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The year is 2014. Heisman winning red shirt sophomore quarterback Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel had just led the Texas A&M Aggies to a stunning 52 to 48 comeback against the Duke Blue Devils at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. One week after the game, Manziel decided to forgo his remaining two seasons of collegiate eligibility to enter the National Football League (NFL) Draft. Praised as a dual-threat quarterback, he was also criticized for his small size and infamous partying tendencies. No one was sure if he had made the right decision to enter the league. Despite the criticism, the Cleveland Browns drafted Manziel 22nd overall. That’s when everything began to unravel. Over his two years with the Browns, Manziel managed to post a losing record as a starter, have run-ins with the police and cause a national media firestorm with his actions (1). After being cut by the Browns, Manziel attempted to continue his pro football career in the Canadian Football League (released for being “unable to abide by the terms of his agreement”) and the Alliance of American Football (the league dissolved due to monetary issues). Currently, Manziel is in league limbo and is attempting to rebrand himself.
In 1989, the NFL changed its draft policy so players no longer had to graduate college to enter the league’s draft. Instead of graduating, players have to be at least three years out of high school and they must have used their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility. If a player wishes to enter the NFL before using their college eligibility, he can submit a request to enter the NFL Draft. Almost all players that do this get approved (2). Since then, many notable players, like Johnny Manziel and Ben Roethlisberger, have opted to enter the NFL before graduation.
The fairness of this policy has become a controversial topic. This article will explore this debate.
For this research article, a database of 344 active and retired quarterbacks that entered the NFL after 1990 was built. Of those players, only 16% of players have opted to forgo their junior/senior seasons since the rule change (3). The purpose of this research is to explore the impact of attaining a higher education degree on a prospective NFL quarterback’s career. This will be done by examining the database and other literature.
Some Things are Bigger than Sports
Around the same time the draft eligibility rules changed, the NCAA began to require member schools to report their student-athlete graduation rates. These rates reflected the impact the NCAA policies had on student-athlete scholastic performance.
According to the NCAA, only 3.9% of Division I draft-eligible football players entered the NFL in 2018. With 96% of players not entering the NFL, the NCAA has made it a priority to ensure that those players have a promising future post graduation (4). For example, Division I student-athletes must meet grade standards, show proof of class attendance and attend study hours to keep their eligibility. The reason for this focus is people with college degrees are far more likely to find success and make money. A person with a bachelor’s degree will make on average $59,124 per year (2.8% unemployment rate); meanwhile, a person with only a high school diploma will make on average $38,376 per year (5% unemployment rate)(5). This difference can add up over a lifetime. It is the reason why the NCAA focuses on its student-athletes graduating college.
An Important Argument
If the player values his education, he could go back to school after being in the league.
No Kids Allowed
For some special cases, like those of prospective NFL players, is it worth it to earn said degree? The NFL appears to be split on the topic. According to the NY Times, the NFL encourages players to wait until they’ve used their eligibility because “the longer a player stays in school, the easier it is to judge him accurately.” But, once the draft starts, the teams could draft up to eight underclassmen in the top 10 picks–many of which are quarterbacks (i.e. Kyler Murray)(6). In 2019 alone, 103 underclassmen (four quarterbacks) were granted special eligibility (7). Unfortunately for these “special eligibility” players, CBS Sports wrote that from 2014 to 2018, 118 or 31.6% of these players went undrafted. Legendary college football coach, Nick Saban exclaimed that unlike other sports leagues “There is no other league to develop in, if they don’t make the team, there is nothing for the guy to do. That’s bad for the league.”(8)
A study conducted by Forbes has confirmed a positive correlation between draft spot and career length. Some of the statistics from the study include:
60% of starting players came from the first 3 rounds of the draft in 2014
13.6% of starting players went undrafted in 2014
67.5%, 33.8% and 36.3% of players drafted in the first, second and third rounds started games in 2010
7% is the median percentage of players who started that were drafted between the 4th and 7th rounds in 2010
71.4% of players that achieved “All-Pro” status were drafted in the first three rounds between 2012 and 2014 (9)
The take away from these statistics is the higher a player is drafted, the more likely he will experience league success. This also supports Nick Saban’s opinion on forgoing college eligibility.
“If a guy didn’t get drafted in the first or second round, he should have kept his butt in school.”
With all these opinions to think about, it’s best to take a gander at the numbers backing up these young players’ decisions.
Money isn’t everything.
Since 1989, over 250 NFL quarterbacks have been drafted, started at least one game and are now retired/inactive. The average career length of a quarterback that graduated college is 6 years and the average career length of a quarterback that did not graduate college is 7.4 years (3). Even though 1.4 years is worth a considerable amount of money (average salary in 2018 was $8.7 million per year), we need to keep in mind that these players that are entering the NFL before graduating are usually superior in talent. Thus, there is a higher likelihood of them having more successful and longer careers.
Even if a quarterbacks makes only the practice squad, he will be paid at least $129,200 per season. (11)
The Wonderlic Test Doesn’t Matter.
Besides the difference in career length and salary, one may wonder whether a degree makes a player smarter on the field. To measure this, the study took the Wonderlic scores for 181 quarterbacks (12). The Wonderlic Test “Is a cognitive ability test designed to measure a candidate’s ability to learn, adapt, solve problems, and understand instructions.”(13) It’s an IQ test that the NFL recommends incoming players, especially quarterbacks to take. A player’s Wonderlic test score is a contributing variable of a draft prospect’s profile for teams. The average score for a quarterback is 27 out of 50 – usually anything above 25 is “good” from a team’s perspective. The average score of quarterback that did graduate (n=135) was 27.4; meanwhile, the average score of quarterbacks that did not graduate (n=43) was 26.23. This difference of a little over 1 point is small and thus insignificant. Getting a degree doesn't improve a player's Wonderlic score.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test.
The highest of all NFL players to ever take it.
Break a Leg
One of the most prominent reasons players leave college early to enter the draft is the risk of injury. Meaning, if the player decided to stay in college, despite having the option to enter the league, he could wind up with a career ending injury. Even a minor injury in college can hurt a player’s draft stock. On average, every year there are 20,718 NCAA football injuries. 841 are spinal injuries. 4,000 are knee injuries (14). One injury can cost a career.
So instead of risking injury in college, the player would rather give up his education and make money as an NFL player.
Even if a rookie makes it to the NFL without injury, if he's drafted after the third round, he will likely have to sign a “split contract”. This means if the player goes on injured reserve, his salary drops far below the NFL minimum (15).
Not only can injury risk be detrimental to a player’s football career, but also their college team’s postseason success.
Sometimes, when a player is projected to be drafted, the player will sit out of the postseason before the draft to avoid hurting their draft stock via injury. That player is usually one of the star playmakers of the team and by him not playing, his team’s chances of winning are hurt. For example, Will Grier, star quarterback of West Virginia, sat out of the 2018 Camping World Bowl against Syracuse. By leaving the reigns of team to West Virginia’s less experienced quarterback, Jack Allison, the Mountaineers lost the game 18 to 34 (16). On the flip side, despite being projected as a high draft pick, some quarterbacks, like Baker Mayfield, may decide to stay with their college teams because of their devotion to their team’s success in the postseason.
Learn from the Past
Many underclassmen are inspired to enter the league because of other players' stories. Ryan Finley, North Carolina State quarterback, cost himself millions by playing in the 2018 Gator Bowl. The Texas A&M Aggies destroyed the wolf pack 52 to 13. Before the game, Finley was a top 5 quarterback draft prospects. Unfortunately, his game performance damaged his draft stock and he was picked 104th in the 4th round (17) Scenarios like this are terrifying to underclassmen. It inspires them to “strike while the iron is hot”.
