The Journey of a Yerd

A yearbook nerd’s reflection on doing yearbook for six years

When I was a freshman in high school, I remember filling out a form during my English class that expressed my interest in wanting to join yearbook. The form was supposed to help me determine what classes I wanted to take the next school year. At my school, yearbook doubled as an extracurricular activity and a class titled “Publications,” so it was listed as an elective on the form. I don’t remember why exactly, but I had to choose an elective from the list, so I chose Publications. I didn’t actually want to take Publications that next year, though. Signing up for yearbook would take away my lone free spot in my schedule, and I wanted to fill it with Spanish II to complete my foreign language requirement.

During my appointment with the guidance counselor when we’d determine my sophomore year schedule, she asked me about taking Publications. I told her I actually wanted to take Spanish II instead. But there was a reason I picked Publications on that form. I didn’t just pick it to pick it because I had to choose something. I picked it because I really was intrigued by the idea of helping create a yearbook and the creativity that’s required of it. And, after all, I was one of those people who had always loved getting and flipping through yearbooks.

When it came time to choose my classes for my junior year of high school, I undoubtedly knew that I wanted to stop taking Spanish and join yearbook instead. My foreign language requirement would already be fulfilled, and the extra honors credit that came along with Spanish III wasn’t anywhere near as enticing as was the chance to take a fun class for once and use my creativity in Publications. My best friend Phoebe would be in the class and so would my friend Josh. I was in no position to pass on this opportunity.

And I’m glad I did, because joining yearbook was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Read more “The Journey of a Yerd”

Illinois happened for a reason

A very recent alumna’s reflection on the opportunities of four years at Illinois

When I was applying for colleges a little over four years ago, I was fortunate enough to already know what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go to help make that a reality: the University of Kansas.

Contrary to popular belief—or rather what my favorite teacher, Mr. Clark, thought—I didn’t simply want to go to Kansas for college just because it’s Kirk Hinrich’s alma mater. That just happened to be a wonderful perk. As an aspiring sports writer, KU’s prestigious journalism program was attractive. As a basketball fanatic, I wanted to go to a basketball school, and KU is pretty much the definition of that considering the men’s basketball team’s great history and success.

Kansas seemed like the perfect place for me to be, and I was convinced it was despite never having even gone on a visit there. When I told my friends and classmates my reasoning behind it, they understood and saw why I’d fit there.

So I applied to the school as a journalism major, received my acceptance, and was even offered a scholarship. I’d hear from with representatives from the school who would mention also loving Kirk Hinrich (Thanks to social media it was no secret Kirk was my favorite). I was happy about the prospect of my future and was hopeful that I’d get my perfect college experience. Read more “Illinois happened for a reason”

One Book, One Campus, One Group of People Brought Together By One Person

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Meeting Jamie Tworkowski with the TWLOHA UIUC UChapter

On June 30 at 1:02 p.m., my twin sister, Amanda, received a text from our best friend Carly:

“If you’re free right now, please call me! I have (some) exciting news!”

We text, tweet, and Snapchat one another all the time, but we never call one another, making it a bit of an odd request. So Amanda and I figured it had to be really exciting news for Carly to request a phone call because just reading the news through a text would not live up to its importance.

Two minutes later, we called Carly from Amanda’s phone. And sure enough, Carly had exciting news.

“Jamie’s coming to campus!”

No way.

Carly called to let us know that Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms and New York Times bestselling author, would be coming to our school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this school year. His book If You Feel Too Much was selected for the One Book One Campus event, so he would be coming to U of I to do a lecture and book signing. The expanded edition of If You Feel Too Much would also be out by the time he came, too.

We could not be more thrilled, because we all love Jamie.
Read more “One Book, One Campus, One Group of People Brought Together By One Person”

(S)Portlandia Adventures

Portland

This semester, I decided to take an overload semester just for a chance of going to Portland. As difficult as all of the school was at times, I’m glad I did it.

I enrolled in a second eight-week Media course called “SportsMedia Industry Immersion” and the class was centered around a week-long trip to Portland scheduled for after finals, from May 15-21.

What really sold me on the trip was the potential visit to Nike World Headquarters.

I first learned about the class/trip to Portland over winter break, so sometime in late December or early January, and the description mentioned how Nike would likely be one of the places visited. I absolutely love Nike, so that alone was enough for me to want to go on the trip.

