Visiting your Student at Florida State University

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By Shane Reilly

Although you or your student may have a very busy schedule, making time to visit them can be crucial in enabling them to battle homesickness and focus on their academics and extracurriculars. And even though scheduled programming for families is great during Family Weekend, there are a ton of other great opportunities in Tallahassee to take advantage of if you choose to visit your student for a weekend.

If you’re looking to have some outdoor fun, you can get “off campus” and head to the FSU Reservation, a great spot right on Lake Bradford where you can go kayaking, paddle boarding, fresh water swimming, or some sand volleyball for a relatively low price for your family and free admission for your student.

While you’re in the area, check out the Tallahassee Museum, which is also right on Lake Bradford, and offers wildlife, a nature trail, zip-line tours, and a lot more. If the outdoors is really your thing, you can head to the other side of town and check out the many greenways that Tallahassee has to offer, such J.R. Alford Greenway or Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway.

Some more family friendly locations include the Tallahassee Automobile Museum, Cascades Park, or the Historic Capitol Museum. The Tallahassee Automobile Museum houses over 160 rare vehicles, while Cascades Park is a great spot to enjoy some nice weather and a weekend picnic. The Historic Capitol Museum is the spot to check out Florida memorabilia and special exhibits about the state’s Old and New Capitol. You can also head to the top floor of the New Capitol building to see a bird’s eye view of Tallahassee.

Florida State Faculty and Staff as a Resource

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By Angel Purganan

As a first-generation college student, I didn’t get extensive guidance coming into college and assumed that it was just the norm for students to just figure things out by themselves.

That is far from the case here at FSU.

There are so many helpful and caring staff and faculty members on campus that are more than happy to help students with whatever their needs may be. I never expected how much active guidance and motivation I would receive from fostering close relationships with them.

One of the departments that we have on campus that has been extremely helpful to me is the Office of National Fellowships. I always encourage younger students to attend programming from this office or to at least introduce themselves to its faculty members because they have helped me immensely as I transition into my later years as an undergraduate. This office helps students create applications and essays to scholarships, fellowships, and any other outside-of-the-classroom opportunity that they may seek. I have had them review my personal statements, resumes, and everything in between in preparation for application season.

I wish I had taken the initiative to visit departments like the Office of National Fellowships as a freshmen because so many of the opportunities you can apply to are only freshman or sophomore specific.

I would encourage your student to reach out to the faculty members of their college if they are interested in pursuing internship or research opportunities in their field. I have always had a positive experience with FSU faculty and staff, and I am grateful to attend a university where there are always people willing to help.

How to Make the Most of Your First Year Living on Campus

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By Michael Hazan

In the first year, your student will most likely be living on campus in one of our Residence Halls! Each building houses students from around the United States, who come together to form one unique community, both floor- and building-wide.

By living on campus, your student already has built-in connections to the campus community through their roommate, suite-mates, and a Resident Assistant (RA). It is extremely important for your student to get to know their RA and build a relationship with them. Their RA can “assist” them in potentially getting involved around campus or within the residence hall. They are most likely involved in student life in some capacity or know people who are, and can easily connect them.

Within the Residence Halls, your student has multiple opportunities to get involved. They can participate in our Hall Councils or Conduct Board. These organizations work with University Housing to better the community. With the former, it is essentially a hall government where your student works on creating community with others. They are able to develop skills such as leadership building, event planning, and time management. Through the latter, members oversee cases regarding students who have violated housing policies and determine subsequent outcomes. Both are wonderful ways to meet people and make the campus a better place.

By living on campus, your student also has easy access to all public events located on campus. There are always programs going on through Union Productions, Student Government and Activities, and even movies at our Askew Student Life Center. These present opportunities to meet new people, learn more about what campus life has to offer, and get free food! Almost every event offers food or swag as an incentive for attending. A college student’s favorite word is “free,” after all!

