Tag Archives: TowsonUniversity

From a fishing village to Towson

This week the Thriving Tiger takes a slightly different focus. We asked Kanji Takeno, our beloved University Photographer, to share his words of wisdom and encouragement with our students as they ramp up for finals. Enjoy his storytelling and photos.

KANJI1 I was born in a small, quiet fishing village. When I was a kid, I used to go to the concrete harbor and look down into the water. I enjoyed looking at the creatures living there. One day I went there with my brother and friends. During low tide time, seaweed and shellfish attached to the concrete wall are exposed. They were fascinating to me.  High tide came back swiftly.  I noticed my shoes were getting wet. I got up quickly and started moving to the stone steps to go up. The wet seaweed was very slippery. So I fell. I immediately panicked. My brother and friends did not know what to do. I struggled to get out of the water in vain. All of sudden I saw an elderly fishing man trying to grab my hands. I still have the vivid image…my aimlesslyKANJI2 struggling hands, the man’s face, and his hand, trying to grab my hands. He saved me. I stood drenched on the edge with my face up. I saw the blue sky.  I learned something from the experience. When you are in trouble, struggle, struggle and struggle. Do not give up.  If you keep trying hard, you will be pulled out of the trouble.  

My father worked for the Japanese railway system after he graduated from middle school.  My mother was a dressmaker. She was also a hard worker.  I am the first one who went to college among all my relatives. My parents worked hard for my college education. My mother used to tell me, “Find out how far you can go.” The village had two huge attractions: the ocean and mountains. I always wondered what was beyond the horizon.   While I was a student, I started working as a freelance photo assistant for many established photographers.  The experience made me pursue my career in photography.   During these days I met several “fishermen” who saved me and led me in the right direction.

On Sept. 23rd, 1996, my life at Towson University started. It was a beautiful day. I looked up at the blue sky. A year later I started teaching Japanese language.  My two major dreams came true. I was not very much of a “people” photographer then. I set my goal: “happy, positive, smiley” images. I struggled. Then I realized I needed to be “happy, positive and smiley” first, before I could translate that into my photography. My photographs now are very close to my goal. I will never forget good photographs are the result of wonderful TU students, our beautiful campus, and helpful faculty and staff. I know I am no “fisherman” to you, but I would love to make you smile and make this day a little easier to live. By the way, do me a favor. When you travel to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, meet a little kid and you hear him saying, “One day I will study in your country and make a difference to the world”, you say looking at the eyes, “You have everything you need to make your dream come true. Good luck”.

Have a great day. Keep smiling. Thank you all.



Lay the Smackdown on Your Next Paper!

Thriving Tiger blog, The UndertakerYou have The Undertaker of all papers, a formidable foe to challenge your intellectual pro-wrestling (erm, or pro-writing) skills–what do you do? How do you take on such an opponent? Check out this handy guide we put together to help you clothesline your next writing assignment—informed, of course, by The Rock.

The Rock says this: “You Will Go One-on-One with the Great One!”
(Academic translation: know your audience and understand your assignment)

Before The Rock even steps into the ring, he learns his opponent’s moves inside and out. In order to take down your next paper, you’ll have to find out exactly what you’re up against: What is the purpose of the assignment? What are the requirements? Think about the skills your professor wants you to demonstrate through the assignment. For instance, some want to examine your ability to form your own argument; others want you to synthesize current research. Don’t forget to consider your audience – The Rock didn’t become popular by ignoring what the crowd wanted! And, if you don’t understand something, ask!

The Rock says this: “Can You smell what the Rock is cookin’!?”
(Academic translation: narrow your topic)

Even in the Royal Rumble, The Rock can’t fight everyone at once; he has to fight one opponent at a time. Likewise, in the writing arena, you can’t tackle multiple large topics in one paper. Writing about mental health for your term paper is excellent—but how can you write about all aspects of the subject in 10 pages? Entire books are written about specific mental disorders! A more manageable research paper would focus on, for example, how marijuana affects the development of bipolar disorder in 18-22 year olds with predispositions to the ailment. Asking questions–like who, what, when, where, and why–can help you start to wrangle your topic.

the rock v the undertaker

The Rock says this: “The Rock will take you down Know-Your-Role Boulevard and Check you Directly into the Smackdown Hotel!”
(Academic Translation: research your topic)

One of the reasons The Rock can lay the verbal smackdown is that he has the muscles to back it up. As a writer, you need to bulk up: in other words, get your research on. Whether your paper requires formal research or informal methods like self-reflection or interviews, be knowledgeable about the topic you’ve selected. If your assignment requires you to use scholarly sources, take advantage of the great resources available through Cook Library. Keep in mind that the first sources you come across may not always be the best for your paper; be thorough and take your time.

