P4K Support Helps Empower College Student

by: Emily DeWaard

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Despite a “whirlwind” first two years in college, Jenny, a P4K student since 5th grade, is on the path to graduate in 2020, feeling excited and passionate about her future.

By her sophomore year, Jenny’s grades were starting to falter. Her classes were challenging, but most of all life at home was stressful. Her dad left and she watched her mother juggle medical bills, her health, and their family. Jenny was also helping care for her grandpa who needed transportation to treatments for bone marrow cancer. On top of it all, Jenny lived out of boxes at times because they moved houses.

“With my home problems and having to take a ton of hard classes when I was pre-med, it felt like trying to hold water in my hands, but it kept falling through,” Jenny said.

A graduate of Central High School, Jenny enrolled at UNO in 2016 planning to be a doctor because much of her family is in medicine. Jenny bounced around specialties from surgery to family physician and nursing, but she was struggling to find the right fit.

“P4K has been constantly encouraging me and telling me it’s going to be OK and that they’re always still there to help.”

“P4K has been constantly encouraging me and telling me it’s going to be OK and that they’re always still there to help.”

She’d started off college with a scholarship from P4K, but when her grades fell, she lost the scholarship for a semester. Despite not meeting the requirements anymore, Jenny said she knew P4K wasn’t giving up on her as she continued to receive support and help navigating her way out of academic probation.

While she worked hard earning money to pay for school out-of-pocket, Jenny also worked to bring her grades back up. In need of an easy A and another credit hour, Jenny tossed a social work class onto her schedule, but she gained so much more than a grade boost.

“Social work is so important, and I can help in so many ways with it,” Jenny said. “I always knew I wanted to help people as a kid, so that’s why I went through the medical phase because that seemed like the obvious path. But I realized I want more interaction with the people I help and to get to know them.”

Inclusive Communities, an Omaha nonprofit, has also been very impactful on Jenny discovering her passion for social work.

“They do three camps a year where we go stay for a few days to help students learn about social issues and work through issues,” Jenny said. “It’s so cool to see the transition they go through during that camp and it’s a big part of why I want to be a social worker.”

Jenny is grateful to Inclusive Communities, her social work professor, her mother, and her program coordinator at P4K for the help and support she’s received throughout school and personal hardships.

Since that tough semester and leaving pre-med to major in social work, Jenny got all As last semester and was on the Dean’s List for the first time. She’s also back on the P4K scholarship and is set to graduate college in fall 2020.

“I think I really needed to hit rock bottom to realize what I wanted to do,” Jenny said. “It sucks, but I really needed it. It taught me that I didn’t want to be in the medical field. Just because I needed that extra credit hour, I ended up finding my passion. If I didn’t hit rock bottom, I wouldn’t have known.”

Jenny is excited to finally know what she wants to do and complete her bachelor’s degree so she can jump right into pursuing a master’s degree.

“Having this passion is keeping me going and now I even want to take summer classes and stay busy. I really want it, so it’s worth it,” Jenny said.

Jenny’s experience taught her to manage her time well. She plans her days carefully and stays on campus all day to finish schoolwork. Studying with her sister, a fellow UNO student, has also helped hold her accountable. And, P4K has helped support and assist Jenny when she needed it.

“P4K has been constantly encouraging me and telling me it’s going to be OK and that they’re always still there to help,” Jenny said. “I haven’t had a lot of stability in my life and P4K gave me that. Also, Deanne [at P4K] is super supportive all the time and she always has the answers to my problem. Creating a connection and bond with a mentor is a big thing because of all the help and support it constantly gives you.”

Sustainability at State: Recycling, bikes prioritized on campus

SDSU’s campus is becoming more sustainable all the time and several strides have been made in this academic year alone to focus on sustainability.

Campus Sustainability Specialist Jennifer McLaughlin has set many goals to improve SDSU’s sustainability and has seen marked improvement across several of her focus areas, especially recycling.

This academic year saw the implementation of recycling bins in all offices across campus in January. Additionally, outdoor recycling bins are being added throughout campus, and students can expect to see recycling bins in every residence hall room this fall. McLaughlin plans to launch an educational campaign about how to use these bins so students can learn to recycle effectively.

Her goal for single-stream recycling rates on campus was to reach 25 percent by the end of June 2018. Single-stream recycling is items placed in the common blue recycling bins around campus, so this does not include recycling things like toner, ink and scrap metal.

In November 2017, the waste audit McLaughlin conducted found the single-stream recycling rate was at 13.25 percent. By February, it jumped to 16.5 percent after offices began receiving their blue bins. As of April, SDSU’s single-stream recycling rate has reached 20 percent.

