Perks of Christmas Break


This year's tree! Putting up the tree is always my favorite part of the holidays.

We all know how it goes- you’re finally done with finals and couldn’t be more excited to be going home. Then no more than a week in, you’re bored of home already. It’s happened to the best of us!

Fortunately, there’s so much to look forward to over Christmas break that it’s so easy to fill up your schedule with friends, food, and fun!! So if you find yourself missing school on your time off, remember the following perks of Christmas break and take advantage!


1.) See old friends!

Chances are it’s been a while since you’ve hung out with some of your friends from back home! Be sure to make time to catch up!

2.) Spend time with family!

You know they’ve missed you, and you know you’ve missed them! Spend some quality time before you head back to school for another semester.



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3.) Get some good food!

Let’s be honest with ourselves- the dining hall was getting pretty old. Enjoy some home cooked meals and stop by your favorite restaurant. Treat yourself!


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4.) Earn money!

If possible, Christmas break is a great time to get some hours in at work! As a “broke college student”, that’s as good an opportunity as any!


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How are you spending your Christmas break?

Happy Holidays, and a wonderful Christmas break to all!

5 Tips For the New Year



photo cred: Gracefullee Made ]

I’m the type of person who finds solace in reflecting back on a year’s worth of memories.
They say that you shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about the past, but I find it just as worthy to look back at old mistakes in order to learn from them. If anything, struggles and difficult people I’ve encountered in the past have made me stronger as a person. Though I do admit that I’m guilty of wanting to change the past, I still keep my focus set on the present, in order to achieve what I want in the future.

Whether it’s academic achievements, meeting new friends, spending time with family or traveling, it’s always interesting to look back and see how far you’ve come. This helps me understand where I strayed off the path and how to do better and be better the next time around.

Instead of sharing my New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would compile a list of 5 tips to keep in mind as we head into 2016.


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Tip #1: Change your perspective and attitude.

Though I don’t particularly believe in the “new year, new me” slogan, because someone cannot “change” from one day to the next, I do believe that you can change your perspective and attitude towards certain people and things. Over the years, I’ve grown to understand that even when you think nobody’s watching, someone always is. Be mindful of your surroundings and be able to handle your attitude about something that doesn’t go your way.


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Tip #2: Invest in people who invest in you.

I mentioned before that I have encountered many difficult people in my life. Most of the time, I wish that I had never met them and wonder what would have happened if I had chosen to walk away. Instead of trying to fix the past, try learning from your mistakes. Take time to notice who cares enough to stay in your life and be the type of person you’re striving to meet. I do think we meet the wrong people in order to find the right ones.


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Tip #3: Understand that hard work never goes unnoticed.

The hardest part is being patient. I’m especially reminding myself of this because I am quite possibly the most impatient person you’ll ever meet. However, I’ve learned to control that and not let it show. Better yet, I’ve learned to change my perspective in the situation. This tip is also mindful for all you bloggers out there who are working hard to take your blog to the next level, or students striving to get into the college of your dreams, or anyone wanting to attain a goal that seems nearly impossible. Don’t. Give. Up. Success doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it.


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Tip #4: Stop comparing yourself to everyone else.

#guilty. We all do it. Comparison is the thief of joy, and all it does is tear you down. Let’s be real. Instead of beating yourself up over someone else’s success, let this be a challenge for you. Challenge yourself / push yourself to be the better version of you. Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing, let yourself be your competition.


Tip #5: Smile and laugh more.

I think we underestimate the power of smiling. Laughter is the best medicine, is it not? I think we worry too much on life’s little problems and it gets the best of us. Instead, try learning to breathesmile, and enjoy life. When you’re going through a stressful situation, try pausing the moment and remind yourself that life is about the journey, not the destination.

Even if these are tips you already use, it’s always good to have a reminder from time to time.

Thanks for reading!
Feel free to follow along on Pinterest for more inspiration, and be sure to head over to my blog Gracefullee Made!

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Meet Asher Carr, PSU ’16

Asher Carr, 16'. RHA President at Penn State Altoona

Asher Carr, 16′. RHA President at Penn State Altoona

Asher Carr, a rising Junior at Penn State University-Altoona, is a great example of a student leader with a unique, ongoing story of success and perseverance. He is a former cadet in the University’s ROTC program as well as President of the Altoona Residence Hall Association. It was his role in the RHA that lead him to CAACURH in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania and the NACURH Conference in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he met up with OCM.

As delegates from different regions travel to these conferences, so travels word of their service to campus and community. Asher caught up with OCM rep Mike Barnes to discuss his perspective on the importance of student leadership.

“[At NACURH] the number of student leaders and their ambition to make a change on their respective campuses was amazing,” reflected Asher on his first national conference. “It is amazing to be around people who will not settle for less and take time to make on-campus life better for their peers.

NACURH highlighted programming that encouraged diversity, sustainability, community, and leadership for delegates to bring back to their campuses. Asher shared how he took notice of this leadership when he was an underclassman on the Penn State campus.

