Angie Baquedano

Angie Baquedano is the Assistant Lifestyle Editor at Niner Times. She is close to completing her Creative Writing major and Journalism Minor as an Undergraduate and hopes to one day work for The National Geographic Society. When Angie isn’t swamped with homework or working her CNA job she can be found traveling, reviewing restaurants for Charlotte Food Adventures or taking up new hobbies such as painting with oil pastels (It changes depending on what inspires her that week).

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Bella Laurent

Photo By Angie Baquedano
Photo By Angie Baquedano

“I graduate in December and I’m pretty nervous. I’ve been accepted into the Ohio State Masters Program so I’m really excited but again, nervous. I’m honestly not ready to adult. Well I am ready, but you know I’m bracing myself for the adult world with more responsibilities. One piece of advice for those still working on getting to graduation; have fun. Seriously this is the time to do everything you could ever dream of, go out there into the world and follow your dreams and take that leap of faith and be free because one day you’ll wake up and although it is never too late to follow your dreams and be like the wind it will be much harder to do. So take advantage of your youth and your freedom and go live.”


All Hallows Eve

Corn mazes, pumpkin patches, scary movies and candy galore this is what Halloween is all about. As a kid my parents used to love dressing my siblings and I up in fun costumes and taking us out trick-or-treating but as the years went by what was once harmless fun became forbidden to my brother, sister, and I. My parents are very religious and as time passed us by they decided celebrating Halloween was not something they wanted us involved in. My mother felt it was wrong for us to celebrate the occasion because of its pagan backgrounds which she associated with satanic rituals so of course as children this scared my siblings and I to the core. Later we found out paganism doesn’t necessarily have to do with evil rituals but at the time we were terrified and as any dumb kid would do we searched all over the internet for the scariest facts and myths about Halloween. We found a lot but also we found interesting things about it.

Halloween is a spooky time for us all especially now with all the clown sightings. Some of us relish in being scared and doing some scaring and others force themselves to get through it (me).Whether you’re a Halloween fanatic or you simply can’t wait for it to be over with I think you will all find the rich history behind it incredibly interesting! So here’s a little on what you were never told about Halloween.

  1. It was once an ancient Celtic holiday. The Celtic festival is called Samhain and it’s a holiday for the dead to return to earth as ghosts. So people would dress up in costumes and leave treats outside their doors so the spirits would not bother them.
  2. You used to have to dance for candy I know I know it sounds weird let me explain. Back in the day Trick-or-treating in Europe was called “mumming” and people would dress up in costumes and go door to door doing practiced dances and get candy in return.
  3. If you lived in ancient Germany and France certain tribes would have you wear animal heads and skins in order for you to connect with the spirits of the dead more. You would have to paint your face black so to appear like an evil spirit.
  4. Many shelters will ban the “rescue” of black cats around Halloween in order to prevent the sacrificing of black cats because cats are believed to have a connection with witches. They are believed to protect witches powers.
  5. In Scotland if you were a girl on Halloween night at midnight if you hung a wet sheet in front of the fire on Halloween you would be able to see the face of your future husband.
  6. Harry Houdini died on Halloween. Of course it was later found out it was from appendicitis brought on by three punches to the stomach but at the time of death it was a very creepy event due to him being such a famed and mysterious magician.
  7. If you walk outside backwards with your clothes inside out on Halloween, it is said you will see a witch.
  8. In Hong Kong Halloween is called Yue Lan which translates to the “Festival of angry ghosts” and fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to angry ghosts who may be seeking revenge.
  9. Pumpkins weren’t the original “Jack-o-lanterns”, they used to use turnips and potatoes! Which came from an old celtic folk tale about a man named jack who was constantly playing tricks on the devil so the devil punished him by making him wander hell with only a burning lump of coal to light his way so he put the coal in a turnip creating a “lantern” type fixture to light his way. Then in American pumpkins were used as a substitute to keep spirits like “Jack of Lantern” away.
  10. Finally, on a weird note. Candy corn was originally named chicken feed! The reason behind it was because corn was originally used to feed livestock. It wasn’t even ever intended to be a Halloween candy. Not until after World War II when someone realized the colors were the same as Halloween colors so it began to be marketed as a Halloween treat.

