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No Car? No Problem!

people exit a city bus

Behold the Winona Transit in action!

As the snow finally begins to melt and we are freed from our arctic prison, it’s time to venture back outside and explore all the scenery and downtown life that Winona has to offer. Now, this won’t be a post about where to go and all the fun events going on in Winona because there are already many posts about that! I’m actually here to help you figure out how to utilize one of Winona’s most underutilized resources — the public transit options.

If you’re like most students at Winona State University, you don’t have a car of your own right now. This can make trips to the doctor, food runs and retail shopping seem like an enormous undertaking —especially if you are over on West Campus. Using the Winona Public City Transit can make these errands much easier. I started using the public transit when I caught a bad case of strep throat first semester. I had put off seeing a doctor for almost a week because I didn’t have access to a vehicle, and stubbornly thought I could sweat the fever off, but when that didn’t work I took the plunge and tried navigating the public transit.

Since there is a lot of timing to figure out and different shuttles to catch, getting started with the transit system can seem intimidating at first. I certainly had an awkward adjustment period, and my first attempt was pretty pathetic. I got on the wrong shuttle and ended up at Shopko when I needed to be at West Campus. The second time I managed to strand myself at Walmart by missing the last shuttle to Winona State University.

But with just a little bit more practice I was hooked! Now I have can visit the hospital when I need to, take weekly supply runs to Walmart and visit friends over at St. Mary’s University. I quickly got the hang of it, and I’m sure you can too.

To help you out, here are a few tips so you’ll be fully prepared to tackle the Winona Public Transit system:

1. Make Sure You’ve Got the Funds
One of the best things about the Winona Public Transit is that it is an extremely inexpensive mode of transportation. If you decide spur of the moment to take the transit, you’ll only need to pay one dollar for your ride to your location and then another dollar for your ride back. However, if you prepare in advance, you can visit one of the transit’s 3 selling locations and purchase a student token. A student token will knock your fee down to only 80 cents, but the tokens must be purchased in advance. If you plan on using the public transit often, a monthly pass is probably the best bet! The cost is unlisted on the Public Transit’s homepage, so you should call in advance or stop by one of their purchasing locations for more information.

2. Map Out Your Destination(s)
You’d be surprised at how far the transit can take you, but just to be safe make sure you know you can get to where you need to go. The city bus stops at Winona Health Urgent Care, St. Mary’s, Winona Health Hospital, Walmart, Shopko, Hyvee and lots of other places around town.  I’ve used the transit for all sorts of trips. If there isn’t an exact drop of point for your location, you can pull the “Stop Here” rope along the walls to get as close as possible. So pick a destination and carry on!

3. Know the Details of Your Bus
Winona Public Transit is not just one bus that travels the city, but actually four buses that cover different sections of Winona. There’s the Green Line East, Green Line West, Red Line and Blue Line. Once you’ve identified what line(s) you need to take, make sure you know the time and pick up location as well! The transit is pretty much always on time and leaves shortly after arriving at its stops. There isn’t much flex time so it’s better to get to your stop sooner than later.

Once you’ve got your shuttle picked out and you are at your stop, navigating the transit is actually quite easy. If you need to transfer from one line to another or are unsure as to where your stop is on the route, don’t hesitate to ask the drivers! The drivers over at the Public Transit are very nice and know all four of the routes very well. If I hadn’t spoken with them, I would have had a lot of trouble figuring out what shuttle to take get where I was going. If you have any questions they’ll know the answers.

–Hannah Carmack

I'm Undecided, but I Know What My Major is NOT

a man says no

I might not know what I want, but there are some majors that are definitely not for me.

During your first year at college, you will constantly get asked about your major. At Winona State, the two answers you will hear most often are nursing or education. But that’s not my story. I do not have a declared major right now, and quite honestly, sometimes I feel ashamed telling people that when they seem to be confidently pursuing such challenging and specific majors. I mean, how are we supposed to know what we want to do with our lives at 18 years old? When I was just starting college, this demand for an answer seemed so overwhelming.

