Part two in an ongoing series.
Majors have changed, friendships have formed, goals have been reevaluated and one semester is almost over for the four freshmen “The Temple News” introduced in the beginning of the school year.
When communications major Brandon Wilkins began his first semester at Temple, he said he had two goals: get good grades and learn to skateboard.
Yet, with a week left in the semester, Wilkins said he is not so sure he will meet either one of those goals.
“I’ve let myself go,” Wilkins said. “I learned how to bring out the fun, more enjoyable side of me that I’ve never really seen before.”
Humor, he explained, has played a key role in bringing out his fun side, especially when making friends and meeting new people in his dorm. He said his jokes even got him and his friends inside a fraternity party without having to pay.
“I was just joking around like, ‘You should let me in for free because I dance better than anyone in there.’ [The fraternity brothers] were like, ‘Man get out of here.’
But they were real cool about it. They didn’t take it to heart or anything. We sat out there for, like, 20 minutes, joking around, and after … they just let us right in.”
The experience, he said, made him feel like he “was cool with the fraternity guys” and it even contributed to his desire to pledge a fraternity in the coming semester.
Enticed by the step performances at this year’s Homecoming Greek Showcase, Wilkins said he would like to see himself on stage, stepping, with letters one day.
Yet, if Wilkins does decide to pledge, he said he has no choice but to become a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. to avoid ridicule from his father, who is a Kappa.
“I know I cannot go back home if I am not a Kappa,” said Wilkins, who added that his father would not be upset if he did not pledge. “But if I do pledge, it has to be Kappa.”
Nevertheless, Wilkins said his decision to pledge with Kappa Alpha Psi will not be solely based on his father. He said he has made the most contacts with the organization.
Wilkins did contemplate switching his major mid-semester to business or African American Studies, although he still has aspirations to become a radio DJ. He’s decided that communications was the best choice for now, but is considering a minor.
The most important lesson Wilkins said he learned this semester was time management.
He admitted that late night banter with his “boys,” recapping party stories and sports stats, contributed to procrastination of his assignments and difficulty getting up for morning classes.
“It is weird coming from being on honor roll in high school, and then failing quizzes in college,” Wilkins said.
But Wilkins said that he does not regret going to parties almost every weekend this semester, noting that college is about “doing the things you never thought you would do.” In the spring semester, he said he is determined to make the Dean’s List, adding that he will start by not taking classes before 10 in the morning.
“Psychology has left the building,” said Neteria Augcomfar about changing her major to African American Studies, although she said she is contemplating a double major in education and French.
The switch to African American Studies, Augcomfar said, was based on her passion for the subject.
“I don’t complain when it comes to those classes, even when I have to read boring, scholarly nonfiction books,” Augcomfar said.
Taking African American Studies courses, she said, has also made her realize how little her peers know about their own history and culture. She attributed this to the nation’s failure to truly educate people about American history.
“The education system in this country sucks,” Augcomfar said. “How is it that you’re 18 or 19 years old and you’ve just started learning something beyond Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.?”
Her close friends, who have nicknamed
her “Sista Souljah” and “Black Power Neteria,” were not surprised by the change in her major, including her boyfriend who asked what she plans to do with a degree in African American Studies.
“He was like, ‘I knew it. You want to be an activist, don’t you?’ But I wouldn’t say I want to be an activist even though people seem to say that is what I am going to end up [doing],” Augcomfar said.
Although she would not label herself as an activist, Augcomfar explained that she often finds herself defending the underdog, which she defines as people who “have the same amount of capabilities as anyone else, but for lack of better circumstances, do not have the resources that were needed to mold those capabilities.”
Augcomfar recalled a time when her mother, after six months of struggling to pay the rent and tuition for graduate school, had to decide whether or not to move in with her sister after losing her job and eventually their apartment.
“I don’t think people know where my passion and my fight come from,” Augocomfar said. “I have been in enough situations to understand the underdog.”
Augcomfar said she plans to stay at Temple
for four years, adding that she could not think of another school that could accommodate her academically or socially.
“Transferring is just too much work,” said Augcomfar. “Temple works for me. It’s diverse enough that if I wanted to hang out with another group of people, that group is there.”
Next semester, Augcomfar said she plans to break her procrastination habit by going to bed before 3 a.m. She also hopes to take her poetry to the next level by performing as a feature artist for a spoken word group in Philadelphia.
“It went by so fast,” said accounting major
Linda Yepez of her first semester at Temple. “So I don’t think I’ve really changed, but I have matured.”
