Meeting Martin O’Malley

My love of all things political continued the day of the Iowa-Wisconsin game (we lost but that is beside the point). I skipped the game to head out to Des Moines for my internship with Congressman Dave Loebsack’s campaign. I drove out with the finance director of the campaign and helped set up the event in downtown Des Moines. (Fun fact: I’ve also never been to Des Moines before. I do plan to visit some friends who go to Drake but it looked gorgeous). It was somewhat well attended. Our surprise guest was Governor Martin O’Malley, who previously was running for the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. He talked to us about getting out the vote and continuing to support our local Democrats like Dave Loebsack. (final fun fact: Congressman Loebsack is currently the only Democratic congressman from Iowa).

I’ll leave you with this great picture of Governor O’Malley and I:

Governor O'Malley & I!
Governor O’Malley & I!

WIB takes Madison!

Within the past year, I’ve talked a lot about the student organizations I am a part of. Each of them have added unique experiences and interesting people that I definitely would not have met or experienced had I not participated. Last October, through No Labels, I went to Manchester, New Hampshire for a political forum. This year, I spent two days in Madison, Wisconsin touring businesses with Women in Business.

Women in Business is a Tippie student organization comprised of high achieving women who are looking to navigate the workforce, network, and learn about bettering ourselves. We have close to two hundred members and have biweekly meetings. Every year Women in Business takes two professional trips: one in the fall (a further away, usually out of state), and one in the spring (closer, think Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, etc). The trips are always partially subsidized through membership dues, fundraising, and the funds that WIB has applied for. I have never previously attended a trip however Madison sounded like it would be really fun.

And it really was.

Going to Madison with WIB: $35
Experience of Going to Madison with WIB: priceless

Our trip started at 5:30AM on a Thursday. The 40 some girls to be attending were to arrive at the MacBride Hall bus stop by 5:30 to board our charter bus. I won’t lie, it was a little hard to get up for. Many of us brought a pillow and blankets to crash on the bus. I kind of nodded off a bit, but was wide awake by 7AM to eat our breakfast of Hyvee muffins and flip through the snap filters of the towns we went through. We had to get dressed and ready on the bus as we would not be going to our hotel until the evening. We arrived in Verona, a few miles outside Madison, to visit Epic’s campus. And their campus was indeed epic.

One of Epic's hallways: lit up to look like the galaxy
One of Epic’s hallways: lit up to look like the galaxy

Think of a Facebook or Google-esque campus in the middle of the Wisconsin prairie and you’re thinking of Epic. It’s made up of about five buildings—all individual themed—and entirely walkable. Epic makes the healthcare system that a lot of doctor offices and hospitals are using for patient records, MyChart, etc. The campus and company culture is very cool (and a casual dress code) and made it harder for any other company to follow up.

They even have a slide! Dress clothes make you go faster. (I may or may not have almost slid into the wall, three feet away from the end)
They even have a slide! Dress clothes make you go faster. (I may or may not have almost slid into the wall, three feet away from the end)

The next company was CUNA mutual, an insurance company. They showed up a bit of their building, a video about the history of CUNA, and held two panels for us. The first panel was comprised of recent graduates and how they transitioned into the workforce after college. The second panel comprised of slightly older women, but they talked about work/life balance and their experiences as women in the workforce (and particularly male dominated workplaces). The panels provided a lot of really great insight.

Our next and final company of the day was in fact the hotel we stayed at: The Edgewater. It recently reopened in 2014 after a historical remodeling. The hotel has been on the edge of Madison since the 1940s. The GM/COO of the Edgewater took us on a tour of a ballroom, diner, lobby, and a closed off section of the diner. We weren’t able to see any of the conference rooms as they were all completely booked out. We then heard from the GM/COO, the special events director, and the assistance special events director: all women, and all hardworking women with different backgrounds. They talked about how they came to the Edgewater and the events that had been put on there.

