Out of Town: Emmitt James


8/1/13

Seeing Hip Hop artist Emmitt James perform, is like being at a spiritually moving and intense concert, one whose artist is passionate about his work and just as equally as passionate about those that surround him.  The audience soaks up with James’ energy and leaves the concert feeling electrified and renewed as if they had just experienced something for the first time.

And that’s exactly how James’ wants you to feel.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., James (20) is not only a Hip Hop artist, but also a nationally acclaimed spoken word poet, something that has clearly influenced his music. In high school, he was introduced to spoken word poetry, which made him realize that his words had power.

“I love poetry,” James said. “But I’ve always loved music.”

James, currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, wanted to balance these passions.

“When I got to college I said I wanted people to identify me just as much as a poet as a hip hop artists,” James said.

James has been successful in doing so, releasing his second EP: “Until I’m a Dead Poet” in 2012, following his first, “Are You Listening Yet?” This past year, James has been performing around the country from his hometown of Milwaukee to New York.

Through his music, James hopes to send an inspiring message to his listeners and audience.

“You can only go as far as you want to be…A struggle can be a beautiful thing,” James said.

His past also heavily influences his writing and music, which is so personal sometimes that it almost makes you uncomfortable—is he really sharing all of this with you? The answer is yes, and that’s what makes James so electrifying.

James’ electricity translates when he’s performing on stage. He wants his audience to experience new things. Going to a school in the middle of Wisconsin, James struggles with finding diversity. But he’s embraced that. He wants to introduce people to hip hop who have never been really exposed to it before.

He wants his audience to leave saying, “I thought it was a hip hop concert and that’s what I was expecting, but it was so much better than I thought.’”

Usually when performing, hip hop artists, play a recording of their track and sing over it. James takes a step back from this in his performances, oftentimes having concerts with live bands which also allows him to collaborate and support other artists. He doesn’t plan on having a band at all concerts, however in future performances, he plans on having a DJ and a live drummer.

James is changing  the hip hop world one honest and hard-hitting lyric at a time. He’s changing it with contagious performances that highlight musicality and knowledge of what gets a crowd to move.

For James, his career as a musician and performer is just beginning. Currently he is excited about a new track entitled “Mama’s Favorite” which he says will be the “birth of a new project.”

James’ new music video is scheduled to release on July 5. He has upcoming shows booked in Milwaukee as well as Stevens Point, Wis. For full listings of shows and upcoming events, check out his Facebook page: Emmitt James Music and Twitter: @Emmitt_James.

Published in The Grey Estates Zine.

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Pointerest: Food Memories


5/9/13

Food’s great power is that it brings people together. Think about it, every important moment of life involves food in some way. Food has the power to spark good conversations, ideas and relationships. And that has been true for my life at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Some of my greatest memories in Point are food memories. Here are just a few.

1. Belt’s-What’s a better way to spend a sunny afternoon or warm night than taking a walk to Belt’s? You totally burn off all those calories in a ten-minute walk, right?

2. Zest-I have had some of the best conversations about hopes and dreams over lattes and turnovers at this coffee shop.

3. Stevens Point Farmer’s Market-I’m not a huge fan of vegetables, but waking up on Saturday mornings in the fall to buy them from local farmers almost makes me want to like them.

4. Downtown Square-Okay, so maybe more beverages were consumed here than food, but it still always proved to be a good time.

5. Kitchen Parties-If you are ever bored, I would highly suggest inviting some friends over and trying to make something crazy only using food that is already in your pantry. To me, nothing is more fun than experimenting with food. Some of the best flavors and creations happen there.

6. GreeceThere is nothing better than traveling to Greece, eating food, drinking wine, writing about it and getting college credit for it. This was easily the greatest food experience (and just general experience) of my life.

