Five Benefits of Being a Teaching Assistant

Many students have sat in a class with a teaching assistant, or TA for short as they are commonly referred as. They are students who help professors with their duties both inside and outside of the classroom. Being a teaching assistant is a very interesting experience and one that has made me a smarter person in many different areas. I have been a teaching assistant for two courses over four semesters. Here are some interesting things I have realized upon reflecting on my time doing the job.

1. You Become a Mini Celebrity:

I’m a TA of 70-90 students over the course of a semester. After four semesters of doing this, I have met so many new people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Just about everywhere I go on campus, I either see a student I have or I get recognized by one.

Towards the beginning of each semester, I am bombarded by people I have never met before, asking me questions about what assignments are due the next day or other class related questions. I guess I kind of know what being famous is like. It’s a weird, but cool feeling when someone you don’t think you have ever seen before says hi and uses your name. It’s a hard task to memorize 70 faces and names, especially for the one class of 50 people I have. I usually know most names towards the second half of the semester.

2. Time Management Becomes Essential:

I always have a large stack of assignments to grade or attendance to log in. Balancing this job alongside classes and my other responsibilities on campus proved to be a huge challenge when I started the job. My drive to succeed forced me to learn how to have really good time management skills. If I told myself two years ago that I would finish class assignments at least a week before the due date, I would have laughed. Now, I sometimes don’t have a choice as my schedule fills up with grading and meeting up with students for extra help. I think these skills will really come in handy when I graduate and try to keep a good balance between work and my personal life.

3. Back to the Basics:

The classes I am a TA for are introductory classes. Being a broadcasting student, the classes are the foundations for the entire major. I attend every class and I have seen every lecture multiple times. It’s like the lyrics to a song that just keep repeating every semester. This has led me to make insights about what I’m studying that I would not have been able to make otherwise. Having a solid foundation of the basics has increased my understanding for more advanced topics within my major.

4. Fear of Public Speaking Vanishes:

I remember I use to shake with nervousness when stepping up in front of a crowd to speak. Throughout high school, I hated giving speeches. It made me so nervous. The public speaking class I took during my freshman year helped me with this fear a lot, but it was being a TA that gave me the large amount of practice I needed. My professor lets me teach at least one class per semester. Upon creating my lesson, I would practice it in front of my professor multiple times. He would not let me teach until my lesson was perfect. This gave me hours of public speaking practice I wouldn’t have received otherwise. Lecturing felt incredibly natural and as the semesters went on, I got used to speaking in front of a crowd.

5. I Became a Better Student:

Professors complain all the time about students not doing their work or not putting effort into their work. Being a TA has allowed me to experience the professor’s perspective for myself. Through grading papers, my writing skills, especially my grammar, improved significantly. When students aren’t trying, I can now sense it just like a professor can. This whole experience has made me realize what it means to be a good student and what it means to put effort and time into assignments rather then getting them over with at the last minute.

I do graduate in a little over a month and while I won’t be student for much longer, these skills are applicable to many other areas in life. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be a teaching assistant.

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.'”

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

The next generation smartphone is going on sale in a matter of days. Have you pre-ordered? Are you looking forward to buying it? Well if you’re a Samsung fan, this is the phone you want. If you aren’t and are more agnostic, you may be looking for something else that could be better. Although the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a good step ahead of the S4, it’s not competitive in the design aspect with its competitors. Overall, the value, usability, performance, and features are in great standing. Looks aren’t everything, but it’s a critical part of the buying cycle. You can’t rely on brand loyalty for long if competitors are putting out things that are much better looking. This is true, just look at Apple.

Now the S5 is something I look forward to purchasing because I can’t get enough of my S3. I can’t wait to have the battery life upgrade and a much better camera. Everyone is looking forward to the S5, especially if they are upgrading from a S3 phone or lower. The S4 is already an advance, and it probably wouldn’t be worth purchasing the S5, unless you have an excellent budget, otherwise, look forward to the S6.

Although I want to purchase the S5, I am going to have to wait until next year to buy it because I’m paying for college as well as my current phone bill. For me, it would be more comfortable to make my purchase when Boost Mobile has it (late as usual). I was the first to purchase the S3 as soon as Boost had released it on June 12, 2013; close to the release date of the S4. So I’m not expecting to be purchasing the S5 anytime soon.  Besides, I have to worry about upgrading my 3 year old laptop by June.