An Out-of-State Student Experience at Florida State University

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By Nicole Hansen

My transition into Florida State was an extremely difficult one. Tallahassee was a complete culture shock compared to Chicago, Illinois. It was really hard for me to be away from my family and have to watch other people go home for the weekend when they were homesick knowing I never could.

The life of an out-of-state student is underrated. It takes a lot of independence and a lot of strength. I have been pushed to my limits in the best way and learned that I am more capable than I ever thought I was. When things got especially hard, I leaned on my friends who became my family.

I also utilized the wide variety of campus resources available to me. My freshman year I was granted a college life coach. They were so nice to talk to about my transition and they helped me decompress when life got overwhelming. Sometimes all you need is to rant, but everyone’s transition is different. Some students love being away from their family, and at first I hated it. Getting involved was the number one thing that helped make Florida State home to me.

I am proud to say that as a senior, I never get homesick. It definitely took a lot of work, but I would not have it any other way.

Saturdays are for the Rez: Campus Recreation Hosting the First Rez Days of the Year

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 2.16.30 PMPhoto courtesy of Campus Recreation.

By Abby Cloud

Every FSU student’s favorite afternoon getaway is back for the first time in 2020! On Saturday, February 29, Campus Recreation will host Rez Days: Adventure Time from 11am-4pm at The Reservation (The Rez).

Rez Days will offer students an exciting and lively Saturday afternoon complete with free food trucks, live music, and tons of activities. Watercraft rentals, a challenge course, a rec hall, swimming, and more are available and offered through The Rez. 

This event is free for students as long as they have their Student I.D., but it will cost $10 for the general public and students from other universities.

Rez Days gives students the chance to have a getaway for the afternoon without having to leave Tallahassee. Encourage your student to come enjoy the outdoors and have a great time with other FSU students. 

For more information about Rez Days: Adventure Time, you can visit the event link here. To learn more about The Rez or Campus Recreation, you can visit their website here.

Sodexo Empowers People with Disabilities in New Job Training Program at FSU

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.26.58 PMHigh school senior Ja’Quez Bivens earns credit hours for his work at FSU’s Seminole Café.

Sodexo is teaming up with local high schools to offer students with disabilities a chance to develop marketable job skills through a new job training program at Florida State University’s Seminole Café.

Each morning at 9:30am, several high school students arrive at the all-you-care-to-eat dining hall. As they put on aprons, hair nets and food service gloves for the three-hour shift, they are eager to get started and grateful to work at FSU.

“They have a smile on their face, they interact with FSU students and help make it a welcoming environment,” said Catherine Hall, PHR, SHRM-CP, human resources manager at Sodexo/Seminole Dining. “It’s important for Sodexo to reach out to people in our community and give them a chance to work. The experience empowers them, boosts their confidence, teaches job skills and gives them a chance to contribute. Plus, they have money to spend in the local economy.”

Hall has led efforts to develop partnerships with more than 20 nonprofits, public schools and state agencies in the Tallahassee area since Sodexo took over dining services at Florida State in spring 2017. The list of partners includes Goodwill Industries, Leon County Schools, FSU’s Dedman School of Hospitality and the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind.

Those connections open the door for high school and college students with developmental or language challenges to work at one of Seminole Dining’s 25 locations on campus.

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.28.28 PMJa’Quez Bivens is enrolled in Leon County Schools’ job training program called LITE.

Ja’Quez Bivens, a senior at Lincoln High School, is getting an opportunity to work and learn at Seminole Café. He’s part of a four-person crew that includes his twin brother, Jakari. One of their first duties of the day is to wipe down dining tables and mop the floor.

They are members of Leon County Schools’ LITE program — Leon’s Intensive Training for Employment — which includes about 25 students. Each weekday, they work at different locations in the community to earn school credits.

Ja’Quez feels fortunate to be in the LITE program. He hopes the experience will boost his job prospects in the future.

“It helps you a lot because you can do different things like clean or cook and learn how to get a job,” Bivens said. “I’d like to work here someday.”

