Category Archives: salem state university

Advice from a Graduating Senior

Hello readers! I’m Nikki Vergakes, a senior at Salem State University. I won’t be able to say that for a long time anymore, however. I’m moving on to the “real world”. I was in a similar position four years ago when I was graduating from high school and moving on to SSU. My first year was definitely very different from my senior year. Since then, I’ve become way more involved in student organizations and have turned my two friends from freshman year into many friends that I hope to stay close with after graduation. Through some life lessons learned the hard way, I’ve accumulated many pieces of advice for undergraduates navigating the tricky waters of college.

18034243_951209681649235_3394085137952661454_n.jpgI’ve been the one who has been writing these blog post for the past three years while simultaneously working with the most inspiring people, buffering my digital and social media skills, and most importantly seeing the direct positive effects of student involvement on campus. I was passed down this job after my freshman year from a graduating senior I knew from PRSSA (the organization that I’ve been President of this year) and am forever grateful to her! But enough with the sappy stuff, here’s some advice  for you that I’ve gathered through my years at Salem State.

1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Okay, this is totally an Oscar Wilde quote, but it’s also my life motto. Sorry, Oscar. I began with this mantra the minute I emailed the past SSU Cross Country coach about joining the team that was here. After I had talked to a girl (who has since become one of my closest friends) at orientation and looked up the women’s team 5K times, I decided to do what I said I’d never do: NCAA cross country. This ended up being one of the best decisions of my college career. The moral of the story is: don’t knock anything until you try it, especially in college. You’d be surprised at how many extra hours are in a day when you’re not in class from 7:30 AM – 2PM daily!

2. Treat Yo Self

Once you’ve tried a bunch of things and have a productive life, it can be hard to find time for yourself. A lot of my college career was spent working on programs and initiatives to help fellow students. It can be rewarding, but draining too. So don’t forget to enjoy that “me time”. Take yourself to Chipotle. Get an ice cream from upper north. Try Candlelit Yoga at Gassett. Take a walk on the bike path. Better yet, take a nap! If you’re burnt out, you can’t be your true authentic self.

3. You can always take it a step further

In college there are a lot of deadlines that pile up at once. You also may have internships, on-campus jobs and EBoard positions. With all of these things to balance, it may seem easier to only put half of your effort into something and pass in a final assignment that wasn’t done to the best of your ability. This may just be from my writing background, but something should always be double-checked. Have a friend read your paper or article over for clearness and readability. Double-count the math problem. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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4. Impulsivity is key

Getting stuck in humdrum routines leads to a lackluster life. You’ll get bored with your major, your job and more. Even with the craziness of college life, this is possible. If your friend asks you to go to Treadwells and you’ve been studying for five days straight, don’t say you’re too busy. Take a study break! Some of the fondest memories I have are from last-minute plans.

5. Don’t wish it away

It’s ok to turn down plans to regroup or if you’re just not feeling it. Don’t wish the days and hours away. Don’t just simply be somewhere and not be present. If you wish the days away, it’ll be four years later and you’re going to be confused as to how the black gown got on you. You’ll be thinking– wasn’t it just freshmen year? Enjoy the small and big things, and be in the moment for all of them.

6. Every challenge is a learning experience

In the moment, yes, little and big inconveniences can really be a downer. They can cloud your judgement when planning an event, they can hold you up from study time, or force you to miss a meeting or event. The show must go on, however. In that moment, you must think fast and either figure out a solution or enlist help. We can all think of a time that this has happened to us. Did it work out? With every inconvenience, we learn a lot. It’s also something that you will most definitely be asked during future job interviews!

17498650_10155902823915410_6046008454909681130_n.jpg8. Take pictures and document everything!

This is self explanatory. There’s nothing I love more than plugging in my external hard drive and looking at old pictures. I have a folder for every year of college. Save your snaps. Archive your memories. Document these moments, because you’ll never experience college again after graduation, and you’ll want to be able to remember every minute.

It’s been an honor to serve SSU and it’s been quite the four years. They’ve definitely been unforgettable. I’ll be reliving the memories on my hard drive very soon!

What it means to be a university

There’s much more to the difference between a university and a college than just the title. That’s why we celebrate so fervently during #OrangeCrushWeek, and especially #UNITE!

To celebrate #UNITE this year, we stayed true to the theme of Salem: Halloween. All over campus there were treats including BBQ food, fried carnival food, lemonade and more. At night, there were tricks. There was a murder mystery party at night. We celebrated 6 years of university status with tricks and treats.

Becker College’s website offers a great description of the difference between the two. They are essentially the same in the way that a student is still earning a degree either way, and they both can be either privately or publicly operated. The quality of your degree really depends on the program, and how much the student applies themselves.

