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Project MyStory Connects Students Across Campus   

Bloggers Help Others Adjust to University Life  

Karen Herbert turned her blog theme into a week in which students sent postcards to those they appreciate. (Photo by Naomi McPeters)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 4, 2016) – Students at the University have developed a strong platform to share their thoughts and concerns about adjusting to campus life. It’s uniquely their own story – aptly called Project MyStory.

They write about overcoming homesickness, adjusting to challenging classes, and dealing with the anxiety of choosing a major. And their readers benefit from making a community connection.

Rachel Moody of the Advisement Services Center (ASC) started the blogging project.

"Project MyStory is an evolving community building effort by the ASC to help new students better acclimate to UAlbany. Through videos, blogs, posters, small group meetings and presentations, students help other students by sharing their experiences at UAlbany,” said Moody.

Kate Engert of Bedford, N.Y., a sophomore, started out as an intended accounting major, switched to mathematics thinking she would become a teacher, and ended up finding the major she loves: communication.

Her journey to the right major was stressful. Over time, she found out “my problem was that I was not in the right classes for me and once I figured that out I became more confident in my work. …The most important thing is to remember that changing your major is okay and a normal thing, so don’t let the fear of change stop you from realizing a new skill or interest.”

Writing for Project MyStory has been rewarding for Kate, who received a Facebook message from a student who found her story inspiring.

“This one message really made me feel like I was making a difference and impacting the lives of others,” said Kate.

Joe DeSantis of Wantagh, N.Y., a freshman and intended business administration major, was a four sport varsity athlete in high school, an honor roll student, and member of the marching band. He was surprised to find the first few months of college were rough, “as they would be for anyone transitioning into college no matter how prepared they felt that they were able to handle it…I never realized how big of a change it was going to be for me until I experienced college for myself.”

Joe came to UAlbany thinking it might be hard to make new friends. “I guess I didn’t take into consideration that there are 17,000 students on this campus, which means there are 17,000 opportunities to make a new friend. Since I am on the track team, I had a set of new friends set out for me before I got here.”

Karen Herbert of Brooklyn, N.Y., a freshman who plans to major in English, writes of missing her 2-year-old sister, and of the importance of valuing relationships in life.

“We need everyone who is in our lives, like our teachers, advisors, classmates, suitemates, friends, sisters, and mentors, because we don’t realize how much they affect us, so we bypass them,” Karen writes.

Students in Project MyStory receive two or three community service credits, pick a blog theme and do a presentation on their theme. Karen decided to focus on the people in our lives that we sometimes take for granted, and so she organized Because I Need You Week of Appreciation in the quads recently.

And as Simonti Banik’s blog points out, there is more than one kind of homesickness. The freshman biology major grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, where she was accustomed to the sounds of music, the TV blaring in the background, and in summer, the sound of a basketball bouncing, or a horn blowing.

However, when she chose to attend UAlbany, her parents decided to move to Albany to live a simpler lifestyle, so she could continue to live at home. She misses her old friends and the smells, sounds and tastes of her old neighborhood.

“Because I don’t live on campus, it’s so much more difficult to make friends and because everything is so far away, I have to be able to drive anywhere I want to go,” said Simonti, who has made it her mission to rebound this semester, find an effective cure for her homesickness and “to write my own chapter.”

If you are interested in participating in Project MyStory, click here, or contact Rachel Moody at rsmoody@albany.edu.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.