Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday, Monday

We are now to the point in the school year where classes are coming to an end. With this comes all the little things that need to get done before we leave for summer. Because of this, I spent my Monday running around like a chicken with its head cut off and hoping to get everything done. I needed to make a list and plan out when I was going to do what or else it wasn't going to happen.

To start off my day, I was running late as always. I usually pack my bag the night before, so I don't have to worry about it the next day. This got done, but it was some of the little things of the week that I forgot about. I had someone that I needed to call during the day, but I forgot her number on my desk. That evening I was supposed to sign up for classes, but I didn't get my list of classes printed off.

After my three classes for the morning, I headed over to Lawson to get some work done before lunch. While I was there, I ran into a friend that I hadn't seen for a few weeks. This worked out because I needed to talk to her about some things, so this gave me a chance to do that. I also needed to print off a blog entry to bring in to English class the next day. While in Lawson, I also needed to stop by and talk to my adviser about sending in my acceptance forms for my Google program. She would be able to help me get this done without having to pay for it like I would have to if I faxed them for the residence halls. However, these forms were also left in my room that morning, so I would have to bring them back later. I had just enough time to grab some lunch with a friend before heading out to accomplish more of the day's tasks.

I recently joined the Events and Activities Team for my college group at church. I got assigned to plan out activity for next week. Since we decided to play kickball, I had to go over to the Co-Rec after lunch to reserve a softball field. When I got up to the main office, I was told that the person I needed to talk to was in a meeting, and I would have to come back later. This just gave me something else to add to my list for the day. I couldn't waste my time thinking about how inconvenient this was, so I just when on to do my next thing.

This week for my college group at church is Encouragement Week. During this week, people sign up to be involved, and you are given the name of someone else in the group that you are supposed to secretly encourage. This can be through gifts, e-mails, notes, or other means. Whatever you want to do is fine. I had a list of things that my person liked, so I went over to Boiler Crossing to pick up some encouraging gifts for her. Then I had to go back to my room to get these things ready for her and pick up what I had forgotten to grab earlier.

Because of my forgetfulness earlier in the day, I had to go back to my room in the afternoon. Usually during this time I work on my Computer Science project for the week, but it had to be put on hold. I got back to my room, printed off my class list, and picked up my Google paperwork. I also had a package sitting in my room that needed mailed. I hadn't mailed it yet because I didn't have any tape to seal it. My roommate had some, but she wasn't there at the time. I didn't want to just take it without asking, so I called up a friend to save me. Luckily she had some. I got the box taped up and took it over to the Boiler Mailroom.

After mailing my package, my next destination was Lawson. I needed to get my papers sent in to Google. I dropped them off with the secretary because she was also having a busy day and couldn't get them sent right away. She said they would be done by the end of the day though which was still okay. I just needed to get it done before I got busy and get forgot to send them. Since I still had a little time before class, I decided to go back to the Co-Rec to try to reserve our field again.

I had never made a field reservation before, so I didn't know what it involved. It ended up taking a lot longer than I expected. She needed to know what field we wanted and if we needed to rent any equipment too. Then I had a couple forms I needed to fill out, and then she put the information into the computer. With all this paperwork to do, I was wondering how long it was going to take. Thankfully I made it to my class on time.

While I was sitting in my 4:30 class, I realized that while I had printed off what classes I needed to sign up for, I had left my pin number in my room. Since my registration window opened at 6pm, I had to make a quick trip back to my room to get this. When I got there, I saw that I didn't have enough time to make it back to Lawson before my window opened, so I just decided to register in my room before heading over. This would have been fine if myPurdue would have been working. As soon as I went to put my classes in, the site went down. I continued trying for 45 minutes with no success. I had to be back in Lawson by 7pm to work on my project, so I shut down my computer and went over there. Hopefully I could get the site to work later.