The truth is that freshmen often begin as an undecided major, and it is a route that seems to be working for me. Actually an undeclared major is pretty great because you have an opportunity to explore your many interests. I love taking a wide variety of classes in a semester and there are always a few that I really enjoy. As a result, I do well in those classes and learning is the ultimate goal, right? Currently, I have no idea what I want to major in, but I do have an idea of a few things that I don’t want pursue for my major.

Many people come to Winona State because of our great Nursing and Health Sciences program, but nursing is not for me. I admire the medical field so much, but I don’t do well competitively and so the possibility of not making it into the highly selective Nursing Program would be too much for me to handle. In addition, I’ve never been gifted in the science department, so the struggle I had in my high school chemistry and biology classes would translate into hardships in that field. I am inspired by the strength, compassion and dedication that people who become nurses possess, but I cannot realistically see myself becoming a nurse.

I’ve also realized that I won’t be declaring an English major. I have struggled with academic writing for the majority of my years in school because essay writing gives me a lot of anxiety and I never seem to improve. I have English 111 this semester, and it is by far the hardest class I have, even though it is the intro English class. I just have a hard time with how there is not one specific way to write an essay, unlike the single correct solution to a math problem (although I don’t like math either). I do love creative writing, though, which is why I enjoy activities like blogging. I like the freedom in creative writing and the ways its more “forgiving” than academic writing, so some sort of writing field may be in my future.

I encourage you to not let people pressure you into making the decision about your major before you’re ready. Personally, I can really struggle in school, so when I find a path that has classes I enjoy and do well in, I take full advantage of that and see where it takes me. I’ve heard that switching majors, although sometimes the best option, is quite a pain and a hassle, so why not take a little extra time to explore your options so you make the right choice the first time? It’s ok to be undeclared!

–Liz Doyle

Beyond the Nerves: Performing at Mugshots

If you’ve seen me perform anywhere, you’d probably think that I have never been nervous to perform. You could probably throw me in front of 500   people now and demand “PLAY GUITAR AND SING RIGHT NOW!” and I would be really excited to do it.

While that’s true now, I wasn’t always that comfortable singing or playing guitar in front of people. It might be hard to believe but I used to get really nervous about performing in front of anyone—even my parents and close friends. I mean really nervous in the stress-out-all-day kind of nervous. The first time I ever played anything in front of a crowd was at a small open mic at a local coffee shop during my senior year of high school. There were maybe ten people there that I didn’t know and I honestly felt like I was going to throw up.

It wasn’t until my first performance at Mugshots on West Campus during my freshman year that I was able to get over my fear of performing in front of people. As a junior now, I’m a bit of a seasoned Mugshots veteran. I’ve performed there five times with one or two of my musically inclined friends for the whole night.

As a musician, Mugshots is a really great opportunity to get your foot in the door. It’s great experience with professional equipment like microphones and amps, but the pressure isn’t as high as it would be if you played in a more serious setting. At Mugshots, it’s ok to mess up occasionally; I’ve even started a song over once. It’s also a great place to sing those silly or really inappropriate songs that only college students can appreciate. For example, as freshmen my friend and I made an acoustic version of “Get Low” which was a huge hit!

Oh, and did I mention that Mugshots also pays its performers?? It’s not only easy money. but also probably the most fun I’ve ever had while getting paid. Plus, not only is it easy for my friends to get there because it’s on campus, but random students whom I don’t know come to listen too. It’s just fun to share my music and perform for my peers and great that I can even make an extra buck while doing it too.

–Kim Schneider

Student Teaching: It’s Not So Scary

a comic about being a teacher

The realization that you are the adult in charge is probably the scariest part.

Before I launch into talking about student teaching, let me give some background about my teaching major and how I felt before beginning student teaching. I’m a Vocal Music Education major, so my licensure is for Kindergarten through 12th grade. This means that I have 2 separate placements for my final semester of student teaching. For the first half of the semester, I was placed in a high school and soon I start my second placement at an elementary/middle school for the second half. It seems to me that the focus in my education and content classes at WSU has been very heavily elementary oriented, so I was definitely a lot more nervous for the high school because I didn’t know what to expect.

