A Letter to My Freshman Self

What’s up, man? You made it! It’s crazy how things work out, isn’t it? From full focus to getting an athletic scholarship to nonchalantly figuring you’d end up at JSU, you worked your tail off and are on scholarship to Auburn University. Make sure you take a moment from time to time to appreciate that. I know you will.

I have good and bad news for you though. College is going to be a crazy ride. To mom and dad’s relief, no, you’re not about to go buck wild with your first taste of freedom. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have some fun, but not in a destructive way. Praise the Lord you have a good head on your shoulders. You’re too broke to afford a crazy lifestyle anyway, and you know you’d feel guilty if you paid all that money to live down here and didn’t give it everything you had. I just mean you’re going to always be busy. You’ll meet a lot of great friends, hang out with the friends you already knew a good bit and have a great time doing all kinds of things. One thing I’d say is continue to make an effort to stay in touch with the people you meet. I know it’s different than being at home and everyone calling you all the time, but with people you don’t know as well, there’s some give and take. It’s not a bad thing if you can’t hang out all the time, but make sure not to let the relationships die out. It’s natural sometimes, and it will still be great to bump into them, but reaching out to grab dinner instead of taking a nap could make the difference. A sidebar though, keep your motivation to stay in the gym. You may be too busy sometimes, but you’re going to turn into a string bean if you don’t because you’ll eat less to avoid getting fat. Overall though, just do you, and you’ll be just fine.

As for grades, you’re going to be ok too. That first history test is going to hit you like a brick, but don’t panic. That will be the wakeup call you needed to succeed for the rest of your college career. You’re going to slip up a little this year, not much, but everything happens for a reason. You’ll vastly improve next fall and end up making multiple Dean’s Lists, be part of an honor society (I know it’s weird to hear, but don’t worry. You just have to pay a due. That’s it.) and finish with a really solid GPA. Having to balance AP Chemistry, a research paper and basketball in high school really sucked, but it will help you with time management. With the major you picked, you won’t have a harder class (conceptually) than Kadle’s. Classes actually seem to get easier each year. I’m not saying you’ll be stress free because some classes will require a ton of work (You only ate one meal a day at midnight for a few weeks because of one class and your other time commitment I’m about to get into.), but you’ll survive. Don’t sweat it.

All of the stuff I’ve previously mentioned will be fine, but here’s where the main purpose of attending Auburn University comes into play. You’re going to do what you set out for. You’ll be doing a lot of work in sports. In fact, you’ll start in a month or two. That’s part of why your grades will slip at first, but you’ll manage and eventually thrive. It’s still work, and you’ll be ridiculously busy a lot, but you’ll get used to it. At the end of the day, your office is either a field or court half of the time, so you’re going to love it. You’ll get to be around crazy-talented athletes, become friends with some awesome people and build contacts all over the place. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you’ll be with a minor league hockey team, your own athletic department, the channel you watch every day and work events for your school’s conference. I will spoil the fact that you’ll be an SID before you graduate, you’ll get to meet one of your favorite NFL players of all time in a work setting, and you’ll get to work the SEC Football Championship with Auburn playing in it! You’re so blessed, man. Don’t ever forget that. I don’t know your exact main career yet, but with what you’ll accomplish, you’ll be in a good position when you graduate, and your future is bright. Have some fun, but don’t be stupid and never stop grinding. Everything else will fall into place.

Spring “Break” in Sports

*This is written with a great deal of joking sarcasm, but I really do love my job.

 

Spring break is almost here! For most, it’s a time to hang out with friends, take a vacation or at least get some well-deserved rest. For others, however, there are responsibilities that carry on regardless of the break. That is particularly true in the world of sports.

 

Thankfully, sports have off-seasons to allow for a much needed break, but while sports are in season, it’s full speed ahead. In professional sports, even holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are prime work days. That long-winded explanation is leading up to what I’m doing over spring break. In a nutshell, the answer is working. While I will have a few days off, I’ll still spend most of my time on the job.

