In a day and age when anyone can become an activist through social media, I don't think my generation sees the power that we have to create change. While I have had some really interesting conversations about change and progress with social and financial issues concerning people my age with my classmates because I go to school with some very intelligent individuals, not everyone knows where they stand on issues. Nor do they feel that they have to have a solid opinion. 
While I don't have a position on every issue, there are a couple of issues that I am very passionate about. But the ones that gets me heated up the most is anything related to women's rights. There has been tons of progress related to women's rights in the last one hundred years, but it's not enough. Every day, women are faced with struggles, private and public. The struggle of deciding to wear something because if they do, they could be raped or sexually assaulted because they were obviously asking for it. The struggle of being treated as an inferior based not on intelligence or the level of education they have received, but simply for being born as a woman. The struggle of being told what you can and cannot do with your body by different authorities and having those rights decided by a government (typically) filled with elderly white men who have never had to deal with that sort of decision. 

And this is only in America.

Tales of child brides, gang rapes and an overall lack of respect for women and girls around the world shock people on an almost daily basis. But what can we do?

Create change. Create conversations. The #YesAllWomen movement on Twitter opened up lots of doors for dialogue on this subject. For me, #YesAllWomen opened my eyes to see that I was not the only one thinking these things, secretly hoping that something would be done. Women voiced their opinions. They said what was on their minds. They addressed fears and hopes that I have had for years. It made me realize I wasn't alone in wanting change and I could do something about it. I can vote against issues that are not fair to myself and other women. I can call my representative and address my concerns about legislation that may negatively impact my life. But I can also try my hardest to address behavior that goes against the progress that we have made as a nation in creating equality for all. I can initiate conversations with my friends about the topic, address issues as they are happening and not be afraid to speak my mind when I feel that there is sexism, discrimination or harassment happening. I can try and prevent myself and those around me from becoming victims, or even being victimized a second time. I can try my hardest to become a strong woman who does not stand for inequality and try to encourage the next generation to do the same. 

I hope that someday if I have children, I have a daughter who isn't afraid to talk about the hard things like women's rights and does not have to live in fear. I hope that if I have a son, I can raise someone who respects women as equals, not as an inferior being, and will try his hardest to prevent this from happening by sharing and ingraining these beliefs into his friends and peers. Most of all, I hope I'm not alone in these hopes. 

It's not easy. Progress like this has never been, nor will it ever be simple. But the world is progressing. For almost every story I read of women being victims, I can find another where there has been success or a step towards success in guaranteeing rights for women or a change in opinion. Society is constantly evolving and we have it within our power to be envoys of this change. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. 

Because if we don't, who will? 

This summer has already been full of changes for me. The best group of friends I have ever had all moved home for the summer. Some of my favorite people graduated from Ohio Northern University. I have a full time office job during the week. I took a road trip to Chicago to see my FAVORITE unsigned artist, Hoodie Allen.  I went to Ikea and fell in love with basically everything in the show room. I even went to my first Cincinnati Reds game and enjoyed it. But the biggest change?

For the first time in my almost 21 and a half years of existing, I moved out of my parents' house.

Most of my friends won't see the significance of this. Many of them moved out as they entered college and were thrown into the unknown in the form of prison-like dorm rooms with cinder block walls, community showers and an entire lack of privacy by having a roommate they may not necessarily know or even like. For me, I was lucky enough to grow up Ada, the village ONU is located in. For three years, I commuted to and from classes from the same room I've lived in for most of my life, hanging out with my sister and dad before going to class and seeing my mom in the evenings, playing with my dogs instead of doing homework and munching on food that I never paid for. 

But over this weekend, I made the big move into an adorable little house that is the perfect size for my roommate, Taylor, and I. I was able to bring my cat, and she and I are living the bachelorette dream at the moment. However, it is definitely a shock. Paying for bills, my own groceries, being the only one responsible for clean towels and dishes as well as being without internet or cable for days because of cable line problems is a huge change from sitting on the couch at home. Or my parents' house. I'm still struggling with trying to define which house is home. 

As big of a change as it was, it was definitely needed. Learning how to budget money, survive on my own AND being able to cook edible meals for one person is a skill I'll be needing in the extremely near future. Plus, my family is basically four blocks away from my house, making it a quick fix for homesickness. While my mom making my favorite meal ever while I moved out certainly made moving harder, along with my dogs following me around because they knew something was going on, I finally feel like an adult. Or, a pretend adult with my 40 hour a week internship and side job at Texas Roadhouse. But even if I'm just playing house for now, it's my house, which is an incredibly awesome feeling.

