Where did all that time go?

Written by: Center for Career & Professional Advancement, Serena Nguyen

Edited by: Dalton Rogers


If you could have one super power that could help you out in a time of need, which one would you choose?

I watched a movie called “About Time” last weekend. The movie is about a man who has the ability to travel back in time. Although his ability is limited to traveling back only to times in his own life, he is able to fix most of his mistakes and gets a fresh start many times over. Along his journey, he falls in love with a woman named Mary. After meeting her, the love of his life, he is able to learn and understand that sometimes there are things that are best left the way they happened the first time. He realizes the value of living in the moment. Overall, I thought the movie was great and had an amazing message, which is that we must treasure the time we have and we should not waste a moment of it.

After the seeing the movie, I reflected on its significance to my own life. I thought that the ability to travel through time was amazing and I wish I too could have that extraordinary power. Imagine what we could do with that power! As for me, I would put it to good use by going back in time to get more study time for exams. I wouldn’t have to worry about losing sleep to study anymore! In addition, I would also have time for fun, such as hanging out with my family and friends, and of course, catching up with all of my favorite TV shows.


Unfortunately, that kind of power doesn’t exist!

In reality, we each have 24 hours a day to complete what we need to do—and that’s it. We shouldn’t forget that of those 24 hours, 8 to 9 of them are spent sleeping and 30 minutes to an hour are spent per meal for eating, In the end, we really only have 12-14 hours each day to complete our tasks.

As college students, we attend classes (50 minutes, 75 minutes, sometimes 2 hours each), club/organization activities, and/or work. We also have assignments to do, group projects to work on, and readings to do.

So, “where did all that time go?” is the most asked question we tend to vocalize. Even those with the best time management skills can easily fall behind on their tasks and get overwhelmed with their workloads.

Occasionally, I do find myself unable to respond to any of my tasks because I just don’t know where to start. Everything falls apart when I decide to procrastinate and wait to the last minute to start on my work. That is not a very smart idea on my part, but I think all of us students struggle with procrastination.


 I remember when I was in my very first semester here at UC Merced. Like everyone else, as a freshman, I would spend most of my time going out with friends and socializing with people on my floor, or spending time on Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube. I neglected my studies and didn’t prepare very well for my tests until the night before the exam. I regretted that I didn’t give more attention to my academics and instead decided to have fun first and work later. When I saw my first college GPA at the end of the semester, I was in shock. I didn’t get academic probation, but I was disappointed with myself for not trying harder.

I wish I could go back in time to fix my freshman year mistakes and to do better in my classes, but that is not possible. Instead, I have decided to manage my time better from this point on. By the end of my first semester as a sophomore, I was able to pull my cumulative GPA up over 3.0.

The moral of this story? Focus on working hard in the present time so that you won’t be regretting your choices in the future. No matter how badly we want to travel back in time, we can’t.

Carpe diem.


So, what have I learned from this lesson?

I learned that time is very precious and I must savor every moment of it. I should manage my time better and not wasting it for something that I might regret later on. Although I can still have fun with friends from time to time; I should also prioritize my task and know when to complete them on time. One way I can do that is to write all of my tasks down on a piece of paper and arrange them in their priorities. I also learned not to study for any of my test the night before the exam. Instead, I am giving myself three days in advance to study for the materials that will be cover on the test. I know three days may sound like a lot but trust me, it is not.

Of course, everyone is different and have options to choose what to do with their own time. However, we must not forget that time waits for no one and so we must do what we wanted to do. At the end of the day, we should look back and ask ourselves if the time we spend on for the entire day was worth it. If not, what can we do in order to change that?


Finals Week is Almost Here!

Written by Elizabeth O’Kane, Gillian Lopez, Kristen Nelson and Serena Nguyen

Center for Career & Professional Advancement Student Employees

Question: “How are you going to prepare for all of your final exams for the last few weeks of school?