Managing her time between completing
her schoolwork and hanging out with her high school boyfriend of one year and three months, who is also a Temple student, has contributed to her maturity.
“Back home everyone knows we are together,
but here not a lot people know we go out,” Yepez said. “I’ve learned that I have to trust him more and he has to trust me. But I feel like I know how to handle those situations better.”
This semester Yepez said she was lucky to share a similar schedule with her boyfriend and that her workload permitted her enough time to hang out with him. But when it comes to studying, Yepez said that both she and her boyfriend are considerate of each other’s time.
“If I have to study, he understands. And if he has work to do, I am also considerate,” said Yepez.
In spite of class schedules and studying, Yepez said she sees herself dating her boyfriend for the remainder of her college career.
Academically, Yepez said she expects to receive mostly A’s, adding that she enjoys schoolwork because it’s not too hard. She has no plans to change her major and regularly attends meeting for the Accounting Professional Society.
But living in a dorm, Yepez said, has been one of her favorite experiences, particularly because it is so easy to meet new people. “[There are] always people running around on my floor,” Yepez said, adding that she has made friends with many people who just stopped by her room.
“I’ve met a lot of people by going to movie
nights or programs the RAs put on at the building,” Yepez said, adding that most of her time is spent hanging out with her roommate.
From shopping to eating dinner together in the cafeteria, Yepez said she has become extremely close with her roommate, noting that they get along well because of similar tastes in clothes and music. Still, Yepez said she would prefer to live in another building next year rather than Hardwick, to avoid sharing a bathroom with her entire floor.
Last week, Yepez experienced her first Temple men’s basketball game, which she said she likes better than the football games.
“I enjoy basketball more than football anyway. You meet a lot of people at both. But the cherry and white section is really spirited,” said Yepez, who added that she plans to attend more basketball games in the coming semester.
Bernardo Castro, an international student from Brazil, said going to school in the United States is nothing like what he expected.
“I thought it was going to be all white Americans and life would be really rushed,” said Castro, a business management major.
Castro said he was surprised by the diversity he saw, not only on Temple’s campus, but all over Philadelphia and during his trips to New York City.
In a few short months, Castro said he has explored much of Philadelphia, attending a Temple football game at Penn State, running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art “like Rocky,” and even eating out in Center City.
“There is so much more to do off-campus,”
said Castro “You can always find something
new on South Street or in Old City.
In the beginning of the semester, Castro attended several fraternity parties, enthralled by how quickly he met people, even though he does not hang out with a few of the friends he met early in the semester.
“The frat scene gets old,” explained Castro.
“It’s always the same thing – even the music. It’s always crowded and with some of them getting in trouble with [the] police, I don’t want to get caught up with that.”
Castro said he has found a group of people that he will “probably stay friends with through college.” It is with these friends that Castro has made trips to New York City, traveling there on the Chinatown bus.
“We just walk around the city. New York is so crazy and has so much to do. When it gets late, we hang out in Starbucks until about 6 [a.m. when the Chinatown] bus comes,” Castro said.
He even spent a weekend in the Hamptons
on Long Island, where he was seized by the Marines for trespassing onto a U.S. Coast Guard base.
“It was an accident,” explained Castro. “We were walking on the beach and then it just ended. There was a gate so I just climbed over it.”
Surrounded by a large gated fence and barb wire, Castro was approached by a U.S. Marine who asked him how he got on the grounds. Castro said he just shrugged and apologized. The Marine escorted Castro and his friends off the premises in a military jeep.
“It was pretty scary,” Castro said of the ordeal, adding how funny he thought it was once he returned to campus.
Although he said that Temple’s campus does not provide the same excitement or adventure as Center City or New York City, Castro said that he has started to enjoy smoking hookah, a water-filtrated smoking pipe, with friends at the Bell Tower.
“I am friends with a few Arabic girls. They got me into it,” Castro said of hookah, adding that he also tried it in at a restaurant in Center City. “It’s a social thing. We sit out there, smoke hookah, and talk.”
As for his studies, Castro admitted he has not devoted enough time to studying, adding that his naps in between classes and trips to the city have prevented him from getting his work done.
“I wished someone would’ve told me how to study,” Castro said.
“In high school, if you didn’t do your work, the teacher would be like, ‘OK, just hand it tomorrow.’ But in college it’s different. You can’t do that.”
Next semester, Castro said he is “definitely staying at Temple” and is determined to focus more on his schoolwork.