Then & Now

Hey Ya’ll,

My freshman year at Gardner-Webb, I was enrolled in a course called “University 111.” This class taught me how to think, act, and react like a Gardner-Webb college student, and perhaps the biggest impression it left on me was the importance of setting goals. Four years has passed since I took this class, and when I was organizing my computer documents over Easter break, I came across an old homework assignment…

“Kaitlyn Elizabeth Spiro’s Educational Goals (five years out):

  • Study abroad in Scotland, Spring 2013
  • Take courses in International Relations and Comparative Political Economy.
  • Graduate from Gardner-Webb University: May 2014
  • Magna Cum Laude
  • Double Major: Political Science, Broadcast Journalism
  • Attend Graduate School at the University of Edinburgh: December 2014
  • Obtain an MSc In International Political Theory from the Graduate School of Social and Political Science.
  • Obtain an independent research grant to study European and North American government relations in relation to hegemonic stability.

WOW! Talk about one ambitious freshman. I must say, I am kind of impressed with myself, but at the same time, I also want to roll my eyes and laugh. I have certainly changed my goals and ambitions since 2010…

I graduate in less than a month, and I feel as though I have the whole world at my feet. I am one of the lucky grads who has professional options ready to pursue, but the idea of relocating my entire life is the biggest emotional weight I have ever carried. It is a weight I am strong enough to carry after 4 quality years at Gardner-Webb, but I must admit that my grip is still slippery.

I love North Carolina and have enjoyed every day I have spent in college. I am supposed to be “ready” for adulthood, and on paper I think I am. But, what happens if I don’t like it? Or  if they don’t like me? I must have missed the sign-ups for that class.

Gardner-Webb has done an admirable job in preparing me for the future. I just hope that I have prepared myself to leave Gardner-Webb and pursue the best future available.

Stay tuned…

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

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Spring Break 2K14

Hey ya’ll,

I am sad to report that Spring Break 2014 has come and passed here at the Webb. It was certainly one to remember and oh, did I mentioned that it is currently 32 degrees in Boiling Springs, NC? Don’t even get me started on that.

I am writing this blog, however, from the sunny skies and 75 degree weather of Las Vegas, Nevada! I spent my entire spring break on Nellis Air Force base, which is located in North Las Vegas area, with my wonderful boyfriend, Will. He is a weapons engineer and soon to be senior airman in the AF and has been stationed here for seven months. Yeah, I kinda dig him. :)

Will & I on Fremont St!

Will & I on Fremont St!

11 days in Vegas has certainly been an adventure. We did everything from walk Fremont Street & the Vegas strip, to eat pizza & Twizzlers in the Nevada desert. This is the first Spring Break I have spent away from my roommates and the beach, though I think I am coming back just as tan as anyone who went! The sun has shown direct and bright every day and the ‘trees’ here are what we North Carolinian’s would consider shrubbery.

Hammocking on Nellis AF Base

Hammocking on Nellis AF Base

This place is mighty different from my home on the east coast– that is for sure! There is no Cheerwine, no sweet tea, no Bojangles, no Cookout, and no grass, but it is beautiful in its own right. Lake Mead is arguably one of the prettiest bodies of water I have ever seen. The Hoover Dam is magnanimous and awe-inspiring and the desert dunes/mountains create a painter-pretty sunset.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead

The best images of Las Vegas, however, come from the strip at night.

Caesars Palace

the real Caesars Palace.

Most of my Spring Breaks in high school were either spent at home catching up on sleep and homework, or spent traveling the east coast visiting colleges. The various ‘breaks’ you will receive in college, however, are actually breaks (unless you have Dr. Yelton, Dr. Moore, are a nursing major, or an in-season athlete). You have so much to look forward to!

Will's Tacoma & a Nevada sunset.

Will’s Tacoma & a Nevada sunset.

So plan your SB months in advance and spend them with the people you love the most, whether it be with family, friends, a significant other, or with strangers on a mission trip. GWU offers so many different Spring Break opportunities! This year alone, the school offered trips to NYC, Disney World, France, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras!

Pick a place, ask a friend, plan it out, and save your pennies because Spring Break in college ain’t no joke. Do it right and when you think you have a big trip planned, go bigger!

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

<3

SB2k14

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Some good ole fashion Outdoor Education

Hey ya’ll,

Do you like the outdoors? Are rugged mountains, stocked lakes, crisp air, & rough terrain some of your favorite elements? You may be a Nalgene carrying, Merrell wearing type hipster or someone who just likes to put up a hammock and bask, but at the end of the day, you thank God for his creations. . .I have the class for you.

Kings Mountain State Park

Kings Mountain State Park

In this class we go hiking, backpacking, orienteering, survival skills, shooting, kayaking, exploring. We learn how to camp, how to properly prepare camp, how to pack for camp, and what to buy for camp. You will learn confidence in how to read a compass, map, and perform basic first aid life savers. The best part of this class is not even taught! It is experienced.

