To Gap Year or Not to Gap Year

If you had asked me at the end of Year 12 what it was I hoped to achieve from taking a Gap Year, I, like many students in my position would have shared with you my vision to take a break from study and gain a job in order to support myself at university.  Little did I know I would gain so much more from one single year, out there in the ‘real world’!  As the Year 12 QTAC offers edge closer, I would like to share with you the top three life lessons I gained from taking a Gap Year!

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  1. Gaining a job often isn’t as easy as it sounds

It is so easy to want a job.  At the beginning of my Gap Year, I did not have a job.  Many kids at school had one, so I thought, ‘surely it can’t be that hard to land one myself’!  I was an extremely studious student with the grades to match, participated in many extra-curricular activities and was a proud leader of my school…who wouldn’t want to hire me!  At the beginning of my Gap Year, I was among many unemployed people.  This was magnified by the 2013 Bundaberg flood, the largest in the town’s history since January 1890.  One of the main shopping centres, Hinkler Central, was flooded, forcing many people into the job market around town.  I very quickly learnt not only how to improve my resume in order to make myself look more appealing on paper, but also that it was very much a case of the old saying ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’.  Although all of my wonderful results and extra-curricular activities looked good on paper, it wasn’t until I put myself out there and started following up employers (yes, lots of them don’t send out a rejection letter…they just keep you hanging) and being more proactive in my hunt for employment that I started to receive any response and subsequently land myself a job.

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  1. Maintaining friendships becomes more difficult

Until you leave school, you are unaware of how fortunate you are to be able to see your closest friends every day of the school week!  Life outside of school can become very lonely.  Everyone begins to go their separate ways – working, travelling, moving out of home, going to university and just generally starting a life away from school.  There will be some friends who you lose touch with as the common thread that you had with them, school, is no longer a part of either of your lives.  Your friendship group will reduce, however those friendships that do last are extremely precious and many will last a lifetime.  You may only catch up once a year due to various commitments, but if it feels like your last catch up was only yesterday, you know you are a part of a true friendship.

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  1. A Gap Year gives you headspace

During Year 12, I was so caught up in all of my academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities within the school that when I left school, I felt extremely lost as to who I really was.  My Gap Year provided me with the headspace I required in order to truly find out who I was, what my real pursuits for the rest of my life were and where I wanted to take my life.  It was no longer a case of ‘oh yeah…that sounds pretty good – I could give that a go’ type of attitude, but rather ‘This is reality.  What do I want to do with it and how can I make a difference?’ This led me to make some life changing decisions, such as changing my degree, my university, my college…basically uprooting all of my plans that I thought I wanted, to suit what the more mature and developed, real-world aware Alice wanted to do with herself.  Obviously not everyone can expect to go through such a large life epiphany in their Gap Year, but personally, it was the best decision I possibly could have made for that point in my life.

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Of course, the life lessons I have outlined in this blog are certainly not all-inclusive and will be different for everyone. The point I am trying to make here is that if you are considering a Gap Year, it could very well be the best decision you ever make.  Everyone needs and gets different things out of the year, but I believe it can truly change who we are as people and our outlooks on the rest of our lives.  Please feel free to share your Gap Year experiences in the comments below!

P.S.  As this is my last blog for the year, I would just like to send a great big thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavour throughout the year.  I hope you have found my blogs informative and interesting and wish you all the best for what lies ahead.

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2015: A College Odyssey

This past year has certainly been an adventure, full of changes, exciting moments and late nights of study. I would like to dedicate this blog to this past year and all the amazing people who I have shared it with.

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This year at Concannon we used O-Week to conquer (pun intended) all the parties, all the activities, and most importantly meet everyone. My personal highlights of 2015 O-Week include; Steele Rudd’s Rodeo, Concannon’s Beach party and the Concannon Wedding, always a highlight. Special mention to all the incredible Concannon freshers who spent O-Week looking fly in their sun safe hats.

