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E ditor's note: Kathryn “Taya” Tokarski is a three-sport standout at Saint Augustine’s College; Tokarski led the Lady Falcons to the 2012 CIAA volleyball title with an upset victory over defending champion Chowan. Last spring, she claimed the CIAA women’s javelin individual crown in track and field. Upon Tokarski’s own admission, being a student-athlete is not an easy task, it requires many sacrifices socially, physically and emotionally. The Aug Blog recently asked Taya to share what it’s like to be a student and an athlete, take your time in reading this eye opening post from St. Aug’s own, Taya Tokarski.

If you’re an athlete, you know what it feels like to be under pressure, not only on the court/field but off the court as well. Your ultimate goal is to graduate with a degree and leave a lasting impression on your opponents, team mates, coaches and alma mater. The ability to juggle sports and school is one that a student-athlete must master early in their collegiate career. I have learned that sometimes I have to sacrifice the small things in life to be able to play three sports and maintain a 3.8 GPA. It is easy to say that you played on a college team but to be good is another thing. Most athletes want to be the best their school has ever seen and I am no different. Yet, being an outstanding student-athlete requires talent and discipline. The pressure is on you at all times to do your best (academically and athletically). I’ll be honest; it can sometimes get the better of you. There are days where you wish your body wasn’t so sore from games and workouts and other days when you find yourself on top of the world. Finding the balance is the tough part. You have to make sacrifices if you want to be the best. That may mean not going out on a Thursday night because you have practice the next day or not stuffing your face with a double order of chili cheese fries. I admit, I have struggled with prioritizing my responsibilities, for example, going out when I know I have practice the next day, but come on who hasn’t done that?! I also can admit that I am human and have moments in which it all becomes emotionally overwhelming. As a student-athlete, you have to be prepared for the good and bad days.

Many of my days start around 5:30 a.m. with team workouts, which usually run for 2 hours. Then I go to breakfast, class and then try to catch a nap before practice. After practice, it is supper time. I know I always look forward to supper; I get so hungry in practice. After supper, I do homework and try to go to sleep early. On any given day your practice and workout schedule will change, student-athletes must be prepared readjust the balance of school and sports due to the ever changing schedule of practices, games and workouts.

Organization is a key thing when it comes to being a student-athlete. Some days are beyond hectic, running from class to class or workouts to class. And between all the training you have to find time to eat, sleep and do homework. At times, your social life will get take a back seat. People do not realize the hard work that athletes put in to be on top of their game.

However, let’s face it; some athletes aren’t made to be a student and an athlete. I always thought that the true athletes are weeded out when they get to college level; college is the time when you have to be responsible. You don’t have mommy or daddy making your lunches and waking you up every day. Your college experience is what you make of it. Every athlete on this campus has to remember that school comes first; school should take precedence even over sports. You have to have fun and enjoy your times as a college student but you also have to start making decisions, decisions that may very well determine the quality of your future. No matter how tough life can be, you have to always stay ahead of the game.Sports should be a part of who you are, NOT what you are. There are times I complain because I don’t always have the time or energy to do what I would like to do but I wouldn’t change a single thing about my college experience and playing three sports. It is tough but it is what I love to do. And for all you athletes out there keep working hard and striving for excellence on and off the court.

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College athletic events are typically about the sport, competition and school pride, yet part of school pride is the fans representing their team. Many times, fans don a T-shirt with their team’s logo on it and call it a day, but why can’t one be trendy and fashionable yet still represent for their team? That’s right, they can! A group of Saint Augustine’s College student leaders were recently commissioned to put together some Falcon inspired ensembles and this is what they created.

The guys:

Alejandro Crisostomo, senior in Biology and Engineering Mathematics of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is wearing long sleeved, cotton, Saint Augustine’s College “145 Years of Excellence” T-shirt, dark-washed denim and Nike sneakers. This look may seem simple, yet with this kind of ensemble you can accessorize, as Alejandro did with a fierce pair of shades and eye-catching watch.

Frank James, senior in Human Performance and Wellness of Hampton, Va., put together an interesting combination. He layered a 2011 St. Aug Homecoming T-shirt with a plaid button up shirt and completed the look with navy cargo pants. Frank incorporated the College’s school colors by pairing navy, white gray. Frank is a prime example of layering the right way. He layered a seemingly dressy shirt with a casual cotton T-shirt to produce a look of effortless style. In addition, Frank complemented his look with accessories; he wore his 2011 Saint Augustine’s College Pioneer Bowl championship ring and a Mohawk.

