Street Painting

Hundreds of students. Limitless gallons of paint. One street in the middle of Des Moines, Iowa. That’s all it takes for one of the most epic traditions in all of college: Drake University Street Painting.

The moments before the Street Painting madness.

The moments before the Street Painting madness.

This year’s celebration, hosted by none other than the Drake Student Activities Board, took place on Friday. Needless to say, it was pretty amazing. Campus organizations come together to claim their squares on Drake’s painted street, located in the heart of campus, right in front of the library. And while campus groups produced some incredible Snapshots of Excellence-themed squares this year, street painting is about so much more than the actual painting of the street. In fact, some might even say the squares are secondary to the massive friendly paint fight that never fails to emerge. Every year, campus briefly transforms into a battle zone with paint splattering, pouring, and flying all over the street. And if your plan is to avoid getting painted….good luck.

It sounds insane. And frankly that’s because it is insane. I mean, this isn’t Tom Sawyer painting; it’s a beautiful mess of (controlled) chaos. But SAB Street Painting is also one of my favorite times to be a Bulldog. We are all bonded by our fondness for and participation in this awesome ritual. While other schools may have their traditions, nobody else has street painting. It’s a time to celebrate the upcoming week of Relays athletics and campus events, but more so it’s a time to celebrate the unique, quirky, fun that is Drake University. Above all, the Street Painting reveals the one unquestioned truth of the Drake experience: we’re never closer as a student body than when we’re unapologetically splattering each other with paint.

Blitz Day

Throughout the Drake Relays journey, things get pretty busy. Especially because I’m lucky enough to serve on the Drake Student Activities Board, which plans a lot of the campus and student-focused Relays events. Our kick-off picnic is called Blitz Day and took place last Wednesday (I know, I’m behind. Settle down). This is the day when the SAB Relays theme is revealed and people can begin getting really excited for the coming weeks. So, like the rock star that I am, I’ll give you a behind the scenes look at Blitz Day and how it all went down.

Some campus decorations + an artsy filter

Some campus decorations + an artsy filter

6:45am I arrive at Olmsted to begin decorating (or blitzing) campus. You know I love this school cause there are very few thing that will get me voluntarily up and about at this ungodly hour.

7:00am Hoards of SAB Relays volunteers and committee members cover campus with streamers, pinwheels, and chalk to promote the day’s events.

8:00am While I finish up a poster for another SAB event, the team finishes blitzing. We then all take a bagel break.

8:30am I post about Blitz Day and the campus decorations on SAB’s social media accounts, continuing to take pictures

9:00am-4:00pm I go to work and class, and continue to interact with Drake students on social media, but that’s not really relevant here. Meanwhile, volunteers begin setting up for the Blitz day Picnic in Parents Hall!

4:20pm I arrive to Parents Hall where the Picnic is in full swing! There’s an incredible amount of food, games, decorations, and prizes.

4:30pm I hand out dinner plates to the arriving students while catching up with my favorite Hubbell Dining Hall employee, Marietta. Seriously, she’s the best.

5:30pm The Relays Host and Hostess are announced! Kind of the “King and Queen” of Relays, these two are awesome examples of Bulldogs seniors who’ve made a contribution to the school.

6:30pm The theme (Snapshots of Excellence) and Court Avenue Concert Act (Hoodie Allen) are announced to a lot of excitement from the crowd.

7:00pm We clean up the picnic and put the close on Blitz Day.

7:30pm As I deal with the social media explosion of people who are so excited about the Hoodie Allen concert and theme announcement, we organize and hang the rest of the SAB Relays Events posters.

8:30pm I arrive home after an incredible, exhausting, and exciting Blitz Day

To see more from this year’s Blitz Day, check out some photos on facebook or twitter

Relays Season!

After months of planning, preparation, and anticipation, it’s finally here: Drake Relays! Technically, Relays is a series of track events featuring everyone from local high school athletes to world-class Olympians. They compete right on our campus in some of the coolest displays of athleticism you’ll ever get to see firsthand. But more than track meets, Relays is a time for the Drake community to come together and celebrate why it’s so special to be a Bulldog. Alumni, community members, campus organizations, athletics, and faculty all celebrate over these next couple weeks in unique events you’ll only see at Drake.

A little Relays Bulldogs pride in the middle of campus!

A little (or not so little) Relays Bulldogs pride in the middle of campus!

I guess what I’m tying to say is that Relays is the perfect microcosm of life at this university. The events are fun, spirited, unique, and a little quirky. While Relays always makes me realize how tightknit this campus is as people and organizations come together, it also a time to see just how far the Drake community extends. Alums and athletes come from all over the country, and even all over the world, to come be at Relays. We take over downtown Des Moines with a mini Street Painting event and get to have pole-vaulting at the mall! There’s a Beautiful Bulldog Contest and so many awesome campus events, I can’t even begin to list them.

In the coming weeks, I’ll try to write about all of these events and more. While I’ll do my best to capture what the Drake Relays are really like, there’s really only one way to get know the true Relays: come to Des Moines and experience the fun for yourself!