Basketball and football are different sports. The professional league eligibility rules are different. Unlike the NFL, to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) a player has to be 19 years old within the calendar year of the draft and one basketball season out of high school (18). Despite being different from the NFL, the same controversy stands: are the eligibility rules fair to the players? The purpose of these rules is to encourage players to get an education and develop as a player. Yet, in basketball, an alternate option to college is beginning to emerge. Instead of going to college for a “one and done” basketball career, players are opting to play in international leagues. R.J. Hampton, a five-star recruit committed to Kansas, decided to forgo college to play for the New Zealand Breakers before entering the league. Rod Hampton, his father, said: "It’s never been a dream of his to play college basketball, it’s been a dream of his to use college basketball as a vehicle to get to the NBA."(19) The average player in the New Zealand Basketball League gets paid $100,000 per season, but Hampton’s contract is said to far surpass that. This is a lot more money than the zero dollars he would have made playing for Kansas.
Many basketball experts are beginning to suggest that this trend of players going international will cause the NBA to change its eligibility rules (20). Maybe he NBA will become more like Major League Baseball (MLB) by allowing players to declare for the draft straight from high school.
Unlike basketball, football does not have a strong international presence. This lack of presence removes alternative options to college for NFL prospects. So, even if the player doesn’t want to go to college, he has to go to make it to the NFL.
A Bigger Can of Worms
The topic of pay-for-play is a massive debate that this research article cannot address in full. If the topic were to be exploited in this article, it would become an opinion article. However, this is a research article with an opinion in the conclusion.
The NBA, NHL, and MLB all have minor league systems. The NFL does not. The NFL treats college like a minor league system. The difference between a college team and an actual minor league team is minor league players get paid. Is this fair?
Currently, the NCAA forbids collegiate players from receiving compensation for their gameplay. Players cannot receive sponsorship deals, merchandise loyalties, or payment for field performance. The NCAA believes that the scholarships some players receive compensation for this. 2% of collegiate athletes receive scholarships (21).
Many players of superior talent feel they deserve compensation for the revenue they generate for their schools. Every year, college sports generates eight billion dollars in revenue. Players don’t receive any of this revenue because the NCAA says “Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority.”(22) Cristian J. Santesteban and Keith B. Lefflernd’s research on the topic concluded that “The available evidence shows little relationship between amateurism and the demand for college sports.” (23)
If collegiate players were to start receiving compensation, would the NFL draft eligibility rules be more justified?
Prospective NFL quarterbacks don’t graduate college because they want to avoid injury, gain fame, earn more money, and thus have longer NFL careers. Yet, the NFL holds on to the belief that players aren’t entirely developed until they have graduated from college. This belief drives the NFL and its teams only to draft players with superior talent. To the NFL, college football is treated like the minor league systems of the other professional sports leagues. Yet, the big difference between minor league teams and college teams is that minor league players get paid. The NCAA does not allow college players to receive compensation. With over a hundred players being granted special eligibility for the draft every year, on average a third of those players go undrafted. This is because teams did not think they had the superior talent they were seeking. Of the underclassmen quarterbacks who are drafted go onto have careers that are disappointing (Johnny Manziel) and successful (Andrew Luck). Usually, the underclassmen quarterbacks that are drafted in the later rounds or go undrafted are the ones who end up disappointing.
All-in-all, Nick Saban is right. It is only worth it to enter the draft as a quarterback if you’re confident that you will be picked in the first three rounds. So if you’re Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, strike while the iron is hot. But if you’re a redshirt sophomore quarterback that had one good season and might get picked after the fifth round, hold off and get your degree.
And if the player values his education, he could go back to college after being in the league.
NCAA Graduation Rates Don’t Necessarily Mean Success
NCAA Graduation Rate Tracking
Modelling NFL Quarterback Success with College Data https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/edc3/d13a2122a6d09d6814b228b839f87e915083.pdf
College Graduates Are 177 Times More Likely To Earn $4 Million or More
Fact Check: QB Injury Numbers
The Tough Decision for College Football Players in Leaving School Early to the NFL
The average length of player careers in the NFL
NFL Set to Allow Juniors in the Draft
With graduate school being done for the summer, I have a lot more free time to do stupidly entertaining stuff like this. Making this took me way longer than I would ever want to admit so please indulge me. Also, I'm happy to debate about any comparison that I made.
Troy Aikman as Ned stark
As beloved recent historical figures of the NFL/Realm, Troy Aikman left a legacy with the Cowboys that can be compared to the legacy Ned left with his House and all of Westoros.
Jerry Jones as Robert Baratheon
Just like Jerry, Robert likes to have a good time.
Shaquem Griffin as Jaime Lannister
Not only do Shaquem and Jaime both have an amputated hand, but they both always find a way to stay with their siblings.
Catelyn Stark as Michael Irvin
Catelyn Stark was the Michael Irvin to Ned Stark's Troy Aikman. Ned could always count on her to be there for their House.
Eli Manning as Cersei Lannister
Once regarded as a great, like Cersei, Eli has now crumbled under the house he helped build.
Archie Manning as the Lord of Light
Watching over his sons, he drives their ultimate purpose of achieving Superbowls.
Peyton Manning as Beric Dondarrion
"Somehow", despite injuries, Peyton Manning was able to keep resurrecting his football game. Perhaps this was because of the Lord of Light, Archie Manning, or maybe it was because of his wife injecting him with steroids.
Cooper Manning as Rickon Stark
The brother everyone forgot about.
Patrick Mahomes as Daenerys Targaryen
The only one capable of stopping House Patriots and rivaling the Night King 12's power. Both are so close to the Throne, but the future is still uncertain.
Larry Fitzgerald as Ser Jorah Mormont
With 16 years of professional football under his belt, Fitzgerald is STILL loyal to the Arizona Cardinals. Despite being friend-zoned for eight long seasons, Jorah remained loyal to his now seemingly doomed Khaleesi and died fighting for her. We expect Larry to do the same for the seemingly doomed Cardinals.
Mark Sanchez as Viserys Targaryen
Being a douche to Daenerys was Visery's version of the butt fumble - never forgotten.
Colin Kaepernick as Jon Snow
Bending the knee is a controversial topic for both of them.
Joe Gibbs as Sansa Stark
Head Coach Joe Gibbs made it to the Superbowl three times despite having three different starting QBs. Meanwhile, the Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark, achieved her status despite having three different husbands.
Rob Gronkowski as Arya Stark
They both got like seven concussions last season.
Anthony Dorsett as Robb Stark
As the son of Hall of Fame Cowboys RB, Tony Dorsett, Anthony had a strong lineage and a legitimate claim to the Superbowl - however he fell short of the title, just like Robb Stark, eldest son of Ned Stark.
Jon Gruden as Bran "The Three-Eyed Raven" Stark
Both claim to be "all knowing" but neither really are much help when it's truly needed.
The Browns as Theon Greyjoy
Once respected, the Browns and Theon began to reek. However, after some off season moves and redemptive actions, both are once again on the road back to glory
Odell Beckham Jr. as Queen Yara Greyjoy
They both love boats and they like to switch to the winning teams.
John Harbaugh as Balon Greyjoy
Part of a historically powerful families, these men have to deal with brothers with big personalities.
Skip Bayless as Euron Greyjoy
Both just fill a room with a lot of hot air.
Johnny Manziel as Joffrey Baratheon
Warning: Choking Hazard.
Nothing like Heisman-winning entitlement issues to kill your chances of making it in the big leagues.
Von Miller as Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
They both really like their chickens. And they both are savages on the playing field.
Aaron Donald as Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane
Absolute monsters. Created to destroy everything in their path - whether it's offensive linemen or the cocky Oberyn Martell.
