Career Spotlight: Mental Health Specialist

Career Spotlight

Name: Leticia Greene

Hometown: Veracruz,Mexico

Employer: US Army

Job Title: Mental Health Specialist

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am primarily responsible for assisting with the management and treatment of inpatient mental health activities, and counsel clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems.

What is your educational background?
On the Civilian side I have B.A in Advertising and Design that I obtained from the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla.

On the Military side I completed my Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston,TX  in Mental Health Specialist, which is my Military Occupational Specialty 68X.

Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career:
My college experience was one of a kind. I studied in Puebla,Mexico, which was 3 hours away from home,Veracruz; therefore, I ended up moving to Puebla.

The reason why I chose a B.A in Advertising and Design is because my parents own a printing shop. I spent most of my childhood in that place. Actually, my mom told me that since I was 5 months she used to take me to her work. An interest in colors, texture, and design grew rapidly during my childhood. This led to informing my parents that I wanted to do something related to the business, photography and design. This career had it all, a combination of all my interests.

During the summer break of  2007, I had the opportunity to work at a Summer camp in upstate  New York. The fact that I was exposed to different people and cultures made me want to come back for more, and I did. After I graduated from college, I decided to go to New York as an Au Pair for a year, but I ended up staying for 4 years!

During those four years in New York, I studied English as a second language and Conversation and pronunciation courses at the Westchester Community College. When my level of English improved I decided to do something more challenging; for this reason, I did a couple of college courses in Multimedia Programming and Design at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. However, I wasn’t able to graduate because I chose to take advantage of the great opportunity to join the US Army.

My college experience wasn’t all in the classroom. College for me meant living on my own in a different city, different country, facing challenges on my own and mastering a second and a third language. The hardest part of college was being away from my family and friends, but the hard work and perseverance paid off.

How did you find your current job?
When I was in college in NY, a friend, whom had been recently recruited by the U.S. army and with knowledge of my Brazilian Portuguese skills, told me about theMilitary Accessions Vital for the National Interest (MAVNI) program in the US Army. MAVNI is a recruiting program that permits legal non-citizens who posses in-demand skills to join the Army in exchange for expedited U.S citizenship after graduating from ten weeks of Basic Combat Training or accepting a commission as Army Officers.

Luckily for me, a spot for Brazilian Portuguese was open. I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and the The ACTFL, The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI. The OPI is a live, 20-30 minute telephone conversation between a certified ACTFL tester and the candidate. I nailed both of them, I was admitted, and I decided that 68X Mental Health Specialist  was the best option for me.

What did you do to prepare for this career?
I trained in Fort Sam Houston as part of  Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in the US Army. The training consisted of 3 months of classes and physical training and 1 month of clinicals where you are assigned by groups to practice your skills and knowledge at a local hospital.

What do you like the most about your job?
Helping those with invisible wounds and the satisfaction of seeing patients overcoming problems that have interfered in their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being a Mental Health Specialist is a very mentally-emotionally charged career, where you’ll have to put yourself someone else’s shoes. No matter what, patient care is first; you have to give a 100% every day. You also have to be very attentive because you never know the outcome of a wrong sign with body language, and how the lack of undivided attention to someone can be terminal.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
This job is excellent for someone who really enjoys helping  others; someone who has a commitment to find different and creative approaches to help someone who needs to be listened or is having a hard time to communicate his/her needs. A job where you have to remain both compassionate and professional at the same time. However, it is also extremely rewarding when you realize that you actually help someone who probably was on the wrong route.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working I spend time with my new family in El Paso, my husband and my husky. I am a strong believer of dedicating quality time to those who you love and care about you. I love enjoy photography, baking, going to the movies, volunteering and working out.  I’m still working on making friends in El Paso area; it is not easy to make friends when you have different activities going on, but it is important to have a strong primary support group to rely on wherever you are.

