Presidents are People Too

President’s Day is a holiday dedicated to all of the U.S. presidents, both past and present. It is a day where Americans can reflect upon and remember the actions of historic presidents like George Washington as well as the more recent presidents who were elected during our lifetime. This day gives us reason to recall the incredible feats of President Abraham Lincoln, who preserved the Union throughout the turmoil of the American Civil War, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who guided the U.S. during economic depression and world war. Also, this day allows us to commemorate the tragedies of past presidents like the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas during the presidential motorcade. Most Americans are aware of the well-known presidents and their claims to fame. However, presidents are people, too, and they have lived through some interesting periods in American history. Behind every presidential figure lies a trove of fascinating facts about their lives.

We believe that the man or woman elected as president cannot be some average Joe off the street. Although one must certainly be qualified to be president, all of the men elected to office have had their shortcomings. Thomas Jefferson—founding father, writer of the Declaration of Independence, and 3rd president of the U.S.—gravely feared public speaking. In fact, during his entire presidency, he only delivered two speeches. He is not the only president with a phobia. Ulysses S. Grant, the acclaimed general of the Civil War and 18th president of the U.S., could not bear the sight of blood. Yet, he led the Union army to victory in the bloodiest war the United States has ever experienced. Unlike Jefferson and Grant, whose concerns are understandable, other presidents had irrational fears. For example, the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, was afraid of electricity. Since it had just been invented, Harrison often refused to flip light switches in the White House, believing he would be electrocuted if he did. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who led the U.S. through World War II, was deeply superstitious. It was common for him to refuse to dine with thirteen people or travel on the thirteenth day of the month as a safety precaution. Like any other person, presidents have fears and concerns that contradict the heroic persona we often think we see them in.

Some of the presidents were incredibly rugged men who lived during periods that we have no experience in. Many of them grew up on the frontier where the wilderness spread for miles and unknown people resided. They developed tough characteristics that they carried with them into their presidency for both their benefit and downfall. The 7th president, Andrew Jackson, is commonly known as the presidential bad-boy of American history and for good reason. Throughout his life, he fought in one-hundred duels (which were legal in his day). Duels were serious ordeals; many famous Americans of that period were involved and sometimes killed in these confrontations. Jackson was shot twice during his tenure as a dueler, once taking a bullet in the chest and another in the arm. Along with Old Hickory (Jackson’s nickname), Abe Lincoln was also a tough guy. Lincoln had a talent in wrestling, winning nearly three-hundred matches during his day. His towering frame gave him the advantage in wrestling matches, making him a formidable opponent to all who challenged him. Both of these presidents were the types of people you did not want to mess with unless you had a good reason.

Throughout history, presidents have had a lasting impact on the United States. Martin Van Buren, 8th president of the U.S., impacted the language we speak today in a very unique way. During his election campaign in 1840, he went by the nickname: Old Kinderhook. In order to create a snappier way of saying this mouthful of a nickname, people referred to him as “OK.” His supporters would lug around signs with the initials on it and, little did they know, we still use “OK” to this day. In fact, it is one of the prominent words in our everyday language.

As humans, we all possess interesting facts about our lives. Every president, from the most prominent to the nearly forgotten, has a fascinating side to his life story. Though we create presidents to be larger-than-life figures, they are people, too, with mistakes, fears, desires, and stories.

Written by Jack

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Works Cited:

Hapsis, Emmanuel. “Weird Facts You Never Knew about the U.S. Presidents.” KQED, Feb. 2016. Editors. “Presidents Day 2019.”, Aug 2018.


Finishing Touches

Finally finished. Relaxing your fingers on the keyboard, you lean back and let out a contented sigh. After hours of planning, seemingly endless typing, and extremely sore quad muscles from several trips down to the University Writing Center, you have finally completed that important paper… or have you?proof reading

Before you print out a final draft and head for that celebratory Mocha Frappuccino, be sure to proofread and revise your paper! I know, I know, the final touches seem excruciatingly unnecessary when compared to Starbucks’ chocolate version of heaven, but trust me… revising and editing your paper is ALWAYS WORTH IT!

Ideally, I would suggest waiting a day after completing your paper to begin proofreading and revising. However, the odds are likely that you’re a typical college student and MAY have waited until the last minute to start your major paper. No judgment; we’ve all been there. So, if that’s you, start by reading your paper backwards. Yes, sdrawkcab! Reading your paper from the last paragraph to the first will often help you to catch unnecessary word repetition, misspellings, and contractions.

