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Friday
09/01/17

It’s My Turn.

Posted by caaponte on September 1, 2017 in Fall Semester, Futuristic Thinking, Senior Year

Entering my fourth year, I realize that in many aspects – it is my turn to organize, implement, and promote what I have been taught these past three years at UB.

It’s my turn to direct freshmen through the maze that the university refers to as the Hochstetter and Cooke Complex.

It’s my turn to lead meetings for the Pre-Dental Association.

It’s my turn to TA Evolutionary Biology Lab.

It’s my turn to sign THE Bull.

It’s my turn to make plans with my group of friends for our last spring break (Bahamas, here we come).

It’s my turn to direct students to the best places to eat on and off campus.

It’s my turn to run a Bills tailgate.

It’s my turn to see one of my closest friends open as a DJ for Fall Fest (Shoutout to Frank Pierce).

It’s my turn to apply to dental school.It’s my turn to set an example for how to make the most out of your time at UB.

It’s my turn to set an example for how to make the most out of your time at UB.

As I reach for more coffee than usual, I will be finagling my way through my last year at UB all while helping those around me make it to their senior year successfully.

Raise your coffee/ tea/ beverage of choice in the air and cheers to the beginning of a semester full of possibilities!

Tuesday
05/02/17

It’s Never Just a Checklist

Posted by caaponte on May 2, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year, Reflection

I just finished my Pre-Health Committee Interview and my biggest hope is that I really helped my interviewer understand that I spent my time at UB making sure I would be anything but a student checking off things from her checklist. The road to professional school is often looked at like a checklist but it is far from that.

We do so much on and off campus as undergraduate students in order to find where we best stick. As one Anatomy professor says, “the things that make us wonderful as often what negatively impacts us.” Getting so involved and remaining busy can also be the reason why a student may fall behind in their studies.

How do you find a balance? How do you sleep enough, eat right, work out, socialize, do your homework, get a 4.0, and still have time to call your mom? I apologize but this is not a guide on how to do all of that….because I am still looking for the answer.

There is so much pressure on students to be these people with superpowers and with the ability to manage all of these tasks in order to get to the next level of their education. Where do these high standards even come from? What about those who went through to the next level without the pressure to do so much – were they not good enough doctors? We are human beings are always looking for the next best thing and for ways to improve and thus we set the standards higher and higher.

But, the road to your next goal is not a checklist and I hope that I am far from that. There are too many diverting paths and curveballs thrown at you along the way for it to be anything like going down the list to check off each one. I feel that my time at UB has facilitated the exploration of me as a person and as a student. I hope to take that and bring it with me wherever I go because I never want to stop learning.

All in all, I think my interview went well. I hope he had great things to say about our interview and I hope I was able to describe myself and my future goals effectively. It turns out, it harder than I thought to talk about yourself. BUT – I don’t want to jinx myself and so this story is to be continued…..

Saturday
04/29/17

Refrain from using the word ‘Coddled’

Posted by caaponte on April 29, 2017 in Future of the United States, Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year

So I read this article about a student from Fordham University complaining about the free state tuition to students who qualify. She complains on ‘The Odyssey’ about students who are being ‘coddled’ and further encourages those students to get a job instead of expecting their tuition to be paid for. She continues to complain about the outrageous difference between her student loans and those of a state at a state university. Understanding that she had the option to go to a state university instead of drowning herself in student debt, she claims that she decided against that option because state schools just “aren’t for [her].”

Those are her major points and so here are mine:

Freedom of Speech Alert

 