Now you know a little about Halloween, mostly on the creepy side of it because that’s what I remember most from when it was forbidden for me as a kid. For all you Halloween lovers, enjoy this creepy crawly holiday because what I am looking forward to is Thanksgiving. Happy Spooking!

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Obianuju Obi

Photo By Angie Baquedano
Photo By Angie Baquedano

“The change is not only in the weather, but theres a change in mood; everyone is more happy and close-knit. The holidays are approaching, and everyone bundles up in their cute layers, and pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. After a whole season of heat strokes and long sweaty walks to class, it’s so refreshing to feel the cool fall air and see the leaves changing. By far my favorite season!”


Foodie Friday: Zen Fusion

Gambas al Ajillo, remember that phrase, praise that phrase, and love that phrase because that is the name of one of the most delicious appetizers you will find at Zen Fusion.

Photo By Angie Baquedano
Photo By Angie Baquedano

Zen Fusion is a fantastic Spanish and Asian restaurant located in Historic Dilworth.

Spanish and Asian, I know it sounds crazy since they are two vastly different types of food, but it’s delicious I swear! I came across this place my freshmen year at UNC Charlotte when my friend’s mother had come to visit we all decided to hit the town and dress up nice. There was a bit of a wait (about twenty minutes), but from what I’ve heard Zen Fusion always and I mean always has a wait, so we got lucky it wasn’t longer.

I was starving at the time and so was my friend and her mom and we began to think maybe waiting wasn’t worth it, but soon after we were sat down and we ordered a tapa, which is just a small plate or appetizer, we realized it was worth the wait. My favorite item to this day has to be the Gambas al Ajillo, and that is a Spanish tapa that consists of sautéed shrimp in garlic and olive oil, and it’s paired with slices of a baguette. Sure the little plate sounds simple enough, but it’s absolutely delectable.

Also, the restaurant is beautifully decorated its modern, sleek and high-end without the horrible price. It’s definitely worth going and the Gambas al Ajillo will make your taste buds ache for them hours after you have already left. May I remind you that the Gambas are also gluten free, which is a plus for anyone with that dietary restriction, but unfortunately it would not suit someone with a shrimp allergy.

Overall it was a delicious meal, and the tapa was a good way to hold three people over while we waited on our entrée to come. So get your nice button ups and dresses on and make your way over to Zen Fusion, you won’t regret it!



Five reasons why you should abandon your comfort zone

My freshmen year of college was the fall of 2014 and at the beginning of it, I naively believed I had my life together, a wonderful boyfriend, financially stable and great friends.

Boy, was I wrong, suddenly I was looking for a job to fund my ridiculous expenses, the friends I thought I had weren’t really there, and pretty much everything that was going right with my life, wasn’t. I started to go in a downward spiral, locking myself in my dorm for hours just trying to wrap my head around the fact that this was my life now. I was going to be stuck in meaningless classes, I was going to work a dumb job that I would hate, I was never going to accomplish anything in my youth and I would later look back on my life as an old dying woman and wonder why I wasted so much time. I was in a horrible place, and it only got progressively worse until I went home for Christmas break. The ball of sunshine that I am lucky enough to call my little cousin knocked some serious sense into me.


I came home and she immediately knew something was clearly wrong, and I explained to her that I felt like I wasn’t living enough, like I was wasting away living a mediocre life but this was what growing up meant. She said to me “Angie if you’re unhappy with your life then changed it.” I initially got a little mad and told her she wouldn’t understand what I was going through and not to bug me about it. She could have pierced right through my heart with those big-brown-eyes of disappointment and at that moment I knew I was setting a bad example. We talked it over for a few days and by New Years I made a pact with myself to live my life to the absolute fullest. This required me to do a lot of things including getting out of my comfort zone (which by the way was the coziest place to be) and it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and here is why I think you should do it too.


