mentor is respectful, reliable, patient, trustworthy, and a good listener and communicator.”

After experiencing being a mentor for another person, the realization of a personal relationship based on investment and guidance is established.

As Vanni Rodriguez, a junior at University of Wisconsin at Madison, said, “Finding a mentor is essential for life; they allow you to envision yourself as them one day. They can guide you and show you the right steps.”

To find the right mentor, one needs to figure out what qualities of another person are admirable, as well as beneficial, to further personal and professional development. It is also important to find a person that motivates self-betterment or is in a position of credibility.

To establish a mentor-mentee relationship, both individuals involved must be aware of the relation being built. The mentor is responsible of serving as a positive role model that demonstrates patience and encouragement towards the mentee’s personal goals.

Kim Bravo, a senior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said, “Patience is key to understanding ones story.” For young Latina women, in order to be able to truly open up to someone, there needs to be a strong connection.

When choosing a mentor, one must be aware of personal feelings about the individual. If being comfortable is felt and one is able to build trust on both the accomplishments and failures in life, then the necessary steps towards furthering the relationship into a mentor relationship are possible. Mentors can be commonly found within teachers, co-workers, and older family members. But, again, mentors are anywhere; one must simply be aware and self-reflect on ourselves to discover the desired support needed for personal success.

Find someone you truly look up to and will be able have a strong and positive relationship. Having more than one mentor is up to you, but be aware of what you want in life, and know how a mentor can support you in your journey towards achieving these goals. To get the best experience with a mentor, keep in touch with your mentor; inform them about your successes as well as your obstacles. At the end of the day, your mentor is a life long supportive role.

A Latina in Tokyo

Traveling to Tokyo, Japan has been one of my most fondest memories.With a population of over thirteen million people, and being one of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo, Japan is the perfect place to start a new journey. Known for having some of the world’s tallest buildings and having such high tech shopping centers, Tokyo offers many memorable experiences for any Latina. Whether you’re just there for the food or fashion, Tokyo, Japan has got you covered!

How My Adventure Started

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Being born in a Mexican-American family, I learned how to speak English and Spanish fluently at a young age. I was raised with the idea that communication between different cultures is very important, which has instilled a desire to learn more about different cultures and languages. When I was in high school, I decided to enroll in college classes at the same time so I could learn a different language. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to write in multiple languages and be able to talk to people from all over the world.

With this dream in mind, I narrowed down my options to learn how to speak Chinese or Japanese. I chose Japanese and enrolled in a class. Three years passed by and the opportunity to travel to Japan came up when my Japanese professor in my Japanese class announced a study abroad trip during the summer. I was hesitant on going because I had never traveled outside the country, but my Japanese professor encouraged me by stating that traveling to the country of a language’s origin would greatly improve my ability to speak Japanese. I decided to work a part-time job at a hair salon while going to school full-time so I could save up to help pay for my trip. My freshman year of college had come to an end, and I was very excited at the fact that I would be traveling and experiencing a whole new world and culture during the summer.

Experiencing Japanese Culture

One of the big things that I expected to experience in Japan was culture shock, but our professor made sure we immersed ourselves in the Japanese culture through several workshops and events. I was able to wear a yukata, which is basically a summer kimono, during my trip. The traditional kimono is expensive and mainly for formal occasions whereas the yukata is used for more casual events. A yukata is just as beautiful as a traditional kimono and is made of lighter material. I also tried wood block painting, a traditional Japanese art that takes years to master. Alongside my classmates, I was able to take Taiko drum lessons and also carry a Japanese mikoshi for a summer festival in Kasukabe city! Aside from these events, the culinary experience was also very memorable.