Book Review: In the Country We Love

Photo credit: inthecountrywelove.com

Photo credit: inthecountrywelove.com

In her recently released book called “In the Country We Love,” actress Diane Guerrero shares her story, full of despair, injustices, and frustration over her family’s efforts to become citizens. It is the story of struggle among a family of undocumented immigrants.

This name will pop into your mind as one of the actresses on the Latino series: “Jane the Virgin” where she plays the role of Lina, who is the best friend of the protagonist Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez). You may also know her from the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Aside from being an amazing actress, Diane Guerrero is also a successful author. She recently released a book telling her story as a Latina living in the US. Although this Latina was born in the United States, she comes from a long dynasty of Colombianos. Her parents decided to pursue the American Dream  by traveling to New Jersey, where Diane was born. Later on, her family moved to Boston.

“In the Country We Love” details her childhood and family dynamics. Her family, which includes her father, mother, and older brother, were born outside of the U.S. Diane is the only member with a U.S., which has led to her witnessing the deportation of different family members. Both of her parents were deported when she was 14. Resilience, willingness and the caring of other Colombian families was left for Diane to carry along with her new life in the states.

Her story emphasizes the struggle lived by thousands of immigrants once their families are broken up and separated because of deportation. The fear and desperation of a family to obtain U.S. citizenship and stop hiding between 1990 – 2013 is lived by 17.4 million of immigrants from Latin America countries, according to a study from the United Nations.

Living with low paying jobs, help from a few other families, and exposure to the abuse of power were some of the several obstacles encountered by Diane and her family before their deportation. After this tragic event, Diane gained courage to thrive. She stayed focused on what she wanted her life to be like in the land that did not care about her wellbeing once her family got deported. “In the Country of Love” is not a sob story, but a story of resilience. Of the realities families without U.S. citizenship encounter on a daily basis. Her story, and her family’s story, is one of strength. Diane Guerrero truly honors her family and her last name. She is a brave guerrera who has managed to survive in an environment of loneliness, lack of opportunities and discrimination. “In the Country of Love” is a must-read!

Latina Beat: Proud of My Culture

Butterfly logoItzel and Bianca share why they’re proud to Latinas:

“I’m always proud to show off my Hispanic pride. I have a white complexion, so people don’t think that I am hispanic — even though I’m 100% Latina. We have a very beautiful culture, full of bright vivid colors and amazing food. Growing up in a U.S.-Mexico border community, I never saw prejudice or racism towards our race/culture until I left my hometown to attend college. It was a shocking experience as I saw some of my friends get treated differently just because they looked more Hispanic than I do. I’ve had people complain to me about Hispanics without realizing that they’re complaining about Hispanics to a Hispanic. It’s hard to believe that these types of acts still occur and are very relevant in the world today. However, I don’t believe in focusing on the negative but focusing on the positive and all the amazing things hispanics are doing in their communities. We are making a name for ourselves and demanding that our voice be heard. There will always be prejudice unfortunately but we must never let that affect the pride that we have within our culture and race.” – Bianca Duran, 20
“I was born and raised in a place where two different cultures meet: La frontera. La Frontera, the zone where the United States and Mexico come face to face with each other. This is where I’ve spent all of my life and where I’ve been privileged enough to be part of these two distinct cultures that, here at the border, turn into a unique one. With both Mexican and American traditions and with both the English and Spanish language, this mixed and unique culture has given me the best of both worlds. Which is why I see myself as being both a Mexican and an American. I am very proud of belonging to a group of people who share both cultures at the same time.

Being part of both worlds has given me the opportunity of being bilingual; Of mixing languages and being able to communicate in English with certain people and Spanish. It has giving me the opportunity of feeling proud about my ancestors who fought hard to build a beautiful nation like Miguel Hidalgo, or Pancho Villa. As well as being proud of those who crossed over and fought for our rights here in this country, like Dolores Huerta. It also gives me the opportunity to celebrate 4th of July in the summer and months later for 16 de Septiembre! I love being able to practice Mexican traditions, like Día de los Muertos, and then to practice American ones as well.