Elizabeth Okane UC Merced Career Center, Media Assistant

Elizabeth O’Kane, Media Assistant

Wing it.  Just kidding.  Final exams are always stressful, but there is never a clear path to study for them.  Even though you supposedly learned the material front to back all semester, this will not help you breakdown and identify the question.  Yes, you need to know the fundamentals as a base, but this alone will not guarantee an A.  Here are some tips to be mindful of when test taking:

1.    Breakdown topics, NOT chapters.

Multiple chapters usually refer to common topics.  Identify these common trends and group them together.  Trust me, it will be easier to remember, because you are creating a cognitive file system.

2.    No flashcards!

I used to always get stuck in the flash card rut.  I would memorize the way I wrote the words or a fold in the flashcards.  This did not help me learn the material, because I was looking for clues instead of reading the content.  Get out of this rut!  Look at a concept and physically write 1-2 paragraphs about it or verbally explain it to someone.  If you can explain it, then you know what you are talking about.

3.    Read every word.

Not every word in the textbook, every word of the exam question.  Have a piece of scratch paper and rewrite the question.  Writing the question out automatically puts you in the mindset for identifying what the question is really asking.  Circle keywords and start writing notes about what you know about the topic.  If it’s multiple choice, go back and start eliminating answers to better your chances.  This does take time so only use this method on questions you are unsure about.

Have faith, get plenty of rest and you put yourself in a confident mindset!

Kristen Nelson Center for Career & Professional Advancement, SSHA Career Consultant

Kristen Nelson, SSHA Career Consultant

My number one rule for the time leading up to finals is to stay balanced. It’s so easy to just shut down during finals week. The end is so close, and yet for some reason I can actually get lazier. Because of this, I try not to break my routine. It helps me stay on task, keep a good work ethic, and also keep the stress at bay. This means the week prior to and also on finals week, I still go to the gym, enjoy some time with friends, and make sure to get enough sleep. The only way I am able to stick to my routine is by making adjustments and managing my time well. So I might go workout for 30 minutes rather than an hour, or I might go home a little earlier from hanging with friends so that I can finish up an assignment. Another thing that helps me through finals week is staying positive. This year my motto for finals time is “Pedal to the Medal!” I am not giving up. I am pushing hard all the way through, because I know by giving my 100% effort I will feel my break is well deserved.  Whatever your way of getting through finals is, positivity can always help. Happy finals Bobcats, and may the curve be ever in your favor!

Gillian Lopez Management Career Consultant Career Services Center

Gillian Lopez, Management Career Consultant

When it comes to studying for final exams I like to do three things; create a study schedule, make time for study breaks, and form study groups.

Creating a study schedule is a great way to stay organized during finals week especially if you are studying for more than one cumulative exam.  For example, my study schedule consists of the chapters I will focus on each day and the amount of time I will dedicate to each subject. Getting organized is an important part of prepping for final exams because it prevents procrastination and late night study crams!

In addition to my study schedule, I also like to include breaks in my day and week. It is not effective or healthy to study for 10 hours straight. In fact it is psychologically proven that your brain can only retain so much information within a given amount of time. I like to study throughout the day, but in between every hour I will take a 15-30 minute break before continuing my studies. This can include taking a walk outside, doing small exercises, watching an episode on Netflix, etc. Exercising is probably the best study break and stress reliever during finals week, not to mention all the positive endorphins that are released throughout the brain that can make you feel even more awake while studying!

Lastly, I like to study with a group. Usually the day before a final I work in a study group to test my knowledge and assist my peers.  During our study groups we would quiz each other or review our class materials.

Studying for finals can be overwhelming at times, but getting organized, taking study breaks, and starting early will help prevent some stress and unnecessary panic!


Serena Nguyen, Media Assistant

This might sound crazy but we have less than two weeks of school left for this semester! I am always amazed how time passes by so quickly. It is crazy just to think about it!

I know that many students are already struggling with their classes and overwhelmed from group projects and final exams to study for. Although my mind is filling with many exciting events to do with my besties over winter break, school should always come first. In order to deal with my final week for this semester, I try to pace myself by creating a schedule for the next two weeks. In addition, I always remind myself to leave out the fun for later because after finals week, I will have plenty of time for fun. I know I should not be neglecting my study, because if I do, I will regret it once I receive my final grade at the end of the semester.

