Pass the tofurkey? No thanks!

I’ve been a vegetarian for the majority of my life and I still get some of the same questions every time someone finds out. “Why don’t you eat meat?” (because my mom never really cooked it) or “is it because you’re an animal lover?” (umm, absolutely not) are the typical go-to questions that I get, but every now and then I get that kid who thinks he’s utterly hilarious and the first person in the universe to ask me if I eat animal crackers. Uhh, really?! It takes all of my power to resist the urge to throw a hamburger in his face!
All joking aside, I don’t have any moral resistance to eating meat and becoming a vegetarian really just happened. I grew up not eating meat and that was normal to me. However there are still a few times throughout the year that make being a vegetarian not so fun, including the holidays. Considering the majority of holiday get-togethers include a big meal surrounding some sort of animal, you tend to find ways to make it work. I have to admit that I’ve never had a tofurky nor had a desire to try it… but honestly I think it’s because the name creeps me out. Is it tofu? Is it turkey? I don’t want to know. Luckily holidays include a plethora of side dishes so I don’t ever feel like I’m missing out on the main course. Plus, it grosses me out beyond belief to see a headless animal just chillin’ with bread and celery sticking out of its neck (no offense meat eaters, I’m sure it’s delicious). Regardless, I’ve never doubted my decision to become a vegetarian, nor do I hold any grudges against those who choose to eat meat. If any of you brave carnivores out there decide to try a tofurky (or even a turducken!), let me know how it goes.

~Lindsey Mitchell, Graduate Assistant

Escape to the Beach

If you’re an avid UPB blog reader like I’m sure you all are, you may have met me already.  I’m Lindsey, the Graduate Advisor for UPB, and I wrote a post last semester about my obsession with reality television (put your hands up for Flava Flaaaaav!).  I have to admit; lately my VH1 obsession has been replaced with Nickeloden’s “Nick-at-Nite” specials (don’t judge me), but that’s neither here nor there.  I’m here to share with you another newfound obsession; something that holds a special place in my heart. That place, my friends, is the beach.
I think we can all agree that this has been the hottest summer EVER.  Over 100 degrees?  That should be illegal.  After the first 746 people started posting pictures on Facebook of their dashboard thermometers plunging into triple digits, I realized it was going to be the summer of inescapable heat.  My response?  Drive a few states south.  Yep, that college degree of mine is sure working wonders!  But I had no choice-  I desperately needed a vacation and the beach is beyond my favorite place in the world, so when my parents offered to foot the bill for a week I jumped at the chance to tag along.
Anticipation grew exponentially each day that my vacation drew closer.  The morning that we left, I actually woke up at 5 am.  We jumped in the car before the sun came up and drove 8 hours to a little spot called Sunset Beach, which is close to the top of South Carolina.  We’ve been going to the same beach since the year I was born and every year that I get older I’m pretty sure I act more and more like an excited little kid than the year before.  After we had grabbed dinner and unloaded our stuff we ventured out to the water for that first “toes in the sand” experience.
I should probably also admit that I’m actually pretty scared of the ocean and therefore didn’t go out into the water past my knees the whole week.  But to me, that’s not the point.  The beach to me symbolizes freedom, relaxation, and pure happiness.  My days consisted of reading, laying by the water, soaking up sun and listening to the waves.  It was by far one of the best vacations that I’ve ever had, and honestly it was relatively unexciting.  I think back to beach week during my senior year of high school, which was light years different than my vacation this year, but I’ve come to the point where I’m ok with that.
On my last day at the beach I was sitting in a chair at the edge of the water and thought about the upcoming school year.  I closed my eyes and my brain started running full speed in thinking about all of the meetings, classes and events that would start to slowly eat away at my schedule.  For a split second I pondered the alternative.  I could decide not go back to JMU and just live at the beach forever, right?  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how foolish I was being.  The beach is special to me because it’s something I only get to experience once a year, if that.  And instead of enjoying every last minute, I was starting to stress about what life would be like in the next few weeks.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that I learned something that night.  I saved all of those vivid memories from my week at the beach and stuck it deep in the back of my mind so I could always remember it.  Now whenever I start to feel anxiety over all of my commitments and responsibilities, I can remember sitting by the ocean without a care in the world and take a deep breath.  After all, 11 semi-crazy months is really a small price to pay when I know I get to go back to my favorite place again.
More importantly, as much as I may be nervous about the upcoming year, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without UPB.  I still don’t know everyone in the organization, but I really can’t wait to get to know each of them throughout the next year.  The people in UPB that I’ve met so far have been some of the most inspiring and creative individuals.  They have consistently impressed me with their dedication to the organization.  These are the people who got me involved with higher education and are my motivation to pursue this as a career.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find my dream job in Student Affairs… by a beach of course 🙂