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What’s interesting is that Becker states that colleges are more hands-on and classroom settings are more intimate. That’s not the case with SSU, however. Salem State University prides itself on its intimate classroom settings where barriers between students and professors do not exist. Most classes are between 20-30 people on average here, so that the professors can pay close attention to each student’s needs.

Further, professors are not only educators, but also mentors to their students. Students and professors can build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. Professors can be advisors to student organizations and can give access into their Rolodex of powerful connections. Students can give professors insights on the live and interests of millennials. These insights can benefit research and projects that they need the help of students for.

For Salem State, however, being a University is more than just the prestige. It’s about community. Students will be more inclined to stay on a campus where they feel there is a community that they feel welcome. Being a university is a mindset of an accepting culture where everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.

Thank you for all of this last week with us! The more events we come together for as a student body, the more we foster the sense of community on our university’s campus. With such a diverse and inclusive campus, being a university unites (pun intended) us even more!

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We were in the Halloween spirit!

#TBT: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary by Looking Back

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What is it about anniversaries that make us want to look backward? In this case, it may be celebrating the accomplishments and relishing in the memories of years past. Up until 2003, Salem State published year books called “The Clipper” that documented the students, staff, faculty memories, and highlights of the year. What I liked the most about flipping through the Clippers is that every one is different. Not only are the students different, but also the content and organization change year to year. Here are some highlights:

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In 1971, the campus felt like it was important to ring in the new decade. This seemed like it was a a very cool event!

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These are the events of what senior weekend used to be! How do they compare to today?

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Live music has always been a staple at Salem State.

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SSU Students have always taken advantage of the ocean.

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Arts have also been a cornerstone to an education at SSU. In the 70’s, they held an annual arts festival. Now, we are looking forward to the grand opening of the Sophia Gordon performing arts center.

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The “Footlighters” were Salem State’s dramatic society.

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The Salem State Log in the 1970s.

Were you there for any of these, or remember these memories?

Guest Post: Raspberry Swirl Does it Again

by Patrick Braley, Raspberry Swirl co-host and Alliance Member

Raspberry Swirl is an annual charity event run by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (the LGBTQIA+ focused group here at SSU that promotes acceptance and understanding of all identities). Raspberry Swirl has been a long-time tradition here at Salem State University. With 2016 marking its 15th year, it is always something to hotly anticipate for both SSU students and those in the broader community alike. With each passing year, attendance seems to be increasing, with this year marking the first year with over 100 show goers. The trend in recent years for Swirl has been bringing in a famous drag queen from the hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race to headline the show. The person booked to headline the show will typically perform about 3 to 4 song/dance routines and may even host a mini-game which requires and encourages audience participation. This year, the Alliance was very fortunate to have Pearl (real name Matthew James Lent), breakout star of season 7 of Drag Race, as the headline act.

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Pearl, the headliner and a host for the Alliance’s “Raspberry Swirl”. 2016. Courtesy photo.

Pearl was a graceful presence both on stage and off. She was dressed in some fierce outfits ranging from a futuristic-looking multicolored jumpsuit to an all black evening gown (which went perfectly with the spooky vibes of Salem). She sang and moved with expert precision and her passion for performing really showed through. In addition, Pearl also helped to host a mini-game titled “Fiercest Walk” in which members from the audience were chosen to strut their stuff down the length of the center isle. The winner won the right to brag to all their friends that they had the fiercest walk in the whole place.

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Performer at Friday’s Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

There were also two other mini-games during Raspberry Swirl that were hosted by the event’s two hosts Patrick Braley and Eric Donnovan (better known by their drag names Ophelia Oats and Chamele, respectively). One of the most memorable mini-games was titled “Lip Sync For Your Life.” This game was inspired by the iconic last chance challenge at the end of every Drag Race episode in which the two lowest ranked queens are pitted against each other in a lip sync battle to determine who is able to stay on the show. During Raspberry Swirl, four audience members (two vs. two) went head-to-head to claim the title of lip sync champion. The first round had two audience members belting out Adele’s “Hello.” Although everybody sang their hearts out, there was only one winner in the end.

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Local drag queens at Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

In addition to having Pearl perform, the Alliance was able to gather several kind, local drag queens and kings from the Salem State, North Shore and Boston drag scenes. Our stage was graced with so many talented acts! The crowd witnessed everything from sickening death drops to glitter flying everywhere. Audience members clapped, hollered and “YAAASSS”-ed in approval of all of the performances. After the show ended some folks had the opportunity to take a picture with Pearl herself during the meet and greet portion.

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Salem State studen showing off their stuff at Raspberry Swirl 2016. Courtesy photo.

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Local drag queens at Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

At the end of the day, however, Raspberry Swirl is about much more than dancing queens or who has the best look; when it comes down to it, Raspberry Swirl is and always has been all about fostering a sense of community, donating to local charities, and above all having a lit, lit, lit time.