It’s About Time

As I sit here in the campus library at the beginning of the third week of classes for this Fall 2016 Semester, I find myself already feeling a little stressed over issues of MY time and how and where to allot it. You see, when one is a non-traditional college student it literally is all about TIME . There are so many aspects of your life demanding a share of your time. Classes/Homework, family/home/relationship, work, YOU — they ALL want a share of your precious time. Continue reading “It’s About Time”


Meet Tiffany F.

Tiffany is a non-traditional student who came to UAlbany as a non-matriculated Student. She is currently in graduate school here and she wants other non-trads to know that they are not alone and that they have what it takes to finish strong! Click Here for Her Story!

Tiffany Finkle
Tiffany Finkle

Meet Drew

Drew Murphy is a senior Criminal Justice and History major. He shares his academic and mental health struggles and successes here. Have a bit of inspiration to be the best you – check out Drew’s story!

Drew Murphy
Drew Murphy

Struggling on the Pathway to Success – Thoughts from a C Average Student


letter-1052665_960_720My name is Lee McPeters and this is my story.

So the first question on all of your minds is probably, “Why would he broadcast the fact that he is a C average student?” And my answer is that I accept it and am content with that fact. Now I don’t mean content as I only try hard enough to get C’s. I mean content because I know that I have tried and I know that I have gone through things that have made me struggle and have brought me to this point.  Throughout the last 5 years I have struggled with many health issues that have hurt my experience and performance. I can’t blame that as the cause of all my issues with school though, as I can sometimes be my own worst enemy. Procrastination, shame, and denial were all things I struggled with as well. I started my college life at a community college where my GPA was a 3.6. Graduating with my Associates Degree, I transferred to UAlbany and after my first semester my grades had dropped dramatically. I
am now in my 3rd year here at UAlbany and my GPA is a 2.5.

So although outside issues affected me greatly, there were things inside me that affected me just as much, maybe even more. I know now that I am not alone and I want to use this blog as a way to reach others like me so that you can gain hope from my experience and know you are not alone.

Iholzfigur-980784_960_720 wanted to write about this topic because I know I felt ashamed and alone. I felt like I was the only one who was doing poorly, and that I must not be good enough to succeed. I would tell people that I was doing ok and make it look like I was happy on the outside, while in reality inside I was fighting an inner struggle. I wouldn’t accept help from my parents, friends, teachers, or advisors. This only caused me to sink farther which led to denial. I would fall into the mentality of just being good enough. Thoughts like “At least I’m passing” or “If I fail it’s just one class, no big deal” started to fill my mind. All this time there were people and resources that were readily and easily available. All I had to do was ask. But my shame and my pride kept me from taking advantage of those resources. So although outside issues affected me greatly, there were things inside me that affected me just as much, maybe even more. I know now that I am not alone and I want to use this blog as a way to reach others like me so that you can gain hope from my experience and know you are not alone.

So a little about me: I am 23 years old, and a senior in standing. I started at UAlbany as a full-time student. I am now part-time. I work part-time as well. All these things lend to the experience I have had while in school and have made me the person, student, and worker I am today. All the way through high school I was home-schooled and it was an experience I will always cherish and I know it was influential in shaping me and my knowledge. Throughout high school I was active, participating in various sports. Rowing, skiing, and basketball were my three main sports. These activities kept me in relatively good shape as well as healthy. When I was 18, I broke my collarbone in a skiing accident. This led to my health declining and I believe it was the start of the issues that I have been dealing with for the last 5 years. Upon entering community college I adjusted well, as it was small and everything was easily hiking-1031383_960_720accessible. Over the 3 years I was there, I made friends as well as mentors who helped me succeed. When I transferred to UAlbany, the almost 360 degree change was overwhelming. Classes were now much larger, and I had to start fresh and make new friends and mentors. With this change, I started to retreat inward and the pattern of self-sabotage started. This continued until about a year ago when I realized I wasn’t alone and I had people and resources who were there for me and wanted me to succeed. Since then things have been much easier.” It is a slow journey but a journey that I must say I wish I started sooner, and I hope that my story will help others.


Your Comments are Welcome!

