When The First Snow Comes to Oswego

B2bVafzIMAAcn77.jpg_largeWhen I graduate from SUNY Oswego in a few months and move on to something different, I’m going to miss a lot of things about this campus and about this region. One of those things is one of my favorite events of the year, and I know it’s many others’ too—the first snowfall.

No matter when it happens or how it happens or what happens afterward, it always seems to be something we look forward to. Snow is undoubtedly Oswego’s biggest legacy. Getting an average 150 inches of snow each winter, it is one of the snowiest parts of the country. Some people love it. Some people hate it. But generally, there tends to be a little bit of excitement when you hear someone say “It’s snowing out!” in early December, or November…or October.

Students will be taking pictures everywhere and when you go onto Facebook, you’ll see a picture of a white Campus Center every few posts. When you see people you know, they will each tell you their own story. How they “almost slipped and fell here” or “I couldn’t even see my building” or “some freshman were thinking this is bad. They haven’t seen anything yet.” Then there’s always that thought in the back of your head that says “class cancellation” even though you know there’s no chance of that happening.

It’s very hard to explain what exactly it is. Last Thursday while walking home from The Oswegonian office, it started coming down pretty good. It was a very pretty walk back to the Village with some of the other Oswegonian editorial board members. The wind was actually not blowing so the snow was just gently falling to the ground and not in your face. You could hear people shouting in the distance, obviously excited about it.

I can remember every first snowfall in my college years. Not that I’m not used to the snow that Oswego gets. I grew up around here and had my own share of 40 inches in five hours, impassable whiteouts, and watching snow pile up faster than I could shovel it before I came to Oswego.

I don’t know what it is though. Is it the change in seasons, the beginning of a different era, something new happening on campus, something cool to talk about? I’m not sure.

Maybe the snow brings us students closer together. We can’t bask out in the sun or play Frisbee or football out in the lawn anymore. The snow forces us inside to enjoy some warm food, lots of laughter and good company and to make some memories that won’t happen anywhere else when the snow starts to fall.

The Biggest Decision I’ve Had to Make in College

Photo provided by Luke Parsnow

Photo provided by Luke Parsnow

When people have asked me throughout the years “what is college like?” my favorite response has always been “Well, college makes you broke, sleep-deprived, and broke.”

Money is always going to be the most important subject when it comes to higher education. It always has been. But it’s a lot more than just the thousands of dollars of tuition. Things like textbooks, school supplies, clothing, and food are all expenses that every college student grumbles about when they’re trying to save and they keep having to dig into their wallets.

The solution? Easy—get a job, right?

Now, I grew up in an area that wasn’t exactly prosperous. I’m 21 years old and I’ve never held more than $1,100 in my hands. I’ve had one summer job that paid $8.50 an hour. That was a blessing that came at the right time. I had to go into my reserves just to buy the $0.89 manila folder to put my application for the job in.

Last spring, I hit the biggest crossroads I’ve ever had in my life. I was at the end of my junior year, I had a year of experience as being assistant news editor at The Oswegonian, I needed an internship in order to graduate and summer was coming up fast, and I was also out of money.

I can’t even remember how many sleepless nights were spent wondering about what to do. I was told about an internship in Albany that I would most likely get. Remember, my major requires me to have an internship to graduate. But it would be unpaid and it was 3 hours away from where I live. To make things more difficult, my boss from my 2013 summer job contacted me and approved me for another summer session if I wanted it.

The Legislative Gazette, a newspaper covering New York State government and politics, where Luke interned this summer.

The Legislative Gazette, a newspaper covering New York State government and politics, where Luke interned this summer.

I basically had to make the decision of “Do I go do an internship that will be good for me and will help me find a job someday? Or do I make sure I don’t go broke my senior year?”

I feel like this is a terrible decision that a college student should have to make. I wasn’t the only one either.

One of my friends told me that she got accepted to do an internship as an assistant school psychologist in New Jersey, but she had to turn it down to continue working at Subway in order to pay for her rent and textbooks the next semester.