There’s quite an amount of hype going on about the Samsung Galaxy S5. It is indeed an evolution, being the most secure Samsung Galaxy phone created. The S5 may be more solid than the S4, however the superior design just isn’t there when compared to the HTC phone. Most likely Samsung will fix this “mistake” when building the Samsung Galaxy S6. They didn’t quite optimize its software in certain areas, for example, the camera taking a while to load up. At least the battery life is excellent with more efficiency, beating the HTC 1 M8.

And so, I hope you enjoy the Samsung Galaxy S5 to its full potential if you are a Samsung fan. Have fun with the phone with high capabilities that can really be amazing to those making a major upgrade. This being anyone with a Galaxy S3 or lower.

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”

Three Ways to Easily Get Involved

One of the things that made my experience at SUNY Oswego incredible was getting involved in student clubs and organizations. With well over 100 of them, it’s very easy for students to find a club that interests them. I joined WNYO, the campus radio station as well as WTOP, the campus TV station. I joined both clubs during my first week on campus and stuck with them ever since.

During my four years at both of these clubs, I held leadership positions, met new people, and learned incredibly valuable skills which will help me in the real world. About half of my resume is full of the experiences I gained through the organizations. I get asked all the time by both incoming and current students about how to get involved early on. The start of each semester is always a new beginning. Here are three tips which helped me and others I know:

1. Attend the General Interest Meeting:

It seems pretty obvious, but attending a club’s general interest meeting at the start of the semester is very much crucial to getting involved. Every club has one. These meetings explain what the club is about and how to get involved. The hardest part about this is finding out when and where the meetings are and attending them. If you’re interested in a certain club, find their social media pages, look out for fliers hanging around campus, or ask an existing member. These are three surefire ways to get the information regarding the general interest meeting. Upon attending, how to get involved is explained.

2. Attend an Event:

So whether or not you attended a general interest meeting, if you see advertisements for events around campus for a club you’re interested in, attend it. Upon attending the event, you can decide whether or not the club is right for you as you’ll be meeting its members and participating in the club’s activities. If you’re not already a member, joining is usually as easy as asking a member how to get involved. If the club has an office like the campus media organizations do, stop by and ask how you can get involved. You will always get your questions answered.

3. Show Up:

I had written a post months ago about the power of showing up. Being present and attending all events or executing your responsibilities is the most important thing you can do as a new member of a club or organization. The more you attend events and meetings as well as fulfill duties, the more people you meet and the more likely you become trusted with a leadership position in the future. Show that you are responsible and care about the club.

Bonus Tip:

As part of WTOP 10, I am aware that are over 30 leaderships positions within it, some of which do not get filled at the start of a new year. These positions range in many different areas. I’m sure there are more clubs with empty leadership positions at the start of the year too.

It doesn’t hurt to ask if there are any free positions. You may be surprised by what the response is. If there are none available, find a leadership position you like and let the person holding it know you’re interested in one day taking their place. This is smart as the person may allow you to shadow them and it could lead you to eventually taking their place. Leadership positions in a club are awesome resume builders and can easily lead to internships and jobs in the future.

Make Friends

College Friends

            I encourage all of the incoming freshmen to make as many friends as possible among each other and even upper classmen. This is because college friends are really your lifelong friends that you are going to spend your memories with and enjoy life with. You may find some amazing people who will help shape a path in your life to more of a better future than you could have ever imagined. Sure you will find people who you don’t appreciate and are possibly too much, well; we all can’t like everyone in today’s society. It’s better to find and make connections so you can build a successful future. You can be a famous anything with the help of friends. The assistance of friends leads to finding out who your real and fake friends are. Although some people mention to not trust anyone, you need to understand that everyone wants friends and a successful future. Therefore, chances are, everyone is friendly and want real friends, too.

You build feelings of missing each other if you have a friend who is an upper classman. There you would hope to keep contact for when you all grow up to have your careers and want to catch up at a reunion or dinner for 2. Eventually, you will find Mr. Right, and build feelings and build a family together. This is a potential possibility if we all build connections, be real, and share important and well experienced memories. I hope you all enjoy your time in college, the best 4 years of your life all offered by SUNY Oswego!