About the Author:

Lee MLee M. 
Class of 2017 | Transfer 
Major: Communication and English
Spring 2016 Blog Theme: Struggling on the Pathway to Success 
- Thoughts of C Average Student



What They Don’t Tell You About Joining Clubs

ALoneIn the first installment of this series, I mentioned that the beginning of freshman year was not easy for me. I met friends during orientation which was great. But when the year started, they had seemed to disappear. Most people I saw, created great bonds with their roommates, but that wasn’t the case for me. My roommate and I did not get along and still don’t to this day. So I decided to join some clubs. They were advertised almost everywhere. I would see posters taped around the podium with big bold letters. “Come join!”, “Make new friends!”, “Gain great experiences!”. Even my RA, the social butterfly, persistently reminded us every day to go out and join something. So after my first month, I finally decided to go join a club.

 My first club was sports related. Although I loved the sport, I felt out of place. It was hard to feel truly welcome when they were already established as a group. Don’t get me wrong, they were very welcoming and friendly, but I still did not feel like I belonged. This wasn’t the only club I had this problem with. I went to two others and I still had the same dilemma. I knew I was not the only one having this problem. I was always paying attention to my surroundings, watching others who were like me. I could tell by their body language. Whenever there were meetings or events, everyone would bunch up into little groups while a few others would stand by themselves looking a bit confused and out of place. And that’s exactly how I felt. I eventually left a couple of these clubs, and found others better suited for me, where I felt at home.

 What I am really trying to say is that it is normal if you do not feel at place when joining clubs. I feel like that is one thing that people forget to mention. Clubs are a great place to meet people, but I personally do not think it clicks with just everybody. I know people who have made great bonds by joining clubs. But if it does not work, that’s ok. You can go back and try again later if it doesn’t work for you at first. Just be aware that it’s normal and you won’t be the only one going through it.


About the Author

ChristineChristine Etienne
Class of 2018
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Fall 2015 Blog Theme: Born Again Freshman

Choosing Your Pathway

pathwayOn my journey to exploring the world of transfer students at UAlbany, I have met transfer students of all ages with varying predicaments. I like to ask them all, “what made you choose to come here?” and I get different answers along the way. Some have come to play a D1 sport, and others have come to try their hand at college one more time. But besides that, what I really wanted to know was how the idea of starting over again affected their choices. I spoke with one sophomore who transferred specifically to play sports. He told me, “Yeah it was always something at the back of my head. I was going to have to start over no matter where I went. But it makes you feel better knowing that they are new people coming here every year besides me –  you know?”

I talked to another sophomore named Sasha who had the opposite case. She had come here because it was a big campus. “My last school was really small.” She tells me, “I had a hard time being involved, so I decided to go to a larger one. If there’s more people, there’s an endless amount for me to connect with.” “How is it going so far?” I asked her. “It’s good. I have a cool group of friends, so starting over ain’t that bad.”

The last person I talked to was a senior name Elijah. He had transferred in beginning of his senior year.  I asked him of what he thought about choosing a pathway. He told me that it took a while to figure out his path. “For about the first month I didn’t know many people. I had this routine for a while but I wasn’t happy. I felt like I didn’t belong here. For a good amount of time I thought that was it. This is what my whole year is gonna be like. After a while you meet people and you realize things do get better, and that was just a phase.”

So despite the idea of starting over, it seemed as if everyone at found their own way of coping with it. Whether they decided to hold their head high and tough it out, or find a way to look at it with an open and optimistic mind. Your journey is what you make it, and everyone’s pathway is not the same. Choose a pathway that works well for you, but keep the negative energy out. The opportunity of starting over allows a clean slate perfect for fostering a positive college experience.


About the Author

ChristineChristine Etienne
Class of 2018
Major: Biology
Minor: Psychology
Fall 2015 Blog Theme: Born Again Freshman

Meet Christie Allen

Christie Allen
Transfer Student
BSW – Class of 2014
MSW – Class of 2015
Major: Social Welfare

I left my first career in the corporate world to pursue my dream of becoming a social worker. Social work offers a depth and breadth of experience that many other careers can’t offer. I care deeply about the well-being of others and as a professional social worker, I can be utilized as a change agent to make a difference in another person’s life.