 

As I’m currently the women’s tennis SID and secondary contact for men’s tennis, I have to work every match for both teams. On top of my normal responsibilities, I’ll also be filling in as the men’s tennis SID for the week as the normal SID decided to take the week off instead. Lucky for me, both teams decided to schedule a combined seven home matches over the break! That leaves a few days to enjoy, but it will not be as much of a break as most would consider the ideal “last spring break.” With that being said, although I wouldn’t trade my job or experience for anything, my main goal for spring break is to survive it and maybe even enjoy it.

 

My objectives to ensure that I meet my goal are quite simple. I first plan to keep myself in good health so I don’t lose my mind. I also plan to focus on doing my job well so the bundle of joy that is our women’s tennis coach doesn’t eat me. As for my objectives related to relaxing, I plan to take advantage of my free time by doing things I enjoy.

 

My strategies for relaxing are also basic. By going outside, getting some exercise, resting and enjoying some electronic entertainment, I will be happy. Pertaining to working, by eating well and getting enough sleep, I will feel well. As for being on the job, by preparing well and doing all of my work precisely, quickly, carefully and with great accuracy, I will not be fired.

 

 

My tactics for relaxing are to longboard, play some pickup basketball or another sport, try to get back in a workout routine and catch up on some Netflix and video games. My tactics for working are to research what I need to before the match, have all of my programs ready to go, be at the matches in plenty of time, double check all of my stats and updates, and pay attention so that I send everything out as quickly as possible. My health-related tactics are to avoid greasy fast food, eat somewhat healthy, enjoy some soul food and nap or sleep at every opportunity I’m not working or enjoying myself.

 

The biggest way I will measure whether my spring break was a success will be determined by whether I maintain a normal heart rate after the break. I will also know that I had a successful break if I have not been fired. If that happens, I either really screwed up or ended up losing my mind somewhere along the way. I also will measure it by how rested I am after the break. As a bonus, another measure for a successful spring break would be having some good memories from the week. If I can accomplish all of that over the week, I’ll be proud of how I used my final spring break.

 

 

To end this blog, I just have one request. Anyone reading this that will be living it up for the week, make the most of it for those of us who can’t!

 

 

PS:  I know it’s still not very visually appealing, but given my lack of creativity and the issues with the post looking different in editing mode compared to the final copy, it’s the best I’ve got.

Valentine’s Day from the PR Side of the Spectrum

*Spoiler alert: I’m not that creative.

 

Yep, it’s that time of year again. The time to cherish that special someone and show your appreciation for them. It could also be just a hit to the pocketbook, depending on how you look at it. For those without a significant other, it might be the time to fill the void with chocolate or just another day. No matter how each person chooses to spend their Valentine’s Day, there’s no denying it has become a public relations and advertising bonanza.

Around the middle of January, just when you thought life was going back to normal after the craziness of Christmas shopping, stores and companies ramp up their efforts to capitalize on another season of giving. Seemingly everywhere you go is covered in red, pink and sparkly decorations. While this may come up suddenly for many consumers, it is no accident. PR practitioners with a focus on Valentine’s Day have likely spent months developing an ad campaign and are itching to see the results.

 

One might wonder why PR agencies put so much effort into a single day, but the answer is quite simple. As with most other holidays, it sells. Some people may not be overly concerned with Valentine’s Day in particular, but the overwhelming majority of people who take part in Valentine’s Day are captivated by it. With that being the case, the results of a good campaign are well worth the efforts.

While the specifics of PR campaigns centered on Valentine’s Day may change depending on the company being represented, the base structure of every plan is relatively similar. PR agencies must first determine the overall goal of the company. For example, the goal of a campaign for Kay Jewelers could simply be, “to spread joy and love.” The objectives of the campaign, however, would be much more specific. An example of objectives for a campaign as such would be things along the lines of, “to heighten awareness of new products” or “to reach a larger audience through different advertising methods.”

