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conference

In reminding myself that this blog is primarily aimed at prospective students, I realized I haven’t commented on Fontbonne itself in a while, or at least not in a sense that prospective students will easily appreciate. No one really wants to hear about my senior paper, or my job hunt. So, let me throw out some thoughts about Fontbonne. Let’s see…

How about this: Fontbonne just paid for a $450 hotel room, a $100 dollar conference registration, and the gas for me to drive down to New Orleans on the weekend of October 15th for a sociology conference. Awesome? I think yes. I’ll be attending this conference with Dr. Stoelting and Lauren Sandefur, a fellow applied sociology student also graduating this December. Blah blah, presenting senior paper, blah blah, won awards there last year, blah blah. Important part: Fontbonne is paying for a trip to New Orleans. So awesome.

I should remind you that this isn’t the first time I’ve been on a paid vacation thanks to Fontbonne. My freshman year, Fontbonne sent me to IRELAND for Spring Break. All expenses paid. In other words, the most incredible trip of my life was completely free of charge thanks to Fontbonne. There was some work that earned this trip, sure, but nothing so strenuous as to overshadow how amazing(ly free) that trip was.

Honestly, there are other schools I considered besides Fontbonne. I wonder, occasionally, what my life would be like if I had attended Webster University, just down the road – I probably would’ve studied music there instead of applied sociology. I wonder what my life would be like if I had attended Syracuse University, back in upstate New York – I probably would be doing miserably, trying to be a copywriter instead of an account executive, and failing because I was so depressed due to the frigid, miserable winters. I wonder what my life would be like if I had attended the University of Texas at Austin – I’d be in a great advertising program for networking, but wouldn’t have had the chance to pursue sociology to the same level (and frankly I’m not so sure about the accounts their advertising program produces).

When I think about where I might’ve been, I realize I have zero regrets about being here. I’m happy I’m here. Fontbonne has given me so many opportunities. I’ve been to Ireland, I’ll go to New Orleans, I’ve been published, I’ve had experiences that helped me land two awesome internships, I’ve worked with some of the most incredible professors, I’ve learned some of the most useful things. I’ve discovered so much about who I am and what it means to navigate this world. That… that’s pretty cool, I’d say.

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Last Saturday, I pumped enough bagels and hazelnut coffee into my system that I’m pretty sure a bagels-and-coffee IV could’ve achieved the same results.

Why, you ask?  Well… I guess I was hungry?

Actually, I was a student helper at the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Academy of Arts and Sciences Annual Meeting held at Fontbonne.  The welcome table I was working at was parked right across from a spread of Panera breakfast items for conference goers.  And since I was there from 8 to 5, those bagels looked awfully good throughout the day…  I mean, really, would YOU pass up a chocolate chip bagel? (…or three?)

Besides the food, there were other factors that made the conference very enjoyable for me.  It was so neat to be involved and to meet all the people there!

More people than anticipated attended, which was GREAT!  As the attendees arrived, we realized there wouldn’t be enough seating in the main presentation room, so we had to push back the collapsible wall between the room and the adjoining one, and move in more tables to fit forty more people!  All kinds of professionals came to the meeting - doctors, attorneys, performers like Balkan singer Mary Sherhart, and many others.  The day included presentations, including one by Aleksandar Hemon, author of the book “Love and Obstacles,” a collection of stories about life in Sarajevo and Chicago (which I had signed!), as well as a quick walk over to the Fontbonne art gallery to see artist Jesenko Kurbasic’s exhibit “Free Fallin’” and a trip to the University Library to view the PBS documentary “I Came To Testify.”

Although the subject matter of the conference was sometimes very grave, I was glad I was able to be there to hold down the fort (and make sure the coffee spills got cleaned up).  As for my bagel IV, I’m just lucky that the conference is an annual event, and that I happen to have a fast metabolism.

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I can’t help but put in a shameless plug here and there about organizations/events that I am a part of; I just get excited about them. I was recently with RHA (Residence Hall Association) at a conference called MACURH, which stands for the Midwest Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls. I didn’t know what to expect, since this was my first time attending it, and I hope it won’t be my last. All I knew was that I would be getting together with a bunch of other schools who are a part of MACURH to talk about the different programs and activities that go on at our respective schools. Little did I know that it would be much more than that. It was one of those times that has to be experienced in order to understand it. The theme of the conference was “Come On Down!” playing off of the game show called “The Price Is Right,” so the theme was evident throughout the conference. There was an energy there that I absolutely loved. The people there were so welcoming. I want to say that there were around a little over forty schools in attendance, so it was a spirited atmosphere. Schools even competed for “spirit points” and could earn them by getting involved throughout the conference.

MACURH was a great opportunity for people to collaborate and network with other schools. For example, I got to meet people from schools like North Dakota State University and Creighton University all the way in Omaha, Nebraska. It was such a learning experience for me and got me motivated to go back to school and make Fontbonne’s RHA even better! As RHA’s current President and Programming Communications Coordinator, I am looking forward to use this energy from the weekend to go full force with RHA this year. Look out, Fontbonne, because here we come!

Not only was the experience great, but our RHA even won an award for the “Best Small School Passive Program.” I was so excited to hold the award.

There is so much I could say about MACURH, so if you’d like to learn more, just get a hold of me and I’d be more than happy to tell you more about the experience and how you can get involved. I encourage those who want to become better leaders and want to be more active in the Fontbonne community to attend conferences like MACURH, because you never know what might come out of it.

Peace, Love, and Bob Barker.

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.