New Heights

This past weekend I found myself on the precipice of the unknown. Literally on the precipice. Of a 30 foot ladder. And, yes, I did look down.

You see, I was volunteering with other Drake Habitat for Humanity members to help rehab a pretty, old home in the Drake neighborhood. Through all the structural work had already been completed, we were there to paint the exterior and spruce it up a bit. Honestly, I felt pretty good when I heard our task. I mean I’ve gotten to pick up some incredible skills like shaping siding, caulking, and supporting a foundation through Habitat work. But there’s also just something comforting about good, old-fashioned painting. It’s easy, it’s simple, and you can see the results of your work right away.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that they needed someone to paint the top potion of the house, right under the roof. And thanks to my poorly timed can-do attitude, that person was gonna be me. I don’t have a crippling fear of heights, but I don’t exactly love them either. And as I crawled my way up that giant, seemingly wobbly ladder, it struck me that this was a somewhat uncharacteristic move for me. Just three years ago, I could never imagine myself being the one to volunteer to climb the biggest ladder in the world (basically) and reach out over the edges. I don’t want to overstate my bravery in this situation. I’m not Batman, and I was just painting a house. But then again, I’ve never even seen Batman paint, so you tell me who’s the hero.

The point is that I did something different, something a little bold. But isn’t that what college is all about? I think I can speak for myself and my Drake classmates when I say that we’re here to test our limits, to push ourselves, and try things we never thought possible. For some of us that might mean discovering an entire new major and making the switch from Pharmacy to PR. Others might find their passion in extracurriculars with rock climbing or an a cappella group. Maybe it’s even the experience of meeting new friends that causes people to grow and expand their boundaries.

Whatever the experiences, none of us is the same person we were when we arrived on this campus. Being a Bulldog forces you to grow and change in ways you never imagined. So, expect the unexpected, and know that sometimes the best experiences come from deciding to just climb the ladder and see what happens.

Dogtown Afterhours

This Friday marked one my favorite Drake traditions, Dogtown Afterhours. Yeah, it’s a mysterious name, but what the event really means is that campus organizations, clubs, and students come together to spend the evening doing awesome things and having an awesome time. This year, the event consisted of events both on campus, and off to celebrate the university and our Drake neighborhood.

A view of the massive crowd during Dogtown's a cappella performances.

A view of the massive crowd during Dogtown’s a cappella performances.

I was actually working at Dogtown this year as part of the Student Activities Board. We hosted a craft room and a Dueling Pianos show that turned into a packed house of students all singing everything from Disney classics to Elton John. As if that wasn’t enough fun, there were trips to Skyzone and bowling, crazy amounts of free food, games, an improv show, and performances by all three of Drake’s a cappella groups. And fittingly, the whole night was capped off by fireworks.

It truly was awesome. And while I knew it would be, I was pleasantly surprised by just how many students were Dogtown attracted. All of the events were packed throughout the night. And the evening’s participants weren’t just first year students who had never experienced Dogtown before. In fact, I saw so many sophomores, juniors, and even seniors hanging out and enjoying the festivities, not because they were curious about what Dogtown was, but because they knew that it was one of the most fun illustrations of just how collaborative and creative this campus can be.

For more photos and information from Friday’s Dogtown Afterhours, check out the event on twitter.

Happy Drakeaversary

It’s my anniversary. Well, maybe my Drakeaversary is a more appropriate term. Anyway, three years ago this week I began my committed relationship with Drake University when I decided go to school here. And honestly, it was not an easy decision.  There are an awful lot of factors to consider and an awful lot of schools out there. Coming into spring break of my senior year in high school, I had no idea which one was right for me.

So, I decided to do a bit of a tour to go around and get one last look at the final schools on my list. I mean, the college decision is a big deal and I was very worried about messing it up.

Turns out, I didn’t need to be so worried. After setting foot on Drake’s campus again, I knew it was gonna be my school. And three years later, I’ve never looked back.

I’m not saying that Drake is right for absolutely everybody out there.  It really depends on the feeling you get on campus, on whether or not you can envision spending four plus years there. But I will say that Drake is the perfect place for me to learn and grow. It’s my academic home. Sorry if that’s sounding a little Hallmarky. But after all, I do have to find some way to say happy anniversary to Drake.

The Myth of Spring Break

Are you ready? Cause I’m gonna dispel a pretty prominent college myth: Spring Break. At Drake, the weeklong hiatus kicks off this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. But I’m not excited for the beaches of PCB or out of control house parties. I’m excited to sleep. And to see my family. And to hang out in good, ‘ol St. Louis, Missouri.

Sorry to disappoint if you were looking for glamorous crazy spring break stories. If that’s the case, I’d suggest a cinematic classic by the name of Spring Breakers featuring America’s most loveably pretentious treasure, James Franco. But really, I read classic literature for fun so I really don’t know what you expected out of me.