Aaron Johnson, who oversees Leon County’s LITE program, says the opportunity to work on campus at Florida State can be life-changing for students.

“Sometimes employers put limitations on our students with disabilities, but Sodexo knows how to tap their talents and abilities,” Johnson said. “This training helps them develop job skills, and we’ve seen some students turn these unpaid positions into jobs.”

That’s exactly what former LITE student Victoria McKinney accomplished. After graduating from the program last year, Sodexo hired her to continue working in the Suwannee Room, one of FSU’s other all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.29.50 PMVictoria McKinney turned her job training as a student into a job with Sodexo.

McKinney is proud to have a job. She likes to keep track of her paychecks, “I get paid every two weeks,” and she especially enjoys her coworkers.

“The people here are wonderful. They’re all nice to me,” she said. “I want to stay here until I retire. It’s like a home to me.”

Leon County Schools job coach Janie Strzalka has seen a lot of examples like McKinney’s.

Strzalka helps young adults in the Adult Community Education (ACE) program transition into permanent jobs. She works with students with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 22.

“It means a lot to me to see their confidence build to the point where they don’t need you anymore,” Strzalka said. “That’s a bittersweet part of the job, but it’s rewarding to know that they’ve got this.”

Sodexo’s partnerships with organizations dedicated to finding jobs for people with disabilities have resulted in some profound impacts.

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.30.34 PMDebra Drayton is grateful for her job with Sodexo and has earned a reputation as an exceptional employee. “I hope people understand that there is nothing wrong with me because I have a disability. I can do anything that people with hearing can do.”

Sodexo employee Debra Drayton says she’s grateful for her job with Seminole Dining. Drayton, who is deaf, lost her last job when the business shut down and finding new work proved challenging. She spent four difficult months out of work until Sodexo hired her through its partnership with the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Now, Drayton performs her job with expertise and joy at Florida State. She has built a reputation for spreading smiles and good cheer as she moves through her day at Seminole Dining venues.

“Debra is always working with a smile on her face, and when she smiles you just have no choice but to smile back,” Hall said. “She communicates through sign language, facial or hand expressions, and we can’t imagine having an organization without her. Debra adds a lot to our business.”

Drayton says she’s thankful to have found a new job family and work home.

“I definitely love my job,” she said. “I love to help others and be part of a team.”

Sodexo is proud of its record of reaching out to people with disabilities in its training and hiring protocols.

In 2019, the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind recognized Sodexo with an award for supporting and hiring people who are blind or visually impaired. The council praised Sodexo for creating a barrier-free environment that helps people with disabilities live more independently.

The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities honored Sodexo with an Exceptional Employer Award for its continuing support of people with disabilities.

The national publication DiversityInc ranked Sodexo No. 6 in its 2017 list of Top 9 Companies for People with Disabilities.

Sodexo also has earned the Leading Disability Employer Seal™ from the National Organization on Disability. The distinction honors companies that follow exemplary hiring and employment practices for people with disabilities.

Screen Shot 2020-02-17 at 1.31.23 PMBrantley Goodson was hired by Sodexo after he graduated from the LITE program.

In addition, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recognized Sodexo as a leader in the state’s Unique Abilities Partner Program.

Hall says Sodexo’s progressive hiring philosophy for people with disabilities benefits the entire Seminole Dining team.

“They learn skills, and we learn how to enhance working relationships with people with unique abilities,” Hall said. “Their transition into the workforce helps us empathize with the uncertainties that everyone faces coming into a new job and learning new tasks. Ultimately, we want everything we do to enhance the quality of life for the people we serve and the people who work for us.”

The FSU Career Center Partners with JCPenney for Seminole Suit-Up

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 3.49.38 PM*Photo Courtesy of The Career Center*

By Abby Cloud

On Sunday, February 23, students will be able to have discounted access to numerous pieces of business wear at the timeless department store, JCPenney. 

The FSU Career Center has partnered with JCPenney to present Seminole Suit-Up, an event that is exclusive to students at Florida State.

