A Little More About Myself

JAy 2

By Jay Ayer

In my previous article I discussed some pretty serious subject matter regarding my personal life. To lighten things up a bit right now I want to write about something in my life that I love: films. I am a film fanatic and can cite seemingly an infinite number of facts about movies, even one’s I have not seen. My friends often challenge me to name movies based off quotes, actors, or still images from certain scenes. My love for film extends far beyond that of watching a wide variety of movies. I am more interested in the production that goes into film making and the subtexts of films rather than just the final movie itself. I find myself watching movies for the first time and not even paying attention to the story. Instead, I am looking for clues in each and every scene for an ulterior message or subtle foreshadowing just so I can predict the ending. This tendency to focus on different parts of a movie allows me to watch one multiple times without getting bored. My favorite film, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, is one that I often revisit to just analyze on my own, and each time I notice something that I have never seen before. In a previous article, “Living in a World on Demand,” I discussed the fact that I often prefer to watch a familiar movie over viewing a new one. My continual analysis of certain films is the reason for this preference. I can watch a movie scene with someone and notice even the most minute details that fly over the other person’s head: the importance of a character glancing at a bottle before using it as a weapon, how subtly a character makes a comment that holds the resolution to a later plot line, among other examples. Sometimes I annoy my friends and family with how often I predict the endings of movies midway through us watching one, but sometimes my friends enjoy it when I break down a movie we really do not like. I will never watch a movie without automatically analyzing every single aspect of it, and this can sometimes interfere with how much I enjoy a movie, but I love breaking one down to its core and knowing every single fact about it. There have been days where I watch three, four, or even five movies for the sole fact of analyzing them. I have not been able to watch any movies recently, but I can guarantee that once I get some free time I will immediately try to watch more. Watching movies is by far one of my favorite pass times, and I will probably never stop re-watching them because I am obsessed with knowing all that I can about them. My love for film is one of the most distinct aspects of my personality, and I’m lucky that this is an aspect of myself that I can appreciate.

Advertisements

Camp Thunderbird, Show Me Your Wings!

Meg 1

By Meg Hossler and Matthew Watkins

“Camp Thunderbird, show me your wings!” Now that we have your attention, let us introduce you to what place we called home this past summer. Camp Thunderbird, founded in 1969, is a summer camp for adults and children with developmental and physical disabilities. We serve a diverse group of people who come to enjoy a summer camp like any of you would. We do everything “normal” summer camps do, like, crafts, archery, swimming, bonfires, and talent shows, but with a few exceptions. We provide adaptive activities for all our guests, we help with self-care, we provide nursing care, and we help to diffuse a wide variety of behaviors. We hope you get to see a snapshot of what camp life is like and get the chance to grow like we did.

Meg 2

Welcome to Camp Thunderbird! My name is Meg, and I serve as the Administrative Lead here. I work in the office and process all the applications for camp, I talk to concerned parents, and I give tours of our lovely camp to prospective campers. I also serve on the medication administration team and pass meds to our campers every day. Some fun facts about this summer: I saved a bat my first week at camp, I wore matching flamingo shorts with one of our guests, and I made 62 drug sheets for the all the medications I passed out.

Before I tell you more about camp, I need to give you some background on Matthew Watkins. I met Matt when I was a freshman in the Kugelman Honors Program, where we became instant best friends and began dating shortly after. In the past, we’ve worked together as youth directors at a few local churches. This summer, I convinced him to work at a special needs summer camp with me, something he has never done before and had zero experience in. To say I was impressed by the end of the summer would be an understatement. Matt was a rockstar at Camp Thunderbird. Every week, Matt managed a cabin of 15-20 mentally and/or physically disabled guests with ages ranging from 45 to 80. I had the amazing opportunity to watch Matt care deeply for each of our guests and develop relationships with each of them. I watched Matt change adult diapers, pass medications, manage extreme behaviors, and comfort guests during emotional breakdowns. After last summer, it is clear that Matt will be a great social worker after he graduates this fall. Camp has solidified Matt’s desire to pursue a career in the school system, where he can continue helping students of all abilities.

Meg 3

Welcome to the Gator Cabin! My name is Matthew, and I am the Cabin Lead. It’s my job to spend the day with the guests, ensure all their needs are met, lead a staff of 10 people, make schedules, and report to the camp director about everything going on in the Gator Cabin. The Gator Cabin is one of four and houses the older male guests. Some fun facts about this summer: I went to New York City during my week off, I played banjo at the opening bonfires, and I served on the safety team at camp.