In short, never underestimate the power of food. Food can bring anyone together, and isn’t that the whole point of life? If you are ever in doubt of what to do or how to make your life a little more exciting, add food into the mix, and it will soon become an exciting and unforgettable experience.

 http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Pointerest-Food-Memories.aspx

Studying With Kids


2/28/13

Every day, senior elementary and special education major Kerry Palmer, wakes up early to make the 1.5-hour commute to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from Wisconsin Dells. She goes to class, education practicum and work. After the school day, she heads home to hang out and take care of her four children.

Being a student and a parent has its benefits and challanges, which UWSP addresses.

For example, attending school and being a parent at the same time adds a new level of stress to everyday life.

“All I can say is that it can be challenging. I think the biggest struggle is to maintain balance,” said Stacy Lavongsa, a senior English education major and mother of four.

Palmer agreed that balance was a challenge to returning to school, but the advantage of being a parent is that she has already learned how to balance life.

“You just go. Most parents would say that’s how they do their lives,” Palmer said. “I’ve set a goal for myself to finish college, so I just do it. You just make it happen.”

Thomas Houting, a senior communications major and father of a two-year-old son, echoed Lavongsa and Palmer’s thoughts. Due to scheduling restrictions, he’s unable to participate in extracurricular activities that would help build his resume.

“You need to spend as much time with your child as you can,” Houting said.

For Palmer, although scheduling is an issue, it isn’t the biggest challenge. “My kids have been my life. That’s not the change for me. It’s going back to school after 18 years.”

Going back to school and having a family can be a lot to handle at once.

“I’ve seen first-hand how many students with children struggle financially to pay for child care when they are trying to be focused on their education and not able to work as much as they would to make ends meet,” said Becky Helf, the director of UWSP’s Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning Center.

About 55% of the children that go to the learning center, located in Delzell Hall, are children of students that go to the university. The program is supported by UWSP Student Government Organization through segregated fees, which allows for student’s rates to be lower.

The program at the center is the only nationally accredited program in the Stevens Point area by the National Association of the Education of Young Children of having a highly educated staff.

“The staff at the center do a fantastic job educating these young children and making the most of what they have,” Helf said.

However, because of this, the cost is higher.

“Even with the support from SGA, UWSP child-care rates for student parents are still one of the highest in relation to other UW campuses of similar size,” Helf said.

The program is also the only one in the UW System that is still housed in an old residence hall building.

“They [the children] question why they can’t go outside to play because they are unable to see out any window to know if it’s raining,” Helf said. “Two toilets are shared by approximately 35 children. Strictly speaking about the facility, it is beyond unacceptable!”

Although there are hardships involved with being a student and a parent at the same time, the benefits override the stress.

“My children know first-hand how I feel about the importance of education because they see it by my example of going to school,” Lavongsa said. “What’s not to love about that?”

For Houting, having a child is motivation for his education.

“It’s an added responsibility other than homework. You have a real and present reason to do well in school.”

For all of the parents, it’s a collaborative effort.

“They [my children] help me as much as I help them,” Palmer said.

One of Lavongsa’s favorite things about being a parent and a student is that her children’s education can be an interactive experience.

“My oldest son [who attends Princeton college] just told me that you can actually take acetaminophen for hurt feelings, and it will help alleviate the pain just as you would for a headache!” Lavongsa said. “Doesn’t that sound crazy? He is passing along what he is learning at college just like I do to him and his siblings.”

From: http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Studying-With-Kids.aspx

Going Through A Quarter-Life Crisis


2/14/13

(Written with Emma St. Aubin)

What are you doing after you graduate?”

What a seemingly deadly ques­tion.

Is it just me, or do very few of us know exactly where we want to be five years from now? For the con­fused and the frightened, the future is a gnarly place.

Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Should I switch my major to something totally different? Is everyone else actually happier than me, or are they just better at pretend­ing? What would make me happy? Chances are these reoccurring ques­tions never find an answer.