With no car, no definite place to stay, no experience in public transportation, no knowing what exactly the internship was about, and about $100 in my pocket, I decided to go for the internship.

Having not much money to start out with, paying the bus fare, taxi fare, and food wasn’t exactly making my wallet happy. But I decided to risk it.

And it was worth the risk.

I survived somehow. With a few playing shows, a few generous people, and luck (including finding a lawyer’s lost cell phone and providing me with a $100 reward) I made it through the summer with extremely limited income and heavy expenses.

While I did not make money last summer, I made a lot more. I made connections, I made a new form of confidence in myself that I’ve never seen before, I made a well-respected addition to my resume, and I made a stepping stone to the future I want to go forward in.

An article Luke wrote on a rally urging the State Legislature to vote on minimum wage reform.

An article Luke wrote on a rally urging the State Legislature to vote on minimum wage reform.

And it made sense to do it. Instead of mowing lawns and watering flowers I was able to meet Governor Andrew Cuomo, witness political rallies, write articles on various political subjects, talk to interesting people on the phone, live in a city for the first time, visit several presidential graves and Franklin Roosevelt’s library and museum, and a lot of other things.

I’ve encountered many obstacles with the things I’ve wanted to do in college. But I can honestly say that I have never failed in them. I found a way. I always found a way to make happen what I need to. Despite my situation, I always found a way. Most of the time it just wasn’t how I had imagined it.

And it was the right decision. It may have left me poorer for my senior year, but money is just a number. The experience I had and the lessons I learned over the summer will be the thing that pays me better in the long run than a large paycheck from Subway.

 

 

 

Why I’m Not Graduating in December

20140827_200104There are a number of students on the SUNY Oswego campus who keep looking at the calendar and realize they only flip it one more time before the word “December” is printed in big letters at the top. For some, that means their tenure at this school is ending and they will be walking the stage while the snow is on the ground, rather than the traditional dandelions.

There are many reasons for this. Some people are just finished—they have completed the necessary requirements for college and don’t see any point in hanging around any longer. Some do it to avoid paying an extra few thousand dollars that they technically don’t have to. Some weren’t able to graduate in May due to various problems and are  doing so now.

I began school here in the fall of 2011 and am on schedule to graduate in the spring. I have two majors and a minor. One major was technically completed before this semester and the other I could’ve finished this semester. I only have one more class for my minor that I also could’ve taken this semester. So in theory, I could have graduated in December. But I don’t want to.

And it’s not because I’m afraid of the real world and am just taking on another semester because I technically can. It goes way beyond that.

Being a double major and minor, I have had the lovely opportunity to take an armada of different types of classes from different backgrounds. I have taken creative writing classes, journalism classes, history classes, political science classes, broadcasting classes, English classes and more. So I am satisfied that I have had such a versatile class structure while I’ve been here. That is the basis for why I won’t graduate in December.

I love this school. I talk about it all the time. I cannot believe all of the things I have done and opportunities I have taken in my three-and-a-half years here. It has passed my expectations on biblical proportions. And each time I think it can’t get any better, things come up that just might make it so.

20140827_200053The spring semester might be exciting for many ways. I am excited for the classes that I will potentially be taking, and not because they are easy 100-level classes, because they’re not. Some of them are classes that I am not required to take for my majors but I am anyway because they are offered. One of them is a class that examines communications in other countries and sends students to Paris, France over spring break. I have only left the country to go to Canada, I have never been on a plane before, and have always wanted to go to Paris since I was about six years old. An adventure like that would be the perfect ending to my college years. That alone would define my entire philosophy on college: Take the opportunities that are offered and go beyond your comfort zone. For me, both would definitely apply here.

The spring also gives me the time to possibly squeeze one more internship in before I graduate. With a small class schedule, this helps make this possible. There are many opportunities on this campus or near this campus for that.

The spring semester also gives me a window of a few months to do some hardcore job and internship searching, which is quite comforting. I want to leave SUNY Oswego knowing what’s next and not just walk out the door and go wherever the blustery Oswego winds take me.

