April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an awareness month especially relevant for college students. Between exams and pop quizzes and presentations, many of us take advantage of every party and getaway to loosen up with some alcohol and take each other less seriously. But too much of everything is always a problem. According to Alcohol.org, 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths. Of those 88,000 deaths, 1,825 of them are college-aged adults. Binge drinking is defined as consuming a lot of alcohol for over two hours. For men, this is five drinks or more, and for women, it is four drinks or more in two hours, according to Alcohol.org. Is it possible to have fun without getting drunk? Of course. Here’s how. 1. Get a breathalyzer to keep yourself accountable Drinking will raise your blood alcohol level. Once your BAC reaches 0.8, you're considered impaired and unfit to drive. Binge drinking will raise your BAC to 0.8 or more. It’s totally possible to have fun at parties without drinking at all, but if you are, keep track with a breathalyzer. 2.Party with responsible friends It’s a lot harder to get drunk when you’re surrounded by people that care for you and want you to be healthy. Everyone has that one friend (or at least they should) that goes out and has fun but drinks minimally to none. Stick around that friend for the night. 3. Eat before you go Fill your stomach with foods far more nutritious than ethanol. You can also being healthy packaged snacks to much on. Or if you really don't want to miss out on indulging, bring some KitKats, Sweet Tarts or other flavorful candies. 4. BYOW It’s the healthier version of bring your own drink--bring your own water. And it doesn’t have to be plain Dasani or Macon tap water (even though our tap water has been judged as being one of the best in the nation, according to The Telegraph). Bring some sparkling water or any drink that you enjoy and pour your own glass. Sparkling water tastes way better than alcohol anyways. If you need something to hold while you’re partying, keep your red cup of sparkling water near you as a clutch. That way you won’t feel left out for not drowning your body in cheap alcohol. 5. Leave the party Some of the parties in college are total busts. And it might seem like the only way you can feel comfortable enough to dance or have fun is to drink. In that case, it might be better just to leave the party. Sometimes you’ll learn that you can’t have fun or be yourself at parties without over-drinking. It might be time to leave and find something that you enjoy doing without having to lean on alcohol. Have a scary movie night or anime marathon with your friends instead. Even though drinking is part of the social culture in college, you don’t have to drink yourself to drunkenness to have fun.
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College Night at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, will take place on March 30, and Mercer students are invited to participate. The “College Night” event was created because the Telfair team felt a need to showcase art at an affordable price to the college audience. “We always try to provide accessibility through programs, but we never had things that catered to college students,” said Haley Clement, the Public Relations Coordinator for Telfair College Night, created in 2017. “Art can be incredibly educational and therefore powerful and there are numerous benefits,” Clement said. “But art can also be really fun and college nights get students who might otherwise never come and show them that (art) doesn't always have to be taken too seriously. Students are also encouraged to do studio activities, create a piece and bring it home with them.” Every year, there is a new theme for College Night. This year’s highlights are “Rembrandt and the Jewish Experience: The Berger Print Collection,” “Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out” and “Complex Uncertainties: Artists in Postwar America”. Another one of the exhibits includes the work of renowned contemporary artist Jaume Plensa, who is known for his large scale sculptures. At 6 p.m., students can view Jaume’s Talking Continents tour. At 6:30 p.m., there will be an “Artist Talk” with local artist Derek Larson, a professor at Georgia Southern who produced a feature-length film called “Tres Mall”. At 7 p.m., the Totally Radical Tour starts. “Totally Radical Tour is more about having fun and winning prizes along the way,” Clement said. “It’s a mixture of educational experience and fun with friends. We want students to take part in the art.” There are many things to see and do at the College Night, and if all that makes you hungry, there’ll be a food truck around in the area called the Big Cheese, which sells gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. “So many students don’t go to museums because they are expensive,” Clement said. “But College Night is a free night and hopefully they can see art as worthy of their time and expense.” Clement also said that discounts will be offered to students for membership. Student discounted memberships are $20. College Night is from 5-8 p.m. on March 30 at the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center, located at 207 W York Street in Savannah. The event is free for students with a valid student ID.
Once we cross that stage, not everything is as routine as the four years we’ve been here. You may or may not have a job you like. You may or may not have a job period. You might not talk to your friends anymore. You might move to Japan. The unknown for many is scary, and it pushes a lot of people into depression. Post-grad depression is serious. With the neverending “what are you doing after you graduate?” questions, the ignored follow-up emails, the interviews with no responses and the rejection letters, trying to find a job after you graduate can be a mentally crippling task. And then, there’s the battle of keeping your high school job at Dairy Queen or McDonald’s and feeling like your education was a waste. Although the unemployment rate for college students in 2018 was 2%, the underemployment rate was 11.1%, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The unknown can be scary. But at the same time, it can be energizing. Here’s how to prepare for post-grad life. 1. Start saving like yesterday. If you’ve been an avid reader of The Cluster, you’ll know it’s not impossible to save money while in college. It’s tricky, with all these cords and caps and gowns that we have to buy and only wear once, but it doesn’t have to be. Besides, we really need to get into the hang of budgeting and making a habit of penny-pinching where we can while we are still in the “comfort” of college. Cook your food, use the gym here on campus, ask an underclassman friend for their dining dollars and save, save, save. 2. Go to Career Services. I’m assuming that we’ve all been actively applying for jobs in these last three months of school. If not, it’s not too late. But before you begin your search, head over to Career Services. Ask them to look at your resume, help you find what you’re looking for and even see if they can give you a mock interview and provide pointers for you. It’s better to start your job hunting game with a lot of confidence in your capabilities, rather than throwing your resume at every job post and hoping it sticks. 3. Plan a trip. Don’t have any plans for post-grad? Make some! Another reason you should start saving and budgeting is so that you can allocate more money for fun things like vacations. If you’re worried that you’re not going to find a job and you’re really uncertain and scared of what the future will bring, plan a weekend trip somewhere with your close friends. Go backpacking, go on a road trip, go snorkeling. Just do something new and rewarding because you deserve it. You spent four years hustling and grinding for that degree. Why not celebrate that? A road trip might be the cheapest option, but you can also check for flight deals using Google Flight Tracker or Student Universe.com and keep your eyes on the prices. Don’t forget Groupon for deals on skydiving, skating or other invigorating activities. 4. Get some familial support Let all your aunts, uncles, relatives and family friends be aware that you’re about to graduate. Yes, do this not only to receive some graduation presents but also to let them know that you’re looking for a job or want to go back to school and would like their support. And for the love of savings, if you don’t HAVE to move out, don’t. Stay at home for as long as your wits can stand it while you build your career and credit and pay down your debt. 5. Volunteer Just because your wallet isn’t filled, doesn’t mean your heart can’t be. The charitable act of giving delivers many mental benefits. Volunteer at an organization near you (because of gas money) with a goal and a mission that you can get behind. Be instrumental in the community that invested in you. You never know where the connections you meet through volunteering can go. 6. Find someone you can talk to It can be a family friend, a counselor, a sister, anyone. Have someone to talk to for the difficult times that may come. Just being able to have someone you can speak to when times get tough makes a world of difference when it comes to bracing the unknown. If you’re looking for more professional help, use Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist Tool to find a mental health professional near you. We’re almost at the finish line. New beginnings can be scary and waning on our mental health. But it’s important to be real with ourselves and have our umbrellas already open before the storm hits.