As the average college student nears the end of his or her academic career, he or she appears to have it all together, with a major and a nice group of friends. Truth is, you have no idea whatsoever what you want to do with your life. You have to apply for jobs soon, and you have no inkling what you actually want to do. You’re freaking out.

But it’s okay. That’s normal. You’re going through something almost everyone in their twenties is going through.

This phenomenon, more com­monly known as a “quarter-life crisis,” is a period in which a person begins to doubt his or her life, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult and enter­ing the “real world.” Overwhelming choices regarding careers, finances, homes, new responsibilities and new options all lead to the stress, anxiety and feelings of helplessness of many twentysomethings.

How does one find a blissful career, a reasonably priced home, good friends and become a happy, well-adjusted, functioning member of society? Euphoria, emotional break­downs, procrastination and over­thinking at 3 a.m. are all part of the journey. Although it may be hell, it is also pure bliss. As my mother once told me, you’ll never forget your twenties because that’s when you become who you are.

Even if there is a small list stashed away somewhere in your bedroom filled with all of your hopes and dreams, getting to those dreams seems impossible without a step-by-step manual.

It’s a little strange to think about, but life will soon be completely differ­ent. You will be living in a new place with new people. The friends that you have now may be scattered around the world. These are the last moments that you will all be together, quite possibly for the rest of your lives. And that’s (made-up word alert) bit­tersweetly scary.

As graduation nears, the doors to the real world are slowly open­ing while we near them with over­whelming anxiety. However, over time, those doors will close. Possibly because of things you did, or maybe because of things you didn’t do. That may be the driving factor behind each unique, anxiety-filled quarter-life crisis.

As twentysomethings, we spend our days buried within textbooks, traveling abroad “while we still can” and working forty-hour weeks at minimum wage. We are moved by dreams of adult happiness but take those dreams with a grain of salt, since we view those dreams as impos­sible.

Whether your idea of adulthood formed from college experiences, dur­ing a summer job or from an unfor­gettable and inspiring trip, wherever you start out won’t determine where you end up, but it will determine how you get there.

Our future is entirely uncertain and entirely up to us. There’s no more hiding behind grades and oth­ers’ expectations. Up until now, we knew what we had to do all of our lives. We had to get good grades to get to college, and once we were in college we had to graduate.

But now what? There are no expectations for us anymore. We have to create our own expectations. That’s a lot of pressure.

It’s time to set our expecta­tions high. This is the moment of our lives that we actually get to follow our dreams and do what we love. This isn’t a crisis but an opportunity for excitement. So do it. Go forward and do what you’ve been waiting to do your whole life.

 

Printed in The Pointer Newspaper

I’ll Be Home After Finals: The Changing Holiday Tradition


12/13/12

(Written with Emma St.Aubin)

It’s almost finals: a week surrounded in stress, studying, anxiety and lack of sleep. It ends as fast as it begins. The second it does, we’re back at home in front of the Christmas tree. After the chaos of finals, we go straight into Christmas morning with almost no time to stop and actually enjoy or take in the holiday season. As we get older, the magic of the holidays transforms into something different.

As an adult, most of the holiday magic remains just as festive as it was when we were children: the joy of giving and receiving, putting up decorations, and stuffing our faces with chocolate and cookies will always be delightful. However, some aspects of this holiday cheer change as we get older.

St. Nick no longer fills up your stocking. Maybe he simply was never given a key to your apartment, but there is still a hint of disappointment when you wake up on December 6 to find that your shoes are still empty, and your stocking was never filled by jolly old St. Nicholas.

Santa Claus becomes more of a nostalgic figure. Even though we understand that there is not an actual man who breaks into your house in the middle of the night to leave goodies under the tree and eats your cookies, we still get excited and giddy when we see him in the mall. He’s like a mythical being in his velvet throne, surrounded by human-sized elves, a giant tree and oversized Christmas lights. Suddenly we find ourselves plotting excuses to sit on his lap to relive the magic of our childhood. (Plus, we still want that pony that we never got.)