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Mike Barnes of OCM, Sydney Eason from Roger Williams University, Zach Chase from Syracuse University and Rachel Olson from Boston College connect at NACURH ’14

“As a first-year student, I looked for desire and ambition; people who wanted to succeed,” he said. “I wanted to learn from people who brought value to others and had the wisdom to influence them to lead. A person with a burning desire to make things happen was the type of person I viewed as a success story.”

Asher currently writes his own unique success story. At just two days old, Asher underwent open-heart surgery, which granted him another chance to begin his journey.  “I try to do a lot because I was really close to not making it. That’s my drive for taking leadership,” he said. The surgery continues to affect some of the goals he set; a desire to serve in the United States military had to be amended as the demands of military training are not conducive to his condition. Asher sees this not as a limitation, but a motivation. He aims to apply his energy to serve as a leader in any way he can.

“If you really want something, I think you have to follow the people who have it and surround yourself with people who are willing to help,” he said. “Don’t let society dictate who you are or what you should do. Success happens on purpose and with a strong desire to succeed, you can literally do anything you want.”

Every student has their own unique story; their own “why” that motivates them. The goal of a college campus, and those who work within it, is to provide opportunities for students to discover that “why”. The best way to take advantage of these opportunities? Get involved.

“I wanted to get involved in the right way [as a first year],” Asher continued. “I joined organizations that interested me the most and stayed committed to helping each organization grow on campus; these lead me to multiple executive board positions. I plan on extending these opportunities.”

With two years left as an undergrad, Asher looks forward to continuing his Business Major with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and eventually starting his own business. Not surprisingly, he also hopes to inspire others through leadership. When asked what he would like to do after starting his own business, he shared he would like to take his mother to Disney World- how’s that for a storybook story?

Keep it up, Asher! For your dedication to R.O.T.C, RHA, your campus and your community, we thank you for your service and your story! Keep leading the way.

OCM’s “Engage U” is designed as a resource that shares positive examples of leadership and stories of success and the pursuit of it with students and professionals alike. In an educational community that spans across our country and abroad, there is an endless number of stories we can learn from. Everyone has a lesson to learn and a lesson to offer- we want to help share. Welcome to “Engage U”! What’s your story?

Connect with us at and let us know about a special leader or story from your campus!

T.J Sullivan Engages and Motivates ACUHO-I


MOTIVATE: TJ Sullivan, Keynote Speaker at ACUHO-I

TJ Sullivan

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T.J Sullivan opened his ACUHO-I keynote address with an anecdote about being an R.A applicant. “I had to pull a random object from a bag and say how I would use it for an educational program,” he said. “I pulled out a toothbrush and suggested a program about… dental hygiene.” After being outdone by an applicant who suggested painting a community mural about diversity with the toothbrush, Sullivan was not hired or even waitlisted! He joked that this conference could become his ‘revenge fantasy’. Though most of the audience was left in stitches, Sullivan’s motivating presentation proved the microphone suited him much better than the toothbrush.

Sullivan is a valued voice in the world of student affairs and residence life. After graduating Indiana University, he co-founded CampusSpeak and now presents at roughly 50 campuses and conferences a year. Follow TJ on Twitter @intentionalTJS. 

Today, Sullivan spoke of engagement. “Different levels of engagement,” he began, “can be found in any community; in your neighborhood, in society, and of course, on your campus.” Like the neighbors who keep their lawns immaculate, those who have a few projects here and there, and those who are just apathetic, people all have different engagement ‘identities’. Sullivan offered three categories:


As the audience laughed, Sullivan let out a sigh of relief. “That was my risk joke,” he admitted, “ glad you laughed at that.”

Top Third students value validation and dislike apathy. He ribbed that since they are always busy and seeking opportunities and awards, some might best be described as… ‘#ribbonsluts’. 

Middle third students dislike disorganization and negativity, favoring balance and relationships. They are very hard workers but often function in the background.

Bottom Third students like to complain and challenge things. “These are the students who a professor never sees or hears from until the end of the semester when they argue their poor grade.” Though seemingly apathetic, Sullivan noted these students were just as important to motivate.

Sullivan emphasized, “It is a very ‘Top-Third’ mistake to think your motivation is everyone else’s motivation.” The value in acknowledging different levels of engagement, for an administrator, is to recognize that not all three can be motivated by the same strategies and incentives. Each group has their own perspective on what makes effort valuable, and therefore requires a certain type of stimulus to spark their self-motivation.

“Lead, motivate, influence, and impact from where they are,” – @intentionalTJS

TJ Sullivan’s message was a perfect segway into the conference programming that would follow. The opening ceremonies celebrated leaders and encouraged a new generation who will lead, impact and motivate. The weekend’s programs and presentations would allow attendees to share the impact of specific programs/strategies on their campuses, in hopes that peers might adapt them to their own learning communities.