 

Once the goals and objectives have been established, PR agencies have to find a way to determine if their campaign will be successful. That’s where methods of testing come into play. PR agencies can use surveys, focus groups, interviews and other methods to garner the initial thoughts of consumers before all advertising goes live. With the subject being Valentine’s Day, PR agencies would likely need to filter their responses based on their target audience of people currently in relationships. Answers from single people would likely be irrelevant as they may not be interested in the product regardless.

After the campaign has been developed and tested, all that is left is the method of delivering the message. Depending on the ideals, budget and target audience of the company being represented, the best way to present the campaign may vary. For example, big jewelry stores like Kay Jewelers typically flood TV screens with commercials around this time of year. Smaller boutiques may find online ads and social media coverage to be a better platform. It just depends on the company being represented.

 

There are many more specifics that go into PR campaigns this time of year, but those are some of the basics. I hope this blog added to your perspective on the subject or at least made sense. Either way, that’s all I’ve got.

Is Auburn University Handicap Accessible?

rise, disability, handicap, overpower

 

A topic most people don’t think about is the accessibility of public places. That topic, however, is extremely important to those who have a disability. Whether the student has been dealing with a disability their whole life or has recently been injured, they have to find a way to get to and from class. Scott Scroggins, an Auburn alumnus who has been wheelchair bound since a young age, explained why he chose to attend Auburn University.

 

“I’ve been an Auburn fan my whole life. I never had any doubt where I was going to go. I only applied to one school. I love the sports teams and the family atmosphere everyone talks about. When you think of Auburn, that’s what you think of.”

 

While the Selma, Ala., native had no trouble deciding which school to attend, Scroggins still dealt with average college student issues. Despite that, he also had some help along the way.

 

“I took advantage of the public transit.  I did that when I first got to campus so I could get used to things. I wouldn’t say it’s been that hard. As far as being in a wheelchair, I would say there was a lot of adjusting.”

 

The category that separates many students from those that are injured or have a disability is accessibility. That whole new aspect can go unnoticed by many, but it is very important to those who need it. Scroggins referenced his experience as a student.

 

“Most buildings have the push buttons to open doors. I’d say it’s pretty accessible. I really haven’t had that many problems.”

 

Scroggins was pleased with how the university as a whole handled the matter, but he was particularly impressed with Auburn’s Office of Accessibility.

 

“If you have a problem, you can always go to the Office of Accessibility. They were always great to work with and willing to go above and beyond to help me with any issues that I had.”

 

As Scroggins was fine with how the university handles accessibility, most students seem to be as well. He believes the responsibility to improve accessibility on campus lies on Auburn students with disabilities.

 

“With anything to do with accessibility, I think it’s in part up to people with disabilities to communicate the issues. We have issues that you’re not even going to notice if you’re not in our position. I think getting feedback from people with disabilities is a good thing. They can ask what we need or what would help us on a daily basis. I think Auburn does a good job with that.”

 

Despite Auburn’s efforts, life is more difficult for people with disabilities. That’s the simple reality. Scroggins gave his advice on how to handle that adversity.

 

“There are going to be issues. It’s not a perfect situation, but I would assume if you’re college aged and have had a disability your whole life, you’ve learned to adjust. I don’t think Auburn is any different. There are other adjustments because most college students are living on their own for the first time. You don’t have people around to help you all the time with stuff, so you have to figure it out.”

 

Scroggins earned three degrees during his time as a student at Auburn. He has two bachelor’s degrees. One of them is in Radio, Television and Film, while the other is in Accounting. Scroggins also has a master’s degree in Communication. Scroggins has been on the communications staff in the athletic department for 14 years. If that’s any indication, accessibility here at Auburn should not hinder students from completing their degrees and achieving success.

Can a Big-City Personality Survive in a Small, College Town?