 

Semi-Formal:

Concannon’s 30th Birthday party, was an amazing time, costumes that all started with ‘C’, and birthday cake, what more could I have asked for? Also the amazing semi-formals that Steele Rudd (Famous People) and McGregor (Superheroes and Villains) hosted, I was lucky enough to be able to wear the same costume to all the semi-formals, the best way to justify the purchase of an expensive costume.

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Concannon Parties:

Who doesn’t love a themed party? Life is too short to spend your time with people who don’t like dressing up for a themed party. Some of Concannon’s themed parties from this year included; St. Patricks Day party, Hero Day (to celebrate our graduates) and Golf Day (since we are such incredible athletes).

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Formal, what would a year on college be without formal? Concannon’s Casino night
involved a little panic (setting up) and a lot of fun. And in classic Concannon fashion we made sure there was lots of laughing, lots of dancing and excellent food. Thank you to the RSC for organising the formal and getting everything done, to the Block representatives for all their support and to all the residents who attended and made sure it was an incredible night.

 

To all the college residents of 2015, thank you for making 2015 an amazing year, and of course, make 2016 an amazing year as well.  Have an incredible rest of the year and best of luck to everyone during these final weeks of university and during exam block!

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Discovering the Culture of Toowoomba

When considering university choices, location can play a significant role for many prospective students. It can be hard to make a decision if you have never been to the city yourself, let alone know where it is! When I told some of my friends I was moving to Toowoomba, many asked, ‘how many hours north of here is that?’ No, no, about 6 hours south guys, but anyway! Today, I am here to highlight to you the very best features of the beautiful Garden City that is Toowoomba.

  1. Eateries

Pic 1If you are looking for great food, you have come to the right town! Toowoomba has many quality cafes and restaurants which provide top quality food and beverages. Some of my personal favourites include the Park House Café, the Engine Room Café, Picnic Point, Raw Energy, Angelo’s House Restaurant and Qi’Lin, just to name a few. Each of these places has its unique features, making for an extra special dining experience. The Park House Café offers specially flavoured hot beverages, such as their Cherry Ripe Hot Chocolate. The Engine Room Café’s new owners create delicious items like panna cotta for the tastebuds to enjoy. Picnic Point has very high quality meals and sweet treats, topped with a glorious view over the Toowoomba range. Raw Energy is the place to go for all of your delicious healthy and clean eating options. Angelo’s House Restaurant brings top quality Italian food to the table in a wonderful homely style that cannot be found elsewhere. And Qi’Lin provides top quality Chinese food in a welcoming, Chinese-decorated surrounding and have this week been crowned the best Chinese restaurant in Queensland for the fourth year running.

  1. Markets

Pic 2Toowoomba is a hive of activity on the weekends, with a market occurring every weekend, showcasing the best fresh produce and homemade crafts that Toowoomba has to offer! The PCYC Markets are held every Sunday at the Toowoomba PCYC on James Street. The Margaret Street Markets are held on the first Sunday of each month down the Gelatissimo block end of Margaret Street. There are also the Global Care Markets, held on the second Saturday of each month at Citilife Church.  We also have the Queens Park Markets, held on the third Sunday of the month in the lovely Queens Park. Recently, we were also treated to The Handmade Expo visit at the Clive Berghofer centre across from USQ, which will be returning this year on Sunday November 30th, just in time to purchase something special for Christmas!

  1. Shopping

If you are looking for fabulous shopping options, Toowoomba has you covered! We have many smaller shopping centres around town, including the Kmart Plaza, The Ridge Shopping Centre, Westridge Shopping Centre and the Uni Plaza, near the university, all offering at least one major supermarket each as well as many specialty stores. The town’s largest shopping provider is Grand Central Shopping Centre, or as we all call it on college, Grandy. Grandy is currently undergoing renovations, as they are extending the centre to add more shops, including a David Jones, due to be completed by 2017. Currently, Grand Central has over 200 stores, including the only Myer store in the region, the Body Shop, Target, Coles, Birch Carrol & Coyle Cinema, over 50 fashion stores and 140 specialty stores! Whatever you are after to fulfil your retail desires, Toowoomba has the store for you (unless it is Forever New, but we are hopeful that the Grand Central extension will fulfil that dream for us all)!

