A Few New vu’s

As summer quickly draws to a close, I have realized that this season has shone in a three-fold theme that all started with my summer reading debut, Catch-22.  If you’ve read anything by Joseph Heller you know he has a grandiose vocabulary, which is an understatement.  So naturally, I picked up some new terms that will find their place in the many papers I’ll be writing this year…
Heard of déjà vu? Yes. Experienced it? Probably.
Jamais vu? Not so much.
Presque vu? …What?
And so begins the story of Summer 2010…
One night I was having dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house with a few of their neighbors. One neighbor shared a story of his hand-me-down ride, dating back to his college years.  A typical drive – start it up, back it out, down the street, all four wheels fall off… happens to everyone, yes?  Well, two nights later I have an elusive dream of me having to abandon my car on a road and hoof it the rest of my journey.  An interesting thing to dream.  All in good fun, of course.  I didn’t recall this dream until one week later.  I was driving to work, slowing down for a corner, when my car suddenly halts. ‘I don’t remember seeing a boulder in the road…?’ No, no boulder.  But my front driver’s side wheel was sideways…fantastic.  Not to mention smoky.  Well, after the tow-truck hauled off, I hoofed it to work.  Aren’t dreams funny that way?  Déjà vu (or was it a semi-premonition?).
With all four wheels re-attached, I was back at work.  Summer jobs can be an odd experience.  At the pizza shop I work at, it seems that every time I come home from JMU, a whole new staff is employed.  The job doesn’t change, but the people are different.  It feels familiar, yet it’s a whole new experience at the same time; which is the meaning of Jamais vu, “never seen”.
In addition to the pizza shop, I’ve been keeping up with UPB commitments.  I’ve brainstormed an exciting spread of Special Events – most for free – for students to enjoy.  With each new event I feel that I’m constantly on the brink of the next big idea.  While the events planned thus far are fantastic, I still feel there’s more up my sleeve that just hasn’t been revealed yet.  I will wait for those uncovered ideas to surface: Presque vu, “almost seen”.
With my summer now captured under this enlightenment from Joseph Heller, I hope you keep your sights on attending our wonderful programs this fall.  I promise to keep digging out great ideas and you continue to check the website for our upcoming events.  Keep your eyes peeled for fliers and freebies from UPB – see you all in a couple weeks!
~Amy Remmer (Director of Special Events)

The Four Sides of Emily

Hi, my name is Emily Grochowski and I will be the VP of Programming for UPB this coming year.  The summer is coming to a close, and you’ve now had the chance to meet most of the new executive board for UPB and taken a peak into their lives this summer.

The other day I was watching America’s Next Top Model (because let’s be real, it is ALWAYS on) and the girls did a photo shoot where they had to define the four sides of themselves. Since it’s about time I write a blog post, I’m going to follow Tyra Banks and let you know a little about myself by illustrating the four sides of me this summer.

 1. Senorita Emily

As an International Business and Spanish major, I traveled to Spain for a summer abroad program.  Besides being able to travel to Madrid, Barcelona, Andalucia, and Portugal, I got to experience a lot of Spanish culture in Salamanca where I attended the Universidad de Salamanca and lived with a Spanish-speaking family.  One of my favorite memories was experiencing the world cup in Spain.  Thousands of people would gather in the local courtyards and cheer on “La Furia Roja” on the big screen.


2. Scuba Diver Emily

I have a marketing internship with a large dive company, which gave me the opportunity to fly out to California for a week-long dive trip. 4 days and 10 different dives off the coast left me exhausted, but also gave me an Open Diver Certification and a lot of sun.

3. Body Builder Emily

Ok this isn’t really what it sounds like, and it’s actually a bit of a stretch, but it’s the best I could think of.  All of my other adventures throughout the summer required me to have some means of income; therefore, I worked at Gold’s Gym where I’ve worked since 2005.  When I say I spent “long hours at the gym” I don’t mean pumping iron, more like scanning membership cards, but you get the point.

4. Bookworm Emily

I am a very avid reader, but during the school year I really don’t have the time or energy to pick up a book.  The summer gives me a perfect opportunity to indulge.  At this time, I‘ve already read 23 books!