Once in Lawson, the site still didn't work, so I got to work on my project. I had to work really hard since I didn't spend any time on it all afternoon. It took me awhile to figure out what I needed to do, but once I figured it out, the work wasn't too hard from there. Finally, after several hours, I got to sign up for my classes. The times on two of them weren't the greatest, but I was able to get one of them changed the next day. At least I had gotten into all the classes that I needed to take.

Thankfully this semester is almost over. I don't know how many more of these days I could handle, but I know that the years ahead are going to be just as bad if not even more busy. I'm just glad to see the year coming to an end and to know that I will be able to relax for a little bit. While I'm ready for the classes to end, I'm not ready to leave here. I will miss all the new friends that I've made throughout the year. Hopefully some of them will be able to visit me this summer, and I can visit them. If not I know that when we see each other again next fall, we will pick back up right where we left off.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Summer Plans

As the year comes to an end, many people are thinking about what they will do for the summer. Some are just looking for summer jobs, others want internships, and some people will just stay at home and be a bum all summer. My parents are not forcing me to get a job if I don't want to, however it will give me something to do.

A few months ago, I was nominated by my professor to apply for the Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) being held this summer. CSSI is an all-expense paid two week program put on by Google at their headquarters in Mountain View, California. It is focused toward increasing interest in Computer Science for underrepresented groups such as women, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native-Americans. Not knowing much about the program, I still decided to fill out the application. It would be a good chance to find out if my major is really a good fit for me. I didn't think I really had a chance since they only accept 20 people from colleges across the nation, but no matter what, the application process would still be good practice for me.

After filling out an application, students earn interview spots. Since not everyone can just get up and go to California for an interview, these were conducted over the phone. I was surprised when I got the email saying that I needed to set up a time for this. I had made it to the next round. The interview was about an hour long and consisted of technical question some of which were actual questions for potential Google employees. After completing this, there was another month to wait to find out who got in and who didn't.

Well, that email came out on Tuesday. I got in. The email was congratulating me on my acceptance and also contained some forms that I now have to fill out. I have to sign a release form due to some of the activities we will be doing. No, we won't be jumping through any hoops of fire or anything like that. We will be going on a boat tour in the San Francisco Bay and some other social activities. Google also has a volleyball court and other fun places to hang out on their complex. They just have to make sure that they have all their bases covered for insurance purposes. I also have to get a background check done since we will be given ID badges giving us access to Google's offices while we are there. This allows us to adventure through the complex freely and unescorted each day.

A typical day will start by getting a shuttle ride from out hotel to the Googleplex. Once we get there, we can get breakfast at one of the cafes before we meet as a group. Then we will have some classroom and work time before lunch. The afternoon may have some meetings, speakers, or a fun activity. We can also have dinner at the complex if we want. There will be plenty of time for us to network with the other participants as well as some of the employees.

This really is the chance of a lifetime. Sure people use Google on a daily basis. I use it multiply times a day. But how many opportunities do people get to actually experience life at Google? Not many. It still seems kind of crazy when I hear my phone ringing and look down at the caller ID to see that Google is calling. Hopefully this program will help confirm if Computer Science really is the career for me. As for the rest of the summer plans, we'll just have to wait and see how that goes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Please Pray

Not all news is good news. The fact of this statement really hit me last week as it seemed that I got bad news almost every day. I am thankful to have my friends around me during these times. Without them, I don't know what I would have done last week.

Thursday at our weekly prayer meeting with Salt and Light, a friend of mine asked for prayer for her old pastor's youngest son. Since we went to the same church back home, I was wondering what had happened. The news to come was not good.

Twelve year old Ryan had gone into diabetic shock on Wednesday and was now in a coma. His brain was also swelling, so the doctors had to do emergency surgery to relieve some of the pressure. They said that things did not look good and the next 12 hours would be crucial.

I didn't receive any more news on Ryan until the Good Friday service at church. Ryan's grandfather who is a member of our church called to say, "We have hope." I can still hear those words coming out of Pastor Bill's mouth. It was such a relief to hear, but they were still waiting on test results to find out how Ryan would be after he came out of the coma.