Meg was looking for an Orlando job this summer and found Camp Thunderbird. After applying, she called eagerly and ended up getting an interview with the director, who offered the Administrative Lead position on the spot. Meg did an amazing job in the office getting the applications through, working with guardians and group homes to meet the financial needs of guests, and gathering all the medical documents needed for campers to come. She also showed enthusiasm interacting with guests and giving tours. Meg’s position was new to camp, so she faced some adversity with it. However, she made positive changes at camp that not only made this summer better, but will also improve camp in the long run. During the last week on the job, Meg stepped up as camp was short staffed and worked with guests in the cabins on top of her normal job responsibilities. Without Meg going above and beyond this summer, camp wouldn’t have provided such an incredible experience for our guests. After last summer, Meg has decided to continue pursuing her passion for working with special needs, and she has joined the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association, and she plans to get her nursing certificate in developmental disabilities nursing, while also getting a doctorate in the future and pursuing research in this area.

A Little About Myself

IMG_3085

By Jay Ayer

It has come to my attention that, although this site has posted multiple articles about the past of several staff writers and members of Infinite Wisdom, I have not yet written anything too personal about myself. My bio exists on the Staff page, but that is only a cursory overview of who I am as a person; so I thought that I should cover several aspects of who I am over a series of articles. I guess I should start with one of the most prominent aspects of my life: my picky eating habits. People in my life have often compared my eating habits to those of a child’s because I constantly eat the same things each day while refusing to try most new foods. Now, I understand that being an adult and not being comfortable with most foods is strange, but that’s who I am. I wish I could say that my eating habits make life easier because I only have to buy and eat certain things, but this is sadly not the case. My entire life is a series of explaining my habits to people, with my embarrassment only getting worse as I grow older. There have been hundreds of occasions where I have attended events or visited someone’s house and I had to try to not act hungry when food is offered to me. I am not actively avoiding certain foods; they just never seem edible to me. This problem has extended far into my personal life because my family and friends could never take me places where foods I liked were served. I have on multiple occasions only eaten appetizers at restaurants because I cannot stomach what’s on the menu. I as well have a history of sitting through meals with friends and family, only to ask them to stop for me to buy myself food on the way home. The feeling of knowing that I drag people down like that with my eating habits is exhausting, and there are people in my life that do not understand the severity of my problem. Certain foods make me sick to look at. I cannot look at foods like onions, chili, and rare meat without having the urge to throw up. My habits have angered family members when, at restaurants, I send my food back to the kitchen if it has even touched food I don’t eat. They always said that being picky was not an excuse and that I was being childish and should just eat the food. Even though my family has lived with my habits my entire life, they still do not understand that I am not just picky, that there is something fundamentally different with the way I look at food. I have lost friends who thought my habits were too high maintenance, and I have caused several arguments between people who defend my eating habits and people who do not defend them. It is safe to say that my eating habits have not made my life any easier in the slightest. I encourage every reader who knows an adult picky eater like myself to offer understanding for their behavior instead of opposition towards it. I know my behavior is not healthy nor ideal, but I am trying to change. I have significantly cut down the list of what I do not eat, but the list still remains. I do not expect every reader to understand how much this problem has affected my life, but I do expect every reader to challenge their original thought about picky eaters.

Thank you for allowing me to share a little about myself.

Welcome to Infinite Wisdom

WISDOM (2)

By Joseph Cox

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The quote above has been dear to my heart for some time now, and I’ve used it to structure not only my partial leadership of this blog but also my research, writing projects, and class writings. In the past few years, I’ve rarely, if ever, written something solely because I needed a grade or had to create a filler article for the blog while another writer was struggling with other tasks. Everything I write has a piece of me in it and helps me find the parts of myself that were previously unknown to me. I continue writing to keep discovering more about myself and who I am as a person.

In the first official Infinite Wisdom meeting, I addressed the newest group of staff writers and made a simple point: “I don’t care about this blog… I care about each of you.” I said this point not because I aimed to create a nonchalant environment for the blog but because writing shouldn’t come from a forced place. Everyone should be free to express the stories they have tucked within themselves without judgement or censorship and grow with each post that’s submitted. Looking back, the viewers of the blog can see Rachael’s thought provoking, heart-wrenching, posts that began as only a textbook, high-school formula essay. Victoria’s posts have ranged from the construction of new worlds, both within the mind and outside of it, to her newfound understanding of God. Jade’s work is constructed with quips, words, and rhyme schemes that have a quick, wispy, bite to them – which never fail to impress me. Sabrina, the mechanical engineer, has demonstrated her love for music and written on the things that make her human, whenever she isn’t forced to endure the many burdens of calculus. Sam’s gone from using sentences that have four subjects and five verbs in them to establishing cogent arguments that transform the world into a better place, even if it is through only a few readers, and, finally, Jay has become an effective leader who shares his love for the blog and for storytelling in every meeting.

