Author Archives: Anna

Eight life rules I’ve learned along the way

When I graduate in December of this year from UGA it will be exactly 10 years since I earned my undergraduate degree.  It is amazing to me how the past decade has truly flown by.  Ten years ago I never would have suspected that I would be completing my eighth year in the military, or preparing to move to my tenth city in a few months. As some of you prepare to enter the “real” world for the first time, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned through the years that have helped me to make this decade what I consider a personal success (insert eye roll here).

1.    Eliminate the word “never” from your vocabulary.

I said I would never live in the state of Georgia* when I was a kid, and I swore I would never make a career of the Coast Guard. I’m now living in Georgia for the SECOND time in 10 years, and it has taken me 8 years to accept that the Coast Guard is the right career for me. The surest way to make something happen is to declare that it will never happen.

* So as not to offend all you Georgia natives, this is really because my only experience with the state was as a little kid traveling through the state on I-75 to get to Florida; long, and BORING.

2.    You don’t always have to have a five-year plan, but make sure you set some goals for yourself.

 Some people thrive on having every aspect of their life planned out. I’m not one of those people, and never will be. Never feel like you are stuck on one path for the rest of your life. Life will present you with opportunities; take those opportunities! Decisions may lead to change, but change is always a good thing. Nothing in life is constant, so you must learn to adapt or risk being left behind. I have found that making tangible goals for myself is key to my growth as a person. Now that I have attained my goal of attending graduate school, the time has come for me to set a new goal. I’m not sure yet what that goal will be, but in the near-term I plan on running in Athens half marathon in the fall. This will give me something small to strive for while I try to come up with the next big life goal.

3.    Realize what you know… and especially what you don’t.

One of the biggest challenges many people face in their careers, especially when placed in management positions, is to recognize that you won’t always know exactly what to do in every situation. As a junior officer, I am often in charge of people with infinitely more experience in certain positions than I have. You must recognize when these people know more than you, and when they don’t. Be humble about asking for assistance, and never be afraid to admit that you need help.  The biggest challenge many have with this situation is to understand how to ask for help without compromising your position of authority.

4.    Every perceived failure is an opportunity for growth.

I enlisted in the Coast Guard not because I wanted to gain valuable work experience before going to officer candidate school, but because I applied after graduation and was not accepted. This was the first time I had ever been rejected. Rather than giving up, I decided it was more important to me to be a member of the Coast Guard than just to be an officer. Enlisting was the best decision I could have made for myself. I appreciate my commission far more now because I really had to work for it.

5.    You can’t always be the best at everything.

This is probably been the most challenging for me. At work, I’m not the best ship driver, or the fastest runner, or the most knowledgeable search and rescue controller, but I am very good at understanding people. Find the thing you’re best at, and use that to your advantage. This is not to say that you shouldn’t continue to develop your weaker areas; you should never stop trying to improve yourself. It simply means that if you know you gave your all to a project, then count that as a success.

6.    Your parents/friends/loved ones don’t always know what’s best for you.

If I had allowed my parents to make decisions for me regarding the school I would attend, the career I would pursue, the location in which I would live, or who I should date/marry, I would be an architect right now. I would be living in Lexington, and I would probably have a couple of kids.  None of these are bad things, but they just aren’t me. You must define success for yourself, and trust yourself to make the right decisions about what’s best for you. Most of my family members were emphatically against me joining the military, but if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here in Athens, Ga.  and earning a free master’s degree in mass communication.

7.    It’s okay to change jobs, but make sure the new position will help you grow in some way.

Some of you may know that the first job I had after graduation was as a quality control technician at a sausage factory. Was it awful? Absolutely. But it did lead me to my next position as a chemist at an environmental testing lab.  I also had multiple jobs in retail and the service industry, and I took each new job because it offered something more, whether it was a higher salary, added responsibility, or a better working environment.  Realize that more than likely you won’t fall into your dream job immediately after school. Work hard, make smart decisions, keep a positive attitude, and forge relationships with your coworkers. If you do these things opportunity will come knocking.

8.    Cultivate your friendships, because they can help get you through hard times in ways that your parents can’t.

I can’t stress the importance of quality friendships enough.  When you decide to make that move across the country, or take that job in New Mexico, you will not want to tell your parents that you’re homesick, or that your boss is a jerk. This is one the most important things about great friendships. You can complain to your friends about life’s little irritations, without worrying your parents.  They’re already worried enough about you, so why worry them with the little things.

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Athens Farmers Market – local and sustainable… and very cool.