The Edgewater Hotel on Lake Mendota
The Edgewater Hotel on Lake Mendota

Once that finished, we were all released to check into our rooms and get settled before dinner. I elected to walk around downtown Madison with a few of the other girls and stare in awe at the beautiful (and expansive) capitol building.

Madison's capitol building!
Madison’s capitol building!

The girls and I later met up with the rest of the WIB girls at Ian’s Pizza, owned by the same company that owns Iowa City’s Mesa, to have dinner with UW-Madison’s WIB group. We got to meet a bunch of their girls over pizza and talk about our different schools and WIB experiences. After that, I hung out with a couple other girls and the Exec that attended the trip in one of their rooms and got to bond with a lot of the other girls who I haven’t really gotten the chance to know. I definitely formed some new bonds within WIB during the Madison trip.

Friday was not as early but still relatively early: 8AM bus time. The day started off at Alliant Energy and talking about sustainability. Alliant has installed electric car chargers and solar panels to power their building and they electricity they sell. With the installation of car chargers, they have seen a 1/3 increase in electric car purchases in their employees.

For lunch and the final companies, the group split into two: one group going to ETC lighting (theatre lighting) and the other going to visit with BMO Harris representatives. I was a part of the BMO group and we had lunch with three of their employees at the Madison club. They talked about BMO in Madison and a bit about their Chicago buildings and experiences.

Once that was over, our group went to go pick up the ETC group before heading back to Iowa City. On our way back, we passed five Madison Badger busses that carried their football players, coming to play us the following day. We did heckle them a little bit by knocking on the windows and flashing Iowa blankets and t-shirts. They seemed excited to be recognized until they saw the Iowa blankets. I don’t think I’ve ever seen smiles drop so fast.

Iowa Startup Games

A couple weeks ago I spent an entire weekend with ~40 other people to build businesses within a weekend. This is a program put on by JPEC to get ideas flowing and giving students a crash course on how to take your business idea from an idea to perhaps an actually feasible concept. Startup Games was definitely a really interesting experience and I highly recommend that everyone partake—even if you’re not a business or entrepreneurship-related major/minor/certificate.

It started Friday night: we all piled in S401 of Tippie, munched on free food (and jeeze, there was a lot of it over the weekend), and went over the schedule for the weekend. Friday night would start with quick tips on how to pitch and some suggestions on how to make your pitch standout by attaching a story behind it. We then moved onto actually pitching ideas. Everyone was encouraged to pitch but not required. After pitches, we would vote on all the ideas then the top voted 11 ideas would be left for everyone else to form teams around. I pitched an idea that I came up with 10 minutes before pitching started. I did make it to the final filtering but did not gather enough people to make a team (I gained one other person. We could have built around the idea but that would have been a lot more work for two people instead of say, four.). So my one other person and I moved to join another two person team to help with Elastic Language.



Elastic Language is the idea of creating a web based application for critical languages, such Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and Indian languages; because a lot of these languages do not have programs on Duolingo or are badly rated on Rosetta Stone.

Saturday started with a free breakfast (like I said, there’s a lot of free food involved) and socializing with some of the other groups before the day started. Saturday was dedicated to Customer Discovery: going out and seeing if what we perceived as a problem was actually a problem. We conducted online surveys to reach our farther friends and strangers and did in person interviews at the library. After collecting all this information, groups would either a) push on with their ideas or b) pivot and work their idea at a different angle or come up with another idea. We collected a lot of good information and pushed on with our project. Lunch came with free Pancheros burritos and hearing from all the groups on how their ideas were progressing. People announced their pivots, their successes in customer discovery, or the splintering of their groups and having to join new ones. The afternoon was then dedicated to experimentation: making mock ups of what our product would look like and going out to see what people thought. (aka I spent 6 hours planted in a chair, staring at photoshop, and helping build our mockup). Dinner was then served and we talked about the layout of Sunday: finishing up our presentations and finalizing our final pitches. Sunday afternoon would consist of travelling to Kinnick and performing our final pitches for a panel of judges to hopefully win some prize money. After dinner, my group worked late into the night (11PM when they kicked us out of the rooms), pulling our mockup together.

