Retrospective: A Sophmore’s Guide to Freshman Year

Ben Kajevic is a current sophomore at Auburn University, traveling all the way from Chicago to attend what he calls “the best engineering school that still plays football well.”

Being an out-of-state student was rather difficult at first, Kajevic admitted, considering the difference in dress, accents and just all around approach to life. Although he lived in Alabama for a little while as a child, Kajevic grew up and was formed into himself in the northern states.

“Once you get used to,” Kajevic said, referring to living in the South, “you appreciate it all way more and you never want to leave.”

In fact, Kajevic admitted to getting homesick while in Chicago over the summer, missing his new home here at Auburn.

Coming to Auburn University was not a very big decision for Kajevic. In fact, when you ask most freshman why they decided to come to school at Auburn University, they have some special story or moment.

Not the case for Kajevic.

“I have literally no idea – I heard about it from a friend and decided to apply.” He said he visited once, and after finding out he didn’t get into another school he wanted, he ended up here.

“Seeing how much I fit in, even being from the north, and being chosen as a Camp War Eagle counselor made me realize I had made the right choice.” Kajevic said it felt nice to know he was representing Auburn well.

Camp War Eagle is the freshman orientation program here at Auburn University, an exclusive group of orientation leaders. Kajevic said he decided to go out for the organization because of “the bond I have with my CWE counselor; I’d love to have that with incoming freshmen.”

Being a freshman is a scary experience for even the bravest and most-outgoing of the new class each year. In fact, many freshman say that orientation overwhelmed them and made them more fearful of starting the year off wrong.

Kajevic says, however, that freshman year is arguably the most important year. “You make freshman mistakes, but we all do,” Kajevic said. “It’s the year where you really find yourself and find out what you really like to do.”

Kajevic said that making a routine of things and above all, going to class, helped him survive freshman year. He also joined a fraternity, where he had people to rely on and help him along the way.

“I wish I could go back and tell myself that the little things should be something not to stress over – that it’ll all be okay in the end,” Kajevic said, smiling thinking back over his freshman year memories. “Take it day by day.”

If he could give all the new incoming freshman any advice, Kajevic said it would be this: “Unless it’s life or death, it doesn’t matter that much. Don’t worry about things that have little impact on your life. One bad semester, or grade or whatever doesn’t change your semester or determine who you are.”

The Ultimate Auburn Bucketlist

As a soon-to-be Auburn University alumna, I feel that it is tremendously necessary to make yet another Auburn University bucket list, filled with all the things you should do before graduating.

Now, this is definitely a popular topic and I’m sure if you were to jump over to Google right now and type in “Auburn University bucket list,” thousands upon thousands of entries would pop up. However, I would argue that my list is going to be the best – in that, I tried to encompass all interests and different walks of life.

There are things on this list that I have done a million times (and never get tired of doing), and there are things on this list that I have never done – but, will spend the rest of my life as a post-graduate wishing I had.

All of that being said, remember this: you are the only one that controls what you do here and how you spend your time. Do something fun, do something that scares you – do it all. You only have four years here – make the most of them!

1. Roll Toomer’s Corner!

Like it even needed to be said…

2. Meet all the people you possibly can!

All different people, from different backgrounds!

3. Go to at least one game of every sport.

The volleyball and basketball games are my absolute favorite games to go to, and so underrated!

4. Eat breakfast and lunch at Big Blue Bagel!

Try the bagel sandwich and get bagel chips with cream cheese! You’ll love it right away.

5. Go to the beach with friends for a weekend.

Make it the cheapest trip you’ve ever planned and have the best time ever!

6. Eat at Live Oaks, the Hound, the Wellness Kitchen and all of the Mama Goldberg’s locations!

Eat at least once at each location.

7. Throw at least one house party.

Don’t clean up until the next day in your pajamas!

8. Have a slumber party weekend with friends!

Watch movies and eat popcorn with M&Ms.

9. Try a new skill you’ve never thought about before.

Like photography, dancing or graphic design – something you’ve never thought of before!

10. Tailgate hop on a game weekend!

Meet a ton of people and say “War Eagle!”