Once you find a child to bring along to see Mr. Claus with you, you realize that the fear of sitting on Santa’s lap still exists. The tradition of dressing up a man in red and a giant fake beard and allowing children around the world to sit on his lap and tell him all of their hopes and wishes sounds fantastic. It is, until it is your turn to get your photo taken. Suddenly, you realize how creepy it just all is and form excuses why you can’t get your photos taken. It would be simply embarrassing to be an adult crying on Santa’s lap.

Some things have changed for the better. We are finally old enough to enjoy holiday get-togethers, so let the parties begin! Work parties, family parties and ugly sweater parties are being planned almost every day during the weekends in December. Who doesn’t love a good excuse to eat, drink and be merry?

Holiday traditions are starting to change now that we’re getting older. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to “grow up” anytime soon. We can still enjoy cookies, secret Santa, hot chocolate and gaudy decorations. Maybe then, by the time we finally get home for the holidays, it will start to look and feel a lot like Christmas.

http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/I%E2%80%99ll-Be-Home-After-Finals-The-Changing-Holiday-Tradition.aspx

Student Stress Relief


11/29/12

It’s that time of year where students overcrowd the library, spend all their money on caffeinated drinks, and wear sweatpants everywhere.  It’s the end of the semester and everyone’s stressed.

“Why am I stressed?” asked senior English education major Kristin Miller, “because my profes­sors don’t seem to think I should have a life outside of school.”

This is a common problem among many students in the last few weeks of the semester. Junior communication major Monica Lenius echoed the sentiment.

“I’m stressed because my pro­fessors piled on homework all at the same time,” Lenius said.

School, however, is just one stress factor for students.

“When I’m not stressing about school, I’m panicking about how to pay the rent,” Miller said.

Students have figured out many ways to cope with stress through their years at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

“I go for jogs,” Lenius said. “It gets rid of a lot of nervous energy that I usually build up when I’m stressed.”

Stress is the body’s response to a perceived threat to our physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being. Without those perceived threats we create, situations aren’t recognized as stressful, so it’s important to keep a positive attitude in order to mini­mize the amount of negative stress in our lives.

Easier said than done, right? After a long day of exams, home­work you can’t make sense of, and roommates getting on your last nerve, it seems impossible to stay optimistic knowing it will just start all over and repeat again tomorrow.

Some students find it helpful to watch movies or television with happy characters to raise their spir­its.

“I have been obsessively watch­ing TLC wedding… It’s nice to know that someone else out there is happy,” Miller said.

For freshmen, this is their first experience with finals week and many do not have strategies built up for how to survive this time of year.

Besides the typical techniques of coping with stress such as attending yoga classes, going for jogs, and deep breathing, there are also more practi­cal techniques that fit into our busy, college schedules.

Fine-tune expectations. Negativity and always expecting the worse will most often get less than the best. What you expect often comes to you.

Get rid of irrational beliefs. You don’t need to have complete support of every person you pass throughout a day to validate your self-worth. Acknowledge your hard work and reward yourself when you have done your best, even if your grades don’t always match. A sense of serenity comes with self-acceptance and will benefit you during these seemingly never-ending days of stress.

Consciously create images of suc­cess, healing, or relaxation. Visualizing positive scenarios repairs the body and rids our brain from its pessimis­tic outlook during a stressful week. Repeated exposure to a setting that is happy, peaceful, and calm provides a profound sense of relaxation.

“I would suggest getting plenty of sleep and getting a comfy pair of sweatpants,” Miller said. “I would also suggest this website: http://writ­ten kitten.net/ because there is no greater motivator than pictures of kit­tens.”

When it comes down to it, what helps you manage your stress depends on what fits your lifestyle and your personality. Just because your friends go to yoga doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you, too.

Amongst the chaos of school, finances, and everything else that is causing stress in your life, remember, this too shall pass.

http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Stress!.aspx