Next stop on my summer is back to Harrisonburg for 1787 Orientation, where I’ll have a chance to welcome the next generation of Dukes!

~Emily Grochowski (VP of Programming)

Summer Crafting

Like every other college-aged girl I have about four thousand pictures of the past two years at JMU, and from home, and like every other girl most of them have been sitting under my bed in a box for the past two years.  So after deciding that I have personally killed a rainforest with my pictures, and have done nothing with them, I decided to make it my goal to do more with them than just post them on Facebook.

So this summer I decided to perform what I called the “Overhaul Photo Project.” Every week this summer I gave myself one photo project to complete.  They varied from simple things like updating my photo frames to creating an organizational system for my digital and printed pictures.  But as the summer wore on the projects got more creative (I guess this is a good thing considering I am the Creative Director!), and it became craft projects that just happened to also involve projects.  So finally I finished the scrapbook I have been working on since senior year of high school, started a Christmas present for my sister who spent a month in Europe (resulting in about 800 pictures), made a few photo collages, and my personal favorite- hand painted bulletin board squares.  I finally decided that I am going to have the most highly photo decorated dorm on campus.

So if you need any ideas of what to do with all the photos you have undoubtedly taken throughout your wonderful time here at JMU, let me know I am sure I can think of something!

~Maggie Moran (Creative Director)

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)

Mr. Hamby Goes to Washington

What do Broadway and Zach Hamby have in common?  Absolutely nothing.  What do Broadway and the White House have in common?  A television special airing on PBS and WETA in October. 

So outside of movies and sports, I am filling my time this summer with an internship at WETA, the Washington area’s PBS station.  And one of their television series is, In Performance at the White House where the President celebrates music and education (aka the president is too busy to leave his house so why watch television when he can have his own concert in his living room!).  So sadly I missed the Paul McCartney show while participating in Club Maymester. My consolation prize was working as a production assistant for A Celebration of Broadway starring: Nathan Lane, Elaine Stritch (Alec Baldwin’s mom from 30 Rock), Idina Menzel (Elphaba from Wicked), Marvin Hamlisch, Audra McDonald, and the stars of Hairspray among others.  Now let me tell you I know nothing about Broadway, but my mom kept saying she would kill to meet Marvin Hamlisch and my sister said the same thing about Idina Menzel.  Therefore after sleeping with one eye open I was off to Washington and the White House.

Now if you are reading this post you have most likely been to one of UPB’s Convo shows and if you had not realized a lot goes into making one of those shows.  This White House show was like a Convo show on speed.  And a few memorable moments included being a stand-in for ten hours. I got to play the fake drummers while Idina and Marvin rehearsed (yea we’re on a first name basis now).  

I was a human sign directing traffic to dinner and happened to run into Nathan Lane and the whole cast just hanging out waiting for the bus to arrive.  I stood on the roof of the White House breaking down tents and sound equipment at midnight while the staff told us to be quiet because the Obama kids were sleeping.  I ate free catered food sitting next to the famous Broadway director, but I was too focused on my food to notice.

So all in all, I learned more about Broadway then I care to divulge. But it was an amazing experience that I’ll remember forever and I shall pass on an exaggerated version to my children and grandchildren.  Soon I will be going back to JMU to start my senior year and be UPB’s VP of Marketing and Communication.  If this experience has taught me anything is that the real world is imminent, and if I can’t get anything with this degree of mine I know I have the right posture and determination to be a stand-in for a television show.

~Zach Hamby, Vice President of Marketing and Communication

Stress-Free Summer

Summer is not only a break from school and its accompanying stresses; summer allows you to embrace whatever you just don’t have time for the other 8 months of the year.  Personally, my last year at JMU owned me and as a result I have not taken one moment of my freedom for granted this summer.  Earlier in the summer, I formulated a small list of items to accomplish and consistently perform to save me from the terrors of boredom (I’m staying in Harrisonburg for the summer) and stop me from overworking at my internship.  I’d like to share with you my list and hope that you haven’t lost any precious “me” time these past few months.


