St. Edward’s University Homecoming 2012

I love February! Not just because it is my birthday month, but because it holds my favorite week of the whole year: Homecoming week.

Homecoming week at St. Edward’s is the most fun, spirited, and exciting week in the entire year. I never feel more at home on the Hilltop than I do during this week. Why? It is a time to simply celebrate being a part of one big family, a time to celebrate being a Hilltopper, a time to celebrate our mission, values, and the impact St. Edward’s has had on so many lives. There is a spirit in the air during Homecoming week that I can’t help but react to.

Competing for the Topper Cup, gambling and dancing at Casino Night, tailgating with friends, cheering on our athletic teams, celebrating mass with and blessing our parents (or pseudo-parents), eating the best brunch ever made. These are a few of my favorite (Homecoming) things. Here they are in pictures:

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MEND

So I have this bag.

My bag and a beautiful women named Collines who introduced me to it.

I use it everyday to carry books, binders, my laptop, pens and pencils, and whatever else I decide to throw in it. Everyday when I pick up this bag, I feel as if borders are being erased, and I am holding hands with a women named Aber Rose who lives and works in Gulu, Uganda. Rose made my bag.

When she was only 12 years old, she was abducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and given to a man to be his wife. After nine years, she was able to escape with her children. Coming home to persecution and judgement, she was able to find hope with a organization called Mend. According to their website, “Mend is a social enterprise geared toward facilitating financial independence and development for vulnerable women in northern Uganda.”

Because of Mend, Rose and many other women are able to support themselves and their children, have an education, and have hope.

I will never be able to understand what Rose went through during her nine years in the LRA, but I can say because of this bag, I understand more of what it means to be of one human race, one family. I might be a Texan, an American, a Catholic, a student, but first and foremost I am a human, and Rose is my sister.

elfa elfa elfa!

If my obsession with organization was not bad enough, I applied to work at The Container Store over Christmas break. It took everything in me to not spend my whole pay check there. I spent most of my days straightening aisles and taking mental notes on everything I thought I needed, which was ultimately everything. My favorite product to not only buy, but sell, was elfa. What is elfa you ask? It is customizable shelving and drawer systems…and so much more.

Every day I learned something new about elfa and became more and more obsessed with it. Unfortunately for my family, they got to constantly hear all about it every 15 minutes. Fortunately for my parents, it convinced them to think about getting elfa for their master closet.

Gross right?

A few weeks ago, I was  hanging out with my mom in her studio, and my dad came in looking for the tape measure. When he said he was measuring the closet, I immediately went into elfa selling mode. By the end of the day, we had a custom design for my dad’s side of the closet with everything we needed to install it.

Two weeks later, my dad and I finally found a day that we had time to clean out the closet and install the elfa. It was a great day! Not only did we add more space and organization with the elfa system, but we were able to get rid of clothes and other things he hasn’t touched in ages. I even gained a few old comfy sweaters :)

You can get efla installed by a professional, but it’s really not that hard to install with two people.

The installation took only about an hour or so with 2 people who had never installed elfa before.

We did have a little help from this guy.

My nephew Toby

Out of all the features elfa has, my favorite is the gliding shoe rack/shelf. We got my dad two shelves since the racks are for heels. The shelves are supposed to hold only 6 pairs of men’s shoes, but we were able to fit 10 pairs on each.

love love love!

In the end, it visually looks a little crowded, but his hanging space doubled allowing his clothes to not be jammed together and easy to find. He is also able to match suits, shirts, and ties together with his valet rod and gliding tie rack closer to the closet light.

As I was writing this post, I got a call from my mom to inform me she went into The Container Store today to get her side of the closet designed. This is a great service by The Container Store. Anyone can drop in or schedule an appointment with a designer for a free custom design and consultation with no obligation to purchase.

Now is actually the best time to purchase elfa though. The Container Store’s huge annual efla sale is going on  through February 13th. Everything is 30% off!

If you don’t have a closet that needs organization, elfa can also help you organize laundry rooms, offices, kitchens, and even entertainment centers. Learn more about these options here!

Growth

Houston, Texas might not be the prettiest, coolest, or most fun town, but to me, it’s home. It’s where I was born and raised and where I have my roots. The idea of home has always been super important to me. Feeling comfortable and accepted is what always draws me back to my home roots. Even though I have found a new home at St. Edward’s in Austin, it’s a different kind of home. It is still a bit unfamiliar and new. Recently, I have discovered how exciting the unfamiliar and unknown can be.

A few weeks ago, my Aunt Jane was in town being honored as a 2011 University of Texas Distinguished Alum. I hadn’t seen her in maybe five years due to the fact that she lives in New York and was the editor in chief of a major magazine my entire life up until about two years ago. I had also never had the opportunity to spend so much time with her in such a context where I could learn from her many career and life experiences. She spoke to a few UT Journalism classes while she was in town and invited me to accompany her.  I absorbed everything she had to say and came out with a whole new perspective on how I should be preparing for my future.

Since coming to college, I felt like I was missing out on so many things going on at home when I was at school in Austin. So much that not going home during the summer was out of the question. I always had a job at a summer camp to come home to, my friends and family were there, and my life in Houston was always familiar and easy to slip back into.

One lesson I learned from my aunt seems so obvious now, but it hadn’t hit me until she started talking about how she ended up where she is today. My aunt seemed to be constantly saying yes to new opportunities and challenges over the years. She didn’t stay where she was comfortable. This is how she went from being the oldest of five in small town Texas to an editor-in-chief in big city New York. What if she had said no to going to New York on a whim with a friend? What if she stuck to being a health editor and didn’t take on the challenge of adding beauty and fashion? What if I go home next summer and do the same thing I did last year? What will I learn from being comfortable?

I need to open my eyes, branch out, and be proactive about my future. Home is definitely not out of the question this summer because Houston has a lot to offer, but so does Austin, New York, Arizona and more. I have chosen not to limit myself and to be open to any opportunity.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to life, but to industries especially the PR industry. Having an open mind leads to creativity and the courage to be open minded is a major trait one needs to be in the PR industry. Culture, technology, PR,  and the way people communicate is not just changing, it is growing because people are taking risks and grabbing at opportunity.

I don’t simply what to change, I want to grow.

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