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  1. Entertainment

Pic 4We are very lucky in Toowoomba to have many local and world-renowned acts visit to perform for our audiences. The best venues for viewing these acts include the USQ Artsworx Theatre and the Empire Theatre. The USQ Artsworx Theatre, provides an intimate entertainment experience, usually at a very reasonable price (perfect for those uni budgets!). The Empire Theatre is the main theatre in town, which includes a balcony viewing level, and old-world décor, creating an ambience that is hard to find elsewhere. This is a top quality theatre for top quality performances. Whenever the Empire is involved, a good time is bound to be had!

  1. Gardens

Pic 5Toowoomba is not called the Garden City for nothing! Here in Toowoomba, we have a plethora of beautiful gardens for you to enjoy.  From the relaxing Japanese Gardens, right next to USQ with its many quacky inhabitants always keen for a feed, to the Spring Bluff Railway Station on the other side of town, which is maintained to this day after it was first tended in 1914 when Queensland Railways launched a garden competition. There are also the main features of the well-known Toowoomba Carnival of flowers, Queens Park and Laurel Bank which are beautiful at any given time of the year, however particularly in spring when they are bought to life with various overhead patterns and images according to the theme of the carnival. It makes for a truly spectacular display! Also throughout this festival of spring, many proud Toowoomba gardeners dress their gardens and permit the public to view their hard work through the Chronicle’s annual garden competition.

If you haven’t any plans for your school holidays this September, don’t just take my word for it! Come for a visit to Toowoomba to see the Garden City at its best during the annual Carnival of Flowers! For more information about the events occurring throughout the carnival, please visit the following link! http://www.tcof.com.au/

Organisation 101

University has been one of the best experiences of my young life, and one of the reasons is the social aspect is so much fun! But in between all the fun, you are meant to study. Luckily, I have found a few tricks to help with being organised to make sure I never forget when an assignment is due, when a Res Shield event is or when the next social event is. Here are my five tips for being organised.

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  1. Make a list

I know this might seem like a very obvious thing, but my list is more detailed; at the beginning of each semester I make a list of all the assessments I have for each class, including the assignment type (Quiz, Oral, Assignment, etc.), when the assignment is due, and the percentage it is worth for the class. Additionally when I receive a result back I note what percentage I got to keep track of how I am doing in the class.

  1. Colour Code Everything

I highlight everything. My big yearlong calendar has so much writing and highlighting on it, and it makes such a difference;

  • Res Shield events; purple
  • Assessment; blue
  • Birthdays; yellow
  • Res College Social events; green
  • Parties and Social events; pink.

Trust me, it makes events a lot easier to find.

Additionally with colour coding, if you have individual books and folders, get ones in matching colours, that way you always know the book and folder belong together.

  1. Desk Organisation

Make the most of your space at college. The best way I have found is having desk organisation/storage.  I can actually see my stuff and am more motivated to study. It is so much easier during exam block to know where everything is; pens, sticky notes, notebooks, highlighters, all within reach and easy to see.

  1. Closet OrganisationPic 2

Now I understand some people like to bring a lot of clothing and such to college, so it is important to make the most of your closet space. Hanging storage has been such a space saver for me. I have a hanging section, shelving for bags/shoes/jumpers (depending on time of year), and hanging organisers, it has saved me so much space, honestly.

  1. Under the bed

My biggest asset for hiding all of my mess is giant storage boxes under my bed (labelled so I know where everything is). Additionally I keep a shoe rack under there, and for anyone who plays sports or just generally owns far too many shoes I would recommend this as a must!

I hope these tips were useful for you. Let me know if you have any other organisation tips in the comments below.

