Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Top 10 Highlights of My Collegiate Career

Today is a big day. In three hours I am graduating from San Jose State with my BS in Advertising... I have plenty of jokes about that part. In five years, I've become a completely different person. I've met some amazing people... some have already parted ways and some will be with me forever. I'm 100% thrilled to be moving on to the next step in my life and 100% terrified to be done with this one. It's a feeling I expect will stick around for a while. So, in honor of this big day, here are the Top 10 Highlights of My Collegiate Career chronologically...

1. Joining Alpha Phi Omega & Becoming Brenda's "Little Sister"
When I first moved to San Jose, I didn't know anyone except people I had met at orientation and some of the other students who lived in the International House with me. I was excited to be in a brand new place with brand new people and was very rarely homesick... I wanted to do everything. Luckily... or perhaps it had nothing to do with luck at all... Alpha Phi Omega found me and held on to me. They were a co-ed fraternity of people who wanted to serve their community and they became some of my fastest and longest-lasting friends. Four of my Alpha Phi Omega "brothers" were bridesmaids in my wedding. I'll never forget the day that I found out Brenda was my "big sister" after a week of clues and treats. She's still one of the most adorable and beloved people in my life.

2. Every Moment I Spent Climbing
For the first two years I was in school, I developed a healthy rock climbing addiction. I loved being in the gym for HOURS at a time with our tight knit "crew" and I loved camping and climbing outdoors in Bishop or Squamish even more. I have to say... I was really buff. Having our downtown gym close and moving on from that stage in my life was one of the most challenging things I've had to go through.

3. The Weekend I "Met" Jake
Jake and I have a mutual friend named Ann who pretty much instigated our relationship. It all started around finals time, so we weren't able to meet in person right away. First we messaged on Facebook, then IM'd, then texted and called for hours at a time while I was home in Southern California on break. The first weekend I really met Jake in person was when he came down during the winter break with Ann and our other friend Scotty. We had a ton of fun that weekend, watching movies and football games, going to Hollywood and Disneyland... after about the second day... we were in it to win it. Never separated since.

4. Alpha Phi Omega National Convention
In 2008, I was selected as one of the two chapter delegates for Alpha Phi Omega's National Convention. Some of my closest brothers in APhiO were on that trip to Boston. From the business meetings to walking through historic Boston in a snowstorm to New Year's Eve, it was one of the best trips of my life.

5. My 21st Birthday
This was just an altogether fun night. Everyone I loved was there with me and we were just silly and fun. Photos from that night make me smile every time... and yes, I remember it all. I was obsessed with animal print at the time, so the theme was "A Stumble in the Jungle."

6. Getting My "Littles"
I have two "little brothers" and two "little sisters" in the Greek system: Kris, Megan, Mario and Jessie. They are a huge joy to me and I love them like real siblings. They were all at my wedding and they will be in our lives forever. Each pairing is a really special memory for me.

7. Alpha Xi Delta Bid Day
After researching, creating an interest group and a lot of wishing and praying, Alpha Xi Delta was welcomed on to our campus... but we still had to get in. People laugh at me when they hear that I wasn't sure if I'd be asked to join the new chapter or not, but my bid day with Alpha Xi Delta was probably one of the most nerve-wracking and exciting days ever.

8. Alpha Xi Delta Chapter Installation
After Bid Day, there was a lot of work to be done. I was the colony president. My new sisters and I created a chapter and a sisterhood in just one semester and we couldn't wait to make it official. On January 24th, 2010 we were officially installed as the Iota Omicron Chapter. I have never had a prouder moment.

9. Our Trip to Las Vegas
A couple months before we got married, we took some of our closest friends and drove out to Las Vegas. It was the spring break trip that you never forget and it was desperately needed.

10. Marrying My "Spartan Sweetheart"
After almost three years of college together, I married my best friend and college sweetheart on June 5, 2010. All of our friends and family were there to help us celebrate the most important day of our lives. It didn't exactly make me the "average" college girl around here, but it was the happiest day of my life.

Well, that's about as close as I can get to summing up college. I can never fully describe what happened here. I came to San Jose believing my choice was random, but learning that God had it in his plan for me all along. What a beautiful journey this has been. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to curl my hair, put on my graduation dress and take that big leap into the next part of my life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let the Celebration Begin

There are 10 days until my graduation. I have 3 projects, 2 papers, 2 finals and one presentation left until I am done with school. Wow. Even though tomorrow is technically the last day of class and Thursday is the first day of finals, the celebrations have already begun and they are doing a decent job at warding off the inevitable bittersweet feeling.