11. Spend time getting to know your favorite professors!

Go to office hours and talk about your career goals! You never know what advice might change your life or who might can help you!

12. Take your parents to a game!

Share all of Auburn’s great traditions with them!

13. Go to the animal shelter and walk the dogs or play with the cats.

Try not to adopt all of them!

14. Fall hopelessly in love with this city…

Because Auburn truly is a beautiful city.

15. Fall head-over-heels in love with EVERYTHING about your life and everything in it!!

Why Finding Your Major is Like Finding Your Home

It can be said that finding your school or university, the one that on your tour there made you emotional, or so excited you couldn’t breathe, is just like finding your perfect fit. It’s like finding your home. However, the next part of the college experience – whether is happens freshman year or takes some time – is finding your major.

Finding the right major for you can be a bit of a challenge, in some ways. Whether it is parental pressure, nerves or just not knowing what to do, a lot can stand in the way of finding that perfect place for you. Here are a few tips when trying to make that decision:

1. Remember that you can, basically, do anything you want to.

If you really think about it, you can basically do whatever you really want to do. Keep your eyes open and dream big. Sophomore Isabella Satterfield started in biomedical sciences, convinced she wanted to work in pediatric surgery. However, as she got further into college, her interests really started to change and grow. She recently switched into apparel merchandising, wanting to pursue a career in fashion design. Remember to keep your options wide and look around at all kinds of majors – who knows what you might find?

2. Pay attention to what you’re good at.

It is important to play to your strengths in college, as it will make classes not only easier, but much more interesting in some ways. Maybe you’re good at writing, but you’ve never taken technical writing before. Find a spin off of what you think you’re good at or what you were good at in high school.

3. However, don’t let your strengths trap you.

The flip side to this is that sometimes just focusing on what you’re already good at coming into college can block out a ton of different career paths that you might have been interested in. It is easy to leave high school and major in whatever subject you excelled at there, but often times that can become boring and tedious. For me, I declared my major as English literature coming into freshman year, mainly because I was great at it in high school and I loved it. However, getting into classes at Auburn, I felt like there was no challenge and I started to fall out of love with my major. That’s when I started searching for a major that took my strong suits, as well as new exciting things I wanted to learn and created the perfect major for me. I ended up in public relations.

4. Don’t stress out!

Stressing out about your major and your future is easy to do, but stressing out will get you nowhere. It is crucially important to remember that although this is a big decision, it is not the end of the world. Something that can help calm you down when this starts to happen, ask mentors and your parents, even your parents’ friends, what they majored in versus what they ended up doing for the rest of their lives. With some exceptions, people often end up working in fields separate from what they majored in – although usually related in some way.

5. Think about your future.

To me, this is a big one. Instead of focusing on what you want to learn or how good the major itself is, focus on what you truly want to be doing after graduation. Then, use that knowledge to find a major that suits itself to the things you may want to do later in your career. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Some of the best advice I can give is to find a mentor, possibly a teacher – someone who can help guide you in this aspect.

5. Be happy.

Above all else, keep smiling and make the most of your time here at Auburn. If your major makes you happy and sets you on the path you want to be traveling down professionally, keep going. It’s amazing how much of a difference being happy in your major will make on your productivity here at Auburn, as well as in your life long after you leave the loveliest village on the plains.

From California to Alabama: The Making of an Auburn Tiger

Going to college out of state can be difficult, but how about going to school across the country?

Montana Hunter knows all too well just how difficult that can be, and how rewarding. An Auburn alumna, Hunter first discovered the loveliest village on the plains in high school. “I had known a couple of older people who had gone here and I thought, why not! When I got on campus, I instantly fell in love and knew I wanted to be a part of Auburn.”

But that decision would not be without its challenges. Being out of state is definitely hard at first, as Hunter said. “You’re coming from so far away, and to a place most people have high school friends already,” so it can be difficult to meet new people in that environment. Another difficult factor is the amount of traveling, which can make going home very difficult.
Not being able to go home as easily or as often was the hardest part for Hunter about going to school so far away. For Hunter, it wasn’t just a two to four hour drive – it was a drive to the airport and a five hour flight.