Model African Union (MAU) is an organization on Mercer’s campus that participates in the national conference with other Model African Unions across the country. Next year, however, Mercer’s team is going overseas to participate in the international conference in Kenya instead. Senior Catherine Potin said the club helps members learn research skills and connect with passionate faculty. “They’re all people who care about Africa and realize that there are a lot of issues and potential,” she said. “Model African Union is for (getting) young people interested in Africa. Once people do learn (about the club), they kind of all become interested in Africa.” The organization spends weeks each year preparing for the national conference, where they meet up with other teams from across the world. Each conference begins with keynote speakers and lectures from ambassadors and chairpeople from the African Union (AU), Potin said. For the competition, each school brings at least six students on their team, and every team represents a single country. Each student represents a head of a committee within the county. Committees in the past have included peace and security, socio-economic matters, democracy, Pan-Africanism, executive council and other roles. Sophomore Zhinea Thomas, a pre-nursing student, represented the chairman of peace and security in Gambia. Thomas, one of the newer members of the club, said she joined MAU last semester and has been very much involved in the past conference. “I dealt with peace troops, moving refugees during crises and sending help to these sources,” she said. As a new member, Thomas said she did have her fair share of challenges. “I had to lean on other people and start connections with different countries and embracing what the AU is and having to help each other,” she said. She learned about the AU and the battles many countries have to face to come to an agreement and act as one. “You’re acting as your country and learning that in that moment, you’re representing a country with limited resources, learning about another country, another continent,” Thomas said. “Whether you’re black or not, you’re or learning something (you’ve) never learned about Gambia or what the AU is in high school.” Potin said she represented the social affairs committee. “For instance, in social matters, my topics were (women’s) empowerment and education for the youth, since we have such a big gap in job opportunities and youth population,” she said. “We do actually use the real issues and documents they use for the African Union.” Each person must present their resolution to the rest of the committee members from other schools and persuade them to get their resolution passed. “As a committee, we have to come together and get a final document made. The hard part is to make sure that the things you want to see are there,” Potin said. She said the club can teach members how to convince others to see their viewpoints. In seeking new members for the next school year, Potin said the club is looking for “go-getters.” “We want people who are gung-ho and people who are ready to try something new,” she said. “We (are) interested in putting out the best for Mercer, and we want to keep the club alive and keep it going (with people) who are just as in love as we are.”
Being a college student is rough, and most times it’s not very healthy. We’re raised in a culture that honors exhaustion and overworking because it means that we’re “working towards something.” But this type of mentality isn’t sustainable. Here’s what to do when you feel like your major is destroying you. 1. Cry No, seriously. Crying is therapeutic. According to Medical News Today, researchers have discovered that those who cry help regulate their emotions and reduce their distress. Oxytocin and endorphins are released when emotional tears are shed, and these chemicals can help reduce pain. So throw on your favorite sad and slow playlist, lock your room and let your emotions overtake you. 2. Break your tasks down one at a time You might be so intimidated by work, that you psych yourself out and don’t even start on your work. And then you get stressed at the fact that you’re too stressed to work. It’s fine to feel stress. But feeling too stressed to do anything can cause a few setbacks in school and in life. After the waterworks, set aside some solid time for planning. Make a list of things that need to be done NOW, but stop at five. Having a laundry list of intimidating tasks will just discourage you even more. Start on one, important and urgent thing now. Stop what you’re doing, and do it now. If there’s a test coming up, set a timer for 45 minutes to an hour of uninterrupted studying. If there’s a paper due, open up Microsoft Word or Google Docs and just write whatever comes to your head in 45 minutes. NO BACKSPACING. Worry about editing and flow later. 3. Re-evaluate your standards If you’ve always had a 4.0 GPA and you’re dying trying to get an A in calculus when you’ve got a 74, it’s time to rethink your why’s. Even though “C’s get degrees” is not always the best way to think about your college classes, it’s important to be realistic. What do you really need to be successful in your career path? Do what you have to do. 4. Take a semester off Nobody said college was supposed to be easy. But like a homework problem, you can always take a break and come back. Let’s face it, who really graduates in 4 years and knows exactly what they’re doing afterward? Don’t let the gap semester or year make you feel behind. Instead, think of this as a time to replenish those fried brain cells and come back ready to learn and fulfill your purpose. 5. Switch majors Maybe this major really just wasn’t for you. If you find yourself unable to sleep often, in uncontrollable amounts of stress, missing meals or forgetting what happiness feels like, it just might be a sign for you to choose a different path. Don’t think of it as a failure. Think of it as the world closing a door so you can focus on the innate talents within you. College is important, but it shouldn't be the end-all be-all of your health and wellness. College already has taken your money, don’t let it take your health and sanity too.