Buck Knife usage

Buck Knife usage!

You will be in a class full of people who appreciate and participate in nature– just like you. Eco-friendly hippies and expert marksman sit side-by-side, offering class discussions meant to diversify viewpoints and expand opinions. In this class, fellowship is shared over the campfire, on the trail, and most often–in the classroom.

Making some shelter...

Me finding some shelter…

 

The class is called 310 PHED Outdoor Education. Rather fitting, right? It is a class designed for a degree in Physical Education, but it is open to any and all who love the outdoors. I took this course because of the survival techniques and first aid training it offered. We have a National Guard serviceman in our class who took the class because of the shooting and marksmanship involved.

One Big Donkey!

One Big Donkey!

I have recommended in a few other blogs that when you get to college, you ought to have a timeline, a list of goals, and a good idea of where you want to be at the end of your four years. This class is a prime example of the awesome reward you can give yourself in your latter years of school once you power through your core and introductory courses. I get to go backpacking and hiking for class credit! Pretty sweet set-up right?

Praise the Lord & Pass the Peaches,

Katie Spiro

Class is in session!

Class is in session!

 

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Tissues & truffles.

Hey ya’ll,

Will you answer the dreaded question? Or will you skip over this post just at the sight of the “V” word? Well, here goes nothing. . .

How was your Valentine’s Day? 

That question seems to be met with sly smiles or streamed tears to most of us females. I don’t have brothers, but best I can tell from my guy friends– to males, Valentine’s day is spent smoozing a lady on your pretty penny or it’s a day spent laughing at guys smoozing and spending their pretty pennies.

Sip it slow...

Sip it slow…

It is a holiday that is built and continued on double standards of happiness, but why not ride the waves of the day? Unlike high school (dated the same fella), every year I have been in college, my dating situation has changed. Some years, I have had great dates. Others, I have had great pamper days and one year, I actually forgot about the holiday!

Here is a bit of philosophy for you from someone who has never taken a philosophy class: why prepare for a holiday that was built for unprepared people in relationships? Why would we need a holiday recognizing love & intimacy in relationships? Sure, maybe it is good and right to recognize the people we care most for. Sure, maybe it is correct to publicly express one’s emotions with balloons, over-sized bears, and fancy red roses.

The limo...

The limo…

But why have a day quite literally spent on expressing feelings when each day should prove the worth of one’s heart? Are we so caught up in our own lives that we can’t remember to express authenticity to our loved ones when the feelings arise? We prepare in advance for one day a year, yet we continuously act unprepared to express the meaningful words we all crave daily..

I am like everyone else. I want a Valentine’s day spent with my boyfriend with a rose in my hand as we arrived at that fancy restaurant. I want to wear the pretty dress. I want his smile on mine. But is one day worth the bill?

THE package.

THE package.

 

My college operates on a budget and I bet ‘his’ does too, so perhaps we can change this day up a bit next year. What if we all minimized the gifts, pass by the over-priced chocolates, and engaged the real meaning of the holiday: expressing our hearts.

At the end of the day, do the fancy earrings, dinners, and flowers add to the depth of the relationship or the debt in the wallet? I support the meaning of the holiday, but it is time to change up the message!

Express hearts. Not Flowers.

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

V-day 2014

V-day 2014

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Being a bridesmaid.

Hey ya’ll,

I have gone through some pretty scary things in my life: my first movie date, raising a puppy, dropping my sister off at prom, traveling through Italy, and even riding a mechanical bull. But never, ever, did I realize that I was old enough to. . . be a bridesmaid. Or think of getting married. I mean, excuse me?

This subject has been hot and heavy on my mind for a few months now since everyone in my life decided to get engaged, married, or pregnant at the same time. Don’t mind me over here. I am just trying to make it through scuba class and remember to order my cap and gown for graduation.

My cousin is getting married this summer and she has asked me to be a bridesmaid. I was naturally thrilled at the chance to wear a fancy dress and stand in front of people, but at the dress fitting– I had a come-to-Jesus moment: I COULD BE MARRIED NOW.

Bridesmaid dress!

Bridesmaid dress!

I am 21 years young. I am graduating college with 2 degrees and a plan. Yet I somehow skipped the lessons taught on how to prepare for marriage. I do have a fella that I have been seeing for a few months now, but the thought of spending my entire life with him or any other man is just plain nonsensical. For both my sake and his!

To all my high school readers out there, there will be a moment in college when you look around and begin to see all your friends pairing off like they are about to board Noah’s ark. There will also be a moment when you feel like a sloth that wants to board the arc, but you are both too slow to make it and too uncoordinated to court a mate to actually board.

