Disappointment and Coping
Our sister Christine shares her complicated thoughts and feelings about the current state of the world.
The pressure of having to put my thoughts into words has been overwhelming. What is happening around us will go down in the history books. And I feel so helpless. I think all students can agree that MSOE having online classes was a shock. I think when MSOE announced it was closing is when the severity of COVID finally hit me. The end of my senior year came to an abrupt stop. I’m left with a void for the things I will never experience.
- Senior weekend and all the shenanigans
- Counting down the days until graduation with my friends
- Mutually slacking up and messing around in a senior class
- Have a sense of community as seniors celebrate the end
- Feel pride as finally I walk across the stage
I am graduating and happiness is not on my list of emotions. I feel powerless above all else. Our class is being thrown into the work force during a global economic depression while a pandemic devastates our world. Just as our student loan payments begin, companies stop hiring. We were told an engineering degree will get us far in life. But will it be enough to pay the bills, will we be able to find a job? Plenty of seniors do not have a job. Companies have cancelled interviews and halted all hiring. How will we survive?
This is a time I am supposed to be commemorating. I am supposed to feel joy, pride and triumph. I should be feeling a sense of closure as this chapter in my life ends. I don’t how I will ever feel that closure. There are friends that I will never say good-bye to. After school ends they are moving across the country.
I know MSOE rescheduled graduation, but I know plenty of seniors who do not see the point to celebrate months after we get our diploma. I will not be able to attend because my brother’s wedding is the same day as graduation. I will never wear a cap and gown holding my red diploma holder in front of the MSOE banners. I won’t get final pictures with my friends who have helped me through 4 years of intense, rigorous schooling.
My senior year is ending, and I feel empty.
Solidarity, Kindness and Culture
During these unique and trying times, KSM hopes that everyone can find peace and enjoy the solidarity that is being shown around the world today. We remind you to continue practicing good hygiene and physical distancing and following the recommended CDC guidelines to the best of your ability.
We would like to share with you some uplifting news stories, words of advice from a sister and one sister's impactful journey in fighting racism and remaining open minded.
Inspiring and Uplifting News
How One of Our Sisters is Adjusting to the Pandemic College Experience
The hardest part for me is reminding myself to not dwell on the things out of my control. I am most worried about my uncle who has lung cancer, but I can’t protect him. When my thoughts begin to spiral out of control I use some coping skills:
I am hoping if the weather gets nicer, I can bring my hammock into the backyard. Check up on your neighbors and friends.
And finally, a wonderful story from our sister Nicole Black on her experience growing up in a close-minded small town and how she persisted in growing up and maintaining an open mind and heart and how that led her to KSM.
On The Edge of the South
Swastikas on bathroom stalls, the confederate flags stars and bars flying from the back of rusted trucks, and the subtle and not so subtle racist remarks said around dinner tables. All these things I grew up with and didn’t know otherwise until around middle school. I didn’t have a person of color in my class until I was in 6th grade. So you could say I grew up very white for a chunk of my life.
For those of you who don’t know, I grew up about 30 minutes north of Cincinnati, Ohio which sits on the bend of the Ohio river, the only barrier between us and Kentucky.
I’m from a sleepier semi-rural town called Hamilton, Ohio, first established as Fort Hamilton to help claim the land from the indigenous groups like the Miami and Shawnee people. While the fort was no longer in use during the Civil War, the town was known to be “ambiguous” with which side it helped supply for. Looking back on my family trees, the smattering of representation soldiers leaned heavily towards the grey of the south.
There are a lot of things you don’t realize when you are growing up that are strange or just down right wrong compared to everyone else’s upbringing. I wouldn’t say I grew up in 100% normalized racism, I believe I grew up in 85% normalized ignorance. I thought that I wasn’t allowed to go across the train tracks because my mom thought a freak accident with a train would turn me into flat stanley. I thought I wasn’t allowed to go over to Alexia’s, my closest school friend, house because her parents weren't there to watch me. I didn’t understand that across the train tracks there was more violence than usual due to a “more violent group of people”. I didn’t know that I couldn’t go to Alexia’s house because her father looked a little too rough with an old gang tattoo tattooed on his cheek next to the hollow teardrop.