After four years of school, most of us are going to come out looking for a job, and employers want you to have experience. You could volunteer at a shelter or clinic every other Friday to learn some soft skills and count them as experience, or you can get an internship. But we all know that internships, especially paid ones, are hard to find. Here’s how to make the search easier. 1. Let EVERYONE know you are interested in an internship It’s not about what you know, but about who you know. Finding an internship is like a full-time job. So if you’re actively pursuing an internship, you never know who might need an intern. Tell your friends, family, post on Facebook and other social mediums. 2. Make a list of your dream internships An internship is very similar to a job interview, and as they say in job interviews, you’re also interviewing them to see if you’re a good fit. What do you want to gain out of an internship? What skills do you have right now that you would like to improve, or what do you want to learn from the internship? Once you have your goals set up, it may be easier for you to identify your dream internship. Write them down on a paper or in an Excel sheet for memories. What if you don’t exactly know what you’re interested in? What if you want to work for a nonprofit, but also want to be reimbursed for your internship? Stephanie Swanger, a career adviser at Mercer, said students can come by the Career Services office on the top floor of Connell Student Center for advice. “Come to our office, (and) make an appointment with a career consultant,” she said. “You'll be using our expertise, and our brains to (help you) pick opportunities.” 3. Make your own opportunities Another good reason to have your own list of internships is so that you can reach out to the company and ask them if they need an intern. Some places do not openly advertise their internships or are just bad at advertising them. So go on Linkedin, find someone that works at the company, shoot them an email and ask if they are looking for interns. Sometimes you can’t wait for opportunities, you’ve got to go out there and make them happen yourself. “There are a lot of companies that don’t advertise but if you are a student who is a go-getter, approach those companies and ask about those opportunities,” Swanger said. 4. Show Up Sometimes, showing up is the main battle. Are you showing up on LinkedIn? Handshake? Even in your daily email? Clarissa Cole, a public health senior, found her latest internship by showing up in her inbox. “The second internship I had (was) with the North Central Health District. I didn’t really find this one on my own. I had heard about positive experiences from other students in my major that interned there and my advisor sent a mass email saying they were accepting applications. I found what specific department I was interested interning for and applied,” Cole said. When looking for an internship, make sure you’re using all your resources. Friends, family, professors, Handshake, Career Builder and of course the Career Services office. “If a student ever has a question, come to our office. We can walk through to make sure [an internship] is a beneficial experience,” Swanger said.
Can you smell the ocean? Spring break is right around the corner, which means parties, beaches, barbecuing and freedom. But as we know, too much of anything is not good for you. Vacations are a good place to let loose, but it is still important to be careful and aware of your surroundings. Here are ways you can stay safe this spring break. 1. Plan ahead If you’ve got no plans and you’re reading this so far, you’re already too late. To fully take advantage of your spring break, you should make sure that you have everything planned to the tee. Make sure your head’s not a mess and your wallet is in check. If you’re going out of town, double check on your reservations. Are you heading to Miami like every other college student? Make sure you know who is driving and if their car is still in good shape to trek that distance. 2. Let your family know where you’re going It might sound nice to just get away from Mercer to a whole different state (or even country) to enjoy your trip, but you should still make sure a family member or a really close relative know your plans for the break. That way, if there are any emergencies that might arise en route, these family members can act quickly without much hesitation and get to you. 3. Learn an at-home workout Just because you’re at home or in a different city, state or country doesn’t mean your body can’t reap the benefits too. Before you go on vacation, look up workouts you can do at home. Learn the ones you feel you can do regardless of the amount of space you have, and write the routines down on your phone. You can even use infographic workouts on Pinterest and screenshot them for later. There are also squat and ab challenges online you can screenshot and save to your phone as well. Although they might not be as effective as a full body workout, some movement is better than no movement. 4. Pack healthy snacks I’m not going to say don’t pig out on vacation because come on--you’re on vacation. But I do encourage you to pack snacks that won’t go bad so easily. Sea-salted popcorn, nuts, pretzels and cheese sticks are simple snacks you can place in your car when you’re out and about. Or if you’re going to stay at home all week fighting heartless in Kingdom Hearts 3, have snacks around your gaming couch along with water to keep yourself from binging at the sight of junk food. 5. Log Off It’s really not a true vacation if you’re not disconnected from your phone. Many of us really are addicted to our phones, so it’s no surprise that constant social media use can harm our mental health, according to Center4Research.org. From “beach-ready” bodies to med school acceptance letters, social media users put their best foot forward. And on the outside looking in, it may seem like you are not doing nearly enough even though you’re just supposed to be on vacation. Put the scrolling and memes down for a week. Sure, you can check in periodically, but spring break is supposed to be a time where you’re making so many memories, you forget to check your phone. Spring break is a time for rest and rehabilitation from a long two months of school. But make sure you are still taking care of your body even on your off days. Enjoy your vacation!
Vaping is the new cigarette, it seems. Many college students enjoy the smell and sensation of vaping without the side effects of nicotine--or do they? Last year, vape companies were under fire when the FDA mandated them to stop advertising to teens. Does this mean that vaping isn’t healthy? There is a lot of conflicting evidence regarding the activity, so I asked a few public health professionals what they think about vaping. What’s in vape clouds? I asked biochemistry professor and general chemistry teacher, Garland Crawford, to break down the compound. “In general the main components are nicotine, solvent and from there a range of flavoring agents. Nicotine is a primary reason people vape, and it’s been identified as being an addictive compound and classified by some as being as addictive as heroin and cocaine,” Crawford said. Jimmie Smith, a previous assistant professor of public health who focuses on health education, also added that many vape/e-cigarette products use tobacco. “It certainly has been promoted as an alternative to traditional tobacco usage, but it's still tobacco usage. You take a tobacco product, you liquify it, you concentrate it and now when you burn it, you produce water vapor,” Smith said. Smith also said that tobacco is the foundation of the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. Is vaping safer than cigarettes? Smith said he disagreed that vaping was any safer than cigarette smoke. Crawford also said he disagreed and recalled a study stating that the vape solutions come in contact with a heated metal coil, and from this coil, pieces of metal can be transferred to the vape solution and into your lungs. “The process of vaping at all can begin to introduce some of these metals into the air you’re taking in. It’s hard to know what those implications are going to be,” Crawford said. Because of the unknown implications, Crawford said he does not recommend vaping as an agent to wean heavy cigarette smokers from smoking. “There are several things like gums that can help wean people off of nicotine. There are other cessation therapies that are important. Even though it may be a little cleaner than smoking, it still doesn’t mean its without its own set of risk,” Crawford said. Others have argued for vape use to help wean people off cigarette smoking, but the studies focusing on this have not been consistent in sharing the same outcome. Mary Mathis, a public health professor here at Mercer, said she believes those taking this route should proceed with caution. “At one time, we believed that cigarettes are not as lethal as they are. We just didn’t have evidence to support a claim one way or the other,” Mathis said. Can I get popcorn lung from vaping? Popcorn lung is another concern people have against vaping. “Popcorn lung is a condition that results in irreversible damage to lung tissue based on inhalation of particular compounds,” Crawford said. Diacetyl, a flavoring agent, has been known to be safe for ingestion but once it is in the air, it can cause damage in the lungs, according to the CDC. “The question really is, do we have the same chemicals that cause popcorn lung in e-cigarettes?” Crawford said. Diacetyl is seen in different flavoring agents for vapes, but not all, and amounts vary. “There is a low probability of an acute reaction, but long-term is always its own thing,” Crawford said. In fear of getting popcorn lung, many people wonder if they should cover their noses when they walk through a cloud of vape. “I still try to avoid it, walk around or cover your nose,” Smith said. As closing advice, Mathis implored students to do their research. “Find out what it’s really doing to your body as evidence comes out,” Mathis said. “And try to find a healthy substitute for vaping. Eating well, exercising, drinking lots of water and having fun.”
