Tis’ the Season for Giving

Happy Black Friday Everyone!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday full of friends, family, food, and my favorite- football! Because my family is in New Jersey, I was lucky enough to spend the holiday with my neighbors.  So instead of traveling 4 hours, I only had to travel 4 minutes.  After spending the afternoon watching football and eating food, we played Apples to Apples.  I played Apples to Apples all the time in college, but playing it with 12 people was a new experience- you learn to really know the people you are playing with. I’ve now added Apples to Apples to my Christmas list!
This morning I headed out Black Friday shopping with one of my best friends from college.  We headed to Montgomery Mall in Bethesda with all the other crazies.  I was able to get my parent’s presents, as well as a present for my dog.  We even got to see Santa, and some crazy people fighting over parking spaces.  But all in all, it was a successful trip.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year- the Holiday Season- full of traditions.  In the Admissions Office, we have a few traditions of our own, including volunteering at the Maryland Food Bank with the folks from the Financial Aid, Advising, and the Registrar’s Offices sorting food and our annual Thanksgiving Lasagna Lunch.  It gives us a nice break from reading applications and allows us to give back to the community here in Baltimore.
Giving back to the community is something that a lot of UMBC students are passionate about.  It is not uncommon to hear about students volunteering their time on the weekends to give back to others.  Through the Shriver Center, students are able to get involved with Service-Learning.  Last year, more than 500 UMBC students were involved with service-learning both on campus and throughout Baltimore.  The great thing about service-learning at UMBC is that it is noted on your transcript.  While you do not receive credit towards graduation by doing service-learning, graduate schools and employers who request a copy of your transcript will see that you were involved in this during your time at UMBC.  For information about Service Learning, feel free to check out the Shriver Center website
The Office of Student Life also coordinates service projects on campus, both short-term projects such as blood drives, painting and rehabilitating in-need Baltimore schools, or environmental clean-ups, and long-term projects such as tutoring adults who are working to earn their GED once a week or being a conversation partner to an international student at least twice a month.  In addition, their are Alternative School Break trips run during each school break.  So instead of going home for a week for Spring Break, students have the opportunities to give back by volunteering for the day and reflecting on their experiences at night.  For more information about what service projects are going on at UMBC right now, check out UMBC Serves.
Well, I hope everyone is enjoying the last bit of their long weekend!  I’m going to settle in and finish watching the end of Elf on TV.  Until next time, remember to smile- smiling is my favorite!