Quest Day

Quest will be held April 9, 2014

            Many of us students here at SUNY Oswego have two different reactions for April 9th, 2014. One of them being: “Hooray! No classes!” and the other being: “I’m going to check out some of these presentations going on around campus.” If we all are honest, we are more than happy to hear we don’t have classes scheduled and have the opportunity to catch up or relax for that day on your school workload. I encourage everyone, including myself, to at least go to one or two of these presentations going on because so many of them look very interesting. They all range from multiple subjects ranging from Meteorology, Software Engineering, and Physics to Mass Communications, Anthropology, and Studying Abroad. All of the presentations are scheduled throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. We have a keynote speaker for Quest 2014: Bruce Coville, who is a 1973 alumnus and author of more than 100 books. I would totally try to go to his speech and check out what he has to say. Enjoy the day guys and enjoy the sharing of scholarly and creative pursuits of faculty, staff, and students here on campus!

What’s Next Session Scheduled for April 7

PRSSA What's NextOn Monday, April 7 in Lanigan 102, PRSSA will be hosting its annual What’s Next Session, which features a panel of professionals from a variety of different career paths. The event is centered around public relations and marketing.

Those who attend the event will have the opportunity to watch the panel discuss various topics and issues relating to their profession. Following the panel discussion, time will be available for the audience to network with the professionals. During this period, refreshments will be provided.

The What’s Next Session, aptly named, is designed to give students a sense of direction and an understanding of the years following graduation. It does this by allowing students to learn more about the different niches of PR and marketing.

Graduation can sneak up on anyone, so it is important to think about life after Oswego. I am only in my second semester, and while it may seem like graduation is far off, it will come up quicker than I expect.

The panel discussion begins at 7 p.m. and goes until approximately 8:30, when networking opportunities will begin.

Os “WE GO”: Christianna Miller – The Great Communicator

If you’ve lived in Funnelle Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus any time in the last three years, you would at some point, no doubt, run into the friendly face of Resident Assistant Christianna Miller.

Being an RA can be a challenging and time-consuming position. It is not exactly common for an RA to remain an RA for the remainder of their college career, let alone in the same building. The duty of an RA is to communicate with and guide and mentor students, as well as maintain the law and safety on their individual floor. Miller has mastered all of those challenges. She was the recipient of the Community Connector Award in both 2011 and 2012.

Miller said her initial interest in the position was for financial reasons. RAs are compensated with free room and board from their tuition costs.

“Since I was fortunate enough to have the luxury of my parents taking care of my expenses, I felt a moral obligation to do whatever I could to alleviate some of the costs, because as most of us are aware, college is not a cheap experience,” Miller said. “However, what made me stay an RA was all of the enriching experiences I had.”

Miller getting "pied" at a "Pie Your RA" good cause event

Miller getting “pied” at a “Pie Your RA” good cause event

An RA position requires hours of training and the hours of on-call duty vary from week to week. There are also approximately three to five hours of program activities RAs are required to do throughout the academic year.

“You also have to account for floor meetings, staff meetings, hall council meetings, decorative duties, such as door decorations and bulletin boards, and also the abundance of planning that goes into everything,” Miller said.

Miller is a communications major and creative writing minor and still has the responsibilities of being a full time student as well as those of being an RA. She is enrolled in six classes this semester and has a full time job in the Campus Center and does volunteer hours as well.

“If I did not master time management a long time ago, I would be a hot mess,” Miller said. “I am a big “to-do” list person; these have made time management a cake walk. I recommend list making to everyone. Sounds so cool, right? Also, knowing when to ask for help is equally important. Sometimes I cannot take on everything and there is nothing embarrassing in asking for help. What is embarrassing is having a bad final product because I spread myself too thin.”

Miller’s  run as an RA has taught her how to be a great communicator and said she has wanted the people that have lived on her floors to know they could always count on her.

Miller during an RA outing to a museum

Miller during an RA outing to a museum

“I would want them to see me as someone they could go to if they had an issue, a concern, a need to simply vent, or a complaint,” Miller said. “I’d want them to know there is no situation I would not help them with. I’d want them to know that my room is a bias-free, no-judgement zone.”

Miller has been an RA on three different floors in Funnelle Hall and has offered her services to many residents during that time.

“Christianna is a great RA who I now consider my friend,” former resident Jessica White said. “She was always there for me as an RA and after she changed floors she continued to be the person I went to with my problems. I trust her and she has helped me through so much. I truly believe that without Christianna, my college experience just wouldn’t be as awesome.”