The point is that frankly I’m exhausted. After a whirlwind of the first half of the semester, I really do need a chance to recharge the mental batteries and get set for the home stretch. And honestly, I’m not alone in this. Honestly. For the most part, I know a lot of people who are simply going home. But I don’t mean to say that Drake students simply don’t do spring break. Some people I know are going on vacation, and others going on service trips this week. But in general, the myth of spring break as propagated by media portrayals doesn’t really exist here. Most of us work really hard at school and now need a week just to…relax. And that’s just fine with me.


Although there are a lot of cool places in Des Moines, one of my favorites is a shop in the East Village called Domestica. Filled with the kind of edgy jewelry and artsy prints you see in indie Sundance movies, this shop really is the epitome of all that is fun and quirky. For a small-ish shop, the amount of time I spend in there is impressive. But it’s also necessary because there’s so much to see. The place is packed full of accessories like pug tea towels, Vampire Weekend posters, and bicycle drinking glasses. And yeah, it may sound like I’m describing Zooey Deschanel’s house, but that’s the beauty of Domestica. It’s sincerely cool, quirky fun.

My latest Domestica purchase: a little piece of Drake pride alongside a print of some of my favorite books.

My latest Domestica purchase: a little piece of Drake pride alongside a print of some of my favorite books.

Domestica’s location also has a lot to do with its vibe. Set among the boutiques, restaurants, and shops of the East Village, the store acts as yet another stop in the weekend activities of Des Moines’ hip young professionals. Honestly, the only thing I don’t like about Domestica is its adverse affect on my bank account. The good news is that I never feel all that guilty about supporting a cool, local business…and picking up some awesome stuff in the process.

For more on Domestica, check out their website.


Full disclosure: I love the Oscars. There, I said it. I spend months getting ready, watching films, and catching up on all the other award shows. Celebs think they take their Oscars routine seriously? I wake up on Oscar Sunday to immediately begin awaiting Ryan Seacrest’s appearance on the red carpet. I mean, I’m not crazy or anything. But when it comes to movies, celebrities, and general pop culture revelry, I might be a little crazy.

The poster for the SAB Oscars event, complete with that beautiful, tiny gold man.

The poster for the SAB Oscars event, complete with that beautiful, tiny gold man.

Luckily, I’ve found at least a few people at Drake who share my passion for all things Hollywood. In fact, my first year seminar class (the homeroom of the Drake experience) was called “Coming of Age in the Cinema”. Thus, the first people I met at college and those I would live with my first year, also shared my interest in movies. We’ve been friends ever since.

This year, the Drake Oscars festivities went beyond my group of friends. In fact, the lovely Student Activities Board (shameless plug) hosted an Oscar viewing party complete with movie snacks and Oscar ballots. The event was created to celebrate the Chicago Bus Trip of potential Drake students and give current Bulldogs a chance to watch the awards together. But more so, I firmly believe the event was a celebration of the greatest, most glamorous, most cinematic night in all the land. Until next year, dear Oscars. #AdelaNazeem

Drake Professors

I came to college expecting to see a lot more old men with elbow patches and bow ties. In my mind, that’s what professors looked like. As the representatives of academia, I figured professors must feature a full head of wispy grey hair, become know for their strictness, and present lectures to the class every day. In fact, if the film Flubber taught me anything (and it taught me a lot), it was that I could expect to learn from brilliant, absent-minded professionals in the world of higher education. And honestly, I was prepared to encounter some figures a lot less fun than Robin Williams.

The great scientific/comedic hero, Robin Williams. Image via Flickr

The great scientific/comedic hero, Robin Williams. Image via Flickr

Turns out, at Drake at least, there’s rarely a bow tie in sight (unless as a trendy fashion statement). Despite my expectations, many of my professors are (gasp!) female and many (double gasp!) aren’t very old at all. Some of the Drake professors I’ve encountered might be categorized as the brilliant, absent-minded intellectual type, but for the most part, the people teaching in the university are professionals themselves. Because they’ve worked in the field they’re teaching, they give us practical knowledge, not just esoteric musings.

As for the strictness, not so much at Drake. My professors expect a lot out of their students and push them to succeed, but they’re also pretty relatable, understanding humans. And in my three years at Drake, I’ve had a grand total of two lecture-based classes. The rest are collaborative learning processes built on discussion.

But I’m also not saying that I’ve loved every single professor I’ve ever had at Drake. And honestly, it reflects well on the university that I haven’t. There’s a lot of different types of educators here teaching in a lot of different types of ways. Drake recognizes that I learn from certain methods and personalities really well whereas other students may not. With this philosophy, the university serves as a microcosm of the changing face of academia. It’s no longer just old white men, lecturing, but a lot of really interesting, varied people using diverse methods to help students learn. Because of this, I’m getting so many different types of learning experiences, many of which far exceed the confines of a lecture hall or textbook.

So, yes, what I’m telling you is that Drake University is not very much like Flubber. But who knows? Maybe there is some frizzy haired, bow tie wearing, absent-minded professor experimenting with green goop in the depths of Harvey Ingham Hall. Honestly, with the huge variety of educators here, it wouldn’t surprise me.