In even more exciting news, I have been extended the amazing opportunity to work with Ohio Northern University alumnae Rachael McKee as a social media consultant as she launches an exciting new project that I can't wait to share with everyone in the very near future. While this summer will really be busy with all of my projects and jobs, I am so excited for all of the experience I'm getting and can't wait to share all of the things I get to do on my blog.
Lately, there seems to be an epidemic of Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter discussion all of the reasons why my generation, the millennial generation, are the worst. We're entitled. We don't appreciate anything, be it people, things or the opportunities we have available to us. We don't know how to date. We don't know how to communicate. We don't appreciate the value of a dollar, or how hard our parents/grandparents/family members work for these dollars we so frivolously spend.

You know what? I'm sick of it. 

I won't tackle the dating thing, because my super cool and intelligent classmate Julie Eley already addressed this pretty well, in my opinion. But why is my generation so hellbent on demeaning ourselves all of the time? Our parents were rebellious. Our parents were unappreciative. I'm sure our grandparents told OUR parents that they didn't know how to date, or communicate, or that they didn't understand why they didn't appreciate all of the opportunities they had in front of them. Each generation seems to be nothing like the generation that it follows, so why is it such a big deal now?

Honestly, I believe that this goes back to the one thing I love most about technology: social media. Now, more than ever, I can share absolutely every detail about my life to complete strangers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even this blog that I'm writing on this very moment. Instead of telling our close friends about our relationship problems, people in my generation take it to the internet. We humble brag about our purchases (speaking of humble brags, have you seen the photos of people that went to the Vera Bradley sale?!), we talk about what we do on the weekends constantly. We have access to all of the information available on the internet at our fingertips at a moments notice. Why wouldn't we be entitled?

But what people refuse to look at is how hard people in my generation work to achieve things. Day in and day out, I talk to my fellow students about what we're doing during the week. The same people that brag about going to the bar every weekend spend hours at the library, or in a computer lab, or at their desk doing homework every week night. These people that brag about what they've bought have spent hours working for the money to buy the very thing they're bragging about. They've meticulously created resumes and cover letters and portfolios of their work to apply for jobs and internships for these opportunities that people like to say we so easily squander. 

So why do we only focus on the negative?

Is it that much easier to talk about how someone was lazy on this particular day, that guys don't want to wear dress shirts and pants on dates, that girls don't have self-esteem and let the men in their lives take advantage of them? Everyone has a "worst" moment. My mom isn't the coolest everyday. My sister is a whiny millennial some days. I'm rude and don't realize all of the amazing opportunities I've had in my life sometimes. But this isn't everyday. Instead of talking about the negatives, or sharing these posts that talk about everything that is wrong with the generation I am surrounded by, why not recognize those that are doing great things? Why not tell someone you see how hard they are working? Everyone wants to preach that you should be the change that you want to see in the world, and I'm done sharing these posts that talk about millennials being the worst. Instead, I'm going to look at why we're some of the best people and I think you should too. 

This week has been a tough one. I started off recovering from pink eye (Gross, I know. I looked like a kitten with matted up eyes) and taking three tests right at the beginning of the week. I was sleep deprived and extremely grumpy because I had picked up shifts at Texas Roadhouse to make extra money from not working over the weekend because I was sick and felt like I was drowning in my to-do list. Homework, random things for my project I'm working on for Lifeline of Ohio and an impending research paper that I need to present on the 25th that I hadn't even collected data for were hanging over my head like a storm cloud. 

And I couldn't handle it.

I wanted to hide in my room, away from the world. I wanted to not look at my planner so I didn't have to see that on top of work and the things I already had to do for classes, I needed to schedule interviews for my research project and do two phone interviews for my "Issues in Public Relations" class. Honestly, I didn't want to do anything but watch Mad Men and Game of Thrones pretending I didn't have a responsibility in the world.

Then, suddenly, I flipped a switch.

My "Issues" class requires me to interview four professionals that are involved in a field that I want to be in. About a month ago, I DM-ed Janet Bolin, a former Miss Ohio Scholarship Organization local titleholder to see if she had some free time to talk about her career. Monday, I followed up. Monday night, she said she could call me in the early afternoon.