  1.    You will make so many new friends

Go out into the world with a smiling face and a kind word. You’d be surprised how approachable pretty much everyone is if you just put yourself out there. We all stick to our ‘designated’ group of friends because that’s what we are accustomed too but getting to know someone new is often one of the best things that can ever happen to you. It opens you to new perspectives and possibly a friend for life. I’ve made good and bad friends, but I can’t say I regret any of them because they all taught me something. At one point they created a good memory, made me laugh or kept me company, but most importantly they helped me understand the kind of people I want in my life and the kind that I don’t. Now it’s much easier to recognize people for who they are and who they aren’t. I know what kind of people I want in my life, and I don’t think many people can actually say that with absolute sureness that they know what they want out of someone.


  1.    You will learn to love your life

I hated absolutely everything about my life, but it wasn’t because my life was wrong in any way. It was just I hadn’t figured out exactly what made me happy and what didn’t, how to separate the good from the bad and how to make the necessary changes so I could live a life I was content with. I learned to love my life by doing things I wouldn’t usually do and slowly began to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. For example, I love to travel and even though I thought I hated change, I came to find out I actually go a little stir crazy if my life isn’t constantly changing. I learned that I like gradual change that I am aware of because I like being prepared for it. So I began to make impromptu trips that I planned within two days it gave me enough control over the situation so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed but it was also spontaneous enough to fill me with absolute joy for veering away from my routine.


  1.    You will create a ton of new memories

I have been at the top of the Eiffel tower, I have hung my legs over the edge of a cliff, I have been knocked over by a flurry of fans at a concert and I have enjoyed every moment of it. There will be bad memories among the good, but that’s what life’s all about. When life has got you down a single good memory can be the helping hand that pulls you out of your rut. Stepping out of your comfort zone literally launches you into a new world of experiences, and you’ll get to look back on that for the rest of your life because, in the end your memories are the only things no one (and I mean no one) can take from you. Change is constant, and everything you see now is going to go but not your memories, those are yours from now until forever. Bask in that, bask in the glory of your life.


  1.    You will open an insurmountable amount of doors

I was terrified to start writing for the student newspaper two years ago. So much so that I wouldn’t even show up to the meetings because I didn’t want to have to interact with new people or do anything past my little bubble of me. At the time I was stuck on the idea of going to medical school, and then I began to write for the paper. I soon realized just how in love I was/am with writing; yes it was terrifying at first, but now I am fully pursuing creative writing as a major. I write for the paper every single week, and I’ve written for online news forums as well. I would never be in the place that I am if I hadn’t forced myself out of my little circle. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be so scary but once you do you may come to find that there is a world of opportunities just waiting for you to grab hold of them. All it takes is a little courage and sometimes a little push.


  1.    You will understand the world around you better

Comfort zones are for the fearful and I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s true. Humans were made to explore and question absolutely everything around us, yet it seems like everyone has become content with being a sitting duck rather than a soaring bird. Be like a bird and immerse yourself in the ocean of the unknown for that one little fish of opportunity. Being a bird doesn’t mean you can’t go back to your nest, it just means that you have to understand that in order to survive you often have to leave it.
Abandon the comfort of your own mind and world and you just might find everything that you never knew you wanted.

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

The 411 on relationships

Relationships, relationships, relationships, what a scary yet, exciting term. Our world and our society are built upon relationships, but today I want to talk about romantic relationships specifically. At this point in our lives, a lot of us have been in a relationship or two and some of those may have been good and others perhaps not so much. Life is weird and sometimes things work out and other times they don’t, but I’ve come to find that often some relationships never even get a chance to bloom because it burns out in

Photo By Angie Baquedano
Photo By Angie Baquedano

the ‘talking’ phase.