Auburn, fall, colors

 

Deciding on which college to attend can obviously be tough. It’s one of the biggest decisions most people make in their lives, so it’s important to figure out what you’re getting yourself into. Choosing Auburn may be easy for some, but students from big cities may worry over the thought of attending a school in a small, tightly knit town. Atlanta native Brenna Fowler shared her thoughts on why she chose to attend The Loveliest Village On The Plains.

 

“I chose Auburn because I was looking at all sorts of SEC schools. I knew I wanted to stay somewhat close to home. I visited Auburn on a whim, and I fell in love with the campus and everything about it.”

 

While there are many differences in major cities like Atlanta and a small town like Auburn, there are also some similarities. It’s become a cliché at this point, but Auburn truly does maintain a family atmosphere. Fowler shared that aspect as another reason she chose Auburn.

 

“I went to a small school in Atlanta, so our school was kind of like a big family because there were only 60 people in my class. I felt the family vibe when I came over to Auburn too. Atlanta is a big city, but pretty much everyone is friendly there. Atlanta is known as a very nice community. I’d say everyone in Auburn is pretty nice as well.”

 

Adjusting to a new school can be tough, but the aforementioned family atmosphere helps many students in that area. Fowler described her experience as an incoming freshman.

 

“I knew everyone at my school, but only four people from my school came to Auburn. I only knew those four people, but I’m a people person, so I went out and met a bunch of people. Everyone is so friendly, like I said, so it was easy to adjust to a big school.”

 

Even with the welcoming atmosphere, adjusting to life in a new place will inevitably take some time. Fowler pointed out some major points that may help incoming students.

 

“I would say you have to realize that Auburn is a much smaller town, but even in that, there are always things to do. There are a lot of cool places like downtown Auburn and Toomer’s Corner. You have very cool, family feel here. You just have to know that it’s a different vibe here.”

 

Once big-city students get used to living in a small town, there are a lot of things to look forward to. Fowler emphasized tradition as something to enjoy while going to school here.

 

“I love the traditions we have like rolling Toomer’s Corner after a big win. I also love the fall time here. It’s so pretty. The whole campus is beautiful. I also feel like everyone is so genuine here. It’s really easy to meet people here.”

 

Fowler is a public relations major with the intent to work in sports in the future, specifically with the PGA Tour. Given the opportunities Auburn University provides, she should have every chance to achieve that goal. Everyone has to make the best decision for themselves when it comes to choosing a university to attend, but if Fowler’s story is any indication, deciding to attend Auburn University is rarely considered a mistake.

How to Adjust to Life Without Sports

distraught, athlete, sportsFor most athletes, their journey in sports ends in high school. The NCAA estimates to consistently have around 480,000 student athletes in contrast to the nearly eight million athletes competing in high school each year. As painful as that is for many, that’s the reality.

 

Sports are a way of life, so adjusting to a life without them can be difficult. Despite the idea being a tough pill to swallow, it can also provide relief. Former athletes who spent their whole lives playing sports have a newfound freedom entering college. They no longer have morning workouts, afternoon practice, games or a need for personal training off the field or court. This extra time can be used to do things that the student didn’t have time for as an athlete. Current junior Jake Wright, who played basketball and golf in high school, shared his thoughts.

 

“I still do the same thing I used to in high school. I still keep up with sports and play golf in my free time. I have more time obviously, but I have to do other things with that time. School is tougher, and that is my obligation right now. I have more time to hang out with friends and go out. It’s different, but it has its benefits. You can do other things instead of having practice,  but you can still play certain sports when you want.”

 

College is not only a chance to further one’s education, but also a place to discover new passions. If simple freedom can’t fill the hole left by the absence of sports, college provides other solutions. There are many ways to get involved and find new activities. There are also many outlets similar to sports that can patch the wound.

 

Intramural sports are the most obvious solution to the problem. Students can attain a similar sense of competition and achievement through them. Intramural sports also allow students to experience the game like they did as kids. The expectation to work hard and win is no longer as serious, so students are able to relax a bit and have more fun.