I wasn’t completely oblivious to everything going on. I understood the strange looks my father would give me. I felt some discomfort from the underhand comments made about the Indian boy that moved across the street by our cranky next door neighbor. I knew that anyone who wasn’t at 8am Sunday mass, freezing in the wooden pews and kneeling on the cold unyielding marble floors, was a heathen. I understood what my grandmother had meant by the word “Halfbreed '' when we passed by a girl in the mall.
Middle school is when my eyes started to finally see what was going on around me, especially in my 8th grade government class. It was the first time that I truly knew that there was more than one way to think politically about a topic and that the conflict that I felt was normal and okay. Guns had always seemed like the most stupid item to own, church was boring compared to science, and the people that I grew to know in middle school weren’t what my family feared they would be.
An almost southern family can be a difficult one to please, especially when it comes to the three Gs: God, Guns, and Government. Their ideal way would be an unlimited amount of the first two and none of the last except to keep their gods and guns in place. I even dated a “good country boy” in high school to make them happy and when he wore his confederate flag belt buckle, it made me like him less and less. I was lucky with my friends however, a bunch of “liberal snowflakes” in the middle of GOP country.
I know there isn’t much I can do to correct my grandparents anymore, we all know how the baby boomers are these days. My mother has gotten better about it, but after 50 years some of it is bound to just stay around. Luckily Kappa Sigma Mu has helped me to gain the voice so that I can accurately try and educate others that I grew up with.
Like our motto states: Inspire minds, Open hearts.
Compassion, Education and Sisterhood
February was a big month for KSM! We completed our Spring Rush, held Bid Day and pinned our newest class of Daisies! We also held an awesome outreach event for World Hijab Day and did some fun sister bonding at our Gal-entine's Event!
From Bid Day to Pinning
The sisters of KSM got together to celebrate each other and share some fun gal-entine's day activities! We exchanged Valentine's, had a fun potluck and celebrated the graduation of our fellow sister Kayla!
This month we are spotlighting our beautiful sister Kayla as she transitions from student to alumni. She wrote about her experiences preparing to graduate and offers some wonderful advice to others going through this exciting, but difficult time. We are so proud of her and wish her all the best in her future! Kayla, you will always stand out, but you will never stand alone.
You did it! Now what?
After almost five years at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), I can finally say that I’m graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. It took a lot of time, hard work, and procrastinated lab reports to get here, but here I finally am.
I thought that everything would be cleanly laid out after graduating from college, just like it was when I graduated from high school, but I was so completely and utterly wrong. Graduating college is the education system’s way of tossing you out into the real world. If you don’t know how to navigate it, you’re going to need to learn and fast. In the last year, I’ve learned quite a bit about how to navigate through LinkedIn, how to find a job, and how to take a freaking chill pill.
Here are some of the most invaluable pieces of advice I wish someone would have given me sooner:
1.) Calm down, breathe, it’s not the end of the world
I’ve been in the job market for about five months now and I have been piling on added stressors that I didn’t need, and for no good reason. When you continuously get booted from an automated system for the jobs your applying for, it can be disheartening. When you’re told no, over and over again, it can be extremely disheartening. I’ve been so worried about trying to find a job, that I’ve lost track of the things that are important to me. I haven’t even begun to allow myself to get excited about graduation because I’ve been so stressed out about what comes afterwards. I’ve let this weight I’ve put upon myself take over my life and my mental health; I’ve let it effect my schooling and my job. And for no good reason. Life always has a way of working itself out, so don’t stress yourself out. Yes, look for jobs and be productive, but don’t let the stress take over your life. You are more than your career, and the right job will come along.