The Athens Farmers Market is back in business for the season, and I recently decided to check it out for the first time a few Saturdays ago.  Being the yuppy that I am, I love a good farmer’s market; it strikes just the right balance between giving me a sense of superiority  and helping my local farmers that only comes from purchasing unwashed organic carrot bundles.

The Athens Farmers Market is a non-profit run by local artists, farmers, and musicians that strive to bring healthy, affordable, and sustainable foods to the people of Athens.  The market is held every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Bishop Park and every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Little Kings’ Shuffle Club, and features not only local fresh produce, dairy, and other foods, but local musicians and artists.

I attended the market on both a Saturday and a Wednesday.  On Saturday there seemed to be more families and a wider age range in attendance, and there were far more booths to explore.  Wednesday’s crowd was younger and hipper, and many seemed to be there as much for the Little Kings salsa lessons as for the farmers market itself.

The vendors and volunteers both days were extremely friendly and welcoming, and far less concerned about turning a profit than having a good time and interacting with their customers.  I asked for a recommendation for a good dark roast from local Athens coffee roasters 1000 Faces and they suggested Aldo’s Blend, my new favorite coffee in the world.  With my fresh new pound of coffee and a hot cup of joe for the road, I was enamored.

If you are looking for an interesting break from your Saturday morning hangover or just in the market (so to speak) for some really delicious and fresh organic foods, go check it out.  Plan to eat lunch at one of the booths, where you can pick up wares such as freshly made empanadas and grass-fed burgers.  There is ample parking, and the atmosphere is great.

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Be The Match – Save Lives

Social media platforms are changing the way we do business and are providing cost-effective and efficient ways for organizations to reach new and diverse audiences.   I spoke with Jennifer Goodman, Account Executive for Be The Match in Jacksonville, Fla. to discuss some of the ways in which non-profit organizations are benefitting from the use of social media to reach a richer, more diverse audience.

AD: What is Be The Match, and what do you do for the organization?

JG:  First off, I really hate people thinking I’m a dating service.  Be The Match is the name for the National Bone Marrow Registry.  My job is to recruit new potential donors to the Registry and to fundraise to support that.  It costs us about $100 every time we add a potential donor to the Registry.  The hardest part about my job is overcoming people’s misconceptions about what they think they know about bone marrow donation.

A bone marrow transplant is a treatment option for over 80 diseases; most notably, leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anemia.  Most people who have seen any recent movies or t.v. shows think we’re going to take their bones, or drill into their spines with no anesthesia, or that it’s just extremely painful.  The truth is, it’s just not.  The technology has improved so much that that’s just not the case anymore.  In fact, at the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville, one of our lead bone marrow transplant surgeons states that over 90% of the time apheresis is used for the collection process to get the stem cells used for the transplant.

AD: What is apheresis exactly?

JG: Apheresis is essentially the same process  you go through when you give blood.  At the Mayo Clinic, you’re sat  on a comfortable bed and you watch a flat screen t.v. while blood is taken from one arm, spun in a centrifuge, and returned back into the other arm.  The whole process from start to finish usually takes a couple of hours and they can take what they need from that blood to save somebody’s life.

AD: Do they still do use the old methods of extracting bone marrow that most people envision when they think about donation?

JG: At the Mayo Clinic, they do still conduct bone marrow harvest about 5 – 10 % of the time, however the technology has advanced to the point that it is NOT what you think.  In fact, you’re given anesthesia, it’s outpatient, and you leave with a BandAid. Some people say that they feel like they worked out hard, especially in the hip area, but it’s a small price to pay for saving a life.  Especially since a lot of the recipients are children suffering with sickle cell, strokes, or even being in medically-induced comas awaiting the transplant.  One of the really cool things about being a bone marrow donor is that after a one year waiting period you have the opportunity  to meet your transplant recipient. Most people say it’s a life-changing experience.

AD: In what ways are Be The Match and you specifically using social media to connect with people?

Be The Match has its own YouTube Channel that shares donor recipient meetings and information about the donation process.  You can also hear from some of our celebrity spokespeople like Shaquille O’Neal and T-Boz that really aim to connect with people in specific ethnic groups like the African-American community and really express the need for donors in those communities. Finding a match is very closely related to your ethnicity.  You’re far more likely to find a match within your own ethnic group.  Right now African-Americans, much like other minority groups, are severely under-represented on the registry.

One of the great things about social media is I can connect with vast amounts of people and it’s totally free- and I’m pretty sure that our target demographic, which is college students, is not checking the newspaper every day.  Twitter is definitely a favorite because some of the schools and organizations that I partner with can repost tweets that might involve the same audience.  I also use Facebook to post pictures from events, because everybody loves to be in pictures and if you think there’s a possibility that you might be tagged in a picture there is a million times better chance that you might visit that Facebook page.  That does a lot of the work for me.  There are so many ways to help the organization, and social media makes it really easy to get involved and lets people determine their own level of engagement.