The Rock says this: “Just Bring It!”
(Academic translation: organize, organize, organize)

The Rock never goes into the ring without a plan. Pre-planning can help you formulate a strategy to take down any intimidating writing assignment.Think about your most important points and examples and organize your paper accordingly. Quickly outlining your ideas before you start and reverse outlining after you finish writing are effective methods of making sure you’re staying focused. It’s okay–and even encouraged–to revise and reorganize your paper as you write and learn more about your topic.

Thriving Tiger Blog, the rock picture

The Rock says this: “Layeth the Smacketh Down”
(Academic translation: Get it down on paper!)

Well, you’ve set the foundation for your paper by researching and organizing. Time to write! An important thing to remember is that your first draft is going to be less than perfect; it’ll look like The Rock when he wore fanny packs. The good thing? Your first draft always has the potential to turn into The Rock as he is now! Trust the process and the hard work you’ve put into your paper so far and just write. Have faith–the cream will always rise to the top.

Take your draft
The Rock says this: “I am the People’s Champ!”
(Academic Translation: you are the Writing Champ!)

Before The Rock can claim his victory belt, he has to execute his signature finishing move, The People’s Elbow, and pin his opponent. You’re now in a similar position. You’ve done the prep work. You’ve written your first draft. You’ve endured countless wrestling metaphors. Now it’s time to finish off The Undertaker and become a WWE champion! So, how do you do this?

Check your organization, make sure you have evidence to support your ideas, look for grammatical and spelling mistakes, and take your draft to the Writing Center! Doing these things can transform your paper from a roody poo draft into a polished piece of academic magnificence. Oh–and don’t forget to collect your championship belt after pinning The Undertaker.


Tyler New, Michele Calderon, Miranda Rennie, and Jessica Reyes
Towson Writing Center
LA 5330

Good Grades No Scam

seuss1The semester is underway
Halloween’s coming soon
Here’s a few tips to study
You can start this afternoon!

Grab your binders and your books
Notes, highlighters, and pens
Get your studying in now
So you can hang out with your friends!

Not sure where to start?
You’re not the only one
Just keep reading along
And visit the AAC when you’re done!

Study Buddy

Do not: Study with your best friend in his/her dorm while listening to music and getting visits from the other people on your floor. You will literally get nothing done.

Perhaps the best study buddy is someone who is close, but not too close. Someone you get along with, but not someone who is going to distract you. “You can’t study with best friends because you end up talking, listening to music, and you can just get easily distracted unless everyone is on the same page, like ‘oh we have to study’ but other than that…” Ori Onazi, Senior Psychology Major. Unless you are on the same page, you cannot study with someone. Seriously though, you cannot go over the same information unless you are looking at the same page…

Anyway, I digress. Find someone who is compatible with the way you study best. Like any other relationship, don’t be afraid to try it out. Date your study buddy (not literally). Try it out, if it works, keep it going. If it doesn’t, break it off. Find someone who matches or compliments your learning style. Also, like any other relationship, you can’t rush perfection. If you can hold each other accountable, you are more likely to stay on track, and more likely to succeed in your goals. Set a solid time aside each week, and walk yourselves to Cook to be more productive.  There are group study areas on the second and third floors.

Hate to Wait

Procrastination is one of the easiest things to do for any student. When you know you have weeks, sometimes longer, to complete assignments; it’s easy to get side tracked and think you can still get your work and studying done on time. Then, as the days go by, you start to remember that you have other things to do and more assignments keep popping up and all of the sudden, you don’t have time to finish everything. This can cause tremendous stress and never ends well. Remember that the semester, and college in general, is a marathon not a sprint. You can’t learn everything you need to know for the test or write a paper in one night. Take it from someone who has done both; it never ends well. Even if you think the grade you got on the test was good enough, there is a difference between doing well on a test and learning your craft. Practicing good habits of planning ahead and learning for retention will serve you very well in your future job and in life.