Yeah, that is where I am at.

duck face pics at age 21. yep.

duck face pics at age 21. yep.

I’ll admit though, it is awesome to witness people falling in love in college. We are all figuring ourselves out and some people are fortunate to find their better self in someone along the way. At Gardner-Webb, the environment just seems to be conducive for that. I wish I knew what elixir those people are sipping on!

In all seriousness though, marriage is an ideal goal for most of us. We want the wife or husband, a few kids. and the golden retriever. But I’ll admit that when I was a senior in high school, I gave that dream way too much emphasis when I imagined my college experience. Even when I was young, I used to say “I want to be married by 22!” I am 21 right now and unless Mr. Obama calls me tomorrow and offers me his job if I get married to someone by my birthday (totally unconstitutional), I won’t be married by 22.

And you know what? I am completely okay with that. Gardner-Webb has offered me so many opportunities in my education and in my total experience. I may not have found my ‘soulmate’ in college, but I did find myself, and that is half the equation right there.

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

Happy Bridesmaid. Future Bride.

Happy Bridesmaid. Not-so-Future Bride.

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typical college athlete post.

Hey Ya’ll,

This indoor track season is finally coming to a close and yes, I purposefully emphasize the finally in that sentence. Indoor track falls during the winter months of the year and though I am thankful that we run inside and away from the weathered conditions, running inside is terrible! 

This weekend, we will be competing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. I am less than thrilled about that already since the track is not even regulation… but on a more positive note, this is my final indoor meet! Next week, we will be traveling to Virginia Tech to compete for the Big South Championships and my team is looking pretty dang stellar this year!

Tyler, pole vault champ!

Tyler, our pole vault champ!

We have the leading conference performers in the men’s & women’s pole vault, women’s high jump, women’s 4×400 M, men’s weight throw, women’s shot put, and much much more! I will be competing in the women’s 800 M and Distance Medley Relay and these will be my last running events of my entire track & field career!

For the outdoor season, I will be focusing on the women’s javelin throw. . . AKA my passion (& slight obsession). I will be working twice as hard throwing and lifting three times as much weight to prepare for the outdoor conference championship in April.

Practicing jav in the snow!

Practicing jav in the snow!

I.Am.Stoked!

I have ideas & goals for this season, but I need to compete in a meet first to truly define where my standards stack up this year– for myself. The error I have made every year is underestimating myself and setting only achievable goals, not conceivable goals. Why not go big? Why not focus on WINNING the title this year? It is my last year. . . go out with a bang?

Work hard. Win big!

Work hard. Win big!

I hope to be posting on here in a few months that I did indeed achieve the goals that I only conceive right now. But as my Momma Julie has always said, if you try your hardest you can never lose. Those are some wise words, Momma, but I’ll be darned to say I won’t try to win for my awesome track team!

Go Dawgs. bark.bark.

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

p.s. the GWU SWIM TEAM is currently competing in their Championship meet! Follow their progress on Twitter at @gwusports where you will also see the updates for the men’s basketball game going on right now. . .that I am missing. to blog. you’re welcome. :)

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Do you want to build a snowman?

Hey ya’ll,

Wow, what a week of weather at the Webb (check out that alliteration!). From this time last week to today, we have literally experienced every type of season. Here is a quick recap:

  • Wednesday: 1″ Snow, 34/28 = Winter
  • Thursday: 4″ Snow 28/22 = Winter
  • Friday: Sunny, 45/28 = Fall
  • Saturday: Earthquake, sunny, 54/34 = Spring
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy, 46/31 = Spring
  • Monday: Mostly Sunny, 57/29= Fall
  • Tuesday: Sunny, 64/29 = Fall
  • Wednesday: Lightning storm, rain, windy, party cloudy 74/46 = Spring/Summer.
DCIM101GOPRO

Thursday

Sunday.

Sunday.

For any of those readers out there who are NOT from the South, this sporadic shift in temperature & weather are completely common for this area. If you are headed to GWU for a weekend visit or Dawg Day you probably should bring a winter jacket, layer over your tank top & shorts, and wear your rain boots…because just like everyone’s political opinions on healthcare, the weather around here shifts constantly & dramatically… Am I allowed to say that on here? :)

BUT….For those readers out there that ARE from the South, this post has been completely useless to you. Then again, it might have served as a helpful reminder to go grocery shopping.  You’re running low on bread & milk again. ;)

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

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Track Weekend

Hey Ya’ll,

Ever seen an Indoor Track? Take a peak into my weekend at the JDL Fast track in Winston- Salem, NC:

Headed to JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, NC

Headed to JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, NC

Indoor Track

Indoor Track

Men's Mile starring: Mike McClay

Men’s Mile starring: Mike McClay

200 M Start/Finish

200 M Start/Finish

Day 2: Playing the Videographer

Day 2: Playing the Videographer

I competed in the women’s DMR, 800M, & 4x4oo M Relay! My COACH broke the facility record in Weight Throw. Three of my FRESHMAN teammates placed third in the meet, putting them in a top-3 scoring position in our Big South conference. And a current WORLD-CLASS 5,000 M runner jogged over to MY distance coach after his race…to discuss improvements to his facility record-shattering time. No big deal….but WE ARE Gardner-Webb Track & Field!