Darren Sproles as Tyrion Lannister
Little but mighty. And surprisingly smart.
Travis Kelce as Khal Drogo
Huge, clutch, and arrogant.
Terrell Owens as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
Damn, they are so good at what they do but every team/house cuts them because the are they are a cancer to the locker room.
Jason Witten as Ser Davos Seaworth
Jason Witten is among the most liked players in the NFL, while Davos is one of the most liked characters in Westoros. Both having troubled upbringings, they both rose from the Flea Bottoms and made a name for themselves. Although, Davos is the only one who should pursue any sort of career in public speaking.
Andrew Luck as Samwell Tarly
Both have outrageous neck beards. Both love to read. Would probably be best friends.
Alex Smith as Eddison Tollet
Eddison, the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, died in battle. Alex Smith, the new 2018 starting QB of the Redskins, got sacked in week 11 removing him from the rest of the 2018 season and also the 2019 season. RIP Eddison and Alex Smith's Career.
Philip Rivers as Stannis Baratheon
Hall of Fame potential? Eh kind of. Could they have taken the throne? Sure, but no. Did they get overshadowed? Shout out to Melisandre and Drew Brees.
Robert Griffin III as Renley Baratheon
Frank Gore as Melisandre "The Red Woman"
Despite being super freaking old, they defy their ages and perform - sometime's even resurrecting their team or their boy Jon Snow.
Roger Staubach as Jeor Mormont
The Lord Commanders of their profession, they're iconic figures that led the people to victory.
Le'Veon Bell as Bronn
Like Bronn, Le'veon's loyalty can be bought. To prove their stubbornness, they both will sit out of seasons/episodes.
Adam Schefter as Varys
Can always count on their little birds to feed them information. Hopefully Schefter doesn't use children though.
Bill Belichick as Lord Tywin Lannister
The masterminds behind the most powerful houses in the NFL and Westoros, Tywin and Bill are highly regarded for their stern personalities and superior war tactics.
Julian Edelman as Shae
Shae is a tool that Tywin (Bill) used to retain the throne
Tom Brady as The Night King
The looming threat against all teams, whether the living or Bills fans, Tom Brady and the Night King will eventually get hit and shatter into a million pieces. Not to mention, both have dragon killing arms.
Russell Wilson as Margaery Tyrell
Subtly trying to make their way to stop by playing well and making people like them but blow it on an interception.
Howie Long as Lady Olenna Tyrell
Both created families that rule the seven kingdoms of Westoros and the 8 divisions of the NFL.
Josh Allen as Ygritte
Helps lead the Wildings in the brutally cold north to victories.
Baker Mayfield as Lord Gendry Baratheon
Nice guy. Has a few weapons in his arsenal. Might take the iron throne, might not. Although, Baker Mayfield's girlfriend at least accepted his proposal to make her the Lady of the Browns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick as Tormund Giantsbane
FEAR THE GINGER BEARD
J.J. Watt as Ser Brienne of Tarth
Tall, blond and absolutely dominant on the field. Honestly, Ser Brienne may be JJ Watt's long lost twin sister.
Josh Gordon as Gilly
Not really sure what she's good for except mild viewer entertainment.
Randy Moss as Daario Naharis
Jumped into bed with a person/team and fell in love, only to spit out and forgotten. Big oof.
Marshawn Lynch as Missandei
Doesn't say much but they do their job well.
Cam Newton as Prince Oberyn Martell
Oberyn and Cam are both extremely passionate people, but on the biggest stages of their careers they found themselves defeated.
Joe Flacco as Ellaria Sand
Like they’re cool, but not elite.
Cody Parkey as Tommen Baratheon
When put on blast, neither could handle the pressure.
Tony Romo as Jaqen H'ghar
Tony Romo is a man of many faces. One moment he's an NFL QB, next he's a Monday Night Football commentator, then he's a professional golfer.
Roger Goodell as The High Sparrow
Suspending people and lacking justification in their actions is kind of their thing.
Jadeveon Clowney as Grey Worm
They both just fn scare me.
"Big Dick" Nick Foles as Podrick Payne
Need I say more?
Emmitt Smith as Meera Reed
Meera and Emmit provided the support that their teams needed to survive and thrive.
CJ Anderson as Lady Lyanna Mormont
Prior to the Battle of Winterfell, Lyanna Mormont was underestimated because of her age and size, but during the heat of battle she stepped up and killed the Giant. Like Lyanna, CJ Anderson was underestimated because of his age and size, but during the heat of the playoffs he stepped up and carried the load for the injured Todd Gurley.
Andy Reid as Hodor
Andy Reid, an offensive mastermind, held the door open for the most useless character in the NFL, Chip Kelly, to take the reigns of the Birds.
Khalil Mack as Drogon
The weapon that every team needs. Moved north to lead the NFC Northerners to victory against the dead.
Saquon Barkley as Ghost
Just like Ghost, Saquon was neglected by his owners and now has to deal with a shit show.
Side note: Jon Snow really should've pet ghost.
Jay Cutler as Hot Pie
Nobody is really sure what they're good for, but they're nice to have around.
Aaron Rodgers as Aaron Rodgers
Being bitter has a dual meaning when living in Syracuse, N.Y. My hands are permanently blue and scaly now. Sometimes I look at them and I think,"I’m turning into one of the Stone People from Game of Thrones," but then I remember that I just moved to Syracuse and it’s just really cold all the time. After living in the Texas sunshine for five years and never seeing snow, it’s a little bit of a shock to polar plunge myself back into this “winter wonderland.”
Honestly, I feel a little cheated. The calendar says that the season of winter should last no more than three months; however, temperatures started dropping in October and it’s not supposed to recover until April. Like wtf. Anyway, I’ve compiled this list of things that northerners and I do to cope with the cold:
When I polled my friends on the topic, their number one answer was: “Drink.”
Avoid going outside at all costs
Meaning, I have learned to embrace my inner couch potato (tough one, right?). This winter I’ve taken on the endeavor of watching Game of Thrones for the first time (I know I’m late to the game). Winter is in fact, coming. It's been 15 days since I started and I’m about to finish season 5 – averaging 3ish episodes per day. Also, F.U. to the internet for spoiling everything.
When I do have to leave the confines of a couch and my friends in Westoros, I've learned two ways to cope:
So far this winter, I’ve ate shit three times in public because I slipped on ice due to my really cute shoes. If you do happen to fall, the best part is when everyone stares as you struggle to brush the muck of your clothes and gather your belongings. On a similar note, don’t try to be cool and slide on the ice like the movies - it won't work out well as well as you envisioned. Because of this, I now permanently wear boots and walk like an emperor penguin.
Find enjoyment in hurling snowballs at people
One thing that does stand true to the movies is that snowball fights are definitely still cool. It’s one of the only times in life where it is perfectly okay to huck something and someone else’s face and have it be “for fun” (or is it...).
It’s a great conversation topic
If you think talking about the weather is an ice-breaker (haha), bashing the cold is something everyone in 'Cuse can get behind (along with loving Wegmans and hating Mondays). And we resent the people who are “naturally warm” (*cough* Charlie *cough*).
My personal hygiene has gone through the roof
“Oh yeah, I washed my hands for extra 30 seconds today just because of how good the hot water felt”. Same mentality has applied to hot showers, drinking coffee and refusing to leave my room.
Pretend like you’re going to go skiing/sledding/snowboarding more than you actually will
It was fun that one time, but it's REALLY cold out. I'll just pretend.
Make other people drive you around
I will do anything not to have to clear off my car and drive on the slick, icy and salt ridden roads. I see my life flash before my eyes every time I fish tail. But, while I am anti-driving, I am pro-heated seats.
