The Cure for the Freshman 15: Healthy Cooking

Our intern Brittan tries her hand at some healthy home cooking…and it looks pretty delicious!

The ingredients started out like this…

Coming to college holds different excitements for everyone. But there’s one thing about college that pretty much everyone is excited for, new freedom. You decide when you wake up. You decide when you go to bed. Want to watch Netflix until 4 in the morning? No mom to tell you no, so why not? There’s also no mom to cook you your dinner.

Food is pretty much everywhere. Pizza, sandwiches, ice cream. This may seem like heaven, and, at first, it definitely is. You can skip the vegetables and go straight for the waffle fries. But I’m here to tell you a sad truth: filling up on chicken nuggets and pizza actually does catch up to you. I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded Freshman 15 but think there’s no way that can happen to you. Reality is, it can and it probably will. It happened to me, this “new freedom” proved me to be completely helpless in the face of unlimited pasta bowls and chocolate cake.

This is not to say that UMBC doesn’t have healthy options, there are plenty. It just took me and mostly everyone I know a year of indulgence to learn the strength to limit ourselves. Okay, fast forward to junior year, most students by now are out of the dorms and into the apartments or, in my case, in houses off campus. So when you finally grasp how to eat properly on campus, you’re thrown into a whole new adult challenge: cooking healthy food without burning a hole in your wallet. It is easy to buy a pack of ramen or Easy Mac and call it a day, but Junior 15 doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

…and became these delicious, healthy red pepper and avocado bites!

Considering that, in the beginning of this year, I had to look up “How to cook chicken”, so you might say I started off this adult thing pretty slowly. I want to share with you my crutch in the hopes that it can soon become a crutch for you too.

*Cue the trumpets*

The Healthy College Cookbook!  Essentially this little guy teaches you how to make pretty much every meal, breakfast through dessert, on a college time schedule while also keeping in mind the college bank account falls down to $2 pretty much every month. Don’t worry, it’s not the only one of its kind. You can pick up an array of healthy cookbooks for college kids at the local library (located 2 minutes from campus) and all groceries at the Giant right down the road.

The meal I made this week was roasted red pepper and avocado bites. It cost me 7 dollars, took me 35 minutes, and was a real crowd pleaser. Doesn’t look like 160 calories does it? Yum!

— Brittan Gibbons-O’Neill ’17

Previous posts by Brittan:

Meet Your Student Bloggers
A UMBC Love Story

Football at UMBC? One Night a Year…

A glimpse into Superbowl night from our blogger Anna…

Superbowl Par-tay_1
Superbowl Party 2016 at The Commons’ Sports Zone

UMBC may not have its own football team, but don’t worry—you’ll still find the Super Bowl on TVs all around campus. You can even find it projected on a large screen in the Commons’ Sport Zone, thanks to (seb) [the student events board]. This year, 2016, is Super Bowl 50: the Carolina Panthers versus the Denver Broncos.

As a Maryland university minutes from Baltimore City, you’ll see people wearing purple for the Ravens more than any other color in support of any other team, so this year the overall game-day hype seems pretty tame. Nonetheless, people turn up to the SEB sponsored Super Bowl party. Why? Well if they weren’t there to watch the game, perhaps they were there to watch the commercials. Or to eat the free food. Or to watch the half-time show. Beyoncé anyone??

Whatever their reason, there’s a small crowd that appears as groups of friends claim their seats and their shares of wings and falafel (UMBC loves falafel). Lady Gaga belts out the national anthem while rocking some new snazzy hair-do, and kickoff soon follows. And…the game is on.

I’ll admit, I’m not a football fan, except when it comes to the Eagles, and even then, I’m a fairly reserved *whispers-whoo-hoo-under-my-breath* fan. With that being said, I’ll admit that this is the first year I’ve attended the Super Bowl party on campus. Thankfully, I was not let down. As a friend and I sat in the corner and caught up about life (love, and the inevitable pursuit of employment), refs called plays and people cheered sporadically, abruptly ending our conversation as we turned to the big screen to see what the fuss was all about. (If you watched the game and saw the beautiful, leaping touchdown, you too were blessed.) The atmosphere was tense, then chill, then tense, then chill. If you love football, you would have had a place at the party.

My favorite part was, of course, the half-time show. With Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars, how could it not be fabulous? We all made sure to scream extra-loudly for Beyoncé and her flaming entrance, which I was lucky enough to have caught on film (and I’m not usually very lucky when it comes to filming).