I have been in two ‘Official’ relationships and a few ‘Talking’ relationships; I think nowadays that’s become the norm for our society. “No we aren’t dating, we’re talking.” for those who don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s a stage between getting to know each other and dating. It’s right in the middle, where you aren’t officially off the market, but you’re close to it, and it would be offensive to the other person if you were to go out with someone else. It’s like dating but without the labels. In my book, they pretty much count as relationships and after being in my fair share of talking relationships and formal relationships, I thought it would be good to make a list of what to watch out for and what to encourage in a relationship.

  1.    Watch out for the: “I’m way too busy to be in a relationship” speech

Nope. That’s a lie. I am busy, so I get that statement on a spiritual level. I’m way too busy, but if you care about someone, and you like spending time with them, it doesn’t matter how busy you are you will part oceans and move mountains for them and that’s all there is to it. Of course, there will be times when you really are too busy for them, but to completely throw out the idea of something more than just ‘talking’ because you’re too ‘busy’ well that’s just BS. “Well how did you find the time to ‘just talk to me’ but now you have no time to date me?” That’s the real question, and if you have to ask it, then I don’t think it’s worth it.

  1.    Encourage each other to do more of what makes you happy

If you care about the person, you are with then part of your job as their companion is to urge them to be the very best person that they can possibly be. If you notice they are stressed out or just not enjoying life as much as they should be, then remind them. It’s amazing how much people forget that life is wonderful and should be appreciated, but often a gentle reminder to do more of what makes you happy can do the trick. If you know that they like nature, then suggest maybe spending your day together at a local park getting exercise, rather then going to the gym. Propose finding ways to fit in fun things into your lives but also encourage them to do happy things on their own. You must be happy on your own before you can find happiness with someone else.

  1.    Watch out if they are extremely private

Privacy is good, but sometimes people take it to an extreme, and unless you are a CIA agent I expect you to tell me about your day. Share things with me that you wouldn’t with others rather than being vague. Why? Because that’s how you get to know people and if for 94 percent of the day this person you’re ‘talking’ too is MIA and suddenly is back on planet earth around 2:30 a.m., it’s time to let that phone buzz away because you know what? Sleep is important and if someone is going to ignore you all day and disrespect your sleep cycle like that then imagine what else they will disrespect. Probably the secret relationship they are in that you have yet to know about. My advice to you: do your research on people, don’t go through their phone or anything like that, just perhaps ask about meeting their friends or something of that nature. Don’t be psychotic just be precautious.

  1.    Encourage responsibility

Do keep the spontaneity in the relationship alive but also don’t drop everything without having a plan. Yes, taking a trip for the weekend sounds fun, but not at the expense of coming back to your life that is suddenly in complete and utter chaos. Remember that at the end of the day whatever you do with your life is for you to deal with alone. The decisions you make will mainly affect you, and if your partner makes you put them before your responsibilities and doesn’t respect the fact that you have a life before and after them then perhaps it’s time to sit down and discuss the expectations of this relationship. Responsibility doesn’t have to hinder your freedom and neither should your loved one.

Those are just a few things that I could think of off the top of my head to encourage and watch out for in relationships, but this last one I decided not to include as part of the list because I think it’s the most important one and deserves more than just a number on a list.

Be with someone who has a future. I cannot stress this enough if they don’t have plans or aspirations then they aren’t worth it. Yes, it sounds harsh but being with someone who has nothing going for them is the biggest disservice that you can do to yourself. You are who you hang out with and if you surround yourself with someone that likes to laze around all day and is literally doing absolutely nothing with their lives then get prepared to end up in the same boat. Be with someone who inspires you and encourages you to be the very best person that you can be.

Relationships are supposed to build you up not knock you down. This goes for all relationships, friendships, romantic, work related, everything. Surround yourself with people that want to see you rise, the moment you start questioning someone’s loyalty is the moment you should take a step back and decided whether or not continuing this relationship is worth it. Be with people that make you happy and make you thank the universe for putting them in your life. Life is too short, to not surround yourself with wonderful things.