In short, you, as the viewer, have had the opportunity to witness the many points, stories, and personal anecdotes our many writers have brought forward, but I can see where the stories come from. I watched as Rachael overcame the bulimia that had plagued her, Victoria found the group of friends that brought her closer to God, Jade proudly proclaimed the odd writing projects she was undertaking, Sabrina nervously presented her first articles, Sam pounded away at the keyboard for hours, and Jay hesitantly spoke publicly in our first meetings together. I’m both honored and proud to work with every writer here.

Here’s my point, I’ve promised in the past, as I will happily promise again, that participating in Infinite Wisdom, either as a viewer or writer, will increase your writing ability, but that ability has never been why I joined this blog. Writing isn’t about where to put commas, what a grammatical antecedent is, or how to use a hyphen. Rather, it’s about the wonderful art that’s constructed from the implementation of those techniques, the safe-haven that construction can create for anyone willing to try it, and, most importantly, it’s about finding yourself in the pages, whether it be the blank writing space in front of you or the stories of another. The words may make you a better writer, sure, but what matters is bettering, and coming to know, the person typing the words.

I hope you will join us.

Are You Happy? A Letter To The 2017 Freshman Class

Image result for make happy

By Joe Cox

“I know very little about anything, but what I do know is that if you can live your life without an audience… you should do it.” – Bo Burnham, Make Happy.

Once I had entered class half an hour late, sweat dripped haphazardly from my dampened hair onto the scantron that had just escaped my moistened fingertips. My teal shirt faded into a darker shade as the moisture from my body soaked into the thin summer cloth. At the time, I hadn’t left the house in months, and my pale skin glistened with droplets lining the thin blonde hairs on my arms. I attempted to hide my gulps for air from the rest of the class, for they had each managed to find their way here without a hitch. I caught the peripheral glare of the girl seated next to me, as a dense heat radiated from every orifice of me. A test of grammatical ability sat in front of me; I despised grammar at the time. I received a 48 on that test, on that first day of class, on that first day at UWF.

After Intro to Literature was over, I met with my girlfriend at the time for what we thought would be lunch, but we couldn’t find the cafeteria. Instead, we searched the campus for shade on that 100-degree day only to find a dirty staircase near Pace Hall – the hall I would call home in just one short year. My girlfriend munched on some vanilla wafers and whined about how the nurse working on the blood drive bus couldn’t get the needle into her veins. I reminded her that she had pathetically tiny veins in an attempt at getting a smile to emerge from the stress tears she was releasing. I succeeded while withholding stress of my own.

My next class didn’t turn out better than the first, as I arrived late once again. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m as skilled with spatial orientation as Donald Trump is at negotiating with North Korea and creating healthcare referendums, so let’s say it took me a bit to find my way. I made my way into the room, found the roll sheet situated at the front of the class that had already begun, scanned for my name, and was met with the disappointing realization that my name was not on the list. I pleaded with my teacher, “I know I have the right building it said so on e-learning!” “I updated the roll this morning,” said the professor grimly, as I faintly cowered into my raised shoulders. “Just take a seat,” he said to end the painful conversation. Sweating once more, with a stain that easily extended the length of my back, I sat in the center of the room to the dismay of the people situated beside me. “Anatomy and Physiology” read the large bold letters headlining the PowerPoint presentation in front of me… I was a long way from Intro to Philosophy.

Quickly, I gathered my light backpack, which had just one binder in it, and I rushed to the door behind the class at the top of the lecture hall. Looking back towards the front, I caught the angry, questioning, face of the professor to which I gave only a shrug in reply. I checked my schedule on e-learning once more, found that the room information had changed, rushed across campus, and, once again, arrived half an hour late. My professor snarled at me as I sat in a plastic chair in front of him with every orifice oozing sweat – my skin was paste at this point. I was told that I had three more opportunities to be late. Upon my third instance of tardiness, I would be deducted a letter grade… I dropped the class the next day not because of the irritating tone of the professor, but because he capitalized every R he wrote on the board – clearly psychotic, right?

In the next month, my girlfriend had cheated on me, and I was left to wander the campus on my own. During that first semester, I made no friends in class, dropped my biology lab due to my emotional inability to get out of bed, spent most of my time performing logical derivations and playing video games from the confines of my room, and I drove an hour to and from school every day.