“It’s been really exciting to see the single stream increase,” McLaughlin said. “I’m hopeful we can reach that 25 percent by the end of this fiscal year [June]. I think between single stream and miscellaneous recycling on campus we can get there.”

The next waste audit will be conducted April 18 and give a better understanding of recycling rates and how effectively campus is recycling the correct materials and not throwing away things that could be recycled.

In the fall, McLaughlin said one of the most common non-recyclable items in bins are coffee cups. Though they are made of paper, the waxy substance on the inside makes them non-recyclable.

McLaughlin has also assisted in getting locations for toner and book recycling on campus. There are three locations for each of these. There’s a drop-off for both toner and books in the Rotunda Breezeway. For books, the other locations are in The Union and Larson Commons. For toner there are drop offs in AME 120 and Daktronics Engineering Hall 157.

Students have also been working to make SDSU more sustainable. Students’ Association 2017-18 Finance Chair Scott Simons spearheaded an effort to ban the use of Styrofoam products in food and dining on campus. SA passed a resolution showing their support of a ban of Styrofoam containers on campus two weeks ago.

Simons worked with Aramark to discontinue the use of Styrofoam to-go containers in the Market and at Panda Express. He said they also tried to get rid of the Styrofoam cups at Chick-fil-A, however, the company is contractually obligated to use those cups.

While Styrofoam is an effective and affordable insulator and conductor, Simons said its use in food and dining contributes to a large portion of waste in landfills and felt it was one way to help reduce environmental impact.

“It’s super important to improve the space you’re in to leave it better for next generations,” Simons said. “This is a simple thing everyone can do to help the environment. Sustainability can seem like a hassle but this is one easy step.”

The Student Sustainability Council has focused on educating campus on living sustainably this year through workshops and presentations on what can and can’t be recycled, according to junior dietetics major and SSC’s vice president Anna Barr.

This spring, the council has focused on coordinating the first ever “Big Event,” a one-day community-wide volunteer event. Volunteers will help a wide variety of organizations and businesses in the community, including things like planting a garden at Dakota Prairie.

In the future, Barr hopes to get plastic bag returns at the C-Store, and as a larger project, SSC has looked into composting. Though it’s a big project and will take time, Barr said it’s achievable.

Simons plans to continue reducing the use of Styrofoam on campus and SA President Allyson Monson expects there will be more environmentally-conscious action taken by SA in the future.

“Bike share programs are a common theme seen around the table with this new body as big goals,” Monson said. “I think there are so many senators who are passionate about this and want to be more sustainable.”

New SDSU housing to break ground this summer

South Dakota State is set to break ground this summer on a new housing complex. The $20 million southeast housing project is set to open Fall 2019.

Bonds for $18 million are already issued, and the rest will come from residential life, dining services, The Union and Wellness Center revenue.

Although enrollment numbers have been stagnant, Vice President of Student Affairs Michaela Willis said about 1,000 students surveyed last year showed a high demand for this style of housing.

“We’re really excited for this opportunity,” Willis said. “We wanted to better serve our juniors, seniors and graduate students and hopefully phase one will go well and if we see a demand we can do a phase two.”

While Willis considers the timeline “aggressive” for the facilities to be open by 2019, both she and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Wermedal agree it is doable.

The complex will likely be two buildings, housing approximately 220 beds for upper-level and graduate students, Willis said. Right now, a three-story apartment complex and maximum two-story townhouse complex are planned.

Units will be a mix of one and four-bedroom, including in-unit laundry and off-street parking. The estimated costs will be between $500 to $700 a month, according to Wermedal.

After conducting architect interviews in January, the university selected Architecture Inc. from Sioux Falls to design the structures. So far, one planning meeting has been held, Willis said.

According to Wermedal, the university will hold a design charrette in March, which will include sessions for campus groups and students to provide feedback on the designs over the course of two days.

The housing project has been in the works for almost 10 years, first starting in 2009. After debating whether to work with a private contractor, the university chose to move forward on its own.

“We decided the best option was for us to build it,” Wermedal said. “We knew, this way, we could offer more budget-friendly rental rates for students, and hold the cost down for students, as well as influence management a little more directly.”

The university was originally looking at the northwest side of campus, but through student feedback, decided on the southeast area for its closeness to The Union, Wellness Center, athletics facilities and the Performing Arts Center.

The new complexes will replace State Court family housing and State Village. State Village was closed in early 2017, and State Court will be removed this summer.

The university has been relocating those residents, Willis said. Many chose their own new housing options, or graduated and moved on from Brookings. Only about a third are coordinating with the university.