An undergraduate student has four years. Four years is not a long time. It has gone by astoundingly fast. I want to do as much as I can in those four years because they won’t come again. I’m paying the money and taking the time, but I will take it all because I know what kinds of doors can open at SUNY Oswego.

As a Senior, Keeping Busy Keeps Me From Being Bored

Here I am, a college senior at SUNY Oswego and a mere seven months from graduating and moving on to something else. Some people might want to spend their last year living it up, partying while they can and taking those 100-level courses just to get the credits they need to graduate. I admit that’s what sounded good to me when school work started getting more difficult as a sophomore.

But that is not what my final year is like however. I figured out very soon after my sophomore year that college is not just the pain of work, no sleep, and spending thousands of dollars. College is a gift. And it’s a gift that comes and goes all too quickly. So I decided I was not going to take those 100-level courses and sleep in all day. I’ve come to realize that those that do nothing in college get nothing out of it. Those that take advantage of the opportunities that college provides at least have a fighting chance in the real world.

I keep myself busy. Mondays I’m in class 10:20-12:25, then go to my internship at the Oswego Alumni Office from 1-4:30, followed by a three-hour American History Seminar from 5:30-8:15, then meetings with the campus media organizations from 8:30-10:30. Tuesdays I have one class, attend the Student Association meeting at 6 to write a weekly column on it, and go to History Club, of which I am the secretary of, from 8:30-9:30. Wednesdays I have class and my internship again and then edit the news articles and start designing the news section of The Oswegonian. I’m usually in that office until 2 or 3 in the morning. Sometimes later. Thursdays, I’m in The Oswegonian office from about 10 a.m. until 9 or 10 p.m., minus my one class. Fridays I have two classes and a meeting at 3. So let’s just say I enjoy my weekends.

On top of that, I write one, two, or sometimes three news article a weeks for The Oswegonian and Alumni Office, opinion editorials, and when I can, write something for this blog. Oh, and of course homework. Can’t forget the homework for three 400-level courses.

Some people will ask why I kill myself with all this work. At times it is stressful and I don’t get to sit down and relax very often, but whenever I think about how tiring it is, I remember that I love it.

Keeping busy keeps me from being bored. I’ve learned that you don’t learn anything by standing still, nor do you get where you want to go.

I can’t even describe the amount I have learned from my time at SUNY Oswego by being active. And all that I have right now comes from all that I’ve done and who I’ve known. The classes, the professors, the newspaper, the clubs, the friends, colleagues, this very blog, have all in some sort, given me something to help propel myself into my future.

And I want to do more. A lot of the enormous opportunities and resources offered in college disappear when you walk down that aisle in that graduation gown. And I want to take advantage of all those that I can in my remaining time here.

I’ve got seven months left. That’s seven months left to paint my image that will stick for the rest of my life. When I walk down that aisle myself, I want to be assured I did all that I could and that I did it the best I could.

I’ve come to find out that in college, the more you give, the more you take away.

Os”WE GO”: Bridget Jackson – She Really Does Love PR

Jackson, third from left, at the Matrix Awards in New York City

Jackson, third from left, at the Matrix Awards in New York City

A lot of SUNY Oswego students go far distances during their short few years here. The classes they take, the people they meet, and the experiences they have make them key candidates for the future job market. Senior public relations major Bridget Jackson is a perfect example of the professionalism that comes out of Oswego.

Last spring, Jackson was awarded the Charlotte Kelly Veal Scholarship by the New York Women in Communications Foundation, an organization that cultivates leaders in the communications field by providing financial support, opportunities for professional development and mentoring, and an entree to a diverse community of communications professionals. The largest foundation for women’s communications scholarships in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut-Pennsylvania region, the foundation awards 15-20 scholarships that range from $2,500 to $5,000 and $10,000, to graduating high school seniors and undergraduate and graduate students who intend to pursue or further a career in communications.  All recipients attend the Matrix Awards held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and make a live appearance on the TODAY show.