As a returning adult student, it isn’t easy to manage a family, finances, and college. My family supported my journey back to college and encouraged me to relentlessly pursue my dream of becoming a social worker.  I am grateful for their support but also the financial sacrifice that they were willing to make to help me achieve my educational goals.

I was overwhelmed when I first came to UAlbany. I didn’t know how to navigate the services available here. The university is rich with resources! I strongly encourage you to meet with your advisor and ask questions. They will strive to help you. I know that when I felt overwhelmed, I went and spoke with my advisor and she was a light in the fog! She listened, cared, and provided contact information for people who were relevant to my success at the university. I couldn’t have done it without her!

If you are a student who struggling, first take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am not alone.”  UAlbany is committed to helping all students achieve academic and personal success. Don’t hesitate to meet with your advisor. They are here to help you. Your education is your responsibility. Own it! If you need help don’t be afraid to say so. I encourage you to reach out to other students and form study groups. If you are struggling, you may want to utilize the Counseling Center. There are counselors available to help you navigate your difficulties and bring back hope!

I would recommend that new students research services and resources available at UAlbany before you start classes. Before I started my first semester, I explored the Uptown Campus. I strongly recommend that you know how to navigate the campus. Know where you are going before your first day of class so that you feel more confident navigating around the college and can relax and enjoy your college experience. Remember to utilize your instructor’s office hours; they want to help you be successful. Remember, this is your educational experience. You must take ownership of it. Talk to people, ask questions, and embrace your learning. College isn’t easy but it is worth it. Remember, never ever give up. You will be graduating before you know it!

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My Name is Scott Heider and This is My Story

Re-posted with permission from

Standing in an airport waiting for the plane that would take me back to a hometown and a place I despised, it occurred to me that I was a twenty-year-old adult with a barely completed high school education, with no money and no future. “What now?” I thought.

scott heiderMy journey into the academic world has been a long one. From elementary school into high school, academics were never a priority. Growing up in severe poverty and having to work to support my family, school work was low on my priority list.  When I was in the fourth grade, I experienced a severe ear infection that resulted in the complete loss of my hearing for two years. This resulted in me being held back due to the amount of school I had missed. When I entered high school, my mother developed very serious health issues that required prolonged hospitalizations. In between hospitalizations, and as the youngest of six siblings who was the only remaining one at home, the responsibility to care for mother fell solely on my shoulders. My mother eventually passed away shortly before the end of my junior year.

After high school and faced with few other options, I decided that I would enlist in the U.S. Army. From my perspective, and for the first time in my life, I would be provided with the opportunity to receive an education, as well as food, clothing, and a paycheck. My life, I thought, had finally begun to take shape. Unfortunately, my plans for a military career were cut short after I suffered a serious back injury on a training mission that eventually resulted in an honorable discharge. Standing in an airport waiting for the plane that would take me back to a hometown and a place I despised, it occurred to me that I was a twenty-year-old adult with a barely completed high school education, with no money and no future. “What now?” I thought.

After a few months of feeling sorry for myself, I ended up taking job at a mom-and-pop home improvement store. Shortly afterwards, I met and married a woman, had a child, and bought a house. Life was moving fast. Professionally, my career at the hardware store had gained momentum. I received several promotions and eventually left the company for a better opportunity with a larger home improvement chain.

Several years and two kids later, and realizing the need for an education to further my career, I enrolled at Empire State College with the goal of a business degree. After a successful first semester, and surprised at my success, I was excited that I was finally in a position to be able to achieve my long awaited academic success. But the realities of family life and the lack of support eventually lead to me withdrawing from school.

Fast forward several years and in a new career, I once again found myself in a position where the need for an education was evident. Encouraged by my previous, but shorted lived academic success, I decided to enroll at Hudson Valley Community College. Although I experienced a medical issue that required me to miss a semester, I eventually graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services. Immediately after graduation, I applied and was accepted into the Social welfare program at the University at Albany.

