Millikin University - Decatur, IL
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This is a little like Kelsy's blog but not about chemistry and not in Taiwan. Enjoy!

I tried to embed it. Things didn't work out. Sorry! Follow the link :-)

It's that time of year again. RA training starts on Tuesday. This is my third- and last- year. It's a little odd looking back on the last three years and realizing I'm definitely no longer a "newbie." Here are the facts as I've lived them.

Growing up, any activity I was a part of- Girl Scouts, softball, volleyball, speech- the "returners" were the obnoxious kids who talked while the adult was talking and answered all questions with the "I've been here before and have really LIVED this life" (read: know-it-all) tone. I was one. I hated them when I wasn't. That was my experience with returners until my sophomore year here when I became an RA for the first time. I felt like such an outsider at first. I planned on going to training the first day exactly on time. I didn't want to be there early and have no one to talk to. I also knew I would NOT be late. So when I got to training, I put on my obligatory name tag, found my training binder and sat down. That was on August 3 (of 2009, if you're keeping track of years). Then I blinked a couple times and all of a sudden freshmen were moving in. I think I might have sighed once and then school started. August flies by for RAs. And the funny thing is, after blinking and sighing and breathing when I had the chance, I knew every RA on staff. I even made a few friends. Heck, for the first time in my college career, I knew administrators. Note the "s" at the end of the word. There is no better orientation into leadership at Millikin than RA training. I'm not sure this is allowed, but if you wanted to become an RA and didn't make it, I would highly suggest BEGGING Res Life to let you come to training. If you weren't ready before, you will be primed for whatever opportunities arise after. I learned so much about people in that month that I will never forget. Thank you, Res Life!

Now flash forward to 2010. Guys, I became a returner! And do you know what I didn't do once? I didn't act like a know-it-all. And none of the other  returners did, either. Then I looked back on my first year as an RA. Nobody made me feel like a newcomer even though they didn't know me. It sounds REALLY lame, but being an RA is like being in the coolest Girl/Boy Scout troop you could ever join. The returners all remember being newbies. And besides, being a returner does not make you an expert. If there is one thing I figured out in RA Training v.2, it's that no amount of training will equip you with the proper response for every situation. This would be the prompt for Molly's Training 2010 catchphrase "Shades of Grey." What training does equip you with is a lot of possible scenarios and responses for you to mold and morph into whatever really, really grey situation in which you might find yourself. That's what we all really need. If they wanted perfection, they would replace RAs with robots. Thankfully they haven't done this yet. I happen to really love my job and would hate to lose it to Bicentennial Man. Anyway. The point. The point is that no one, young/old, newbie/returner, male/female, black/white/grey, NO ONE is prepared for everything. And no one is too cool or too experienced to not get something great out of training.

That pretty much brings us up to date. It is 4 minutes 'til midnight on a Saturday night. Yes, I blog on Saturday nights. But this is relevant because, after four minutes, I will be three days from starting RA Training v.3, my last training. While I have a lot of guesses about what is coming, I still have no idea what Res Life will throw at me! We have a brand new pro staff member and something like 12 fresh and friendly RA newbies. They will bring something I cannot even imagine to training. I have no idea where Eric (new pro staffer) will lead sessions. I don't know what Dana Bjorge (newbie) will ask me at lunch because I'm a returner and should be able to help her out. I don't know how Zach Minder (newbie) will facilitate a mediation session or how Chet Lord-Remmert (newbie) will react in Behind Close Doors- the session where new RAs get to "practice" crises. I just don't know anything. What's even better is that I don't know where my fellow returners will take us, either. It's what makes RA training so great. Remember, I really advise you go through RA training. As I said before, if you have the opportunity to ask to go through training, do it! It's worth it.

Well, it's now 12:06. Three days to go! And I just wrote you almost 1000 words. That's almost an essay. I'll leave you with a little insight into the future. I'm going to try very hard to write during training. We train A LOT. But I want you all to see a little of what we do at RA training. I'm going to try to fit you in. But if you don't hear from me for a while, expect a post before First Week. I have a little bit of  "returner" knowledge for first time packers. When you're as bad at packing as I am, you learn a few things. Until then, dear readers!