2.) Don’t just apply for a job, NETWORK
I feel like this one may be an obvious one to some people, but it definitely wasn’t for me. My first three months of my job search, I was constantly filling out online applications through LinkedIn, submitting them, and hoping for the best. As a person who works with automated systems, I should’ve known that one was going to boot me out of the running for some reason. I got automated rejection emails so many times I stopped reading them.
The one thing that has actually started to help in the last two months? NETWORKING! By not only applying for a job, but directly emailing the person who posted the job telling them how ~awesome~ I am, I got a lot more positive responses. I also reached out to recruiting companies so that a recruiter could do the work for me. In today’s world, there are a lot of helpful tools to new grads on how to get a job, but they just don’t seem obvious.
*Also, getting a contract job instead of a full time direct-hire position does not make you less. It’s a job, it’s a foot in the door, it’s all you need to get your career going.*
3.) Quit comparing your failures to other’s successes
Which brings me to my next point; just because the people around you are finding jobs, does not make you any less awesome, hirable, or worthy. It just means that they’re also awesome, hirable, and worthy. Graduating college is a huge accomplishment in life and one that you should be really proud of. Only 64% of MSOE students graduate. Of those 64%, 96% found a full-time job within 6 months of graduation making, on average, $65,428 annually (2018-19 statistics).
MSOE is not an easy school; STEM is not an easy area of study. But you’re doing it, and so is everyone else around you. I can promise you, you’re not the only one feeling discouraged. Instead of being jealous that someone else found a job, congratulate them! Your turn will come too.
4.) Don’t get your hopes up too soon
This is a tough one I’ve learned, but just because you’re interviewing for a job, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. I’ve been let down a few times, but in reality, none of them were the right fit for me. The people that you interview with at a company are smart people. The people you’re competing against for a position are also smart people. The job market is competitive now that more and more people are getting degrees. But it’s okay, you will find something.
5.) Don’t settle for less than what you deserve
Last, but certainly not least, don’t sell yourself short. You put in the work, you know what you’re doing, you know what you want to do. Don’t settle for less than you deserve just because you’re freaking out about finding a job. If a company lowballs you: ask for more money. The worst they can do is say no. Speak your mind, express your concerns, at the end of the day, its your career you’re taking care of.
Look, navigating graduating is difficult. It’s one of the biggest changes you’ll ever go through in life and as stressful it may be, it’s so exciting and such an accomplishment.
I graduate tomorrow, and I still don’t have a job lined up, and that’s okay.
Life has a way of working itself out
NEW YEAR NEW MEMBERS
This month in KSM we celebrated the initiation of our three newest members and held our Spring rush, Life's Sweeter With Some Sisters! We also began preparing for some fun awareness and fundraising events for February, so keep an eye out!
MEET THE SISTERS
The reasons I joined KSM were to be more aware and educated on different cultures and traditions that people may have or celebrate. Another reason is I can have sisters who have the same passion to learn, develop with one another, and support each other as I do. I’m excited for different events such as World Hijab Day because I get to learn about the history and why people wear them along with help teach our MSOE and Milwaukee community.
All throughout high school I participated in various volunteer organizations such as Key Club and NHS and my church and to me there was nothing more fulfilling than giving back to your community and being able to help those in it. Along with growing up as a child of immigrants, my values aligned so deeply with that of KSM that I really felt that I needed to be a part of what they were doing here at MSOE. Now that I have been initiated I look forward to all the good that we will do in our community, such as fundraisers for the Australian fires, World Hijab Day, helping the Cathedral Center for the Homeless and most of all, growing closer to my sisters through all of these things and more.
I'm a freshman Civil Engineer at MSOE. I joined KSM because of the dedication to promoting multiculturalism, diversity, and acceptance in both the MSOE and Milwaukee community. The sisters were all so welcoming and kind, I knew immediately this was something important that I wanted to be a part of. As a new initiate, I'm so excited to help plan as many events as I can, take part in our service projects, share the values of KSM with other girls who may want to join, and call these amazing girls my sisters!