Photo By Angie Baquedano

Restaurant Review: The Midnight Diner

Located on the outskirts of Uptown Charlotte, The Midnight Diner is the perfect spot for a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in

Photo By Angie Baquedano
Photo By Angie Baquedano

between! The diner is open 24 hours a day, and there is always something there for everyone. There is an ample amount of parking but be warned that when it’s late at night, it’s as packed as Cookout and Waffle House, but the food you’ll receive I swear is ten times better. It’s definitely worth the wait, the hostesses and waitresses are always so friendly and inviting just as you would expect at a real homey diner.

The first time I went to the Midnight Diner I went around midnight, because it only seemed right since the name included it. Usually, when I go to diners I go for breakfast items because you can never go wrong with that. But that particular day, I had no desire for breakfast foods but still wanted to see what all the craze was about. So I went out on a limb and got a grilled cheese sandwich with three different types of cheeses, tomatoes, and bacon. On top of that, I also got a chicken noodle soup, orange juice, hot chocolate and fries with my grilled cheese. I know it sounds like a lot and most of the time chicken noodle soup made at restaurants is gross, but I can swear by this soup because it was unbelievably good. Everything else was great as well; the grilled cheese was cooked to perfection, and the hot chocolate warmed me up because they like to keep it cool inside the diner.

The waitress attending my table was very attentive, and she checked up on us as often as she could despite the fact that she had a lot of tables. The nice thing about the restaurant is that they are good at dividing the workload between the waitresses, so my table wasn’t neglected but the waitress also didn’t badger us at every waking moment. Oh, I almost forgot to mention ITS SO CHEAP! They have literally every food item that you could desire from a diner and it’s reasonably priced which is awesome for all of the struggling college kids out there myself included.

Another perk of the Midnight Diner besides the fact that you can go to it at literally any hour of the day/night is the beautiful view of the city behind it. You can see everything from the parking lot and it’s mesmerizing. Having the city right there just a few blocks behind the huge fluorescent “The Diner” sign gives you the feeling that you aren’t even in Charlotte but in some other far away place just passing through. It really is a fun experience, and there are lots of tables if you decide to take a big group.

I think everyone at UNC Charlotte should make the trek uptown to check this cute little diner out. I think the only improvements that I could suggest for the place is perhaps not making some of their food items as greasy as they came. The food wasn’t drowned in grease, but it definitely had some that I just decided to sponge up with a napkin. The greasiness wasn’t a big deal and in no way was it gross at any point, I just think that we have a lot of health-conscious people in Charlotte, and that wouldn’t really sit well with them. I will say it was excellent despite a bit of grease, but what can you expect from a grilled cheese sandwich.

Another thing that could use some improvement is the menu, and I know, I said there is something for everyone there, and there is but for people who are vegans it is very little. My roommate is vegan, and she had to settle for a salad, fries, and toast. That was pretty much all the vegan options on the menu and with veganism growing, I think it would be in the diners best interest to give vegans a little more wiggle room.

All in all, I had a pleasant experience at the diner it was clean, moderately fast, fairly priced, excellent food and the staff was courteous. I can’t wait to go back and try something new off of the menu, and I encourage everyone to go out there and give it a whirl I promise you won’t be disappointed. Happy munching!

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Andrew Marquis Hartis

Photo by Angie Baquedano

“When asked what piece of advice I would give to someone I think I’d say I have two very important and essential pieces of advice that I’ve learned throughout my life. The first being, don’t put a lot of stock into what people think of you and the second is rely on yourself and yourself only. My reasoning behind it is that people’s opinions of you will always be against what you want and people will never live up to the expectations you set.”

Places to visit over the summer in the U.S.


Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

Summer is right around the corner everybody and it’s time to start planning trips to make your summer an eventful and memorable one! So here’s your guide to visiting places in the U.S. for people who can’t shell out 700+ dollars for a flight to Europe.