As I enter my final semester and prepare for graduate school, I am somewhat surprised that I have made it this far. While I do recognize the many obstacles I have overcome to get to this point, and while some would give credit to my harsh upbringing and the discipline I received in the military, I really need to give all the credit to my wife who has made it all possible. Her support, patience, encouragement, and sacrifice have made my academic success all possible. I also need to give credit to God, and to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, who have provided me with the wisdom, strength, and fortitude to keep going when I wanted to quit.

Working and going to school full time and managing the daily dramas of family life is not easy. In fact, it’s been one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. I would also suggest to you that without support and encouragement from family, friends, and the academic community, it’s just about impossible.

I tell this story not for sympathy or for praise, but to offer hope and encouragement to other students to keep going when they face the inevitable adversities and challenges of life.

“Success is never found. Failure is never fatal. Courage is the only thing.” – Winston Churchill 

What does starting over mean to you?

By Christina Etienne, Project MyStory Blogger

DoorwayFor me, the idea of starting over was one big ambiguous cloud hanging over my head. There were so many ways to approach it. I could’ve attacked it head on or tried to push it away out of sight. But embracing it seemed like the most obvious option. At the start of my freshman year in college, I thought starting over would’ve been easy. This was my opportunity to re-invent myself, create Christina 2.0. But embracing the cloud was a lot harder than I thought. There were so many other factors that the cloud brought along with itself for me to handle. In the end I had to acknowledge that although the idea of starting over offered such great optimistic promises of new beginnings, it came with a giant flashing proceed with caution sign. Not exactly the fantasy I had hoped for, but it gave me the slap of reality I needed.

Since transfers have to go through this process two times over, I wanted to hear their input of what starting over meant to them. Isabella, a sophomore says that the most annoying part [of starting over]was that no matter what you do, it won’t be easy one way or another. I explained to her my theory and asked for her thoughts. “I don’t really think it’s as ambiguous as you make it seem.” She tells me. “I think we all know what starting over is, we just don’t want to admit to ourselves how bad it’s going to be. It’s just easier to tell yourself it’s going to be great.”

“Is it really that bad?” I asked her.

“No, I’m just being dramatic. As a transfer, yeah, I think it’s harder for us, but it’ll get better after a couple of weeks. You just gotta’ settle in.” Isabella tells me.

That was enough for me to change my theory. I thought back on what she said, and I realized that I had been lying to myself. I think that we all want to start over optimistically even though in the back of heads we’ll know it won’t be so simple. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little delusion. It keeps us hopeful, and hope can keep anyone moving forward no matter how rough things get.

Christine Etienne is a UAlbany Sophomore.

Click here to see how you may become a Project MyStory Blogger

Born Again Freshman: Who Knew?

By Project MyStory Ambassador, Christina Etienne

woman holding a bookTo be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to relate to a transfer student. As I was strolling with a friend one day, she ranted on and on about the troubles of being a transfer at UAlbany. I wasn’t paying attention as she droned, for I could not empathize until she quietly muttered “It’s like being a freshman all over again.”, and the empathy finally sank in.

I am in my sophomore year, but I can remember how rough my first month was as a freshman. I didn’t exactly have a sense of belonging, and didn’t have a solid group of friends to call my own. I could join all the clubs I wanted, like everyone highly recommended, but I still felt alone and that bothered me for some time. As I continued listening to my friend, my heart sank. Imagine going though that experience again? I’d be miserable times ten. And since I couldn’t come to her support as a fellow transfer student, I came to her as a former freshman. Yes, I was not aUAlbany Podium transfer student, and I could not relate to all of her trials, but we found a mutual understanding. So instead of trying to pretend like I could truly help her with all of her problems, I shared my own stories of misfortune so we could laugh, reflect, and devise ways to make things better. And as we parted ways, I felt as if there was something else bonding us besides the reason we became friends in the first place. I reached her on another level that I thought was unattainable and I was happy to help. She helped me to reflect on my journey as much as I helped her on her current path.  My simple message to transfer students is this: you are not alone. Outside of this minority, there are so many others that have been through similar trials. Throughout this Born Again Freshmen series, I hope that we will be able to share our stories, and reach that level of higher understanding. I hope you’ll come for the ride.