My Last Fall Semester as an Undergraduate Student

That title really encompasses something we don’t have a lot of time. This semester has been really good to me, despite the challenges that I faced with my life, workload, and stress. Each semester brings something different, but this semester has been one of my most memorable. The experiences I had with my friends are going to be hard ones to forget and the opportunities I’ve had will make life hard because I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. So many great things happened this seamster, and I can’t wait to share some of these experiences with you.

Ann Arbor Trips!

For the fist five weeks of school, I was only at Hope for one weekend because I was at Ann Arbor watching Michigan Football games. Looking at it now, maybe it was a waste of my time because they played horribly this season. Don’t worry, Hope is still my favorite, though. One aspect that being at the University of Michigan I realized was that I am SO happy I did not go to a big school. Ultimately, it made me appreciate Hope more and to not take the Hope Community for granted.

SAC 2014

I have the honor and privilege to be a co-director of SAC (Student Activities Committee), one of Hope’s largest student organizations. One of my most memorable moments with SAC was our First Annual Retreat where we had the opportunity to learn about each other in less that 24 hours. This really made our team stronger, and it has been evident throughout the semester. I am forever thankful for the friendships I have with my team and the family community it harbors. Other fun memories with my team include working big events like the Homecoming Hoedown!

Vienna Reunion Dinner

Yeah, something as simple as a dinner can have a great impact on your semester. It was so fun to be at one location with those who went to Vienna this past summer. Telling our funny stories and reflecting on those experiences was just a blast. Plus, free food is always great, right?

Vienna Fam!
Vienna Fam!

Park2Park Half Marathon!

This past September, I did something that I thought I would never be able to do, run 13.11 miles. After much training and dedication, I successfully completed my first half marathon with my friends. Once I completed it, you bet I put my medal and bib number on display. How can you not? It’s such a great achievement. What this taught me: you can make an idea a reality by dedicating time to it. I am looking forward to running another one in the future!

MSU Nursing Graduate School Visit

Something that I really considered this semester was the option to pursue my doctoral studies. As a senior in college, it’s time to think about continuing graduation and life plans. I still think it’s crazy how I know what I want to do; I’m definitely in the minority when it comes to this situation. Visiting MSU showed me how feasible graduate school is, but you have to work hard for it! Now, I am currently in the process of applying, and it’s nerve-wracking. I just have to remember that it WILL be ok!

MSU Nursing Graduate School visit!
MSU Nursing Graduate School visit!

SACsgiving & Thanksgiving

This year, Thanksgiving was a special one. It’s always good to be thankful, but it was important this year for my sake. To celebrate, I had dinner with my SAC team and my family. It was great to be in each other’s presence and share great conversation. I mean the pictures below really speak for themselves.

SAC Christmas Party

Another SAC memory. Doesn’t it show how much I care and love the people and organization!? Again, it was great to be around my team to laugh and share the holiday spirit. We had a “white elephant” gift exchanged, which proved to be very very interesting. There were an array of gifts that were distributed, and that’s what made it really interesting. It’s going to be a different Spring Semester because some of my team members will be abroad and have internships. You will be missed friends!

SAC during our Christmas Party!
SAC during our Christmas Party!

SPRING BREAK PLANS

Yes, this was a highlight. Why? BECAUSE I’M GOING BACK TO EUROPE! My friend Dimitrie and I are going to POLAND! I’m so excited. As of today, there are 92 days left. While in Poland we are going to Gdansk, Warsaw, and Krakow. And we are also making a pit stop in Copenhagen! I mean, look how excited we are!

These are the places I am visiting! The top is Gdansk, on the left is Warsaw, and the right is Krakow!
These are the places I am visiting! The top is Gdansk, on the left is Warsaw, and the right is Krakow!

Research!

This is going to sound nerdy of me, but yes. This semester, I had the opportunity to be involved in nursing research. It was one of my most memorable experiences this semester. I actually made a proposal to be turned into IRB! I also had the opportunity to present my research to others at a symposium-like environment. Next semester, I will be participating in another research project with a professor which I am very excited about. I mean, this is what I want to do with my life so I am happy I am starting now!

Research presentation!
Research presentation!

NUTCRACKER (or MARVCRACKER)

Last but not least, I performed in my last Hope College production of the Nutcracker this weekend. It’s hard to believe that it was my fourth year. Time really does fly. To finish with a bang, I was reunited my partner from sophomore year, Liz! It was so great to work again together. I also had the opportunity of working with Hannah who was my partner last year and Erica, who was a new partner this year! I had a blast working with the cast. It was bittersweet to perform in my last Nutcracker, but I’m glad its over!

Thank you all for reading about some one the highlights of my semester. Hope College is truly the best. The community it harbors with friends and professors have really shaped who I am today. You can’t get that anywhere else! Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts this week!

The Final Days

Oh my goodness, just one more Monday after this one. It’s crazy to believe that the school year is finally winding down. When you, the new admitted students, come to Hope, your time will fly by. Make every second count! It’s hard for me to believe that I’m going to be a senior nursing major really soon. Being a senior just really seems like a foreign concept to me! But I am just so excited and ready!

If you were here this past Saturday, thank you for coming to Admitted Students Day! It was such a blast to be able to start your morning as an emcee. Yeah, isn’t that a weird spelling for emcee? I always thought it was “MC…” Back to the point, I hope you were able to attend you academic session and see how academics work at Hope College. I also hope you had fun enjoying the social aspect of Hope. Now I know a lot of you had fun. But just imagine, that will be YOU having fun EVERYDAY starting this August! It was so great to meet some you as well, and I can’t wait to see you around campus next year!