Stacy Jenkins, founder of the production company Pop of Genius Films, is preparing for the showing of the company’s latest documentary, “How to DIE YOUNG in Middle Georgia?: A Lifesaving Documentary.” The documentary highlights crime, gun violence and death in the youths of Middle Georgia. Jenkins came up with the idea after working with four men trying to recruit youth for job opportunities. “We invited youth to come out to be a part of a job corp program. No one showed up except for adults,” she said. Frustrated by the lack of youth involvement and aware of the rates of teen death in Macon and Warner Robins, Jenkins was inspired to encourage Middle Georgia to come together. The documentary revolves around the protagonist Dante, who is living with divorced parents. However, Jenkins said that “he is involved in sports, his parents take time to talk to him, he’s got a church behind him [and], his mom knows his friends. [The parents] still manage to work together to raise a pretty good young man.” Jenkins and the rest of the Pop of Genius crew also introduce other family dynamics and the effects those dynamics have on the youth. To further illustrate the prevalence of crime and teenage death among the youth, Pop of Genius invited many speakers to share their knowledge on the growing death rates of Middle Georgia youth. “We made it our mission to also get a more male perspective...because that’s really the target audience, but a lot of times we don't see from the African-American scene but they do a lot in the community. They see a need for it. So I had to make time to go to their offices and interview them, and of course, these men are so knowledgeable.” Special guests include Jeff Tarver, a professor who teaches criminal justice at Middle Georgia State University, Frank Austin, who works in the removal of blight, and Coroner Leon Jones. Jenkins said she has always been instrumental in molding the youth, and also directs a girl’s program called Macon Magnolias. Because she works with youth, she also indirectly notices the behavior of the parents. “A lot of times parents have the best interest in the world but they don't know how to connect with the resources or just don’t know how to ask for help,” she said. “ But a lot of parents think ‘oh well, I do everything I’m supposed to do.’ I see urban, young mothers-- we work hard but I do see that our attention is more focused on our phones or on trying to develop relationships or our self-image,” Jenkins said. “ We will spend time getting our hair and nails, but when it comes to investing in our young people, they come up flat.” Jenkins said that the main message of the film is that it’s important for people to re-evaluate. “Re-evaluate their home. Re-evaluate the way you raise your children. And get more involved with their school. A lot is acted out in their school and parents don’t see it. Get involved with your children,” she said. Tickets are sold out to view the documentary on its premiere date, Feb.23, but organizations can request a private showing of the film by reaching out to Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In January, the World Health Organization listed the public and global health threats of 2019. Among them are threats you’ve heard of before: antimicrobial resistance, obesity, HIV and the flu. But this year, for 2019, there’s a new challenger: vaccine hesitancy. In the 21st century. It might not seem like a big deal to us at Mercer where we’re required to turn in immunization forms, but according to the AJC, more than 200 schools in Georgia have low vaccination levels. “Vaccinate your darn kids,” seems like a simple thing to say, but it’s not so effective. Science has supported the use of vaccines for centuries, but we can’t just turn a blind eye to the fact that people that don’t agree with us. There are many reasons people don’t get vaccinated: Religious reasons According to the Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the main reason parents don’t get their children vaccinated is because of religious reasons, so it’s important to understand where they’re coming from. Some vaccines use special ingredients that don’t necessarily align with the beliefs of a religious group. For instance, gelatin is used in many medical products, including vaccines, according to the Croatian Medical Journal. The article also states that gelatin is derived from pig flesh, which is considered haram (forbidden) in the Islamic culture. In the same vein, it’s no secret that there is controversy surrounding how some vaccines are created. According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Immunize.org, the vaccines for rubella, measles, smallpox, hepatitis A, chickenpox and even polio use a line of cells that come from aborted fetus tissue. I’m sure you can understand why that might strike a nerve in some denominations of faith. Vaccines aren’t natural Some folks like the idea of being natural on the inside and the out, and vaccines are far from organic. Many people believe there is no need for vaccines if they’re treating their bodies to healthy, natural foods and proper exercise. And if a child does happen to get infected, their natural immune systems are believed to be strong enough to win the fight. Vaccines save lives The impact of vaccinations is really innumerable. So many diseases in the past that have claimed the lives of many people (polio, smallpox, mumps, rubella) have been nearly or entirely eradicated thanks to vaccines. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends vaccinations. They still tout that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza. Vaccinations have made a huge impact on our quality of life and have helped us discover that many lethal diseases are in fact preventable with a prick. Wellbeing of others Have you heard of herd immunity? Herd immunity is when people with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly or newborns, are still protected from certain diseases because most of the people around them have been vaccinated. It’s a reason many schools demand that students turn in immunization forms. Some people physically cannot get vaccinated. They may be allergic to the vaccine, or they’re born with a condition that compromises their immune system like Crohn’s Disease. The medical field requires vaccines.Even though it’s not against the law to be a doctor that refuses to get vaccinated, health institutions can and have fired people for not being up-to-date with their vaccines. Nurses, physician assistants, doctors and other healthcare professionals interact with multiple immunocompromised people on a regular basis. They know that if they’re not vaccinated for certain diseases, they can put a lot of ill people in even more danger on top of losing their jobs. The topic of vaccines is touchy and divides a lot of people online. But it’s possible to have a decent conversation with people who disagree with you
Last year, Jonathan Kent and Brandon Hancock won the Next Big Idea Competition, a contest providing Mercer University students with capital and guidance in starting a business. Their company is Newt Technologies, and their creation is a knee monitoring product called the Newt Knee, a device that passively registers movement of patients that have undergone surgery. It accumulates details such as range of motion of the knee joint, which can help the physical therapists who work with these patients. “We end up winning, and one of the biggest challenges we were gonna face is the amount of capital required to bring this product to market,” Hancock said. The ability to monitor patients’ progress can help physical therapists come up with solutions to the mobility problem. “You can’t fix it if you don’t measure it,” Hancock said. After graduation, the Newt Technologies team scouted for venture capitalists in need of capital. They were introduced by a mutual friend to a company also in the physical therapy niche, whose name remains private for the sake of confidentiality. When asked about how the Mercer Innovation Center has prepared the business for life after college, Hancock was grateful. “John and I were extremely blessed,” he said. “The Innovation Center as a whole--I really don’t think people give enough credit for the help they give. Robo Hatcher, Stephanie Howard, literally everyone at the MIC is phenomenal.” Hancock continued to praise the program even when asked about the negatives of the Next Big Idea competition. “That’s a hard question, they’ve done a phenomenal job. If you need help with pitches, finances, idea[s], the network is there. It’s really just talking to everyone and connecting the dots.” Hancock said the fact that he graduated with a computer engineer degree and Kent with an electrical engineering degree benefited the team immensely with their product. Hancock said he advises aspiring entrepreneurs to talk to people. “Even if you’re talking to people who aren’t in the field, they might know a friend of a friend,” he said. “Every time you hear a problem, that’s a business.” Kent and Hancock currently work full-time jobs together, are both pursuing master’s degrees in software and are working with the partner company to bring the Newt Knee to new shelves. “We’ll take on the world side by side,” Hancock said. Applications for the Big Idea Competition in 2019 are now open through the Mercer Innovation Center.