Negative correlation between the temperature and my dark sense of humor
Fact: Maybe its a coping mechanism, but bitter people are funnier.
Snow is pretty.
Snow is pretty to look at from the window of your warm apartment while holding a warm cup of coffee. Bonus: when you see yellow snow, you know not to step there. Can’t do that during the summer.
Procrastinate on real life obligations by planning tropical vacations
In addition to binge watching GoT, I have also planned multiple tropical vacations. All of these vacations I will probably never go on, but I pretty much qualify as a travel agent for anyone who wants some advice.
Find alternate sources of warmth
Beer and excessive eating.
I have this thought every morning, so I Googled it.
The answer is yes. So that's my plan next winter.
Buy Chap Stick and hand warmers every time you see them
Embrace not having to shave your legs every-goddamn-day
Write blogs like this to distract you
Admiring/Judging the guys who still manage to wear shorts
Winter holidays are lit (i.e. Christmas, NYE, my birthday, St. Patty’s)
Alas, spring is only 20 days away, but who's counting (I am, here's a countdown)? But all-in-all, despite the bitter cold, crazy drivers and icy sidewalks - I really do enjoy this time of year, and now that I’ve survived it, I know I wouldn't want to move south any time soon.
Stay warm and stay tuned.
Ahoy! I know it has been a minute since the last time I posted and that is because I didn’t feel like writing. No, I wasn’t “too busy” or anything like that – just did not feel like it. But now I do, so here we are.
Also, happy holidays!
Anyway, allow me to tell you the story about how I became partially colorblind. This is a story that I often use to open with on first dates (used it on my first date with my boyfriend actually), a story that my friends won’t stop laughing about and asking me to tell other people, and a story that is so “wtf” that it’ll make you feel better about yourself. Since I’ve told it so many times, I’ve perfected the art of sharing it in a humorous and timely manner.
Here we go.
I was not born colorblind. I am self-inflicted partially colorblind. This is made even more interesting since I’m a girl and only .5% of women are colorblind versus 8% of men. And I must begin this by disclaiming I was not the brightest child. Just to name an example, in elementary school, I used to draw pizza on pieces of paper and eat it and tell everyone that it tasted just like pizza. So yeah, I wasn’t very smart (somehow I’m now getting a masters degree though).
You know how when you look at a bright flash of light then look away and you see color blobs in your vision? Well, those color blobs were my imaginary friends. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of real friends, but I was a “go go go” type of kid and for the fleeting moments someone wasn’t entertaining me, I took my entertainment into my own hands. During long boring car rides, I would stare at the f***ing sun then look away to play with my imaginary color blob friends. My mother (bless her heart) would yell at me to stop staring, but that would make my rebel-self want to stare at the sun even more. Ergo, all that staring at the sun made me partially colorblind.
Yes, this can actually happen and this is why you shouldn’t look directly at a solar eclipse.
I was probably five years old when the majority of the eye damage took place. It took my family and I five years to figure it out – long after I had stopped staring at the sun. We found out when we painted our cottage a dark purple and I was absolutely convinced it was grey. That lead to an eventual doctor visit that diagnosed me as partially colorblind.
The technical term for my visual impairment is Solar Retinopathy. Solar Retinopathy occurs when you literally burn your eyes by staring at the sun. These burns are called retinal burns and they can cause permanent or temporary loss, distorted, and/or altered color vision. In my case, I inflicted myself with permanent altered color vision. My entire color spectrum is impacted by these burns. In essence, I see a “duller” version of the entire spectrum and I have trouble discriminating between colors that are close in shade. I do have memory of colors in their full vibrance though. So as a child, I made myself color blind for the rest of my life…cool.
Seriously I’m not making this up. Check out this link for more info: https://www.preventblindness.org/solar-eclipse-and-your-eyes
Now whenever I tell someone that I’m colorblind, they instantly start pointing at everything in the room and start asking “what color is this…what color is that…yada yada yada”. It’s a game that I’ve been playing ever since the diagnosis. My biggest struggle comes when I have to pick out clothes or a nail polish shade. I usually just ask other people to do it for me.
Being colorblind may seem like it sucks, but it does have some perks. For example, I was playing in a soccer scrimmage in high school and each team had a different colored pinny on. I accidentally passed the ball to other team and I blamed it on my inability to discriminate between the pinny colors. The thing is I could definitely tell the difference, I just wanted to save myself the embarrassment. Petty? Yes. But effective? Absolutely.
However, my sight is starting to improve thanks to advancements in technology. For Christmas last year, I received a pair of Enchroma Colorblind glasses. These glasses look super hipster (too hipster for my style) and they correct my red-green spectrum vision. I always whip them out when someone is presenting a graph that depicts different categories through color shading or when I’m going shopping or watching a movie.
Moral of the story: don’t stare at the sun. Remember my story so you can tell your kids not to stare at the sun and tell them if they do, they won’t be able to see the rainbow anymore. I always tell people this story because it’s pretty hilarious, so don’t be afraid ask me any questions.
Warning: the following could be considered to some to be a touchy subject, but I assure you that I have a good sense of humor about it and I’m very open.
A lisp on a kid is freaking cute, a lisp on an adult isn’t quite so. As a wee child, I had a lisp that made adults like me more than I deserved (since I was a little shit and all) due to its cuteness. As I grew older though, having a speech impediment felt like more of a weakness. Not only did I have a lisp, but I was also awful at pronouncing certain words and I sometimes still struggle with that. I was like Stacey Dillsen from Zoey 101 minus the cotton schwab obsession (“sassafras”) and some kids even called me Stacey because of it. As I progressed into my tween years, I hesitated to volunteer for public speaking opportunities like reading a boring textbook passage aloud in class or answering a teacher’s question. My challenges in speech deterred my communication skills and my fear of public humiliation took away any speech development opportunities. Due to my lack of engagement, eventually communication in general became my weakness. Don’t get me wrong, my extroverted little self still loved talking to people, I just wasn’t very good at it. Maybe that’s why I became a strong writer…because you can’t lisp in written words.
However, it’s ten years later and I (for the most part) no longer have a lisp. I even tend to use big words with lots of “s” and “th” sounds from time to time. The only time you’ll actually hear my lisp is if you piss me off because for some reason my mouth decides to resort back to its former state when I’m going on an angry rant about god knows what.
Today was my third day of MBA orientation at Syracuse and our leadership workshop reminded me of my dealings with my speech impediment. Jeffrey A. Rodgers, an executive business coach (and a good one may I add), educated us about how important self-awareness is to leadership in the workplace and just in life. He emphasized being able to recognize one’s strengths and take advantage of them. And he also taught us to identify our weaknesses and how to seek improvement upon them. He asked us to write down three of our weaknesses and six opportunities that would come about if we were to conquer those weaknesses. Personally, I found the weakness piece of the workshop to be incredibly insightful and I wanted to share those insights with y’all using my own personal experience.
How does one deal with weakness?
Before I dive into this, I do want to say, a weakness is a weakness because of the way you frame that particular attribute of yourself. A weakness to one person may be a strength to another. For example, say Becky is a very extroverted person but she has the infamous “resting bitch face” which deters people from wanting to talk to her despite her yearning to gossip and make new gal pals that she can post basic selfies with. Thus, making the RBF a weakness of hers. Meanwhile, Ashley is introverted and doesn’t like too much social interaction; she would rather just be a hipster in a coffee shop and ignore everyone while she reads a book about how GMOs are responsible for killing all the polar bears (or something of that nature). To Ashley, she would consider having a resting bitch face as a strength because not only does it deter people from talking to her, but it also gives her the angsty vibe she was going for. ANYWAY (I went way too far into that example), my point is weakness varies depending on the person. In conclusion, I’m going to define a weakness as an personal attribute that is detrimental to yourself socially, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and all of the other -llys.
