Thursday, May 31, 2012

What I Learned from Drake

            This will be my last post for Drake.  I will still keep the site as long as my profession allows me to, but this is my last post under the umbrella of a Drake employee.

              As a recap, I started this blog because I was following Adam Kaduce’s writings while I was contemplating which university to attend.  I found his blog off the Drake site that many of you have found this one through.  Turns out he was also my tour guide (all three times!)  He was instrumental in my attending Drake, and helped me get set up with this position even before I stepped foot on campus as a student.  The title first came because I had graduated high school and would be in Jordan before starting my Drake time, thus I was a Bulldog Abroad.  I had no idea what would happen the other times I went abroad, and was thankful for Drake to be able to give me those experiences.  There have been definite lulls in my writing for a few reasons.  One was I was applying for a position which did not look kindly on an internet presence, but I obviously did not aquire that spot.  (However I did learn you should always try for things as I made it significantly farther than I could have dreamed I would.)  Other times Things got busy and or uneventful in terms of writing.  However I am most thankful for the times and the record this blog has been of some piviotal moments in my life: times abroad.  I am eternally thankful to Tim Schmitt for being a wonderful boss and providing insight both personally and professionally and allowing me to connect with Des Moines.  I am thankful to the other students who have read this blog and talked with me about it.  Most of all I am thankful for you, the reader.  This record of my times abroad and in college means the world to me, and it was great to share it with you.  Therefore I will leave you with this: A few things I learned at Drake

-There is a line-with what you do, with what you say, with how you act-do not cross it, hell don't even get near it.  College is a time to learn, and we sometimes have very hard lessons to learn, or even watch other people learn.

-The “I” drinking game-watch how much you say “I.”  There was a meeting I frequently had to attend for an organization.  One of the gentlemen in it would constantly go on tangents that had nothing to do with the job at hand.  It was turned into a game to count how many times the fellow used the word “I.”  Learning a great deal from how this made me feel to sit through it, I (start counting) realized it is something I (that’s 2) certainly need to work on.
-Work out, get your heart moving, and do so early, you will feel amazing.  There have been so many early mornings at Drake with Army ROTC that I am certainly in the top group for “most sunrises over the dorms witnessed.”  There is something magical about this campus at that time, doubly so when you are working out and then heading to breakfast with a great group of buddies.

-dining should never be rushed and should always be social
     If not then you are just eating.  There are plenty of des Moines dining options, and the campus food is actually not too bad compared to other places.  Do not be afraid to meet someone and share a meal.  At times of intense study, meals were the only time I got to see folks outside of class so it was great to have human interaction, which I strongly feel should be had every day. 
-There is always time for a beer, a shake or breadsticks (and on the best nights, all three) (The old Library/ my front proch, Drake Diner and Paul Reeveres respectively.)  There is a time fast approaching if you are still in college when you can not text 8 people and end up doing all three.  We call that graduation, make the most of it. 
-Find a favorite bar, a favorite study spot, and a favorite Des Moines getaway
     Library (old), 2nd floor East side study desk 2nd back with the bright overhead light, Gray's lake or Saylorville bonfire pits.  Lots of time spent at both, though I am glad to have spent time at less and more at the others, which you can figure out. 
-smile. at everyone.  Makes you feel great, and makes them feel great as well.  If Drake attached qualities of Bulldogs this would be on there; we smile. A lot. Regardless of whether you know the kid or not, it just makes for a happier campus. 
-Support your troops: attend an honor flight, or a memorial day ceremony.  I had no idea what I wanted to do when I got into college, but new that I never wanted to be associated with the military.  That slowly changed through the relationships and mentors I had found through the armed services, and the experiences I had. 
-Lead at some point, reflect on your day, your leadership, you can always improve something.  There are many leadership labs in the form of organizations at Drake.  Take them by the horns and really grow through your leadership.  Imagine what kind of leader you would be if your organization got to vote at the end of your tenure if you were allowed to put it on your resume?
-Take time to make an impact: someone’s life, the campus, abroad, etc.  It was interesting when I was leaving campus.  There was a gal I knew from freshmen year who was one of the few that I had stayed close with all through college.  She cried when we had our last lunch together, thanking me for the friendship and times we shared over the years.  That really moved me. 
-I am much more capable than I thought I was (revolution anyone?) You are too. 
-Many of the people you meet, you won't see after graduation.  This does not belittle your relationship or make it any less significant.  Things change, so make time in your younger years before life gets too busy.
-Happy hours are always happy
-Walks are always a great way to relieve stress or catch up with someone
-Hug often
-Bulldogs value friendliness
-Find out what you stand for, what you believe in, but don't fall for the first thing that presents itself
     understand that belief better than anything, know it intimately, fall in love with it-whether it is your ritual, your religious doctrine, or your soul.  College is a great opportunity to tangle with new ideas and beliefs.  You will always have Bulldogs supporting you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Have a nice day

We came from places with weird names like Nairobi, Waunakee, and Minneapolis.  For the past four years we have studied in places with other odd sounding names: Buneos Aires, Al Cahira, Reykjavik and countless other small towns, big bars, and back roads.   Last night marked the last time all of us would be together in an academic setting.  These people have been my academic family.  The International Relations senior seminar not only taught us a lot but for the only time brought all of us IR majors together on a weekly basis.  We debated with each other, but also inquired and honestly cared about those gathered around us.  Applause was given when someone secured post graduate plans, and many smiles were cracked at the expense of our fearless leader, Dr. Skidmore’s, jokes.
            The group will go to lofty heights.  Some are heading into the bush in Africa with the Peace Corps, some are heading to policy and consulting firms.  Others are heading to graduate school, or in my case Officer Candidate School.  The gathered were easily some of the most brilliant and compassionate folks I have ever met, and it was truly an honor to be apart of the IR family at Drake.  As Dr. Skidmore thanked us for having a great class he ended with a very poignant phrase and a sly smile: “have a nice life.”  Then he walked out of the room.