Sunday went by quickly: we put together our powerpoint over breakfast while I put the final touches on our mockup with another group member. After a couple of intstructions, we were all directed to find a way to Kinnick’s press box where lunch would be served and final pitches pitch.

We didn’t win first place. Or second. Or third. We did, however, win judge’s choice for best presentation and our team won $250 dollars (~$75 between the 4 of us). It was a really fun experience overall—full of free food, people I may have never met, and learning to work with a group of strangers and learning to capitalize on each other’s strengths. 10/10 would recommend to everyone.

Also First Apartment!

While my junior year at Iowa has certainly brought a handful of life adjustments, one of the biggest adjustments has to be moving into my first apartment with two of my friends.

I absolutely love it.

Living in Burge was fun-I spent two years there and wouldn’t trade them for the world-but having my own space is so exciting and freeing. I love my roommates, and one of them was my roommate from last year, but it is so nice to not have to share a room anymore. I get to spread all my stuff out if I want and keep my room as tidy or as messy as I want. It’s an odd sense of freedom.

I think one of the best parts is getting to decide what I want to eat. I don’t have to bend my eating preferences around whatever the dining hall is serving. I don’t have to eat country fried steak and gravy twice a month.  (I no longer get to bask in the greatness that is dining hall chicken strip night but that is beside the point). I get to decide.

Apartment life if pretty glamorous. Its one caveat is that I don’t get to spend a lot of time in it. Between 18 semester hours, working at Burge Front Desk, interning at Loebsack for Congress, my extracurricular commitments, and doing my continuously mounting stack of homework, I often do not spend a significant chunk of the day at home. It’s not a bad time though, I really enjoy being this busy.

With that I leave you with some fun pictures of my bedroom. It’s a little sparse on the wall decorations but I’m happy. *Not pictured are my dual closets, my nightstand, and my comfy chair!


No Labels: Another opportunity


I’ve previously talked about No Labels, an organization that I head here on campus. I’m talking about it again because in the past 48 hours I participated in a really cool opportunity. They offered to their college leaders: the chance to go to Manchester, New Hampshire for a one of a kind event.

First quick recap: No Labels, is a non-partisan organization that wants bipartisanship between the two major parties. We also want support for a National Strategic Agenda, which encompasses four goals: Create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years; Secure Social Security & Medicare for another 75 years; Balance the federal budget by 2030; Make America energy secure by 2024. Goals everyone can agree on, right? No Labels seeks to achieve this by first awarding a No Labels Seal of Approval to whatever politicians vow to start work on the National Strategic Agenda within the first 30 days of being in office. The Seal of Approval also lets voters know, which politicians are onboard and ready to tackle America’s problems and the gridlock.

Jeff Danielson and I, post flight from Boston at Chicago's O'Hare
Jeff Danielson and I, post flight from Boston at Chicago’s O’Hare

Now onto my opportunity: The No Labels Problem Solver Convention.The national organization flew myself and about fifty other college leaders out to Manchester, New Hampshire to teach us about being college leaders, spreading the word, and making an impact on campus. But that was only the first day. The second day we were there to witness first hand 8 candidates of both parties for the 2016 presidential race take the stage to speak to us about HOW they would tackle America’s problems and the continuous gridlock in Washington D.C. We got free t-shirts and plenty of available swag and got to experience perhaps a once in a college lifetime event. We listened, cheered, and questioned Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and John Kasich with the residents of New Hampshire and neighboring states throughout the day. There were also panelists, senators, and governors from all over the U.S. (Side note: Have you ever had the chance to meet Jeff Danielson? He’s in the Iowa Senate and is responsible for the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. If you ever do meet him, he is the nicest guy!)