Alright, back to business. The first step is identifying what your weaknesses are. Sometimes, they’re very clear – like having a lisp that makes your words not-so-clear or sometimes they’re ambiguous and you’re not sure how to define them or sometimes you’re ignorant to the fact you even have a weakness. So, if you struggle to identify your weaknesses, ask yourself the following questions:
Okay now that your self-esteem has taken a hit, let’s take a deep dive into your personal shit show and ask yourself: why is it your weakness? What is the root of the weakness? Is it something natural like my lisp? Is it because of your personality? Lack of skill-set? It could even be a downfall of an exploited strength. For example, I’m a confident person, but sometimes my confidence can really kick me in the ass when I’m too cocky that I’m right about something that I’m actually wrong about. Figuring out why it is your weakness will help you to understand how to improve upon yourself.
Now that you have dove into the shit show, it’s time to emerge and figure out how to make that weakness into a strength. My answer is simple, but the execution is complicated. In order to conquer weakness, you must identify the opportunities that will come about from improving. By identifying the opportunities that will come from improving, you are creating both an intrinsic and extrinsic foundation for motivation for yourself. When you eventually ask yourself during the improvement process: why the hell am I doing this? You can tell yourself those reasons. So, the benefits of overcoming my speech impediment are improved leadership skills due to my ability to better communicate in group and public speaking scenarios and a major confidence boost because what’s hotter than a voice that doesn’t sound like you’re hissing half the time?!
And finally, to officially destroy the weakness, make yourself uncomfortable. Let’s say the introverted hipster I mentioned earlier, Ashley, wants to work on her social skills a little bit. In order to do this, she could actually approach one of the fellow coffee shop hipsters and start a conversation with them about her hatred for Netflix because it’s too mainstream and that she prefers indie films that she finds on Reddit. Could the conversation be uncomfortable? Oh yes. But will Ashley learn a thing or two about social interaction? Oh yes. Ergo, her social skills have improved by making herself uncomfortable. Eventually if Ashley were to approach enough hipsters, she could turn her social skills into a strength and start a hipster support group at the coffee shop.
It’s definitely way more fun and ego-stroking to identify your strengths, but uncovering your weaknesses is just as important, if not more. By knowing your weaknesses, you are creating a new level of self-awareness that allows you to lead a more fulfilled lifestyle. In the end, it’s all about humility and knowing that weakness is just an opportunity that hasn’t been capitalized on yet.
As for my lisp and I, I made myself uncomfortable by first taking special speech classes in grade school then minoring in communication in college. By enrolling in numerous classes, I was forced to practice and as the years went by, I learned how to properly form words and how to conquer that freaking lisp of mine. I especially knew I had kicked my Stacey Dillsen nickname to the curb when I was given the opportunity to speak at my graduation from Texas A&M University. I perfectly delivered the invocation in front of ten thousand people and I guess you can say my public speaking skills are a strength of mine now.
I’m a real adult now.
It’s weird. Right now, I’m feeling nostalgic about the days I spent kicking ass at beer pong, staying up playing Super Smash Bros until 3am, drinking coffee only for the pleasure of it, rolling out of bed 10 minutes before class starts and still making it on time, and group texting friends about where the next big house party we were going to hop to was at. It’s weird because that was my life just three months ago and it’s not my life anymore. Now, the thought of drinking on a weeknight makes me cringe, I have a hot bedtime of 10pm (sometimes earlier), I drink coffee out of necessity to stay alive at work, wake up at ass crack of dawn (5:30am), and text my friends to congratulate them on buying a house, getting engaged, and having a baby.
I guess I became mature and responsible or something like that.
There’s this stigma attached to the implications of what your life must become after you walk across the stage and receive your degree. You’re expected to instantaneously pull your shit together. You’re expected to have a plan of what you’re going to do with your life. Many of us recent graduates cling to what our life was before those implications dawned upon us and pretend the real world doesn’t exist. I’m guilty of that. For a month after graduating from Texas A&M, before moving to New York, I became a nomad and lived on my Texas friend’s couches. Every day I slept until noon and every night was a new adventure. I was living the ‘good old days’.
Reality pile drove into my face as soon as I moved to New York. All of the things I had been procrastinating on took urgent necessity. I had to get a full-time job, start my graduate school onboarding course, find a place to live, and rebuild my life.
I was left questioning why I had ever decided to leave College Station. Why didn’t I just go to graduate school at TAMU? Why didn’t I just get a job in Texas? I began having rose colored vision about my time down south. I was homesick.
In short, I was coping with change the same way most people cope with it; I wasn’t having any of it. I did what I had to do though (and bitched my whole way through) and I got a job, prepared for graduate school, found an apartment, and slowly started rebuilding my life. And as I pulled my life together, I slowly started to understand why my life in Texas had come to an end. I understood that I chose Syracuse for its plentiful opportunities. I understood I didn’t get a job because the field I’m passionate about requires me to have a graduate degree. I’ve started making new friends and finding new ways to spend my time. Things are just starting to make sense again and I’m not quite as resentful.
And eventually along with accomplishing my adult things, I gained an adult routine. And I got to say, I love being able to fall asleep before 11pm. It sounds boring, but now I understand why “real” adults do it.
This is the second time I’ve moved across the country and I’ve found some similarities in my experiences of assimilating into my new homes. I’ve found the ways I successfully coped with the change and the ways I rather epically failed at coping with the change. Whether it’s moving, a break up, or career change, here’s a list of ways to cope with BIG changes in your life:
1. Understand that each day will be easier than your last
The first week after the change will be harder than the second week. The first month will be harder than the second month. Even the first year will be harder than the second year. It is crucial that you understand that the passage of time is critical to adjustment. You will not adjust overnight, but with time you will find a new routine, friends, and hobbies – a new way of living. And you will find happiness in this new way of living. I lived in Texas for five years and I wasn’t totally about it until my 3rd year in. It just takes time.
2. Go through the motions
Initially, it’s going to be tough. You’re going to have to do things you don’t want to. For example, giving stuff back after a breakup or finding an apartment to live in a new city, but just get those tasks done. By going through the motions, you’re creating a foundation for your future.
3. Complete immersion
Immerse yourself in your new situation. If you have just moved, go to a local attraction with a local friend. If you’re invited to something, do not say no because it’s beyond your comfort zone. Just go do it. If you’re newly single, enjoy the single life and go out with your friends (and don’t be mopey when they talk about setting you up).
4. Find your people
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert or an introverted extrovert, find new people. Friends will bring you entertainment, create an emotional support system, and to be frank, distract you from missing your old friends. They won’t replace your old people, but they will make your life fuller and better-rounded.
I got to give a shout out to my first new friend in Syracuse, Jessie. We’re the only two “new” adults in our office and he’s the only one who gets my millennial lingo and South Park references. Without new friends like Jessie, I would be forced to endlessly reflect upon the dope times I had with my Texas friends and eventually, that becomes too much and just destroys all good vibes.
5. Balance the old with the new
When assessing your new life situation, take note of what your old comfort zones were. How did you usually spend your time? With who? By taking note of what used to make you comfortable, you can find new zones of comfort. I’m not saying being out of your comfort zone is a bad thing, but being out of your comfort zone for an extended period of time can be taxing. For example, before I moved I spent many nights with my friends at bars. Now in my new life, I’ve invited my new friends to join me at local bars. You’d be surprised how easier assimilating will feel once you feel comfortable.