Those that know me well know that I love racing, and those that know me very well know that my dream career is to work in racing. Janet, a graduate of Bowling Green State University, works for NASCAR as a Senior Marketing Manager in their Licensing and Branding Division. I was so excited to just have a chance to talk to her about what working for NASCAR was like, I couldn't imagine her actually agreeing to speak with me. Hearing about her career inspired me. I felt like I was actually doing the right things, that even though I was struggling with things at this particular second, it wouldn't matter in a year, month, or even a couple of days from now. 

Later that evening, I spoke with Joe Clarkson, an alum of Ohio Northern University and a celebrity within our PRSSA chapter. After talking to him about agency public relations, another field I'm interested in, he told me to follow my passion, and it sounds like it lies in working in racing. 

Life seemed about 1000 times easier after those two conversations. I looked through my pre-survey for my research project and emailed participants about one-on-one interviews so I could get the bulk of my data. I worked on school work. I looked at my schedule. I started to become even more excited for the regional conference at Ohio State University this weekend. I was relaxed, and I think I finally understand why. After talking to two professionals whose lives seem perfect and put together and learning that they struggled with things, they had time management problems sometimes, they were still tasked with an overwhelming amount of projects at times, I realized that their lives weren't perfect and put together. 

Life is chaotic. Life is messy. My life is chaotic and messy. I don't have to strive for perfection at school, at PRSSA, or on the projects I work with at True North PR. Instead, I just need to do my best every single time I am working on something. If I try my hardest, things will work out. At the beginning of this week, I was trying to hard to be perfect instead of just trying. While it took me a couple of days to snap out of my mood, it truly was worth it in the end because I learned SO MUCH in return. I learned that I am doing absolutely everything I can at this moment to try to get my dream career. I learned that I may not always be the happiest person, but life is so much easier when I am. I learned that I need to quit worrying about the future that is still a year away and enjoy what I'm doing right this second. 

As I look to finish my junior year, I can guarantee that I may not feel this relaxed in coming days or even weeks. But, isn't that just life?

Pas·sion noun \ˈpa-shən\: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. 

Lately, I've noticed a reoccurring theme in my conversations and lectures. "Do something you're passionate about," my professors, speakers and text books tell me. "Find what your passion is and live it."

But what is passion? Yes, there's romantic passion. That all-encompassing feeling or attraction one can experience that can turn your world around. There is the dictionary definition of passion. There are acts of passion, from Jesus Christ and others committing the ultimate sacrifice to make the world a better place or the tales of Romeo and Juliet or Marc Antony and Cleopatra, who makes sacrifices for love. But how am I, a college student that has barely broken into adulthood, supposed to figure out what I'm passionate about?

Sure, there are things that I love doing. I love watching Disney movies, I love reading, I love spending time with friends or eating ice cream and other delicious desserts. But there is a difference between loving something and being passionate about it. I'm passionate about my major, but when I graduate college my major will be nothing but a line on my resume next to the college I attended. I will be defined by different standards when I enter the real world. So what then? 

Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's near impossible to know everything I am truly passionate about at this age. College points you in the right direction of your passion, but you are not allowed to focus on one thing and nurture and develop that passion, instead you take gen eds and required classes to satisfy graduation requirements. You hope to find a job post-graduation that you are passionate about, but even what you imagine to be your dream job may leave you dissatisfied. Instead, I've decided to focus on smaller things. I'm passionate about showing I can rise to a challenge, whatever it may be. I'm passionate about succeeding. I'm passionate about making sure no one feels belittled and they are inspired to rise to their true potential, especially if it's in my power to make it happen. 

While these may not be exactly the type of passions people expect me to have, I'm content with what I've found. The best part about being a young adult in the day and age is that you are allowed the time to evolve and soul search to find what is truly meaningful to you. And sometimes, just scratching the surface of these things can be a start. As I finish my junior year and move on to my senior year of undergraduate studies, I hope that I can find where my passions really lie. It'll be a lot of trial and error, but I believe someday I will find out.

Or, better known as the woes of the Bateman Case Study Competition.  Any public relations student affiliated with PRSSA knows the joy, pain, happiness and suffering that makes up Bateman. Each year, PRSSA gives eager public relations students a client for this national competition. After months of research and planning, these teams create a campaign that can only be implemented in February, which then must be evaluated in order to create a plan book to submit for judging. 

