Breaking Away from School for a Moment

Bernadette Rocha, 22 June 2015

While a sound education is key to acquiring a successful career, especially one of premium quality, it is also important to step back and take care of one’s own self for some time, even if it is only for a short summer break.

Having finally given in and gone back to school back in Spring of 2014 (graduated high school in 2005), I just wanted to get my degree, even if it’s just an AAS, and do it as quick as I could. I would enroll in no less than three 5-credit courses at a time on top of my internship (which is not through school as many ask, it is of a personal nature). I figured that if I paced my classes an hour apart as well as arriving up to an hour early to school, I could have time to study, review, and have some coffee at the same time. In the afternoon’s, I’d have a good three and a half hours before I would have to leave to get to my internship on time, and then, after my internship (which ends at 9pm), I could study some more — usually up until around midnight.

For four quarters, this method worked for me. Not only did I find time to study and write, as most of my classes required me to think critically, do research and write (look, no “Oxford Comma”!), but I also found time to join a campus club, participate in on campus events, and even make friends.


This lasted up until I began my fifth quarter. Once again, I spaced my classes out accordingly, however, since I was taking my first math class, I needed to make sure that there was as little writing as possible. As history had shown me, taking writing and math concurrently would be cause for overexertion. Even though this was just a Business Math class, or perhaps because of that fact, I wanted to make sure that I would be able to devote time to studying as well as be able to retain the information that I learned. This was especially important to me considering math is not my strong point, and yet this was critical to gaining my degree as well as for my future goals.


I ended up taking a Leadership & Management course which was only offered online (and still makes no sense as to why either) and a Public Speaking course (I’d have laughed last quarter had anyone offered this as a suggestion, so I am really surprised that I took it). I presumed that these classes would be more “hands on” rather than research and writing based.

I was wrong.

For the Leadership & Management class, the only thing that I did was write. There was barely an online presence from my instructor, and no guidance as to where in the chapter we were. In fact, it got to the point where I simply returned my textbook as I realized that there was no need for it. Every assigned paper basically required critical thinking, and the majority of my papers required to think about diversity and statistics in diversity on campus. As my campus is a very diverse place, I had already been giving that a lot of thought, making subconscious and conscious observations here and there every day. Those were simple enough papers to write. The other ones required some research, and yet were also simple enough as well.

One thing I learned this year:

As long as you put some effort into it, most teachers won’t grade you down for your opinion.

For my Public Speaking class, I didn’t realize how much writing would actually go into it. Shocked, really. We had to create preparation outlines and speaking notes, and learn the formal structure of a speech — which is just like an essay! Now that that class is over, however, I can much easier identify parts of a speech as well as create a much more helpful outline for when I write essays, so I am grateful for having taken that course — especially when that was one of the most difficult instructors that I have had.

These two classes and the amount of writing surprised me, and led me to not be able to devote much time to my Business Math class, which just meant that I had to try as hard as I could to succeed. This was no easy thing as, for this course, we were required to receive no less than a 70% on each test and if we received below 70% on the final — we fail. Fortunately, I received 84.13% on the final and am currently awaiting my final grade!

Having to devote so much of my thinking capacity to writing as well as to math has indeed exhausted me. I feel like I have gone through two quarters in one and am in need of a “thinking break”. As much as I would like to gain my degree as early as I possibly could, after five quarters I am going to take this summer off. In the fall, when I must begin regular math courses, I will talk with my other one or two instructors to see the amount of writing involved prior to taking the courses. This way, if there will be much writing, I can reduce my course load down to two courses instead of three, but still be steadily on my way to completing a college education!

In the meantime.

This summer, I am just sitting back, relaxing and for once — reading.

That is for another post altogether!

Post-College Reflection

Bernadette Rocha, 16 June 2015

After taking my last final of my 5th quarter in a row, it dawned on me as to how far I have come to reach this point.

After graduating High School in 2005, and graduating from a technical school for Medical Assisting in 2006, I never really did much with my life. I was still living in my old mindset where I basically didn’t give a you-know-what about — well, anything. So I did work here and there and just kind wasted the next few years doing nothing. That is, until I started volunteering at a day shelter for families.