Prudent Student

To be a great student, you must excel to get the grade! You should start by utilizing all resources that are available on campus; whether that is tutoring, the writing center, or the counseling center. If you are able, you should go to meet with your professor during their office hours, or before and after class. Always plan on attending every class, sit up front, and take lots of notes. Lastly, do whatever it takes to get the A!

Boats of Notes

Note-taking is an essential part of all of your courses.  There are many different styles out there and itsuess2 is important that you find a style or styles that best suit your own personal learning style.  You will need to adapt the way you take notes based off of the course that you are taking notes for.  Your notes for a science or math course will look different than your notes for your history class.  There are also plenty of apps available for your phone, tablet, or computer.  The one most utilized by the Academic Achievement Center is Evernote.  Evernote allows you to organize your notes in an online platform that you can access anywhere with an internet connection.  If you are looking for more information on note taking stop by one of the Note-Taking Methods workshops that we are hosting this week on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

The moral of the story is: have a plan! Make a study schedule and stick to it. Pick a study buddy who will help you achieve success, not necessarily your best friend. Take full advantage of the academic recourses on campus to help you excel in class. And above all else, don’t procrastinate! Get the assignments done ahead of time and you won’t feel as stressed.  The earlier you finish assignments, the more time you have to edit and revise your work. The earlier you begin studying, the more prepared you will be for the test and the more you will be able to commit the information to memory for long-term use. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Graduate Students
Kristy Gustavson, Steven Hand, Marissa Insinna, & Eddie Lomash

Learning Specialist
Tabatha Beck & Jeremy Boettinger

A Writing Center Story: Tina Writes a Paper

Tina Belcher knows how to write. When it comes to her first college paper, though, she has a bit of a crap attack. She doesn’t even know where to start. As she hopelessly wanders the halls of the Liberal Arts building, she finds her way to the fifth floor and sees something that stops her in her tracks completely.


She walks into the Writing Center, and a receptionist asks her if she’s here for an appointment. After a brief silence and a long “Uuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh,” the receptionist assumes she doesn’t have an appointment and consequently helps her schedule one.

“There’s someone available tomorrow at 12. How many pages is it?”

“Oh my. I don’t have anything written yet. This was a mistake. I’ll go. It’s not you, it’s me. Maybe we can still be friends? Never mind. I don’t want to seem needy.”

“No, wait, you don’t need to write anything for an appointment! We can help you figure out your topic and a rough outline. Sound good?”

“Really? I can’t believe I was so quick to give up on us. Please forgive me. Tomorrow at 12, let’s make it a date?”

“Not me, your writing assistant. Your writing assistant for your appointment.  But yes, you’re scheduled for 12 tomorrow.”

“Oh, right. Okay, cool, bye, I guess.”

Tomorrow comes, and Tina crosses the threshold to begin her journey. She gives herself a pep talk. Come on, Tina. You’re a smart, strong, sensual woman. You can do this. Just put on your ‘everything is okay’ face.

2Okay, So she’s a little nervous. But half of life is just showing up, right? She sits down with her writing assistant, and it’s show time.

“What’s the assignment?”

“It’s a research paper on a current issue. It can be anything.”

“Alright! Have you chosen something?”


“I think we can work with that. What do you care about?”


“Interesting. Do you know about any current issues surrounding horses? If not, we can figure something else out.”

“Actually, there has been a huge dispute in recent years about the ethics of the horse racing industry. Horses are raised for racing, their racing conditions are extremely dangerous, and they are typically euthanized as soon as they’re injured beyond recovery. It’s a mess.”

“Sounds like you know your topic.”

Tina is hugely relieved. She looks at her outline, and lingers for a moment while basking in her
Brittnee and Meg web cover resizednewfound academic confidence. She can’t wait to write a paper on something she actually cares about.

This will be easy. “Time for the charm bomb to explode all over this assignment,” she whispers to herself in anticipation.

What a day. On a roll, Tina goes to the library to start her first stage of research. She strolls over to the research help desk and gets advice from a librarian on the school’s databases, optimizing her scope of scholarly horse-related articles.