Next, head over to the University Writing Center again to grab a copy of our nifty Proofreading and Revising Checklist. (OR, you can access it online here). Everybody needs a little extra guidance sometimes, and this handout provides just that. It gives some great ideas and suggestions to make sure your paper looks picture perfect by the time class starts.

Lastly, I would suggest asking a friend to look over your paper with you. Since you’ve already spent hours perfecting that stellar paper, it may be a good idea to get a peer’s feedback and perspective. If you feel a little uncomfortable reading to a roommate, you can always make an appointment at the University Writing Center (214-333-5474). The UWC helps students throughout all stages of the writing process (including the finishing touches), and we would absolutely love to read over your paper with you.

Once you’ve proofread, edited, revised, and feel confident about your paper, print it out and….


Written by Leah

For more information on proof reading, revising, and other writing subjects, check out our Proof Reading and Revising Checklist handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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The Best New Year Checklist

Hold on! Before you use all of your Twitter characters to jot down your half-plans to “be your best self,” take a moment and go through this checklist to really start the year off right.

Create a list of best-three

This list should contain at least three of your favorite things of the year. These elements can include experiences, developing habits, people, and/or items that you are grateful for. You may even add more than three items to the list as you remember all of the awesome aspects of the year. Add as many things to your list as you can, and reminisce about the best parts of this year. My list of three includes starting a blog, starting a business, and moving into my first apartment.

Create a list of worst-three

This list should be the opposite of the previous list. This time, note your top three fails, obstacles, bad-habits, and other unsatisfactory components of the past year. This time, only jot down those top three. The goal here isn’t to make you feel bad about what went wrong but to accept it and begin making changes. Choose the top three areas from this year you would like to improve for next year.

Now, here’s the fun part…

Create a Vision Board for the New Year

A vision board is simply a compilation of photos, quotes, goals, and other items that foster motivation. Vision boards can be both physical and virtual and are meant to be displayed in a location that can be seen daily. Use your list of top-three’s to find images and quotes that inspire you. Use the list of worst-three to find images and quotes that counteract those items. Then, include your dreams, desires, beliefs and anything else you want to achieve in this next year. Finally, add your favorite image of yourself in the center, enjoying the lifestyle you created. If you get tired of your board make a new one and stay inspired all year long!

Purge, Organize, and Shop

Nothing says “new me” like a clean home, a decluttered closet, and some novelty items to bring in the New Year. Many who purge their junk feel ‘lighter’ and more confident in what the New Year has to offer. Take a couple weeks to go through your home section by section, and remove the things you have not used in the last year. By riding yourself the things you don’t need, you free your mind and your space to collect things that serve a greater purpose in your life now.


Whether at a countdown party, hanging out with friends and loved ones, or at home enjoying your favorite mode of relaxation, celebrate the success of surviving this year and celebrate the promise of the next one.

Written by Ashley

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Following the Railroad Tracks

The train station manager saw Mi Yun wandering around the empty train station, knowing she had been there for several hours. She had previously told him that she was waiting for her uncle to pick her up. He said, “‘You cannot wait here. Do you hear me? No one is coming for you!’ Hanging her head in confusion and alarm, [Mi Yun] obeyed. The thumping in her chest started again. Tears burned her eyes as she stumbled back to the ox cart… Mommy, I need you!” After being abandoned on a train by her mother, four-year-old Mi Yun spent her childhood on the streets of war-torn South Korea, scavenging for food, warmth, and love. Because her father was American and her mother was Korean, no Korean would accept her, and she was repeatedly beaten, tortured, and purposefully starved because of her origin. However, every time she was near death or so cold and hungry she wanted to die, someone would be placed in her path to remind her to never stop trying to survive. In her book She Is Mine, Stephanie Fast uses differing perspective, realistic details, and heart-wrenching events to communicate that Someone had a plan for Mi Yun no matter what happened to her.