All in all, the party catered as much to those who need to scream at the screen to a player who clearly doesn’t see that so-and-so is open, as to those who just want to hear the game as they feverishly finish an assignment that’s due the next morning (yes, I saw you glasses-guy). Even I enjoyed the party!

— Anna Crow ’16

A UMBC Love Story

Hi there, it’s Brittan, your student blogger. This story is about my parents, Kevin and Noel, who met and fell in love while students at UMBC in the 1980s. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Valentines!  

bkevIt was the first day of classes at UMBC, 1983. Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill was just starting his junior year of college. He was sitting on a railing outside his classes letting his rainbow-colored Chuck Taylors swing underneath him. A shaved head (a lost bet with his friends) and a goofy carefree grin on his face, he scoped out all the new students walking down academic row.

Spotting a pretty girl, he tried his hand at flirting with her. “Hey, you’re really tan.” (Apparently all he could come up with.) The girl looked at him but wouldn’t respond. She thought this guy wasn’t quite all there upstairs.

Two days later, they met at a Thursday night mixer in the commuter cafeteria (a place current students won’t have the pleasure of experiencing). Kevin caught the eye of this mysterious girl and went over to ask her to dance. She replied flatly “I don’t like to dance.” Rejected. Again. An hour later, after getting some courage in her system, the girl, whose name he found out was Noel, grabbed his hand and said “let’s dance.” The rest, as they say, is history.

“We would go to the commuter cafeteria pretty much every day,” says Kevin, “I would buy us cheese steaks and we would sit around and talk between classes.”

They were married November 9, 1991, and danced to “Tonight I Celebrate My Love”. Luckily for Kevin, Noel didn’t need to work up the courage to dance with him this time. 32 years after they first met, Kevin says “I still fall in love with that woman every day.”

UMBC in the 80s
UMBC in the 80s

The main focus of college is learning, and as any student at UMBC knows, this university is academically rigorous. But college is more than that. It’s about forming relationships that grow with you. UMBC is a thriving campus, always blossoming, always evolving. The friends you make here, the ones that sit and study with you until 2 a.m., the ones that eat lunch with you, the ones that convince you your life isn’t over after one bad test grade, are the ones still sitting by your side 10 years from now.

Kevin Gibbons-O’Neill met his best man at UMBC, he met his wife at UMBC, he made friends that still, after 3 decades, call him up to see how he’s doing.

UMBC makes scholars, yes, that much is obvious. But the relationships you make her are the relationships that last a lifetime.

— Brittan Gibbons-O’Neill ’17

Your Student Writers: Anna & Brittan

Welcome to 2016! This semester, we’ll have two student bloggers sharing their stories of life on (and off!) campus. Without further ado, here they are: Anna and Brittan…

annaBefore I begin launching into my posts about events and orgs, let me first take a quick moment to introduce myself. I’m Anna, and this semester is my final semester in undergrad (which yes, is terrifying, but simultaneously amazing). I’ve finished up my psychology major and writing minor, and am currently taking my last English class to complete my English major on the Communication and Technology track. I’m also a Humanities Scholar and a member of the Honors College, as well as the Head Copy-Editor for Bartleby, the creative arts journal that exclusively publishes UMBC student work. Last semester I was in Ireland studying, and got the FANTASTIC opportunity to travel around Europe, as well to spend Christmas in South Korea. I can’t wait to share some of these experiences with you this semester!

My main focus is answering your questions (that I know you have): what happens outside of class? What do you do on campus besides work? What’s so cool about UMBC? You’re going to college to study, sure, but studying isn’t all you’ll be doing, or should be doing. Over the course of the semester I’m going to be blogging about my experiences attending various events on campus. I’m also preparing a series of blogs called LIFE: Living Involved, Finding Engagement. This series will highlight just some of the student organizations that you can be a part of here. In other words, I am going to give you first-hand accounts of college—minus the boring parts.

This school has so much to offer; I never would have thought I’d be here, senior year, a world-traveler, with a job set up for post-grad, and getting paid to write a blog. And yet, here I am! My point is that UMBC provides a lot of opportunities—you just have to learn to open yourself up to them: like ways to get involved. That’s where my blog comes into play. I hope you keep up with my future posts, and at least give me a few moments of your day to SHOW you—because telling you is boring for both of us—what UMBC is actually like.