Semester two rolls around, I meet another girl. I date her out of a blind need for affection that hid my ridiculous number of insecurities, I had my heart broken once more, and I started working out shortly after – no more sweaty days on campus for me. When I wasn’t waking up at 6 a.m. to work out before school, going to class, or playing video games, I lay catatonic in my bed. My face would rest crookedly on the edge of my mattress with faint daylight peaking in from behind my navy drapes and white window shades. If my exes weren’t on my mind, then my depression surely was. Nirvana, Mayday Parade, and who knows how many screamo bands would blare through my headphones as I lay there for a semester trying to avoid any prying questions my parents might ask out of care. I wondered how to shake the pain, how to feel better again, and how to feel whole again. I wondered how to be happy.

Ready for the funny part?

Do you remember the Intro to Philosophy class I dropped the first week of school? I’m not only a philosophy major now, but I’m also working as a logic tutor on campus, serving as the president of Phi Sigma Tau, and presenting a philosophy based presentation at the National Collegiate Honors Conference. The horrible relationships I was in? I don’t even think traditional relationships are rational now, and I couldn’t be happier about that understanding. The catatonic boy in bed has morphed into this crazy, pun spewing, philosophy loving, open, and unafraid person that I pride myself in being today. I’m a mentor, a Secular Student Alliance leader, a tutor, a president, and a smart-aleck, but, most importantly, I’m just a kid trying to do right by the catatonic boy that survived all that pain. It’s funny how everything fluctuates.

To get to the point of telling you all this, and to address the question asked in the title, I offer you this one piece of advice: do whatever the hell you want to do. In the coming weeks, you’ll undoubtedly be bombarded with challenges, goals, people, and paths that you didn’t know existed. In one fancy lecture hall, someone in some suit and some tie will be telling you about how you’re at the greatest university in Florida, in the south, in the panhandle, in the nation, in the universe, in the multiverse, or in whatever location the guy chooses to use all while you’re encouraged to do this, do that, do work with him, see things with her, learn from that thing, look at this thing, and who knows what else. You’ll be told you’ll want to speak with an advisor, set up a plan, think about a thesis, craft some goals, go to some events, venture here, go there, or do something else. The truth of these to-do’s is simple: no one has any idea what you should do. I know because I’ve seen hundreds of people take hundreds of the paths and end up in hundreds of places, just as you have likely seen already.

I, nor anyone else, can guarantee you success if you follow some step-by-step “here’s how the be successful in a cliché idea of the world” guide, just like no one can guarantee you failure if you drop out of school, move to Idaho, and take up juggling on a potato farm. The best any of us have are some archetypal examples, correlations from strange sources we probably can’t cite, our own experiences, and “reason,” which everyone has a different definition of. There’s no right or wrong way to live life, no right or wrong path to take, and NO pressure to live some perfect, always happy in la la land, lifestyle that many modern people strive.

When people say, “The world is your oyster,” they often fail to mention that the world doesn’t consist of only one oyster. The oysters of life, found in the new opportunities and new people always surrounding you, are innumerable.  In college, a tidal wave chocked full of these oysters is going to wash over you in an instant. Sometimes, once that tidal wave has crashed, the oyster you choose to pick up reeks with the stench of the ocean, sometimes it’s slimy and crawls up your arm to slither along your eyes, sometimes your oyster dies right when you open it, sometimes you can’t even get the shell open despite REALLY wanting to, and sometimes you’ll throw one oyster away to have the opportunity to pick up ten more. Alternatively, the oyster might be amazing, speak English, solve world hunger, and create dope tunes with you like the clams in SpongeBob, but those oysters are tough to find. Sometimes, you may even find that the searching through all those oysters was the best part all along.

So, like Bo, I too know very little about ANYTHING, but what I do know is that if you are actively plowing through whatever oysters you so choose, doing the things you want to do, seeing the things you want to see, and letting yourself blossom like the beautiful flower you probably are, then you’re probably happier than most of Earth’s inhabitants. The earth can be a lonely place when you’re laying catatonic on a bed, so, unless that’s what the hell you want to do, don’t do it. Let the song in your heart play not because the world needs to hear but because you deserve to let it free.

And I, for one, will always be around to listen.

A Letter to Freshmen

FullSizeRender (3)

By Samuel Alvarado

Freshman year of college is less than a month away for the class of 2021, and high school will soon feel like it was ages ago. And now, you are about to start a new chapter of your life that will be unlike anything you’ve known before. It is alright to be scared, it is alright to be hesitant, and it is alright to be worried, for those feelings are only natural as the melancholic reminiscence of days in the known environment of high school are left in order to start anew.