The Charlotte Kelly Veal Scholarship is in honor of former Matrix honoree and much beloved NYWICI member Charlotte Kelly Veal, to a student pursuing a career in public relations.

“The entire experience, from the application process to the awards ceremony itself right up until today is still connecting and making plans with my fellow scholarship sisters is an unreal experience,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things that if you heard about it, you would assume it is too good to be true. I am in awe that an opportunity like this exists for students.”

Jackson is no stranger to recognition for her public relations either. She was also awarded the “Edward Austin Sheldon Scholar Award” from the Oswego Alumni Association and the “Robert C. Ziegler Memorial Scholarship” from the School of Communications at the 2014 Spring Honors Convocation. The day after coming back from the Matrix Awards in New York City, she was awarded the “Most Likely to Succeed in Public Relations Award” at the 2014 Ozzie Awards, the ceremony congratulating SUNY Oswego students in the School of Communications for their hard work throughout the year. This, she said, was “the icing on the cake.”

“The Ozzies was a surreal experience,” Jackson said. “I attended the Ozzies because I am a very active student on campus and an overall supporter of campus activities. Being in a room full of students who also love communications is a very empowering feeling. So overall, just being at the Ozzies is a great experience. To be recognized in front of all those students and faculty as someone is most likely to succeed in the field I love is amazing. I love PR and to have people say that you will succeed in a field you already love is the best feeling ever.”

Jackson’s experience and strong involvement at SUNY Oswego has helped her become the successful person she is. Since she was a freshman, she has been an office assistant in Career Services, desk attendant in Seneca Hall, a volunteer and employed tour guide for the Admissions Office, a member of the Honors program, an Honors Seminar leader, a blogger for herCampus, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Lambda Pi Eta, a member and vice president of PRSSA (Public Relations Society of America) and is currently the president of PRSSA.

She has also been a co-coordinator intern for SCMA Admitted Students Day, a PR intern in the Compass, and PR intern at Kellen Communications in New York City.

“I could talk forever about the resources and opportunities that Oswego provides, it amazes me every day the things this campus has,” Jackson said. “Overall from Oswego, I think I will take away all the connections I made with people. I have met so many interesting people, either in classes, group projects, clubs, employment or simple conversations in the dining hall. Professors and club advisers are a whole different conversation. It amazes me how much they offer to help students. I am an outgoing person and especially with #ozmystory I have been able to meet so many people. I can always walk across campus and say hi to a million people. I made a campus of over 7,000 students my home and coming from an all-girls catholic high school with a graduating class of 70, I never imagined that was possible.”

College: It’s More Than Just The Classroom

Empire State Plaza in Albany

Empire State Plaza in Albany

Experience. That’s what I’m told employers are looking for. And that’s what I knew I needed. This past summer, I had my first-ever internship. And let me tell you, it was some experience. And all of that experience didn’t merely come from the internship alone, because it was more than just the internship for me.

Last spring, I had completed a whole year of being the Assistant News Editor at The Oswegonian, was named to be the News Editor for my senior year, and had taken multiple writing and journalism classes to the point that I was ready for some field work. When the opportunity for an internship at  The Legislative Gazette in Albany came up, I grabbed it, got accepted relatively easily, and knew it would be a good opportunity.

I live three hours from Albany. Luckily, I have an aunt and uncle that live there so I was able to stay with them. I live on a dirt road in the woods. So I had my parents drive me 12 miles to Fulton, where I took a Centro bus to Syracuse, and then a Greyhound bus to Albany. That was the first time I had ever taken a Centro bus, a transportation bus, and it was also the first time I had traveled by myself. So, just getting to my internship was both a challenge and a valuable experience.

As earlier mentioned, I have lived on a dirt road in the woods my entire life, so spending two months in Albany was a booming metropolis for me. I had to lock the doors all the time, make sure to close the shades, and be weary of shady areas of the city, as I decided to walk home from work every day. I learned how to navigate the city and was eventually able to find my way around.