LIFE'S SWEETER WITH SOME SISTERS
This month we would like to spotlight our sister Fatimah and her experiences traveling to India this past summer! Fatimah has been a member of KSM since 2018 and was initiated as part of the Delta class. She is so excited to spread cultural awareness with her story and pictures!
FROM THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES TO THE CITY OF PEARLS
At the end of last year, I began to go through moments that have occurred in the past decade. I think the thing which stood out to me the most was my recent trip to India. Here is a little background: I was born in Hyderabad, India in June 1999. I lived there for two years with my entire immediate family and most of my extended family and second cousins. I then moved to the States at the young age of two, almost fifteen days before the life-altering tragic event of 9/11. Since then I have made three trips back, my most recent trip was a decade after my time before.
In this trip, I explored the great city of Hyderabad. Although my parents are very Hyderabadi and did a great job in raising us with our Hyderabadi culture, it was not the same experience as living in the city. I only wish I got to learn more about the city during my time there. What I do know is that it is one of the fastest-growing cities in India. Hyderabad, also known as The City of Pearls, is a city with a rich history and culture. Historically, Hyderabad was ruled by different ruling dynasties Mughuls, Qutub Shahis, and Nizams, all of whom contributed to building the city. Some monuments I visited were Chowmahalla Palace, Charminar, and Golconda Fort.
Again, I am not educated enough to talk about the historical backgrounds of these places, but I can share my experience in visiting them. It was honestly breathtaking to witness such architecture and to imagine the events in history these places witnessed. Until now, these places still play a role in the day to day life Hyderabadis. Charminar is the oldest and biggest shopping center of the old city of Hyderabad. Other monuments are a reminder of what a great city Hyderabad was and still is.
The shopping we did has done enough damage that carries on into this year. Shopping was a unique experience. I would always walk down the roads and be in awe of the rich colors and intricate designs of the clothes. We would go into a small room and there would be more clothes then my eyes could see. Although shopping for clothes is enough in itself, shopping for jewelry was better.
I know it may sound as though I spent my trip exploring and shopping around Hyderabad, however the biggest lesson I learned was actually about family. Family is just about the most complicated thing in anyone's life. And it was not any easier to handle in Hyderabad. I think I struggled with understanding how people perceive me and how blunt they could be.
But I learned that what makes family family is not the blood relationship but rather the effort one puts in. I realized how much people cared about me when they would obsess over how I looked or what I wanted to do in my life. And an unfortunate fact is that not everyone cares about you and some people can even be toxic. I think my family, especially my mother, taught me to keep a good relationship, even when you have to be the better person. People say that the key to good relationships is communication, but I disagree.
I think effort can go a long, long way. I think its effort that makes strangers turn into family. I am very grateful to have many people in my life that I am close to, some that I have just gotten closer to. My family, family friends, cousins, and KSM sisters, are people who have been there for me. I know especially for my sisters, I can tell them if I feel sad and they will cheer me up.
As a Greys Anatomy fan, I like to believe I don’t have just one person, I have a whole damn village. And my village is not only in the States, but in Hyderabad as well.
So here is my new year's resolution- check in on people and show the effort.
BY: Lolita Obolenskaya
Getting off the plane when I was 6 and not knowing what America had in store for me was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I came from a city in Turkmenistan called Ashgabat. Life there was wonderful. I had my grandma and aunt taking care of me in an apartment filled with all the necessities we needed to survive. My mom and step-dad were already in America and my aunt decided it was best if her and I went to live with them. I remember leaving my grandma behind as I walked through security at the airport. It was saddening to leave someone who took care of me my entire life, but I was going to see my mom again! Taking off on the plane, I only saw desert and at that time I did not know anything other than that. I was greeted by my mom and extended family, but I did not know who most of them were. I remember holding onto my aunt’s hand because I feared meeting them. Little did I know that was going to be the least of my worries.