Not only am I proud of having a Mexican identity, but mostly of having a Mexican American identity and of being from la frontera. My culture here, at the border, has influenced me into feeling like I belong to this special little world; where both cultures mix to form one, and where I truly get the best of both worlds.” – Itzel Ibarra, 24

APP-lying Yourself Towards a Healthier You

According to the University of Michigan’s Latina Women: Fight Against Obesity, over 71.8% of Mexican American women are overweight or obese, and  40.1% of Mexican American Women have a BMI greater than or equal to 30! A healthy BMI for young and middle aged adults is usually between 18.5 and 24.9. A big reason Latinas struggle to maintain a healthy BMI is due to low socioeconomic statuses, which forces them to buy the cheaper unhealthier foods. But let’s not lie, tambien nos encantan los tacos! Genetics also plays a big role in our weight. Not only are Latino children being fed unhealthier foods, but they are also more susceptible to being obese and having diabetes and high blood pressure.If you are looking to stay fit, a mixture of eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle. Find a routine that is best for you — no, chica, being healthy doesn’t mean running 10 miles every day.

A couple of years ago, when this chica was in high school, she underwent a 45 pound transformation with the help of various phone apps. First off, I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories. I ate everything and anything I wanted to, but I always made sure to meet my calorie goals and keep my nutrition statistics in check. On top of using apps to keep track of my calorie intake, physical activities helped me stay in shape. If I’m being honest, I owe a lot of my success to these apps. Here are a couple of free apps to check out:

en_device_iphone-bc217bccf2c1b344e81fc6e8beb50fb9MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal,the largest nutrition database, has over five million foods in its database. Now, don’t let this scare you; it’s super easy to use! Not only does it track your calories, it also tracks fats, carbs, vitamins and more. Plus, it can connect with over 50 fitness devices, such as fitbits, garmins and apple watches. If you don’t own any of those, you can also input your workouts manually on your phone, and it calculates your net calories for you.

Sarah Torres, who also tracks her calories on a similar app says, “I think using technology to lose weight is very convenient now a days … Everyone has some sort of smart phone and the app is easy to access unlike years back they had to actually write in a journal and actually add up all the calories on their own… now you can just scan the barcode and it does all the work for you… I think technology has made it so much easier to track and count calories than before.”

Nike Running and Nike Training Club

The Nike Running App helps you track your runs and also provides coaching for chicas that have set goals with specific distances or speeds. The cool thing about this app, is that it allows you to see the routes you have taken and the different elevations, speeds, breaks and cumulative averages in distances and speeds. It also allows for competition among friends whom have the app! So, if you are the kind of person who likes to “win, win, win no matter what,” then maybe you should consider this app the next time you find yourself in the play store.

Stephanie Garza loves apps such as these because it allows for friendly competition. “It keeps me motivated to want to do more because it also has where you can compete with other users and lets me do challenges,” she says.

Nike Training Club is different from the running app in that it works as a personal trainer. There are different 4-week programs to get lean, toned or get strong. And they are customizable depending on what it is that you are looking to achieve. Sometimes, when we are starting with our efforts towards a healthier life style, it seems like exercising is just too advanced and fast paced, but the Nike Training Club comes with instructional videos and a pause button for those who may need a quick break.

Map My Run

Like Nike Running, Map My Run tracks stats and routes, and is connectable to fitness trackers, but it is also able to connect to My Fitness Pal and can track biking, swimming,  and numerous other sports.  It allows you to create custom plans and can join competitions, but the best part is the rewards you can get for completing them! Believe it or not, with this app you are able to receive gift cards, name brand fitness apparel and tons of other goodies!

Staying healthy may be hard, but technology and determination can make it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Latinas come in all shapes and size. Eres bellisima, no matter what. Make a move to be healthy because you love yourself and want to show your body some love. But don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others, because we are all different and beautiful in our own way.