Being a history minor, I was also able to explore many of the historic locations in Albany and the immediate vicinity. I visited the grave sites of U.S. presidents Chester Arthur, Martin Van Buren, and Franklin Roosevelt. Now along with my goal to see all 50 states, I am now on a mission to see the grave site of every president.

The office of The Legislative Gazette

The office of The Legislative Gazette

The Legislative Gazette covers the state legislature and state politics. During my time at the internship, my editor informally made me the environmental beat reporter. Probably two-thirds of the stories I wrote were environmentally related, so as a result, I was in constant contact with the Department of Environmental Conservation, and through the DEC alone, was able to better understand state laws and regulations of state agencies. One article in particular, had me researching the state constitution itself and citing it in the article because it had to be addressed. In an article involving a lawsuit filed to fight teacher tenure laws in New York state, I had to read the preliminary statement of the lawsuit itself to see if New York tenure laws were being sued for the same reason as California’s, which filed a similar lawsuit a month before. I had to again read sections of New York’s and California’s state constitutions to see if there was a difference. The lawsuit in California challenged that the tenure law interfered with a student’s state constitutional right to a “sound education.” The wording in New York’s constitution was different, so the lawsuit was filed to challenge tenure laws on different grounds. It’s really a simple thing but it made all the difference in making sure the information about New York’s lawsuit was factual and accurate.

Aside from law, government, and politics, I of course learned a tremendous amount about the modern fundamentals of journalism. As mentioned previously, I had never been outside of a college newspaper office as far as field work goes. So, needless to say, I was quite nervous about starting this internship. One of the biggest challenges was adapting to the fast-paced world that modern journalism has. At The Oswegonian, I was used to writing one article a week, sometimes two when I was the Assistant News Editor. At The Legislative Gazette, I wrote on average, four or five articles a week (a week being four days.) Every week, I found myself scrambling to get everything finished before the noon deadline on Thursday. After a time however, I improved my time management throughout the week so I wouldn’t have to take work home to work on it or come into the office a half an hour earlier to make sure I could finish everything. I became more organized, wrote down the stories I had to do and who I called and what time and what else I had to do so I knew the appropriate time I needed to complete everything in a clean, accurate, well-written matter.

The New York State Capitol Building

The New York State Capitol Building

Like any internship should, my time at The Legislative Gazette really improved my communication skills and confidence. A lot of people were surprised when I told them the first time that I was studying journalism. I am really one of the shiest journalists out there really. I was one of the quietest people in my high school but I did all the things that a shy guy wouldn’t do. I acted in plays for seven years, which included two lead roles, I sing and play music regularly on stages in front of hundreds of people all the time, and I’m working on a degree in a field where 90 percent of the job is talking to strangers and asking them questions. I can honestly say that I did the bare minimum of communicating with sources during my freshman and sophomore year of college, but did a little better during my junior year. It was hard for me to adjust. I knew it wasn’t President Deborah Stanley anymore, it was Andrew Cuomo. It wasn’t the president of Student Association anymore; it was the speaker of the State Assembly. I talked to business leaders, state senators and assemblymen, police officers, governor candidates, and more important individuals. I even got to see Governor Cuomo when he signed the bill legalizing medical marijuana Now I know I can talk to anyone about any subject and sound confident and have the authority that a journalist needs to have to be able to conduct a thorough interview. And again, I improved my communication outside the internship. I had to ask workers questions at bus and train terminals, talk to and befriend the fellow interns, adjust to close quarters with my aunt and uncle. It just makes me feel more confident than ever.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo

So, I’ve completed my first internship. I don’t regret doing it at all. It was something I needed to do for myself, for every single thing I did that was related to the internship was completely outside of my comfort zone. That’s why I believe I learned so much. I finally pushed myself just a little further on multiple levels and left the office on the last day feeling proud of myself, my accomplishments, and the profession I will be going into. After all, it’s all about the experience. Experience spawns knowledge, confidence, power, and new outlooks. I’m not only more confident, but I am also much more excited about this last school year than I was in May. I have taken on the position of News Editor and started my second internship, as an editorial intern at the OSWEGO Alumni Magazine. After the incredible experience I’ve had this summer, I can’t wait to see what I will learn from these new tasks before me, and how I will think and feel when I come out the other side.