AD: How can people get involved with Be The Match?

JG: You can join the Registry if you’re between the ages of 18 and 60 and meet the health guidelines,  you can make a donation to help add new members to the Registry, or you can volunteer.

To get involved with Be The Match or for more information, contact Jennifer Goodman at jgoodma2@NMDP.org or (904) 254-0841, or follow her on Twitter: @BeTheMatchJax. 

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by | April 28, 2012 · 12:04 am

It’s genetic. Is that supposed to make me feel better?

It is incredibly difficult for me to share the following info about myself, but I think it’s very important because I believe people will rarely pay attention to medical issues unless they know someone who has been personally affected.

On Monday morning I received a phone call from my dermatologist that a mole I had removed two weeks before tested positive for melanoma, my second in less than two years.  While you all were in class discussing social media and government, I was having outpatient surgery on my thigh.  Today is my birthday, so it was a really great way to celebrate.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it’s on the rise in young people ages 20-34.  If you want to learn more, the Skin Cancer Foundation has a ton of great information, and there is a great skin type quiz that can help you determine if you are at greater risk.  In the interest of brevity, suffice to say I can check pretty much all the boxes.

I have always had a lot of freckles and several moles since childhood and for a while friends and family would tell me to go get a particular mole checked out on my back.  I didn’t go to the dermatologist for a long time, despite the comprehensive free health care I have had since joining the military nearly 8 years ago.  When I finally went to the doctor, he took one look and said, “I’m gonna take that one.”  That’s all he said, but I heard the concern in his voice.  He biopsied that one and two others, and told me they would call me only there was a problem.

Six months later…  Out of the blue the doctor called me six months after that visit to inform me that I had a melanoma and that my sample had been lost at the lab for all that time.  He and his office workers had neglected to follow up with the lab on my samples, meaning that they may never have discovered my results.  I won’t go into the details of the follow-up treatment I went through other than to say that I now have a four-inch long scar on my upper back.  I didn’t need chemo or radiation.

This post is not intended to be a treatise on the on-going health insurance debate, and it’s not a scare tactic.  This is just my way of asking you all to be proactive about your own health care.  If you think something isn’t being handled appropriately, or if you think there’s something wrong that the doctor says is nothing, make them check it out anyway.  Many of you are probably still on your parents’ insurance so you may not know how important it is to find a job that can provide you with that coverage.  If I didn’t have the excellent coverage that I do have I may never have had it checked.  With melanoma, it is almost 98% curable if caught early enough, which both of mine were.  So bottom line, get yourself checked out if you see something that looks weird.

If you have questions, I’ll be glad to answer them.  But PLEASE, don’t treat me like a sick person when you see me in class.  I’m fine – really.  And STOP TANNING ALREADY!

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The truth about dogs

I have never been a dog lover.  In fact, up until about six months ago I downright loathed them.  Before you write me off as un-American, you should know that I was the unfortunate witness to the mauling of my pet duck, Daffy, at the hands of a german shepherd as a kid.  (It turns out that Daffy lived, but he had to “go away.”  We never saw him again.)

It took many years for me to break my prejudice against all canines, mostly through repeated exposure to my best friend’s 180 lb. great dane.  It also happens that the vast majority of humans seem to love dogs, so I really had no choice but to grudgingly accept them as a necessary, albeit unfortunate, part of my existence.

Two years ago I met Sophie, my friend’s miniature schnauzer.  She does not like anyone, yet somehow she decided I was worthy of her affections.  I am not really an animal person in general, and it seems to me that animals can sense this in humans, and it makes them want to swarm those humans they perceive not to be fans.  For example, me.

So what on earth does any of this have to do with social media?  I am undertaking the task of dog-sitting Sophie for several months, and the whole thing is a learning experience.  Thankfully, one can consult Youtube when one has no idea of how to give a dog a bath.

 

While Andrew Keen may think that, “the convicts [are] running the asylum,” also quoted by Andrea in another post, the content created by amateurs and posted to social networking sites can be invaluable for a vast and varied audience.  The challenge for users is in sifting through the useless or irrelevant content to find the information needed.  Although ever-shifting privacy policies by the likes of Google and others do pose challenges, metrics that affect searches for topics relevant to the individual will be helpful in many ways.

Because this targeted searching may, and very likely will, limit the variety of information received by an individual, the impetus is then placed on that individual to recognize when they are receiving one-sided information.  To achieve this end, media literacy must be increased in the individual user.  The questions is, how do we do this?

It wasn't as bad as I expected

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