Revisiting Real Women Have Curves

Real-Women-Have-Curves-(2002)

Revisiting the 2002 hit Real Women have Curves, there are many aspects to this movie that really spoke to me and inspired me greatly. For those not familiar with the movie, it is about a teenage Mexican-American, Ana, conquering Mexican and American social norms. Along the way, she battles family duty and deciding whether she should continue her education.

The main actress, played by America Ferrera, is a first generation Mexican- American living in East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, Ana’s mother expects her to work in her sisters sewing factory. Her professor though, Mr. Guzman, played by George Lopez, sees a lot of potential in Ana and convinces her to apply for college. Ana goes ahead and gives it a try, but with the knowledge that her family will disapprove of it and not afford it.

As the plot progresses, we can see that she is continually insulted by her mother about her “longas” (flab stomach) and hates working in her sister’s factory, but one unforgettable scene stood out to me while she was there: Ana was getting too hot from the steam of the machines, so she decides to take her top off to cool down. Her mother immediately yelled at her to put her top back on, but Ana ignored her. Instead, she persuaded the other women to take off their tops and to embrace their bodies. This scene shows women of all sizes to be proud of their bodies, and, in this moment, Ana realizes who she is. This one scene is a big realization in the movie and it helps girls realize that a woman is more than her body type. This short scene can really influence a young Latina growing up who is told that the only way to be beautiful is to be thin. Ana proves that this is not true and embraces her appearance.

Seeing a strong, independent Latina get an education, love herself, be smart, and have the courage to move on really just hit home with me. As a young Latina, I never saw anything like this in Americanized television; it was nice seeing someone just like me for a change.

Aside from fighting the norms, Ana’s romantic interest and the way she handled it moved me. Ana has a little romance with a white boy from class. At first she doesn’t even realize that he liked her, but later he asks her on a date. What I found very inspiring and just awesome, is how Ana did go along with the romance and cherished her time with him, but she put her goals first when it was time to go to college.  Ana decides to end things; the way she ended it and why is what I found inspirational. She ended things with him on a good note, and she ended things because she was going to go to college and start life all over again. Way to be independent, Ana!

Through the hardships and being accepted to college with a full scholarship, Ana realizes what every woman should realize: to embrace her body in any shape or form and to follow her dreams. After watching this movie, I was so inspired by Ana and how she took on the world. She became independent and didn’t let her culture, a boy, or even her mother stop her from loving herself and following her dream to go to college.

Every growing Latina should watch this movie. In fact, I wish I had seen this movie when I was fresh out of high school! It really would have changed my outlook in life. Even as a college senior about to graduate, it really inspired me and proved how strong and independent us Latinas can be.

Latina Organization Spotlight: Latina A.R.M.Y.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.00.37 AMEveryone deserves to have someone to look up to, to empower them, to give them advice, and to give them courage and strength to help them succeed in anything. A shining example of this type of dedication is the Latina A.R.M.Y organization.

Started in 2009 in Shelton, Connecticut, this non-profit organization strives  “… to celebrate and empower young Latinas by providing inspirational role models and introducing powerful life skills for personal excellence.” Through its La Mariposa program, Latina A.R.M.Y. teaches young girls life skills, such as: Jars – journaling, affirmations, personal rules, and setting goals.

To accomplish the Jars process, role model facilitators help with hands on workshops by giving young Latinas materials, time, and space to help identify and reach her goal. During this process, accomplished Latinas give two hours of their time to speak to the young girls from local schools and communities. During the workshops, the girls are taught at least four life skills with an open-ended question segment. This greatly helps motivate young Latinas to follow their dreams and aspirations. When a young child sees someone who is like them and successful, it makes such an impact on their views of the world and of them.

But without these role models and volunteers, this organization would not be as successful, which is why it is important to volunteer for women and girl orientated organizations. This is how organizations thrive and do something meaningful that will benefit someone greatly. Not only will this look great on resumes and your overall work ethic, you will be helping a fellow Latina in need in life skills, school work, self love, and overall obstacles us Latinas go through in life.