It’s all in the preparation- My three tips for balancing Prac and Uni

Practical experiences are a very necessary and exciting part of many university degrees.  Unfortunately this is often the busiest time of the semester. For many of us, whilst on prac our uni subjects continue, content continues to be distributed and assignment due dates loom closer. As I prepare for my next practical experience (woo hoo!), I would like to share with you my top three tips for balancing university studies and practical experience.

  1. Prepare your assessment

Prior to practical experience, prepare to complete as much of your assessment as possible.  Get everything you can to a point that you would be happy to submit.  Prac is an absolutely wonderful experience, one you want to be able to embrace and not be worried about the assignment due the next day which you haven’t started yet and have three lessons to plan for the following day as well!  It is much easier to edit drafted assignments than trying to research, draft and edit an assignment when you are exhausted after spending a week at work.

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  1. Prepare a study plan

Prepare a study schedule to follow during prac. As I found on my first practical experience, completely disregarding all uni work during prac will only come back to bite you later. Prioritise your work. Every little bit that you do during prac is something that you don’t have to worry about later. Write your schedule and stick to it! Everyone has different study patterns and you need to find what works for you.

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  1. Prepare to communicate

Practical experiences are your first glimpse into the big wide world of work that you will be entering into in a few short years. Ensure you contact your practical site as soon as you know where you have been placed to clear up any queries you may have and find out their expectations of you. Once you arrive, be honest and open to your supervisors. They know you are a university student and also have study to complete whilst on prac. They are not mind readers and hence need to be told if you are struggling or have assessment due. They too went to university at some point and know what you are going through! They are there to help you through your practical experience…help them to help you!

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Be true to yourself.  Your practical experience is a very busy, yet exciting time. With sufficient preparation, you will be able to both stay on top of your university studies and enjoy your precious taste of the workforce! Good luck! J

Formally a good time

Once a year a magical time rolls around at college, a time when the boys are all pressured into getting haircuts and showering to a higher quality, and the ladies all have a valid reason to buy a new pair of shoes, its formal season. Now when I first came to college I was unsure what to expect, high school formal all over again (not even close), a who wore it best situation, or something else.

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Step One: The Outfit

Lads, this means making sure your suit actually still fits. I have known many guys to just trust that it will fit, and they were WRONG. Additionally when you are trying on your suit, make sure it is clean and iron it if you need to.

Now ladies, this again means checking your dress fits, is clean, and although we are all on a budget, buying a new dress if you absolutely need to. You could also change up a dress with new shoes or accessories, and speaking from personal experience you always needs more shoes and accessories.

Step Two: Picking Your Table

My recommendation would be sit with the people you are going to have the best time with, people that you can be certain will switch a meal with you of needed, giggle with you at one of those classic college jokes, and people that will be ready to take a million and one selfies with you. Additionally get in early for saving a table, otherwise you and your friends may not get to sit together.

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Step Three: Ensure everything is ready EARLY

Formal comes in two parts; the formal and the after party. Most people require an outfit change between the two, so it is important to have everything planned out ahead of time. For the ladies this might include doing makeup that is suitable for both outfits, and picking shoes that will be comfortable. For the boys it might including having a clean outfit to change into and having your ID and cash ready. No matter who you are, it might also be a good idea to remember to reapply deodorant as often after parties are quite hot and you could get sweaty.11802178_10205150296657751_559615435_n

Ladies and Gentlemen, remember, formal isn’t just an opportunity to dress fancy and have a special meal, it is a chance to celebrate your college graduates, to welcome the incoming RSC executive and to enjoy one last night of simple celebration before the struggle of exam block.

The Social Coordinator from your college has the massive challenge of organising your formal, and would love help. So, be sure to sign up for your college formal committee!

 

 

 

Uni of best fit

Every prospective university student faces many decisions. For some students, these decisions are very easy, like a perfect line of linear plots waiting to be connected with a sweep of the pen. They have dreamt of their university, career and college ever since they commenced high school. For many students however, these decisions are much like a scattered quartic function without a simple answer and require a great deal of investigation in order to find the best fit. One of the first decisions to consider is which university will be the correct choice for YOU! Many students feel pressured to attend certain universities due to peer pressure or location. Through careful consideration of individual needs during your time at university, a far more enjoyable experience will result.