By volunteering, not only was I helping staff with the families and children, but I also found that I began to care more. I began focusing my energy on not-caring, to caring about certain things for the right reasons. In this case — how can I personally make a difference in these family’s lives? During my time volunteering, I came to know the staff well, and the clients on a personal basis versus and “outsider” basis. Once you can consider the family’s as an extension of your own, then you know your mindset regarding how you view this population has changed. Via my ideas, how much I got along with the mom’s, dad’s, and their kids, I was able to work my way up to an internship — which is what I am doing now.

The internship started out with me having a few more responsibilities than that of your normal volunteer. Not too different. Then, after gaining trust, I was able to move from working as an intern at that larger site, to working at one of their smaller sites, but which was only open on the weekends and gave the families activities and field trips to do, and was centered around the children. This was a real eye-opening experience for me as, at this point, the families began telling me about how they came to have to stay in a shelter, and I even saw how, even though they were essentially homeless, that they were able to work together and be compassionate with one another — even more so than many people that I have met who had homes and were no where near having to be in this situation. Let me tell you, these family’s also share more of what they barely have than people I have come across who have much to share. This still puzzle’s me. [future post, end of June 2015: “Homeless Subculture: an Observation”]

Once I started the internship, and realized how beneficial it was for me, and how much I felt about how certain…aspects of the center could be run in a different direction, I became more and more interested in what I could personally do for that change to be created, from an administrative viewpoint. One day, I woke up and realized that I needed to get my you-know-what back to school and enrolled in my local college to earn an Associate of Applied Science – Transfer degree in Business Information Technology. I enrolled that Spring, of 2014.

After several months of going to school, and of doing the internship at the weekend location, I was asked if I would like to manage a small two-family (8 people total) shelter on my own. This would be a great learning opportunity for me, and I would still be able to continue at the weekend location (with reduced hours), so I agreed. The family’s that I worked with were both Ethiopian. Both of the mom’s cooked — a lot. They’d spend so much time cooking, and then insisting that I eat with them, that I ended up learning how to cook what they made so that I could help them. Also — aside from Vietnamese food, Ethiopian cuisine is one of my favorite foods!

An issue arose regarding lack of staff at another shelter location, through this particular organization, and I jokingly suggested that if they could find someone for the current space that I was at, that I would go to the other one and work. Apparently, they took it to heart, because within a couple short days, they were already preparing to have me begin working there for my internship instead starting the next week.

This shelter, where I currently work, houses up to five two-parent family’s. Each family has anywhere from 1-4 kids, and is a long term shelter. This means that as long as they are working with the organization doing what they need to be doing, and helping to maintain a calm and clean (through chores) environment, then they could stay until they are able to gain housing. Having been working here for about 5 months now, I can say that it is one of the most rewarding, and challenging things I’ve done. This job requires me to sacrifice a lot of my time, even overnight’s as well. Sometime’s, volunteer’s do not show up when they are scheduled and I have to work longer hours (fortunately, they hired me a helper for four days a week recently).

Working with 5 family’s, from all walks of life (so far: Micronesian, Polynesian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and American) has been a blessing, but is also challenging. Not only must I learn about their different culture’s (which is something I absolutely enjoy doing), but I also have to learn about how each culture solves problem’s differently (as all of them, except for the American family are immigrant). I already had some practice with this from the previous two-family shelter, and the weekend day center, so I wonder if this was also why they had me go there to work.

Fortunately, I’ve only had to get involved with literally just a handful of disputes, but each time I have had to be creative. Since our American family is more individualistic and the other family’s were more collectivistic (thank you Psych 100 for teaching me about this concept), the way a couple of the dad’s viewed a particular problem was a complete culture clash, and ended up in an argument, which I had to intervene. After talking to each of them separately, I found of that the root of the problem layed in not so much the problem itself, but in how each of them viewed how they felt the other person should have managed it. We had to have a talk as a group about cultural differences, and how it was better to just have a conversation about their differences and try to work out a mutual understanding versus closed-minded arguments. Since then, things have been much smoother. This experience also made me realize that I had a lot more to learn in the area of mangement, supervision, and problem-solving in general. It was time to review my educational direction, once again.

