My Experience with Minnetonka VANTAGE

The VANTAGE program at Minnetonka High School was one of the most impactful parts of my high school career. It set me apart from other people my age and gave me the skills to succeed in business.

What is it?

My VANTAGE Class at The Jason Show
My VANTAGE Class at The Jason Show in Eden Prairie, MN

The Minnetonka VANTAGE program is a professional studies course for high schoolers. Students are able to learn and apply their coursework in real-world settings. There are seven programs total and I was in the Digital Journalism program. We were able to create videos for local companies and create other content, like podcasts and reports. You can read more about the VANTAGE program here, and the Digital Journalism program here on the VANTAGE website.

Mentorship Experience

One aspect of the VANTAGE program was the mentorship experience. Every student gets paired with a professional in their field. Jennifer Mayerle, an anchor for WCCO, was my mentor. She was a major influence in my VANTAGE experience because she helped me with project ideas and editing videos, along with reviewing resumes and final products. Since graduating, we have kept in contact and have discussed my time at Drake University and recent projects I have done. The mentorship program is essential because it allows students to see inside the professional world and give them a lifelong mentor.

Business Projects

The biggest aspect of the VANTAGE program is the variety of projects throughout the year. Most importantly, we completed two videos for local companies in the Twin Cities area. These projects exposed us to a real business setting because groups had to present to business professionals and learn professionalism.

Bloom Early Learning

For my first big project, I worked with Bloom Early Learning in Maple Grove, MN, which is a child daycare center. One major part of their company is that 50% of enrollment is for low-income families on scholarships. As the project leader for this project, I assisted other project members with editing, communication, and videography throughout. There were some challenges with this project because it was the first business project for everyone in my group. We ran into issues with finding creative ideas for the video. This required a bigger time commitment and a lot of storyboards. Because of this, I developed my time management and group communication skills. Most importantly, I developed my leadership skills.

I Love Photography

Finally, for my second project, I worked with I Love Photography in Hopkins, MN. Elaine Geopfert, the owner of I Love Photography, has built her company on the idea that everyone loves the same and she wants to capture that in her work. For this project, I was the communications director. I served as the connection between my group and Elaine. I had to effectively communicate video concepts, schedule times to film, and interview on-site. In addition, I had to consistently keep Elaine updated on everything our group was working on. Halfway through this project, we lost one of our group members due to unrelated problems. This disrupted the group dynamic because we had to equally divide their role among the rest of us. This took a lot of communication to ensure it was fair but everyone could still complete their original role.

Other Projects

During VANTAGE, we had other projects, including podcasts and journalistic reports. These were either individual or in small groups but the main purpose was to simply learn how different styles of digital journalism are created. We also had optional projects for different events around the Twin Cities, like the Upper Midwest Regional Emmys and the North American Pond Hockey Championship. In these optional projects, it required commitment outside of school hours. Because of this, I continued to develop my time management skills as I was working on my business projects at the same time. You can find these projects in my resume along with links to all my other project videos.

You can read more from my blog here.

My Bullet Journal and a *Somewhat* Organized Life

When I was in high school on the student newspaper, Minnetonka Breezes, one of my writers wrote about bullet journals and how they changed her world. I obviously read over the article about 20 times for editing and layout purposes but I was inspired. 

What is it?

A bullet journal refers to the bullet point system of taking notes and making to do lists. What makes a bullet journal a bullet journal is the creativity that goes into those lists. It is essentially a personal planner that you create. 

I always struggled with the basic planners from target because they never had the perfect set up or there wasn’t enough space. I always wanted really specific pages and enough room for all my assignments and events.

My Bullet Journal

When I started, I got this massive notebook and a very detailed and exhausting layout. As I figured out what I liked, it became easier and more personal. I have improved my bullet journal since starting in 2019 as I learned what I wanted and what I was capable of.

Yearly Layout and Pages

For my 2020 layout, I included an index and a yearly calendar along with a holiday and birthdays tracker. I also have a ‘year in pixels’ page which is a great way for me to tracker my daily moods and see mental health trends in my own personal life.

Semester, Monthly, and Weekly Layout

At the start of a semester, I include my class schedule and course details. I start each month with a monthly calendar. On each weekly spread, I have a to-do list, a notes/events section, and a smaller calendar of the month. The main part of the page is a big section for my daily stuff, like homework and school-related things.

What I love the most about having a bullet journal is the creativity behind it. I love using highlighters, colorful pens, washi tape, and stickers in my bullet journal. I am not good at drawing so if I do add little drawings into my bullet journal, they are really basic, but I like to stick with stickers usually (haha get it?). 

Using a bullet journal leaves me time to do something I love; organizing. It’s also creative which is a really great outlet for me personally. I’ll always have 10-15 minutes during the week to work on a weekly layout and it can be a nice break from my daily stress. 

There are some really great resources to help you get started. My biggest advice is to not start off with a complicated design. Start small and build yourself up to more complicated things once you know what you like. Finally, have fun with it, it is supposed to be personal and make you feel organized so you don’t have to follow anyone’s ideas if you don’t want to. 