Yes, I Live Close By. Yes, I Live On Campus.

Well, here we are. The summer has come and gone and SUNY Oswego is once again a bustling metropolis. Students, new and old, have come to the “Land of Oz” to prepare themselves for their futures.

Students at SUNY Oswego come from a lot of different locations. There are foreign exchange students, a few out-of-staters, and those from New York City, Long Island, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Utica, Watertown, and many others.

Some people had to make long trips to come back to Oswego last week. I myself ventured on quite a trek to get here. I live in the tiny town of Sterling–a mere 12 miles away.

I know, I know. Whenever I say that, the usual response is “What? And you live on campus?” The answer is yes. Why? There are a lot of reasons.

When I was accepted at Oswego State, I knew I wanted to live on campus. The conditions for living home were just not favorable. Contradictory to what you might expect, my house is still not connected to the Internet in any way, besides on my phone. Most of my assignments are done online so that would cause quite some difficulty.

My senior year stay in The Village

My senior year stay in The Village

I also do not have my own car, so having my parents drive me here and back every day would waste more time and money than what I’d be saving. And as I’m sure you’re all aware, winter weather is nothing short of unforgiving in the Oswego County area. I’d rather deal with the struggle of walking between Campus Center and Lanigan than trying to drive between Sterling and Oswego in the numerous whiteout conditions that occur.

But those are just physical things. Those weren’t the first things I thought of when I decided to live on campus. I wanted to meet new people, put myself in a place I’d never “been” before; I say “been” because I often went to Oswego to shop for clothes, groceries and go to the movies. I come off as a quiet, reserved individual. But the truth is, I love being around people. Even if I don’t say much or anything, I’ll just sit there and listen. Coming here and staying here gave me the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Above all, I wanted to avoid what people called “13th grade.” I felt like commuting, going to classes and leaving right afterward, would just feel like high school over again, except with strangers. This put me on a whole new level, a step outside of my comfort zone. The best thing about living on campus is that it involves both school and life. It has helped me grow in social interactions, take advantage of the many opportunities on campus, which would be hard to do if I commuted, and make a lot of memories with a lot of really good people. I couldn’t have said it better than my sophomore year roommate (who lives in Oswego and has his own car by the way.) He said, “I realized that you can’t put a price on the kind of experiences you get from living on campus.”

Yes, I will owe thousands of dollars because of it, but money’s just a number and I will pay it back one day and that will be it. The good times I’ve had here will last in my mind for the rest of my life.

525: Good Times Were Had By All

 

Fall 2011

Fall 2011

“Room number?”

“525.”

How many times have I recited those three numbers? Endless. That’s because I’ve lived in the same dorm room on campus for as long as I’ve been here. Most people stay in a room for one year and move to a different one. Some people may stay in their rooms for two years. Not many stay in them for three. I’ve said “525,” at the front desk, written “525” when people ask me for my address, and have pushed “5” on the elevator counsel a million times. Tonight, I will spend my last night sleeping in and waking up in the good old 525. Now I’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. I will be moving into a house in the Village to spend my senior year with the greatest people I’ve become friends with during my time at SUNY Oswego. I will enjoy the luxuries of my own room, a full-sized bed, air conditioning, and the ability to cook my own food in my own kitchen and watch television in my own living room. So, why have I stayed in one room for three consecutive years?

Fall 2012

Fall 2012

525 in Funnelle Hall is one of the hard, fought-after “L” rooms, the rooms that are not designed like the standard SUNY Oswego room. Their doorway walks into a little entrance way where the residents’ closets are, before turning to the left or right where the rest of the room is. Whether there is actually more space or not, no one really knows. But they seem that way and are usually the first rooms taken when housing selection happens in April. How I and another freshman got one three years ago is beyond me. Along with the space, 525 faces the south side of Campus Center with beautiful Lake Ontario glistening behind it. It is the best thing I could imagine looking at when waking up every morning and right before I go to bed every night. You get to see part of Oswego’s famous sunsets, get to see the storms coming when they are still miles away, and the snow fall down gently or blow so much you can’t see the Campus Center at all.