Good luck, Bobcats!

Do your best and ace that final with flying colors!

Finding Yourself

Written by: Serena Nguyen

Center for Career & Professional Advancement, Media Assistant

Back in highschool, the things you did with your friends are majority being influenced by your peers because you wanted to blend in and wanted to belong somewhere in your pool of friends. However, college is all about you. What you choose to do is all up to you to decide. College is the place where you truly finds more about yourself such as your likes and dislikes, what you truly wanted to do, or where you might find yourself end up in the future. If you ever pick a far away college like me (UC Merced), about 300 miles away from home from So. Cal, you will eventually learn more about what you can and can’t do without your family constantly be by your side.

As for me, it was difficult at first when I entered UC Merced as a freshman. Everything was overwhelming because there was no one here that I know from my high school. I felt like I am in a complete different world. Although I got many supports from my family, they will not be here, with me, helping me out in the dire time of needs. I am on my own. During my first semester in college, I didn’t know what I truly wanted except continues to behave as if I was still in high school, blending in and trying to make many friends as possible because I didn’t like to be alone until one major thing happened to me.

My ex-roommates and I were in a huge conflict. At first, I thought things will be fine as long we gave ourselves some space and then talk over it with one another because I considered them to be my close friends, therefore, we practically did everything together during our first semester of college. However, during the first few weeks of the second semester, I sensed something is going to happened and my god, how I always hate my accuracy in prediction. Things became more intense than I expected it to be. It was very unfortunate that things ended the way it did for me and my ex-roommates, but in the end, I realized that things like this happened for a reason. I admitted that I was hurt severely. I broke down when I found out what they did, and what they didn’t do in order to keep our relationship to be at the mutual standing, but if thing like that never happened, I wouldn’t be able to find myself where I am now. I am always a sentimental person who likes to think positively about a person and grateful for all the help they gave me, and maybe that is why it is easier for me to get over with my past and moved on.

As the second semester quickly passed by and I moved on to my second year of college, I find myself looking at a paid internship with Energy Service Corps, a non-profit organization in which promoting energy efficiency through the younger generation (K-12) by educating them about renewable and nonrenewable resources. I never expected that I would get involve much with all the activities coming from the organizations until when I took up the position of Recruitment Coordinator and Co-Coordinator for my Home Assessment Team. I enjoyed what I do within the organizations, especially when joining ESC gave me the opportunities to communicate and meet many amazing people who gave me so much inspiration and a new outlook for life. In addition, I found that I didn’t stop there. I decided to apply for an on-campus job and get the job offer from the Career Center as a Media Assistant. While working as a Media Assistant for the Career Center, a leadership position for ESC, and being a full-time student at UC Merced made me realize that I am capable of handling myself for any situation by managing the time I had on my hand and being organized about myself and what I need to prioritized in order to get the works done. Thus, there isn’t a thing I did in the past that make me regretted. However, if I ever have a chance to turn back the clock and go back in time, there is one thing that I would like to tell my-past-self who have no guide or someone to help her is that, “everything will be alright and never be afraid to be yourself, and gave yourself a chance meeting new people.”

The people I met in my life taught me so much more than what I needs to know. Yes, there are always people out there who will try to bring you down, who makes you feel inferior to them and powerless. However, never for one moment to forget that there will be people who always be there to help you stand back up on your feet, give you the encouragement you needs to find yourself, and help you to continues down on the road that you’ve chosen for yourself. That’s why if you ever felt like your college experiences were not as expected, then the only person who can make those changes is yourself because this is your life and no one could do anything except you. You must be your own inspiration!

