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The School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) in the College of Liberal Arts has over 10,000 alumni. Every year, students have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor. The mentorship program helps students get acquainted with various communications professions and make connections with practitioners in that field. I applied for the program about two months ago and finally met my mentor on Saturday at the kick-off event!

The Alumni Society Board tries to match students with professionals that have a job that is similar to the students' career aspirations. The board did a great job matching me with a very accomplished individual that has a dream job at firm that I would love to work for someday. The program strives to make the transition from college to career easier for students by providing advice, job search planning, and networking opportunities. It is recommended that the student and mentor meet at least once a month, but we are planning to meet about every two weeks. This week I get to go to my mentor's office and meet her co-workers!

The program is one of the many ways that the University of Minnesota assists students with life after college. Other colleges and alumni associations have followed in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications' footsteps to provide their own professional mentorship programs. Learn more about the SJMC's mentorship program at http://sjmc.umn.edu/ugrad/mentor.html and other ways alumni are involved at http://www.minnesotaalumni.org/s/1118/index.aspx.

As I learned in my Natural Resources Consumption and Sustainability class in 2008, the definition of sustainability is "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to be able to meet their own needs." I am always striving to follow this ideal. Whether is it reducing the amount of waste that I am throwing away, reusing the containers and bottles that many would consider garbage, or recycling aluminum and plastic that can no longer be used, I hope to reduce my impact on the environment.

Looking at sustainability from the perspective of a single person can be pretty straightforward, but looking it in the context of an entire community with trade-offs between economic growth, social equity, and environmental integrity, sustainability can become much more complicated.

The sustainability studies minor was created in 2006 by the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Initiative (ESSI). The ESSI drew together faculty members from colleges and departments across the Twin Cities campus to develop and implement sustainability programs in undergraduate education, interdisciplinary research, and outreach to teachers and journalists. The minor immerses students in the study of real-world problems from a variety of academic perspectives, incorporating disciplines from across the natural, social and applied sciences.

Students, faculty, and staff at the U of M understand the importance of sustainability, its impact on our lives, and the benefits that an education in sustainability offers. To learn more, check out the sustainability studies minor website!

The College of Biological Sciences is continually researching and discovering ways to better our communities and environment. Over the last few years, the college has been planning to renovate and expand on the Itasca Biological Station and Laboraties, one of the University's field research stations located in Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota. 

The Itasca Station has been a vital tool for biologists all over the world for over 100 years now. This expanision will not only include new laboratories, classrooms, and teaching facilities, but it will also strive be to a zero-emission, carbon-neutral campus! The plan is the for this new facility to be a environmentally sustainable research and teaching facility for both the University of Minnesota and Itasca State Park.

Students in the College of Biological Sciences have unique opportunities to take courses at the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories throughout their college careers. Courses are typically offered during the summer and consist of field biology and research. This is a great opportunity for anyone studying biology, because Itasca State Park is a biologist's dream come true! From its unique location at the pristine headwaters of the Mississippi River to the incredible biodiversity found in this living laboratory, the Itasca experience has come to define biology education at the University of Minnesota. In fact, all first-year CBS students participate in the Nature of Life program held at Itasca before their freshman year. 

As a fan of horror films, I was very excited when I recently had the opportunity to go to the opening of Paranormal Activity 2. Have you ever wondered what horror films say about us? Why do we enjoy them so much?

Robert Silberman, associate professor of art history in the College of Liberal Arts, attempts to explain both the entertainment and social value of horror films. He describes them as avenues to experience controlled fear and likens them to roller coaster rides. "[They] allow us to engage dark issues without the real life situation," and "[to] work through our fears and anxieties." In this manner we can address our own fears in a controlled environment.

Check out the video below to learn more about Dr. Silberman's research on why we like to be scared!

On October 22, the College of Education and Human Development's Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program hosted the first "Gopher Adventure Race." It was modeled after the popular television show "The Amazing Race." Students traveled all over campus to complete various challenges.

Nearly 100 students participated in the 13 challenges that were a part of the race. These challenges included canoeing down the Mississippi River, shooting rifles at the University Armory, and milking a cow on the St. Paul campus.

The teams were given six hours to complete the course. The first place team, Phillip Kelly and William Nielson, completed the race in two hours and 40 minutes. They were given $800 merchandise from The North Face for winning.

This event was the first collegiate event to be classified as a Green Event by FitPlanet, a sustainability consulting organization. Recycled materials were used for the race and participants were allowed to use the city bus system for free. Also, $5 of each $30 registration fee was given to Three Rivers Park District.

The Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program in the College of Education and Human Development explores subjects that are central to people's lives, such as how they spend their free time, how they experience nature, and how recreation activities can bring a community together. The program instructors hope to have their students host the event again next year and hopefully with even more participants.

Check out this footage from the race:

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