 

Another simple solution is staying in shape. All Auburn students have access to the Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center. Here, students can keep up their workout regimens. They can also play pickup basketball, indoor soccer, racquetball and more. This may not be the level of competition former athletes are accustomed to, but it at least provides a way for them to improve their fitness and compete.

 

College also provides many opportunities to get involved outside of sports. The decision of which to get involved in depends on the student’s preference, but there are many organizations and activities to choose from. The most obvious is joining a fraternity, sorority or club. There are also many events to attend such as sporting events and campus events. Another way to get involved and possibly further one’s career is interning or working a job.

 

The main thing former athletes need to realize is life is not over. A big part of it may be done, but a new chapter is about to begin. The next step in the process is translating the passion for sports into a new objective. As long as that objective is healthy and beneficial, the determination instilled in athletes will drive them to success.

The Journey – How Mexico City Native Hector Rios Adjusted to Life on the Plains

Mexico-City, metro, Mexico

 

Everyone has their own story of how they arrived at college. For most, including myself, the story is fairly simple. Many students live in their hometown, go to one or two schools, graduate and attend the college of their choice given the circumstances. For current junior Hector Rios, however, the journey was a bit more complex since he was born in an entirely different country.

 

“I am from Mexico City. I was born in the metro area there. It’s about 30 minutes away from Mexico City. I moved here in July 2012. My dad worked in Huntsville for several years before we decided to move. Since I was taking my last year of middle school, my parents thought that it was the best thing for us to start a new life at that moment.”

 

As one would imagine, there are quite a few differences in living in Mexico and the United States. While discussing the topic, Rios emphasized the difference in culture here.

 

“It’s a different culture. There are different ideas. There are different ways to see life. There are different mindsets between the United States and Mexico. You have more freedom to do whatever you want here. You also have more economical liberties.”

 

Rios’ adjustment to a new culture was not easy, but he was able to get out of his comfort zone over time. After going through that experience, Rios noticed a key factor in enjoying a new place is communication.

 

“The advice I would give to foreign students coming to Auburn, the US or anywhere would be not to be afraid of what people are going to say about you, your culture, the way you speak or the way you look. All of that doesn’t matter at the end of the day. You shouldn’t be afraid to speak to people because I made that mistake for a year, and I regret it. I refused to talk to people. I think the more you speak, the more you practice your English and the better you get at it. People are going to make fun of you, but don’t listen to them. It doesn’t matter.”

 

After living here for a few years, Rios has noticed a lot of benefits to living in the United States and going to Auburn. He pointed out the professional aspect as a major focus.

 

“My favorite thing about being here is I have more opportunities. After studying here at Auburn, employers will look at my resume and degree with much more interest whenever I decide to go back since I studied in a different country, and I am fluent in more than one language. It gives you more opportunities to succeed in a professional way and also in a personal way.”

 

Now that Rios has adapted to a new culture and college life, he is ready to focus on his career. He is currently a media relations intern with Auburn Athletics, preparing to do what he loves most.

 

“I am a journalism major. My goal is to be a sports journalist. I want to write about soccer. I may want to write about other sports as well, but I’m focusing on soccer the most. My ultimate goal is to work for ESPN. That’s been my dream for several years now. I hope I can get a job in the media and do the things that I like.  The ultimate goal would be to work in Europe and cover all those soccer leagues, tournaments and all that stuff more closely. I hope I will be able to reach that goal someday.”

Is Living Off Campus a Good Decision or One to Regret?

dorm, apartment, decision

 

For some, living on campus may seem like a necessity. That’s great for those who have already made their decision or are required to live on campus. For the people on the fence about whether to live in a dorm or off campus, however, this article will explain some of the benefits of living off campus. That’s not to take away from on campus living options. It’s to simply point out that living on campus is not the only option.

 

One of the biggest benefits of living off campus is the price. It’s usually cheaper to live off campus. That does depend on the living establishment chosen, but most apartments and trailers are cheaper because of their location. That is also a drawback because students have to use a form of transportation to get to class. Despite that fact, most consider the cheaper price worth it.

