Tiongson, Christian J: June 2009 Archives
Driving to and from UMass Lowell was a major part of my college life. I drove from Malden, MA to Lowell, MA everyday for all of my four years at UML. The drive from my hometown to the university was a good 40 - 50 minutes, depending on the times that I'm driving (ie. driving 8am vs. 1pm), traffic, and the routes I took. Planning out my drive was very important for me as a commuter student. I wanted to avoid night driving, hitting traffic, getting caught up with construction crews on Route 3, and so on. I also wanted to get home right away so I have enough time to study, do papers, and other school-related stuff.
All commuters were like this, especially those who live 20+ miles away from UMass Lowell. Because of our strict planning to get out of Lowell to beat rush hour and our limited time in UML, we all felt that we weren't part of the UML Community. I bet a lot of commuters felt like this. The problem with commuters is our lack of discovery, involvement, and spirit. I first realized this when I got involved with Alpha Lambda Delta in my sophomore year. To make the most of the college experience, I felt that I have to get involved with what was offered, from sporting events, joining clubs, getting involved with an organization, helping out a professor, or even just plain hanging out in the university with residents and other commuters. My friends and I have realized that if we get involved in some kind of way, we would finally feel like we're part of the community. Last year, I started going to hockey games... and now I wish I started watching them when I was a freshmen! The Riverhawks are an excellent Division 1 hockey team. Their games are super exciting and... hey, they're nasty!! (And when I say "nasty" that means THE TEAM IS WICKED GOOD). Also, I started to get involved with Omicron Delta Kappa. One event I helped out in was "Trick or Treating for the Troops." That was a blast! Plus, I get to dress up as a handsome and adventurous Indiana Jones (hehe). I started to get involved with what was offered and I finally felt like home.
I regret not spending more time at UMass Lowell. I wish I was more involved with the community and the organizations I was part of. I wish I was at more sporting events so I can support our Riverhawk teams. I finally felt like I was part of UML community at the end of senior year... do not make the same mistake of being a late bloomer.
Get involved as soon as possible!!
Trust me, those 4 years will fly by faster than you can blink...
UML Alumni, EP '09
Feel free to comment my blog! If you leave questions, I will answer them!
A lot of people ask me if I get paid to coach baseball. I tell them no. I think teaching my young players life lessons, how to handle rough situations, and most of all how to play the greatest sport in the world (under my book) is good enough for me. Money cannot match the price of coaching baseball. Heck, I think it's priceless. Giving back to the community is something that I have enjoyed for many years. I just have a great feeling inside. I honestly can't explain that feeling, but I know for a fact that I'm doing something good, and making a difference to my players' lives.
I can tell you straight out that the world we live in is very different than what it was two decades ago. Nowadays, you see gangsters walking down the street, giving other people bad looks, swearing their heads off, and being complete punks. If you give them a bad look, you are a potential target. These gangsters grew up without anyone to look up to. If they had someone to look up to, it must have been a gangster himself/herself. Bad influences causes kids to jump into the wrong path, which leads to a bad life. As a coach, I want to change that and prevent these kids from making wrong decisions earlier in life. I want these kids to grow up to respectful young men, who is not a drunk, a druggie, or a criminal. Sure, I can't hold their hands 24/7, but I believe that distracting them from the hardships of life 3 hours at a time can make a huge difference. Instead of hanging out in the streets and learning how to beat up a kid, the kid can learn something new and POSITIVE. It does not have to be baseball, or sports in general. Taking dance lessons, drawing, hanging out with the family, reading, or playing a musical instrument can pull kids away from the "hard knock life."
That's why I'm here. That is why I give up 6-8 hour work shifts. That is why I give up studying hours. I want to be there for the kids and to make a difference in their lives. I want them to learn how to play the game correctly, how to handle situations, how to be better people.
I'm proud to be a baseball coach and this is my call to all of my readers. If you want to make a difference, go out of the box or "plus ultra." Show your true colors without money or fame in your minds. Take time to give back to your community. Every community needs a hero, and you can be one.
Before I entered the spring semester of my senior year, a growing sense of worry filled my head. Watching the news, reading newspapers, and visiting info websites about the economy and the job market did not help at all. I thought in my head... "Will I find a job after graduation? Will it be tough finding one?" Luckily for many of my friends, they already had a job lined up from practicums, clinicals, or connections. I, on the other hand, did not have anything lined up, even when I applied for a few jobs well in advanced.