I totally just realized that I have been teasing you about my internship! I've been promising stories about interning in Decatur for weeks. Have I delivered? No. But today, dear reader, you will get just what I promised!
I have an internship with DCC Marketing here in Decatur. They are a full-service, PR, Marketing, Advertising agency right in the heart of central Illinois. Their clientele reach far and wide and internationally. As an intern, I've been able to do so much! When most PR interns expect to do a certain amount of grunt work (think handing out brochures), I have been given some really great PR assignments! I know a lot of people struggle with the definition of Public Relations. I'll help you out a little before carrying on. In short (and totally breaking the rules of defining terms) Public Relations is the art of relating to multiple publics. I promised you I would break that definition rule! What it means is delivering messages and creating an open communication loop with various groups of people. Advertisers and marketers have demographics, focus groups and target markets. We have publics. They're all the same except spell check doesn't believe you can pluralize our term. You can. Anyway, interns frequently have to spend a little bit of their time handing out corporate messages in the least glamorous ways. Luckily for me (and so many MU comm majors), I have the privilege of working at DCC. I was thrown into the world a PR agency the day I started. Since then, I have been able to write at least one story a week to be published online. I've been able to write real radio spots. I've done research on politicians and even went through about 500 pictures of dogs for one assignment. Agencies are really great for giving interns a variety of clientele. DCC has been great because they trust me enough to do actual writing. I am so thankful to everyone at DCC, my boss Chris especially, for giving me this opportunity. Also, major, MAJOR thanks go out to our very own Professor Melinda Rueter for helping me find and attain the internship. If you are a future Communication Major, please get to know this woman. She is a phenomenal teacher, really fun and really knowledgeable.
Last week I promised you more information on a person named Eric. Eric is the new addition to the Office of Residence Life family. I visited his office yesterday. He seems to be acclimating very well. Then last night, my dear friend Julia and I delivered cookies to his apartment. He seems like he'll be a lot of fun! I look forward to getting to know him better during RA training in August. It's so sad when friends leave Millikin, but it's a little easier when new people move in the same day they leave. Thanks for choosing MU, Eric!
The picture is from The Woods club house. That's my "Millikin Homecoming '48" pose.

It was about a year ago that I received an email from Ms. Allison Webster. I wrote a "shout-out blog" welcoming her to campus. I don't know for sure, but I think that's why I was allowed to talk to her so early in the year. She's a pretty cool person, and I think people would swarm her office if given the chance. It's sad to say it, but I think tomorrow is Allison's last day. In the time she has been here, she made so many positive changes to student programming, I couldn't possibly name them all. For one thing, Allison helped push the number of student organizations over 100 this year. It was a lot of work for her to work with 100 unique organizations, but it's what makes Millikin Millikiny (which is now a word). Allison gets it. That's why she's going to Michigan to make 100 organizations at another school. She also reformed a few organizations that needed some serious TLC. One such organization is Wellness Committee. Technically it wasn't an organization until the very end of the year, but that's because Allison wanted to make sure it was going to be substantial and relevant before ensuring its future. And man! It came a long way this year! What used to be a committee that virtually existed in name alone quickly became an organization holding week-long wellness co-sponsorships with countless other organizations. Next year will be even better because of the groundwork Allison helped layout. So thanks, Allison! Millikin and I will sure miss you next year! But you'll be great in Michigan even if it looks like a mitten.

Also running north is my dear friend Aaron Copley! I've known Aaron for approximately forever. That's a complete lie. But I met Aaron very early on through Student Housing Council. Then I met Aaron better when I became an RA. Then I met Aaron the best when I decided to become an integral piece in his life and forced my existence upon him. Now I'm going to miss him dearly! Aaron, like Allison, has made some major improvements on this campus. Aaron, in the last five years, took an organization (SHC) that was an embarrassment to the institution and made it a reputable if not thriving organization. Dean Hall calls me Ms. SHC. I would not have that reputation, nor would I have stuck around as long as I did had it not been for Aaron Copley. He really turned the organization around. I am really thankful for this! Also, as I mentioned, Aaron has been a fantastic supervisor/mentor/friend for RA's and CA's. The CA's this last year especially had a difficult time feeling needed, but Aaron always showed why they were so necessary and important. I really respect that. And I know the CA's felt the support Aaron gave them. After five years (and no, I have not been here all five! I've been here for three, thank you.), Aaron is moving on to bigger and better things. We'll all miss you, Aaron! I hope Wisconsin is fruitful and rewarding! You deserve it.

Now, in case you were wondering about the picture. I thought the great doorway would be perfect for this post. Think of it as the archway for which Allison and Aaron to pass through onto bigger and brighter things! They're going metaphorically beyond the veil- for you Harry Potter fans. Or they're going to Narnia- for everyone else. It's just a doorway on a wall in RTUC. But it's still really cool. I'm going to try to get a picture of Allison and Aaron with it. Look back next week! Also, hopefully, next week will be about my new friend-to-be Eric! More on that later!