 

Living off campus also allows students to put a minimum of $300 on their TigerCards as opposed to $995. This allows off-campus students to choose where they want to eat more often rather than being limited to on-campus foods for a majority of the time. This also makes it easier for off-campus students to avoid losing money or spending it on excess groceries since the TigerCard money disappears at the end of each semester.

 

Off-campus living also gives students more control of their surroundings. Off-campus students are allowed to choose whether they have a roommate, who their roommates are, the area of town they live and more. This allows students to do sleep, study or do whatever they need to do on their own schedule. That freedom typically sets up students for more success than those dealing with inconsiderate roommates. Recent graduate John Schlemmer based his decision to live off campus on that aspect.

 

“To be honest, I didn’t want to live in a dorm room. I didn’t want to be that close to someone else. I still enjoyed having roommates because I chose to live with my friends, but I wanted more privacy. You also have more space to yourself. All of the rooms are much bigger. I had a pretty good experience living with three other roommates. It was fun being in an apartment with them. I enjoyed it.”

 

In the end, the best decision really depends on the student’s preference. Some students want to be fully immersed on campus, and living on campus can be a part of that. Other students may be more concerned with a controlled environment and cheaper options. As long as students weigh out their options and make their own decision, there really isn’t a wrong choice.

The Key to Landing a Job in Sports

A front view of the Auburn University Athletic Complex where all business involving sports is handled.

As an incoming freshman here at Auburn, there are many opportunities to get involved. There are fraternities, sororities, clubs, intramural sports and much more. Those are all great, but for those considering working in sports, the best option is to begin interning as early as possible. Interning not only allows students to gain real world experience, but also provides an opportunity for them to build relationships, enhance their resumes and determine whether they truly want to pursue their current field of study. To reiterate the point, longtime Auburn University Associate Athletic Director Shelly Poe echoed those thoughts.

 

“I think it’s really important because interning is where you get practical experience. That’s not to diminish what you do in class because it’s important, but actually doing and learning things and the pace of how they happen in an office is really beneficial,” said Poe. “Writing a paper for class is different from writing a story right after the tennis match or as it’s going on. You know you have to get it done. You don’t have a week to work on it. Learning the pace of how things move in real life is something you get from interning more than school.”

 

Interning has to be treated as a real job, which understandably may be intimidating to some. In reality, however, that feeling doesn’t last very long. Most people end up enjoying interning once they get a feel for what they have to do. Current media relations intern and sophomore Amanda Ronan described her experience starting out as such.

 

“I remember I was really scared in the first meeting before the first football game because the assignment sheet was really confusing. I probably asked a million questions, but I was still confused,” said Ronan. “I was so confused because I thought that everything about this was so cool, and I’d be done if I messed anything up. I was really nervous at first, but I obviously still enjoyed it. It became a lot easier than I thought it was after the first week. That feeling has carried on through today.”

 

Interning is not only important, but can be also be enjoyable if students are in the right field. When it comes to sports, interns get an opportunity to see the process that goes on behind the scenes and work alongside people that many others look up to. Recent graduate and now full-time media relations intern Matt Penland expressed the same attitude when referencing his favorite part of interning.

 

“I think my favorite part was being able to build up enough trust with the SIDs that I actually got my own sport. I also got to go into the locker room after basketball games. I thought it was pretty cool that I proved myself enough to get to hang out with Bruce Pearl after the game,” said Penland. “Now I’ve worked seven SEC events, and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of cool people from different schools and conferences. I’ve also met people from ESPN and CBS. It’s been like a dream come true getting to meet some of the people you grew up watching on TV every Saturday.”

 

The most important step in landing a job with athletics is getting a foot in the door. A student that shoots an email to an employer about possible opportunities is already miles ahead of those who didn’t. Most students also find that employers are typically eager to help as they once were in the same position. Once the connection is made, all that is left to do is work hard and enjoy the ride.