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During year 12, like so many others, I applied to attend Brisbane universities, similar to my friends, without much thought for my needs during my future experience. During my Gap Year, I had time to consider my options with a more open mind and realised that Brisbane may not be the city for me. I also learnt that although many of my friends were no longer in the same town as me, I had kept in contact with many of them and had made new friendships in my new phase of life. Among other decisions, this urged me to reconsider which university was truly the best option for me. Like so many prospective students, I looked at locations…how far each university was from home, the different facilities, the differences between the Education degrees, living options and more! I also took the time to revisit each of the prime opportunities offered throughout year to investigate my university options. I visited the Bundaberg careers fair, the Brisbane Tertiary Studies Expo (TSXPO), took time off work to visit the three universities on my short list and heard experiences from friends who had begun their university experience. Using these resources, I was able to eliminate universities from my list and make the decision to go to a different university, a different town…USQ Toowoomba.

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Choosing a university of best fit is a difficult and important decision. Through this process you will learn about yourself, such as proving that you can make informed, adult decisions without being swayed by others’ opinions, expectations or decisions around you. Having made your decision, you will reap many benefits! You will be free to reinvent yourself and spread your wings by developing new friendships…after all whoever heard of someone with too many friends? You totally own that decision now and that is awesome!

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Of course, like a mathematical line of best fit, no university is by any means perfect. They are always adapting and evolving with the times, but through thorough investigation of all of your options, you will be able to make an informed decision of the best possible university for YOU at whatever stage of life you are at! Above all, stay true to yourself and choose the university that suits your needs best. It can make the world of difference to your future university experience.

The top five tips of college living

When I first decided to move to the USQ Residential Colleges, I panicked. What if I forget something (seemingly essential that is actually not worth owning in the first place), what if I don’t like my roommate, what if they cancel Game of Thrones as a consequence of me moving. But believe it or not, I survived! And from this here are my top five tips for living on college.

#1 Don’t over pack.

Now, when I first moved to college I was thinking I’d need everything; “oh my god, I certainly can’t not bring 14 pairs of shoes! That would be madness….apparently. We all do it though, think there will without doubt be an occasion that you absolutely need a million options. Trust me, there won’t be, and even if there are no rules saying you can’t go home (or get it posted).

#2 Be a good roommate. Kara and Michaela

I am incredibly lucky, my roommate is amazing, she is the one I go to Kmart with 6 times a week; the one who texts me if dinner is worth getting out of bed for, and the one who reassures me I can definitely finish that 2000 word assignment in one day, no problem. But on the off chance you don’t have the world’s best roommate, you should still follow these few rules; keep common areas clean and don’t be loud and annoying.

#3 Things you won’t think to bring.

  • A cup, a bowl, a plate and a fork. You’ll want them eventually.
  • A printer. Yes I know you could just print at the uni. But the number of people begging to borrow printers mid semester is crazy. If you can get one, get one.
  • Blue tack. I can’t even work out how much I have usedcollege colours during my time at uni. Bring it and bring lots!
  • Bring your college colours! You will play Res shield sport often and early, make sure you can show some college pride!
  • A fan. Summer is hot! I know that isn’t news to anyone, but during last year’s heat wave many residents attempted to buy fans, but they were sold out! Don’t let this happen to you, they can be pulled apart and put away. Be prepared!
  • A spare set of sheets and a spare towel. They will get dirty, and you will not have the four individual one dollar coins to wash them. Bring spare!

#4 Plan! Plan! Plan! weekly planner whiteboard

I am not good at remembering, I am so forgetful. I plan out my weeks and believe it stops those assignments from sneaking up so fast. Additionally when you have res shield every other week, and blogs are due (oops) this really helps to keep you on track. Additionally bring fun coloured whiteboard markers, just cause, fun!

