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On the morning of November 29, 2012, Ryan Viola was walking to his bus stop with his brother, Vincent, when he was struck by a car while crossing the street.  Vincent, only 14 at the time, rushed to him and covered him with his jacket, performing CPR on his older brother.  Ryan was soon rushed to the hospital. His injuries were too traumatic; he would not survive.

The Viola family knew Ryan’s desire to be an organ donor. So, an 11-year old girl has Ryan’s heart. An 8-year-old who otherwise would not have made it to Christmas that year has one of his kidneys. Two infants survived because of his liver. Two women can see because they were given his corneas.

ryanstrong logoIn December of 2013, I stumbled across the “Ryan Strong 5k”, a run taking place at Bucks County Technical High School in honor of Ryan Viola. In that instant, I knew this was going to be the first 5k I would run in my life. The story of Ryan Viola was enough to make me put aside my disdain for running to honor his memory.

Seeing how something so beautiful could come of something so tragic was absolutely touching.  While I didn’t know Ryan personally, learning his story made me wish I did. He was going to join the army after high school, which is where the “Ryan Strong” logo comes from. After seeing the turnout this past Sunday, it’s clear to me that being “Ryan Strong” is something the community strives for, and for good reason.

https://www.facebook.com/RyanViolastrong  

The event kicked off with some heartwarming words from local congressmen, presenting awards to Vincent Viola for his actions taken on that dreadful morning. If that wasn’t enough to make you shed a tear, there wasn’t a dry eye in the building after Ryan’s mother spoke about her son and the 16 months that have gone by since his passing. We weren’t there to mourn his death, we were there to celebrate his life and the life that has come because of him.  After a quick prayer, the participants were out to the starting line.

Dave-runningIt might not make sense to a lot of people to run 3.1 miles in the rain at 9:00am, but all of us had good reason.  The started shouted “GO!” and we were off!  I quickly broke to the front of the pack and found someone whose pace I could stick with. I moved forward to a few different runners whose paces I felt comfortable with and before I knew it, I had finished 5th place out of over 300 participants. With my time clocking in at 22 minutes 31 seconds, I ran a steady pace of 7 minutes 14 seconds per mile, or about 8.3 miles per hour. That’s faster than the speed limit in some parking lots, so I’m kinda proud of myself for that. My parents were the first ones to congratulate me at the finish line and despite the fact that we were given times and places for finishing, fellow runners congratulated each other because none of that real mattered.  We had all done it for bigger reasons.

It was an amazing experience to have my first 5k event be something so meaningful to not only myself but the entire community. My heart goes out to the Viola family for all they’ve been through and how they’ve made something beautiful out of all of this.  I may have not run a half-marathon or made a dramatic recovery of some sort, but I’m proud of myself for this accomplishment and can say I now have one run under my belt. You can bet I’ve already been looking for more 5k’s to run in the new couple months and eventually I’ll work my way up to the half-marathons and even beyond.

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My parents were almost as drenched as I was.

If you keep pushing yourself far enough, you’ll soon realize the only limits you have are the ones you set for yourself.  Whether it be for an honorable cause, an inspiring story, or your own determination, go out and run for your life.

 

If you’re interested in reading the full-length version of this story, visit my personal blog.

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Fabienne, Rianne, Marielle, and me in Washington DC

 

This past Spring Break I actually wanted to go to the Netherlands and see my friends but I couldn’t afford it. So instead, my friends brought the Netherlands to me! Fabienne, one of my best friends, visited me during Spring Break together with Marielle. Marielle’s sister Rianne has been working in New York for the past two months so it was nice for Marielle to see her sister too.

They were only here during my Spring Break so we had only a week to spend together. We decided to spend the first four days (Monday-Thursday) in New York. They both hadn’t been in NYC before so we basically did “tourist-stuff” in these couple days.

 

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  And here is the Ultimate Tourist Picture :)

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          Night out in NYC (Times Square)

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A day in Metropolitan Museum of Art. This picture was taken at the end of the day and we had difficulty standing BUT it was worth it! This museum is so interesting!

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Selfie with the Statue of Liberty!

 

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This was one of the coldest days I experienced in my life! We only had two days left in New York and I had to take Fabienne and Marielle to Central Park so we literally froze our butt off and turned purple from the cold but hey at least they got to see Central Parks!