Miller will be graduating this spring and said that while the big things, such as residents doing nice things for her after she did nice things for them, mean a lot to her, it’s the little things that she will remember most from her RA years.

“I enjoyed spending time at the front desk, whether it was dancing, giving baked goods to visitors, or cleaning and finding odd knick knacks. I enjoyed all of the programs we have hosted as a staff. I enjoyed the excitement of move-in day and the sentiment of move-out day. I enjoyed training sessions with my fellow RAs. I could go on forever. When I graduate, I will be taking so many memories with me that have made my time at Oswego worthwhile. I would do it all over again. There have been so many people I have met here that have changed my perspective, my opinions, and in some ways, my life.”



Break?…Or MAKE?


The last two spring breaks I’ve experienced in college, I’ve gone home, hung out in my bedroom, watched some movies, talked with my parents, and that’s pretty much it. At the time, all of that seemed quite okay after the week of midterm exams and seemingly never-ending essays. This year, it was not like that at all.


Each year, SUNY Oswego offers “Alternative Spring Break” to its students. Instead of going home and doing the things I listed above, Alternative Spring Break gives students the opportunity to travel to various parts of the country to do a week’s worth of volunteer work for various volunteer organizations. My decision to go on this journey started in such a simple way…in a McDonald’s in Canajoharie, New York. That’s where my friend told me she was applying for it. I’m on a mission to see all 50 U.S. states in my life and some of the destinations offered; Alabama, Mississippi, and Iowa were all states that I’d never seen before. I also love helping people and I knew that some volunteer work would be good for me.

My friend and I both applied and both were selected to help in the construction of a house for Habitat For Humanity in Florence, Alabama. Us and 11 other SUNY Oswego students, two of them group leaders, gathered together and took a week trip down to the South. The total 22 hour car ride was a lot of fun in itself and when we finally did get down there, each one of us were extremely taken back by the amount of kindness and hospitality that the people there were providing us. Right away, our “guide” welcomed us into his home and told us his history and the town’s history and then the rest of our hosts provided a lovely Southern dinner for us. They wanted to know all about us: who we were, what we studied, why we were doing this. And that made each one of us want to talk to them and ask them about their lives and experiences.


The actual volunteer work was incredibly rewarding. Pounding hundreds of nails, climbing up and down ladders dozens of times, installing windows, wires, putting up siding on a house at the work site didn’t even feel like work. Better yet, it made you want to do more. You felt useless if you were just standing there and didn’t want to leave when work for the day was over. When there wasn’t much to do, you would stand and talk to the elderly men and women that were also working there, all in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, volunteering and climbing up and down ladders like children. They provided Krispy Kreme doughnuts every morning, lunch every afternoon, and took us out for dinner every night and ice cream two different days. They helped us whenever we needed help and guided us whenever we were lost. It was a lot of fun and seeing something go from messes of plywood to what the house was when we left was inspiring to each one of us.

That was the other part that was rewarding. The “us” part. Every one of the SUNY Oswego students that went on this trip had their own special qualities and brought something different to the table. There were the fun-loving ones, the enthusiastic ones, the hard-working ones, the ones who didn’t say too much and the ones who said a little too much. We weren’t perfect. Everyone got on everyone’s nerves several times, but that happens when you spend a week with the same 13 people constantly around you. But at the end of the day, we were all able to enjoy each other’s company and friendship. The last night we were there, we passed a volleyball around and everyone in the group would go around the circle and say something positive about the person who held the volleyball. This was estimated by our group leaders to take 15-20 minutes to do…it was so much fun and we all had so much to say about each other that it actually took us three hours..


And even after we got back to Oswego, I thought I’d probably never see most of that group again. On Monday morning, as I was walking to my first class, I stopped at the Information Desk in Campus Center to talk to my friend (the one who told me about the trip) and then suddenly two of our group members walk up and say hello. And they were actually there to meet another member of our group to give her her headphones that she had left in the car. I was five minutes back into the real world and already I had had a small reunion with these wonderful people. We agreed to meet up again when we can, the first time to make thank you notes to the people down in Alabama.

I can’t imagine sitting on a couch doing nothing over break anymore. Going to Alabama was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in college and I would recommend it to everyone and anyone. It was the best spring break I could ask for. I want to try to do the international trip next year.

Top: How the house started Bottom: What the house looked like when we left

Top: How the house started
Bottom: What the house looked like when we left