It’s that time of the year again. People are sneezing into their hands without washing them. People don’t get the flu shot. People forget to use gloves while preparing food. And if you’re unlucky, you just might get sick yourself and need to be on bed rest for a few days. You might not have the flu, but you might take other medications and/or antibiotics to get rid of that pressing chest cold, that numbing migraine or that itchy strep throat. With all these medications, will they hurt your birth control efficiency? In short: it depends. The birth control pill is designed to be taken once a day to prevent pregnancy. And it does so by preventing ovulation, or for everyone that fell asleep during anatomy, the release of an egg. There’s a common belief that antibiotics and birth control don’t mix well because antibiotics lower the efficiency of the birth control pill. So that means you can flush your antibiotics down the toilet and contaminate every single person when you’re sick, right? Not quite. Not all antibiotics have followed that pattern. In fact, science declares that only one antibiotic, rifampin (an antibiotic used to fight tuberculosis and meningitis) can severely tamper with birth control medicine, according to the Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease. So you might not have meningitis or tuberculosis. But we’re still on the hook. Antifungals like griseofulvin and antiretrovirals (which some people take for the flu) can also weaken your birth control’s effectiveness, according to Pubmed.gov. Although doctors say it’s a low chance that these other medications will affect the efficiency, it’s still good to take precautions. And of course, some illnesses and even medications might have symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea that prevent the birth control from being fully absorbed in our system. How can I prevent pregnancy while taking meds? First things first: make sure your doctor knows you’re taking birth control. In fact, he/she most likely will ask what other medications you are taking before prescribing you any medication. Next: double up on the protection. If you are having sex, don’t let the birth control pill be your only line of defense. Encourage your partner to use a condom or if you’ve got the money, spermicide. But don’t stop taking that birth control. It might be hard to keep track of your grades, your finances, your health and your birth control all at once, but it’s all a part of growing up. Be mindful, listen to your body and of course get the rest you deserve when you are sick.
Ah, Fortnite. Who doesn’t know about the free, addictive, hair-pulling online multiplayer game? The immersive shooting game might seem very childish and uninformative at face value, but it does teach us an important skill we need to learn this fall: the Dab. In the spirit of cultural appropriation, Fortnite took this hip-hop-originating dance move and priced it for profit on the game. Feelings aside, millions of people online are now aware of this dance--and it’s exciting because dabbing is actually the BEST way to sneeze. How can dabbing help us prevent illness? Last flu season was one of the worst, as 30,453 cases of influenza were reported, according to the CDC. As of October 2018, 185 children died from either influenza or pneumonia. Having the flu is NO fun. With the flu you get fevers, you sneeze, you puke, you miss class and you fail tests. And because flu season always starts in fall and winter, you can fail pretty important tests, like final exams. Regardless of your stance on vaccines, the CDC still recommends the flu shot as being the number one best way to prevent the flu virus from infecting you. The CDC also says that getting the flu from the flu shot is a myth. Yet, some people still don’t get the flu shot. According to NPR.org, the U.S. vaccination rate is only 47 percent annually. News flash to all students that want to work in the healthcare field, you’re gonna need to get your flu shots. But since we’re all college students and the probability of us actually practicing what we preach is slim to none, the least we can do is learn how to sneeze. Dabbing is the best way to do that. The flu is a communicable disease, meaning it can be spread through a sneeze. And although germs will always spread no matter how much you cover your mouth, the more protection you give, the less likely you are to spread the flu virus. How to Dab Here’s what you need: --an arm Instructions: 1. You know when your nose cringes up and your mouth starts opening and you feel a huge whirlwind of pressure bubbling up behind your face and your eyes start watering? Acknowledge that moment. 2. Immediately lift your arm up and bend it like you’re imitating a chicken flapping its wings. But instead of flapping it back down, raise it to at least shoulder level. 3. Bury your mouth and nose into the bend of your elbow and sneeze. 4. Raise your other arm out on the same level and have it point towards whatever side of the body it’s on. So if you dabbed with your right hand, raise your left arm up and out to the left at the same time. On campus, you’ll see a lot of biology majors. You’ll see a lot of chemistry and biomechanical engineers staying up until 4 a.m. to study for a test. But you won’t see too many people cover their mouth when they sneeze, and that’s disappointing. If we don’t learn anything from Fortnite, can we at least learn how to dab? In the end, it will protect your peers from getting sick this fall.