We undoubtedly will as we walk out of the university and into our new world.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Every Little Thing is Gonna be Alright

I had a roller coaster week.  It started with a funeral for one of my favorite professors.  Then I was elated to see Jimmy Buffett with my girlfriend.  (Easily the best concert experience I have ever had.) Then I was brought back down the following day by having class-but without my beloved professor because he is in heaven.  The new professors did a wonderful job, but it still stings to walk in there.  Then on Saturday I went north with many of my fraternity brothers, for another funeral.  The father of one our senior members, who is also my housemate, passed away.  At the end of all this tumult, I ended up on the porch with many of them Saturday evening.  There was a fairly steady rain.  As the sun started to set, a break appeared in the clouds.  I grabbed my camera, a rain jacket, and sprinted towards campus which produced the following:
(My first Residence Hall-Morehouse)

Old Main and Cole Hall-Where I was employed for a year and a half)

Old Main, our country's flag, and a rainbow ending in Drake Diner-which explains why the shakes a so darn good.  

Old Main after the storm

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rest In Peace, Jack

The news hit me like a freight train. I had just seen him 24 hours ago. We had one of our best classes yet, capped off with a run of his famous puns. His smile and wit brought groans but also immense appreciation.

We were talking about organizations and the culture around them. He had assigned homework due after the weekend. Time and time again his class provided me with actual insights and useful tidbits for when I lead. This leadership class was one which thrived on his knowledge but most importantly his passions for us and the subject.

I went and talked to the program head, Dr. Westbrook the moment I found out. He helped clear up some stuff, and I originally told myself to go check to see how he was doing. Maybe I needed it more than he did.

After our conversation, I got into my car, and just opened up. I haven’t had an intense cry of this caliber in probably a decade. So I called my dad. It did not seem fair. A 53 year old man, leaving behind a wife, a six year old daughter and sons aged eleven and thirteen? What kind of world is this?

A lot of strange things can happen in college, most of which lead to something good. The loss of one of my favorite professors, mid semester is not anything we can prepare for. And at times it is hard to find how this is a gift. What Drake does give us though, is Professors who lead lives worth celebrating and from which we can learn lessons to carry with us forever. It gives us friends who can put a comforting hand on our shoulder. It gives us other professors who open their doors to talk. It gives me a girlfriend who rushed home from her teaching position to comfort me and just be with me. In a time of utter darkness, Drake gives us hope. And it is with hope and blessings that I know Dr. Jack Fellers will be reunited with his Beloved Jesus.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sitting waiting wishing

“I can’t believe you are moving that. It is really winding down,” my roommate mentioned last week as he inspected my disassembled futon and helped me load it on the roof of my van. This has been one more reminder of what is quickly approaching: the end of my undergraduate experience. That futon has been in my possession since sophomore year. I have had residents sitting on it telling me about their deepest fears, I have had sports parties where we spilled beer. I have fallen asleep on it to the sun of an afternoon nap, and enjoyed late nights that ended with a sunrise (and started with a tequila version of said sunrise.) Now it will be passed down to my younger brother as he makes his way through college.

(Side note: if you are going to buy a futon, get a nice one. I got this from Golde’s in Madison, WI. Much more comfortable than the $80.00 box store brands, and holds up.

I also got my cap and gown yesterday. It is weird thinking that 4 years ago, I was trying on my purple cap and gown and walking across the stage. College graduation, seems much more low key. There aren’t the huge parties roaming from house to house for weekends on end. I am even more certain than I was in high school that I won’t see many folks again for a long time. Some of our porch conversations have consisted of whom we will try to stay in touch with, or would invite to our weddings. Drake has Relays, which continuously calls folks back. I intend to not have to come back to Drake itself until a 5 year reunion, but doubt that will happen. The place always draws me back, even when I swear I will see it in the rearview mirror for the last time.

Only a few of my friends have positions yet which is scary, but I talked to a woman I graduated from high school with, and she said she wont even be looking until this summer for employment, even though we head out at the same time. I am eternally delighted to have my Navy position.

Drake Blue Magazine Article

Drake asked me to write a piece for the Alumni magazine on leadership and my experiences. Here it is:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Break away

Spring Break-Denver

We sat down at the bar, everyone was introduced to me, and as the beer flowed so did the stories. These were tales I told thousands of times before, but this time the audience was different. At this table was my team leader and resident director in the revolution which made this blog popular. Others were around and seemed to enjoy it as they kept asking questions.

The week was a great closure for me. We were there to present our story and help the study abroad community plan for evacuations. It turned into a way to reconnect with those I had become so emotionally close to because of the threats we faced in Alexandria. The last time I saw these two people was over a year ago, jumping on a plane. It was great to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

All Drake bloggers are compensated for their time. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Drake University.