Missing her family made each holiday season difficult. Even Hunter admits that she did not truly know how far away she had moved, until freshman year on the first bye week of the football season. “I remember walking into Chick-fil-a that Friday night just so miserable because no one was in Auburn that I knew, and I had no where to go.” However, Hunter insisted that it get’s much easier as time goes on, “because your friends are there and you’re busy with school or involvement.”

Culture shock is a prominent issue that many out-of-state students admit to having faced their freshman year, all the way up to senior year. Hunter says that definitely was an issue for her as well, from Chacos to large and XXL T-shirts. “It’s a different way of life out here,” said Hunter, “and I definitely noticed the southern accents and the southern hospitality.”

However, part of that initial shock has turned into things that Hunter loves about living in the south, like the warm weather and bonfires, as well as college football. Although, Hunter joked, “the humidity kills me.”
Hunter said what she missed most about California was the beach. “Like, all the time. And I know that’s such a cliche answer, bit there is nothing better than being able to sit on the beach and just listen to the waves.” Hunter went on to say that it was something she wished she had here, like a comfort for hard times being this far away from family.

One advantage of coming from that far out of state, is that her experience made Hunter a great mentor. Hunter worked over the summer of 2016 as a Camp War Eagle Counselor here at Auburn University. She said that many of her campers found comfort in exactly how far away from home she had moved. “It was kinda like if I could do it, they could…I wanted to always remind my campers that Auburn is such a good home and that everyone is unique here.” Hunter said she tried her best to make sure all her campers knew that Auburn was truly a family and that they could find their place here.

“If I could tell my freshman self anything, it would be that you’re going to get through this,” Hunter said. And she is a living testament to that fact. Hunter has graduate from Auburn University and is currently employed where she completed her internship in the spring, working for Tidwell Group in Birmingham, Alabama. She is excited to still be here in the south, for now, but admits she does not know what the next chapter in her life could hold. No matter what, she’ll face it head on.

“You’re going to grow, and your 22-year-old self is so much stronger and you’re going to feel so much better. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. It’s okay that you feel. It’s okay to be upset because you’re going to push through. I did; I made the right choice coming to Auburn and it shaped me into who I am today. And, I’m thankful for that.”

You Just Graduated – What are You Going to do Next? I’m Going to Disney World!

When people talk about graduating and entering the real world, Disney World is not exactly what you might be thinking. For some people, however, it’s a dream made into reality.

Susie Bridges is an alumna of Auburn University as a public relations major. During her time here, she also participated in her first Disney internship through the Disney College Program. Bridges served as an Attraction Hostess while on the program and found more than she thought she would, while exploring the behind-the-scenes of the company. “I realized that there was so much potential with Disney in a professional setting – especially in the marketing and PR world,” said Bridges. In fact, she loved her time there so much that she set her sights on landing a Disney Professional Internship to start her post-graduation life.

After serving as a Disney College Program Campus Representative here at Auburn for the remaining year and a half of her college career, Bridges’ dreams came true and she landed a Disney Professional Marketing Internship with Disney’s Fairytale Weddings and Honeymoons. After she completed her year-long internship, Bridges ended up staying on the team as a full-time marketing coordinator for an additional year. Her role focused primarily on digital marketing, collateral development, blogging, promotions, advertising and social media for Disney weddings, honeymoons and engagements.

One year later, and Bridges made a rather large career movement, joining the team at Walt Disney World Resort Special Events as a Marketing Special Event Coordinator. “This was a big career change for me, as I came from a heavy digital marketing world and was now planning events for our marketing partners,” which was a bit foreign for Bridges. This role consisted of planning every part of different events, such as media preview days, the opening of new Disney entertainment experiences, new attractions, new movies, new theme park areas, and many more.

While looking for something newer and more out of her comfort zone, Bridges said she stumbled upon an opportunity with Disney Cruise Line. She had always loved going on Disney cruises with her family growing up, but never thought there would be a job in her field available onboard. “Well,” Bridges laughed, “there is only one marketing-related job onboard in a sea – no pun intended – of beverage serves, housekeepers and youth counselors.”