Anyways, this weekend was eventful and busy, but a good busy. On Friday was the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance. What a cool thing to go to! A bunch of my friends had research to present, so I attended for moral support. It was also SO AWESOME to see how much Hope College invests in undergraduate research. Not many schools do this, but Hope does and it’s evident because we’re ranked in the top 10 for undergraduate research! Afterwords, a bunch of friends and myself went to some dunes here in Holland to appreciate Mother Nature. And it was a perfect day because it was warm and sunny. I forgot that there was sun and warmth, thanks Mother Nature! At the dunes, we watched the sunset and enjoyed the company of each other. After, we went to get some frozen yogurt, because who doesn’t like frozen yogurt? Then, we watched a movie after. To say the least, I actually had a social life Friday!

Then, Saturday was Admitted Students Day, and I was able to emcee for that which was awesome. I definitely want to do that next year! Working for Admissions is seriously a blessing. Being a part of admissions is just very rewarding! Then, I had a 3-hour CPR renewal class. Following this class, I went to a sorority formal with one of my great friends! Saturday was very busy and eventful!

Sunday was a day for catching up on work and just relaxing. Believe it or not, I started packing my stuff already! Because this Friday is Good Friday, there is no school, so I get to leave Thursday. I’m just going to bring a lot of my belongings home, so when it’s actually time to part for summer vacation, I won’t have that much! I just can’t believe I’m already packing. This just means I’m one day closer to a summer of a lifetime! Alrighty friends, that’s it for now! Keep posted, I’m going to post soon! Thanks!

Summer Research: Trips, Lab Family, and Fun!

Scientific Lab Cousins
Scientific Lab Cousins

I have neglected to tell you about my fabulous summer right here in Holland, Michigan. As a third year researcher at Hope, this summer was my ultimate time to grow in the lab. I was blessed to receive the Wolterink Prize in Biology in the Spring of 2013 for an upperclassman student that shows promise in research, funding me for a summer research position here at Hope. I had already applied to do research with Dr. Fraley (my lab mentor) for the summer, so it was perfect! He was happy that I was paid for, and I was happy that I for sure got a spot!

I was joined by three other students (all current seniors) in the lab for the summer, and boy did we have a blast. Working on multiple studies, we focused on progressing our projects and delving into the research we are not able to progress much on during the academic year. We worked on GnIH rat studies, cannulizing different locations of the hypothalamus to determine what the affect of GnIH is on feeding behaviors, behavioral duck studies, and a brand new water study on ducks that is technically TOP SECRET.

When thinking about research, it’s really a two way street. What can the student do for the mentor (of course- putting in the work and learning the material) but also what the mentor can do for the student. Teaching a scientist how to do science is NOT EASY. As new members come into our lab, veteran members are constantly learning how to best teach and mentor the new members. I give Dr. Fraley such credit for doing this 365 days a year for consistently new lab members.

Also, mentors give you CONNECTIONS. One of the most powerful things Dr. Fraley has done for us (other than teaching us science, and how to conduct science), is bringing us to national conferences and introducing us to elite members of the scientific community.

We had two AWESOME opportunities this summer to really get to know some of the top members in the poultry field.  The first event was a research conference at Maple Leaf Farms Co. to introduce the executives at MLF to the research and potential research that can be done to improve the poultry industry and standards they use daily.

Alexis Presenting for Maple Leaf FarmsAlexis Presenting for Maple Leaf Farms

Two of our lab members presented posters at MLF, and two of us did 15 minute presentations on our research. I happened to give a 15 minute presentation and BOY was a I NERVOUS. Standing in front of experts in your field and presenting on your findings is quite intimidating. However, the crowd was very receptive, interested, and asked GREAT questions that really helped me improve my research goals and define the next steps in my project.
The second event was a week-long trip to San Diego, California to attend the American Poultry Association Yearly Meeting.
We met an incredible amount of scientists, PhD and Masters Students and it was a great time to learn not only about other research but about possible careers in the sciences. You can read about graduate schools and opportunities there, but hearing it first-hand from students attending these schools is really a great resource.
2 generations of Poultry Scientists
2 generations of Poultry Scientists

At both conferences, we got to meet up with our “Lab Uncle and cousins,” Dr. Fraley’s colleague Dr. Michael Lilburn and his students. It was fun to pretend they were our “Lab Family.”

Grandma and the Fraley Lab
The Fraley Lab with Grandma!

We also met Dr. Fraley’s lab mentor and his wife! We had been anticipating meeting our “grandma and grandpa” for weeks before our conferences. When our “lab grandma” approached, she really surprised us by screaming, “ITS ME!!! GRANDMA!!!!” We definitely got a kick out of that.

Old Town San Diego

Of course our days weren’t only spent inside learning science and talking to colleagues. We got to do some site-seeing, mostly in Old Town San Diego. It was fantastic! With little shops, restaurants and performers, it was a great way to experience San Diego for the first time.

Old Town San Diego
Sightseeing in San Diego Old Town
Dr. Mamduh Sifri who joined us both in Indiana and San Diego
Dr. Mamduh Sifri who joined us both in Indiana and San Diego

While at the national conference, Chelsea Campbell and I presented yet again. This time, we did a 10 minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions from the audience. At the end of the conference, we got awards for our quality presentations. We were even featured on KnowHope later that week!

Fabulous Four In San Diego
Fabulous Four In San Diego

Though the summer was fun, of course, time goes on. Soon, I’ll fill you in on the Van Andel Institute conference we attended with new members of our lab. I am really proud of our new members who are really acclimating well and making great advances on our projects.

The Fraley Lab at VAI for WMRUGS 2013
The Fraley Lab at VAI for WMRUGS 2013

If you have any questions about summer research, or research at Hope, feel free to email me at amanda.porter@hope.edu or tweet me @hopeamanda15.