My second year at The University of Toledo (Go Rockets!) is well underway. I am about a month in, and I have been busy beyond belief. This semester, I am finishing up my minor in Counseling. I am happy to get those classes out of the way, so I can focus solely on my major coursework for Speech-Language Pathology. My program is the best around, and while I may be somewhat biased, it does actually rank high among the nation’s Speech-Language programs. This is going to be another one of those crazy semesters, but in college, I think they all have some element of crazy sprinkled throughout. Many big things will be happening. So my update continues.
While I was on vacation earlier this summer, I received an email inviting me to join The Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement. This is an honor society that promotes networking and building skills to be successful academically and professionally. I was drawn to join because of its hybrid model. It is web-based and allows for self-governed involvement. Through webinars and self-inventory questionnaires, I am able to interact with others and reflect on my strengths and weaknesses via the online platform. As a commuter, this was appealing.
Fast forward to the end of summer: I received another email regarding The Society of Collegiate Leadership and Achievement (SCLA). This time, it was requesting applications to become The University of Toledo’s Founding Chapter President. At the time, I was not too sure about applying, but I knew I wanted to be more involved with The University of Toledo. I filled out the application and went about my days not thinking about it much. With another email, I received notice that I had been chosen to move onto the next round in the application process. The next step was a phone interview. This made me nervous because I have never done one before, but I was eager to present my ideas and thoughts to the interviewer. Three days later, my phone rang, and my heart started pounding. It was one of the executives calling to congratulate me and to let me know that although competitive, the advisory board thought my application stood out. On the inside, I could hardly contain my excitement, but on the outside, I had to stay composed and professional. From that point on, I have been in close contact with my advisor with SCLA, and I have begun the process of forming the chapter at The University of Toledo.
The other big thing happening this year is planning for grad school. Yes, I said grad school. It is in my near future, and that is horrifying. I knew going into my program that grad school was a must, but it came much faster than I anticipated. I am eligible for early admission, so that is what I am working towards. The dreaded Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is my first step to getting into grad school. In my spare time away from studying for my classes, I will be gearing up to take the GRE later this fall. Obviously, my first choice for grad school is continuing at The University of Toledo, but I will figure out my options when the time comes. Ultimately, I want to earn my Ph.D., but I am not pushing it now. Let me see how my Master’s goes first.
This semester has been going well. I have great professors, and I enjoy my classes. My planner looks like a hot mess, but time is of the essence, and I have to get the most out of my hours. My study habits are quirky at best, but it works for me. I work hard for my grades. Not studying is not an option. Hoping for the best because I paid attention in class is not enough to pull off getting ninety-eight percent on an Anatomy and Physiology for Communication Mechanisms exam. I have my days when regressing back to toddlerhood sounds much better than being an adult, but at the end of the day, I am working towards a goal I have had for so long. All of this work now will allow me to do what I love for the rest of my life. Everything I do adds up to the sum of success.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
A perfect fall day consists of a sweatshirt, scarf, and a big cup of coffee. I love hearing the fallen leaves crunch under my footsteps and the feeling of a gentle breeze to make the leaves dance. With the changing of the seasons, it offers a time for renewal and rejuvenation of nature and our souls. Autumn seems to have a special and magical element to it. As summer draws to a close, autumn brings the family back together for quiet evenings at home and fun weekend festivals with friends. There is not much about autumn that I do not love. Everything about it makes me feel warm inside, even if the temperature outside tells a different story.
The last days of summer are bittersweet, but since there has to be a replacement, I am happy to see autumn to follow. The bright summer sun’s splendor is temporarily overshadowed by the golden palette of colors found on the trees. Scenic trips all around the mitten state are gorgeous, and the back roads lined with trees offer a resemblance of majestic oil paintings. It does not get much better than that. Living in a picturesque state has its perks, and autumn in Michigan is only one of them.