I was scared out of my mind to do my student teaching and, with the daunting task of taking the edTPA on top of that, I didn’t know what I was going to do. The night before my first day in the classroom I couldn’t sleep because I was sitting up thinking about the next day and how it would go. As midterm approaches, I can safely say, however, that I had absolutely no reason to be scared or anxious. I just had to be willing and motivated to put in the work student teaching requires.

I was lucky with my first placement. The high school I’m located at has a great environment, the students are respectful, the teachers are all welcoming and there are many of extra-curricular activities so that I can learn more about how the school functions. I am learning a lot and finding my excitement for teaching again.

Now if I was anyone reading this, I wouldn’t want to hear about someone else’s experience as much as I’d like to get some pointers and tips for when I start my own student teaching. So that’s exactly what I’m going to provide you with:

  • Let the students know you care. Attend their extra-curricular activities, talk to them, ask them about their lives and just get to know them! They are probably excited to see a new face in front of them and if you show them that you want to be there, they will show you respect.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! Your cooperating teacher, other faculty, students– absolutely everyone has something they can teach you.
  • Plan ahead and stay on top of your work. Because all the work you have to do for student teaching is amplified by the preparation you have to do for the edTPA, you need to make sure you’re staying on top of it all. As college students, procrastination is sometimes our biggest problem, and you can’t afford to procrastinate while student teaching!
  • Break-up the edTPA into smaller steps. There are 3 tasks to the edTPA, but those tasks should be broken up as well. Don’t try to do it all at once. Give yourself a timeline and stick to it and you won’t be overwhelmed.
  • The edTPA isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. If you stay on top of it and focus and read all the instructions, you will be able to complete the edTPA effectively and without too much stress.
  • Give yourself some “You Time.” I’m often stressed by all the work I have to do, but taking time to sit for a half hour and read a book or watch an episode of Friends on Netflix has proven to be a great way to re-focus my head on the tasks at hand.

In closing, student teaching isn’t so scary. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn, grow and have fun. This is what you’ve chosen as your future, and it doesn’t have to be so strict, scary and stressful! Enjoy yourself!

–Garrett Bowling

11 Animals Who Know How You Feel about Midterms

It’s midterms, a stressful time for everyone. These 11 animals know exactly how you feel.

1. When you’re searching your textbook for the answers

cat trying catch something

2. When you realize you actually don’t know anything

sea lion struggles

3. When you’re really just done for the day

kangaroo drops ball

4. When you finally get to go to bed

turtle flips plastic pool on top of itself

5. When you’re cramming minutes before the exam

excited puppy

6. When you just wish you could escape

cat floats across pool on surfboard

7. When you feel like there’s just too much information to know

costumed cat rolls off chair

8. When you almost got all your flashcards correct..but those last few won’t stick

cat tries to reach string and falls of table

9. When you really just don’t know if you can go on

sloth nods

10. When you know your studying is going to pay off

penguin baby bobbing head

11. When you’re done with midterms and realize it’s Spring Break!

dancing dog

Keep pushing, Warriors. These animals (presumably) made it through their tough week, and so can you!

–Leah Dobihal

The Ultimate WSU Graduation Checklist

a checklist note

The first item on this list–don’t panic– is the most important to keep in mind.

Graduation is coming fast, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve likely woken up in a cold sweat at 2a.m. having visions of poorly formatted résumés and a mental to-do list as tall as Mount Everest. But stay calm—here is everything you need to remember, all in one place.