Talking to my Adviser, we worked out that it would be beneficial for my current goals, as well as long term goals (which is scientific/psychological research & research based writing), that I should also work on an AAS in Supervision & Management. This would allow me to gain the skills necessary to better manage the shelter work I work (as well as for when I apply for an internal paid staffing position), as well as in the future when I have to manage a research project, or deliver a presentation, or etc. For this reason, this Spring quarter of 2015, in addition to the Business Math course that I just completed, I also took a Leadership/Management course (which involved a lot of writing!), and a Public Speaking course (which showed me how to gather my thoughts/research, organize it coherently, and deliver it).

School, for 5 quarter’s in a row, on top of my internship has been a blessing, but has exhausted me, which is why I am taking Summer 2015 off, and will resume in the Fall of 2015. In the meantime, I am looking forward to hopefully working with the main center (hopefully as staff as I did bring up my interest) during their daytime summer program for the family’s since the kids will be out of school and need something constructive to do. I am having a conversation with them tomorrow and am going to be going through a “new hire” orientation (which they say I should know since I work one-one-one with the family’s). After my conversation with my supervisor this morning stating that she wanted to see me tomorrow to “talk to me about the summer” (since she knows I am taking the summer off — fortunately they work with my school schedule) and assured me that I was not in trouble and was doing excellent, and wanted to make sure that I was going to the orientation, this could very well be really good news!


10 Things I Look for in a Guy

In order:
1. — Eyes.
I have always held a strange fascination for eyes ever since I was a child. So if I like a guy, chances are his eyes are what caused me to take notice originally.

2. — Smile.
A genuine smile from someone I care about will always light up my day. :-)

3. — Education.
Educated guys are hot. I like to learn so if a guy I am into can teach me some random, yet relevant thing that I did not know, then we’re in business.

4. — Food.
I heart foreign food. My favorite cuisine is Ethiopian/Eritrean. I also love Pho, Ramen, Sushi, Tamales, some Phillippino food, some Micronesian food, some Latin American food, and so on and so forth. So, whoever I like should be open to that delicious heaven too cuz thats whats for dinner!

5. — Movies.
I love movies. The guy I am with should either want to go to the movies with me or else want to watch them at home with me. I like many genres, just not Westerns.

6. — Video games.
I like guys who are into video games…but not to the point where it takes over his life. He should be willing to play with me because I like vidwo games too and never get the opportunity to play with others due

7. — Space.
I need my time. You need your time. 24/7 together will drive me crazy. I need time to miss you. Go hang out with the guys while I read a book, or go see a movie. Yes, sometimes I prefer them alone.

8. — Sports.
If a guy I am into is into sports, fine. I am not. This goes back to the your time vs. my time thing. Of course, if the Mariner’s are playing, I would be ok with catching that game (only in person) with you, but I am cheering for my hometeam.

9. — Paranormal.
Look. I am into the paranormal phenomena of the world. I believe in things like; reincarnation, angels, demons, extraterrestrials (or were they all the same?), multiple universes, the UNEXPLAINABLE in general. I also listen to Coast to Coast AM every now and then when I can’t sleep.

10. — Foreign Music/Movies/Drama.
This is a must. I like this stuff. A lot. Don’t make fun of me for liking it as well. In fact, embrace it cuz I’m going to expect you to watch/listen with me and enjoy it.


For many students, myself included, finals are coming up. This can be a daunting task to complete, albeit a necessary one. The most importanthings to remember are:

1. — Get enough sleep.
2. — Don’t wait till the last second to study.
4. — Get enough nutricious food in you.
3. — Relax. Breathe. You can do this!

Now, I have just got to remember to take my own advice! ;-)

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

1. — My insomnia seems to have come back after all these years.

2. — I enjoy Korean drama and music (Nell and Epik High).

3. — I love scary films — no matter the language (as long as it is good and has subtitles).