The University of Pittsburgh’s presentation of their Non-Alcoholic Mix Off, which earned the Program of the Year Award, was an impacting example. Let it impact YOU here.


Pitt’s Non-Alcoholic Mix-Off Impacts ACUHO-I


IMPACT: University of Pittsburgh’s Program of the Year

pitt rsaThe University of Pittsburgh’s RSA is honored by NACURH this year for their Non-Alcoholic Mix Off, a program inviting hundreds of students to educate each other about safer, smarter decisions in an environment that may surround them with temptation related to alcohol. Monday morning at ACUHO-I, students, graduates and professionals from Pitt shared the logistics of this Mix-Off program, hoping to not only improve their program for future years, but let it be adapted on other campuses and communities as well.

This past year, The Mix-Off at University of Pittsburgh earned over 500 attendees. Taking place during National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, the Mix-Off invites students to create non-alcoholic mixed drinks as part of a contest that also educates about the risks of alcohol consumption. Bragging rights for ‘best-tasting’, ‘worst-tasting’, ‘most spirited’ and ‘best theme’ are awarded. The event succeeds in getting first year students to meet each other, connect with campus groups, and learn about campus culture in a safe environment.

“97% of attendees learned something new,”- RSA


Pitt’s Non-Alcoholic Mix-Off in Schenley Quad. Photo by Ramesh C. Reddy

“86% believed they created a positive connection with the hall council,”- RSA

The presentation offered a specific budgetary analysis and an event planning schedule so that those in attendance could lead a similar program to their campus on a floor, building, or campus level. Attendees from areas spanning from Pennsylvania to Canada took notes and engaged in a lengthy, valuable Q&A after the presentation.

Of course, no program is ever complete or un-improvable, and the Pitt RSA hoped their future Mix-Off’s could include Greek participants as well. “Greek Life was the only area of campus life that did not participate,” the students shared. “We certainly hope that they do; they are part of our community. This is where the program needs to go.”

The conversation never stops- change is constant and programs are built to adapt. Does your group have an idea for this program, or a program of your own you are proud of? Share with us!

Congratulations to University of Pittsburgh on your Program of the Year Award, and for motivating the community to keep the conversation going!

ACUHO-I Celebrates Leaders and Next Generation


ACUHO-I 2014, Washington D.C

At the time of our nation’s founding, there were 9 higher education institutions in what would become the United States. Today, there are thousands. This weekend, higher education professionals from around the nation connected at ACUHO-I, celebrating the achievements of the experienced and ensuring the next generation of educators is equipped to lead, motivate and impact their communities.

inside odonovanOCM hosted the opening reception in Georgetown’s O’Donovan Hall, inviting professionals young and old to re-connect with a night of food, drink, and music. Indoor and outdoor reception areas made for an open yet intimate evening. Friendships were renewed, awards were given and the ACUHO-I conference in our nation’s capital was underway.

LEAD: Opening Ceremonies Honor Leaders in Higher Education 

At opening ceremonies, Patty Martinez, President of 2014 ACUHO-I Executive Board, shared just how impressive the growth of ACUHO-I has been. “This year, we received the largest number of conference session proposals, over 400,” she said, sparking applause from the largest number of registered ACUHO-I participants in history.

Martinez emphasized the importance of the next generation of higher education with a salute to the students of the STARS college program,  60 undergrads with a passion for higher education selected for a valuable mentorship experience with veterans in the field.

andy n friends

OCM President Andy McDade shares the engrained dedication to campus life. From RA at Trenton State College to President of the original care package company, OCM, Andy’s continued commitment to the field was honored with the Corporate Friend of ACUHO award.

It is a special history many professionals share to have entered the field as an undergraduate RA and grown into a Director or President’s role. For many of the ACUHO-I attendees, the connection to campus and community runs deep.

There was no shortage of leaders with tremendous experience, and after Martinez declared the conference open it was time to honor a select few for their outstanding service. We would like to join the community in congratulating all award recipients!

Don Moore, ACUHO-I Award; Tonie Miyamoto, James L Hurd Award; Rosanne Proite, Herstory Award; Richard Kington, Roelf Visser Global Initiatives Award; Shigeo Iwamiya, Judy Spain Award; Norbert Dunkel & James A. Baumann, Research and Publication Award; Kathy Bush Hobgood & Verna Gardner Howell, Robert P. Cooke Talking Stick Article Award; Danielle Twigg, Betty L. Harrah Journal Manuscript Award; and Jill Eckardt, Tarome Afford, Carolyn ‘Waz’ Miller,  Louis V. Hencken, and Pam Schneider for their Parthenon Awards. Thank you for all for your service and leadership!

After the awards were presented,  the microphone was turned over to keynote speaker TJ Sullivan. The audience would go from standing and applauding to rolling on the floor and holding their belly’s in a matter of moments, learning all the while. Read more about TJ’s engaging presentation here!