According to the American Association of University Women, Latina girls have a higher high school dropout rate than girls in other racial or ethnic groups and also least likely to earn a college degree. Don’t you want to see a change in this trend? By volunteering and steering these young Latinas in the right direction, you can make such an impact, enough to change this statistic. By just making a difference to one Latinas life, you will start a never-ending chain in which that Latina will pass on the wisdom she received from you onto another Latina in need. To succeed and change this negative statistic, we Latinas have to empower each other and help make a positive change in this world.

What’s in a Name?

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It has come to my attention lately that only about half of my friends know my name. While having dinner with one of my closest friends from college, we were in the middle of a very lively discussion about Gilmore Girls when I dropped a glob of ranch on my shirt, at least my third spill of the hour. “Oh my God, Cande, eat much?” I say aloud to myself, wiping the dressing off with a napkin. “Wait,” she stops me. “Who’s ‘Cande’?”

Let me explain. For twenty years, I have lived with the struggle of having a hard-to-pronounce name. I go by “Cande” (pronounced Kahn-de), which is a short version of my full name, Candelaria. I always dreaded first days of school, when teachers would call out for a “Calendar” or a “Candelabra.” I avoided going to Starbucks, knowing that the barista would mishear and hand me tall coffee cup with the word “Grande” scribbled across it. Ironic. Introducing myself to new people was my least favorite, though. It’s at least a three-step process. Say it once, normal: “Hi, I’m Cande.” Say it a second time, louder: “HI, I’M CANDE.” Say it a third time, very slow: “Hiiiiiii, I’m Caaaaaaaan….deeeeeee.” In special circumstances, there’s even the additional fourth step of spelling it out. For some reason, you’re not allowed to let go of a person’s hand until they can understand your name, and a handshake can only last about five seconds before it becomes very uncomfortable and someone starts sweating. Okay, before I start sweating.

That’s why at some point, I just started teaching people to pronounce my name as “Candy.” For years it has proven a fairly solid solution to my problem. It’s easier for me to say when I’m introducing myself, and it’s easier for everyone else to understand. What I didn’t realize, is that a name is more than just an identification, it’s part of your identity. Your name is loaded with meaning, whether your parents intend those meanings or not. As easy as it is to pronounce, there are consequences to allowing myself to be called by my anglicized name, “Candy.” I frequently get comments like, “what a cute name,” or, “you must be so sweet!” Sure, it’s okay to be sweet and cute when you’re just talking to your friends or petting a puppy, but I don’t want that to be the first association when people think of me. I stand at a whopping 4 feet 11 inches tall and I have a round, childlike face. It’s a challenge just to get the hostess at Denny’s, who always approaches with a kid’s menu in her hand, to take me seriously as an adult, let alone my professors or potential employers.

More important than what “Candy” means to other people, though, is what “Cande” means to me. Cande was my grandmother, and it was my grandmother’s grandmother. Cande is the history of strong Hispanic women who worked to make better lives for themselves and their families in new worlds and new countries. Cande is the delicate bounce of a “c” and a subtle “d,” the sounds familiar to the language of my family and my neighbors and my ancestors. Cande is my mother speaking to me, and me speaking to myself.

Your name is more than a label, it’s a part of you. There is a story behind it, and it is the title of the story you write for yourself. My friend couldn’t have known all of this about me without knowing my real name. Your name shouldn’t have to bend itself around what is convenient for everybody else. Be a good friend, a good daughter, a good student, or just somebody who adds value to the world. Then, believe me, people will want to know your name, and they’ll want to say it right.