Throughout the book, I felt as though I was in the mind of Mi Yun because Fast uses differing perspectives based on the age of Mi Yun to unfold the details of the story. When Mi Yun is young, the thought process in the book portrays that of a very young girl, who cannot understand what is going on as her mother puts her on a train alone; a girl gullible enough to believe after several days of being abandoned that her mother would still take her in if Mi Yun could only get back to her. As she sat in the cardboard box she had called her home for several days, while waiting for her uncle to pick her up, “She repeated again, ‘It will be all right. It will be all right. I will find my way back home… I will get back to my mama” (60-61). Then, as more and more people hurt her, beat her, and torture her, Mi Yun’s innocence turns to fear and hate. She stops trying to get help from the local villagers and instead hides as much as possible in shacks, burrows, and caves, stealing food and warmth whenever she could. Each encounter she has with strangers, I was immediately placed in the mind of the young girl, reading her words, thoughts, and fears. On one particular occasion when Mi Yun is caught stealing, she is grabbed by a farmer. As the farmer drags Mi Yun down the street and into a crowd of angry villagers, she cries, “‘Please don’t hurt me… I will leave… Just let me go.’ …Is there any kind person here… someone who will stand up for me, someone who will protect me? She could only see hatred, anger, and disgust on the faces of the villagers” (101). This switch between dialogue, Mi Yun’s thoughts, and narration made me feel thoroughly engrossed in the book, as if I were right there alongside the little girl.

In addition to differing perspectives, Fast also uses realistic details that kept me thoroughly engrossed in the story. For example, there are accurate descriptions of the Korean countryside scattered throughout the book, so I could picture where the events were taking place: “She saw the train tracks running along the rugged mountains… She looked to the right… and scanned the train tracks surrounded by the grass, rice paddies, and more mountains. Turning, she saw behind her only the empty countryside and even more mountains” (75). There are also many descriptive portrayals of Mi Yun: “She was tiny and beautiful in a way that was both Western and Asian. Her eyes were a bit rounder than the other children… Her hair, lighter in color than the rest, had a soft curl to it” (37). These are two of the many examples of Stephanie Fast’s excellent descriptions in She Is Mine. There are also depictions of Mi Yun’s encounters, the places she goes, and the experiences she has. These depictions allowed me to visually picture the characters and scenery, so I could imagine what Mi Yun saw as she suffered.

Finally, there are many events in this novel that caused me to deeply empathize with Mi Yun. One time, when she was caught stealing from a farmer, Mi Yun was dragged to a water mill and tied to it, and the water mill was then turned on. “[Mi Yun] didn’t quite know what was happening, except that the wheel was moving. Its slow rotation took Yoon Myoung to the top, where a flood of water spilled into her face, causing her to sputter and choke…With no time to catch her breath, she was thrust under the murky water as the wheel continued its rotation. Scraping along the graveling bottom of the pond, she felt her face being cut and bruised by the mud and gravel” (103-104). She was raped, beaten, run out of villages, suffered a fall from the hands of strangers that killed the baby she was taking care of, and nearly died from sickness. Many times, I found myself mentally yelling at the other characters, aghast at the inhumanity of the Koreans that Mi Yun encountered. However, no matter how much she went through, someone was always put in her path that cared for her, encouraged her, and helped her to keep going.

The story of Mi Yun is one that captures the interest of every reader, as they learn about the horrors she endured as a result of her origin, from being abandoned by her mother to being refused food by villagers. However, the reader is constantly reminded that someone is watching out for Mi Yun through the little things that happen to her along the way. The end of the story renews one’s confidence that God is always watching over us, no matter how hard life becomes. But, if you would like to know what this incredible ending is, you will have to read Stephanie Fast’s She Is Mine.

Written by Michelle

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The Unique History of Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for family, feasting, and football. Timeless traditions surround this holiday, and it seems as though every American is aware of its origins. As a kid, I remember dressing up as a Pilgrim or Native American to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast just as they did in 1621. We learned that these two very different people came together to celebrate and feast together, which is the reason why we celebrate the same thing today. But, there are many facts about this historical event that the average person, including me until I wrote this blog, does not know.

When the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe joined together to feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they had no intentions of celebrating on a yearly basis. For them, it was just a big get-together where everyone brought a dish of food to share. So, this was technically the first American potluck during the colonial days. The Pilgrims often dedicated days of thanksgiving to God when harvests or other good things occurred. When they finished feasting on their harvest with the neighboring Indians, they dedicated themselves to acts of thanksgiving.

This custom grew as the colonies expanded, and by the 19th century, many U.S. States adopted the holiday as an annual event. Abraham Lincoln selected the final Thursday of November as the day to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1863, but Franklin D. Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 to increase the shopping days before Christmas. Every U.S. president has delivered a Thanksgiving proclamation of some sort. However, the common pardon that is given out to one turkey did not begin until 1989 with George H.W. Bush. This tradition calls for the U.S. president to pardon a domesticated turkey from the Thanksgiving Day festivities for the rest of its life. Ever since, the turkey pardon has been an entertaining and enjoyable tradition for all to watch, unless you’re a turkey.