#5 Don’t be scared.

I was so nervous when I moved to college, but after you actually meet everyone and you start interacting with other colleges it isn’t so scary. Don’t stay in your room cause you are too scared to talk to people, get out there and show some courage. There will always be something going on, and we want you to be there, the more people, the more fun!

So there you have it, my top five tips for living on college. A guide to a worthwhile experience.

New kid on the block

Hi there!  My name is Alice Galea, originating from Bundaberg with a passion for crafts and baking and am currently studying my second year of my Bachelor of Education, Secondary.  Since completing high school in 2012, I have undertaken a Gap Year, during which I changed my mind from going to the big smoke of Brisbane to the smaller, much more personable environment offered by the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.  Since then, many good times were had throughout my first year.

After moving from my home of 18 years in Bundaberg and knowing absolutely no one other than my sister on college, let alone in Toowoomba, I was required to overcome my shy nature, epic homesickness and remain true to myself as a person, in order to make new friends and survive my first year of uni.  I also withstood the new challenges which presented themselves when I studied some third semester subjects back at home!

Some of my favourite events from my first year included a bush dance in o-week, which has thus far been a highlight for my second year.  As well as the fun that was had, the added bonus of this event was its assistance to help to adjust to the cold Toowoomba weather for a few hours (for a cold frog, this was great…but then winter came…)!  The red frogs’ café crawl soon after was also a highlight in order to get to know a some more college faces, as well as few of the fabulous coffee shops around town, of which the Park House is still a favourite (after all…who can resist their cherry ripe hot chocolates…that’s right people…CHERRY RIPE!!!!!!)!  For any first years who are reading this, hopefully they will hold one soon and it is DEFINITELY worth going! 😀

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Back on college, the social events of Semi-Formal and Formal were definitely the highlights for me for the year.  Seeing the creativity of outfits and the preparation which went into everyone looking their best for each of the nights was lovely to see. 🙂

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Thus far, 2015 has been off to a good start on Concannon.  I look forward to keeping you up to date with all of the goings on here and hope that my blogs are insightful.  Catch you next time!

RSC – The Crazy Folks

When you first move to college you hear about these Concannon Group Shotweird people who volunteer on your college RSC (Resident Student Club). Why are they weird you may ask? They volunteer their time to do stuff for the college and try to keep residents happy (not an easy job). They sound crazy, but they are actually kind of amazing for juggling everything they do. They plan all major college parties and events, they organise social sports clubs and college merchandise. And why do they do all this? Because they love college. As a second year RSC veteran, I can reassure you that being in the RSC is tough, you do a lot of extra work that often residents don’t notice or realise is necessary, and we do it for free. I like to think of the RSC as the college fun committee, cause it’s what we want college to be, FUN!

There are five positions on the RSC; Secretary, Treasurer, Social Coordinator, Sports Coordinator and President. And although there are different titles within the RSC, we all work together to make sure events are the best they can be.

So what does the President do? From what I have observed my own President doing they keep the team on track and make sure things get done. The President is kind of the boss and boosts up the team when things don’t go to plan.

Next is the Sports Coordinator, Concannon’s Sports Coordinator Alex has unwavering team spirit, the ability to motivate and a never give up attitude. He works with the other colleges to play regular sporting events so that we all occasionally leave our rooms.

On Tabletop mountainSocial Coordinator is next, and I actually have some experience in this role (a little bit last year). The Social Coordinator is in charge of organising all major college social events such as semi-formal and formal.

Secretary and Treasurer are often the forgotten roles, the nerds of the group (I’ve allowed to say it I’m one of them). These roles are responsible for keeping everything legal and everyone on track. Don’t take these two for granted though, they have their own important jobs to do too.

So, what is the best part about being on your colleges RSC? Getting to make college life better. If you see something that needs improving on college, do something or tell someone. We want you to enjoy college, and make it the best it can be. Don’t forget to nominate later this year for the 2016 RSC. THANKS GUYS!

2015 RSC