This is the perfect time to go outside, jump in the leaves, take long country drives, and bask in the crisp bliss.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
Picture it: A five-year-old sticks to a strict morning routine, and at precisely 7:48 am, she steps foot on a school bus as usual. Nothing was out of the ordinary, and there was never a doubt that the day would be any different from the day before. Upon arriving at Ida Elementary School, she was greeted at the door by the principal and met her friends in the classroom. With the ring of a bell, the day could officially begin at 8:00 am. “Gooood morning, Ida Elementary Students” echoed over the P.A. system, as only the principal could do. At the conclusion of the announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in unison. And so the day went on.
Meanwhile, at home, her parents go back inside from the bus stop to have their morning coffee and watch Good Morning America. The usual headlines are discussed and every fifteen minutes bring the weather forecast. Normalcy was the theme for everyone that morning. The thoughts that anyone could be in some type of danger was the furthest thoughts they had.
At 8:46 am, the unthinkable happened. American Airlines Flight 11 flew between the ninety-third and ninety-ninth floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Shortly after this time, Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer held the responsibility to break the tragic news to all Americans. The ticker tape at the bottom of the screen quickly switched to the topic of national security, and all other headlines were in the shadows. Every few minutes, videos of the fiery flames from the tower rolled and constant reminders of this reality were reflected into the eyes of Americans.
Mistaken for an instant replay, seventeen minutes after the North Tower was struck, another plane roars between the seventy-fifth and eighty-fifth floors of the South Tower at 9:03 am. The live broadcast from a nearby chopper captured the United Airlines Flight 175 striking the tower, confirming the country had been attacked by terrorists. Panic ensued, and fear set in. Millions of people were now glued to television screens at home, at school, and at work. So many questions needed answers and the need for security grew in every minute that passed.
Two more planes had been hijacked that morning. American Airlines Flight 77 crashed at the Pentagon at 9:37 am. Washington D.C. was now in immediate danger and national security was thrown into high gear. The final plane crashed in a Pennsylvania county field. The people aboard United Airlines Flight 93 made frantic phone calls to the people they never imagined the kiss goodbye that morning would be the last. Final farewells were exchanged in the last moments before the plane landed tragically at 10:07 am.
At 9:59 am and 10:28 am, the North and South Towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center, fell to the earth. As the towers fell, a cloud of debris invaded the bluest of blues sky. Lives were swallowed by the unfortunate pull of gravity; this made it almost impossible to escape the horror. Nothing could prepare the world to watch two iconic buildings fall and no longer be, leaving a gaping hole in New York City’s skyline where the Twin Towers once stood so tall.
The half-day Kindergarten dismissal came at the normal time of 11:30 am, but normalcy would soon vacate the day for the students. The bus that had normally taken off from the elementary school made an additional stop to pick up the ‘big kids.’ This was new; something was going on. The buses filled with three buildings worth of students, and the bus’s atmosphere was hushed. Talk over the bus radios was minimal, and there was a distinct feeling that fell within the bus that each student needed to be delivered home quickly and safely.
The young girl was greeted at the end of the driveway by a quiet dad who hurried the two back inside. Once inside, she noticed an additional television that had not been there that morning when she left. Not much was exchanged about the morning’s happenings in the short time she was away at school. Finding it odd that Peter Jennings was broadcasting so early in the day, she went about coloring and enjoying the treat of a television set to herself. Later, she would discover that it was an aid in the distraction from the national tragedy that had the nation preoccupied, especially her parents.
Evening fell, and President George W. Bush made his first press conference appearance at 8:30 pm. During his address to the American people, he stated that the events of that morning were, “evil acts of terrorism.” Although this address did not seem to ease the minds of the citizens, it did solidify that it was, in fact, a reality and not just a nightmare that would vanish with a new day’s dawn.
It seemed as though time stood still for a small eternity. The news played constantly and reports of new findings came back-to-back. Shocked by the events and horror it had caused, Americans were caught vulnerable by emotions. America’s stronghold was shattered and thoughts of being the untouchable were invalid.