I learned a lot from the trip:

  1. No Labels is one of the coolest organizations I’ve been a part of
  2. I can’t wait to do more work on campus to get our local chapter out of our toddler stage and spreading the word about bipartisanship and being a #ProblemSolver

    Dean Norris & I, the night before the #ProblemSolver Convention
    Dean Norris & I, the night before the #ProblemSolver Convention
  3. It is very possible to ride four airplanes in about 45 hours in three different states and only sleep on one of those planes
  4. The networking opportunities that are available with more local politicians and even higher up are limitless
  5. Keep an eye out at any slightly major political event because there might be a few celebrities lurking (Like maybe a certain DEA agent from Breaking Bad?)
  6. Passion, commitment, and hard work can bring about anything you set your mind to. No Labels is a grassroots organization that started only five years ago and they’re staging big events with even bigger names, have their own caucus (Problem Solver Caucus), and currently have a bill on the floor in Congress  about the National Strategic Agenda.


How To: Time Management

Pinterest and social media are full of funny little infographics on how college is a triangle and you can only pick two out of social life, good grades, and sleep.

And it’s true.

Kind of.

Now for starters, I am no way an expert in Time Management. It is a skill that I have learned and am still finding my way around as each new semester has its new challenges.

I can however give you some tips on how to manage your time and be on the path for being a successful student at Iowa.

  1. Get an agenda/planner/notebook

    Monthly Calendar View
    Monthly Calendar View

You can choose whatever method you like in order to keep track of dates, deadlines, and appointments. There are also other popular methods like google calendar (which you can sync to your smart phone).

  1. You’re going to use your agenda to write down all club meetings, exam dates, work schedules, and whatever else is going to take up your time.
  2. Follow your agenda and prep accordingly.

On a day to day basis, I like to write in my agenda about what I need to do to be prepared for classes, work, and club meeting for the next day. On the weekends, I put a sticky note in my agenda and write down all the things I want to accomplish in order to be prepared for the following week.

  1. Reap the rewards!

Last week, I was so on top of things due to this method that I had all of my homework done for the week by Tuesday night and was able to relax Wednesday. This also allowed for having the time to care for myself but also have the time to do any assignments that were assigned during the week and due soon after.


Fall, Homecoming, Midterms, Oh My!

President Sally Mason @ Homecoming Parade

These past few weeks have literally flew by. But that’s how I feel every week; because before you know it, the weekend is here and there’s a ton of activities to do in and around campus. Earlier this month, UI celebrated another wonderful homecoming with a big win against Indiana! But that was all after the homecoming parade and the building of the corn monument. Homecoming week had been full of spirit with events like Iowa Shout–Greek Life here put on little dance numbers that went along with this years theme: Take it Back. I attended Iowa Shout due to my roommate and some other girls in my hall being a part of Greek Life, and to support them and their sororities. It was a really entertaining night spent on the Pentacrest and I got to see some snazzy dance moves. Homecoming week also brought some delicious food to Burge Marketplace. And before I knew it, the game was won and I was back to studying for midterms.

Tree from the Pentacrest
View from the Pentacrest

And I felt like midterms kinda kicked my butt. I came out of it with a better idea of how my study habits affected my performance and what I needed to do better or not change at all. All I will tell you is this: find a place where you can really study. My favorite place to study is the lounges on my floor. Lounges are designated rooms in each residence hall for either studying or just hanging out. (Hint: Like laundry rooms, they are more likely to be empty on Friday nights and various times on the weekends.)

I Won’t Join Your Club, But I’ll Eat Your Cookies

The strip of T-Anne Cleary walkway from the Blank Honors Center to Gilmore hall is always a bundle of surprises. It mostly serves as the central walkway to go from class to class. That being said, it’s a great way to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time. So there will be the people with massive signs that tell you to abandon your church and seek Jesus as he is a living person. And there will also be the people who want you to go see comedian Retta from Parks & Rec, and hand out cookies. But you know what they say about the dark side: they have cookies. (I’m really kidding, Retta is going to be so awesome at CAB this weekend. Check it out if you can!)

And also wise words from my First Year Seminar professor: “If you’re not condemned to hell [by protesters] at least once while you’re here, you haven’t done Iowa right”.

T. Anne Cleary Walkway at Night!
T. Anne Cleary Walkway at Night!