So as of June 22, 2009, I did not find a job yet and I'm discouraged. I do like to say that there are a good number of opportunities out there, but what throws me off is this: "We are looking for someone who already has 3+ years of experience" of something, such as exercise testing, personal training, etc. Now here is my question. How can a college graduate get experience for a certain thing if no one will give him/her a shot?
Ideally, I want to work at a cardiac pulmonary rehabilitation clinic, but the places that I applied to have no responded at all. The same goes to personal training. I applied, passed in my transcripts, and waited. No response. I plan to call them as soon as I get this blog done to know the status of my application and to see if I should just give up hope on that location. I hope they are still considering me.
Most people have told me that I'm pretty lucky to still have my retail, blogging, and physical therapy aide jobs, even if their hours are somewhat slim. There are a bunch of graduates who don't have a job prior to graduating, or had one that sustained the 4 years of college. One person (who is very famous and known by all in the Boston area) said that we all have to start at the bottom of something, like the bottom rung of a ladder. We need to grab it and climb it to reach the very top. It's all up to me to grab on to it and hold it tight, hoping I can climb the ladder. The whole "ladder climbing" metaphor reminded me of my recent college career. I was a freshmen at the bottom of the ladder. I pushed myself hard to climb that ladder. Now, I'm a UMass Lowell alumni.
I just need to take that approach and hold on to what I have right now, because one day I will get a shot to climb the ladder. Like I tell my baseball players, "We need to keep our heads in the game. Focus and have fun. It will take you somewhere."
... Dang I need to listen to myself more often (Ha Ha).
Abbey Denaro's Commencement Speech at UML's 2009 Graduation.
Our journey through college is over. Those four long years of writing papers, cramping our hands during long exams, and endless nights of studying is a distant thought. We are here looking back at the memories, both good and bad, and how much we all changed. Sometimes, we think that a "change" can be a bad thing. A bad "change" throws us off to a different path that we are not ready for or something that we just cannot adapt to and further better ourselves. Fortunately, this type of change doesn't match the one we all have undergone at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. We all have changed in a way that our dreams are a reality and our future becomes brighter like the sun illuminating the clear blue sky or like the moon shining among the twinkling stars of the velvet night.
Abbey Denaro, who is one of the most amazing people I have ever met, gave everyone at graduation the perfect metaphor for our journey through college and life; our journey is like the Merrimack River, which cuts through the heart of UMass Lowell.
Here is part of her speech that explains the metaphor:
"In reflecting upon my years at UMass Lowell, I realize that
We have all been making our way through that river our
whole lives, and now is the time that we get to go full steam ahead to the open
expanse of the sea. There is no doubt that there will be rough waters along the
way, but they are there to strengthen us, just as the waterfalls strengthen the
And you can't write anything better than that... Abbey wrote/spoke it beautifully. The river is very relatable to our journey through college and life. We all experienced its turbulent obstacles when the flowing water hits the rocky section of the river, and the calmness and beauty of success when the river passes along. Our life can be chaotic, unpredictable, and fearful, but with our newly learned knowledge and skills that was passed on through generations of Riverhawks, we become the navigators and forgers of the future. We can direct ourselves over and through these obstacles to reach our goals and dreams of success and happiness.
So here it begins. My journey through life continues. I was once a naive child who held his wooden ship on his hand and dared to sail it on the mighty river. Now, I'm happy to say that I finally know how to navigate "to the ocean of opportunity." I'm the captain of the ship fighting the currents of that same river.
Let me sail away with the Class of 2009... we're heading for the ocean...
It was a bright, sunny Saturday morning. The sky was blue, the air was warm, and the birds were chirping like there was something big about to happen. The garage was a bit empty with a dozen cars littered here and there. Nearby a stocky police officer stood at the corner of an intersection, directing cars of lost souls looking for a place to park...
... And there I stood at the East Campus garage alone, waiting for my good Exercise Physiology buddy to arrive. I was armed and dangerous with my academic attire (my "Harry Potter" gown, the cap and tassle, my cords and stole), my cell phone, and my camera. Here and there, I saw people who I haven't seen in years walking towards the shuttle area. I could tell from their smiles, chit-chat with their parents and friends, and their proudly worn cap and gown that they were extremely excited. I looked around East Campus and I told myself, "Dang, I'm probably never going to step foot on East ever again." At that point, all the memories of Exercise Physiology II Labs, workout sessions with my friends, basketball, and a pool tournament filled my head.