Fall 2013

Fall 2013

I’ve had three roommates in the three years I’ve been here and each have brought their own special qualities to the room while I’ve been here. There has been movie nights, acoustic guitar jam sessions, pizza parties, a ball pit, monkey bars, standard beds, lofted beds, a futon, “go-down-to-dinner rendezvous,” a science experiment that involves a balloon (don’t ask), and best of all, small random get-togethers that started out in the hallway that moved here, that turned into half the floor coming to join. These resulted in staying up till 5 in the morning on a week night, us telling stories that in the telling, turned into stories themselves.

unnamed1A lot of good memories have been made between these four walls. It’s going to be strange being somewhere else on the Oswego campus, but it is time to move forward. And it’s almost as if I’m not exactly going. My current roommate is staying in the room next year so I will be passing the 525 torch down to him, sort to speak. The last two times I’ve moved out of this room, I’ve laughed, knowing that I was coming right back in three months anyway so “saying goodbye” was nothing. Now it’s going to be different. This time I won’t be coming back. Time never stands still for very long and college is no exception, as it is just a small part of what my life will become. When I get my room inspected, hand in the 525 keys, sign the check-out sheet, and close the door, it will be much like closing the door of the last three years. But there are more things to see while I spend my final year at SUNY Oswego, more memories to made elsewhere, and I know, there are other doors waiting for me to open.

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Os”WE GO”: Daniel O’Connor: The Pipes Are Calling

O'Connor by the Eiffel Tower

O’Connor by the Eiffel Tower

It’s not every day a group of SUNY Oswego students are in Paris, France with a trip over spring break and they meet up with another SUNY Oswego student who is already there.

That student was then junior Daniel O’Connor. O’Connor had taken two courses at La Sorbonne, the Université de Paris, and was interning at the Irish Embassy that semester. A global and international relations and journalism major and French minor, he is a perfect example of a SUNY Oswego student who has taken advantage of taking his Oswego experience to other parts of the globe.

Before all of that excitement, O’Connor first found music as his main interest as a freshman at college.

“Vocal Effect was my life here at college up until I studied abroad in Paris,” O’Connor said. “I was a founding member, choreographer, vice president and finally a co-president of the group in the two-and-a half years I was involved. The reason I was drawn to Vocal Effect is because I absolutely adore music. I also used to travel and perform professionally in my high school show choir, so joining something similar in college really interested me.”

O’Connor also said his time with Vocal Effect helped boost his confidence to new levels and helped him meet a lot of wonderful people.

O’Connor had always wanted to go to Paris since he had taken French classes in middle school and he called his opportunity to go to Paris a dream come true.

“Working there enabled me to work with Irish and French colleagues, improve my knowledge of French greatly, and I also got to work alongside European diplomats,” O’Connor said. “Luckily, I joined the embassy staff during Ireland’s presidency of the European Union, so it was a very momentous time for the Irish government in Europe.”
O'Connor at the Irish Embassy

O’Connor at the Irish Embassy

O’Connor said he was also the first American to work there.
After a semester in Paris, O’Connor returned to SUNY Oswego last fall and joined The Oswegonian, the student newspaper on campus because he said he wanted to perfect his writing style as a journalism major and immerse himself with like-minded students studying journalism, broadcasting, and communication.
“The Oswegonian is a very comfortable and professional environment that has helped me harness my writing skills in just a year. I am really thankful to my fellow staff for being so awesome and for teaching me so much of the journalism trade,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor will be graduating in May and isn’t quite sure where he wants to go from here, aside from receiving his master’s degree eventually. He has been conditionally accepted into the University of Birmingham, England and City University London. His ultimate goal would be to work in an embassy, preferably in the press office sector. Working in media organizations such as the BBC also interests him, he said.
Apparently, he isn’t the only one who sees that vision either.
“What comes to mind when I think of Danny is ‘vivacious’,” SUNY Oswego political science professor Lisa Glidden said. “He has such a vibrant personality. He’s done some amazing things while he’s been a student. I’m thinking of his experiences working in the Irish Embassy while he was studying abroad. I totally see him as a jet setter someday, conducting international affairs in Europe.”
O'Connor at the Arc de triomphe