Content warning: The following article contains sensitive content involving suicide, depression and mental illness. Your parents probably warned you about the frat parties in college. They probably warned you about taking 8 a.m. classes (even when you kind of need them to graduate). But did anyone ever warn you about depression? October is National Depression Awareness month. Classes are streamlining because the holidays are quickly approaching and October boos really turn into October blues. We asked a couple of Mercer students about their experience with depression and here’s what they had to say. “I really considered ending my life,” Amari Oliver said. “I would leave a friend's house, and I would think to myself in the car, ‘What if I let go of the wheel and the car moved off the side of the road?’ Sometimes I would let go of the wheel and let the car drift, but at some point, I would grab it because the only thing keeping me from killing myself was my mother.” Because mental health and depression are still so stigmatized, it can be hard to speak to family members about your health. “I finally opened up to my mom about how I was feeling on our car ride to my first Mercer college visit,” Oliver said. “I honestly believe that if I had not told her, then I would have eventually told myself that I really need to end my life because it would be better for everyone else.” But some people are not as fortunate to have understanding parents. Emily Cuarenta said that she’s only spoken to her parents about her mental health once, and that was after she had been hospitalized for her suicidal thoughts. Telling one person how you feel is, for many people, the first step in coming to terms with depression on campus. The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a free service that does just that, and in many ways, CAPS has touched the lives of many students with jeopardized mental health. For some CAPS seems to have great value, but others have expressed opposing sentiments. “Yeah, I’ve been to CAPS,” Aaron Andrews said. “It was pretty helpful for me at the time.” But Andrews said that using the free psychological services has its downsides. “It’s not frequent enough,” he said. He also expressed that the long wait times for an appointment could make matters worse when someone needs help right then and there. Taylor Pirmantgen said that her sophomore resident assistant recommended that she speak with CAPS, but she was displeased. “Talk therapy can be beneficial for a lot of people, it just wasn’t quite the right fit for me,” she said. However, for Oliver, talking is all she needed. “For me, being able to talk through what I was thinking and what I was going through was very important for me,” she said. Oliver was later prescribed medication for her depression, but she eventually stopped taking them. “I did not feel like they improved my sense of being. Instead, I still felt as if I were a zombie. I had no emotions or anything, I was just going through the motions every day,” Oliver said. While Oliver was able to talk to someone, Jiali Chen, an international student from China, feels that certain factors like language barriers and unfamiliarity prevent her from getting the help she needs. “As an international student, I understand it is hard for people who are living in an environment that they are not familiar with, it would be hard for us to seek help,” Chen said. Yet these students were still able to give words of encouragement and advice for all suffering silently with depression. ”Just because you have an outlet for recreation doesn’t mean your depression is automatically gonna be healed,” Sarah Doverspike said. “But I still urge you to find your niche or extra activity that brings some solace and engage in that as much as possible.” Oliver also gave some closing words of encouragement and advice to friends of those experiencing depression. “My recommendation is that you continuously ask [those with depression] each day how has your day been or how are you doing,” she said. “I believe that this could slowly allow them to feel more comfortable talking about what they are going through. You never know whose life you could be saving just by listening to them. Lastly, Pirmantgen wants Mercer students to know that they should ask for help when they feel the need to. “You have every right to seek help,” Pirmantgen said. “Everyone has their own demons to face.”
It finally feels like fall. The temperature is dropping. Cue seasonal lack of motivation and weight gain. Staying motivated to work out and eat healthy during the holidays can certainly pose a challenge for most students. Here are ways to stay in shape during the holiday season. 1.Keep snacks on you when you’re out A big part of “cheating” is going out to shop when you’re hungry. The holiday seasons are tough and might require a lot of extra shopping. Shopping makes everyone hungry. Learn to pack a few sustainable snacks in your purse, in your car or wherever is most convenient for you. A couple of nourishing snacks include trail mix, nuts, salted popcorn and protein bars. 2.Keep that Nalgene with you Don’t let your water drinking habits wash away during the holiday season. Water helps curb hunger and cravings by keeping you hydrated. Because face it, most times you’re not even hungry. You’re just thirsty. Or bored. How much water should you drink? An easy guideline to remember is eight by eight, recommended by mayoclinic.org. That’s about two liters. Math sucks so what I like to do is take my Nalgene which maxes at 1000 ml and refill it one or two times a day. That’s about 1500 to 2000 milliliters (1.5 or 2 liters). 3. Plan when you’re going to indulge The gag is, Thanksgiving calories honestly don’t count. It’s the only day of the year dedicated to straight up FEASTING. So while it’s okay to indulge during Thanksgiving and other holidays, eating like that every single day leading up to the holidays (along with the after parties and leftovers) can put a dent in your fitness goals. 4. Learn some indoor workouts Let’s face it—sometimes it’s just gonna be TOO COLD. You already know how wonky Georgia weather may be. But newsflash, you don’t have to go to the gym every day to stay in shape. Learn a few at-home workouts. There are so many channels out there geared towards inspiring people to work out at home: Fitness Blender (all around workouts), Joanna Soh (pilates dense), Kierra Lashae (twerk workouts) and so many others are channels you can work out to in the comfort of your air conditioning. The trick to at-home workouts is finding the right one at your desired difficulty. Just because it’s at-home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to sweat. You should find content that still pushes you and keeps your heart rate up. 5. Swallow the frog This might sound like a nasty way to get warts, but this basically means to do the most lucrative task first to get it out of the way. And in this instance, we’re talking about the gym. If you have trouble staying motivated to workout in the colder days, you really need to ‘swallow the frog.’ Nobody is telling you to wake up at the crack of dawn to get a workout in. Get your workout gear together the night before. Set an alarm for 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., and make sure to schedule enough time to sleep. Once you wake up, you’re going to feel groggy. You’re going to want to crawl back in bed and workout in the evening. But don’t! You never know what the day might throw at you. You might have to do last minute shopping for a surprise holiday party. You’re rushing from store to store, and there’s only one checkout line open. Next thing you know, your entire day is gone and you didn’t work out. If only you had worked out early in the morning. I get it. It’s holiday time and the only thing you want to do is catch up with family, inhale grandma’s macaroni and cheese and sleep in. But by following these tips, you’ll be able to do all that done and still have your health in good hands.