  • Check Your DARS
    Make sure your pie is green and you’re all set for graduation.
  • Go to the Résumé Cart
    Make sure your resume is top-notch for future employers to see. The Résumé Cart is available in Lower Level Kryzkco.
  • Apply for Graduation
    Don’t forget to apply for graduation! Keep in mind that Winona State needs 6-8 weeks to process your application.
  • Learn to Write a Good Cover Letter
    There’s lots of good advice online about cover letters, or even better, visit Career Services for tips and sample letters.
  • Find Out About Your Loans
    Most students take out at least one loan to finish school. Make sure you know when your first payment will be, and in what amount, before you graduate so you have no surprises.
  • Sign up for a Job Search Site
    Although jobs sites like Indeed and Monster will likely send you a plethora of emails each day, sometimes it’s worth finding out the types of jobs that are out there, and you can grab the chance to apply.
  • Line Up Letters of Recommendation
    Future employers are undoubtedly going to want to see letters of recommendations and a list of references. Email your boss or professors, or even better, go to their offices and chat with them in person in order to get the best recommendations you can.
  • Check Your Credit Score
    If you plan on opening a credit or buying a car, a house or any large purchase after graduation, you want to make sure your credit is where it should be to do so. Your bank might have programs that can send you a free credit report or you can always go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com for a free credit report once a year.
  • Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
    If there’s anything, and I mean anything, on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media accounts that you wouldn’t want to print out and show a future employer, take it off your profile.
  • Visit Career Services
    Career Services can help you in a variety of ways, whether you plan on heading into the job market or you plan on heading to graduate school.
  • Buy an Interview Outfit
    Make sure your closet is stocked with at least one or two outfits that’d be appropriate for an interview. Check out the Warrior Professional Pinterest board for interview outfit tips for both guys and gals.
  • Order Your Cap and Gown
    Thankfully, we can wait on this one for a while. However, as graduation nears, make sure you hit the bookstore to purchase or rent your cap and gown.
  • Thank Your Parents/Guardians/Supporters
    Last, but most definitely not least, thank those that helped you through your college career. Whether it was financially, emotionally or academically, we’ve all surely had help these last years. Make sure you thank your parents, guardians, friends, and supporters for their encouragement.

Now that you’re thoroughly stressed out, take a deep breath and know that all of this means you SUCCEEDED in college. Your hard work is now all coming together, and the stress of the list above will be worth it when you walk across that stage.

–Leah Dobihal

The Reward of Abandoning Your Comfort Zone: Dancescape 2015 Edition

photo composite of two dance productions

This in an overlap of the two final images in the piece “Ode to Swimme” choreographed by Jacqueline Paulsen. Photo courtesy of Doug Sundin.

 

Upon entering Winona State University as a freshman two and a half years ago, I never suspected that I might get involved with the Theater and Dance department. Actually, I never thought I’d be in a dance performance period (unless you count the one I did in third grade with the cute yellow tutu). But here I am, post-Dancescape after nearly six months of sweaty rehearsals and the remnants of last night’s stage makeup still under my eyes.

Although I have played guitar and sang for people many times without getting nervous, I’ll be honest, I was pretty nervous on opening night. But as the first three notes of the song “Spacedrum” went off and the hot lights went up, all the nerves faded. It was just my fellow dancers, the choreography and me. I was in the piece “Mindswarm,” choreographed by WSU Senior Pedro Lander, and “Ode to Swimme,” choreographed by faculty Jacqueline MarkevitchPaulsen.

dancers caught in motion

The piece “Mindswarm” was about being unable to silence all the voices in your head. Photo Credit: Pedro Lander

 

I was also really nervous to show my friends and family what I’d been working on for the past six months. Since I haven’t been a long-term dancer, they didn’t know what to expect. Both the pieces I was in were very modern and nontraditional, but it seemed all my friends and family loved it.

To say that Dancescape was just a rewarding experience for me would be a bit of an understatement. Not only did I meet some of the most kind and welcoming people in our Dance department, but the studio also became a safe space for me where I could work out personal issues, anger or sadness through movement. I’ve heard of the healing powers of dance before but sheesh—I had no idea how effective it could be.

Working with my fellow dancers was an inspiring experience. There’s just something about looking into my friend’s eyes as we dance together that makes us feel like a true team, devoted to the piece and devoted to each other. A lot of the choreography was shaped collaboratively between choreographer and cast, so it was exciting to be a part of the whole creative process.

Over the past four days, I’ve heard the same review from everyone: this year was the best Dancescape they’ve ever seen. I feel so proud to be part of such a creative, collaborative and loving group of people and even more proud to be part of a show that left impressions on many.

I think over the coming months, I’ll miss the Memorial 300 studio, the walls of mirrors, the soreness of dancing on the black floor in bare feet and the way dance allows me to throw both my mind and body into something freeing and wonderful. Dancescape was a terrifyingly new experience that pushed me about ten paces out of my comfort zone—but it was so rewarding for the very same reasons.