The large amounts of food are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. Every year, I eat far too much and usually regret it, but isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Every family dines differently on this day, but the most popular food for Thanksgiving is turkey. I grew up eating turkey every Thanksgiving, so I cannot imagine one without it. Despite this popular practice, there is no record of turkey being eaten by the Pilgrims in 1621. Instead, they ate venison as the main dish. Also, the popular Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie, was not on the menu during the first Thanksgiving either. The Pilgrims were really missing out.

Perhaps the oddest part about the history of Thanksgiving is the various towns that claim to have started the Thanksgiving tradition before the Plymouth settlers. A small town in Texas called San Elizario makes claims for having the first Thanksgiving in America. In 1598, a Spanish explorer led a group of settlers across the Mexican desert. When they finally reached the banks of the Rio Grande River, they celebrated with thanksgiving. This Texan town is not the only place to declare its Thanksgiving claims. Berkeley Plantation in Virginia also argues that they started the tradition in 1619, just two years before the Plymouth settlers celebrated. Both towns reenact their own Thanksgiving Day events and defend their claims as the original location of Thanksgiving.

Regardless, thanksgiving has been a huge part of our culture. Many things have changed, but the values remain the same. It’s a time when we can relax with others and slide into a coma from all the delicious food. More importantly, it’s a time when everyone can reflect on their lives and give thanks for what they have been blessed with.

Written by Jack

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Works Cited:

Shenkman, Rick. “Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving.” History News Network, 2001. Editors. “Mayflower Myths.” HISTORY, 2009.

Bathroom Readers Institute. “6 Things Everyone Believes About Thanksgiving That AreAbsolutely Untrue.” Reader’s Digest, 2018.

Monkman, Betty C. “Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey.” The White House Historical Association, 27 September 2018.

Rosenberg, Jennifer. “How FDR Changed Thanksgiving.” ThoughtCo., 2017.

Veteran’s Day and the Ethics of Honor

President Wilson’s words at the commemoration of the first Armistice Day in 1919 ring true to this day: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Germany and the allied nations signed a peace treaty known as the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I on November 11th. That day was declared a day to not only remember World War I veterans, but to observe and maintain world peace as well.

Armistice Day gave birth to Veteran’s Day in 1954. Though many hoped and even proclaimed that World War I would be “the end of all wars,” World War II followed and brought that hope to a tragic end. Furthermore, a great number of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and several other military personnel were deployed for this war, leading the 83rd Congress to replace the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” to honor veterans of all wars.

Veteran’s Day is often easily confused with Memorial Day. While Veteran’s Day is a day to honor the living veterans of all wars, Memorial Day was established a year after the Civil War to honor those who fell in active duty. Both holidays are celebrated in a similar way and can even be interchangeable, but what they each stand for possesses distinct uniqueness. Moreover, Veteran’s Day honors men and women who have served in the military, regardless of whether it was in combat or not. Several people go out of their way to celebrate Veteran’s Day; from decorations and gatherings, to free goods and services for veterans, there are many ways people choose to express their gratitude and appreciation.

Most people agree that war is brutal and ugly, but when a nation is faced with the question “why are we going to war?” the answers vary, which makes it a rather controversial topic that garners some serious reactions from people across the political spectrum. Though Veteran’s Day is a national holiday, those who served aren’t always treated with the honor and respect they deserve. For instance, veterans of the Vietnam War were not fortunate enough to get a festive reception. This was due to the fact that the US neither had an objective or declared war beforehand, which caused the rise of an extremely contentious political climate during the war.

Students on university campuses and in the academic society started an anti-Vietnam War movement; soon, protests became more prominent and drew people’s attention to the reality of the war. When the soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War returned home, they didn’t get a hero’s welcome. Several veterans testified about being mistreated, insulted, and in some cases, assaulted. Another war that was ethically, morally, and politically controversial was the Iraq War. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq due to their alleged possession of “weapons of mass destruction,” an idea that was not clearly verified. Both wars took so many lives and nearly destroyed nations for reasons that are not clear to this day, which is why many felt the need to protest and oppose.