According to an article from the AJC, out of the most sexually diseased states, Georgia weighs in at No. 4. You can choose to stay abstinent to eliminate your risk of infection and pregnancy. But if you’ve decided that you’re physically and mentally prepared for sex, then you should be proactive in learning how to reduce your risk. Here’s the 101 on safer sex in college. 1. Get some (free) condoms! Did you know the Student Health Center offers a basket of condoms at your own disposal? Condoms are the only contraceptives that protect against both pregnancy and STIs. “Birth control pills, IUDs, Depo-Provera, NuvaRings and patches do NOT protect against STIs,” Nurse Practitioner Kacie Milholen at the Student Health Center said. Condoms are the bare minimum, so make sure you’re prepared every time. 2. Get your birth control prescription refilled. As mentioned before, birth control doesn’t fight against STIs, but since you’re already at the Student Health Center, you might as well explore the birth control options offered. If you’re on birth control, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to travel all the way back home to get your prescription refilled. The SHC offers NuvaRings, patches, IUDs, birth control pills, Depo-Provera and other birth control options. “There are different forms of birth control or ‘contraception’ available, and I love having an in-depth conversation with my patients and finding the right option for them,” Milholen said. Never been on birth control before? Make an appointment with Milholen, and she’ll walk you through the options herself. 3. Get tested. If you’ve been paying attention to local news, the U.S has had over 2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2016. This is the highest number in history, according to the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report. And to hit home, Georgia ranks third in the nation for the most gonorrhea cases, with 20,553 cases reported in 2016. Let’s put that in perspective--for every 100,000 people, there are 201.2 cases of gonorrhea. Yikes. For the average sexually active individual, you should be tested at LEAST once a year. But depending on how often you have sex and your sexual behavior, that may vary. For instance, according to the CDC, men that have sex with other men should test for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and HIV at least once a year (with bisexual and gay men testing for HIV every 3-6 months). Women specifically should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia once a year. And if you have multiple partners, you should get screened at least every three months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Generally, the more partners you have, the more at risk you are for STDs, and the more often you should get tested. Where can you get tested? If you don’t have transportation or have never been tested before, where can you go to safely get tested? Why, none other than the good old confidential Student Health Center. “The Student Health Center at Mercer offers STD testing,” Milholen said. “To be tested, the student needs to make an appointment with the nurse practitioner or doctor. When a student requests STD testing, the usual tests are for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV and syphilis.” Milholen said she also wanted to point out that the SHC also offers pelvic (vaginal) exam which can include a Pap smear. You can also leave your wallet in your dorm. There is no co-pay needed to be tested. Your insurance company will be billed, and you can handle the payment at your own discretion. In regards to sex, it’s important to be honest with yourself and with others. Whether you’re with your significant other or slipping away with prince/ess charming from the party, be prepared and stay protected. Ask your partners of their history and/or at least use a condom. “Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with [me] or another provider here at SHC. We are here for you and offer a comfortable environment,” Milholen said.
Going to college to receive a degree is arguably a great decision, but unfortunately, it comes at a price. While tuition is increasingly expensive, you don’t necessarily have to play into the stereotype of a broke college student. Here are some tips to save money in college. Budget While being away at college means you have more freedom, it also means more financial responsibility. You are now responsible for buying things your parents probably bought for you at home, like groceries, clothes and toiletries. Having a budget (and sticking with it as much as possible) is a great way to make sure you allot enough funds for various expenses. Not sure how to make a budget? Don’t worry! You can find plenty of templates and tips online. Spend dining dollars on staple items Included with your meal plan are dining dollars that can be spent at on-campus stores. Dining dollars are great, but for me personally, I always have trouble using them all before the year’s end. Don’t let them go to waste! Spend them at the Provision on Demand (POD) stores! PODS are my go-to places to stock up on bottled drinks, gum and snacks, and even things like peanut butter, paper towels and laundry detergent. The prices are inflated, but you’re not technically spending your ‘real’ money, so it doesn’t matter. By using dining dollars, you’re getting your money’s worth of a meal plan and saving actual money. It’s a win-win! Utilize student discounts There are some companies that recognize the college struggle and offer discounts to customers with valid college emails. For example, you can enjoy iTunes half off for $4.99 a month. Spotify includes access to Hulu and Showtime, in addition to Spotify Premium, for $4.99 a month also. Microsoft Office programs are also available for download for free with your Mercer email. There are also discounts available in Macon. Around town, you can purchase $8 movie tickets at AmStar Cinemas and receive a 10 percent discount at Moe’s Southwest Grill with a college ID. Don’t be afraid to ask around at your favorite places - you might be surprised where you can save money! Check out sales and coupons Most stores usually post their sales ad online or will email you with special deals. Stay in the loop of when your favorite stores are having sales to get the best deal. I do my grocery shopping at Kroger because I can check out their weekly sales online before I go to the store. Kroger also has online coupons that you simply add to your Kroger card, and are automatically applied when you scan items during checkout. Knowing how to be financially wise will pay off not only in college but later down the road. Use these tips to help you learn how to save money now, so it’s easier later on in life. How to save money in college
If you know anything about the internet and skincare, you might have caught wind of the sheet mask fad. You’ve probably stumbled upon the #selfcaresunday hashtag with men and women looking like mummies or have witnessed your favorite grocery store stocking up on sheet masks. The latest self-care craze branches from none other than Korean beauty products and these masks have gained popularity within the U.S market. But scientifically, do they actually work? In short, it depends. How Do Sheet Masks Work? Let’s start off with the basics. Sheet masks use a sheet of cotton (or cellulose or fiber) that is soaked with a serum with varying nutrients. And they come in a lot of fun scents and styles too; I’ve seen charcoal sheet masks, bubble sheet masks and even Sailor Moon-inspired sheet masks. Without the need for pumping on product, rinsing and drying off your face, sheet masks come at a great advantage for busybodies like myself. Most masks require you to prep apply, and wait 10-15 minutes, and gently peel the mask off to reveal a revitalized, smooth surface. What are the ingredients? Because not one sheet mask is alike, each brand of a sheet mask will vary their ingredients. A lot of the ingredients are similar to the ingredients on other skincare products such as vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps create collagen, the protein your skin is made of. Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties to help fight acne and eczema. They also include hydraulic acid, an essential in anti-aging and retaining skin moisture, according to Theprettypimple.com. Will sheet masks work for me? The answer to this is not so simple. Sure, sheet masks on the outside have great potential to correct and pamper the skin, but it really depends on what you are trying to gain from the sheet mask versus what the sheet mask markets. One of the reasons I believe sheet masks got so popular is because not only are they convenient, but they’re fun! YouTube bubble sheet mask if you don’t believe me. But fun doesn’t always mean effective. There can be a lot of interesting, exotic ingredients on a sheet mask (like mango or kiwi), but that doesn’t mean your skin is going to absorb all of it. Our skin is our largest organ and the barrier between us and the outside world. It’s going to be very selective of what it allows in. That’s why it’s safe to say to look at the active ingredients of a sheet mask. Most of the time, these ingredients will be the ones most likely to be absorbed into the skin. Then, you can look up the ingredients, see what they do and compare that information to what you’re looking for in a mask. In short, before falling for the “skin-tightening” “pimple-popping” gimmicks, read the ingredients first. What to look for when buying sheet masks When you’re buying any skincare product, you want to make sure you’re getting something that fits your skin type. You also want to look out for harmful ingredients. Petrolatum/petroleum is a common ingredient in beauty products with the ability to clog pores. You should also keep a watchful eye for phthalates since they work as hormone disruptors (which can lead to tumors, birth defects, and even lower sperm count, according to EWG.org). Phthalates often hide under the term “fragrance” so when choosing a sheet mask, make sure you are looking for one that is either unscented or uses essential oils (even more nutrients) to naturally make your face feel and smell like love. And lastly, when buying a sheet mask, don’t give into any mask that promises to replace your entire skincare regime. Truth is, sheet masks can help as a pick me up, but they should in no ways replace an actual cleansing/toning/moisturizing skincare routine.
