Farewell To Sophomore Year

I am not really sure how this happened so quickly, but I am officially finished with my sophomore year of college. I swear that I blinked in August and now it is already May. Like seriously how did that happen? This year has been filled with new memories and growth. I thought that it would only be fitting to highlight some of the best (there is a lot, so I for sure cannot fit them all) moments of my sophomore year of college.

In August, I got to move into the barbie dream house, aka Alpha Phi. I was a little nervous to live in a house with over eighty girls, but it has been one of my favorite parts of college. I cannot thank my roomie, Jesse, enough for all of the Netflix binge watches, late night food runs, cries, laughs, rant sessions, fashion shows and more. Room 233 became a home, and I am so thankful I get to live with my bestie in the dream house this year. It will be missed!

 

What is the absolute best season of the year? Football season of course! Collge would not be college without looking forward to every single Saturday game day in good ole Norman, Oklahoma. From dressing up in crimson and creme, spending the day tailgating with my sisters, and cheering on my favorite boys, game days are for sure the best days. I mean seriously…it is September yet? Boomer Sooner!

One of my favorite parts of freshman year was getting blessed with the best big out there. This year, my family grew a little bigger because I got two of the best littles out there! Hannah and Taryn are two perfect additions to our fam. They might drive me a little crazy at times, but I absolute love being their “mom” while they are at college. I cannot name two people that make me laugh more than my two littles. They keep me young and I am seriously so blessed that God put them in my life. I am not sure how I got lucky enough to have the best family out there!

If you know me, you know how seriously obsessed I am with my cousin Jessica’s two kids, Kaden and Blakelee. I honestly had no clue it was possible to love someone so much until these two kiddos were born. People usually think that Blakelee is my kid since I post so many pictures of her on social media, but do not worry guys I am totally content with playing with my B and Kaden for a long long long (long) time before I even think about having kids. I am beyond blessed to be “RaRa” to my two favorite babies on the planet. I thank God every single day that I get to play such a big part in their lives. They definitely have my wrapped around their fingers. I loved getting to watch them grow this year. From my little Kaden turning four and my Princess B who is about to turn one (ugh how?).

This year, my family decided to celebrate Christmas a little differently this year. Instead of spending Christmas at home, we loaded up and spent a week in a cute little house in beautiful Destin, Florida. I am not one for change, but it was such a nice little getaway with my sweet family. Plus, the good thing is that we can celebrate the birth of Jesus no matter where we are at. I am so lucky to have such a perfect Savior and such a perfectly dysfunctional family! You cannot choose your family, but I would not trade them for the world (most of the time at least).

 

Sophomore year also brought a (somewhat) big milestone with it, I have somehow made it to twenty years of life! Birthdays in college are a little hard without having your family, but luckily I have the best family out there. My mom, dad, and little sister drove up to Norman to spend the weekend with me. Also, my very best friend surprised me and joined us! The perfect day for me is being surrounded by the people I love, so I must say it was such a perfect day. They for sure know how to make a girl feel loved. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my twentieth year has in store for me.

 

March 4, 2017, was the No. 1 highlight of my sophomore year of college. What is so important about that day? One word: Soonerthon. In the fall of my sophomore year, I took a risk and decided to apply for Soonerthon Exec. I was lucky enough to be selected to serve as an Ambassador. As an Ambassador for Soonerthon, I basically was tasked with raising as much money as possible for the Children’s Miracle Network Foundation. I fell hard and fast for Soonerthon. There is nothing more rewarding than getting the chance to spend the day with some of the best kiddos on the planet and get to watch them enjoy being a kid for the day. The number of money we raise is important, but it is so much more than a number. That number is lives changed. That number is families getting to stay in Oklahoma to get the care their child needs. That number is so much more than a dollar amount, and I am so beyond blessed that I got to play a part in it. This year, I also learned that I get to serve on Soonerthon for the second year in a row as a team captain on Ambassadors, so I absolutely cannot wait!

One thing that I strive for every single year, is to grow in my faith. There is not a single “perfect” Christian out there because there is always room for growth. I actually love that concept. I will never be done learning and growing closer to God. God continues to amaze me year after year. In the moment I might not understand what he is doing or what he is trying to teach me, but a little farther down the road, I realize that everything happens for a reason. God never fails to reveal his glory to me and I am so thankful for that. This year God had me step out of my comfort zone, but it was so worth it in the end.

In January, I had the honor of being named the new Editor-in-Chief for the University of Oklahoma’s Odyssey community. I had big shoes to fill because of my EIC, Julia Bauer, was seriously such an incredible leader and mentor to me. I love being the EIC to my team. I get to edit articles and write articles, but most importantly I get to create relationships with my fellow colleagues on my team. I have grown so much as a leader this semester, and Odyssey is part of the reason to thank for that. I love my team so much, and I am so blessed to be their EIC!

 

 

My major is public relations, and I have seriously grown so much as a public relations professional this year. M first semester of sophomore year, I took intro to public relations and from there I fell in love. This semester I took public relations writing, public relations publishing, and global public relations. I seriously learned so much from those three classes. I also had the opportunity to be a part of OU’s student-run advertising and public relations agency, Lindsey + Asp, which also gave me great insight on the agency side of public relations. In April, I got to start my time as the public relations intern for Oklahoma Watch. I get to help set up for their monthly forums and it seriously so much fun! I love having so many opportunities to grow as a professional, and I cannot wait to learn more before I go out into the real world.

There are not many people I would go back to my high school for, but my best friend is one of them. My senior year of high school I took my best friend Ally to prom, and this year, I had the honor of being her date to her senior prom. It was so much fun getting to spend the day getting all dolled up with her and then spending the night dancing away. I mean let’s be honest, who needs a guy when you have the most perfect best friend on the planet? I am seriously so blessed that I get to call this girl my best friend. God knew that I needed her in my life. I cannot wait until she is at OU with me in the fall!

Well, there you go a highlight of some of the best moments of my sophomore year of college. I made so many incredible memories, but it might have taken you a couple days to read this blog post if I had included all of them. I am seriously so blessed to have one mighty God, an incredible family, perfect sisters, the best best friend, and the chance to attend the best university on the planet.

 

Step Back

It is the week before dead week, which basically means that life is literally hell at the moment (yes, I know I am dramatic). I am in the final stretch of my sophomore year of college, which basically for me means tears, three group project presentations, the last bit of homework, working my butt off to pick up my grades, studying, living in Gaylord, lots of coffee and a whole whole whole lot of stress (oh and did I mention tears?).

I literally feel like I am at my breaking point. I am almost halfway done with my college years, but the end seems so far away. Do not get me wrong, I love the University of Oklahoma and I absolutely love my major, but college is hard. I am using every last ounce of my energy, yet it still does not seem like it is enough.

After an hour of laying in my bed crying and ranting to my best friend on FaceTime, I had to pull myself together to go to my favorite study spot to get some work done. On the way there, I decided to FaceTime my Nana so I could see my two sweet baby cousins to help me cheer up a little bit. That was exactly what I needed.

My little princess Blakelee was snoozing, but luckily my sweet Kaden was awake. He usually is not the type to pay attention to me when I FaceTime (he is only four), but today it was like he knew exactly what I needed. In the sweetest little voice, I hear, “RaRa will you come to my house and play with me today please?” Oh, sweet boy if I was not two hours away I would be there in a heartbeat. I got to the library, so I had to say goodbye, and Kaden kissed the screen to tell me bye. Isn’t that just the sweetest?

That got me thinking, wow I am seriously so blessed. I have a family that loves me more than anything, I have friends that care about me, and most importantly, I have a God that is always on my side. What more could I ask for?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6: 25-27

Sometimes you just have to step back and look at the bigger picture. Worrying will literally do nothing for anyone.Yes, I am stressed, but it is not worth it to literally make myself sick about it. I had to step back and realize that there is more to life than stressing about every little thing at school because I am a perfectionist. School and my education are very important to me and they are things I care about, but why let that stress consume me? I get up every day because of God and what He did for me and continues to do for me, nothing else. So that is the only thing I should let consume me.

When life gets overwhelming, step back and remember who you belong to. You belong to God, the creator of heaven and earth, me and you. Step back and think about all of the blessings God has placed in your life. I promise you that God is bigger than that feeling of anxiety and stress. Lean on Him to get you through it.

Tis The Season of Stress

15056381_1445567062120889_5386928071452584417_nIt is finally fall in Oklahoma. The temperature is starting to drop, the leaves are changing colors and falling from the tress and Starbucks’ holiday cups are officially back. I am not the biggest fan of cold weather, but I absolutely love fall mainly because that means it is time to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner.

Fall also means that it is crunch time for college students. Dead week and finals week is approaching faster than we expected, projects and papers are piling up and stress is at an all time high right now. It is our last chance to attempt to bring our grades up to where we would like them to be (even though the pessimist in me knows that it will not happen in my case). The stress will not subside until we are on our way back to our hometown after our last final, only to return when we come back in January.

Stress is incredibly hard to deal with. It makes a lot of people cranky, physically and mentally exhausted and it can even plant doubts in our head. For me personally, when I am stressed I start to question everything. I question my self-worth and my ability. I question my purpose. I question if I am on the right path. Then, all of the questioning makes me stress out even more. It is a vicious never-ending cycle.

Today I decided to sit outside of the Oklahoma Memorial Union at the University of Oklahoma to work on homework and study.  Then I just stopped. I stopped to look around me and just put life on pause. I looked around to see my beautiful campus and the signs of fall around me. It was an incredibly beautiful day: not too hot, and not too cold. The lovely colored leaves were falling onto the table where I sat.  I took it all in for a moment.

In this moment, I realized that stressing out over all the things I have on my plate right now was silly. I know that it will all get done and come together as long as I keep working hard. This is my second year of college, I know that if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. Even though my studies are super important to me, I realized that my grades and my degree do not define me. What defines me? My love for Jesus Christ and my dedication to glorify Him in everything from my words to my actions.

I also realized that there was no point to allow my stress to consume me and make me question myself. All of that doubt that was placed in my mind came straight from satan trying to discourage me, but you know what? Satan is defeated by God. The devil holds no power over me because God always wins. I know that my worth comes from God, so I am worthy. I am able to do anything with God on my side. I know that God has a purpose for my life. I know that no matter what path of life I am on, God already knows the outcome, yet He still walks right beside me as I go down any road.

I love the little reminders of how incredible God is whether it be simple or complex.

It is hard not to be completely in awe of God when I simply walk outside and see his masterpiece. It is hard not to realize your worth when you think about the fact that the same God who created this universe, created you and me. He could make anything He wanted, and He decided to create each of us unique and special in our own way.

It is easy to get wrapped up in what the world has to say about who you are and what you should be doing, but just remember where your worth comes from. It comes from your Heavenly Father who loves you more than you even know.

So if you need a reminder of your worth and value today, just walk outside and realize that God created everything around you and YOU. It is the perfect reminder of His perfect love and mighty power. If that does not make you feel special, then I do not know what will.

With all that being said, the next time you are overcome with stress, just pause for a minute and realize who you are and whose you are. You are a son or daughter of God. You are His child. You were made perfectly and uniquely in His image.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, and I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14-15

 

 

 

The One To Turn To

I absolutely love going to school at the University of Oklahoma. It is my second year here, and I have been lucky enough to find a major that makes learning fun, a sorority that is my home away from home, organizations that help me be a part of things bigger than myself and a church that helps me grow in my relationship with God.

You might look at those things and think that I have figured this “college thing” out. I have learned a whole lot, but I still struggle. I still have my daily breakdowns and my daily calls to my mom. College is hard (like really hard), but I try to just take it one day at a time.

Lately, I have been feeling extremely lonely. This is my second year being away from home for a school year, and  it is still hard on me. I still get homesick. I have friends and my sisters here. I talk to my family literally every single day. I talk to my best friend all day and every day through lots of  texts and facetimes. Although I have some incredible people in my life, when life gets rough I tend to get super lonely and sad.

I know that in my case, when life gets hard I tend to completely shut down. I do not want to talk to anyone. I do not want to be around anyone. I just want to be alone which makes me feel even lonelier.

Luckily, there is someone I can turn to during those times. Someone who is there for me no matter what time of day it is. Someone who is there for me no matter what day it is. Someone who is there for me no matter where I am at. Someone who is there for me even when I do not deserve it. Someone who is there for me during the good times and the bad. Someone who is there for me when I realize I need help, and even when I do not realize it. Someone who is there for me forever and always. Someone who never leaves my side.

Who is that someone? That someone is God.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There is something amazing about that verse that gives me an instant peace. The God that created the universe cares about us and promises that He will always be there for us. That is pretty amazing if you think about it.

It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in everything that is going on around me. It is easy to get stressed out. It is easy to forget my worth and value during hard times. It is easy to get caught in a storm and feel like I will never escape.

God still loves you in all of those situations. He does not love you any less when you mess up. He knows you inside and out. God wants you to come to him no matter what you are feeling.

There is one thing that I have to remember: God is a constant. He will always be there for me no matter what.

Life gets hard and things change, but luckily one thing that never changes is who God is and how much He loves us.

My family and friends are great at comforting me, and I love them for their endless love and support. But, I have to always remember to turn to God first. He knows where I am at and He understands how I am feeling. He is the God of Comfort who can instantly put me at peace.

When the world fails me, which it always will, God is right there waiting for me. All I have to do is turn to Him through prayer and His word (the bible). Luckily, He always knows exactly what to say.

So the next time you are like me and feeling a type of lonely that you cannot even explain, turn to your Creator. Turn to your God that loves you. Turn to your King of Peace. Turn to your Heavenly Father.

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:23-26

 

Looking Forward

As the end of my first semester of freshman year draws to an end, it is the perfect time to take a moment to reflect on everything I have learned this semester. It has definitely been a huge transition to go from living under my parents roof, to having complete freedom in college. It has been a semester full of change, new things, and growth. There were times that I didn’t think I would make it through, but I did it. I am so lucky to still have the support of my amazing family and friends back home. They are my biggest cheerleaders, and they are the ones that make me want to do my very best so that I can make them proud. It has been hard to be away from my family and friends back in Broken Arrow, but Norman is starting to feel like home and I couldn’t be happier.

It is difficult to be away from my family and friends in Broken Arrow, but luckily they are here for me every step of this journey. I couldn’t be more thankful for the daily texts, phone calls, face times, care packages, and pictures they send me to make sure I know that they are always rooting for me. I wouldn’t be able to survive without their constant support and love. I am lucky to have a best friend who still stays by my side even though I can’t always physically be there for her, and a little sister who helps me face time my dogs when I’m feeling sad.

Luckily in  Norman I have found a home away from home where I can be myself around people that care about me and want the best for me. I am so lucky that this semester I found my home at Alpha Phi. It is an incredible feeling knowing that I have so many sisters that will always have my back. I have found girls in there that I know will still be my sisters not just for four years, but for the rest of my life. Some of these girls have seen me at my best and at my worst and they still love me the same. I have been so blessed by the bonds of my new sisterhood.

I have also found a home in the academic side at the University of  Oklahoma. It has definitely been hard, but I enjoy having classes that challenge me and help me grow academically. It may only be my first semester as a journalism major, but I already am so in love with it! I am not 100 percent certain that I will stay as a journalism major, but I am certain that even if I change my major it will still be something under the school of Gaylord. Being a media major is the right choice for me because nothing else fascinates me as much as the media world does. Media majors are the storytellers of the world. It is their job to be tell  the people of the world what is going on in the world no matter what side of the media realm you are on.

This semester I have been fortunate enough to write this blog for JMC 1013 at the University of Oklahoma and be a writer for the OU branch of The Odyssey. One of my articles for The Odyssey this semester got 16,592 (and counting) shares! It is so exciting to see my work get shared when I thought my mom was the only person who actually read my articles. It has been a great experience to put my work out there for the world to see it. I am excited to try more new things in this field and really step out of my comfort zone. I love having the chance to have various opportunities that can help with with my future media degree.

Right now I am back and forth between being a journalism major and being a public relations major. With either one I would still be in Gaylord, and I feel like I could be very happy in either path. I am sure as I continue on in school it will become more clear to me which path is the best choice for me. I am so eager to learn more about the various media majors and continue to grow in my skills and knowledge in the different career paths.

It has been a challenging, but incredible semester here at the University of Oklahoma. It is a great feeling to be confident in the fact that I know that this is where I belong. I am so excited for the next seven semesters of college and to see where God takes me. It might be a long hard road, but I know great things are at the end of it.

Please enjoy this video of compiled pictures of my first semester at the University of Oklahoma:

More than a Stereotype

Alpha Phi Girls; University of Oklahoma.
Alpha Phi Girls; University of Oklahoma.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you picture a girl in a sorority?

I know for most people things like: fake, shallow, ditzy, ignorant, materialistic, brat, spoiled, etc. comes to mind. They picture a perfect Victoria’s Secret Angel at college only there to party.

I am so much more than what you think a sorority girl really is and so are the thousands of other girls who I call my sisters.

We are intelligent, compassionate, kind, generous, inquisitive, bold, passionate, and so much more.

We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, writers, actors, singers, producers, anchors, politicians, fashion designers, wives, mothers, and so much more.

We are members of an organization that is so much bigger than ourselves. It is an organization where service, sisterhood, and scholarship are so important. We realize the importance of helping others in our community and the world, we cherish the bonds we make with the girls around us, and we make our education a priority.

Last year my chapter formed a team for our campus wide philanthropy event that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. We raised the most money out of all the different groups on campus. We know the significance of giving back to the community.

It is so easy to feel alone at a big university, but being apart of a sorority brings you a group of girls that will have your back no matter what. They are the only ones that will answer the phone at three in the morning when you need help. They are the girls that I have formed life long bonds with. Sisterhood is so important to us and we take it very seriously.

We are in a sorority because we came to a university to advance our education. We take pride in our high standards of grades and excellence.

I am so honored to be a woman in a sorority. I am proud of who we are and what we stand for.

Think of powerful women like Sophia Bush, Vanessa Williams, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Carrie Underwood, and Katie Couric. Would you be surprised to know that these women were apart of various sororities? Believe it because it is true.

So now when you think of a woman in a sorority think of us as strong, powerful women who strive to make a difference in this world. We are so much more than a stereotype.

 

 

 

Ten Ways to Succeed with Studying

Taken by Sierra Abbott

The days of walking into a class and taking a test without studying the night before are over. This is college and it is pretty much impossible to ace a test without studying endlessly. I was the girl in high school who made perfect graders without ever having to study, but sadly I got thrown into a new world where studying is absolutely necessary if you want to succeed.

In hopes of helping poor college students like me who did not know the ways of studying, here is a list of ten things, in no particular order, that help me get through the process of studying.

  1. Get out of your room

I know your room is comfy, but trust me get out of your room to study. If you are anything like me, when you try to study in your room you will either a) fall asleep or b) get distracted by Netflix (usually Gossip Girl).

2. Go to the library

My very favorite place to study is at the library. Granted, if you don’t attend the University of Oklahoma then you are seriously missing out because our library is so beautiful. I love the atmosphere of the whole building and it is a great environment for studying. My favorite room is the great reading room because it looks like it came straight from Harry Potter. The other good thing is that you can’t make noise, so it is the perfect place to get away from distractions.

3. Go alone

I am so much more focused if my friends do not come with me to study. If they come with me there are sure to be lots of laughs and not very much of the actual studying part. When I am alone I can accomplish so much more and get it done a lot faster.

4. Starbucks

What is studying if you don’t have the perfect Starbucks drink? I know that sounds silly, but I don’t think I could get through studying without my favorite study buddy: an iced vanilla latte. Coffee helps me get through those long nights of studying till the sun comes up.

5. Put your phone away

Yes I know that in today’s society it is so hard for us to disconnect from our cell phone even for a minute, but trust me you will retain more information and get so much more done if you just disconnect from the outside world for a little while. If you put your phone away you won’t get distracted by the vibrations of your phone that go off every five seconds.

6. Classical music

Don’t think I am lame, but listening to classical music is a must for me when I am studying. It helps to calm me down and focus on what I am doing. Don’t try to listen to pop, rap, country, or anything in between because it will not work. Go to the classical music pandora station and you will be set.

7. Index Cards

Index cards are probably one of my favorite study tools. I usually write all my notes down on a normal sheet of notebook paper and then transfer the terms or concepts on to index cards. If you put the term/concept on one side and the definition on the other, then you have a great way to study that isn’t just you straight reading what you need to learn.

8. Pretty pens

My brain does not like just looking at plain pencil or even just black ink. I like to spice up my notes with pretty colored pens (usually pink of course) so that looking at my notes is more fun. It makes studying a little less boring.

9. Snack breaks

Snack breaks are very important. Reward yourself in the middle of studying with a snack that will fuel you with more energy to keep going, But let’s be real, I usually reward myself with candy which is fine too.

10. Change it up

One thing that I have learned through studying is to not just focus on one thing for four hours straight. Break up your studying for one exam with homework from another class. Your brain will feel like mush if you only focus on one thing all night without changing it up.

These ten things are what help me study in college and hopefully they can help you out too! Best of luck to all of you out there that know the pain of studying and are experiencing it at great levels right now. You can do it!

Feel free to let me know what helps you study! Leave your tips in the comments!

 

My home away from home

College is a completely new experience for me. I’m just a little freshman who had never spent a day away from my mom till now. I was born and raised in Broken Arrow and I never really strayed from home. It has definitely been a tough adjustment for me, but I am so lucky to have found a home here in Norman.

I was so scared to go through recruitment, but I am so glad I did because Alpha Phi became my new home. I am going to be honest, it was not love at first sight; however, after philanthropy day, I knew Alpha Phi was where I belonged. Nothing brings you closer to a group of girls than really seeing their hearts and how much serving meant to them. Serving others is just something that makes my heart happy, so in that moment I knew.

Alpha Phi has brought me a sisterhood that I could not survive college without. I have met so many incredible girls that I probably would never know if I was not apart of this sisterhood. I am apart of something that is so much bigger than myself.

Being apart of Alpha Phi brought me a pledge class of one hundred and two beautiful ladies. I have one hundred and two new sisters that will have my back (and that is not even counting the other two hundred sophomore, junior, and senior girls).

Another blessing that Alpha Phi gave me was a big. Having a big is pretty much having an honorary big sister that is stuck with you forever. It is a great feeling to know that you have a big sister that is there for you no matter what. I have always been the big sister, so it is great having an older girl that is there to look out for me and to just make me feel loved.

Tonight is initiation and that means that I will officially be an Alpha Phi for forever and always. I am beyond excited to officially be a member of this incredible sisterhood. Thank you Alpha Phi for being my home away from home.

AOE

10624895_1098997903444475_5229104282044688876_n