  1. Graceland, TN: Who doesn’t love Elvis? This is the King of Rock n’ Roll people! You get to go into his mansion, and you’re guided through the property by the method of an iPad tour that is narrated by none other than John Stamos. You get John Stamos’s voice and Elvis’s home in one sitting, it’s a win-win.
  2. Santa Barbara, CA: It neighbors LA, but it’s a much calmer laid back town. There are a ton of places to go hiking, and there are beautiful beaches including Butterfly beach which are said to have some of the most beautiful sunsets. Santa Barbara is a charming and classy place, but it’s also a place that embraces the hipsters out in the world with eclectic little shops and eateries.
  3. Knoxville, TN: Okay, I swear I don’t have a weird obsession with Tennessee, there’s just a lot of things to do there. Knoxville is a beautiful little town located on the banks of the Tennessee River, so the weather is forever wonderful. This place is the ideal location to go for Labor Day where the town celebrates ‘Boomsday,” the self-proclaimed largest fireworks display in the nation.
  4. Miami, FL: Visit the Falls Mall and Lincoln road! The weather is great and there are a gazillion places to shop at. What more could you ask for? If you need to de-stress after summer session or from work, head on down to Miami where warm weather and beautiful beaches wait.
  5. Farmville, VA: Okay the farm part makes it sound lame, but I swear if you are a person that likes to stay active and adventurous then this is the place for you. Head on over to The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat. You can go zip-lining on one of 17 or even go on all 17. You can also go through the 61 high rope obstacle courses, or even go kayaking.
  6. Outer Banks, NC: Don’t want to stray away from home too much? Just go the outer banks and have fun in the sun! Go swimming, windsurfing, or even paddle boarding! If water sports aren’t your thing, take in the beauty of the outer banks from the air and go hang gliding.
  7. Greenwood, SC: Again if you don’t want to stray too far, but want to get out of NC and you don’t mind gaining a few pounds this summer, mark on your calendar the food festival that takes place in Greenwood July 10-12. It’s good southern food for three days at the Festival of Discovery!
  8. Brooklyn, NY: If you’re an art lover make your way up to New York, skip the met and check out the Brooklyn Museum that has been dubbed the mini met, although the collection of art is anything but mini. Beware—it does get extremely hot in the summer in New York but if you can take the heat go for it!
  9. Asheville, NC: Checkout the blue ridge parkway and get some tasty food from this eccentric little mountain town. You can also take a tour through the Biltmore Estate, which is just absolutely beautiful. Asheville is a very laid back town, so you are sure to meet a ton of cool people and hear great music.
  10. San Diego, CA: Okay, this last one is just me being biased because I went to San Diego over spring break and I loved it! I went hiking on the Torrey Pines Trial, and the view was just breathtaking. On one side you had ridges and dips and on the other you overlooked the ocean. Also, San Diego is home to La Jolla Seal Beach where tons of seals sunbathe right on the beach for everyone to see.

Well, there you go. Now you have ten places you can potentially visit and hopefully have a great time at. Remember to pack some sunscreen, a camera and a few good friends. Happy traveling!

Restaurant Review: La Unica

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

Tacos, quesadillas Mexican food galore! When looking for an authentic and unique place to have a bite to eat, head on over to La Unica in Harrisburg, nothing but a twelve-minute drive from Campus. The trip is more than worth it, for the service is fantastic and the food is phenomenal! I’ve been to La Unica twice, and it has been the only place that has consistently provided me with friendly service and tasty food. Curiously and perhaps even fittingly “La Unica” translates to “The only one” in English. It has indeed in my books counted as one of the only places with authentic and good meals. Although the name suggests the Harrisburg location is “the only one” that’s not quite accurate. There are four more locations throughout Charlotte one even near uptown, if you’re feeling fancy.