O’Connor at the Arc de triomphe

After all he’s done over the last four years, O’Connor still likes the tale of how he got here, a place that took him to music, to Paris, to his future.

“I was inspired to go simply by a poster of Oswego’s sunset on Lake Ontario in the guidance counselor’s office,” O’Connor said. “Ever since, Oswego has always been in the back of my mind. I even remember looking at the map of the university in a pamphlet and saying to my parents, ‘I think I’d like to go there.'”

Philadelphia: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

 

Me in front of Independence Hall

Me in front of Independence Hall

This past weekend, I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the SUNY Oswego History Club. The club takes a trip to a historic location every year. Last year, we went to Washington, D.C. and that was a lot of fun for me, so after visiting the national capital one year, I visited the old U.S. capital this year. Although, I did not expect some things to happen on this trip.

After four straight weeks of traveling, Oswego to Alabama, to Memphis, Tennessee, back to Alabama, back to Oswego, down to Binghamton and back, and then to Philadelphia and back, I’ve got 4,000 miles under my belt, 95 percent of them from activities I’ve done through SUNY Oswego. Traveling and staying with groups for long periods of time always causes a little tension somewhere on these trips. Philadelphia was no exception.

By the time we ventured back into the historic city on Saturday morning, we hit that point. The driver of our car was not used to driving in big city traffic and everyone clashed on where they wanted to go and where they wanted to park, and how far they were willing to walk, and how much this parking garage charged and when it closed. On top of that, everyone’s GPS’s sent us on many goose chases the whole weekend. By the time we finally parked the car, there was still so much tension that everyone split up and did their own thing for the majority of the day.

That was, until the phone call came.

Me at the Benjamin Franklin Institute

Me at the Benjamin Franklin Institute

My friend and I were examining the last piece of tourism we wanted to see that weekend, the grave of my hero, Dr. Benjamin Franklin at Christchurch Cemetery, when someone from one of the other groups called me. I was able to understand the name of one of our group members and “seizure,” “running,” and “hospital.” I gave the phone to my friend to try to make out what was going on but we figured it out pretty fast. One of our group members fainted in one of the museums and had a seizure. Museum security guards called 911 and sent an ambulance while the remaining members of that group ran ten blocks through downtown Philadelphia to the hospital. Now it was our turn. After already walking seven miles and digesting a Philly cheese steak, my friend and I did our own jog through downtown to find the hospital. We contacted the other members of our group to tell them the update, and they made their way to the hospital themselves.

Less than an hour later, after spending the whole day our separate ways, we were all reunited, not in one of the rental cars as we expected, but an emergency room. And all of that tension and yelling that had occurred earlier was suddenly swept away, completely forgotten, because it didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that we were a crew with a missing member, one that was getting a CT scan in a hospital in a different state of residence, 300 miles from home, 18 hours before we were scheduled to leave for home.

We were all together again, not arguing about silly things like parking, but asking each other what we could do to help and how to keep our injured member’s parents updated, keeping everyone calm, and figuring out how long of a wait it would be.

It made me really think. It’s amazing how when a crisis hits, people just forget all of their differences, because when a crisis happens, there’s one thing everyone has in common: they’re all in a crisis. And when you’re in a group, if not everyone is present, it messes everyone up.

Our member spent the night at the hospital and we visited her in the morning, bought flowers and a card for her, and finally she was released. With that, we made our way back to SUNY Oswego, as a whole, with everyone on-board and safe, and remembering what the important things in life are.

History Club in front of the Rocket Steps

History Club in front of the “Rocky Steps”