The ladies:

Diamon Brooks, freshman in Sociology of Charlotte, N.C., took an unconventional approach to showing school spirit and being fashionable. Diamon wore a pair of dressy trouser shorts in black, a warm-colored cotton camisole, a navy cropped blazer and black combat boots. Diamon infused her inner Falcon by wearing a Saint Augustine’s College lapel pin on the lapel of her cropped blazer. Additionally, Diamon accessorized by carrying a St. Aug umbrella in preparation of a rainy day.

Taya Tokarski, senior in Liberal Studies of Watson, Saskatchewan, Canada, displayed her sweet and subdued sense of style by pairing a gray fly away cardigan with a white Saint Augustine’s College polo shirt and dark-washed skinny jeans, but added flair by doing gold embellished thong sandals. Taya also finished her look with a St. Aug “145 Years of Excellence” lapel pin and a Falcon fan for when the games are so intense they raise the temperature in Emery gymnasium!

Tips to Remember:

Accessorize: Accessories have the ability to take an outfit from mediocre to incredibly fashionable. Accessories, such as scarves and jewelry can serve as bold, statement pieces. Ladies, you could do a simple, v neck white t, dark washed denim and brown boots with a St. Aug scarf. Completely trendy and comfortable while simultaneously showing support for St. Aug. Furthermore, some times less is more but some times less is boring… a plain white t, jeans and boots is cute for running errands but not so much when attending a social event such as a basketball or volleyball game.

Layer: Layers add dimension to any ensemble and can serve as a way to incorporate color into every outfit. For example, a guy can do a white collared dress shirt under a cashmere sweater embroidered with the Falcon logo. Never fear adding volume to your outfit, for females it could be as simple as a integrating a bold color to your outfit.

In summation, fashion and school spirit can and do go hand and hand… your style is just that, yours, so make it personal but don’t forget to accessorize and layer. See you at the games!

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The Aug Blog recently asked a current St. Aug senior who happens to be a member of a Greek organization to tackle the question, "To Go Greek or Not". These are his findings...

The presence of Greeks on Saint Augustine's College's campus is at an all time high. The dazzling party hops and chants continuously replay in my head. I think to myself, "Man, that's the new wave!" and I could definitely see myself being a part of a fraternity or sorority. My biggest questions now are not which Greek organization to pursue, but why should I even join? I have done some asking around and gained some knowledge about why people like me "Go Greek" and more importantly why they should not. Here's what I came up with.

Go Greek- To broaden your network. In this day and age it is the people you know that get you in the door, and the skills that you possess ultimately keep you in the room. Fraternities and sororities have a plethora of successful professionals willing to provide opportunities for fellow members.

Don’t Go Greek-“To be a T-shirt wearer.” This means you’re always wearing paraphernalia, attending socials, but never show up to the programmed events or to the many community service projects. Contrary to popular belief, assisting others has been the primary objective of Greek organizations since their inception. If you don’t plan to work, I would say, “Don’t plan on joining.” You will only be a disservice to the organization and your community.

Go Greek- To enter an organization of high morals and even higher expectations. As you probably have noticed, members in Greek organizations have a ton of pride. They are overly protective of their plots, clearing people out of the way as they party hop, and the recital of distinctive chants to make their presence well known. Everything seems so superficial at first glance. What we fail to realize is that these individuals maintain high grade point averages and continuously give back to their community. I have known some Greeks to put the needs of others before their own. During my research I’ve found that these traits have remained consistent throughout the history of several Greek organizations. The standard is set high, and acceptance requires for you to provide proof that you possess the necessary abilities to carry on the organization’s legacy. If you are anything like me you have a lot of work to do.

Don’t Go Greek- To be stagnant and reluctant to grow. You must be willing and prepared to change, presumably for the better. Being in Greek organizations requires some versatility. I’ve observed various people before they joined organizations; they lack certain traits that would make them stand out as a leader. Post initiation, I have seen an individual’s swag go from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. They now have charisma and a personality that cannot be faded. So if you are unwilling to sacrifice simple things that prevent you from being a leader, i.e. poor time management and/or arrogance, do not go Greek.

It is a grand privilege to have the opportunity to join any Greek organization. I respect all founders that help pave the way for many students that aspire to become a leader. They have provided leadership and service for generations to come. By going Greek you have all the potential to make an everlasting positive impact on the world. I leave you with this. If it’s not in your heart, Don’t Go Greek!

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Recent Saint Augustine's College graduate and former Student Government Association President Masac Dorlouis offers advice to freshmen on behalf of the "Aug Blog".

Entering your freshmen year of college has got to be one of the most emotionally charged experiences you’ll go through in life. No more than a couple months ago you graduated from high school, but already you are beginning another chapter in your life. You are worried about so much, yet you have nothing to fear because these tips that I will share with you helped me graduate from college a world citizen, leader and professional with a degree.