As wise as my above advice may have seemed, wisdom can only be gained from a series of successful and failed experiences. So here’s what you should NOT do when coping with change:
1. Find refuge in one thing
When going through a transition, a person tends to cling to one particular thing that makes them happy in their new life’s situation. It’s usually something that brings them back within their comfort zone. However, having only one escape can havr catastrophic consequences if you put all of your time into it and don’t find numerous things that make you happy. This is because if you lose that escape, whether it’s a friend you hang out with all the time, a new hobby, dating someone new, you will find yourself back at square one and lunging for the life you had before the change. So when starting new, make sure to continue to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, so that you don’t put your eggs all in one basket. Basically, you’re being proactive.
2. Let your feelings win all the battles
If it were up to me when I first moved back to New York, I would have impulsively bought plane tickets back to Texas every weekend because of how homesick I was (and still am). I did end up caving and buying plane tickets for two separate weekends this fall, but those are the only battles I allowed my homesickness to win. If one was to let emotions win all battles, they would hinder their ability to assimilate and immerse into their new life and halt all progress towards finding stability and comfort again.
3. Make your past your identity
Do not allow yourself to only talk and think about your past self. The change in your life happened for a reason and whether it was for better or for worse, you’re a different person now. Plus, clinging to the past only alienates those around you.
4. Allow yourself to be lazy
You’re going to want to avoid doing the things that will help you through the change and that’s just L-A-Z-Y. Just get up and do it damn it. Stop pitying yourself and allowing for time to slip by via Netflix binging.
Again, I learned my lessons through living through them. I’ve let homesickness get the best of me at times. Sometimes when I’m looking for plane tickets back to Texas, it feels dirty, like texting an old flame and I know it’s wrong. However, life moves forward and the new always replaces the old and eventually I’ll move on from my old flame and decide to build a fire in Syracuse because I’m a real adult now damn it.
So, I know this blog is supposed to be for my MBA journey, but I wanted to post about this….
On August 25th, 2017, Category 4 Hurricane Harvey made landfall over the Texas Gulf Coast and proceeded to wreak havoc upon everyone and everything in its path. Never would I have thought that something so slow moving could rip families apart, destroy homes, slash livelihoods, and cause billions in damage. Just the thought of the vastness of the storm’s devastation makes me cringe and well up in tears.
On the day of Project BTHO, I remember so vividly walking into a home in Katy, Texas that had been flooded and taking a nose scrunching whiff of the black mold that was now growing within the home’s walls. The homeowner, a middle age women, told me about her and her family’s dramatic water evacuation. They thought they could whether the storm, but they thought wrong she explained. She walked me through several gutted rooms pointing at the thousands of dollars in damage. Eventually we came upon a stack of four cardboard boxes, those boxes contained all of their belongings that had weathered the storm. The thought that a 2000+ square foot house could be reduced to four boxes was almost unfathomable. She opened one of the boxes and reached for a broken picture frame that contained the photograph of a beautiful golden retriever. She told me the pooch’s name was Benny and she had been the family’s dog of 13 years. She told me how friendly Benny was and how he hated playing fetch. Then she told me Benny was one of many victims of Hurricane Harvey. I didn’t know what to say, but she continued on with showing me pictures of her family. At that moment, I knew that everything that we were doing was worth it. As much as I wanted to be able to bring Benny back to her, I knew I couldn’t, but I could at least bring her piece of mind by providing free labor to aid in the process of mending her home.
As I write this, we are coming upon the one year anniversary of Harvey’s land fall and I felt the need to sit down and write about my journey since I first heard of the storm. I want to write this because I’m trying to find a way to reflect upon the emotions I felt when thousands upon thousands of people contributed to BTHOharvey. How immensely proud I felt to be a part of something so much bigger than me and how almost relieving it felt to make an impact.
When I first heard of Harvey, I was about to be a senior at Texas A&M University and I was on vacation in Montana. We were due to return from Montana after Harvey’s predicted landfall. At the time, Harvey was just a tropical storm with an unpredictable path. However, as the hours crawled on and we kept an eye on the radar, it became apparent that Harvey was gaining strength and we had to fly back before landfall or we wouldn’t be able to fly back at all. So we changed our flights and our flights were amongst the last to make it into Houston before the airports were shutdown.
My parents live in Katy, Texas and I planned to visit them upon my return but they told me to drive straight to my house in College Station (home of Texas A&M University), about an hour Northwest of Houston, so that I would be further away from the storm. I told them to drive to College Station and stay with me, but they said they were going to hunker down and watch the house. I remember driving and looking up and seeing the sun, thinking that the next time I would see it would be after Harvey and I was right. I just had no idea how much my life would be flipped by that time.
When I arrived in College Station, I turned on my TV and kept it permanently on the Weather Channel. The Weather forecasters began urging Texans to take cover as Harvey continued to exceed and astonish previous predictions. Eventually, I decided to leave my home and stay with my boyfriend at the time who lived in a safer apartment. Before permanently taking shelter, we went grocery shopping and saw that the grocery store was picked over. Not only was Harvey’s arrival imminent but it was also move-in week at Texas A&M since the fall semester was about to start, thus massively depleting all groceries. All the preparation felt excessive just because I would have never have thought a natural event like a hurricane could impact me in a place like Texas. However, the Texans that I knew that had been through Hurricane Ike in 2008 begged to differ and I listened. After bunking up in the apartment, the rain started and it didn’t stop for the next four days.
Over the course of those few days, Harvey not only stalled over the city of Houston but also went back out to the Gulf then came back for more. It just wouldn’t end. By the second day of the storm, Texas A&M had cancelled the first few days of classes. The TV in the apartment was permanently on the news and the impact became continuously grimmer. Slowly aerial shots of rescue efforts, pictures of flooded homes, voice accounts of the damages, and pictures of families and animals floating on pieces of wood down streets were aired to the public and to put it simply, it was surreal. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to the city I called home.
Looking out the window of the apartment, I could see wakes coming off of cars as they attempted to navigate a usually busy avenue. Meanwhile, it was becoming apparent that the mess of the storm was going to be in Houston, amongst several other Texas Gulf Coast cities. College Station was going to be, besides some minor flooding, spared. However, Katy, Texas (20 minutes west of Houston) was not so lucky and that’s where my parents were residing.
My brother, who lived in San Marcos (they only had some rain), and I continuously called my parents to check in. Fortunately, despite the street being flooded and being unable to travel, they were safe and our home was untouched. They were hunkered down and doing fine, but that doesn’t stop a daughter from stress.
When I’m stressed, I work out so I went to the apartment’s gym. As I ran on a treadmill, a thought came across my mind. This thought eventually expanded from an idea to my entire life. My trail of thought went as follows: every year, Texas A&M hosts a massive community service project called the Big Event. During the event 20,000+ students are split into groups and sent to hundreds of locations throughout the local Bryan/College Station community. At these locations, the student groups perform task that range from raking lawns to painting houses. It’s basically Texas A&M’s way of thanking the community for putting up with its students throughout the years. So my thought was why not coordinate an event similar to this, but instead of having it in College Station, let’s do it in the areas that were impacted by Harvey. It was apparent volunteer help was going to be needed so it was just one way to make an impact. So I went to Twitter and said:
“All of @TAMU should coordinate a Big Event type relief effort to help those locally affected by Harvey in the coming weeks”
As soon as I posted the tweet, I started getting hundreds of positive interactions from Aggie Twitter and they all said “yes lets do it!!” and so I thought “Why not get this thing going?”. So I tweeted in response to my original tweet:
“Please DM me if you're a student leader of an org. at TAMU so I can add you to the GroupMe that's being created. PLEASE RETWEET”
I figured the quickest way to rally the 60,000+ students of Texas A&M was through its vast student organization network. And just like the first tweet, the second one went viral and soon enough the groupme that I created had 150 members that came from 200+ student organizations that represented tens of thousands of students. And it was complete chaos. Everyone wanted to help and every single person had an idea on how to do it. Through the chaos of are yet-to-be organized student movement, it was becoming apparent that the aggie core value of selfless service was our driving force and we had the capability to help thousands – if only we could be organized. So, I called one of my friends, Austin, former president of the Quidditch team, member of ATO and part of the groupme, and said “what the hell should we do with all of this?” and he suggested that we should rally the core leaders and meet. So another groupme was created that contained the most gung-ho student leaders of the larger groupme – there was about 15 of us.
