Free Food: It Lures Us Everywhere


“Come to this event! FREE FOOD!”

This is a typical sign seen around all college campuses. Student organizations are always luring people into events with the promise of free food. What is it about food that brings flocks of people to events that they never would have visited otherwise?

I surveyed a large number of students from a variety of campuses around the U.S. regarding the important coalition between student organizations and food.

Food has always been a binding experience, but in college it becomes more than just that: “Everyone has to eat, but not everyone grows up eating the same things. I think in that way eating really plays into the idea of what college is promoted as being; a learning experience where you are expected to grow as a person. What better way to broaden yourself than with food?” said Gus Merwin, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Many students that I talked to echoed this sentiment. Food has the power to bring unique people together in a setting where they are comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. Great food has the power to even transcend a good conversation; it has the power to create lasting impressions.  Everyone needs to eat; why not eat together around delicious food?

Along with good conversation, food also holds the ability to further your career. Student organizations on campuses often hold events that provide possibilities of career building, and there’s no greater way to start networking with someone than talking about food. Students that I talked to often talked about how they’ve discovered many networking opportunities whenever an event holds food. Food is the perfect conversation starter when trying to start a beneficial acquaintanceship in your field.

Through my surveys and interviews, I compiled data on the importance and power of food when it’s paired with student organizations:

See the data and the article published in College & Cook Magazine


Pointerest: Food Memories


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.

Pointerest: Bite-Sized Cook-Off


It has come to my attention that most students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point think that all there is to college cooking is Easy Mac. If they want to go out to eat, their only options are Toppers and Taco Bell. I want to change that. There is so much more to cooking than microwaving powder. Since coming to Stevens Point, I have had the pleasure of discovering a small town filled with endless local and flavorful restaurants and culinary experiences. Good food is here! Don’t settle for anything less.

Such a culinary experience occurred last week Friday at the Student Association of Nutrition and Dietetics’ First Annual Bite- Sized Cook-off in the CPS Café.

The event was a competition in which four teams of dietetics students served three courses of themed meals. The teams each had a theme: Greek, Root Vegetables, Korean, and Rice-based dishes. Those that attended the event voted on what team’s food they liked the most.

All of these students deserve recognition for creativity in their dishes and the ability to make a large amount of the same mini-bites. I mean, it was impossible not to “Aww” at the adorableness of a mini-burger made out of the spices of a traditional Korean barbeque. The presentation of each dish was beautiful in a way that almost made you not want to eat it because it was a form of art.

The true art form was in the flavors. Many of them were fearless, to say the least. Take the parsnip spice cake with ginger cream cheese frosting, for example. Who would ever think to put a parsnip in a cake? Whoever did was onto something. The combination of the root vegetables, spices and cream cheese frosting was outstanding. But can you really ever go wrong when there’s cream cheese frosting involved?

The greatness of this event was the fact that it showed that great and fresh food can be found in Stevens Point and great chefs can be found among the students of UWSP. Maybe you’re not ready to go make some baba ghanoush, but you too can be a good chef. Step away from the ramen and challenge yourself to make something a little more delicious tonight.

Studying With Kids


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.”


Going Through A Quarter-Life Crisis


(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