This news came to us on Sunday. It turns out that Ryan had suffered from a stroke. He had also developed pneumonia from being put on a ventilator. The doctors are expecting him to come out of the coma in a week, and it will probably be two weeks before they can put the scull back in place from his surgery. He had made some movement which was promising to the doctors. They would not have believed his current condition just a few days ago.

There was a negative side to this news though. Test results showed that he had suffered some brain damage. I do not know how much damage he had, but hopefully he will be able to continue on with a normal life. He is still in very critical condition, and I hope that he can make it through okay.

Please keep Ryan and his family in your thoughts and prayers. I know they would really appreciate it. Sometimes life throws things at us that we don't really understand. It is through these times that we grow the most. We just have to put our trust in God and know that He will take care of us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Tuesday, I was given the opportunity to do something that many students never get to experience in college unless they are athletes. I got to go with PASE behind the scenes of the athletic facilities.

Purdue Alumni Student Experience, better known as PASE, is one of the largest groups here on campus. It is sponsored by the Purdue Alumni Association. PASE's connections with the alumni are what allow them to get tours such as this one.

We started out our tour with the premium seating in the press box at Ross Ade. The elevator took us up to the Shively Club on the third floor. Members of the Shively Club can watch the game from inside the building or from their premium seating outdoors. This floor has two concession stands on game days, an upscale one along with a normal one. The Annual Payments for these seats are $2,208/seat for a three year license and $1,932/seat for a five year license.

Next our tour took us to the box seats on the fourth and fifth floors. Not only did we go into a regular box, but we also got to visit the President's suite. Each box comes with 18 tickets (36 for the President's suite). They have two rows of theater-type seats with some additional seating behind that. The widows open, so you can enjoy the atmosphere of the game from the comfort of your suite. For these seats, you preorder your food and drinks, and they will be stocked in your fridge and waiting for you when you get there. This luxury does come at a price though. Annual Payments here for a five year license is $49,913 and $44,660 for seven years. These prices can vary though with the location of the suite.

The last of the premium seating is in the Buchanan Club located on the fifth floor. Three rows of seats face the game with a lounge area behind them. The windows in this area do not open, but you also have the option of watching the game on one of the 26 televisions in the club. Why you would go to a game and watch it on TV, I don't know, but that is an option. Membership in the Buchanan Club includes complimentary food and drink with access to a cash bar. These seats have an Annual Payment of $4,786/seat for three years and $4,223/seat for five years.

Above the premium seating on the sixth floor is the Shively Media Center. This is where the press will come in to do their reports on the game. We did not get to go in any of the suites for the press. We did go into the main press room though. This room has four rows of tables with a computer hookup at each seat. This way the reporters can plug in their computers and get to work. The thing that stood out to me the most on this floor was the amount of wires. It made sense when I saw them, but it was just something that I had never thought of before.

There was one more stop on our tour at Ross Ade, the camera platform. The taping of all the games and practices happens from here. While there wasn't much to see besides the camera platforms out there, the views over campus were amazing. We could see for miles since we were above all the buildings. I was sad to see our tour of Ross Ade come to an end, but I knew that there were more athletic facilities to come.

After leaving Ross Ade, we headed over to Mackey. We would meet a new tour guide here to take us through Mollenkopf and the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility (IAF). When we got there, we had a surprise in store for us. Due to renovations, we were originally told that we would not be able to tour Mackey, but since they were behind schedule, the tour was back on. We were so excited to hear this; at least I knew I was.

There was not as much to see in Mackey, but that did not make it any less exciting. In fact, it might have been my favorite place on our tour. Our tour guide took us downstairs to the hallway where the locker rooms were. He talked like we couldn't go in, but then he had one of the workers to check to see how clean it was in there. He then said it was fine for us to go in and take a look around. I was so excited!

Inside the locker room, they have a room with couches, drinks, and a TV for the players to hang out. I'm sure that this is where they have their meetings during halftime at the games. They also have game systems, so they can play video games when they have nothing better to do. Off of this room is where the lockers are. Each player has their own area with their name above the locker. While we were in there, Lewis Jackson came in. He is a lot bigger in real life than he seems during the games.