Father’s Day Poem

Ability to negotiate
Unreachable capacity to listen
Stumble, smart, and noble character
Who has proposed to himself to be my father

From before I was born you were already thinking of me
My steps, my laughs, my falls
Made themselves onto their way on your childish mind
Your teen and adult mind

Your sleepless nights, thoughts and experiences,
Had a descendant
Happy to join you on your days
As a priority and your personal strength

Counting on your experiences,
You went traveling through the whole world
Thinking about how can you make it better
For my arrival and for my roar

Once the day came
Of my inconvenient wish
Of going out, of meeting, of seeing
You were still traveling the world
Running through buildings, hospitals and halls for you to see me

Such wishes, such omens
They materialized in your head
And they projected them in me, your daughter

I cannot remember your excitement
But I can listen to you talking about it
About the moment in which you hold me in your arms
And you cried

The moment in which you feed me
And you couldn’t stop smiling
The moment that I learned how to use the restroom
And you gave thanks

You taught me how to talk
How to use my tongue and pronounce
Words and promises to communicate
To you, mi “pá”

You taught me about family reunion
How to salute, how to give thanks, and how to say goodbye
To not talk back to elders but to learn from them
Thanks to you, my judge

You taught me how to ride a bike
To move my legs at my own rhythm
And forget about the scrapes, falls and cries
Because of you, my heroe

You taught me how to play chess
To think about strategies, to decide attacks
And not let myself give up because of someone else
Because you never do that, my tactician

You taught me about books and lecture
To became interested for the footprints of our ancestors
Writings, encyclicals, and poems
For my intellect that I owe to you, my librarian

You taught me how to sing
To experiment in me the sensation
Of cautivating a closet, a living room, an audience
With your help, my mentor

You taught me to work for what I want
To listen enough
To follow what I pose,
Because you make it possible, my pleader

You taught me how to play the guitar
Musical notes, songs, and hearing technique
Got an entrance to my life
Because of you, my artist

But more than anything
You taught me to think and to love
To make my own mistakes and to not follow them
To laugh, to cry, to confront oneself

To build memories like the ones you build for yourself
To wish, to contemplate, to believe
In the depths of my self

Thank you for believing in me
Even before my existence and
Thank you for thinking of me
Even before your adolescence

Congratulations on this day that celebrates
Your persona, your entity, and your charisma
As a father, who you always have been.
Thank you for being my greatest inspiration.

DIY Grad Gift: Succulent Painted Tin Can

tin can

What’s something that graduates love to get on their special day? Flowers! But this time, try something different than the usual roses. Succulents. Lately, these little plants have been taking over desks, offices, bedroom, living rooms you name it! And no wonder, since these plants are so easy to take care, last longer than roses, and are super affordable! Now, imagine adding a simple touch with a beautiful tin can for a pot.

Supplies:

  •  A succulent of your choice; they can be found in the gardening aisle of Wal-Mart, Lowes, or Home Depot.
  •  Spray paint of your choice
  •  Succulent potting soil
  •  Rocks
  •  Tin can larger enough for the succulent
  1. First you will begin with the tin can pot. Spray paint the tin can in the color of your choice. Hint: try to paint it to the color scheme of your graduate’s dorm room or her favorite color!
  2. After you painted your can, let it dry for an hour or so until it’s completely dry. Once it’s dry it will be time for the repotting.
  3. Grab your “pot” and fill it with a layer of small pebbles/rocks. Trust me, if you don’t add rocks then the succulent will not live long.
  4. Then, fill the pot with a little bit of succulent potting soil and grab the succulent from its original pot and place it in the pot.
  5. Place more soil in the can, pat down and tighten the soil around the succulent.
  6. Now, add a layer of rocks and there you go!

You can make one or more succulents; they’re inexpensive to make, and can even double as a graduation/dorm decor gift.

Making Friends in College

Besides stressing over how to pay for college, what classes to take, and not having parents around, incoming college freshman have to worry about one more thing: friendsickness. According to the American College Personnel Association website, friendsickness is “having difficulty letting go of precollege friendships and investing in new ones.” Are you a victim of friendsickness?  If so, keep the following in mind:

For the mariposas that are flying away:

The car door closes, your million and one bags are stuffed in the trunk, and you wave goodbye to the city you have known your whole life. A whole new beginning is waiting for you as you begin your college life. However, you cannot seem to shake your memories  and, more importantly, you cannot forget your amigas. Having promised to stay in touch and never forget each other, you hope that stays true for the rest of your lives. You already know that you have friends who will always be dear to you, so go out and find friends in this whole new world, don’t be nervous.