That position was as Guest Communications Manager. This role allowed Bridges to create and edit the daily entertainment itinerary, signs, menus and most other ship-wide and internal communications. According to Bridges, this has been her favorite role of the many she has had so far with the company. Why? “In addition to gaining incredible work experience,” said Bridges, “I am also able to travel the world for free.” So far, Bridges has sailed to Florida, Bahamas, France, Italy, and Spain.
It is still hard work. Working on a team of one onboard a traveling ship can be taxing. Sometimes, when there is a problem onboard, Bridges in the only one able to fix it – with no help. Although she has a team based in Orlando to call on if she needs, they would have weekends off or there would be a time-zone difference preventing immediate communications. It was challenging, but worth it.

“It was such an amazing experience to be able to go to work, grab fresh pizza for lunch in Italy, finish up work and end the night by catching a Disney theatrical show of Tangled while the scenery of the Amalfi Coast sailed past us,” Bridges said. “The phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ was never more true in my life!”

Most people view Disney as a childhood memory or a favorite vacation spot, but there are many different professional goals and aspirations that can be achieved working for this well-known company. If it’s your dream now, make it a reality.

As Susie Bridges puts it:”Work harder every day, always be kind and dream big!”

Standing Up for 56 Hours – Meet This Year’s AUDM President

At 6-years-old, Tiffany Thompson was spending her free time alongside her best friend at hospitals and doctors’ appointments. At 21-years-old, she is helping thousands of families with sick children by leading one of Auburn’s most well-known organizations: Auburn University Dance Marathon (AUDM).

Dance Marathon is a year-long fundraiser for a local Children’s Miracle Network hospital that culminates in a 14-hour long event, where participants stand for 14 hours straight. There are games, music and dancing, and many Miracle Kids and their families from the hospital get to come and enjoy the fun, as well as meet the people raising money for them.

During Thompson’s freshman year, she got involved in several different organizations, trying to find the one that fit her best. She was a member of University Program Council (UPC), Tiger Stripes, and Dance Marathon. On AUDM her first year, Thompson was on Entertainment Committee. She served on that same committee for two years, before deciding to “take a chance” and run for Vice President of Public Relations.

It was winning this position that also helped Thompson make a major decision in her college path here at Auburn – changing her major. Previously in accounting, she switched to marketing after realizing that her passions that lead her to becoming the VP of Public Relations for AUDM could also be what she was really meant to do.

“I got confirmation that I was in the right field,” said Thompson. “AUDM won the award for Excellence in Marketing and Design at the Auburn University Student Involvement Awards.” Her year of leadership in this position also lead to another award. Auburn won Best Digital Media at the Dance Marathon Leadership Conference, out of over 300 Dance Marathon programs throughout the country.

Thompson got involved in Dance Marathon here at Auburn mainly for one specific reason: a girl named Amelia Word. Amelia Word was Thompson’s best friend since the age of 6. Word was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor on her ovary when she was only 6-years-old. At 15, Word was also diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “I knew I had to give back to the hospitals that had saved my best friend,” said Thompson. When she says she does it For The Kids, it is very personal for her.

Deciding to try for president of AUDM was a hard decision for the very involved Thompson. “I don’t want to say the only way is up,” Thompson joked, “but I have been really passionate about this program and I knew I could best serve the organization in that role from the experience I had over the past three years.” And her experience doesn’t come from just Dance Marathon alone.

Thompson recently served as a Camp War Eagle counselor, helping incoming freshmen prepare for their next four years at Auburn University. She has also taken part in the Big Event on campus, as well as being an active member in her sorority Alpha Chi Omega. Most recently, Thompson has taken up a position working for the Auburn University Bookstore. “It’s stressful at times,” said Thompson,”but it all helps teach me time management and gain valuable experience in my field.”

This year’s Dance Marathon fundraising goal is $658,000, a significant number. Thompson said they chose this because 658 is the number of pediatric surgeries that their Children’s Miracle Network hospital conducted last year. Registration opened at the end of August and is still continuing. There is also the FT5K coming up on October 21st on the Green Space.
“Don’t spread yourself too thin,” said Thompson, giving her best piece of advice to those wanting to find their passion and place here at Auburn. “Don’t get over involved freshman year, but do find what you’re passionate about and stick with it.”