This year, Ohio Northern University had three teams of five students each, which was fantastic. Getting involved in a competition such as Bateman requires a lot of time and motivation and it was inspiring to see this much ambition in my fellow public relations majors. However, this created major kinks in our planning right away. Ohio Northern University is a small campus, and three campaigns on the same topic would definitely lead to complications during implementation. The team I was a part of decided unanimously to move our campaign elsewhere to make things easier, then happily continued our planning and research.

From October onward, we focused our efforts on another local college and created surveys, fun events and goals of what we would accomplish. Unfortunately, we ended up being 0-3 on finding a willing school to host our event. The nature of our client led schools to believe we would be soliciting, whether we intended it to be that way or not. Although it was difficult to admit, half way through February we realized that we had hit a major roadblock. With less than two weeks left in the implementation phase of the competition, we could try two things: one, put together a quick campaign at ONU and risk throwing off the other groups results as well as forgetting all of the research and planning we had done in the last three months, or two, acknowledge that there was nothing we could do and withdraw from the competition. We chose the second option.

To this day, I don't think I have ever felt the level of embarrassment and wounded pride as I had the moment we realized we had failed. I felt like I failed my group because I should have had researched more, planned more or at least had a feasible back up plan. While I can't speak for them, my teammates experienced similar emotions. We were upset that all of the work we had put in for this campaign for a majority of our junior year had nothing to show for it. I dreaded admitting my failure as a future public relations professional to my classmates and professors, and I know I wasn’t alone in that. 

But, as I sit and reflect on this campaign, I feel like I learned more about myself because of this failure than I ever would have if the campaign had been successful. I learned my strengths and weaknesses and how I could better contribute to my group. I learned what it takes to create an unsuccessful campaign, which has shown me what it takes to make a campaign that works. But the biggest lesson I learned is that in the real world, thing do not always go as planned. In my head, I had the sunshine and butterfly mindset that no matter what happened, we would have a great end result. We would get the data we needed, create a plan book, then send it to nationals to be judged. I never acknowledged the fact that our ideas may not ever get legs, as Dr. Fleck and Dr. Agozzino like to say, and walk on their own. However, learning that this can happen and will happen, likely more than once in your career, is a humbling experience that made me evaluate myself more than a completed project ever has.

This month, we are beginning to work on the NODAC competition through PRSSA. This time, we have acknowledged what went wrong with our previous campaign and what we can do to improve. This time, we will finish our campaign successfully. And while admitting that things could have went better with Bateman, I have never been more excited to start a campaign in my life.  

This past Tuesday, the social media giant Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday. While users weren't bombarded with reminders to wish the website "Happy birthday!" and send Starbucks gift cards to brighten Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild's, we did receive something else:  the opportunity to see the most important of our Facebook experience in a video montage.

The one minute and two second long feature titled "A Look Back" begins with a photo montage from your personal Facebook, then a photo of you that states "You joined in (insert year here)". Next, viewers are treated to "your first moments", "your most liked moments" and "photos you've shared". 
"A Look Back" was introduced on Wednesday, when parts of the Midwest (including my little village of Ada!) were getting covered in snow. The initial response was positive, but not everyone felt that way. Even my little newsfeed was assaulted with passive aggressive status updates saying that they were tired of the videos. Personally, I loved the little look back in history. Having the opportunity to see how much I've changed, how I've grown and how I've used Facebook was exciting. While some of the things I was reminded of, like a car accident my sister and I were involved in my sophomore year of high school, may not have been things I wanted to see it's so important to see how each and every little piece of life you experience can make you the person you are today and make you so thankful that you have lived to see another tomorrow. 

Want to see my "A Look Back"? Check it out here!

Were you one of those people that didn't enjoy the videos? Check out this parody of the "A Look Back" feature below.
Last night, I experienced the strangest thing. As I scrolled through my Facebook, I found a lot of activity surrounding Coca-Cola. I was working during the Super Bowl and missed my two favorite parts: the commercials and the half-time show. As one of (or some people would argue, the most) popular soda brands in the United States, many people have been raised as die-hard Coke drinkers from the moment they could lift a can. My family in Mississippi refer to every brand of soda as Coke, just further cementing how popular and beloved the brand is. But the things I was reading did not even come close to reflecting this sentiment.

“Thank goodness I drink Mountain Dew, I’ll never drink a Coke again.”

“I will NEVER buy another Coke product. Goodbye Cherry Coke, hello Cherry Pepsi. I’ll never support that brand again.”

“I can’t believe how rude Coke was by putting Muslim terrorist in a Super Bowl commercial.”