Once Nike was confirmed, seeing their campus was the thing I was most looking forward to. Interestingly enough, going to Nike wasn’t necessarily the best part about the trip to Portland. But really, that’s just because of how great of a time I had in Portland as a whole. Read more “(S)Portlandia Adventures”

Legendary: Honoring Kobe Bryant and His Dedication

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The following post is something I wrote after I first heard about Kobe Bryant’s decision to retire after the 2015-16 season, after reading his farewell letter to the sport of basketball. I didn’t necessarily feel like publishing this at the time, though. I wrote this more as a personal piece for me to reflect, to get my feelings out there, to figure out what those feelings truly were.

That changed Wednesday evening.

As I watched Kobe’s farewell begin on ESPN with Kobe sitting on the bench, staring up at the abnormally large video board at the Staples Center, I felt a little sadder than I thought. I felt like I could have cried if I really wanted to, as if the tears slowly started to build up, but ultimately never left because I didn’t feel emotional enough.

Then he made those pair of free throws to score 60 points, and I wanted to cry more than ever before that night. Not sad tears, but happy tears: A 60-point game is such a grand way to go out, and it made me happy to see.

But I never expected that I would even potentially cry.

For some reason, at that moment, I decided this was something I wanted to publish. I’m not sure why, but I suppose it’s just my way of honoring the Black Mamba. Read more “Legendary: Honoring Kobe Bryant and His Dedication”

A Decade of TWLOHA

TWLOHA10

Wednesday, March 30 marks the 10th anniversary of To Write Love on Her Arms. While I haven’t been completely invested in TWLOHA since its start, I have known about the organization for most of its 10 years of existence. In recent years, I’ve become very, very supportive of TWLOHA and its message, contributing to the excitement I felt when I first heard about #TWLOHA10.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB5MnYtD-K8]

My wallet, however, wasn’t as excited to learn about the #TWLOHA10 collection. I restrained myself from buying more than one item from the collection, though, and settled for the “City Shirt” because I don’t have a shirt like it already.

When I received my shirt in the mail, I found four #TWLOHA10 response cards accompanying my shirt. (Print out the cards, and fill them out!) The cards were meant to be filled out to helped celebrate TWLOHA’s 10th birthday. As I thought about what to include on the card, I realized I wanted to write several sentences, an entire paragraph, maybe even a few. I didn’t want to do that, and I didn’t want to post four different photos of each card on Instagram with a short story. I didn’t want to just have black words on the card either.

I also wanted to be creative, so that’s what I did. Or at least, that’s what I tried to do. Read more “A Decade of TWLOHA”

Thank you, Captain

Captain - Blog Post

I thought it was over.

It was already a few minutes past 2 p.m. The trade deadline had come, and it seemed as though the Bulls were standing pat despite rumored efforts to deal Pau Gasol.

I kept scrolling through my Twitter timeline, though. My sports PR class still hadn’t started yet, so I figured I could try and catch whatever last-minute trades were made.

But then I saw his name: Kirk Hinrich. Read more “Thank you, Captain”

Favorite Books of 2015

Books 2015

For someone who wants to be a writer, I honestly don’t read too many books. Most of the books I read throughout the year are books assigned for school, and I don’t get too much time to read books for pleasure other than summertime. And, when I do read for pleasure, it typically takes me a very long time to complete a book because I tend to read slow. Despite all of that, I read a decent amount of books in 2015—both for school and for pleasure. Read more “Favorite Books of 2015”

New Year’s Eve 2015: Holding on to Hope

NYE 2015

As I’m writing this, there are less than four hours until the New Year. I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, and I’m not really one to celebrate New Year’s. I just don’t find it exciting like some people do and am not into the whole party scene associated with it. I’m not hating on it all at, but it just isn’t me.

I do, however, like to reflect on the past year just like most everyone else when it comes to the New Year.

It’s difficult for me to reflect on 2015 as a whole, though, because it just seems like so much. It seems like such a long time—which it can be depending on how it’s looked at.

Somehow it seems like the year just dragged on, yet, at the same time, it seems like 2015 went by relatively quickly. But then I consider that I can hardly reflect on the spring semester let alone 2015 in its entirety. Read more “New Year’s Eve 2015: Holding on to Hope”

Two Decades

Two Decades

Four weeks ago, I turned 20 years old. I didn’t think much of it then, and I don’t think much of it now.

I don’t find birthdays too exciting anymore. When you’re little, birthdays are a big deal because you get presents, cake and all of this attention. Everything is about you, and it’s great. Your birthday is a day that celebrates you; it celebrates your existence. Your birthday is a day that celebrates how far you’ve come so far in life and how far you can still go.

Somewhere along the way in my 20 years of existence, I lost the excitement for that. That’s not to say I don’t like birthdays anymore, but, to quote Jamie Tworkowski in his oh-so-wonderful book If You Feel Too Much, “i like birthdays. i like them more for other people, but I’m glad we celebrate them.” Read more “Two Decades”