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
Aristotle Onassis

Da Struggles to the Top

By: Serena Nguyen

Center for Career & Professional Advancement, Media Assistant

Ten years ago, I was lost, confused, and had no idea what kind of future would be in store for me when I came to the United States. People looked down on me. They underestimated what I could do because I wasn’t able to speak or understand English compared to how I am now. At that time, I had low self-esteem, no self-confidence, and was a very negative person. I didn’t want to tell my parents what was going on with me in school because they had enough things on their plate, thus, I didn’t want to add anymore burden to their shoulders. Those people whom I supposedly call “friends” bullied me, pulled  me down from the rail, make funny English jokes at me when they knew that I had no idea what they were saying. I was constantly laughed at whenever I came to school, and was made as a laughing stock in front of the entire classroom. I heard whispers, and all eyes were on me which make me felt uncomfortable. I was traumatized and wanted to go back to my home country so then I could forget about everything here. I missed my friends, my relatives and all the fun things I’d been missing out on while I am here in California.

I was afraid to ask question, to raise my voice in the public because I don’t want to received attention from other people who might make fun of me because of my broken English. I cared too much on what other people think about me instead thinking about what could makes me truly happy. If I didn’t have the full support from my parents, and the sacrifice they made for me by coming here to the United States in order for me to receive the education and opportunities that I could have never had in Vietnam, I would have truly give up because at that time, giving up sounded so much easier than continues to strive forward when you are the clown of the class. One day, I realized that this girl wasn’t me. I was stronger than that. I am a positive person who always love to socialized, helping out other people, I love to have the accompanied from friends whenever I am at school, in class, and mess around during recess, and most of all is to have my voice heard. I can’t stand the thought of being shut out, the treatment in which I do not deserved. I didn’t like any of it, thus, I decided to change everything.

I started from the ground up, slowly, and one step at a time.  I read books that were available in the children section. I know. It is embarrassing as it sound but it is a good start for me, at least that’s what I believed and so I just do it. Then I started to listen to English music. Blasting it up as loud as I could. At first everything I heard was just some blubbering sound from my mp3 player since the words were so fast, my brain couldn’t decode it in time, but that didn’t stop me. I asked my cousins to speak  in English whenever they are talking to me because that will makes me to do the same, too. I must admit, everything wasn’t easy but I knew that if I don’t do anything for myself, then I will get nowhere in my life. I was so young, so many opportunities are ahead of me and so I can’t give up now and let everything passed by without trying to do anything. I simply cannot allow myself to do that.

Now, whenever I looked back to all of the things I did, I must say, I should give myself a pat on the back because I am proud of myself to get to where I am now. I am able to attend to one out of ten prestigious university in California. I was able to communicate with others and creating a wider network that I couldn’t have done ten years ago. The one thing that I am most proud of about myself is that I am not waiting for any opportunity to come to knock on my door, instead I’d put myself out there, looking for the opportunities to grow as an individual and learn more about myself, what I truly want in life, and what I really want to do with the skills I had, and I am also excited to learn and acquired on new skills while working at the Center for Career & Professional Advancement as a Media Assistant for almost a year now, and my new job at Christina’s Boutique as a graphic designer and video editor in order to promote the store and boost up our sales. 

This story wasn’t meant to inspired anyone who is going to read this but this is just a part of my past, something that I wanted to put out there in order to remind myself that I can accomplish anything, and turn my goal into reality as long I am determined to go with the plan and make sure that I work hard toward my goal, because I was able to understand that in life, there is no easy way out. As human, we tends to achieve great things in life when we are able to learn things and do things the hard way. Of course, there are many people out there who are able to find shortcuts to everything they do and still able to complete the same task like others, however, those people are truly the unfortunate ones, who is missing out on things that life has offered: adventures, challenges, motivations and the satisfying feelings of a person when they accomplish something through hard work by struggles their way to the top.

How about you? What kind of life will you choose for yourself?

My New Journey

Serena Nguyen
Center for Career & Professional Advancement

I am currently a sophomore majoring in Business Management. Starting the spring semester of 2013, I have worked as a Media Assistant in the Career Services Center. Even though I have worked in the Career Services for a short amount of time, I have really enjoyed working there because I am doing something I love. What else can top that? Continue reading