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Japanese and Western Food

I’m a huge food lover. I love food and I love to try out new things just as long I know what’s in it! Not only did I try new foods, but I learned sitting etiquette when it came to really traditional restaurants. Some traditional Japanese restaurants didn’t offer chairs and required you to sit on the floor while you ate. I didn’t come across many of them while I was in Tokyo, but there were several of them in the surrounding cities around Tokyo. I ate everything from actual Japanese sushi (the California roll does not count), ramen, Japanese omelet, and gyoza (dumplings – my new love! Although, there were several times when I did miss some of the fast food from back at home, one of the best things about Japan is the food. When I wasn’t obsessing over the food, I was amazed by the fashion scene.
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Japanese Fashion

Something that I truly enjoyed about my stay in Japan was the fashion scene. At a really young age, I discovered my love for fashion and have been a fashion junkie ever since.  The clothes are really affordable and I really liked how Japan likes to recycle fashions and designs. Plus, the shopping environment was a lot of fun. If there was a certain shirt that I wanted, I could find it in multiple stores and save money by comparing the prices. At the time of my trip, I wanted to buy a Boy London hat because it was a popular item in Japan at the time. I first came across the hat inside a mall for around $30, but at a different store it was $6. I stuck with a budget and wound up having 15 outfits under $100! There were several stores trying to be flashy with different colored lights. Tokyo is well-known for the fashion scene and now I can understand why.

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Sara’s Top Trip Highlights

Aside from the food and fashion, here are my top 5 Tokyo trip highlights.

945959_791757495049_767536244_n1. Yoyogi Park and Quetzalcoatl

While in Tokyo, my most favorite location ended up being Yoyogi Park — very famous and huge park in Japan. It’s free to enter and the park also leads you to one of the most popular places amongst teenagers in Tokyo (Harajuku). Our dorm was located right next to Yoyogi park so we went there frequently. It was one of my favorite locations because it was beautiful, but also because I found a Quetzacoatl statue! While exploring the park, I noticed that it was one of the few statues at the park. I walked up to it because I thought that the design looked familiar. When I was in elementary school, my school’s mascot were the Mexican Aztecs, and my art classes focused on a major project on the Aztec Gods every year. From second to fifth grade, I I always made sure that I included Quetzalcoatl in all my drawings and sculptures. Since then I’ve had an admiration for Quetzalcoatl because it symbolizes my own happiness as a child.

get-attachment (19)2. Tex-Mex in Tokyo

Tex-Mex food in Tokyo was a surprise for me, and it was actually pretty good! My classmates and I ended up meting a few awesome Japanese people and one of them actually worked at a Tex-Mex place. She ended up taking us there and it was exactly like a Chipotle that you would find in the U.S. It’s not one of the most exciting things ever, but I thought that it was pretty memorable and cool!

 

3. Disney Sea in Tokyo

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If you decide to take a trip to Tokyo, make sure to stop by Disney Sea! I had never visited Disney up until then, and it was a lot of fun! In Tokyo you can visit The good thing about Disney Land or Disney Sea. We chose Disney Sea because it’s the only Disney Sea in the entire world! It was very convenient because you can take a train that will take you there. Next time you decide to stop by Tokyo, make sure to make room for Disney Sea!

 

 

get-attachment (13)4. Semi-Climbing Mt. Fuji

Walking on Mt.Fuji, located inFujiyoshida,  was one of the best things I have done. Mt.Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, so we came across many foreigners who wanted to see the real thing as well. My Japanese professor took us to a town called Fujiyoshida — the town itself is already located on Mt.Fuji. Since there are different levels when it comes to Mt. Fuji, my class were only able to climb the first few levels which mainly involved walking but it was still fun!

 

 

1209265_520425638028673_1068531910_n-15. Karaoke in Japan

Singing is a form of expression, so it’s healthy to sing Karaoke every once in a while. One of my biggest highlights was going out to karaoke in Japan. I think that it’s a significant experience because the origin of karaoke  started in Japan. Karaoke is very popular in Japan, and  will find multiple karaoke places in one area.The selection of songs in Japanese karaoke bars are not just in Japanese — surprise! Since American music is popular there as well, there are many English songs that you can sing-a-long to in case Japanese songs aren’t for you!