Some might begin to wonder if there is an instance where one should or shouldn’t honor a veteran. Most of the people that decide to either protest or refrain from celebrating holidays like Veteran’s Day have probably wondered the same thing as well. The answer to the question depends on the individual, but there are some factors we can consider to help guide us towards it. Sometimes, men and women in armed forces can decided whether or not they wish to serve; however, like in the Vietnam War, many had no choice but to serve and were simply following orders from their superiors. Therefore, despising them and blaming them for everything doesn’t change the situation.

Everyone has the right to agree or disagree with the government’s decisions on wars, and they have the freedom of speech to express that too. However, political criticism should be the last thing veterans get considering the several challenges they face that are often unique to their circumstances and background as former military personnel. On Veteran’s Day, the focus should be on the bravery and will of the human spirit displayed through ordinary men and women who exhibit extraordinary courage. The least we can do is to put our politics aside, take time out of our day to give back, and help make them feel appreciated.

Written by Kenean


Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.” Learn to Communicate Assertively at Work, 20 Mar. 2006,

IowaPublicTelevision. “Experiences of Vietnam Veterans Returning Home from War.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Oct. 2015,

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5 Lethal Mistakes Freshmen Make and How to Avoid Them

As a sage senior and soon-to-be-graduate, I have a lot of knowledge in my noggin. It’s not necessarily the traditional text-book kind of knowledge, but rather an acute awareness that only time can provide. Basically, this is my fourth year around the collegiate sun of observing bushy-tailed freshmen navigate their new habitat. Seniors often joke about the silly quirks all freshmen students have until the passing of their first Christmas break seasons them a little. And lately, with all these fresh-faced young ones eagerly roaming the campus around me, so blithe, so nimble, so…frightful, to be honest, it got me thinking about all the quirks and misconceptions about college I had as a young freshette. To be a little less of that typical freshman on campus, heed the following tips, and you’ll trick people into thinking you know you what you’re doing.

  1. Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m a senior! When it seems as if everyone on your hall is far more familiar with the campus, the people, and the whereabouts of everything cool to do and see than you are, there is a 100% chance that person is as clueless as you. The biggest fault of freshman is not that they don’t know things, it’s that they pretend as if they do. Trust me, you’ll come across much more mature and reasonable if you ask questions about the things you don’t know.

  1. Nobody Has Friends Yet

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Some people really do stick with the friends they made during freshman year all throughout college. But it’s rare. In fact, it’s natural and expected that by the time you graduate, you’ll have a totally different crew of friends, true friends, to do life with. It’s natural because building friendships takes time. Freshman feel pressured to be sociable 24/7, never be caught doing anything alone, or worst of all, eat alone *gulp* But the fact is, even if looks like everyone around you already has a gaggle of friends, chances are they’re doing the same thing as you: buddying up with randos to look like they know and love everyone. It’s okay to do stuff alone. In fact, you might make friends with a few upperclassmen by going to things alone; they’ll think you’re one of them.

  1. Wearing Your I.D Around Your Neck

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Back pocket? Fine. Wallet? Fine. Attached to a lanyard hanging around your neck? Never.

  1. Don’t Dress Like a Slob for Class

On your first day of classes, you saw them: girls hopeful for a ring-by-spring wearing a full face of makeup, sporting freshly straightened hair while wearing…Nike shorts, Chacos, and an over-sized t-shirt. Ya know what will make not only a favorable impression with your professors but also with your fellow students? Dressing up a little! We know that you care, so dress like it. It’s okay to be sloppy every now and then, but there will be ample opportunity for that come finals week. You’ll fit in much more with the wiser upperclassmen if you slip into a blouse instead of a t-shirt every once in a while.

  1. You Don’t Have to Go to Everything

Go to every class, but don’t go to every event. Enjoy your college experience, take advantage of the free time that you have, but you don’t have to go to every school event unless that’s truly how you roll. A lot of the “college experiences” you’ll look back on with fondness are going to the movies on a weeknight and staying in and eating ice cream with your roommates.

Freshman year can be a lot of fun, and as cheesy as it sounds, the key is to be yourself. Do what’s fun for you. Be patient with finding friends you truly connect with, and they might become pals for life. You’ll encounter some of the most trying times of your life, and also have some of the best times; don’t waste it! We all made and will make silly mistakes due to inexperience, but I can guarantee that by heeding these tips, you’ll come across a little wiser and enjoy yourself a lottle more.

Written by Karoline

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