1. Be Purpose-Driven: Many of you students come from different backgrounds, nationalities, and classes of life, however you seek a common goal—graduating with a degree in a timely manner. Odd thing is some of you don’t understand why you are in college, or feel forced to attend college because that is what your parents wanted for you. Others are just here to party. Whatever the reason for your enrollment into Saint Augustine’s College, you are now in the doors so find out exactly what it is you see yourself doing in life as a career, declare a major, and put forth the effort. Do this for you, those loved ones who have shown you support, and the lifestyle you want to live in the future.

2. You Must Work: Since you were young, people have always told you to dream, but have you ever wondered what exactly must you do to make your dream a reality? The answer is simple—work. Successful people like President Barack Obama, Beyonce Knowles, and Michael Jordan didn’t become great because they did what they could to get by. Each of them worked diligently at what they do to become the best in their perspective careers. Gain better study habits and start trying to spend time experiencing what it is you want to become whether it is an architect or a pediatrician. So don’t settle for less, apply yourself and do the best.

3. Prioritize: Class time is not a pass time! Your most important responsibility in college is to attend class. Could you see yourself throwing $20,000 out the window? That is essentially what you are doing when you don’t go to class—wasting your money and your opportunity. College differs from high school in that you don’t go straight from one class to another. Instead, you schedule your classes according to what time and day they are offered: English 101 may be scheduled at 8 a.m., but your next class (College Algebra) may not be scheduled until 12 p.m. Creating a schedule or buying a planner can help you manage your time so that you are maximizing the time you are not in class by creating homework/study hours or at least keeping track of what you are doing with it.

4.Get Involved: Often times students feel as though they don’t belong or get homesick, but one way of coping with these feelings is to join a club, organization, sorority, fraternity, sport or performing art. This is a great way to establish bonds with your fellow Falcons, while growing through the experiences you gain by being involved on your campus. You may also have an opportunity to display your strengths or even talents by joining the right organization. There are even societies you can join in each department that can further help you develop in your major. In college, you’ll find that you will have time on your hands, but what is critical to your success is what you do with it.

The tips listed above are the top four, but this list is not conclusive. Remember that you always have help available because even though you are attending college by yourself, you are not alone. Get to know your professors, or seek a tutor if you need more assistance. Lastly, find that balance because college is a mixture of social and academic activity. Do what you need to do so you can do what you want to do! Best wishes freshmen.

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S ix thousand, 12 percent, 78 percent ... do these numbers mean anything to you? If you are a college student they will. According to a report, 6,000 qualified North Carolina college students will not receive a financial aid package this year that is even remotely comparable to their financial aid package from previous years. WRAL went on to show that the state budget cut would also mean a 12 percent cut in need based assistance for private colleges. If you take that a step further, a significant portion of the 78 percent that are Saint Augustine’s College students will receive smaller need based grants if any at all.

In addition to these staggering numbers, the budget cuts will also affect higher education institutions’ budgets. Many institutions will have to lower their budgets and or eliminate some programs in attempts to financially rectify the lack of government aid to support students. Essentially, as tuition goes up (partially because of budget cuts and an unpredictable economic environment), financial aid packages will decrease. As financial aid packages decrease so do budgets for the institutions, thus creating an environment for an increase in drop out rates and a decline in quality educations.

If you are a current Saint Augustine’s College student, you may experience first hand the effects of the budget cuts, whether in the organizations you participate in or a reduction in available resources …the ramifications of the cuts will may be felt. If you are a parent of a current or future Saint Augustine’s College student you may also have to find other ways to pay for your child’s college education if you were planning on relying on financial aid. If you are an alumnus of St. Aug, the budget cuts could affect you as well; your potential legacy may decide to not attend college due to a lack of funding.

Saint Augustine’s College will continue to provide students with an education they rightfully deserve. However, due to budget cuts many students will not be able to continue their collegiate experience because they simply won’t be able to afford it without financial aid. Your gift will help various Saint Augustine’s College achieve their dream of a college education. Click here to give today.

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Planking is a term easily found as a trending topic on Twitter or a large video source on YouTube yet the actual origin, purpose and definition of what exactly it is remains rather nebulous. According to BBC World News planking is defined as: “a prank that involves lying face down in a public place, with photos posted on social networking sites.” BBC News goes on to report that the origin of planking is highly disputed, but it either started in 2000 as the then aptly named “Lying Down” game or by some Australian teenagers in 2008 with the name planking. Essentially, planking is a borderline outrageous joke, which leads one to question why it has gained such popularity and media attention lately, possibly it was the death of an Australian man who decided to plank on the ledge of a multistory building or it could be the increase of celebrities posting pictures on social media sites planking. Planking’s spurt of recent popularity is unknown but undeniable nonetheless.