When we arrived my friends and I were sat down almost immediately and we were handed large, clean menus to ponder over. The wonderful thing about La Unica is that they offer authentic Mexican sodas and juices, unlike more Americanized Mexican restaurants. I of course went with tacos and they were fantastic! The lunch special is the best because you get rice and beans with your two tacos as well. Also initially with the serving of your drink of choice, chips and salsa are also placed before you. I ordered guacamole dip for my chips and when I tell you that it took her less than a minute to get me the guacamole I am telling the truth. The waitress was incredibly fast and kind. Once we ordered our actual meal, the food was placed on our table in less than ten minutes. Plates were hot, and the food tasted fresh. Periodically the waitress would check on us even though she had other customers she kept her composure and attended to everyone in a timely and polite manner. After lunch, she graciously handed us to go plates and cups along with our check. The check is paid up front which is a curse and a blessing because the first time I went, I didn’t realize this unannounced rule, so I sat in the booth for an eternity before getting up to pay the check at the entrance. Overall the meal and the service was fantastic and I recommend that everyone try’s it at least once. The food and the service have yet to fail me and I don’t think it’s going to fail anyone else. Enjoy.

4.5 stars

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Angie Sirvas

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

“Growing up, I moved 19 times, lived in five different states and one U.S. territory. I also went to nine different grade schools. Change was a part of everyday life for a military family. I wouldn’t give up those memories and experiences for the world. At the time, I was angry and confused about all the moving, but it did teach me to become resilient and how to interact with individuals of different cultures, socioeconomic statuses and lifestyles. I especially got in touch with my own culture in Puerto Rico. I love connecting with others and through my experiences I developed a passion for the power of relationships. I decided early on to pursue psychology and to eventually study counseling. I have a soft spot for the military and addictions, which has led me to where I am now at UNC Charlotte, finishing up my Masters of Arts in counseling with an emphasis in addictions. I aspire to work with service members both active and retired who are struggling with the disease of addiction. I absolutely love what I’m doing and how it impacts those around me, but mostly I love knowing that I’m making my father and grandmother extremely proud.”

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Maritsa Mourouzidis

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

“I went to Greece about a year ago for a month and the funny thing is that I found out I have just as much family there as I do here in the United States. I mean there were pictures of me as a baby in their home, it was amazing! I also got my hand drum about a year ago, it’s actually called a Darbuka. I really like the way it looks and the music associated with it. I mean I never imagined I’d love playing it so much, but It’s fun and I love the way it sounds, and how it is so beautifully used in greek music. I’m actually going back to Greece this fall to study abroad. I’m currently a psychology major and today’s my birthday, so I guess you really never know what to expect out of life.”

Storytime: Finding what makes me happy

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

I’ve made it to almost two years here at UNC Charlotte and nearly twenty years here on earth. Oh, how time flies and how the world changes; my world changed. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a doctor, more specifically a Pediatric Oncology Doctor. My parents and extended family couldn’t be prouder; they thought they would soon have a doctor in the family. Boy, are they going to be disappointed this summer when I tell them I’ve decided not to follow a pre medical track. Instead, I will be fully pursuing a major in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in journalism. “Why?” you may be asking, well I’ll tell you exactly why; I realized this is my life and I only get one of them. What was the point of pursuing a career I deep down knew I didn’t want anymore? For the honor? For the praise? It’s not worth it, and trust me—coming to a conclusion like that is never easy. So today, I’ll hopefully be able to help you out on picking the major that will make you happy, emphasis on the ‘happy.’  First things first—you need to face the reality of your situation, and what I mean by that is, if you are choosing to go down a particular career path, are you certain you will you be well off years from now? I was following a pre-med track at the beginning of my freshman year.

By the end of it, I switched down to a pre-pa track because I didn’t think I’d make it into medical school and mostly because I didn’t want to go to medical school. Just thinking about how many years I would have to go through schooling made me want to roll over into the nearest hole.  So I switched to PA because it’s essentially the same thing as being a doctor and it’s less years of schooling. This was good for me I thought, up until the moment I had to face my parents about it. My dad handled it somewhat okay, or maybe he didn’t think I was serious. I’m honestly not sure, but my mother, on the other hand, lost her mind. I felt horrible I was letting her down and I even thought about just switching back to pre-med, but deep down I knew I wouldn’t succeed. I’m glad I didn’t, because I sincerely don’t think I will be well off in years to come if I follow a PreMed track. If anything, I’ll be in debt and hating everything.