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Fabienne is obsessed with taxis and was dying for a picture on top of a taxi. We asked like 10 taxi drivers if she could sit on his car for a picture. Well, I know I have crazy friends and I know we get weird looks a lot, but these looks the taxi drivers gave us were different.. First they needed 10 seconds to comprehend what she just asked them followed by a laugh and a “Are you kidding me” -look. So of course none of them allowed her to take a picture with their taxi but she was stubborn and found a taxi in one of the stores we walked in. She forced me to take this picture with her so we could get embarrassed together.. and get yelled at together :) We got yelled at actually. Pretty embarrassing. But who cares?! I’m never gonna see those people again anyways. At least, I hope so.

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This picture was taken when the weather was much better! We decided to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan. As you guys can see, we had a beautiful view of the city!

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And last but not least we visited the 9/11 Memorial. This was my favorite. Our tour guide’s husband was suffering from cancer because of the chemicals he inhaled while saving lives as a firefighter on 9/11. “We were lucky. He came home. But now he can leave any moment” she said and made us all cry. It was very emotional to walk through this memorial and listen to people’s stories. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

From Monday till Friday we stayed in New York and decided to go to Atlantic city on Friday night. We quickly booked a hotel in Atlantic city for the night and hopped on our car and drove all the way to Atlantic city. When we arrived at the hotel in Atlantic City, without losing any time, we got dressed and went downtown. We walked around, saw the different casinos, and of course gambled! I won 29$, Marielle and Rianne won 71$, and Fabienne made our night by hitting the jackpot and winning 0.10$ :)) 

 

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At Ceaser’s Casino in Atlantic City. Marielle was grumpy because she was hungry and we were only taking longer to get to the restaurant :) I mean you are not in Atlantic City every week :)

 

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              And we finally got to the restaurant.. Marielle is smiling again :))

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                                  Fabienne saved the night :) #milionaire

After spending a (long) night in Atlantic city and having a complete blast we headed to Washington DC the next morning. That saturday the weather was amazing and we walked through the city all day. By the way, when I asked my friends what they liked about America the best they said: “You don’t have to wait to wear you summer-winter clothes till the seasons change. You can actually wear a hoodie on Monday and wear a dress the next day.” I guess this is very true. The temperature changes are crazy sometimes.

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                                            The Dutchies and the White House!

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While we were sitting here some guy passed by and offered us to take a picture. He took a picture of us and asked us where we were from. The second we said “The Netherlands” his eyes got bigger and he shouted out “Goede middag dames” which means “Good afternoon ladies”.. it turned out he was Dutch too. What a sweet coincidence!

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Resting and enjoying the sun! We could get enough of this beautiful weather and of Washington DC of course!

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Like some of you guys know, I was born in the Netherlands but I’m from Turkish decent. The red-white flag in this picture is the Turkish flag and the red-black-white flag is the flag of Amsterdam. I saw these two flags next to each other while walking through the international street of Washington street and I couldn’t pass it without taking a quick photo. 

After having dinner at one of these international cafes, me and Fabienne headed to Philadelphia and Marielle and Rianne stayed in Washington DC. On sunday I showed Fabienne Philadelphia around. It was the day of the St. Patrick Day parade so it was perfect!

 

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Fabienne and me at the Love Park in Philadelphia. Do you see the parade behind us??

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                    Beautiful Philadelphia and my beautiful car of course :))

Annnd it was time. This is why I want to have a time machine sometimes. After spending a week together it was time to say Goodbye. Fabienne had to take the bus back to New York. Her flight was the next day. I made myself a promise: I was NOT gonna cry! And I didn’t… till the bus left… with Fabienne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a senior in college, you have two pits you can ultimately throw yourself down. One of them: Graduate school; the unyielding nightmare of any undergrad that simply wants to pay $100K more in tuition costs but needs to take a five hour test, get over 1,000 hours of internships, and twenty reference letters to justify putting themselves in debt until they’re 40. Sounds pretty fun. Or the other: Try to find that job; the never-ending “internship” that you will most likely be forced into until you’re 30, and can then be seen for the genius you are. But our lives are not as easy as a rerun of “Suits”. imagepl
The glamour and safeness of college is ending. My friends that have moved on constantly tell me how fun college was, how hard life is, and how many mistakes they wish they never made. While I’m starting to agree, all I want is the chance to take everything I learned, in and out of the classroom, and apply it to my future. What you learn in college is much more than a grade, despite what your GPA says as it laughs at you. It’s about the moments you fell down, got an F, had a horrible professor, terrible roommates, all-nighters that backfired, and crappy cups of coffee. It’s all of those moments that, ultimately, should have torn you down… but didn’t.
In my four years, I’ve learned some key insight into how to survive roughly 20 credits, 2 jobs, and a (pathetic) social life. (I’m not adding sleep in that mix considering I’ve most likely consumed enough coffee to kill an elephant… and besides, let’s be practical. No one sleeps anymore).