While this lead team was being formed, the larger groupme was discussing the name for our relief campaign and we eventually fell upon the name ‘Beat the Hell Out of Harvey’. For those of you reading this who aren’t Aggies, when Texas A&M plays another university in an athletic event, we always say “Beat the Hell Out of ___ [insert opposing school’s name]”. Harvey was greater than any opponent we had ever faced and thus, BTHOharvey was born.
As Harvey continued to rage on, the first meeting of the BTHOharvey lead team commenced, and we met at Austin’s house. The meeting lasted six hours and this was the first of many long meetings. The room was filled with familiar faces, like Austin and Dalton, faces I kind of recognized from Aggie twitter, like Stacey and Chris, and new faces, like Megan and Corey. If I remember correctly, there was about 10 of us at the meeting. Since we were all student leaders (I was also the Vice President of the Obstacle Course Racing Team – totally obscure, I know), we had large networks and resource pools to utilize at the university.
Check out this article to see BTHOharvey’s first news article: http://www.thebatt.com/news/aggies-unite-to-help-with-hurricane-relief-efforts/article_5008fe52-8c59-11e7-acef-e35681c76127.html
At that first meeting, we decided that although our Big Event was our long term goal, a supply drive and monetary fundraiser were our immediate needs. We established supply drop off locations, started the planning of a massive supply rally, and discussed monetary fundraising avenues. We made social media accounts for BTHOharvey and the lovely Zoe made a ton of graphics to help us with marketing. And just like that, we were off to the races.
Over the course of the next week, Hurricane Harvey finally departed the Texas coast and its impact was becoming better known. Our team expanded and continued to meet for long hours every night. We started to make the move towards becoming a student organization and started establishing roles for everyone on the team. I became the President and Co-Founder of BTHOharvey. We created a Red Cross monetary fund, coordinated a massive supply drive, coordinated fundraising events, planned a blood drive, and continued our social media relief efforts. It’s safe to say that none of us slept that week. It was complete chaos, but results were slowly starting to be apparent. At the end of this post, I have listed all of the news articles/videos that covered our journey.
I have to give it up to Texas A&M Academic Affairs and Athletics though, they appointed our campaign as Texas A&M’s official response to Hurricane Harvey and gave us full access to its resources. So, just one week after Harvey made landfall, the sun finally broke and we had our massive supply rally that we had planned and many of our lives were changed forever. I’m serious, I’m not the same person as I was before Harvey.
Now, so much happened in the months that proceeded Harvey and this post would become a book if I went into detail about it, so I created this timeline of highlights:
August 26th – BTHOharvey was formed
August 27th – Aggieland Outfitters released their BTHOharvey t-shirts and officially partnered with our campaign
August 28th – Creation of BTHOharvey social media. Hundreds of requests to help and for help poured in. On-campus week long supply drive launched.
September 1st – Hosted an informational for student org leaders, had over 100 in attendance. Officially launched T-Shirt campaign in conjunction with C.C. Creations, Maroon Out, and Texas A&M Athletics.
September 2nd – Supply Send Off – Collected five eighteen-wheelers of supplies that were sent to impacted communities across Texas. Reached $30,000 in funds raised.
September 3rd – Von Miller is officially announced as the “Team Captain” of BTHOharvey and wears our shirt to the TAMU v. UCLA football game
September 4th – Hosted BTHOharvey Blood Drive and reached max capacity for donations
September 4th – Vo Miller donates $100,000 to campaign
September 8th – Announced BTHOirma campaign and renamed student group to Built To Help Others (BTHO)
September 10th – Reached 30,000 T-shirts sold and “Relief Out”-ed Kyle Field for that football game
September 11th – Joined forces with One America Appeal and Texas A&M for monetary fund efforts
September 15th – Hosted Boxes for Bags corn-hole tournament
September 21st – Started Aggies 4 Mexico campaign in wake of the devastating earthquakes in Mexico
September 21st – Reached the $300,000 mark in funds raised
October 4th – Announcement of Deep From The Heart: One America Appeal Concert at Texas A&M’s Reed Arena with special guests all the former living presidents (holy crap – right?)
October 8th – BTHO Lead Team members and Von Miller serve as the Honorary Captains of the TAMU football game against Rival Alabama. Host Von Miller and Tony Jerrod-Eddie at BTHO tailgate
October 16th – BTHO announces our Big Event in Houston – Project BTHO
October 21st – Deep The Heart Concert with former living presidents and Lady Gaga (among many other great artists) takes place and raises millions of dollars for the One America Appeal monetary fund. BTHO serves as lead team
November 1st – Astros win World Series!!! This isn’t BTHO related (I wish), but how dope is that?
December 2nd – Project BTHO, my original goal, finally happens and hundreds of Aggies are bussed to Houston for a Saturday of relief work
And that’s just an outline of everything that happened in the first 3 months after Hurricane Harvey. All together, the lead team, volunteers, and TAMU faculty put thousands of hours of work into making the BTHOharvey a grand success. I was honored to lead this charge, but I am just one person and could only have pulled off a fraction of a percentage of this on my own.
Up to this date, the BTHOharvey campaign has raised nearly a half million dollars, accrued five eighteen wheelers of supplies, and deployed hundred of volunteers to impacted areas of Texas. It’s only a small dent of relief in the damage, but the positive impact is visible and I could not be prouder of the Aggie network. I attended Texas A&M because I wanted a school that felt like a family and I got more than that. I got a school that puts no limits on the term ‘family’ – Aggies treat everyone, Aggie network or not, like family and that showed when helping with the relief effort.
In a couple of weeks, Built to Help Others will make its debut as an official student organization at Texas A&M under the wonderful command of Schuyler, Megan, and Dalton. BTHO has been dubbed the official disaster relief organization of Texas A&M and seeks to continue to help Harvey victims and also help those impacted by disasters in Texas and throughout the world. If you are TAMU student reading this or you know one, please encourage them to join our organization at TAMU Open House and take part in something that is greater than themselves. You never know when the organization will need to jump into action and joining and learning now can help Aggies to better aid those impacted by future disasters.
I never viewed myself as the philanthropic type of person. In fact, I know I can be insensitive and self-centered. This was even more so before Harvey hit. But now, after seeing the devastation first hand, I know every person, is capable over reaching out a helping hand, even myself. Being the founder of a massive relief movement fell into my lap, but the events that transpired after that were accomplished thanks to the team of wonderful people who worked day and night to make things happen for strangers. I mean seriously, a lot of our lead team members and volunteers were full-time students with jobs and they stretched themselves thin to serve others. After graduating from TAMU, I hope the story of BTHOharvey helps continue the legacy of selfless service.
Unfortunately, even as we approach the one year anniversary, the impacts of Hurricane Harvey still live on. Families, like the owners of Benny, still walk into houses that are no longer their homes. Kids go to schools that have black mold in the walls because of the flooding. Businesses never returned because it was too expensive to fix. People still need help. But, BTHO will continue their work, along with groups like Team Rubicon and hopefully, sooner than later, the impacts of Harvey will be just a memory.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to any Hurricane Harvey relief effort.