After the locker room, we headed down the tunnel and onto the court. E'twaun Moore and Keaton Grant were have a closed practice, and we got to watch them for a little while. I'm pretty sure that one of the guys and I could have stayed there and watched them practice for the rest of the day. We were mesmerized. However, we had to leave to finish out our tour.

We then headed to Mollenkopf. This is where the big workout area is. It is also the home to many of our football trophies including those from our bowl games and the Old Oaken Bucket. The best part here is that we were given the opportunity to run down the indoor practice field for the football team. Only four people out of our group took them up on this opportunity. Of course I did. This was a once in a lifetime experience, and I wasn't going to miss it.

Our tour for the day ended with the IAF. Here we saw the football locker room, but we didn't get to go in this one. We did get to look in the window, and it looked pretty nice in there. We also got to watch a little bit of volleyball practice, and I have to say that those girls are pretty good.

This was a great opportunity that PASE gave us, and I'm glad that I decided to go. I'm sure that some of the other members are regretting their decision to stay home. It was a lot of fun, and I hope that we will be able to do it again in the future. Just another reason for me to say that I love being a Boilermaker!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blessed Be Your Name

Along with my recent trip to Chicago, going to the Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman concert on Sunday made last weekend a great one for me. The words these men brought in their testimonies and songs that night were amazing. One song that really stood out to me was Blessed Be Your Name.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name.

I have always loved this song, but when Steven Curtis Chapman opened the concert with it that night, it had new meaning to me. A friend and I were spending time together recently when this song came on the radio. She went on to tell me that she had a miscarriage about a year ago. As she and her husband were driving home from the hospital, this song came on the radio. The words really stood out to them. They knew that they still needed to praise God even though they had just lost their baby. Now she is pregnant again and due in August. On the way home from her last ultrasound, this song came on the radio again. Now with the gift of their coming son, they are still able to say, "Lord, blessed be Your name."

This song is also an emotional one for Steven Curtis Chapman. His five year old daughter was killed in a tragic accident in the family's driveway last May. This song has brought strength to their family in knowing that they should always bless His name. Because of their faith, they know that they will see little Marie Sue again one day.

I know that things have not always been easy in my own life. It is good to have songs like these to remind myself to praise God in the good times as well as the bad. Things will work out in the end. We just have to trust Him throughout the whole process. With His help, we can make it through.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Windy City

Sometimes with all the stress of school, it is just good to get away for a little bit. I love traveling and experiencing other places, so when the opportunity came for me to spend the weekend in Chicago with a group from church, I jumped at the chance. As the weekend got closer, I was unsure if I would still be able to go due to a big project that I had to finish. Luckily I got it done, and I'm so glad I did. This weekend was one of the best I have had here at Purdue, and I will always be able to look back and smile at the time that we had.

Our team was made up of eight students and leaders from our college group. While in Chicago, we got to minister to Chicagoland Community Church. It is a small church located in the Lakeview area on the north side of the city. I have only been to Chicago a few times, and I wasn't really sure what to expect when we got there. We were given a rough idea of things we would be doing, but that was it.

We arrived a little later than expected on Friday night due to construction on the way up. When we got there, the pastor was waiting for us and ready to explain his plans for the weekend. We would be meeting Tyler, one of the church's interns, and a couple other guys later that night just to get to know them a little bit. Then our real work would happen on Saturday.

We got up on Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and got ready to meet with Pastor Jon and Tyler. Originally they just had the plan for all of us to paint a bathroom, but we knew we could do more. Plus I don't think we would all fit in that bathroom. He decided to also give us the job of building a CD display. Then we decided that the church also needed some cleaning done. With a couple single guys living there, you can only imagine how the kitchen looked.