Here we are, the not-so-practical-and-probably-won’t-help-you-list-on-college-survival:
1) Never stare a free coffee in the face.
2) Mismatched socks will save you a lot of time in the morning.
3) This is a not a runway, and yes I did wear this outfit three days ago.
4) Don’t forget batteries; calculators don’t run on will power.
5) Having three alarm clocks has saved my life. LITERALLY.
6) Your GPA doesn’t define you. ….sure helps though.
7) Drinking four cups of water before bed is a terrific natural alarm clock.
8) Being late to class because of laziness is not an excuse. Unless it was to pick up coffee, because come on.. let’s be practical here.
9) Flashcards. Flashcards. Flashcards. Flashcards. Flashcards.
10) We all have those subjects that we just. don’t. get. but don’t give up… otherwise, the class wins.
11) “Me time” is an extremely important part of mental health, don’t skip it. (Never underestimate the power of free time reading).
12) My personal survival tip: Cupcakes solve everything, even a really really really really bad day. Plus a Caprisun.

Okie dokie, as you can see a sense of humor can most likely save your college experience. (Don’t forget the sock tip though, that one is dead serious).
10150082_10152378796321614_168513285_nFor all my nerds out there, my histology class (to which one of my bosses thinks is a made up class) is probably the best class I’ve taken to date. Being able to sit for hours and look at slides while listening to some music, plus working at my own pace, is it’s own little gift to a science major. I have always enjoyed labs like this because it allows you to experiment and explore on your own terms. If you are going to be taking any 400 level science classes in the foreseeable future, histology is the way to go!

Otherwise, this is what you’ll see in an organic chem class, waiting for a solution to reflux for an hour:
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So to end this obnoxious post, college isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s also for the vulnerable. Be open to new experiences, be your own person, and if you see a kid with a sign on his back in the library, DO NOT DISTURB HIM.
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Andddd BREAK!

Wow! I was so not ready to leave Spring Break! (Even though I had a few extra days)

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Enjoying some Butter Beer with Mike at Harry Potter World, Universal Studios, Orlando

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Check out that View!!
Our camp and tent at Fort Desoto Campsite, St. Petersburg

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“Hogwarts” at Universal Studios. This broom ride was awesome!

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Flying Kites on the beach of St. Augustine! I had a Disney Kite and Mike had Optumus Prime on his!! They went so high!

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Ginnie Springs. The view as we set out on a Morning Kayak. So peaceful and the most wonderful sunrise I’ve ever seen…

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Mike and I on our Kayaks! What a great morning that was. :)

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Some more Kayaking!

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On my Kayak at Ginnie Springs!

I had the best time!

Spring Break has always been a big deal to me, not in the go clubbing in Miami and get wasted stereotype, but it a way to just relax and cool down right before the semester ends. It’s a great reality check that although classes are important, its not vital to sweat the small stuff. This break, besides celebrating my five year anniversary with Mike, I went CAMPING! Which is something I haven’t done in years. My mom surprised me with my own little pup tent, and me and Mike drove around florida enjoying the sites (as well as the warm weather) in a tiny little tent and no regular showers. It might not sound glamourous, and it wasn’t, but I had the best time. It was fun seeing Michael in that way and working through each other’s quirks while driving for hours, sleeping on a hard ground, and having to cook our meals with a few measly pieces of charcol.

I also learned a lot about myself on the trip. I learned how much I like to be in control. Mike planned the whole trip for us, and as that was stressful for him (I usually make the plans), it was equally frustrating for me to not have control or say in the activities he planned. I did, however, have the best time! (Note to self, RELAX! Give up the riens.) I was also reminded how adaptable I am. When I took my trip to Panama last summer, I learned that I can really do anything I put my mind to, and also survive any hardship or difficult thing that comes my way; Nothing is impossible. This trip reminded me of that. Although it was nothing like the conditions of Panama, it showed me how much my relationship with others, especially Mike, is also adaptable and we can make it through any hardship that faces us. Relationships and friendships are changeable, moldable. A few rocks in your back, or a raccoon break-in wont upset the things that really matter.