  1. As a student of a state university, what is so bad about our system? I am a competitive candidate for professional schools and am accepted into internships and research programs where I work alongside students from private schools. Your experience is what you make of it.
  2. I am confused as to how she felt that every student given tuition coverage must be coddled. After working in Buffalo public schools helping to fill out their FAFSA and TAP forms, I can assure you that coddled is not the word they deserve to be called. Many of the students don’t consider themselves to be smart enough to pursue an education in the first place. With many under the poverty line, of course, they feel like their pursuit of a college education (if they possess the confidence in the first place) would be a burden on their family.
  3. Many of these students DO already work while in high school. They come from families where they will be the first to attend college. The expectations are often as high as they set for themselves.
  4. We are investing in the future of New York State. The program needs to feed back into itself and require students to maintain a certain GPA, work in NY for a certain amount of time after graduation, serve as a mentor for new students in the program, and maybe deduct some of their pay (for a specified amount of time) once they’ve established themselves in order to pay for more students to obtain free tuition. It is all a cycle and it is important to look at the big picture. However, if something is simply given, it is not valued as much. And so setting standards as I have listed above would give an encouraging push without making the student feel as though obtaining a higher education is out of their scope.

 

We are more than what is on the syllabus. So let people have the chance to figure out exactly what that means for them.

Thursday
03/30/17

Is it Summer Yet?

Posted by caaponte on March 30, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year, Mental Health

I find myself having a hard time focusing because I keep thinking about the glorious light at the end of the tunnel that is summer vacation. Three months to spend how I please. Now, I know I will not be able to enjoy it if I do not do well for the next 8 weeks BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream of what life will be like when I can walk outside and see that thing called the sun.

I think it’s good to keep that light at the end of the tunnel in mind because it keeps you motivated and reminds you why you are in college in the first place. Always striving for a better life, a career that will allow you to fund your backpacking trips, and making your mom proud…right?

If you’re anything like me, you have a list of things you want to do as soon as you have more time. On June 1st, applications for dental school open and I plan to get mine out ASAP so that I can relax as I play the waiting game and wait, wait, wait to hear back from the schools I chose to apply to.

Life doesn’t ever necessarily get easier, even during summer vacation. But I think as humans we inherently look where we believe the grass is greener. For me, it’s a time when I’m not taking 22 credits and I am instead cooking with my mom while listening to Andrea Bocelli.

By now it’s evident that none of my thoughts are transitioning well. But what else can you expect from a college student midway through the semester? Don’t worry about me. I just had a nice cup of coffee. Focusing on what is important here – Study hard, enjoy it later.

Wednesday
02/15/17

Carrying on Family Tradition

Posted by caaponte on February 15, 2017 in Family, Futuristic Thinking

For my grandfather, happiness was found in having the family all together. He and my Abuela spent their entire lives building not just a house, but a home. With the recent passing of my Abuelo, I worry how we will uphold tradition… and if we will at all.

I’m the youngest grandchild and so I almost feel as though I am obligated to continue what he worked his whole life to instill in all of us. Whether it was with a pot of rice, a salami and cheese tray, an ice cream cake, zucchini bread, pollo asado, or a pig roast, they had the power to bring people from all over together.

Walking into their living room, you would see the family dancing salsa and merengue. Going outside, you could pick cherries from their many cherry trees and pick grapes right from the vine. Their home embodied the fairytale-like home you read about in storybooks as a child.

I was born in Rochester, as was my father. As the second generation, I wonder if my kids will be able to understand what it means to be Puerto Rican. The fiestas and asados are fewer and farther in between and as that tradition dwindles, I feel as though I am doing the future generations of my family an injustice if I don’t work harder to carry on Puerto Rican traditions. It is not just the food (although it is delicious), nor is it just the music (although it will certainly get you on your feet). Being Puerto Rican is a combination of rich history, romantic Spanish language, a positive disposition, and an understanding that special occasions are meant to be spent gathered in a circle with family. BUT – Just because you may not share the same last name, does not mean you are not family. I would be here all day if I shared with you all the friends and neighbors my grandparents welcomed into their home.

In efforts to celebrate his life, I hope to continue spreading his message to work hard but to always make sure to set aside time to spend with mi familia. His legacy and his strength will live on.

Monday
02/13/17

The Definition of Free

Posted by caaponte on February 13, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, University Life

It makes no difference what I am being offered. If it is free, I will take it.

Chocolate?

The end piece of a loaf of bread?

With a price tag of FREE, it looks like it also has my name on it.