 

Now that you’ve read about my adventure, what are you waiting for? Start planning your own!

Creating a Résumé

latina girl on computerRésumés are a timeline of all your achievements. There should be a clear understanding of everything you have ever achieved in your academic or professional career the minute someone takes a look at your résumé. However, that does not mean you cannot have fun with your résumé! Whether it is with your font choice, page template, or type of résumé, make sure to make your résumé represent who you are. With a few tips and guidelines, you will create your perfect résumé with ease.

It is important to remember that a great résumé does take time to create.

“Whether it is for a job or a scholarship, a résumé needs to set a great impression for you,” said University of Texas student Sheyla Duran. “It can determine whether or not you get what you’re applying for.”

There are hundreds of people who are applying for the same job or scholarship as you. A judge or employer makes his/her final decision from a piece of white paper. Your piece of white paper needs to stand out.

Whether it is in paper or digital format, there are different types of  résumé formats. Many people choose to create an online résumé that will allow them to showcase their art, performances, experiments, etc — this is also called a portfolio. Although it does depend on the type of application you are submitting, an online résumé is a great way to showcase your work!

Most of the time, a traditional résumé (paper format) will still be acceptable. And before you begin to create it, you need to ask yourself: “What do I want my résumé to say about me?” Are you attempting to win an engineering scholarship? Are you trying to be hired at an advertising agency? Your purpose will be the star of your résumé – what you want to make shine.

If you are not sure how to organize the information, look up a résumé template if you feel uncomfortable creating one on your own. A simple Google search will provide you with many examples. A common template for a résumé has contact information at the top, followed by an education section, work and volunteer experience, leadership roles, affiliations, skills, and references. Some employers ask for an objective, which is a mini-personal statement on what you wish to accomplish. Now that you have a template in mind, it’s time to put your résumé together.

Getting Started

Your résumé will first begin with your contact information. How is someone supposed to contact you if you do not include it? This should include your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. As simple as it seems, things such as writing your phone number like 999.999.999 instead of writing it as (999) 999-9999 truly make a difference. Whether you want to center your contact information or put it to the left, make sure that everything is aligned and neatly organized. Organization is key!

Next is the education section.This section normally follows your contact information. You will include what school you are attending or are going to attend — some templates include a GPA section. However, if an employer or judge informs you that your résumé has to have an objective section, that would go on top of your education.

Your experience should be next. This section can be tricky if you have no work experience. Then this section would be dedicated your leadership roles and what you do within them or volunteer experience. There should be at least 3 bullets per example detailing what you did.

If you do have work experience, then list it here. The easiest way to do this is by listing your most recent position first.  Then, if you have leadership experience that would go in a following section titled “Leadership” or “Affiliations.”

Next, you should consider adding your skills. Listing your skills is the easiest way for employers or scholarship judges to pinpoint the things you’re good at. If you have any awards, that can also be listed in a section below your skills. Watch what you list in these to sections though. It might be fine to list social media as a skill if you’re applying for something having to with communications. If you’re applying for nursing school, social media might not be such a relevant skill.

Your résumé, two at the most, but three is excessive. Some templates include courses or interests that are relevant to the position you are applying to. Things such as courses or interests really depend on whether you have room on your résumé. They are not things that are urgent, but do not harm your résumé if they are mentioned.

Something that will harm your résumé is its look. Keep everything consistent. This means that if you decided to use Times New Roman, size 16 font for your headings, all headings need to look the same. Adding a splash of color may boost the look, but going overboard or using irrelevant graphics may make your résumé look unprofessional. Stay organized and kept it neat.

According to incoming UT freshman Gabriella Uriega, “making a résumé while your still in high school is tough.”  But creating a résumé at any point of your life should not be hard. Be consistent, precise, short, and honest. Your résumé will allow you to achieve your dreams.   Don’t be scared of it! Make it work in your favor instead.

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