Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fitting It All In

Posted by: Jenn Latino
This week I reached and surpassed the $2300 minimum fundraising requirement to participate in the Komen 3-Day event! My current total is $2349 and I am thrilled to have had the support of many family and friends to help me get there.

This week I received donations from 5 different folks. It seems like every time I checked my email there was another update about a donation. Among the donors was Amber Garrison Duncan. My 2009 readers will recall that Amber was the first 3-Day walker that I ever knew. Amber, my former classmate and dear friend, has seen breast cancer affect the women in her family and she shares our commitment to find a cure. She is like an honorary New Kid-always cheering and supporting our team.

My sister’s sister-in law, my brother in law’s sister, my niece and nephews aunt….Julie Anderson made a donation this week. Also a 2-year supporter, Julie knows first hand the challenges of training for a major walking event. She has participated in her own training for a marathon and, also being a physician, she knows what it takes to prepare for an event like this. Thanks for cheering me on, Julie!

Kirsten Kennedy, who will probably be too busy to read this blog until September, is the director of University Housing at USC and, during the most insane time of year for her, took the time to make a donation. Kirsten and I talked about my walk during a student leadership retreat in May just before I started training and she said then that she would be cheering me on. She hasn’t let me down!

Jan Z’s retirement party was this weekend. It was a lovely celebration of not only the time she has given to the University but of the many lives she has touched. I was honored to attend and so proud of Jan for all she has overcome. Take THAT breast cancer! Alisa and Pete Liggett were the party hosts and in the midst of providing superb hospitality to over 50 people in their home, Alisa slipped me a check.

It’s amazing how all of these people, despite their busy schedules, found time to support me and to join my fight to find a cure.

Joe and Linda were the ones to put my total over the top! My mom was watching the thermometer every day waiting for the right time to click the “send” button and be the one to put me to make the 100% flashy graphic appear. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I got a message from Kim last week that said “This is going to be your week. I know it!” In addition to being our captain, she is also psychic! The fundraising does not stop here! Last year I raised over $3200 and I would love to beat that total. I still have my big yard sale fundraiser in September (more on that later) and I am sure I can top my 2009 total! Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. I am touched by your generosity.

No, I did not fail 3rd grade Earth-ology. Prior to my professional career, the four seasons occurred based on the chronological calendar. August was, indeed, summer. For anyone who works in education, however, August is the indicator that summer has ended and fall has arrived. With the arrival of August comes a dramatic shift in the energy on a college campus and the pace of those who work there. This week, in particular, is the wildest of the wild.
Here is the line up:

Saturday Morning: MOVE IN!! This is one of my favorite things to do each year. I heard tonight that we will move in 7,000 students this weekend. I’ll be there, with my co-workers, wearing our lime green shirts and our “Welcome Home” smiles to greet the arriving students and help haul their 1600 sq ft of stuff into their 200 sq ft room-that they have to share with a roommate. Luckily, it’s kind of like carry out service at the grocery store. We just put it in their room. We don’t unpack it ☺

Saturday Evening: FIRST NIGHT CAROLINA After finding just the right spot for their 200 pair of shoes, all of the new students will make their way to the football stadium for an exciting evening of entertainment and an introduction to some of the more spirited traditions at Carolina. I have the exciting job of organizing the entertainment for this event. I got to book Cocky! THIS is why I went to graduate school-twice. You can’t find this kind of excitement in a boring office job.

Sunday Afternoon: CONVOCATION Think commencement but without the diplomas. This is the very formal welcome to all new students. It’s the fanciest of the fancy, complete with campus mace (a shiny piece of swag that arrives at the venue by police escort) and a panel of important people wearing robes and floppy hats. Most importantly, it is at this event when a member of the freshman class receives the Carolinian Creed from the Student Body President. It’s pretty neat and always gives me a chill.

When I worked at Meredith College there was a formal ceremony that included the signing of the Honor Code by every new student. All the women wore white dresses (Or was it black? I’m sure someone will correct me. Tina? Shawn? Heidi?) and signed the black scroll of paper with a white pen. FANCY!

Sunday Evening: Set up for the FYRE and film viewing in the student union.

Monday Morning: FIRST-YEAR READING EXPERIENCE If you know me well enough to read this blog, you know about the FYRE at USC. If you happened upon this blog by accident, you can learn more about the event here. I am completely biased but I think this is the most exciting event we host. This year over, 4000 people will gather to discuss our selected text. And, in just 2 short weeks, we will begin the process of selecting the 2011 text. Yikes!

Tuesday: BREATHE and welcome our new graduate assistants on their first day in the office together.