Excuse me, what?

Being the inquisitive person I am, I had to dig in and do a little research. The (obviously) offended Facebook users and their friends made it seem as if Coke had declared a jihad on America, which is hard to believe from a brand whose slogan in the past has preached the ever cheery “Have a Coke and a Smile.”

But what did my research turn up? A simple, yet powerful commercial expressing all of the individual cultures that make up this country we each so dearly love. How could something as beautiful as people of different languages singing the patriotic America the Beautiful create so much hostility and hatred? As I watched the video, I tried to comprehend it. The commercial painted a picture of love and tolerance, ending with the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful, making the viewer think. I know I certainly did. I even shared the commercial with my dad, wondering if I was missing something, and he agreed that the commercial was a true representation of what America really is.

This country is not free of hostility or hatred of other cultures. Even today, someone can be judged for the color of their skin or their religion. I do not face these criticisms, I haven’t had to defend myself or my culture because of derogatory stereotypes that I cannot control. But a major company creating a dialogue on why every single one of these things do not matter because we live in a country where we accept all.

I can see that not everyone feels this way. Even in my little slice of Northwest Ohio, people are enraged over someone singing the smallest portion of America the Beautiful in Arabic, Chinese and other foreign languages. But, other people were inspired. My generation was inspired. I was inspired, and this gives me hope for a brighter future where a beautiful commercial advertised during the biggest sporting event in the United States can be accepted for what it is: a commentary on what actually makes America the beautiful country it is.

Weekly, if not daily, my professors tell us students to watch what we put on the internet. We don't want to expose too much of our personal life, put up too many partying pictures or post things with bad language or that could possible be offensive. Personally, I treat all of my social media like my grandma is reading or viewing every single post. If my grandma would be disappointed that I would post it, I just don't do it. 

However, many people (including large organizations) do not think this way. We have heard social media horror stories of Burger King getting its Twitter hacked, Home Depot posting a racist photo online or social media managers posting personal content on company pages. Friday, The Iowa GOP became the newest organization to join many others that did not think twice before they post. 

"Because it's Friday night and we don't need serious political posts on Friday night we are sharing this. Happy Friday and LIKE and SHARE! Unless you think the chart is racist, then don't," read a post on the Iowa GOP's Facebook page that was paired with a flowchart explaining if someone is a racist. While the post was intended to be a joke, people were rightfully offended. The post is (intentionally or not) a form of reverse racism and makes light of an issue that is still prevalent in our society today. For an organization that has stated it needs to focus more on growing its minority demographics, it certainly is doing more to alienate the groups it so desperately needs. 

 Chairman AJ Spiker issued an apology for the post, stating on Facebook that "Earlier tonight, a contractor of the Iowa GOP made a post referencing a discussion on race that the GOP believes was in bad taste and inappropriate. We apologize to those whom were offended, have removed the post and are ensuring it does not happen again." However, this entire scenario could have been prevented if the individual that posted it had used better judgement. Maybe next time this organization will think twice before they post 

Most colleges have this glorious thing called Syllabus Week: an entire week dedicated to reviewing the syllabus, explaining the expectations for the course and catching up with friends after a much deserved  Christmas break. I'm not sure if Syllabus Week is a mythical being like a unicorn or Sasquatch because I have yet to see it rear its head. Instead, Ohio Northern University has Syllabus Day, the first day of the course where everything is explained AND you receive your homework assignments for the semester, most of which is due before the next class you have.
Most ONU student's faces when we realize we have homework due the second class of the semester.
But, this semester I wasn't surprised. Being a realistic, somewhat jaded junior has helped me realize that this is a fact of life. This realization kind of scares me though. Knowing and accepting that I have homework and wanting to get it done has made realize that I may actually be growing up. Instead of grumbling about being back at school, I'm ready to be productive, to groom and review my resume, even applying for internships for this semester. If this doesn't sound like a 20-year-old on the cusp of adulthood, I'm not quite sure what does. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm in no hurry to enter the big girl world of working a job, paying bills and being responsible for making sure I don't starve to death. But, I do feel like I'm getting prepared for it. As exciting (and scary) as it is to think about what may happen to me in two, five or even 10 years down the road, I'm ready to enjoy my last three semesters of undergrad. Here's to another semester of late nights in the PAC lab, last minute scrambling to finish assignments and night I'll never forget with the people that make college worth every penny I've spent on it.