~Lindsey Mitchell (Grad Assistant)

Life Lessons from VH1

I’ll start by introducing myself- I’m Lindsey and I’m currently the Graduate Advisor for UPB. I went to JMU for my undergrad so I’m officially a “double duke” and so far (fingers crossed) I’m glad I stayed. Working for UPB has been an adventure to say the least, but a fun adventure at that, and I’ve gotten to know some great people in the past few months. One of those people – Stephen Eure, our PR Director, recently came to me with the task of contributing a post to UPB’s blog, and I readily accepted the challenge.

picture from mandmglobal.comAt first I struggled with what to write about, but after a long and intense 4 minute session of brainstorming I figured this was a safe place to reveal my deepest, darkest secret. You ready for this? Here goes.. I’m obsessed with reality television. In my defense I’m quite picky- shows like Survivor and Big Brother just don’t get me hyped up. I’m a one-channel kind of gal and VH1 reality has stolen my heart.

It all started my freshman year when Flava Flav began his search for love. I was hooked. My roommate and I tuned in to Flav’s rollercoaster love ride each week without fail. That of course became my gateway drug into future reality shows. The ever classy “Miss New York” piggybacked off Flav’s show and VH1 soon exploded with celebrities documenting their scandal-filled search for love.

I’ll admit, it’s definitely a guilty pleasure. Over the years I’ve begun to wean myself off the addition and now generally catch re-runs of these shows. However, there are a few life lessons I’ve gained from this addiction that can relate to my assistantship with UPB.

  1. Be real. This imaginary line between real and fake seems to consume reality television but it makes a good point. It’s just like your parents used to say; honesty is the best policy. I’ve learned not to be so wishy-washy when it comes to making decisions and be up front with what I’m thinking instead of sitting on the sidelines. Nobody likes a fake!
  2. Learn how to handle conflict. More often than not, the drama queen who starts all the fights is eventually revealed and kicked off. To be successful in any career you have to be able to work with others and handle conflict in a mature manner. Violence is not the answer, people!
  3. Decisions from higher-ups may surprise you. Who was utterly shocked when New York chose Tailor Made over Tango? I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Ultimately as students we don’t have much say over some important decisions. We certainly have input, but someone else has the last say.


    picture from

    Oh the things you can learn from New York...

  4. Strangers may have bigger influence than you may think. Ok, so in real life most people don’t put on fatsuits and hire a team to make a new face just so they can spy on you like in reality shows. However, you never know who may have a say in your future. That guy you met at a party last weekend may be on a hiring committee for you five years from now. Be nice to strangers!
  5. Your past can come back and haunt you. When Daisy’s ex-boyfriend shows up at “Rock of Love” and revealed to poor, innocent Bret Michaels that he and Daisy were still living together, her future with Bret didn’t look so hot. How does this relate to the real world? Facebook. I know this topic is crammed down your throats in undergrad but it’s absolutely true. That one picture of you doing a kegstand your freshman year could be the breaking point for a future employer. Just a thought..

Ultimately it’s up to you how you portray yourself to your friends, family and coworkers but these are just a few thoughts to keep in mind as you get closer to graduation and start thinking about the “real world”. But hey, if nothing else works out, maybe you’ll get your own reality show. That’s my backup plan :).

– Lindsey