We hate standing in lines, yet we have no problem doing so when it will get us something for FREE. Imagine that. You don’t have to take a $5 bill out of your pocket in exchange for a sandwich. Instead, you can donate time out of your life in order to get that sandwich. Isn’t it the same?

Maybe it’s just the sense of satisfaction you get when you didn’t technically have to pay for the sandwich. Duke professor Dan Ariely writes, “People appear to act as if zero pricing of a good not only decreases its cost but also adds to its benefits.” He states that getting something for free “gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”

Sound familiar? Or are you still wearing the t-shirt that says “Johnny Rockets” or “Kenmore High School” to all your most prestigious events? If you’re like me, you have t-shirts, pamphlets, bobbleheads, highlighters, pens, and pins from events you don’t even remember. “First 100 people get a free workbook!” Without even knowing what’s in the workbook, I’m running to be the first 100. I mean, I still have lanyards from college visits that remain untouched (Let me know if you need a lanyard).

I believe college students are extremely financially conscious. We have to be. When your full-time job is school, the money earned on the side must be spent sparingly and wisely. For some reason, a sandwich can taste so much better knowing that it was “free.” But, then I get to thinking about the big picture. Sure I’d prefer to spend less on lunch, but that tendency overlooks the value of the final product. Whether it’s a t-shirt from a blood drive, a dress from a discounted clothing store, or a haircut, we often disregard the resources used, the time taken to make the product, and the education to provide the service provided.

In a nation that is one of the top contenders in countries that donate to those in need, I question how often we stop to think how “free” or “discounted” a product really is. Personally, I know the times I have stopped to consider this are too few. And who pays the price for my lack of consideration? I can’t give you a specific name but I can tell you that it is not free.

Thursday
02/09/17

In the Midst of the Best Four Years of my Life (maybe)

Posted by caaponte on February 9, 2017 in Futuristic Thinking, Junior Year, University Life

Today I saw my friend post pictures from her Accepted Students Day. But this wasn’t your ordinary Accepted Students Day. She was accepted into UB’s School of Dental Medicine this past December and today, her and many others celebrated their achievement.

And then I got to thinking about upcoming deadlines. This will be my year to apply to dental school and it feels like just yesterday I was asking where the Student Union was.

Time is FLYING here at UB and it is crazy to me to think that next year at this time I will (hopefully) be sitting with my acceptance to my top choice dental school. But that story is not limited to me…where will YOU be a year from now? Putting into consideration how much can happen over the course of a year, I think it’s refreshing to imagine the possibilities a year can bring.

Whether you are looking forward to who you’ll meet, what new food you’ll try (foodie alert), or how far you learn you can go without your car running out of gas (proceed with caution on that one)… I sincerely hope you are enjoying how you are creating your experience at UB.

University Life is a love-hate relationship. There are some things I get very frustrated over but then there are others that I find myself missing over semester breaks. They say college will be the best four years of your life. Despite the fact I find myself reaching for a coffee more often than I know I should, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Especially considering these past three years have given me much more than I have expected.

I have met incredible people that have made me laugh, cry, and do some weird combination of the two. I was accepted into a fellowship that paid for me to work in a hospital during the week and had me flying over the Andes mountains on the weekends. I have increased my Spanish fluency to communicate with my relatives and I even bought a GoPro to give me an excuse to continue being a little more adventurous. I would not be doing the past three years at UB justice if I didn’t include all the negatives. We would be here all day if I told you how many dishes I’ve burnt, how many times I’ve lost my UB ID Card, or how I managed to get summer program applications in on the last day and paid for shipping in quarters. If you see me in the hall, I’d be happy to tell you about the time I went on and on about these “Cascaras de Niagara” as I explained to my Chilean friends the beauty of the Niagara Falls. At this point, I should probably mention that “waterfall” translates to cascaDAs…not cascaRas…..While I thought I was telling them about the 7th World Wonder, the Niagara Falls, they thought I was an overly proud American talking about some sort of Niagara Peel.

 

As we begin spring semester, I guess I am just curious to see what more university life will bring. Whatever it is, I am ready for the best years of my life to continue.