–Kim Schneider

Good Grief, I’m Graduating!

students at commencement ceremony

Fill out the application and you’re one step closer graduating.

I have waited for this day for four long years. The day I could fill out the graduation application because this is my final semester. In just a few months I will be saying sayonara to the student status that I’ve held for the last two decades (Wow, that’s a long time!).

Ok, so it’s not the same as actually graduating with the cap and the gown and the diploma in hand, but it’s still one step closer to that momentous day. Though I had mentally prepared and set aside some time, the application was surprisingly simple to complete. In just a few clicks, having reviewed my degree completion information and indicating the mailing address for my diploma, it was done. The whole thing took all of three minutes and then I was looking at a redirect screen with the message “Thank you for submitting your application”.

For some reason, I thought there would be more to it—perhaps because this such a big deal in my life, I expected the application to exude the same gravitas. But this was not the case. In fact, it was much more like I was announcing to WSU that I was graduating than asking for leave to do so. I guess this makes sense because as a nervous, naive freshman, I needed permission to attend the University. Now as a confident senior, I know that I’ve truly earned my degrees and I am ready to take those few steps across the stage into the next phase of my life.

While you technically have some time to apply for graduation, you have to submit the application by midterm to be eligible for provisional academic honors and get your name in the Commencement program. I advise you to get it done as soon as possible —it takes less time than ordering a cup of coffee, and who doesn’t want to see their name printed in the program?

Whenever you decide to fill out the application, don’t be fooled by its mundane appearance. It does have a special meaning to it—savor that and hold on to it through these last weeks until the big day, May 8, finally arrives.

–Elizabeth Meinders

To Choose a Major, Perchance to Dream

a college student works with small children

I thought that this could be me in 5 years, but I was so wrong!

Imagine if you will…an ordinary man– not unlike yourself– who wakes up every morning and goes to the office of the job he hates. Despite hating every minute at this job, he stays, telling himself that if he just sticks to it for 12 more years he’ll get the retirement benefits and move somewhere exotic. Although this is true, his day-to-day life is still miserable, and his work lets him down over and over again. More and more often, he contemplates quitting, but he still has ten more years to go.

This is a story true for a large sum of Americans. This could be our parents, our aunts, our uncles, our friend’s parents, sometimes even our teachers. But this will not be me and it shouldn’t be you.

Choosing the right major is vital to your post-secondary education success happiness. Luckily, there’s no big rush to declare if you’re a freshman or even a first semester sophomore. You’ve got some time to figure it out. However, if you are approaching your junior year the time to choose is coming quickly, and odds are you’re feeling anxious, confused and lost. So I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay.

A lot of people make picking your major out to be the end all decision that determines whether you succeed or fail in life, but in reality picking your major shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, picking your major should be easy. Because like it or not, we all know exactly what we want to be when we grow up.

I came to Winona four months ago with a passion for writing and a major in English Education/CALT. I told myself over and over being a teacher would be great. I would love being a teacher. There was no better career for me. And I believed this for about two weeks. But in the panic of studying for the MTLEs, trying to sharpen my public speaking skills and attempting to figure out what grade level I wanted to teach, I realized this was too much for me. So I went searching for help from the CAL adviser.

He was happy to make an appointment with me and when we sat down he asked me one important question: “Why do you want to teach?” I mulled the question over, desperate to impress the head of the CALT program, and proudly replied that I had a passion for writing and felt that I could really contribute to a classroom environment because of my knowledge.

He shot me down without hesitation, and I mean that in the best way possible. He told me that if I wasn’t passionate about teaching kids and willing to deal with the extra hours after work, the angry parents, the unwilling students and the bureaucratic red tape, that I should reconsider my major. Teaching is a noble job, but it’s not an easy path to take. Despite not impressing the head of the CAL department, I was relieved. He’d told me what I’d known all along. I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, I didn’t have the patience or want the time commitment. I wanted to write and only write.