Coming to a track near you.

Praise the Lord & Pass the Peaches,

Katie Spiro

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Best Eateries in Boiling Springs

Hey ya’ll,

Here at the Webb,  your dorm is your home, but your community is Boiling Springs. What makes a home & a community worth staying? Well, the food of course! Here is your quick & dirty guide to the local eateries in your college town of Boiling Springs.

Make your own or venture into town...

Make your own or venture into town…

1. The Snack Shop: known for their homemade pimento cheese and super sweet southern tea, you are 100% guaranteed to be called darling, baby, or peach within your first five minutes of sitting. With breakfast all day and banana pudding to die for, this place is the beez-kneez of Boiling Springs and thoroughly cherished for over 50 years by the Cleveland County community.

2. El Acapulco: step into a slice of Mexico and use those high school Spanish skills! This place is a favorite birthday spot due to the mandatory sombrero wearing, Spanish singing, and Polaroid picture taking. Great enchiladas, better cheese dip.

4. Quik Snack: get the best grilled burgers and the latest community gossip at the Quik Snack, but be sure you ask where to sit. The locals have priority seating.

5. Italian Garden: the family (and Sunday) favorite. Bring your mom, dad, & step-grandma because this place has a plate for everyone. Caution students: stray away during the day unless you actively enjoy seeing every professor, coach, and faculty member in the booth next to you. AND never, and I mean NEVER, bring your significant other to this place on a Friday date night. Privacy is not part of the bill.

6. Hoshi Express: what is the quickest, fastest, and cheapest way to dine-fine in the Springs? Well, the drive-through at Hoshi of course! Grab a full pate to-go for under $8.00, but don’t get caught sneaking Coke if you ordered a water. They might just make your pour it out.

"The Caf" at GWU

“The Caf” at GWU

Hope this list causes happy eating and dietary deliciousness. And remember, always pick up a cup of coffee or ice cream cone from Broad River Coffee Company either prior to or following your fine dining experience in Boiling Springs.

That is mandatory.

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

 

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128 credits // 128 opportunities

Hey ya’ll,

So you want to come to college, eh? You have worked hard for four years in high school completing classes, playing sports, building your resume with clubs and activities.. and now you are ready to click SUBMIT to that dream university.

In high school, you are given a load of mandatory classes and asked to pick what academic level you want them taught at you: basic, honors, or AP. You may have a few vocational or technical classes, but for the majority of your hours spent in class– you are learning universal, educational standards that give you clearance to enter the next league: college.

My favorite classroom.

My favorite classroom.

Well, I am happy to inform you that those days of mandated scheduling & standardized testing are over! College allows for every opportunity of growth: academic, professional, personal, and most importantly spiritual. You have an infinite amount of choices to make from here on out to adulthood and the best part is… they are ALL up to you.

You get to pick your major, join any groups you like, live how you please, and most importantly…eat what you want to eat! It may sound like tulips and daisies, but your first two years might feel a bit bombarding and out of focus (at least mine did!). Not to worry, however, you will adapt and synchronize into the person you wish to become, so long as you give yourself the platform to jump into yourself.

Honors Research Opportunity: Religion in the Military.

Honors Research Opportunity: Religion in the Military.

 

What I mean by this is that from the first day you move into your dorm, you gotta be ready to get involved, but remain organized. Remember that dream you had as a kid? This is the time you prepare for that achievement. Sit down with your academic adviser and discuss your goals; determine what classes you need to take, what summer internships you need to be thinking about, and what on/off-campus activities will best supplement those goals. Then… WRITE THEM DOWN. Keep track of your progress and always remember the direction you are going: forward. 

For most majors, you will need 128 credits to graduate. That means you have 128 opportunities to get better! My best advice I can offer you about classes is this: 1) take your core classes early 2) utilize summers as internship/job opportunities or take harder courses and 3) give yourself one fun class every semester. “Class” in high school and “class” in college are completely different concepts. For me, high school classes became a means to college, a social scene, and a chore. College classes are actually engaging, intimately related to your future, and are excellent career gauges if you are unsure of your path.

So take it from a college class pro of 3.61 years: college classes ROCK, but remember to be vigilant of your future, well-organized on paper & in spirit, and always be open to opportunities.

Praise the Lord & pass the peaches,

Katie Spiro

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