Happy travels, Aaron and Allison! And happy 4th of July weekend for everyone else. :-)

PHOTO EDIT: Thanks to Ellen Engh, the picture happened! Here it is!

Photo Credit: Ellen Engh
That's right, folks! I'm starting a new spin for my! Senior Year With Melissa will be reflective and fun. I will be posting a lot of funny pictures. This idea was actually my mom's. I'm going to imitate the portraits and photographs from around campus to commemorate some of my favorite Millikin pictures. Trust me. There are enough to last the year. I hope you enjoy my last year of college! I mean, I hope I enjoy it, as well. Here we go...

Meet Kelly. He's the saddest clown in the world! This little man lives across from my desk in the President's Office. My relationship with the clown over the last two years has been volatile at best. On good days, I ignore him. On bad days, he taunts me. Sometimes I feel bad for the clown because I'm much better off than he is. Occasionally I wish I could throw him some change in his bucket. He clearly needs the money. Then I remember that I don't really like clowns. Oh, and I remember it's a picture. It's just such an odd portrait for its placement. If you haven't been to the President's Office, I will fill you in on the decor. The paintings are- besides Kelly- all portraits of past presidents. I sometimes pretend I'm at Hogwarts and talk to the portraits. Okay. I don't do that. But I totally could! There are presidents everywhere! And then there is Kelly. I think Kelly is so sad because he is trying to live up to the presidents. But Kelly is just a clown. These presidents are so great that half of campus is named after them (Miller, Hessler, and Albert Taylor are all here). The only thing named after Kelly is his donation bucket. And that's why Kelly is sad. Below are a few more presidents. You should know, I took these pictures one at a time. I did not take an afternoon off work for a photo session. But here they are in all their glory. Enjoy!

President Malone

President Hessler

President McCray

More to come! Have a great Monday!

**Note: I have frequently been made aware of the numerous M's of Millikin. Millikin, McCray, Malone, Miller, Meuler, etc. I think this is a good sign for me, Melissa. Maybe I'll be great one day, too!
Orientation and Registration is happening as we speak. I'm working on campus and interning in Decatur this summer, and it has been great to see students around campus today! I know the moment I got home from O&R my freshman year I was on the computer trying to contact my roommate, make friends and find ways to make friends. This is your chance, incoming freshmen, to learn from a senior. I hope this all helps you feel comfortable at Millikin. It really is a special and welcoming place! And here we go...
1) Log in to My.Millikin. If you didn't know how before O&R, you should now. Once you log in, click the button with a house on it in the right hand navigation. Then reopen my blog. Now you are able to comment. Hooray! Also, open your Millikin email, facebook and twitter accounts. This is going to be great. Trust me!
2) Search for your roommate. I'm guessing you already did. It's really the best thing to do first.
3) Find friends from O&R. If you don't do it today, you are going to forget them. It's inevitable. And why would you want to let that happen? I remember having a lot of fun at O&R and wish I knew who I was eating with.
4) Talk with the people who already know. I started discussions on the Office of Residence Life's Facebook Page for you guys. Let's chat about your housing experience!
Living Learning Communities
Traditional Freshman Halls
5) "Like" Organizations on Facebook. This is a list of the ones I follow or am involved with. There are so many more! We have over 100 organizations! But this will get you started at looking at organizations.
Student Housing Council

University Center Board
Millikin University Concert Committee
Queers and Allies
Office of Student Programs is good to follow as well
6) Now that you are looking at organizations, you will see upperclassmen that contribute to those groups. Request to add them as friends! I know they will be more than happy to help you and serve as a mentor for the summer.
7) Follow these Millikin blogs! We have great students, faculty and alumni here to offer insight into Millikin. Follow them!
8) Like these offices:
Office of Residence Life
Office of Student Programs
Alumni and Development
9) Add me. If you need anything, contact me at any of these resources:

Welcome to Millikin!!!
Finals are a feeding ground for pessimists. Students are manic. Everyone is trying to print dozens of pages for finals and portfolios. We scurry between Scovill, Staley and Shilling, searching for well-stocked printers. Disgruntled students stay up late finishing papers while studying for finals. Murmurs of names, dates, discoveries and theories flow from the mouths of distracted students. Campus becomes a hive of frustration and insecurity. But finals are also a great time of campus. Just to remind everyone of the great aspects of finals, here is a list.
1. The caf is the quietest of the entire year. As students go home, there are fewer people eating there. It means- for those who stick around- a place to eat while editing essays or cramming. A little brain food really helps the studying process.
2. People become nostalgic. When you have three months of down time to look forward to, even your most aquaintancy acquaintance is going to miss you. It's a great time for all of your "remember that one time" stories.
3. The world is sunny! Even though we had a pretty cold finals week (low 60's! Blech!), the sun was out the entire time. The sun makes people slow down and enjoy the time spent outside. Thank you, sun, for coming to finals week.
4. Summer break is nearby! Unless you are an education major, your summer breaks are numbered. Finals is all the better when you know you will be rewarded with time off.
5. You secretly have free time. If you are cramming for finals now, you probably spent Sunday and Monday relaxing. Good for you! You earned that time! And once you finish, you'll be able to breathe and pack and think about tomorrow when your summer starts. Lovely!

So see! There are great things about finals. You just need to think about them a little bit.

Enjoy summer, world! I will start blogging next week about my summer happenings. I think this summer will be a fun one to chronicle. Get ready, world!

This weekend was my first step in the world of UCB (University Center Board). I'm officially special events chair for the organization. For those of you reading at home, I'm the one who will be organizing Sibs Weekend and Fall Family Weekend 2011. Send any suggestions, complaints or comments my way.

This weekend was our exec board retreat. It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed getting to know everyone. I think this semester will be a lot of fun! A really great moment for me was realizing I am not the only person who feels E-Readers are the downfall of our civilization. There are at least four of us that are frightened these robot books will ruin all things good and library-y. I'm shivering at the thought. We also did a lot of productive things- I mean, that's the point of a retreat, isn't it? We planned and thought and planned some more. It was great. I'm really looking forward to a fun semester!

First up is Snack Attack Bingo! this Friday at 8pm in LTRUC.

^ Those are the crazy people on Exec Board for UCB. I'm the one wondering what I got myself into. I'm still figuring that out. :-D
I know, I know. I've been MIA for two months. But I'm here now! I'm really sorry, dear readers. Life gets crazy and blogs get neglected. It will never happen again. I promise (I think.).

If you were involved in Vespers, it was beautiful! The matriarchs of my family (as Meleah Explains it All now call them) came to see it for the first time. We all had a really nice time. Thank you for your time and effort!

Did you hear about the cookie party? If you go to MU and didn't go, expect the cold shoulder from me. Oh, you had class? Then tell your teacher I'm upset at them. This is Millikin's finest tradition! You should have been there! I missed you! *This is me having breaking the fourth wall. Did it work?

Okay, so if you don't go here, I'll let you know about the Cookie Party. It started in the thirties. Then called "Christmas Tea," the wives and secretaries of Millikin staff baked cookies and held a tea around the holidays. With updates and hand changes, it now involves men and other staff members. Go go human rights and stuff! Anyway, faculty and staff bake over 5,000 cookies for the cookie party! My dear Res Life faculty members Molly and Aaron have an exclusive cookie party task force that manages the party tasks as early as October. That's a lot of planning! Faculty serves the students, the President and Vice Presidents shake hands with students and various groups play music while students eat and mingle. It really is the best way for us all to get in the holiday spirit. Read the article in the Herald and Review about the party. It's swell.

Finals start Monday! Eep! Buckle down, folks. Don't forget your mittens!

May your holidays be cheery!

Where did the last month go?!?! My birthday was last week. I know my birthday is in November, but that means October past without my permission. I guess I should enlighten you as to why October just skipped on by my little eyes.

Student Housing Council, the organization for which I am president and former Director of Programming, just had Halloween in the Halls. For those of you who don't know, it's a really great program for Decatur children to trick-or-treat the afternoon of Halloween in the residence halls of Millikin. It was a lot of fun! This year was the smoothest it has been since I came to school here. This thanks to our exec board: Amber Camfield, Kristin Shepherd, Carrie Banks and especially Tyler Warden, the man who ultimately ran the show. This is truly a fantastic year for SHC!

Speaking of SHC, at our fun, post-Halloween general board meeting, several members brought me fun little presents they made for my birthday! This must be how it feels to be a teacher. Thanks, everyone, for making my birthday so fun!

This last month flew by! Welcome to mid-November, folks!


PS. If anyone saw this post up before it was finished, sorry about that! I swear I hit "save as draft," not "post."

PSS. Here is the link to the article in Herald and Reveiw on Halloween in the Halls!
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL