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.

 

Ready For My Close Up

I hate to disappoint you, but I do not have any complaints or hardships from this week of class in Public Relations Publishing. Why might you ask? Because I did not have to even open Adobe Premiere Pro once this week (can I get a hallelujah).

Instead, this week I learned how to operate a camera from the cage in Gaylord in order to conduct my interview for our video project.

All I have to say is thank goodness my partner for this project knows how to operate everything on a camera or this blog post would probably not be as positive. I was not blessed in being knowledgeable about anything technological if you have not noticed by now. I am only experienced in good ole iPhone photography/videography.

Today we got to dive right in and film our interviews and shoot some B-roll (I love that word, it makes me sound like I actually know what I am doing).

I am a little camera shy, so it was a little awkward for me to be in front of the camera today (very ironic since I used to be a broadcast journalism major). On the other hand, I had so much fun interviewing my partner. It is always a great experience to learn a little more about your colleagues because that does not always happen when you sit in the same spot and talk to the same group of people in your classes every day.

Get ready for next week’s blog post because you will finally get to see the finished video project and probably hear me complain a lot about how hard Adobe Premiere Pro is if we are being honest.

Welcome To Canva

This week in Public Relations Publishing, we were tasked to create social media for the organization of our choice on Canva, aka the easiest design website out there. Usually I am telling you all about my struggles of learning Indesign or Photoshop, but this week I got to use Canva, which I luckily already have experience with for creating various content.

Canva is basically Indesign/Photoshop for those less technically inclined (aka me). It is straightforward and simple to use. Most of its features are free, which is great for those who just want to create content in a short time period and publish it as soon as possible. There are pre made layouts to choose from, different elements like shapes and pictures you can add, a text box feature, a way to upload your own photographs, simple ways to change colors/font/spacing and overall just easy to use.

Social media is one of the best ways to promote events in todays day and age. Almost everyone has access to social media, and usually everyone is at least on one platform or more. This allows organizations to reach a wider audience with their content. It is incredibly important for public relations practitioners to be able to create content that is relevant and popular to those who will see it. Social media is one of the best tools for a public relations practitioner.

I chose to make my social media for Spring Preview Day at the University of Oklahoma, which is a day for perspective freshman women to get their first glimpse of what greek life is all about at OU. I specifically chose to direct women to want to check out Alpha Phi, the sorority that I am a member of.

I made my content simple and to the point, but enough to make those perspective Panhellenic women want to see more about Alpha Phi.

Check out what I created this week:

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social media post

Hi There!

I am Sierra Abbott, but you can just call me Sierra. I am 19-years-old, and I am in the second semester of my sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma. My major is public relations and my minors are Spanish and nonprofit organizational studies.

There are various organizations on campus, and I am lucky enough to be a part of some incredible groups with wholesome people. I am a member of Alpha Phi, Public Relations Student Society of America, Soonerthon Exec, Lindsey + Asp, and I am the Editor-in-Chief for OU’s Odyssey community.

I am luckily enough to have my home where my family is and a home away from home here in Norman. I grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and I still live there. My home away from home in Norman is the beautiful Alpha Phi house where I currently live with over 80 of my sisters.

My biggest motivators are my supportive family members and my incredible friends. I would not be where I am at today without them. They constantly push me to dream big, never give up and to be the best version of myself. I am incredibly thankful for their endless love and support. I hope that I can make them proud in everything I do.

One of the things that I love more than anything is writing. I love writing because it helps me escape reality, pour my heart out, connect to others on a deeper level and hopefully even make a difference. I started writing for fun, but during my freshman year at OU I decided to become a Content Creator for Odyssey and create my own blog. I started out thinking that nobody would care about the things I was writing about, but I was thoroughly surprised when I started getting feedback from people other than my parents.

Another thing that I have a big passion for is public relations. I started my time at OU as a journalism major, but I changed to public relations the second semester of my freshman year. Public relations stood out to me because it encompasses a variety of things I enjoy: writing, meeting new people, social media, and other things. I love that public relations practitioners have the power to really change the paradigm the public has of various companies and organizations.

I am excited that I have the opportunity to grow my skills and learn new skills during my time at OU. I am eager to learn more about the public relations world and network with my incredible colleagues and professors.

If you have any other questions about me, feel free to ask!

One Of OU’s Best Kept Secrets

When I first came to the University of Oklahoma as a senior in high school, I immediately fell in love. Everything about it from the people to the actual surroundings made me feel at home. I knew that OU was where I was meant to be, and I could not wait to come back again.

When I finally made the move to campus my freshman year, it took me a little while to find the perfect place to study and do homework. I have been a Gaylord student since I started college, so I thought Gaylord would be the perfect place to search for that perfect spot.

When I first went into Gaylord during my free time, I decided to explore a little bit to find that perfect place. I ended up finding the balcony, and I knew that it was the spot for me.

The Gaylord balcony is my favorite spot on campus for various reasons. First off, many OU students and even many Gaylord students do not know of this hidden treasure. You would be surprised at how many people look shocked when I tell them where I am at.

I love to sit up there and read a book, write a new blog post, do my homework, or study. There is something soothing about being outside and looking out to see God’s beautiful handiwork around me. You might think that it would be a distracting place, but I love it. I love to hear the sounds of cars driving by, people walking and talking and whatever else is going on.

There is something about being outside and being up above the ground on a balcony that helps me find inspiration. As a public relations major and the Editor-in-Chief for OU’s Odyssey community, I am constantly looking for ways to inspire my team and myself. The world is always changing, yet when I am up on the balcony thinking the world seems to pause. In that moment I can take the time to really think things through and get stuff done. That is a great feeling.

During Oklahoma’s nice weather days, I love to sit out there and enjoy the weather. During Oklahoma’s chilly weather days, I love to put on a lot of layers, grab a warm cup of Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate, maybe even bring a blanket and spend a little bit of time out there doing homework. During Oklahoma’s crazy severe weather days, I will be smart and do all of my work inside Gaylord because we know how bad those nights can get.

The best part is when I am on Gaylord’s balcony during a sunset. It is an incredible sight to watch the Oklahoma sky change colors as the sun sets and the moon comes up. Sometimes I have to take a break from whatever I am doing to just enjoy it.

If you are looking for that perfect spot, I highly recommend that you do some exploring of your own. I might be biased, but you should check out Gaylord’s balcony because it does not disappoint.

 

 

Why I Am FTK

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What is FTK you may ask?

FTK is for the kids. It’s the slogan for dance marathons at universities, colleges and high schools across  North America that raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Last year, I decided to be a participant at Soonerthon. Soonerthon is the University of Oklahoma‘s dance marathon that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital right here in Oklahoma City, OK. This event is OU’s official philanthropy. It is a 12 hour dance marathon where OU students come together to stay on their feet for 12 hours in order to symbolize various things, like the fact that many nurses are on their feet for shifts that last for 12 hours, or even longer.

Soonerthon 2016 was an incredible day. We got to celebrate and hang out with the kiddos from the hospital, dance for 12 hours straight and raise an incredible amount of money for these kids and their families who deserve our support and love.

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Soonerthon raised $721,941.16 last year. I raised a little over $1,00 of that, and I was so thankful that I decided to participate in something as amazing as Soonerthon. I cannot even describe the feeling that I got when I saw that number on stage last March. It made me proud to be a part of the University of Oklahoma because I could see first hand the heart of my university. It felt so great to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. We raised that money for the kids.

soonerthon.ou.edu
From: soonerthon.ou.edu

This year, I have the honor of being on Soonerthon Exec. I am a Soonerthon Ambassador. Basically, my goal is to raise as much money as I can for the kids. We are starting a million dollar campaign this year, so our goal is to raise $1 million for the amazing kiddos at the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in OKC.

Why am I FTK?

I am for the kids because they deserve to have a normal childhood. They deserve to play with their friends and go to school without thinking about their next trip to the hospital that can last days, weeks and even months. They deserve to be carefree and pain free. They deserve to be kids.

I wanted to participate in this cause because of my friend Unique. From the seventh grade to my junior year of high school, I saw my sweet friend spend so much time at the hospital. I would visit her often, and even though she was spending so much time at the hospital, she never lost her positive spirit. I never once saw a big smile leave her face. She was brave. She was bold. She was Unique. After she passed away, I knew I wanted to do something in her honor. When I heard about Soonerthon, I knew I found my chance to honor her memory.

I want to first encourage you to get  involved in an organization that you are passionate about. Whether you are in high school, college, or a “real” adult, it is imperative that you give back to your community. Many of us are living the “good life” right now. I’m not saying a lot of us don’t have struggles, trust me we all do. I’m saying that a majority of us probably have a high school degree, maybe a college degree, a roof over our heads, food on the table, a healthy body, a family to support us, etc. Think of all the good things you have in your life that others might not have. If you have any of the things I mentioned above, you need to give back to your community. Do something that is bigger than yourself.

Check out this recap video from Soonerthon 2016 to get inspired:

FTK

 

 

 

The Reality of Sexual Assault

Credit: Her Campus
Credit: Her Campus

It’s 2016, but for some reason we are still in the stone ages when it comes to spreading awareness about the realities of sexual assault. We see it every day on the news and even on campus. Young women across the country are being sexually assaulted, yet we haven’t made a change. It’s literally right in front of our faces, what more of a wakeup call do we need?

According to RAINN, “every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Meanwhile only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”

They also stated that “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 9 of every 10 victims of rape are female.”

When it comes to college campuses, “women ages 18-24 are at an elevated risk of sexual violence. Sexual violence is more prevalent at college, compared to other crimes. Only 20 percent of female student victims age 18-24, report to law enforcement. Only 32 percent of non-student females the same age do make a report.”

I know that is a lot of statistics, but I think it’s important to educate yourself on what is going on. The numbers are right in front of your face. It’s obvious that we need to make a change.

Young women should not have to be afraid of getting raped. I know it happens to men as well, but sadly women are at more of a risk according to statistics. We shouldn’t have to be scared to walk from the library back to our rooms because we might get raped. We shouldn’t have to be scared to go out to our cars at night. We shouldn’t have to worry about being sexual assaulted literally at any time or place.

A majority of higher institutions and government have let women across America down. We see people like Brock Turner and famous athletes get out with little to no consequences while the women who were sexually assaulted have to live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. How is this okay? It’s not.

It hits a little closer to home when I see research about sexual assault victims come straight from my university. The University of Oklahoma Psychology Clinic conducted research on sexual assault that was published in April of 2016.

The OU Daily, recently published an article discussing the research. It said that “out of 823 students surveyed 152 said they had been sexually assaulted at OU.”

Credit: OUDaily
Credit: OUDaily

That is just at OU. That number horrifies me. People come to college to get an education, not to be fearful or even experience first hand sexual assault. That number is already 19 percent, but just think of how much higher it would be if they didn’t ask about sexual assault specifically at OU?

OU President David Boren is quoted in the article saying that “[He has] always felt that the problem (sexual assault) is very significant. That’s one of the reasons why [He] wanted to make sure that we had a very strong Title IX program and why [He wants] a hotline – because [He is] not surprised. [He knows] we’ve got a problem and that colleges all across the country have a problem, but it’s an understandable problem.”

Please tell me how this is “an understandable problem?” How is sexual assault ever understandable? Let me answer that for you – it’s not. We can’t let sexual assault be the new normal. It’s not okay.

The article also said that “in January 2015, the Title IX office distanced itself from the survey – (Lisa) Frey said the office withdrew its support from the research, but Assistant Title IX Director Kathleen Smith said the office asked to delay the survey. The researchers are concerned that their report was met with relative silence.”

Sexual assault is a prevalent issue on college campuses. We have to pay attention. Universities have to pay attention. The country as a whole has to pay attention.

A relatively new slogan on OU’s campus is “Not on OUr campus.” It’s goal is to suggest that at the University of Oklahoma we don’t allow things like sexual assault, yet that is not how everyone interprets it.

The article quotes Scott Secor, a third year doctoral student in counseling psychology. He said that “[He thinks] for a lot of people who have survived this (sexual assault) , it actually constitutes a denial that (sexual assault) is happening on our campus.”

We can’t deny that sexual assault is happening on our campus, and thousands of other campuses across America. The facts are right in front of our face. It is happening, but many of those who have experienced sexual assault are too afraid to come forward for various reasons. A lot of people feel like nobody will believe them, so they try to deal with the pain on their own. We have to make sure that we open the conversation about sexual assault, so more people will feel safe coming forward.

Finally, the article quotes Boren again. He said that “we try to really train students about (sexual violence), and you try to also say, ‘Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no.’ Can we eradicate the problem? Not any more than we can eradicate human nature.”

“Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no?” How about we teach boys about consent. How about we teach boys to be gentlemen and not force themselves onto women – drunk or sober. We can’t blame the victims. It doesn’t matter if they are drunk or sober – no woman deserves that.

Boren did release a statement regrading this OU Daily article via Twitter (@President_Boren). He said “I realize that we live in a world in which people try to interpret what other’s are attempting to say. Let me make it 100 percent clear, I emphatically believe that it is wrong to ever put the blame on a victim of sexual assault or misconduct. It is a core value of all of the many programs on our campus put in place to combat sexual misconduct, to never put blame on the victim. It is also a violation of my personal values and beliefs. We have stretched resources at OU to support programs aimed at minimizing sexual misconduct. I could not more strongly support these efforts in minimizing sexual assault and misconduct on our campus.”

It was a smart public relations move for Boren to release a statement following the OU Daily article, but OU students want action and not just words. Yes, there are sexual assault programs in place, but obviously we need some stronger actions. We have to eliminate this new “norm.”

Things like this are happening all over the world, not just at OU. You see the facts. You see what is going on across America. We have to make a change. We as in those who have experienced sexual assault. We as in women who don’t want to be scared to be alone on a daily basis. We as in men that realize sexual assault in not okay. We as in people of the world that want a change.