4. — I spend way more time surfing youtube than I care to admit.

5. — I freaking heart the following foods: Ethiopian (anything), Pho, Phad Thai, Sushi, Kimbap (recently!!), Tamales, Chile Rellenos, Ramyun, and homemade mac & cheese.

6. — Preferred drinks of choice: coffee, chai tea, thai iced tea, and chocolate milk.

7. — Addicted to internet, I love to learn.

8. — If I had a game console like X-Box, I would definitely be on it now.

9. — I want to write fiction novels.

10. — TV Shows: Navy NCIS, Grimm, Criminal Minds


This is an idea which is very near to my heart. I do believe in the concept of a soulmate, however, I have yet to come across my own. I would hope that whoever he is, he’ll be not only accepting of my present and future goals, but understanding and accepting of my not so pleasant past.

Of course, if he really were my soulmate, I think he’d be able to take me as I am. :-)

— Bernadette

4 College Friendship Tips

Bernadette Rocha

23 May 2015

1.) My Professor is my Friend.

Your professor is NOT your friend. Be careful what you say. Sure, speaking casually with a professor outside of class is nice, and you get to gain all types of communication points for that. Kudos to you. However, remember that this person is NOT your friend. This person is your professor. Discern between the two now and add a modicum of distance. Still speak candidly if that is how you two communicate among each other, however make sure to censor yourself. It is easy for you to say something which sounds completely fine to you, but that your professor may take out of context, thinking it is a gratuitous remark. Trust me, you do not want to have to deal with the damage control and possible fallout later.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this, such as if you were friends outside of college before you started attending that college, or something similar to that. Keep in mind, that even if you were friends outside of school, what you say could still affect your grade outcome and future recommendations, so until you’ve been given that final grade it is probably best to still censor what you say.

2.) Campus Friends vs. Off-Campus Friends

If you enjoy talking to certain person on campus but do not make plans to hang out off-campus, then you probably only have a campus friend.

If you enjoy talking to a certain person and make plans to hang out off-campus and actually do it, then you probably have someone to call a friend.

If you make plans to hang out off-campus, but it never occurs and you guys don’t even really talk much on campus, then you guys probably are NOT friends and you may as well delete them from your Facebook, because what is the point of holding onto people that you aren’t compatible with anyway?

3.) But, He/She is Really Friendly

Ok, look. Here’s the deal. This could go different ways:

If you are hanging out with a person a lot and you feel comfortable with this person, then you are probably friends.

If you are hanging out with this person, and thoughts about how “cute” or “hot” this person is, then you probably are not really friends and you are mostly just crushing on this person. If you are like that person, then get yourself out of the friend-zone ASAP because it’s just going to be a cruel circus otherwise.

If you are hanging out with this person, and this person seems to act a little strange around you, like as though they have feelings for you, then they probably do. Trust your instinct. If you like that person, then just let that person know. If you have no feelings for that person, then tell that person ASAP because its only going to grow awkward in the end, and trust me, you don’t need drama when you’re in college…unless its a course you signed up for.

4.) This Person is Really Touchy-Feely, is this an American Thing?

Ok. So, this is really important, especially for any of you International Students reading this. The need to tell this came after a horrible story a couple of my friends from overseas were telling me the other day.

THIS IS NOT AN AMERICAN THING. If a guy, or girl, is touching you or feeling you up, and you are uncomfortable with it, tell them to STOP immediately and leave. Depending on how they touched you, you may even need to contact security and/or file a complaint. Tell somebody. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Sad thing is, that some sleazy Americans see International Students as easy prey and will try to get away with what they can. It’s called “Sexual Harassment” or “Sexual Assault” and is NOT alright.

ALSO, if you think that that person is a friend with an American friend of yours, it still does NOT make it OK. Tell that person to stop, and then let your friend know what that person did.

USE YOUR WORDS when something like this happens.

Things to say (loudly and with force):



“Leave me alone.”

“Go away.”

And if it is necessary, yell, “Help!” or “Fire!” (everyone comes to see when someone says “fire”).

Police/Fire: 911