 1. Travel and explore:  I fear leaving my precious JMU campus on the weekends since I’m only here for four years and I want to soak in all that college has to offer while I still can.  Unfortunately H’burg during the summer is not as glamorous, and a weekend getaway is graciously accepted.  So whether traveling to Charlottesville to try a new restaurant with my boyfriend, or traveling to Maryland to enjoy fireworks on the water, these road trips have opened my eyes to a new style of living and takes my mind off the stresses. 

 2. Read a good book:  I absolutely despise being forced to read.  You give me something to read for an assignment and I will automatically shut down and refuse to become interested.  I really do love reading for enjoyment though.  This summer I joined the local H’burg library and I have become a reading machine, getting lost in stories of people or things and their journeys whether realistic or fiction. With textbook season around the corner I have no choice but to cram all the pleasurable reading I can now.

3. Cook or bake:  I read somewhere at some time how cooking and baking are therapeutic.  The extent of my cooking during the semester is boiling pasta or sticking a frozen pizza in the oven.  So I traded my frozen dinners in for fresh ingredients and as chef Emeril would say, BAM!  It’s sad knowing that in a few short weeks I won’t be able to afford ingredients or have time to cook, because it definitely has kept me productive during this time of the year.

 4. Exercise:  After a long day of classes, club meetings, and homework, the last thing I want to do is go to the gym.  I know it’s good for you and makes you feel great and blah, blah, blah. With this being said, I can proudly say I have dragged my butt to the gym and go 5-6 days a week a minimum!  For someone who finds climbing the stairs to be a physical challenge,
 I would say that’s really impressive.


Just remember to not take the simple moments for granted.  Next time you’re bored with nothing to do read a book, go on a walk, explore a part of town you’ve never been to before, or bake a cake for someone you love.  Just promise me that you won’t live with all the stress and hassles of a semester at college this summer.

~Katelyn Diehl (Executive Assistant)

Doing the Impossible

In my life there are very few instances where I set out to accomplish something that I felt was truly impossible.  At the moment, only 3 of these instances come to mind:

The first occurred senior year in high school, when I very stubbornly refused a car with a manual transmission.  I tried driving it once, but decided never again once I experienced the jolting and screeching of stalling out.  Faced with the choice of driving stick or continuing to rely on my parents and friends for rides, I finally gave in and within days I accomplished the first thing I was ever sure I couldn’t.

Instance 2 happened when I faced Norm Garrison’s physiology class. This was one of those classes- you know what talking about.  After three exams and more coffee than a human being should probably ever consume, I walked out of our final with an A-.  (Insert appropriate oohs and ahhs here!)

 All of this brings me to today, the day I encountered my third impossible experience.  Curtains. I have looked everywhere.  I’ve looked at Obscure Store X.  I looked at Obscure Store Y and Z too.  Did I find any curtains?  Of course not!  Well I did find some, *cough anthropologie-curtains-that-rival-my-first-month’s-rent cough*.  Finally, I reached the point of desperation and frustration, and put one foot in front of the other into JoAnn Fabrics.  From the moment I decided to go the “home made” route, through the moment I carried my beautiful new fabric into my bedroom, my plan involved my mother doing the actual sewing.  This lasted until I looked into my closet, where I saw the last set of curtains my mother made for me; the ones that hung in my room for about a week.  They sit in the exact same spot now as they did when I decided I could not look at them any longer (sorry Mom).  Again, frustration and desperation knocked at my door.  “Fine. I’ll do it.”

Four hours, three re-dos, too many finger pricks to count, and more $^%@#$ than I’d care to admit, one single curtain panel lay completed on my kitchen table.  While I clearly have a lot more work ahead of me, I feel successful in that I completed at least part one of impossible task number three. 

With this accomplishment I have reached a couple conclusions.

 1) Sewing is difficult, but really more a pain.  Either way, if your mother has ever hemmed your pants or created a Halloween costume for you, you should call her now and thank her.

2) Sewing is not a talent I will chose to pursue. Sorry  soon-to-be roommate, if you are reading this…I hope you’re OK with taking the bedroom with two windows.  I only have one panel left in me!

~Courtney (VP of Membership Development)