The newfound freedom, responsibility, and opportunities that come with life at college are sure to be challenging to adjust to now that you don’t have parents watching your every move. Where once there was a required and early schedule, there is now the freedom to choose. You now have choices such as to sleep in until noon, stay up through the dead of night, or not go to a class because you choose not to (although you should just go to class). The task at hand is to find a happy medium between the newfound freedom of college and the possible consequences of your choices and actions. For instance, you could choose to stay out late every night for the first half of the semester and attend class but not do much studying. Fun, right? Unfortunately, the consequences of such freedom can be devastating. Your grades start to slack, and you end up losing scholarships because your GPA suffered from the lack of effort. I know that predicament all too well, as I made the mistake of not putting enough effort into my classes and ignoring those responsibilities. Because of the mistakes I have made, I urge you to be careful in how much freedom you give yourself when going out while the responsibilities of college go unnoticed. Now, college tuition and boarding are costly reminders that you are no longer in the relatively cheaper setting of high school. The freedom to make your own schedule and be more self-determinant is great when used properly to pursue the career you want and be the person you choose. Responsibilities, however, wait for no one and cannot be ignored for long.  You are no longer able to pass the blame onto someone else as easily or try to wriggle out of something you have done without some sort of consequence. Responsibility is learned whether you wanted to learn it or not.

The opportunities of college can be a welcome mediator between the freedom to choose and responsibilities. You are given many opportunities at college to see who you want to be as well as where you want to go in life. Whether you want a career in medicine or a career in art, the opportunity will arise if you are prepared to act. For example, I was given the opportunity multiple times through the UWF Kugelman Honors Program to be actively involved in volunteer work at the beach and getting to know student leaders. I was also given the opportunity to be a leader in the program and talk to current leaders about leadership positions currently held by Honors Students at UWF. I chose to go after these opportunities and gained new responsibilities while making advances into the field I want a career in by taking steps to show my leadership skills and potential. These opportunities were presented to me by a fellow Honors Student who was a leader in both RHA and the Kugelman Honors Program. With the support and encouragement of my wonderful fellow Infinite Wisdom Staff Writer Jade, I am now the Secretary of RHA. The only reason I now have the opportunity to show who I am now and what I can do is that I changed my ways from the beginning of my freshman year to the end of it. I still take time to be free, go to the beach, and relax, but now I can better balance the fun with the responsibilities of college life. With my current leadership position, I am responsible for helping other people make college easier for themselves, and I would not have been able to do this if I had not chosen to change how I handled my new found freedom. College is all about trying out different things to see how you will respond to them such as student organizations, fitness classes, courses in varying subjects, and new life experiences.

If you learn to balance your freedoms and responsibilities while going after new opportunities in college, you will be all the better for it. How you do it is up to you, but I would suggest from experience that you seek the advice of peer mentors who can help steer you in the right direction.

What is Honors?

jade

By Jade Jacobs

This article can be considered as an open letter to the incoming freshmen. Look at this as a mini crash-course on “what have I gotten myself into” of sorts. If you’re like most of us, you’re moving off to college and joining the Kugelman Honors Program because an honors student is what you’ve always been. Hailing from the lands of AP and dual enrolled course work, you feel like college is just another step on the way to that dream job. Sure, having “graduated with honors” on your diploma looks nice for your resumé, but being a member of the Kugelman Honors Program offers so much more than a check mark in a box. It’s not just about the prestige or specialized classes, it’s about a network and community that will have impacts lasting long after graduation.

This fall I’ll be starting my third year within the Kugelman Honors Program, and if someone had told me when I started that I would be in the position I’m in today, I probably would’ve nodded at the ground and silently walked away. Working my way up from an introverted freshman to running student organizations such as the Residence Hall Association and National Residence Hall Honorary wasn’t something I had planned, it’s something that resulted from connections I made on campus and within Honors. Stepping out of my comfort zone has never been easy, but the people I’ve become surrounded by here have made it an adventure. I could have easily hidden myself away in my room freshman year and avoided the amazing events Honors and UWF offer, but I never would’ve met many of the most interesting people at UWF. Bonding with my mentor Alyssa and waving ‘hello’ to my across-the-hall neighbor in my first few days here ended up gaining me two of my best friends. Alyssa ended up inspiring me to become an Honors mentor myself, leading to more wonderful experiences and an amazing support system with my colleagues.

In everything from simply attending Honors Council meetings and volunteering or enjoying committee events, to going to Honors retreat, presenting at conferences, and studying abroad, the Kugelman Honors Program is more than just a line on paper. Honors gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizon, build character, learn and strengthen leadership skills, and be a part of something much larger than yourself. All you need to do is decide that you want to make it happen. Opportunity is knocking, it’s time to choose whether or not you’re going to open the door.