First of all, go to all the freshman socials provided by the college, but it may be a little awkward because everyone is a little scared in this big new word. However, since all of you have this in common, find a way to break the ice and meet great people (and free food)! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the dorms, which makes it a great place to find friends. You will be around these people constantly which is a great groundwork to make new and interesting memories. Outside of the dorm, your hungry college self will surely be yearning for a bite to eat at the dining hall. You can bond with your lunch time pals over how bad (or surprisingly delicious) the food is. You can also whine about how much you miss your mom’s enchiladas.When it comes to eating you’ll want to manage your food intake, stay away from the dreaded Freshman 15. You can fix this problem by going to the rec center, it’s a great way to stay fit plus there are group workouts and activities where you can meet your new gym buddies. This also applies to joining sports around campus.

Your only interests can’t just be sleeping, eating, and exercising, and the college knows that. To connect with your interests, and with your new friends, make sure to join a lot of clubs! When you join a team that has the same interests you will surely find people that click. If you don’t find any clubs that spark your interest, join something that sounds fresh and new! Lastly, enjoy your new city by finding and making adventures with your new college friends. Guadalupe Villas, a college freshman that left home, gushes, “The best part is meeting new people and getting to see the diversity of a university out of your city.”

For the flores remaining firmly planted:

You watch all of your friends leave their homes, their families, and you behind. You go back home and snuggle in your bed knowing that you have the comfort of remaining in your hometown. Even with this comfort, you know that you will miss your friends dearly. You have a whole town that you think you know better than you know yourself, but you don’t have your pals by your side to be your shoulder to cry on, or to laugh wildly with. It’s time to make friends with the rest of your city.

Just because you’re staying home does not mean everything has to continue to be the same. You can talk to people you would never have hung out with in high school. They’ll help you see your hometown in a whole new light. Also, you’re most likely not the only friend that chose to stay.  Reconnect with these friends and continue building those friendships. Consider spending  a lot of time on campus. You’ll see a new side of town, and be sure to bump into old and new friends.  Maybe you’ll even have classes with old friends, like Melissa Rivas. Melissa, who stayed in her hometown, says, “I was lucky enough to have friends in my classes. I became really good friends with people I was only sort of close with during high school.” In order to make your home town tons of fun, stay entertained and join school clubs. You won’t feel the absence of your old friends if you keep yourself busy. Also, when you’re involved, you can bond with people that have common interests.

To keep in touch:

It proves wise and fun to visit your best friend’s campus. It’s an excuse for a road trip and nothing feels better than seeing an old friend face to face.  The second best thing to meeting someone in person is a face to face encounter through webcam, like through Skype. Schedule a Skype date with your friends! When asked how to keep in touch with friends Courtney Riddlebarger, a college junior, commented, “I had a roommate in college that was an exchange student from Finland. Now that she moved back [to Finland], we keep in touch through our weekly Skype dates on Sundays.”  Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter these days; contact your buds through Facebook (and more) to let them know you keep them in mind. A “Hey, this crazy thing happened and I thought of you!” on their wall or inbox can make a huge difference.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought that many people would care what you write about in your blog, but your friends do, especially if they don’t see you everyday. Create a blog where you and your close friends can write about your daily experiences. The blog can be about anything and everything you want to write about. When asked about how she would keep in touch, high school senior, Nadia Garcia stated, “I will probably schedule calls with them since I don’t think we’ll have time to find any other way to be a part of each other’s lives.” Besides calling, you can also text your friends, it’ll be just like they never left — except you can’t make plans to meet up at the mall later.

Melissa Rivas, a college sophomore, says, “I haven’t talked to one of my close friends since graduation day. We had known each other since middle school and now I don’t even know what city she’s in anymore.” If you don’t want this to happen, don’t break your Skype dates, don’t stop blogging, and don’t stop with the messages. If you and your friends keep on being dedicated, you’ll mold friendships that will truly last forever.