If you’re anything like me, you like to have fun. I come from a background of strict parenting and studying 24-7. So when I came to Mercer in 2015, freed from my parents’ leash, I was on the hunt for freedom. And freedom was ringing all weekend long at these college parties. College parties aren’t like ordinary parties. First of all, there’s no food. There’s also no alcohol either because Mercer is a dry campus, and we the Cluster aren’t advocating any rule-breaking. Secondly, there are a couple of unsung rules when it comes to having fun at a college party. Don’t go in looking stupid. Here’s how to turn up at a college party the smart way. 1.Go with your friends Who turns up alone, right? Although it’s perfectly okay to meet new people while at a party, if you want to guarantee that you’ll have fun, bring your friends. Your friends are the best hype crew. Ask your friends if they’d like to join and if they do, head down to the party together. Make sure you can see the friends you’ve walked in with every now and again while you’re partying. And when it’s time to go, make sure you all leave together. 2. Be inclusive What’s more fun than meeting new people? Being with your friends is cool, but you don’t want to be that clique at the party. Make sure you make an effort to check out the scene. Talk to people and meet even more friends. If you see someone all by themselves or huddled uncomfortably in a corner talking to someone, don’t just stand there. Make an effort to check in on others. You acknowledging their presence could be all they need to start enjoying the party. 3. Check in on your friends Even though you’re meeting new people, you still got to check in on your crew. After a few songs, see if your friends are having just as good a time as you are. If they aren’t, it’s probably time to find another party that’s actually worth attending. Sometimes friends can have a little too much fun. If you see your friend’s fun is taking away from other people having fun, kindly remind them to stop being so extra. And if they don’t comply, offer them a ride home. If you’re sober, of course. 4. Treat yourself As in, if you’re of age of responsibility, and you want to drink, treat yourself to a drink. A drink that you can see being made at the bartender’s place. A drink that’ll still allow you to be aware of your surroundings and check in on friends. Sometimes a stranger might want to treat you and pay for your drink. That’s cool too, but make sure you can see the drink being made. The truth is, having fun at a party isn’t always easy when you know that so many things can go wrong. Friends lose each other, drinks can get spiked, people are placed in uncomfortable positions and vomit stinks. But acknowledging the fact that things can go left at parties makes it easier to do things right. Going with friends, looking out for others, and being in the moment are things we do anyway when we want to have a good time at regular parties. Why not keep the same energy in college? Next time you head out to a frat party or a club downtown, don’t forget to party smartly.
Maybe all your finals are open-note. Maybe your parents just randomly sent you shopping money. Maybe you’re an underclassman and have a place to live on campus. But, maybe you have a friend that’s not as blessed and highly favored. In college, you’ll meet people that are doing financially, academically, socially or overall mentally worse than you are. They just might happen to be your best friends. There might be one day where they erupt at you out of nowhere with all the problems they might be going through. Some of them you probably have never experienced before. When your friend is going through a mental breakdown, you don’t need to pretend and say “I feel you” after every sentence. Do this instead. Make time for them Our schedules can be busy, so we don’t always have time to meet up with someone during the week. But, take some time out of your day to call your friend. Don’t call them to offer advice or anything. Just listen to them. Let them know that you’re available to listen. And at first, your friend might not want to talk. The phone call might just be intermittent periods of silence. That is totally fine. Sometimes we just need a presence. A reminder that someone is there and that someone does care. Take them out to eat When you do get a chance to meet up with your pal, take them out to eat. Who doesn’t love food? If you’re low on money or watching your caloric intake, split a meal at the restaurant you go to. Just make sure what you’re ordering is something your friend doesn’t have the luxury of eating all the time. Go do something new together Back when I had my first mental breakdown, going to class was the last thing I really wanted to do. If I did go, I’d be mentally absent. I just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep for the entire day. But, doing something different and distracting to get me out of what felt like a leech-sucking environment helped me get back on track. Spring break was cute and all, but sometimes we need an actual break that doesn’t remind us of school period. Go to a probate, travel somewhere new downtown, watch a new series together. Relax with your pal by doing something new and exciting. Give them something If you haven’t gotten the gist, surprises can be huge mood changers. Treat your friend to his/her favorite coffee and donut combo. If you don’t have a car and have a few dining dollars to spare, stop by a P.O.D and grab them a snack. Sure it’s not much, but the thought that you’re thinking about them is refreshing. If you’re incredibly awful at buying things, like myself, you can’t go wrong with social media. Tag them in a funny meme or video. My favorite people to watch on social media are Desi Banks, Kev Onstage and AphricanApe. Check out those channels if you don’t already know them. You might also come across uplifting posts on Instagram that tell you to tag someone you know that needs to hear a certain message—tag them! College is rough. We have all of these expectations for us with little money and time. But, what makes it more difficult is the idea of having no one rooting for us. We all have acquaintances—people we talk to just for the sake of convenience— but you have the power to be a true friend, a supportive shoulder and a listening ear, especially in these final hours of the year. Good luck with finals!