In addition, planking has caused some controversy due to members of the African American community being outraged by the eerie resemblance between some planking pictures and how slaves were packed into slave ships before being transported across the Atlantic Ocean during the Atlantic Slave trade. On top of the visual correlation, some African Americans have stated the term “planking” originated from slavery. As revealed by the, if one types “slave ship” into Wikipedia, they will stumble upon a sentence that reads as follows: “Often the ships, also known as Guineamen, transported hundreds of slaves, who were chained tightly to plank beds” Some would argue that it is a stretch to link a childish attempt for attention to one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind, known as slavery. One could even argue that planking is dangerous due to the 20-year-old Australian losing his life while planking.

But the facts remain those who find planking offensive will continue to protest it and refuse to do it and those who choose to plank should remember to plank responsibly.

For more information on planking visit the following links:
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In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, many questions were posed concerning student safety, including how did such a calculating menace get into college and fly under the radar for so long. Background checks are one alternate deterrent for such massacres as the one in Virginia.

Such an alternate can provoke the question of “when did society become so dangerous that college students had to be screened to determine if they are too dangerous for higher education?” The answer to that question is April 2007 at Virginia Tech University or maybe April 1999 at Columbine High School or February 2008 at Louisiana Technical College. The reality is this is the society we now live in.

But are background checks too intrusive for college students? Not really. When applying to rent an apartment (which most college students will probably do at least once in their lifetime) you must surrender to a background check. When applying for certain jobs background checks must be performed. Even some churches require background checks before clearing volunteers to work church events or work with church members, so why prolong the inevitable?

In addition, we have all heard the old adage, “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” If a college applicant has a record of past violent encounters then odds are those traits are still alive and well within that student. Nonetheless, people can and do learn from their mistakes, rehabilitation and change is completely possible but not always probable, thus the reason background checks that deem themselves dubious could possibly have a student hearing in conjunction, an opportunity for the incoming student to “plead their case” so to speak.

Lastly, it is the college/university’s responsibility to protect each of its students as best as they can; that means working diligently to provide students with a safe campus that is conducive to learning. Clearly, a shooting rampage is not the best supplement for learning. Background checks on college students can be viewed many different ways, a Catch-22, either the higher education institution will experience resistance for being too intrusive on the college student’s past and potentially profiling students. On the contrary, the institution will catch flack if a shooting were to occur; there would be an outcry of outrage because the school did not protect their students.

The point is simple, nobody is going to like every decision a school makes but the ultimate goal is to keep students safe. Background checks on incoming students won’t totally eradicate the potential dangers but can and will prevent some dangerous situations from occurring. Background checks are a part of life, might as well expose students to them now.

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Ok. Let’s take a moment and think about social media profiles — your Facebook, your Twitter, even the videos you upload on YouTube. All of these profiles are a reflection of you, good or bad. Go login into your Facebook page, and take a long, hard look at your profile, what does it say about you? Is it accurate? Then go look at your Twitter profile, what conclusions would a stranger, potential boss, potential mate, potential professor, your parents or even your grandparents make from your tweets?

If you are on Facebook talking about your drug use, drinking, partying or dating/marital relationship drama, you should understand that does not reflect professionalism or portray you as a person who knows the value of discretion.

As Americans we have a right to freedom of speech; however that does not mean you are excluded from the repercussions that may come from your free speech. If you hate your job or your boss, vent to a trusted friend or your spouse, do not post it on your public Twitter or Facebook page.

Falcons, the moral of this social media story is simple: somebody is always watching you. Your current state is just that — current. You may currently be a college student or office manager, but five years from now you may be a CEO or seeking a job in your career field and old social media posts may and can very well come back to haunt you.

Someday you will be a parent (if you are not already), and you may not want your children to know you liked to fist fight outside of your dorm room. You are somebody’s daughter or son, and you may not want them to know that you can curse like a sailor. Use discretion and common sense when using social media websites.

Whatever, you say is in the Internet atmosphere forever and cannot be taken back!

Tips for Social Media Sites:

  • Use discretion. Some things should remain private, such as your PRIVATE life.
  • Avoid foul language, it is unprofessional and can be received as offensive and immature.
  • If you don’t want everybody in your business, don’t put your business out there via Facebook or Twitter.
  • Utilize your privacy settings, if you and your professor or boss are Facebook friends, you may want to put them on a limited profile. If you are a student-athlete and you like to tweet about controversial issues, make your profile private, but be aware that your comments could still become public.

For more tips on practicing smart social networking check out the links below:

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