Finally, my friend arrived, and we walked towards the shuttle area. In the shuttle, we both caught ourselves saying the infamous group of words that seems to come out of our mouths a-billzion times: "I can't believe we did it. How come it doesn't feel like the end yet? Dang, it feels like we have another semester left!" Oh, at that point I got sick of those words (even if I knew I might splat it out of my mouth days after graduation). Well what can we do? We're done. Our four years is finally over. We have to believe it. In my head, I said, "Dang, I'm going to cross that stage and this major chapter of my life is over."
We arrived at the Tsongas Arena to a crowd of black-bodied people who look just like us... the caps, the gowns, the cords, the stoles, and the smiles. We definitely felt the excitement suffocating the air around us and I can tell you that it was a great thing. My friend and I walked towards two gigantic tents filled with graduates. Fortunately, the great UML staff organized the tent into "schools" so it easily found those familar faces of the Exercise Physiology program. From that point on, we went on a photo hunt. Everyone tried their best to get a photo of each other, while trying to sustain a conversation. That wasn't too hard (ha).
Here are a few pictures:
Walking into the Tsongas arena was probably the second (or third) best thing of the day. When we all poked our heads out of the tunnel and into the open, all we could see was a sea of proud families and friends. Honestly, it was the first time I saw the Arena completely filled to max capacity. We all had that warm feeling inside when we saw our loved ones in the crowd. All I could think at that point is my parents and siblings. Without them, I wouldn't be walking across the stage... They made sacrifices to help me succeed in college and I love them for that and many other things.
After getting everyone (2,000 graduates) in the Arena, the Commencement Exercises begun. The Sheriff of Middlesex County gave a loud, well presented opening to our graduation. Heck, I can't even explain in words on how he opened the event. I guess you had to be there to understand (Ha). Out of all the speeches I heard, Abbey Denaro, my good friend and a fellow Exercise Physiology student had the best speech. It is such a great speech that I plan on dedicating a future blog post on it (STAY TUNED). I actually recorded the speech and I will post it on that blog also.
Obviously, our commencement speaker, Harold Ford, Jr. who is the Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and a former Tennessee Congressman also had a great speech! Before he went on stage, we all saw him writing notes. We were all amazed at his ability take in what other speakers have said and sneak it into his speech. He mention parts of Abbey's speech many times. You can watch it here: Ford Commencement Speech.
Then it was finally time. After 4 years of waiting, our time finally came: Walk the stage to a new chapter. Little by little (when I say little, I say a group of hundred or more) students lined up to cross the stage to receive their degree holder. My EP buddies and I waited (a bit inpatiently) for our chance to walk the stage. It got to a point that some of us had the idea to sneak into the earlier lines... but we were too good and nice to do that!! I think it was a good 45 minutes wait before we had our shot to line up to "cross." Waiting in line, I could see the smiles on my family's faces. I knew they were proud of me of my accomplishments of UML.
A few minutes before my turn to walk, my best friends from the major crossed the stage. I was so happy for them. At that point, I thought about our hard study sessions for classes, our times in the commuter room and at Weed Hall, playing basketball at the Rec Center, and eating out. Before I got into a deep thought, it was my turn to walk. I gave my name card to the name caller, turned and walked. To tell you the truth, I was a bit nervous of falling than the namer caller not pronouncing my name correctly! I walked in a fast pace across the stage, gently received my degree holder from one of the deans, shook his hand, walked to the other end to shake Chancellor Meehan's hand, and stepped off the stage. It was probably a ten second thing, but it felt like a lifetime. It was like a slow motion 4 mile walk across stage. In my head, I was definitely taking in everything. My four years was over after walking off the stage. When I got back to my seat, I was greeted with hugs and handshakes. Oh, I can't explain the feeling of being done and graduating. Excited and happy are EXTREMELY weak words for that feeling.
After waiting for 1,000 more people to graduate, the commencement was over. I was very surprised that only a handful of caps were thrown in the air. I heard from many people that we weren't allowed to throw our caps in the air... it didn't stop the few of us who did.
I will never forget that day in my life. It was the day when a journey ends and another one begins. It was the day when my Exercise Physiology buddies were together in a group for one last time. I can tell you that I'm going to miss my buddies...
I'm going to leave you, the reader, a few more pictures of that day...
- Christian EP '09