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Hi, I’m Brittan, and before I get into what has made my college experience so memorable let me tell you a little about me. I came into UMBC wanting to be a math teacher. Decided, after a year, that Math wasn’t my calling. I had known my love of English for a long time but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an English teacher (teaching was really what I had been studying to be since high school). The nice thing about this school is that they make it very easy for you to switch majors and catch up in your new major so that you graduate on time. You’ll know you’ve found the major you belong in when you actually start to look forward to going to your classes. Everyone is different; maybe you’ll come into college, take off running, and there will be no adjustment period for you. But if you do need time to figure out your path, UMBC lets you do that.

I want to show you, with these blogs, what makes UMBC so special to me. I want to show you the kinds of things I first gushed about my freshman year when anyone from home asked me how college was going. Now in my junior year, I look back at how close I was to attending another university and count my blessings that I chose here. The friends I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had are irreplaceable. Thanks for reading; I’m so excited to share UMBC with you.

American Studies Students Produce Radio Series

As part of the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project, several American studies students produced a radio series about two Baltimore neighborhoods in transition: Greektown and Station North. Baltimore Traces is an interdisciplinary project and collaborative teaching innovation that produces audio and video oral histories focused on Baltimore residents and neighborhoods.

On Friday, May 22, the radio series aired on WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show. Bill Shewbridge, professor of the practice of media and communication studies, worked with students in Michelle Stefano’s class, a visiting assistant professor of American studies, to produce an audio journey through the East Baltimore neighborhood of Greektown. The project brought students into the neighborhood where they conducted interviews with local residents and workers to explore the identity, history, and complexity of the community.

Read more here:

American Studies Students Produce Radio Series for The Marc Steiner Show | UMBC Insights Weekly.

Creativity on Screen: MovieFest

TRW-Logo-New11Campus MovieFest rolled out the red carpet for 16 finalists in the world’s largest student movie festival. Students only had one week to create their films, and the talent of the UMBC community was evident in the films made. The 66 participants turned in approximately 30 films. Many students worked on multiple projects, increasing the opportunity for community collaboration.

Attendees were greeted by a red carpet before the event, although the actual red carpet was stuck in New Jersey, due to transportation issues. The filmmakers didn’t seem to mind. The Hallway in the ITE building buzzed with activity and excitement.

J.R. Hardman, the senior tour manager for CMF, felt very positive about the entries.

“There was a very strong presence,” she said. “The students came in a big way with talent.”

Read more at: Creativity on screen | The Retriever Weekly.

Track & Field Championship Bound

Baltimore, Md.—UMBC track and field will head to New Jersey for the ECAC/IC4A Championships this weekend. Mercedes Jackson and Hassan Omar took home Most Outstanding Track Performers at the America East Championships two weeks back. Junior Daryian Miles won the Elite 18 Award at the meet, as the Retriever men and women finished in second place, their best finish in program history. 

Read more at: Retrievers Head to Princeton for ECAC/IC4A Championships – UMBC.

Block Party!

blockpartyTwo weeks ago, Resident Student Association, threw their annual Block Party event.

Block party is a carnival style event, with cotton candy, face painting, shaved ice, various types of games, food, and much more. During block party, each residential community sets up their own table and provides a game for everyone to participate in. This years theme was nautical, so everyone did some “sea” related. For example, Erickson Hall did organized a sand art table, where people came and decorated small bottles shaped like sand castles with different colored sand. Also, Walker Apartment did a boat sailing competition. Other halls did caramel apples, t-shirt/sock tie dye, and throwing darts at paint balls. Basically it was a afternoon/evening filled with a lot of fun.

Everyone, including, the RSA executive board, the Community Councils, and the advisers, put in a lot of hard work to make this event really big. However, the only problem was that there was a lack of advertising, therefore, not a lot of students were aware that Block Party was happening. Nonetheless, there were a lot of people that came and enjoyed themselves; the cotton candy and the caramel apples were a great hit!

Furthermore, there was a BBQ style dinner at True Grits. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, black bean burgers, potato salad, and dessert.

Block Party was an event to bring together all the communities and most of the residential students in order to allow an evening of socialization. Like all other RSA events, this event was designed to strength the connections between all the communities in order to better  Residential Life. It was really fun and exciting to help organize, decorate, and take part in this great event.

To all prospective, and incoming students, if you want to be more involved in residential life and throw events like this and help advocate for residential students, then don’t hesitate to join the RSA!!

Read more at: Retriever Believers | Stories and Experiences from Current UMBC Students.