Finding a computer, she realizes the only keywords she has thought of so far are “horse racing” and “ethics.” Apparently researching is no simple task, because she’s not getting the results she needs. This is it. This is the end. I think I’ll just lie down on the floor.
IMG_2692Suddenly, a research assistant walks over to answer another student’s question about the relevance of a source for his paper. Once again, she is saved. She gets up from the floor where she was laying and patiently awaits his help.

“Hello. I need help with my research.”

“Great. Let’s look at what you’ve got so far.”

“Alright. Hey, if we’re doing homework together, does this mean we’re friends now?”

Life is good, and Tina is crushing this essay. She comes up with a first draft, and calls the writing center for another appointment.

“How many pages is this paper?”

“Five pages, but it may be more if I can manage to interview a horse for my topic. How can we talk about horse issues, but never ask the horses how they feel? It’s time for a change.”

“Alright, you’re scheduled at 12 with a writing assistant who specializes in ethics. Sound good?”

“It’s a date.”

Rock on, Tina. You’ve got this! We know you’re no hero, you put your bra on one boob at a time, just like everyone else; but, with your newfound “friends” at the Writing Center and beyond, we know your writing will be more than just doodles on a page. If you believe you’re a scholar, you will be. You already are!

Becca Hertl and Abby Murphy
Writing Assistants, Writing Center

Me, Myself and I! Why Self-Care is Essential, and How to Practice It


See if this situation sounds familiar: On my day off last week, I knew that I should read for class, start writing a paper, do some work for a club I belong to, finish a task for work, and then get to bed early. I was already tired and frazzled from the week so far, but I had a busy weekend ahead, so I wanted to get a lot of work done that day.

Typical college day, right? We’re pulled in many different directions; classes, work, clubs and activities can feel overwhelming very quickly. But there is a mindset that can help us feel more balanced and relaxed: self-care.

self-care-calvin-n-hobbesHere’s what I actually decided to do on my day off: I slept late, made some tea, read a magazine, started reading for class, got tired of the reading and took a nap, cooked an actual dinner, and then finished the reading. The next day, I felt more prepared to tackle the work that was left, and I felt more “at peace” about what I could and couldn’t get done.

Did I do all the things that I thought I “should” do? Nope. But did relaxing still benefit me? Absolutely!

What is self-care?

Self-care is just what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. It sounds simple, so why is it so hard to practice? It’s because self-care requires us to do three things, which don’t always come naturally:

  1. Be aware of what we need in order to feel better.
  2. Understand that it’s okay for us to take care of ourselves.
  3. Commit to doing the things that make us feel better, on a daily basis.

Let’s break these things down:

  1. Being aware of what you need can be a very enlightening experience! Sometimes your body tells you very clearly what you need (like sleep if you’re tired, food if you’re hungry), but sometimes you have to look a little closer. A few examples:
    • Does eating a certain type of food energize you, or make you feel sluggish?
    • Does being physically active amp you up, or calm you down?
    • Do you need some time alone to recharge, or do you feel best when you’re with a group of people?
    • How much sleep do you usually need to feel OK the next day?

Self-awareness requires us to pay attention to how we feel, which can feel strange if you haven’t done it before. But once you start paying attention, it’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself!

  1. Once you know a few things that help you feel better, what’s next? The second step requires self-value. Self-value or self-worth is the idea that you feel as if your presence plays a valuable role in the world around you. It is very easy to let other people’s needs and expectations of us (professors, supervisors, co-workers, classmates, family, and even friends) seem like they shouldWhile being responsible, generous, and team-oriented are still important, it’s just as important to help yourself feel your best. It’s like the safety notice on an airplane, telling you to put on your oxygen mask before helping someone else; to be able to do anything else, you have to keep yourself safe!

Take my example. If I stayed tired and frazzled, I probably wasn’t going to do my work nearly as well as if I was relaxed or refreshed. So I might as well attend to my needs, knowing that in the end I’ll be better prepared for whatever else I have to do.

  1. The last piece of self-care is making a commitment to practicing it. The good news is, you’re going to feel better when you practice it! The not-so-good news is, it’s hard to do, even when you really want to do it. To use the airplane example, it’s very easy to help someone else put on their mask first, especially if you’re used to doing things that way. Sometimes, it can also feel like something you do for self-care is just one more thing on your way-too-long to-do list.