The project is considered the first phase of potentially more housing for upper-level students over the next five or more years.

Lucky Eagle Tattoo lands in Brookings

Nestled right between Party Depot and Main Street Pub is Brookings’ newest hidden gem: Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company.

Lucky Eagle moved to Brookings a few months ago from Watertown, setting up shop at 408 Main Ave.

Co-owners Josh Birrittieri and Dustin ‘DJ’ Eckman only met a few weeks before becoming business partners and opening shop.

“Josh wanted to expand and I was looking to start a new business, so we were both actually looking at this building for a shop and the landlord connected us,” Eckman said.

Birrittieri, originally from San Antonio, first opened Lucky Eagle two years ago in Watertown, where he not only worked, but lived — sleeping on an air mattress at night after closing.

Eckman, from Columbus, Ohio, also has experience operating a tattoo shop, having owned one himself in Sioux Falls prior. He also has a business degree from Lake Area Technical Institute.

“He’s the business one, I’m the free spirit,” Birrittieri said.

Since opening in Brookings, Watertown’s Lucky Eagle had to close its doors when the artist overseeing operations moved out of state.

The pair said it only took about three weeks from deciding to go into business together to opening their doors. Both have owned and operated tattoo shops in the past and had much of their own equipment, furniture and know-how to get a shop up and running.

While still working to build their clientele base in Brookings, Birrittieri said clients have followed them from Sioux Falls, Watertown and surrounding areas because of the shop’s time in Watertown and participation in regional conventions.

It only took four days after their soft opening at the end of January for their first customer to walk in the doors, Eckman said, and interest has been steadily growing ever since.

Junior sports management major Aristarchus Payton stumbled upon Lucky Eagle while eating downtown and decided to check it out. He ended up getting a tattoo from Eckman.

“He is very light handed and pays attention to detail,” Payton said. “My tattoo only took about 30 minutes and I am greatly satisfied. I truly trust him as an artist now.”

Despite its downtown location, Lucky Eagle isn’t in the business of tattooing drunk patrons, which is part of why they close their doors at 8 p.m.

Although they’ve only just opened shop in Brookings, Birrittieri and Eckman have their sights set on expanding.

“We want to be a company, Lucky Eagle Tattoo Company, not just a shop,” Eckman said. “We want to potentially be the first tattoo chain in this area.”

Lucky Eagle is the second tattoo shop in Brookings, and Payton is happy to see more tattooists come to town.

“Brookings is a college town, so each year freshmen come with aspirations to get piercings and hidden tattoos,” Payton said. “Having a local tattoo parlor with reliable artists is a big deal.”

Both artists specialize in traditional Americana style, characterized by bold lining, and harsh colors and dimensions.

Eckman leans toward neo-traditional, saying he has a “more modern flair” in his work.

He started out tattooing in gray and black, but wanted to dabble in color-mixing palettes. Lately, Eckman said, his passion has been oriental style tattoos, which he doesn’t get to do often.

“Oriental style tattoos are unrealistic realism — richer color palettes, accent with brighter tones and bring elements of nature into the tattoo,” he said.

Birrittieri’s gift in traditional tattoos is something Eckman said he can mimic, but not fully replicate.

Birrittieri’s inclination toward traditional styles is evident not only in his portfolio, but also his supplies.

Eckman, like many artists, uses disposable, one-time use supplies, while Birrittieri prefers to clean his in a steam autoclave. It takes a lot of extra effort and time, but Birrittieri enjoys what is becoming an “old-school” practice and being “self-sufficient.”

Innovation and technology have evolved tattooing in many ways beyond tattooing supplies, both Eckman and Birrittieri said.

“TV brought good tattoos into people’s homes,” Eckman said. “With shows like ‘Ink Master’ and ‘LA Ink,’ tattoos became more common and accepted.”

Technique has changed with technological innovation over the years Eckman and Birrittieri have been in the business.

“A lot of the artistry is being lost,” Birrittieri said. “It’s more of a printing business than artistry these days.”

Digital technology and design has made the tattoo industry much quicker, Eckman said. This is another area where Eckman and Birrittieri differ slightly in the way they work. Eckman can draw things by hand, but he also creates designs in computer programs, while Birrittieri prefers to do it all by hand.

An unique trait of Lucky Eagle is how they price tattoos. Their minimum charge is $50, and about $10 per square inch — they charge by the size and complexity of the piece, whereas most shops have a $100 minimum per hour, Eckman said.

“Regardless of my financial situation, I’m not going to take money from a customer,” Eckman said. He said artists could potentially abuse the by-hour rule to make more money. “That’s not how we operate. We do it for the customers.”