On Friday, the office celebrated the 5 graduating seniors who will be leaving by surprising us with a beautiful cake, a delicious lunch and tear-inducing cards. It was really sweet.

Sunday morning, the chapter held an alumnae ceremony for the 5 of us who will no longer be collegiate members. I have my lovely friend Sara and the entire chapter to thank for a beautiful morning filled with a lot of shared memories, laughter and tears. Being a part of this chapter has meant so much to me, but I know my membership in Alpha Xi Delta is just beginning.

Still ahead: My Journalism & Mass Communications Convocation on May 26th, followed by a road trip down south with some of my best friends and a celebration-filled Memorial Weekend with friends and family in my home town. Can't wait!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Close to Home

I have to write something that is difficult for me. Something that hurts. I need to write it and remove some of the weigh of if from my heart.

On Tuesday night, we were out of town visiting family. As we were about to make our drive home, we found out through postings by friends on Facebook that there had been a shooting back in San Jose at school. The shooting took place in one of SJSU's parking garages on 10th street and it was immediately reported that the shooter was in custody and that two victims had been pronounced dead at the scene.

The garage is less than a block from our apartment. It is directly over the building I work in. Even without knowing the motive or any details, I felt uneasy going home that night. Downtown San Jose can be an unpredictable place. I wouldn't say that it is unsafe, but you do need to be careful. I've always felt a little bit uneasy. It would turn out though, that Tuesday night had very little to do with the climate of Downtown.

We later learned that there were two victims, one male and one female, killed in a car by a shooter who had then turned the gun on himself. The victims had died at the scene of the shooting, but the shooter was rushed to a nearby medical center where he later died from his injuries. There were lots of theories about the motive. People said that it was gang related, that it was a love triangle, that it was random. None of those turned out to be true.

We didn't have much information until the identities of the victims were released on Thursday morning. The Mercury News wrote the following:

They were barely three weeks shy of graduating with business degrees from San Jose State. Cindy Caliguiran and Kyle Williams were study partners, friends say, nothing more. She probably just offered him a ride home after an evening class on campus.

Waiting with a gun on the fifth floor of the campus garage was her husband -- a Silicon Valley engineer more than twice her age. A classmate heard the screams -- then gunfire -- reverberate through the concrete parking structure.

Within minutes, police found Cindy Caliguiran and Thomas Kyle Williams dead, shot repeatedly, in the front seat of her black 2005 Mercedes. Napoleon "Nappy" Caliguiran lay next to the car, mortally wounded from a self-inflicted gunshot.

On Thursday, shocked students and faculty members learned the identities of the first San Jose State students ever killed on campus -- both honor students, both married, one with a job at a major accounting firm waiting.

But the campus community was still trying to comprehend why the 54-year-old native of the Philippines tracked down his bride of three years Tuesday night about 8:30 with a gun registered in his name.

"Something snaps, something happens, we don't know," said Mike Supnet, of Pacifica, the brother of Caliguiran's first wife. "Sometimes the water fills the glass and spills over the glass and that's what happened."

Police didn't reveal details about the marriage between Caliguiran and his 25-year-old wife, whose family lives in the Philippines, or what he may thought was going on between her and the 26-year-old Williams.

The Caliguirans lived on the fourth floor of the √Član Village apartment complex in North San Jose. A downstairs neighbor who didn't want to be identified said that although he never met the couple, about two weeks ago they were so loud upstairs that he called security. He was awakened by heavy stomping upstairs, he said. When asked whether the couple was fighting, he said, "something like that."

NBC11 reported that an unnamed sister of Cindy Caliguiran in the Philippines said she was trying to escape an abusive marriage. Yet Supnet said he never knew his former brother-in-law to be anything but "a soft character," or to strike his sister during their 25-year marriage. "I've never seen him get mad," he said.

Napoleon Caliguiran worked for nearly 20 years as an engineer designing medical devices for Abbott Vascular in Santa Clara, had been divorced from his first wife -- the mother of his two grown children -- since 2003 and filed for bankruptcy in 2005. His new wife -- Marjory Tarlit "Cindy" Caliguiran -- belonged to Beta Alpha Psi, an honors organization for finance and accounting majors. She had transferred from De Anza College.

Williams, raised in Auburn, was graduating with top honors and had already been offered a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers upon graduation. Friends and family say he was happily married to his wife of two years.