JCPenney will stay open from 6:30-9:30pm and allow students to shop a variety of career wear. Students will be able to shop from men’s and women’s suits, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, shoes, and accessories. 

When your student uses the extra 30% off suit-up coupon available at the event, they can receive up to 60% off the selected career apparel on top of other established sales.

A Student ID is required for this event. 

Ensure that your student is aware of this opportunity so that they have the appropriate apparel and items necessary for that next interview, internship, or job opportunity! 

Practice your Right to Vote in FSU’s Spring SGA Elections

By Abby Cloud

This month, students can expect to take part in FSU’s Student Government Association’s Spring 2020 Elections. SGA Election Day will officially be from 8am-7pm on Wednesday, February 19. 

Students will be voting on numerous available positions during the Spring Elections:

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*Photo Courtesy of Student Government Association*

The Election Cycle for the Spring 2020 SGA Elections began on January 29 with the opening of the Candidacy applications. A week after the Declaration of Candidacy date, SGA Campaigning Week officially begins on Wednesday, February 12. 

During Campaigning Week, the FSU community can also expect an Executive Debate the day before SGA Elections on Tuesday, February 18 in the Student Services Building, Room 203.

For more information about the Spring Elections or SGA, you can visit the SGA website.

Getting Around Campus Without a Car

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By Brianna Gann

One of the biggest misconceptions of incoming freshmen is the need for a car during their first year. Getting around campus, and even off campus, during my freshman year was simple after knowing the resources FSU has for students to get around.

I am an Engineering student, which means I have to travel around 5 minutes off of campus to attend my classes and visit my actual college building, eliminating the possibility of walking.

One of the best decisions I made was being comfortable with using the Seminole Express bus system. Throughout my four years, I have realized that many students walk and spend money on Uber, because they are unfamiliar with the bus routes or how to find them. Luckily, there is an app that updates the location and routes of every bus, including the Tallahassee StarMetro buses.

The second best decision I have made to get around FSU and Tallahassee? I purchased a moped in January to make traveling to class quicker and definitely cooler (as far as outside temperature AND socially)! Of course, I understand the importance of safety, which is why I wear a helmet and make sure I take the correct roads.

Some other great options for getting around is the Nole Cab (only $5 per carload with a Student ID), the SAFE Connection bus that runs at night, ZipCars which is similar to a rental car deal for college students, and free rides to the FSU Rez!

Regardless of your student’s transportation plans, I encourage your students to become familiar with using Seminole Express, and alternative options to get around campus and beyond!

An FSU Game Day is Like No Other


By Calista Flores

Football season is one of the most lively and exciting parts of the fall semester! They are a great occasion for alumni and family members to visit the area and get in on the school spirit along with students. The options on how to spend a Game Day at Florida State are endless, but here are a few of my favorite activities.

A fun and free option is the True Seminole Tailgate. This event starts two hours before kickoff where there are tables and tents right outside of Doak Campbell Stadium filled with food, activities and organizations to engage with.

While you pass by the Stadium, don’t forget to have War Stripes painted on your face by the Lady Spirithunters.

Once you find your seat the Stadium, fans can experience some of our iconic traditions, such as watching Osceola and Renegade charge onto the field and plant their flaming spear right before kickoff and participating in the War Chant as thousands of passionate ‘Noles put their heart into the Tomahawk Chop. If you attend the game, you absolutely have to stay until half time to experience our world-renowned Marching Chiefs performance. It’s a show you won’t regret watching!

For those who don’t want to purchase tickets or just want to beat the heat, fans can park outside the Stadium and throw their own tailgates to experience the Game Day energy. You can also visit some of Tallahassee’s popular restaurants like Madison Social and Spear-It to enjoy amazing food, socialize, and watch the game on their TVs.

No matter how you chose to spend the day, being in Tallahassee during Game Day is an unforgettable time and will give anyone who experiences it a new appreciation for Florida State. For more information about how you or your student can get tickets, visit Florida State Athletics official site.