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March 2013 Archives

Guest blog written by Sara Straskowski, a current student in the Carlson School of Management

Students Today, Leaders Forever (STLF) is a student group that was started by four freshmen students at the University of Minnesota in 2003. With the mission to "reveal leadership through service, relationships, and action," STLF engages students from all over the country through its Pay It Forward Tours. A Pay It Forward Tour is a community service road trip that travels from city to city doing various service projects. For college students, "the Tour" is scheduled each year during spring break; there are also tours available for high school students at various times throughout the year.

This spring break, I participated in my third college Pay It Forward Tour. The experience never ceases to amaze me! My freshman year, I travelled to Memphis; my sophomore year I went to Dallas; this year, the destination city was Atlanta, Georgia. For the last two years, I was a participant on the Tour, but this year I took a leadership position in STLF, and planned the Tour along with four other students who soon became my best friends. 

We left from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities on March 15. Our first stop was Kansas City, Missouri, and our first service project was landscaping for the Gillis Center, a home for boys in the area that helps at-risk children and families. We even got to play a game of dodge ball with the boys who lived there! Next, we stopped in St. Louis, Missouri, where we were able to do some tourism at The Gateway Arch and the City Museum. We helped the St. Louis community by cleaning up the streets around the city and writing letters to soldiers overseas. The third city on our adventure was Bowling Green, Kentucky, where we volunteered at Community Action of Southern Kentucky (a nonprofit agency that provides a wide range of human services to the residents of the area). We made event decorations for them as well as cleaned up the office space they use every day. After Bowling Green, we stopped for tourism in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been my dream to visit the Music City forever, and I can't believe I was finally able to be there! Our next stop was in Merryville, Tennessee, where we painted and did gardening work at the Boys & Girls Club of Blount County, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of boys and girls in a safe and caring environment. On our way to our last stop, we toured the city of Gatlinberg in the Smoky Mountains. The area was absolutely beautiful! Last but not least, we stopped in Charlotte, North Carolina to serve at Samaritan's Feet; we readied the shoes that will soon be sent across the U.S. and the world to those who can't afford to buy their own. After our service project, we went to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to go zip-lining and rock climbing--one of the most memorable highlights of our trip!

We finally made our way to Atlanta, where we met four other buses of students that had each had an amazing Tour as well. We did one final service project together; the 140 students served at the Mary Scott Nature Park doing a variety of jobs such as creating a children's "forest play" area and removing invasive species throughout the park. After the service project, we were able to do some tourism in Atlanta and see the city. I was sad that the trip was nearly over, but I had a fantastic time exploring Atlanta with my new friends!

The memories I made on this trip are unforgettable, and the 43 friends I made throughout the nine-day experience will be held close to my heart for years to come. Every single one of the participants on my bus amazed me more each day; they are the most compassionate people I know! I encourage you all to check out the great opportunities that are offered to you every day, such as the STLF Pay It Forward Tour. It changed my life forever, and I will always be proud of my decision to get involved at the U of M with Student's Today, Leaders Forever.


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It's Women's History Month! The month of March is dedicated to paying tribute to the generations of women who have made invaluable contributions to society. The University of Minnesota's Women Center sponsors a number of Women's History Month events every March that include workshops, speakers, discussions, and more. These programs are designed to increase awareness and encourage actions that support women's and gender equity. Take a look at the complete list of events - you may find some that you're interested in attending.

The University of Minnesota also features a number of student groups on campus related to empowering women. If you're interested in getting involved on campus, I would definitely recommend checking out some of the groups listed below:

Women's Student Activist Collective

"The purpose of the Women's Student Activist Collective is to empower women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people to make positive changes in society by eliminating interrelated inequalities that produce oppression, with a focus on gender and sexuality."

Women in Medicine

"Women in Medicine is composed of University of Minnesota Medical Students as well as physician/faculty advisors and mentors. WIM is primarily involved in organizing networking and social events for female medical students and female physicians. WIM also sponsors lunch lectures to educate medical students on a spectrum of women's health issues."

Society of Women Engineers

"The primary focus of the Society of Women Engineers is to support and encourage women in science and engineering fields. SWE provides support, leadership opportunities  outreach experiences, community involvement, teamwork skills, and personal/professional development for females in science and engineering."