Hey remember when you were 17 years old and you were shoved in a classroom at 7am on a Saturday so you could take a stupidly long test called the SAT/ACT? Remember how much you hated your life that morning knowing that the test would play a major influence on your entire future? I even took the SAT the morning of my prom and you can only imagine how much I didn’t want to be there! So after taking the SAT twice and the ACT once, I remember thinking that standardized testing was the absolute devil. And I still think that, but despite my radical opinion, it’s so crucial to getting a higher education. And I was beyond thrilled when I found out I had to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), in order to be admitted into an MBA program.
Before I tell y’all about my experience with the GMAT and what I learned from it, I’ll first explain the test in simplest way I can. Graduate programs, usually MBA and related MS degrees, use your GMAT score as a way of determining how well you with perform at the graduate level – the better the score, the more apt you are for the next level. The GMAT is a 3 hour and 30-minute Computer Adaptive Test (CAT). This means the test adapts to your performance as you take it. So, if you get a question right, the next question is more difficult. If you get a question wrong, the next question is easier and so on and so forth, yada yada yada. Basically, it’s designed to find your average score on it’s four sections. The sections are Quantitative (math), Verbal (reading), Writing, and Integrated Reasoning (completely infuriating BS). By the time you’re done taking it, all you want to do is lay down and not talk to anyone for the rest of the day. When it’s all said and done, you will receive your section scores and an overall score that is out of 800 points. Typically to get into a ranked graduate school, you have to receive at least an overall score of 600. I know I seem really negative about this test, but I’m not going to sugar coat this thing. However, I will say it does separate the chump applicants from the decently competent applicants.
The GMAT was particularly important to my graduate school applications because I did not have any post graduate work experience since I was planning to go into my masters straight from undergrad. After I decided I was going to pursue my MBA, I quickly found out that getting into school was going to be harder for me as opposed to an applicant with post-graduate work experience. The reason admissions committees look for this experience is because it shows the applicant has more to offer than just their education. So, in order for me to get into a ranked program, I needed to make sure all other aspects of my application were stacked, including my GMAT score. In another post, I will talk about how I framed my application so that I was a desirable candidate despite my lack of experience.
After figuring out I was going to have to do ridiculously well on a standardized exam, given my former loathing of standardized exams, I freaked the freaking freak out. I mainly spazzed out because I knew it was going to be a major commitment and I was going to have to put my all into it and that was in itself, intimidating as all hell. But alas, I enrolled in an online test prep service through Kaplan and hit the ground running in May of 2017, two months before I was set to take the exam. I also had an online tutor that helped me in a series of one-on-one sessions. My tutor knew that I was paying the good bucks for this test prep service and he emphasized to me that it would only be worth it if I utilized Kaplan’s tools and resources to it’s full extent. He recommended that I spend at least 120 hours studying for the exam.
Before I began studying, I took a practice exam that would help me figure out what I needed to focus on. I was pumped to find out that I had scored very well and my tutor projected that I could get an ivy league qualifying score. So I spent the next two months attending online prep classes, doing endless practice problems, and bitching to my family and friends about the lack of life that I had beyond my computer. And you know how I did on my exam? Worse than I did on my diagnostic practice exam. Go figure. The entire experience was disheartening I thought I could never get into a school because of it. I started thinking about getting a “real job” and let me tell you, my parents would’ve been pumped if I had just done that. Much to their displeasure though, I’m more stubborn than Monica Geller playing ping pong against Mike (if you know, you know). I decided to take the test again and scheduled it for three weeks from my original test date.
When I went to my tutor with the news, he gave me some very valuable advice that helped me immensely on my second take of the exam. He told me 3 things:
Despite not getting the ivy league qualifying score that I wanted, I still achieved a score high enough that qualified me for merit scholarships and helped make my long path to being admitted a little bit easier. Beyond the tips my tutor gave me for studying, I do have a few pieces of advice to anyone planning to take the GMAT.
By the way, props to anyone who read this whole thing that isn’t planning on taking the GMAT - you must really like me or something. Anyway, I still hate standardized testing, but I sucked it up and I will never say I regret the time I spent studying.
Howdy! To begin, my name is Greta Swift and Shri, my oh-so-wonderful graduate admissions advisor, advised (made) me to do this. So here I am, starting a blog about my Master of Business Administration journey at the one and only Syracuse University in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. So basically, I’m treating this post as my ‘About Me’ post, even though those of you who actually cared to click on this link off my social media already know me pretty damn well. Also, hello to all my family who creeps on my Facebook page!
All sarcastic-ness aside though, the purpose of this blog is document my journey as an MBA student and hopefully provide some helpful information, stories, and tips to fellow students who are considering embarking on or are already on the same path as me. In this blog, I’ll cover everything from my admissions process to classroom stories to my failed (but hilarious) attempts of seeming smarter than I actually am to everything in between.
Don’t get me wrong, I expect this journey to be tough and I know I’ll face plenty of challenges along the way, but I want this blog to reflect not only that but also the light-hearted adventures, meetings with interesting people, and philosophical moments that come with being a graduate student.
To share a little bit more about myself, I’m a ripe 22 years old and I grew up in the legendary (but not actually) Chittenango, New York – it’s an itty-bitty farm town about 20 minutes East of Syracuse. However, my senior year of High School, my family and I made the cross country move to the suburbia that is Katy, Texas. After finishing my high school career in Texas, I decided that I kind of liked the cowboy booting, everything has to be huge, let’s listen to George Strait and pretend we’re cowboys Texas culture… well I actually stayed because I really really like the Whataburger Patty Melt and I love football (Friday Night Lights, anyone?). Ergo, I decided to attend Texas A&M University and study sports. After an epic four years of studying my ass off, playing beer pong, meeting incredible people, starting major disaster relief foundations (that’s another story), and interning everywhere I could in the sport business, I graduated from Texas A&M University a degree in Sport Management, minors in Business and Communications, Magna Cum Laude Latin Honors, and Undergraduate Research Scholar Honors.
So now I need to explain why I decided to pursue my MBA and that would be another essay (another post) that I’m too lazy to write right now so here’s the spark note version: during my undergrad, I fell in love through a series of internships and research opportunities with the field of collegiate athletic compliance. So basically, I want to work in NCAA governed college sports. However, in order to get a job in collegiate compliance, you must first have your masters degree. So, here I am.
During my senior year of undergrad, I applied to MBA programs across the country. After a lengthy MBA admissions process, I decided to attend Syracuse University (again, another post). By the way, when I say lengthy I mean HOLY CRAP WAS IT LENGTHY. Just a tidbit, but apparently most MBA programs don’t accept applicants who are straight from undergrad because they want their students to have work experience first – it makes sense but sheesh. But anyways, I still figured out my way in and it was just more of a pain in the ass than it would’ve been for the averagely experienced applicant.
So just about a month ago, I moved back across the country to the land of Orange and I’ve started my new life here. Since arriving, I’ve become the new Whitman Graduate Student Ambassador, started work as a Strategic Planning Intern for SU’s Office of the Provost, and began to immerse myself back into the Upstate New York Culture. Honestly, Syracuse thus far has been a very welcoming new home (I refuse to say warming because I’ve already lived through the winters here and even the thought of warmth is shot down by Jack Frost) and I can’t wait to start classes this Fall! Stay tuned.
Also, here’s a list of topics that I’ll be writing about this Summer: the GMAT, the overall admissions process, my admissions decision, the financial aid debacle, setting up my life in Syracuse, what Whitman has to offer beyond the classroom, our required summer online class, and preparing for orientation.