It takes a commitment, one day at a time, to remember to put yourself first. It takes a commitment to change your perspective. Self-care doesn’t have to be a task to get done. Self-care is a tool to help you feel better about yourself, and to help you perform that much better at all the other things you do in life.

There’s one big thing to make clear: self-care should not be confused with procrastination. They may seem similar, but self-care is a proactive effort to nurture yourself; procrastination is an avoidance tactic.

So the next time you’re in the middle of a jam-packed week, take a few moments to think about what you need in order to feel better. Then think about whether you’re worth it (here’s agy59mufeoslekbtiq1iv hint: you are). Then be brave and take care of yourself! Maybe not everything you wanted to get done will get done. But how important were all of those things? I’ll bet they weren’t as important as feeling better! So take that nap, or drink that tea, or catch up on your favorite TV show, and be proud that you’ve chosen to take care of yourself!

Lauren Drinkwater
Graduate Assistant
The Counseling Center

The Balancing Act: Achieving Good Grades and Maintaining Your Sanity

Take Care of Yourself

balanceIf you are reading this, I am willing to bet you take your studies very seriously. You have big plans for the future and you know doing well in school will get you there. You are a student who wants to succeed inside and outside academia. Being a student requires studying. Time management. Organization. A strong work ethic. The list goes on. But here’s the thing, before being a student, you are a person. And people need things. Like sleep. Social support. Good food. Exercise. Did I mention sleep?

You may have heard the classic line, “good grades, a social life, and sleep – in college, you can only pick two.” The truth is, you CAN have all three! The key to personal and academic success in college is balance! Of course, doing well in your classes is the main goal in college, but taking some time for yourself is just as important. Try to look at your studies as a full-time job. If you focus on your academics during your work week, you will have plenty of time left over to enjoy all the fun activities and events that college has to offer. Remember, it is ok to say no to your friends when you have a big test coming up. It is also ok to take breaks from studying to watch your favorite show with your roommates. If you are struggling to find a healthy balance, the trick is to rotate between your academic demands and your personal life. You can have both, but not always at the same time. Keep a healthy balance, and try not to let either side overwhelm you.

College is a very stressful time, there is no denying that. And in a couple weeks, it will be midterm time and you’ll be tempted to pull all-nighters while binge drinking a combination of coffee, energy drinks, and Mountain Dew. Do not do this. Not only will your grades suffer in the long run, but your body and mind will as well.

The first step in integrating self-care into your schedule is knowing what you like to do. For some people, that means going to the gym or going on a run. For other people, that may mean doing an art project. Or going to a church group meeting. Or going out to dinner with a group of friends. Or sleeping for an extra two hours on Sunday morning. Whatever your self-care is, know it, own it, and do it. You are a person. You know what you need to keep your mind healthy. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from being a student and taking some time for yourself.

Schedule Everything

Yes, everything. Get your planner, your calendar, or your favorite time management app and enter in all your due dates from all your course syllabi. If you have reading assignments, enter those, too. Have an ultimate Frisbee tournament coming up? Mark that down. Going home for the weekend to celebrate your brother’s birthday? Yup, put that down, too. This might seem over the top, but if you know what your schedule is ahead of time, it can alleviate a lot of stress. If you have a work schedule, especially one that rotates, this is also good to enter on your favorite organization device.

After you schedule all the constant stuff (things that are less likely to change), plan time for studying, working on projects, and even relaxing. This can be done on a more flexible basis, like the beginning of each week. The worst that can happen if you plan ahead is that you’ll get all your work done and you’ll have free time at the end of the week. Free time? What’s that? Here’s what a weekly schedule might look like:


Remember to balance everything that you do. It is important not to overload one aspect of your life, whether that be school, work, or fun. It is easy to get too caught up in one area, but you will find that once you find a balance that works for you things will start to flow smoothly and you will enjoy success in all of those areas. If you need some help putting a schedule together, or just aren’t sure where to get started, consider requesting academic coaching from the Academic Achievement Center. One of our Learning Specialists can meet with you to get the organization ball rolling.

The Academic Achievement Center

Kristy Gustavson & Marissa Insinna
Graduate Assistants

Allison Hutchison & Jeremy Boettinger
Learning Specialist

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