Surviving Thanksgiving Break at Home

Returning home for Thanksgiving break can be a time of tribulation in the life of a college student. Just when you thought the answers for blue book tests couldn’t get any harder, it’s suddenly time to endure the yearly questioning from aunts everywhere.

“How is school?” Good. “How is your roommate?” Fine.  “You are such a cutie!” *pinches cheek with incredible force for an aging woman.* Thanks. “You MUST be dating someone?” Um. “Oh.. you aren’t? Well, the first time I met your uncle, I didn’t think he was that good looking either.” WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!

You been home for five minutes, and unless the pie comes out in the next thirty seconds, you are already missing your twin XL and your roommate’s midnight heavy metal jam sessions.

As soon as the initial greetings are over, things return to normal. And by normal, we mean the way things were before you left for college. Like your mom yelling at you to clean the bathroom and your dad screaming at you about how many miles you put on your car. This was definitely not what you were expecting. Where are all the groceries your parents were supposed to greet you with? Where is the LOVE?

Eventually, life settles back into its natural order, except for the thirty two randoms aunts, uncles, cousins, and that one guy you have no idea about who are living at your house– and sleeping in your bed–  in honor of the festive Thanksgiving holiday.

But when you wake up (on your couch) Thursday morning and take in the scent of every delicious food group coming from the kitchen, you realize that it will all pay off.

And once the meal starts…

This is the best meal you’ve ever eaten. At least since coming to college. And that is saying a lot considering the new 17th Avenue dining hall.

You eat and eat and eat. Suddenly the annoying aunts and the not being able to sleep in your own bed thing really don’t seem to matter. Because mashed potatoes.

And then the meal is over. And you are in incredible amounts of food-induced pain. You swear you will never eat again. Or you will at least diet…

Because soon it’s leftover time. And you are on your A-game.

Suddenly, the weekend is over and you are 30 pounds heavier. But on the plus side, your parents stocked you up on Tubberware full of leftovers and now you are ready to get back to dorm life and school. Minus the school part. And especially the finals part.

But on the bright side, there are only a few days before the next traumatizing homecoming for winter break. You see the light at the end of the dark, scary tunnel that has been Fall Semester 2013. Maybe you’ll make it out alive.

Photo Source: Cover Image

CEHD Student Profile: JaLeesa Wright

The CEHD Undergrad Experience student profile is a new feature which showcases students within the the CEHD community. This feature will explore the talent and the diversity within our campus community by talking to students about majors, campus activities, and fun facts and tips for other University students. If you or someone you know is doing big things within CEHD and would like to be featured on our blog, email us at 

JaLeesa Wright is a junior majoring in Family Social Science within the College of Education and Human Development. She is a member of the TRiO program on campus.


What has been your favorite FSoS class? I must say there is a tie between Diverse Families which I took with Catherine Solhiem and Parent-Child Relationship which I took with Beth Magistad. Both professors encouraged active learning during their lectures and both provided their learners with a warm inviting environment so that when the lectures turned into group discussions they were productive and insightful. I was not only encouraged to become an active learner, but I was able to apply their lectures to real life experiences, which I believe is most beneficial to a student when taking a course through FSoS.

Did you always know that you wanted to become a FSoS major? No, I started my freshman year thinking I would major in psychology. However, after taking a few courses in the psychology department I determined it wasn’t a good fit. The beginning of my sophomore year I started to take some FSoS courses along with a few Gender, Women, and Sexuality courses. Through those experiences I found an interest in the prison industrial complex as it pertains to the family system. Those interests then led me to believe there would be no other experiences quite like the one I would get if I were to major in FSoS.

What do you hope to do with your major? I plan to go on to graduate school after completing my undergraduate degree. I am currently looking at a few marriage and family therapy graduate programs in the Twin Cities. After completing my master’s degree I plan to teach at the University of Minnesota and start my own private practice.


How would you describe the TRiO program to someone who has never heard of it? TRiO is a result of the Civil Rights movement. On campus the program services first generation college students, students with disabilities and low income students. Students are selected to participate in the program during the application process in which the TRiO director and faculty members select students who show great potential, but may have a low GPA or ACT/SAT score.

How has the TRiO program influenced your college experience? TRiO has been a positive part of my college experience. The first day I walked into the office I felt at home. Everyone from the director to the students in the program are considered family and that feeling has encouraged me to excel in all of my college endeavors. If it wasn’t for TRiO I would have never had the opportunity to see so much of this great country. The students, advisors, and director have supported me throughout my most troubling times on and off campus. What they have done for me is priceless and I will continue to give back to the program as long as I am breathing.

What is your favorite memory from your years in TRiO? I have several great memories from TRiO. My favorite memory is when I attended the TRiO retreat last fall. At the end of that retreat I left with a better understanding of what TRiO stands for, which was a far cry from the heavy stigma I allowed to influence my understanding. During the retreat I was able to connect with advisors on a personal level. Those moments are very precious to me because only then was I able to believe the level of success I wanted to achieve was attainable. Our advisors are much more than people who assess our APAS reports; they have the ability to connect with their students on a much-needed personal level.