This type of hub-bub is totally my thing. I have never met a stranger so the opportunity to meet and greet 4,000 new students is right up my alley! I love playing the role of crowd pleaser, asking students where they are from, soliciting their most embarrassing move in stories-like when mom surprised you by putting your name in all of your underwear or when dad told your roommate that you used to wet the bed so she may want to take the top bunk-just in case (both true stories shared by students in my classes). I have even been known to shed a tear or two when I see a family member put their arm around their student, holding on to the last few moments before they will say goodbye and drive home, their backseat empty (and their wallets too).

The week is made even more exciting by the fact that, for most of these events, I get to wear shorts and a SC t-shirt. Again, not the typical office job wardrobe. What is difficult about this week-and finally, the tie in to my training for the 3-Day, is the complete change in my schedule. The days leading up to opening weekend/week start earlier than usual days. They end later than usual days. The hours of the day are filled with more meetings, higher numbers of emails, and a voicemail box that stays full most of the time. It is difficult to stick to my walking schedule and, this week, we have a hefty training schedule of 4, 5, 13, & 9 miles. Walking 13 miles on a day when I am on campus for 10 hours (and hauling boxes, tables, bags of ice, etc. for most of those 10) is simply unreasonable. I resolved last week that my strategy to fit in my walking would be to embrace the schedule of the Gamecock football team, and commit to a week of two-a-days. Every day this week I have started with a 5:30am 3-mile walk. Each evening I do another 4 miles. This way, the total number of miles will end up near the total recommended for the week, even if I don’t get the practice of a 13-mile stretch. This is the only way I can fit it in!

I’m also looking for ways to fit in all of the other life events that seem to show up just when it’s inconvenient. Joplin needs her shots updated. This has to happen soon so she can go play at doggie camp. My car has been beeping and whining about an oil change. I have ignored it for at least 2 weeks. Today I got an email from Nissan telling me the computer in my car called and it’s time for a service. Even my car is looking for an advocate. I have a skirt at the tailor that has been ready so long it is now out of season. The grass in my back yard is so tall that I can’t see the dogs unless I climb on one of my deck chairs with a pair of binoculars. My fridge is as empty as the day I bought it-except for a door filled with condiments and tonight I had cereal for dinner for the 3rd time this week. I started a load of laundry before bed last night and I had to wait for it to finish drying this morning before work because there were some essential garments I had to have to leave the house. How did my underwear drawer become completely empty and I not notice? It’s hard to fit it all in.

I am not complaining about this time of year. I actually love it! It’s incredibly energizing. It’s also a nice reminder that floors can go un-vacummed, laundry can go unwashed. But, dogs can not go un-walked and even in the busiest of times, we can not forget that too many people have lost the opportunity to complain about busy times. I am aware, every day, of how fortunate I am to have a full calendar and a body that will let me keep up this pace and get it all done. Today I talked with 4 different people about my breast cancer walk. Yesterday one of my co-workers joined me for the afternoon session of my 2 a day-in 100+ degree temperatures. This morning I talked with a faculty member who I didn’t know when I noticed in a meeting that she was wearing a pink ribbon. It was a lovely mid day reminder that my very early morning had been worth it. This week I received donations from co-workers and friends who are just as busy as I am but still made sure to fit in a contribution to help support my passion for finding a cure.

Of the 9 women on team New Kids on the Walk, 5 of us work in higher education (well, 6 if you count that fact that Meredith lives in a residence hall with Ben and is definitely affected by the Emory “move in” schedule). In the coming weeks, we will all be adjusting our schedules and making sacrifices to be sure that we can keep up with the necessary training. With just 72 days until our event, we have to keep trying to “fit it all in.”


  1. So excited for you to be at your goal! What an accomplishment! I love the description of the start of school. I'm just putting it off until end of September! Thank you for the inspiration, for the support, for walking. I admire you my friend.

    Go Team New Kids!!!

  2. I am so glad I don't share an office with anyone right now! I shed a tear at the comments of parents saying goodbye and laughed LOUDLY about your car. I think it may be smarter than we are. It CALLED FOR BACK-UP for crying out loud! Soon it may lock you in and steer you to the Nissan place on it's own. Just a warning.

    Happy FYRE!

  3. FYI-I am at the Nissan service center as we speak! Surrounded by syllabi that need to be reviewed and frantically responding to emails from students who, 3 days before the event, realize they "never got their FYRE book." FITTING IT IN, Folks! FITTING IT IN! (Very grateful for wireless service at the car dealership.)

  4. This might be my favorite post yet -- your excitement about the beginning of the semester tempers my fear. Thanks for bringing the funny (and the perspective).

  5. So, it took me until just now to fit in reading the blog, but you know I'm addicted so clearly I had to read this one before the new one you sent out today. These are belated, but YA Move-In, YAY Convocation, YAY FYRE, and YAY first-day of classes. New students move in tomorrow here so I've already packed my sneakers by the door.