"He was our only son," Williams' father, Thomas Anthony Williams, said Thursday afternoon through tears. "We were so proud of him, for what he did and for the future he had created for himself. He didn't deserve this."

Williams' father said he was planning a service for his son in San Jose, and another near Auburn. Williams was an avid golfer and Sharks and 49ers fan.

"He never ceased to be an awesome guy," friend Ben Hahn said, adding that during a difficult time in his life last year, Williams and his wife "were always supportive of me."

Professor Howard Turetsky had taught Caliguiran and Williams accounting in past years and insisted, along with friends of the students, that the two were not involved in any type of romantic relationship. The two worked on accounting projects together, they said.

"They were A-plus students," Turetsky said.

Students from across campus gathered Thursday alongside the media to listen as university spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris identified the victims. There were gasps when she said that both were on the verge of graduating.

"There is a great feeling of sadness on the campus," said Harris, adding that many had sought counseling."

I felt saddened at the death of two classmates... graduating seniors like me who had their whole lives ahead of them. Sad for the parents who were preparing to visit San Jose for graduations and would now visit for funerals. Sad that their lives had to end so violently. I hadn't known either of the victims, though some of my friends did. I felt different on campus.

Worse, I had a sick feeling about the second victim. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe he had been getting a ride home, or chatting with his classmate about their final. His name was Thomas Kyle Williams, but his friends called him Kyle. I learned that he had a wife. I read somewhere that her name is Katie. They got married at about the same age we did. He was about to graduate from the College of Business, just like my husband did a year ago. The whole scenario just hit so close to home. I imagined what it would be like to get a call like that or having to sleep alone without the person you had shared everything with. I imagined waking up and being forced to re-write all the plans you had had for the rest of your life. I felt a tiny, insignificant amount of her grief. I felt devastated for her.

The last few days, as I've gone to work and home and to class and to meet with friends, she keeps coming into my mind. I don't know this woman at all, but I've been praying for her. I pray that God gives her peace. That he gives her strength. That he lets her remember all of the joy she had with her husband and allows her to forget all the pain in time.

I pray for all of the victims and their families and friends. I pray for the people who miss them and the people who are wounded by this tragedy. I hope you will too.

I've been holding Jake a little closer and saying "I love you" more. I've been trying not to let my sadness turn to worry or anxiety. I have hope in the Lord and I know that He has a beautiful plan even when the world is cold and ugly.

That's all I can write right now. I needed to get it off my chest, but I can't find a conclusion or summary or closing that seems appropriate. Wherever you are... go live and love.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

{Friday Favorites}

I'm feeling very blessed just to have survived this week. I had tests, papers and group projects, but I'm looking forward to the excitement of graduation and the calm of a long, hot summer. As for Friday Favorites, I'm going to start doing them every other week. Some weeks on the web are just more inspiring than others and I want to be able to show you only the coolest stuff. Just so you know, this week was an AMAZING week on StyleMePretty... seriously, go check it out. Here is some other stuff I loved...

A Mod Wedding Shoot at My Sweet & Saucy
Chic New York Wedding Shoot at Style Me Pretty
Utterly Engaged E-Magazine (Our wedding videographer, Matthieu of CineMatt is featured on page 91!)
Flower Decor at Party Perfect

Hot Pink Accents at Apartment Therapy
Transforming Table at Apartment Therapy
DIY Display Boxes at Ohdeedoh
Wood & Lucite at Design*Sponge
A Relaxed Modern House Tour at Apartment Therapy
Pink Accents in the Kitchen at Apartment Therapy
Colorful Stairs at Apartment Therapy
Rope Walls at The Brick House
Bold & Beautiful Bathrooms at Apartment Therapy
Amazing Kitchen Rehab at Apartment Therapy

Fairytale Princess Birthday at Hostess with the Mostess

Geometric Garlands at The Light Garden
DIY Fringe Chandelier at The Sweetest Occasion
DIY Fort-Making Kits at Saltwater Kids

{Mother's Day}
An Adorable Door Tag at Twig & Thistle

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco De Mayo

Here in Downtown San Jose, everyone goes to the bars for Cinco De Mayo. I'm talking lines around the block, drunken strangers and police in full riot gear. It's not really our scene. I'm wishing we could have a Cinco De Mayo like this one...

... or maybe crepe paper decorations and homemade guacamole with hubby at home. That sounds nice too. What are you planning to do for the 5th of May?