We spent a good amount of the day on these projects. It took longer than we thought it would. That was okay because our next job was outside, and it was cold and raining. We were to go out on the streets in pairs doing surveys in the Lakeview community and passing out maps of the "L." This was not as successful as we hoped. Because of the weather, it was hard to get people to stop and talk to us. My group only got to talk to one guy, but that one guy was better than none. The other groups were a little more successful but not much more.

That evening, the church was having Safe Haven which is a weekly outreach to the homeless in the community. They didn't need our help during the event, so we got to go downtown for some famous Chicago Pizza. We decided to go to Giordano's. I had been to a couple pizza places in Chicago before, but I would have to say that this one was pretty good and reasonably priced. It might seem like a lot for a pizza, but when you consider how big it is, it's not bad at all.

On the way back to the church, our van decided to die in the middle of the road. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. It started back up again, but then began to die shortly afterward. We pulled off on a side street to see if we could figure out what was wrong. None of us knew much about cars, so we didn't know how much good this would do. I was thinking that we would have to call AAA, and who knows how long that would take?

We popped the hood, and a couple guys got out to see what the problem was. It ended up that the air hose had disconnected, and they just needed to get it back on. This problem was fixed with only a dime, literally. We all got a good laugh out of that one!

Back at the church, Safe Haven was over, and there was more cleaning for us to do. We had to get the place ready for Sunday services. While we were cleaning up, one of the guys found some Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers DVDs. We asked Tyler about them, and he said that he was waiting for the right time to watch them. Well the time had come. That's right, we spent the rest of the evening watching them.

We were all sad when Sunday morning came, and we had to head back to campus. We had such a great time over the weekend and wished that it could have lasted longer. We got to be a blessing to the church, and they were also a blessing to us. I love being able to help out other churches, and I can't wait until we get to go on another trip like this one!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The PEERS Project

A club that I was really involved with in high school is The PEERS Project or more commonly known as PEERS. PEERS is an acronym for Peers Educating and Encouraging Relationship Skills. In this group we have Peers Educating Peers (PEP) sessions where we will go in and talk to 6th through 10th graders. What do we talk about? Abstinence. The group motto is "Abstain from sex to Attain your goals." However we also talk about other forms of abstinence. Abstinence from sex, drugs, alcohol, and other things which can have a negative influence on your life.

For the PEP sessions, we have a packet of information to go over. A lot of the packet would seem boring to the students, so we would just pick out a few main things and then use our own ideas to fill the rest of the time. Many times we will share with the class about situations that we have been in and mistakes that we have made hoping that this will open their eyes, so they can avoid these things. Sharing with them also breaks down a barrier, so they feel comfortable talking to us. If they are going through a similar situation to one of the stories shared, they can go to that person and get some advice.

One of our presentations opened the eyes of a 6th grade girl. After the presentation, she came up and asked what someone should do if they were being sexually abused. We told her that they should talk to someone about getting them removed from the situation. Later we found out that this was about her. She had been removed from her parents' home and put with her grandparents because she was receiving this abuse from her father. Now she was getting it from her grandfather too. Our presentation allowed her to talk to someone to get removed from this home too. She has recently been adopted by her loving foster parents and having a much better life.

Not only has PEERS had a positive effect on the students but also the community as a whole. Before the program started, our county was one of the highest in the state for teen pregnancies. Implementation of this group has dropped our numbers significantly. The state saw this change and wanted to know how we did it. They are now watching our program to see how other counties can also benefit from this program.

PEER mentors have to watch their actions in and out of the classroom. If you give a presentation to a class, and then some of the students see you later going against what you just said, you will lose all credibility with them. They will probably let their friends know about it too. We want to make sure that we keep that trust with the students because they are looking up to us whether we're doing good or bad.

The only way to stay out of trouble with the temptations of drugs, sex, and alcohol is to avoid it all together. Sex is something that should be saved for a marriage. Stay pure until then. I'd like to leave you with a quote that a couple of my friends came up with, and we later had it put on a t-shirt to wear for our presentations. "Purity rocks my socks off... but keeps my clothes on!"