Supplies and My Favorites

  1. For inspiration – Pinterest
  2. Washi Tape – The Planner Supplies on Etsy
  3. Stickers – Scandi Attic Stationary on Etsy
  4. Dotted Bullet Journal – Amazon
  5. Highlighters – Midliner High Lighters

I also recommend getting a none slip ruler, pens that won’t bleed through your page and colorful and black pens. The dotted notebook is important to make even vertical and horizontal lines. In the end, it is all about you so do whatever makes you happiest. Happy journaling!

To read more from me, visit my blog here.

My Journey to Drake University

My journey to Drake University was a long and winding road. I am so happy that I am here and I could not have picked a better school.

Drake University Commitment Photo

When I started my junior year, people started asking” So have you started looking at colleges yet?” I was so annoyed by that question because I would hear it constantly. I decided that next time I’m surrounded by my extended family, I better have an answer to that. 

When I started looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to do something in the journalism and communications fields. Choosing a college with a good journalism school was essential. It also really helped narrow my search down. I also knew where I didn’t want to be, specifically the south. I am a true Minnesotan and while I complain about the early snow in October and the never-ending winter in April, I love the snow and I knew I could never go without it.

My mom’s best friend went to Drake and was also in the School of Journalism and Communications. She was in a sorority and loved her time at Drake. Her college career was similar to what I wanted in a college and she convinced me to apply. I heard back from Drake first and they also gave me a decent scholarship. My parents were pushing me to start touring more schools during my senior year of high school. I hadn’t heard from any other schools so off to Drake we went. 

The Tour

I really don’t remember much from the tour. We had to wake up at 6 am to get to Des Moines by my 11 am tour. I was exhausted and it was freezing and windy, a classic Iowa combo. It should have been miserable and I should have just hated it. However, the one thing I remember was despite the cold and wind, my tour guide was still cheerful, and people were still friendly even when outside. I loved every minute of that tour. Before touring Drake, I thought I knew what school I wanted, and when I got in the car to go home, I thought to myself “well crap.” That love I had on the tour really stuck with me as I toured other schools. 

I looked at two in Chicago. At both of them, it was again cold, but everyone kept their heads down and my tour guide clearly wanted to be anywhere but there. I looked at schools in Colorado, and it was much warmer there and people were nicer, but I hated having to take a flight to get home. I loved the easy 3 and a half hours that it took to get from Minneapolis to Des Moines. Every school I went to just didn’t compare to Des Moines and the feeling I had at Drake.

On a random Thursday night in February, I sat my family down at the dinner table and told them I wanted to go to Drake. I signed my admission acceptance form that night and I haven’t regretted it once.

Since I Started At Drake

I’ve joined a sorority, pick two majors, a minor and a concentration and I have been a part of the Drake Magazine as their assistant online editor. I’ve spent countless hours in Starbucks and met some pretty amazing people.

To read more from me, visit my blog here.

My Obsession with Whales

How It Started

It only took a pun on the front cover of a book that showed some whales simply saying, “oh, whale.” Something like that would usually make a person let out a small laugh solely because of how cringy it is. Usually, I would just roll my eyes, but this time was different. I didn’t smile and roll my eyes; I laughed for at least an hour. It was one of those laughs where you just can’t stop no matter how hard you try. 

While the joke itself was hilarious to me and just terrible to the rest of the world, it had a much bigger impact than anyone could have known. That one pun would be the start of the never-ending, always-apparent, and very-passionate obsession with whales.

My Favorite Whale Related Things (so far)

  1. Socks With Whales
  2. Whale Bank
  3. Plant Holder in the shape of a whale
  4. Whale Pillows
  5. Keychain Whales
  6. Whale Stickers

Quite frankly, I take pride in the number of whale things I own. It’s a collection of something I love from around the world.  I got my whale hooks in Cinque Terre, Italy. My ‘lucky little whale’ came from Honolulu, Hawaii, while my stuffed animal whale came from the baby section at my local Target. They are basically souvenirs I get from different places, even if that adventure is just going to Target. Each time I go somewhere new, I try to bring anything that’s whale related back home with me so I can always have a small piece of that place with me. Even If I am going somewhere I have been before, if I find something whale-related, I will most likely buy it on the spot.

What It Turned Into

As the obsession grew into my senior year of high school, I started to notice that all these fake whales in my life were making me more aware of the living whales on this earth. This animal I was so obsessed with was actually endangered, and that absolutely broke my heart.

After doing research on what is causing their decline and looking at how I can help, I adopted a whale. Probably my favorite thing on my list. Kama’aina is a humpback whale off the coast of Maui. Their name means “child of the land” or “home” in Hawaiian and got their name because Kama’aina always returns to Launiupoko Beach in Maui. I made the donation and adopted them because for me ‘home is where the heart is.’ There are a lot of things that I hold close to my heart, and whales are one of them. You can read more about my obsession here.

Ways You Can Help

If you are interested in helping the whales, feel free to shoot me a message, or check out these resources.

How Can We Help the Whales? by The Natural Contemplative.

40 Ways to Save the Whales by The Pacific Whale Foundation.

Save the North Atlantic Right Whale by The Whale and Dolphin Conservation

To read more from me, visit my blog here.