But anyway, my trip consisted of a tour of Florida. We started at Ginnie Springs in North Central Florida. There we camped and woke up to a kayaking breakfast. Easy to say it was my favorite morning of the trip. There were clear waters, and absolutely no noise. Mike and I were the only people on the river and were able to row about 10 miles, and just float back. It was awesome! The next day we drove to the Tampa area, through Clearwater (No, we didn’t make it to see the Phillies practice.. L) and set up camp at Fort DeSoto in St. Petersburg. If you ever want to go camping on the beach, THIS IS the place to go!! It was very private and quiet and the site was beautiful. There were aquatic birds everywhere, and the beach was gorgeous. While staying in For DeSoto, we made a drive to Universal Studios in Orlando. It was a long drive, but the park was fun, as always! I even tried some butterbeer. J Yum, Yum!! The last day of our trip we drove back towards Jacksonville, and ended up touring around St. Augustine for the day. Although, we’ve both been to St. Augustine a hundred times, it was a blast as always. The beach was warm and active with lots of people, and the Rita’s water ice was cold and refreshing! It was a great trip!!

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Ah yes, the age old question we’ve all been asked countless times throughout our lives!  We all know that one kid who knew they wanted to be a speech pathologist since they were 10, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but most of us had the very typical dream jobs: astronauts, rock stars, actors, doctors, firefighters, and etcetera.  I always fell into the musician category; I wanted to be a singer in a band, and a star in musicals, and a recording artist.  A dream job I’ve added to my list more recently however, is something that I never considered or even really thought about until the past few years of my life.  Of course it still falls into the music category, and while it doesn’t receive as much attention as the performers, it’s arguably just as important of a job and that job is audio engineering.

In Art MonitorAudio engineering is, at its core, the recording, manipulation, mixing, and reproduction of sound (thanks Wikipedia).  This extends into a lot of different areas such as making soundtracks for movies, sound effects for video games, background music for television shows, but the career best known in the field of audio engineering is Music Production.  This is a title you could give to Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Ryan Lewis, and Jay-Z.  These men are producers not because they sing or rap in successful songs, but because they produce the songs.  They are the ones (most likely with the help of others) creating beats and recording tracks and mixing the songs.  If this seems overwhelming for one person to learn, fear not!  PSU Abington has a class for that!

INART 258A is formally known as “Fundamentals of Digital Audio” or as I like to call it, audio recording class.  Made up of only 5 students, we meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 50 minutes in a small studio in Woodland for hands-on lessons in Pro Tools 11.  The studio has 3 Mac computers, MIDI keyboards all over the place, and all the microphones and mic cables you’ll need to record.  While the working space is small, the possibilities for music production are endless because of all the brand new resources available.

In Art RebeccaIf you were a student at Abington just two years ago, none of this would have been available to you.  It was decided that since there was an interest in this field, an old supply closet in the music hall in Woodland would be converted into what is now the studio in which we work.  John Pachence, the professor who teaches the course, wanted students to be working on industry standard equipment which is why the recording gear is all new and high quality.  Each Mac runs Pro Tools 11 which is the same program being used in studios in Nashville, LA, and New York City.  The goal of the course is to learn how to use Pro Tools efficiently and to develop a critical ear for music.

In the first class, John was quick to explain what is meant by a “critical ear” for music; it is being able to distinguish subtle (or not so subtle) imperfections in music.  Over the duration of the course, we’ve been developing our critical listening and ability to correct the imperfections in our recordings through Pro Tools.  We work on individual projects based on whatever concepts we’ve learned and are learning, in addition to class projects where we bring in a student that has a song to record, and we record them and make them sound great.  The class provides a lot of info and teaches a lot of skills but there is never a lesson taught without John asking, “Does that make sense?” or “Am I explaining myself clearly?”

While INART 258A alone won’t make my dream job a reality, it’s an awesome place to start and the fact that I’m getting college credits to do it is unbelievable.  Of course I’m going to take the 400-level course that continues the lessons taught in INART 258A and that will further my abilities and knowledge even more making my dream a little more attainable.  If you’re really interested in taking the course, I recommend waiting by your computer as soon as course selection is available and trying to get in before the small number of spots fills up.  For anybody with a love of music and sound, this is the course to take.

All in all, just do what would make 10-year-old-you proud, I know I am.

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