Women in Physics and Astronomy

"We provide networking opportunities for women graduate students, research associates, and faculty in physics and astronomy. We sponsor an annual luncheon to encourage relationships with women alumnae, an annual outreach/information session for female undergraduate physics majors, coffee meetings with female faculty, and discussions with visiting female physicists. We also work with other IT graduate women to promote and plan events for all women in IT."

Women of Virtue

"We have weekly bible or book studies where we learn about who Jesus is and what it looks like to be a woman of God. We also have weekly contact tables and occasional seminars where we seek to share the truth of Christ with others."

Women's Outreach and Leadership Force (WOLF)

"The Women's Outreach and Leadership Force, as a part of the Women's Center, works to connect individuals and organizations with resources, offer leadership development and educational programs, and advocate for systemic policy, structure and climate change. We also engage in regular campus and community service and outreach activities."

Black Motivated Women (BMW)

"BMW is an organization that serves as a vehicle in educating our community on all aspects of being a black woman (from all nationalities) in today's society. We plan to stretch beyond the University of Minnesota campus and serve both our campus and the community through forums, events, and volunteer service."

Undergraduate Women in Business

"Our mission is to empower undergraduate women through the integration of education, support, philanthropy, and professionalism to become the business leaders of tomorrow.We hold speaker meetings once a month on a variety of professional development topics, have monthly volunteer and social events, and a signature networking event once per semester. We also hold general member meetings once a month that focus on personal and professional development."

Viivncaus-Hmong Women's Group

"Our objectives include holding open discussions about balancing culture, education, and relationships to promote success in this dynamic environment. We focus on providing a safe space to raise cultural awareness of Hmong women in the context of retention in higher education and the importance of diversity. We also focus on career success strategies, relationships amongst families and friends, as well as networking with resources on campus and the wider Twin Cities community."

Chemical Engineering and Material Science (CEMS) Women's Group

"CEMS Women's Group is a collaborative effort by CEMS women to increase communication among the women in our department and our communication with women in science and engineering who are currently in working in industry, academia, government agencies, or national labs."




Do you have a dream to someday write and publish your own book? Perhaps you are a fan of local authors? The First Books Reading and Discussion may be an event for you!

On Thursday, March 14, three MFA alumnae of U of M's Creative Writing Program will be speaking at the Weisman Art Museum on campus, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Here's the best part: all three of them have recently published their own books! At the First Books Reading and Discussion, the three alumnae will be reading excerpts of their books as well as speaking about their paths to publication. 

The event is free and completely open to the public, so bring some friends! Since you'll already be here, you can even schedule a campus visit, or just explore on your own to get a feel of what campus life at the U of M is like.

This is just one of many cool events offered on the U of M campus that cater to students' diverse interests. Click here to learn more about this exciting event and to read bios of the authors who will be there.


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One of the aspects I appreciate most about the University of Minnesota is its focus on preparing students for "the real world"--life after college. For example, the Carlson School of Management emphasizes group projects because teamwork is crucial in the business world. Every class I've taken within Carlson has contained some sort of group project. The team presentations and papers professors assign in my classes have helped me develop a skill set of communication, leadership, and organizational skills. These skills, along with understanding how to work in a group dynamic, are all very applicable to future careers and are exactly what employers are looking for when hiring college graduates. I've already been able to leverage my experiences with these group projects by talking about them in internship interviews for companies like Target and Kohl's!

Another way that I've been able to prepare myself for my future career is through taking advantages of the vast career services offered at the U of M. Every different college within the U of M has their own career services office. Since I'm a business student enrolled in Carlson School of Management, I frequent the Undergraduate Business Career Center (UBCC). The UBCC offers awesome services like resume reviews, mock interviews, workshops, an online job and internship searching system, and more. The list is nearly endless! When I filled out my first job application that required a resume during my freshman year, at first I felt completely lost. I had no idea where to begin! However, I used the UBCC career coaches as a resource to help me put my first resume together and they were so helpful. I definitely wouldn't have had such a professional, well-written resume if it weren't for the UBCC's resume review services. (By the way, I got the job!)

In a nutshell, U of M sends students off into "the real world" with countless opportunities, knowledge, and skills. It's just another reason to be filled with Gopher pride.


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