I was terrified, naturally, as no freshman wants to come in and lose their major right off the bat especially with no real back up plan. I tried all the different venues of finding a new major, including:

But at the end of the day it all came back to writing. It was all I could think about and all I wanted to do, but no one can deny that’s scary. No one knows the job outlook for broad majors like that. You could be employed right out of college or you could be unemployed for more than six months. It’s a scary tossup. Or so I thought. If you’re having the same feelings towards a major you’re interested in, try going in and talking to the head of the department, because you may be surprised at what they tell you.

The professors I spoke with over in the English department as well as my orientation teacher all stressed two key messages, and I think that these are the most important things to remember while choosing a major.

1. If you do what makes you happy, you’ll never work a day in your life.
2. Anyone can get a degree, it’s how you apply it that will find you your job.

So, if you know what you love and you know what makes you happy, then that’s exactly what you should pursue. Don’t worry about what other people will think and don’t worry about what your parents or friends say: worry about what makes you happy, because that’s how you’ll truly be successful in life.

Because at the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with your decisions, not them. You have the capacity to do amazing, wonderful, powerful things with your dreams. You just need to be brave enough to follow them.

–Hannah Carmack

From Amateur Dancer to Dancescape 2015 Performer

Dancescape 2015 Banner

Come see my performance in Dancescape 2015!

On a warm night in September 2014, I found myself fumbling over my feet in the Memorial 300 dance studio at auditions for the 2015 Dancescape. How did I get here?

The last time I danced in a studio setting was in third grade. Back then, I loved performing—I loved the outfits, the music and the movement. I loved the feeling of being in a spotlight (though you can imagine, the third grade dancing probably involved a lot of jumping around and no actual elegant spinning).

I went to a Dancescape performance my freshmen year at WSU and I was so impressed. At the time, I thought maybe I’d try out for it next year. However, it wasn’t until my junior year that I decided to go for it. I wanted this year to be different, and Dancescape seemed like a perfect opportunity for something new.

Tryouts

I’ve always gotten compliments from people for my dancing skills but let me tell you, when I walked into the studio for tryouts in early September, I did not feel confident at all. It was obvious some of the girls trying out had had years of studio practice as they warmed up with spins that made me dizzy. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so out of my element.

As far as the actual process of trying out for Dancescape, here’s how it goes: There are student choreographers and a few faculty choreographers. Each choreographer gets 15 minutes to teach an eight-count of their choreography. You learn the moves as a large group and then break off to perform what you learned in smaller groups so the choreographers can get a closer look at you individually.

The great part about trying out for Dancescape is that some choreographers have dances that are ballet and some dances are more contemporary. You can pick and choose which ones you try out for. I found I was more comfortable with modern dance movements, so those were the ones I tried out for.

The tryout process takes two nights. At the end of this process, I found out I’d made it into two dances, both of which were modern/contemporary. I was excited and nervous but glad that I had stuck with it.

The Production Process

Each Dancescape piece meets for two hours once a week from September to the actual performance in February. In early November, we do a “first-showing” of our dances to everyone in Dancescape, At each showing, the choreographer receives feedback, and because of this, dances go through many revisions and often end up completely different from the original steps we’d learned.

This semester we’ve been having lots of all-cast rehearsals. So instead of rehearsing as separate dances, we have become more of a cohesive show. I actually really like this because it’s so inspiring to see what other choreographers have come up with.

Although I’d done a little bit of choreographing myself for High School Pops concerts, I learned so much about the creative process of making a dance through involvement in Dancescape. A lot of what I learned in the first couple rehearsals didn’t make it into the final dance. Plus in one dance, we got to be an active participant in the creative process, creating our own movements from time to time.

I also learned the choreographer always has a specific meaning and vision behind their dance. One dance I’m in takes all its inspiration from ocean creatures (you’ll just have to go see Dancescape Feb. 12-14 to see what I mean!).

Dancescape 2015 Sneak Peek

I might be a little biased, but this years Dancescape is going to be off the chain (literally—one of the pieces has the dancers dancing with chains. I’m not kidding–it’s super cool). This years Dancescape includes exciting tribal-inspired movement, fun lights, playing with beautiful fabrics and even a piece with a live choir accompanying them.

It’s going to be seriously wonderful and I highly recommend that everyone come!

–Kim Schneider