Meanwhile, while all of this is happening in my freshman year, I began to come to the realization I love writing; I always have. So this is my piece of advice #2: When picking a major that’ll lead you to the career path you want, choose something you are interested in and will be more than happy to learn about.

As a little girl, my father used to read to me every night, and we used to bond over poems and fairy tales, I suppose it caught up with me. I was taking my UWRT general education course at the same time as my Chemistry course and, as you can probably guess, I was excelling in my writing course and slowly but surely dying from chemistry. At the end of spring semester of my freshman year, I decided to declare a major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing while still following a PA Track. I can’t express how happy I felt when I made that decision. I mean sure, going through all those years of PA school was going to suck, but at least my undergraduate years weren’t going to be that bad. I would have to take all my science based courses, but I would also get to take writing courses or literature courses and that made me very happy.

This leads me to my piece of advice #3: have a plan B. My English major soon became my plan B as the weeks went on and I wasn’t getting any better at chemistry. I figured if all else failed with PA school I could work for a publishing company or be a writer or something along those lines. Soon after I decided this, I began to write for this lovely student newspaper, I started as an intern and soon after throwing myself out there and asking to write an article on an event on campus, I was promoted to staff writer and my plan B began to gain traction in my life.

Piece of advice #4: “Follow what you love, and you’ll love what you do” Okay so it’s a line from one of my favorite songs called “Ready” by Kodaline, but it’s so true. This year (my sophomore year) I’ve taken a mixture of English courses and science-based courses and while I’m doing okay in my science courses, I am soaring in my English ones. I suppose the thing that did it for me, that made me decide to drop my whole healthcare career goal, is that I wasn’t happy anymore. Going to chemistry made me want to put my head into the nearest wall, but when I went to my Intro to Fiction Writing class I was basically flying up the steps of Fretwell, so I wouldn’t miss a thing in class. I would get A’s on every assignment in fiction, but chemistry had me running for the hills. I always knew it took extra effort for me to understand science based courses, especially chemistry and honestly if I had put more effort into chemistry this semester I could probably have gotten myself a low B, but I didn’t want to anymore.

I know I have the capability of getting myself through any Pre-Healthcare track, but I didn’t want that anymore. I stopped putting forth the effort at one point because I didn’t want it anymore. So now here I am almost at the end of my sophomore year choosing to follow what I love even though I know it will cause a world of trouble for me back at home. Sure, I feel bad letting them down and at one point I felt like I was letting myself down, but I sincerely wasn’t happy with the way my life was going and the moment I decided PA school wasn’t for me it was like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt the happiness I haven’t felt in such a very long time and when I got to sign up for next falls courses, it was filled to the brim with English courses and journalism courses and I thought I would die of excitement. This is how school should be people–you should wake up every morning at least somewhat excited to learn something new or at least content with the classes you are taking because they will lead you to the career that you wholeheartedly want.

Yes, making your family proud is nice but at the end of the day your life is none other than yours. You will be the one that has to live with the choices you make, not your parents, or your friends or anybody else. It’s all you, so do what makes you happy now and I promise you’ll be happy later, because if you want something and I mean you want it bad if you try hard enough you can get it. Just be happy; you’ll thank yourself for this later.

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Jasmine Galindo

Photo by Angie Baquedano
Photo by Angie Baquedano

“At the end of the day, when life has dragged you through hell and back, just remember that everything will work itself out. Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. Today was a bad day? Remind yourself that everyday is a new chance and don’t let it slip away. Do this for those who love and support you, but most importantly do this for yourself. Don’t you dare quit. Put in a ton of effort, it won’t betray you.”