I think it obvious that the five-year-old girl was me. My generation is arguably the last one to be able to recall the day from firsthand accounts. Sure, my recollection of some aspects are hazy, but for the most part, I can piece the day together from my exposure to the events, despite my parents’ efforts to shield me from them that day. This day had an impact on me, even if at the time I could not comprehend the severity of the events. Through the years, my memory has been cushioned by documentaries and playbacks on each year’s anniversary. The day still does not make sense to me, but it is important to be mindful of the day that changed the way Americans would live and think for years to come.
Fifteen Septembers have come and gone since that horrific day in American history. First responders and law enforcement suited up and willingly walked into two unstable buildings to save the lives of many, knowing they would be risking their own. They upheld their duty to put others first and serve. For the people who walked into work just as they had in days past, I think about the families they left behind. Nothing could ever fill the void left in the hearts of all of those families. It is hard to fathom what it would be like losing the people who mean the most and having your world turn upside down in an instant. Thinking about the events of that day makes my heart ache, and it brings tears to my eyes. Grief overcame our nation.
Because of those events, the way we think has shifted from complete optimism to total skepticism. We fear people who are unlike us. We fear places that resemble differences. We fear for the sake of fearing. Before, people would zip through the airports and board a plane without a problem. Now, the airports are under high surveillance and some have reservations about what could happen while in the air. I wish we lived in a world where one event did not further dictate negative thought processes and encourage trepidation. It is evident that life is short and tomorrow is never promised, but as we continue to build from tragedy, I hope that we begin to see life in a renewed perspective.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a day in America’s history that was tearfully watched by millions.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016
Mountain climbing is not high on my skills list, but it attests to my appreciation of the simplest of things after working hard to reach the peak. Sometimes those mountains are placed in our lives to prove a point. I have said previously that a walk within the woods can change the soul, but a climb up a mountain can change the mind. Conquering a mountain fuels the ultimate drive to reach the top of any of life’s mountains.
I came to this realization during and after my first mountain climbing experience. During a school trip to Phoenix, Arizona, we had a free day to do whatever. It was suggested that we go hiking. I thought it would be fun, but my idea of hiking was drastically different from the reality of this. To me, hiking was walking on a (flat) dirt trail in the middle of the woods. Not thinking about my location’s climate and terrain, compared to my home of Michigan’s, I blindly agreed to an awakening.
Our day to go ‘hiking’ came, and I was shocked. Camelback Mountain was the furthest thing from what I was picturing in my mind. Still not sure about my agreement, I started up the side of the mountain, new shoes and all. The time spent going up was horrifying to me, and not having guard rails between me and a long fall to my death was less than comforting. I kept telling myself to take it one step at a time and rock by rock.
Slowly, but surely, I made my way to the top of Camelback. I was so happy to be at the peak; I felt like I was on top of the world. The view was spectacular. Being able to have a small picnic at the top with my friends and a chance to take the whole experience in was amazing. Although my skepticism almost made me miss this vantage point, I would not want to trade this day for the world.
What goes up must come down. The time came to scale our way back to flat land, and during this time, I had the opportunity to reflect and talk with my professor, who took us on this trip. She pushed me to a point that I had no option but to make it happen and proved to me a huge appreciation for the unimaginable. A mountain was the last place I thought I would find myself being in Phoenix, and I surely did not think I would be high in the sky seeing such a unique perspective of a beautiful city. In an instant, I had fallen in love with a city I had just met.
The climb showed me I can conquer fears and that a fresh perspective can be the ounce of clarity that is needed in life. It also brought out a beastly appetite, so our group unanimously voted to finally get the tacos we had been begging for all week. Tacos aside, climbing Camelback Mountain brought out the best in me and revealed a picture perfect lesson: climb a mountain, reach the top, and look at life as a picture.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016