College Life

Do you have an on campus job? Yes, I currently work for the TRiO office. I have been working with them since the spring semester of my freshman year.

Do you have any study tips that have helped you? Yes. A week before every test I create my own study guide. Every morning before the exam I read through the study guide. I have also found it useful to divide the amount of pages I must read in a week by the number of days I have left before the readings are due. I have found this most useful when taking classes that require a minimum of twenty pages per week to be read.

What is your favorite TV/Netflix series? Orange is the New Black. I fell head over heels for this series on the date it was released. I binge watch the show over the weekend if I find myself with nothing to do. The show does a marvelous job depicting the lives of incarcerated women in the United States. Unlike any show on television, I believe ONB has exercised the ability to depict a lifestyle that carries a huge stigma without perpetuating stereotypes. The actresses on the show are amazing to watch as they act out the hardships and stories that many Americans can relate to when incarcerated.

If you could see any artist at Spring Jam, who would you pick? I would pick Midi Matilda. Most people have not heard of this band but I heard them open up for Phish a year ago and loved their performance. I have been listening to their music ever since and cannot wait until they come to Minneapolis to perform.

What Gopher sports team are we most likely to see you in the stands for? Gopher Women’s and Men’s Hockey. I have already attended a few games this year and I intend on going to a few more before seasons end. Honestly, I never saw myself being a hockey fan but after attending my first hockey game, the energy I felt from the stands was unbelievable.

Photo credits: Orange is the New Black, Gophers Men’s Hockey

One Class, One Day: First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing

About the Class

All first-year CEHD students are required to take PSTL 1525 First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing, but thanks to a variety of themes, engaging professors, and interactive learning, it’s not another pre-requisite to be dreaded.

Students can  choose from five different themes for the class, all of which work to answer the question “How can one person make a difference?” Themes range from  “Making a Difference in the Lives of Young People” to “Freedom, Democracy and Incarceration.” Each theme is broken into several sections which meet twice a week and in a large group once a week.

On Friday, we visited Postsecondary Teaching & Learning faculty Rashne Jehangir and Naim Madyun’s combined section of “Stories as Game Changers: Critical Moments in Narratives.” The class is described as a place where students explore the critical moments in their own stories and in the lives of persons.

Stories as Game Changers

This particular morning, Jehangir and Madyun’s plan included a lesson in perspective. Class began with Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story. The talk described the dangers of viewing the world through stereotypes.

The class listened to Adichie’s opening story of writing about American people while growing up in Nigeria. They listened to her single story about viewing her domestic help only for his poverty before getting to know him. The class laughed as Adichie recounted how her college roommate asked to hear Adichie’s tribal music and was surprised when she realized that she also listened to Mariah Carey.

The video emphasized the importance of looking at people as more than who they appear to be. Madyun stressed the importance of looking at multiple perspectives in order to gain a well-rounded viewpoint of others.

“Show people as one thing over and over again and that’s what they become,” Madyun told the class.

Telling Their Own Stories

The discussion soon shifted into ways students could incorporate the lessons of the video into their upcoming film project.

A large portion of the semester is spent preparing students to make their own five to seven minute mini-documentaries on an issue that relates to the topics they are learning in class. The documentary will be the second and largest film project for students, who did an earlier project showcasing their personal stories. 

Jordan Boonstra, a CEHD freshman, spent the class time working with his group on their documentary on how the American Dream has changed over generations. Boonstra said the most difficult part of the project was deciding on a topic.

Both Madyun and Jehangir gave the students plenty of advice on how to manage the project, as well as how to incorporate Adichie’s talk.

“Don’t allow your own culture, your own background, your own experiences to draw conclusions,” Madyun said. He emphasized the importance of stepping away from preconceived notions when telling a story.

The iPad Effect

As Jehangir and Madyun jogged around the classroom helping students with project ideas, Sarah Jirak and May Yang, both undecided freshmen, worked with their CEHD-issued iPad Minis to organize information. Jirak and Yang noted how helpful it was to learn how to use the iPad in class.

Boonstra agreed, noting that his group is filming and editing their entire project using their iPads.

“It makes things convenient,” Boonstra said.

Overall Impression

The most notable part of the class was the way in which it incorporated the themes of Adichie’s TED talk into the work the students were doing in their own projects. The class was more than just another lecture for students to catch up on sleep. It was an interactive experience which gave them the chance to apply the lessons discussed to their work almost immediately. The class also gave students the opportunity to understand the technology that CEHD provides for them, a crucial part of their first year experience. By providing students with information and perspective, PSTL 1525 First Year Inquiry: Multidisciplinary Ways of Knowing laid the groundwork for a successful college experience.