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Ellen Zacarias

Hey there. I'm Ellen, and I graduated with a lit/writing degree from UCSD. As the chosen major suggests, I love books and working with text, and in addition to that, my other interests include style, MBTI and travel. When I'm not working, reading or writing, I enjoy walking along trails, spending time with my family, and thinking about imaginary realms and characters. You can contact me at ellen.ly@gmail.com.

GAME OF THRONES Season 5, Episode 5 Recap: "Kill the Boy"

Daenerys Feeds Her Children

In Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 5, “Kill the Boy” the stakes for each side are raised, and new conflicts are introduced as characters make difficult decisions for the people they lead. My favorite parts of this episode of Game of Thrones include the sweet conversation between Grey Worm and Missandei and the scenes with Sansa and the awful Bolton family in Winterfell.

Warning: Spoilers!

Queen Daenerys: Sorting Out Class Tensions in the City

After the battle with the Sons of Harpy, Grey Worm is severely injured but survives. Unfortunately, Daenerys’ remaining knight, Ser Barristan Selmy, dies from his wounds. I was sad about the passing of the old knight. He wasn’t with Dany for as long as Jorah was, but I always felt that Ser Selmy always had good intentions for his queen.

Daenerys orders all the leaders of Meereen’s great families to be brought before her, even her noble adviser, Hizdahr zo Loraq. She gathers them all in The Dungeon and feeds one of the leaders to her two chained dragons. Yikes. At first I thought that she must have really hated that guy, but later it looks like she just chose that guy at random. He was the Unlucky One.

Later, reassured by Missandei about her problem-solving abilities, Daenerys visits Hizdahr in his dungeon cell and informs him that the gladiator pits will be opened–but only for free gladiators, and to make peace with the people of Meereen, she will marry him. The camera leaves us watching him watch Dany leave. I don’t see his face so I’m projecting my own awe and mindfuckery into whatever I think Hizdahr must be feeling.

Brienne and Podrick: The North Remembers

Brienne distrusts Little Finger and the Boltons. She doesn’t believe that Sansa will be safe. In this episode, Brienne and Podrick are marginal characters – Brienne wants to save Sansa but there’s not much that they can do. However, peasants of Winterfell are still loyal to the Starks. Brienne sends a secret message to Sansa, directing the young Stark to light a candle in Winterfell’s highest tower if she is ever in trouble.

I could hear the bitterness in Brienne’s voice as she recounted her old life as a plain-faced noble lady, the awful experience with those noble men, and how it must have pained her father. She also reveals why she was so loyal to King Renly: he had saved her dignity in the face of humiliation.

Long before George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series was made into a TV show, Gwendolyn Christie was already cast by fans for the role of Brienne. The six-foot-three Gwendolyn Christie has done an amazing job portraying Brienne. 

Theon: A Glimmer of Hope?

With all the camera closeups featuring Theon in the foreground while Ramsay Bolton talks to Sansa Stark, I find myself searching for a glimmer of rebellion within his twitchy countenance. Sometimes he looks as if he might betray Ramsay for the sake of his old adoptive sister, but Theon is long gone, and I’m reading too much into his anxious ticks. Theon’s fear is on behalf of his own wellbeing, not that of Sansa. Pre-broken Theon had never been the selfless sort, and he was not about to change in this episode.

I couldn’t help but feel disappointed with Theon when he goes whimpering to Ramsay that Sansa had seen him in the dog kennels–and also disappointed with myself for hoping for something different. He is completely broken.

Boltons: Father and Son Bonding Over Moments of Cruelty

As always, the Boltons leave me in that uncomfortable spot between cheering (when Lord Roose Bolton recognizes Ramsay as his son) and cringing (at how the father and son take what they want by the most brutal means possible).

Roose tells his son the story of how Ramsay’s mother had married “without my permission”, so he hung her husband and raped her under his hanging body. About a year later, she shows up at his castle with a baby claiming that it was his. Roose was going to have her whipped but then he saw the baby and recognized the child as his son. 10% heartwarming, 90% awful.

Ramsay is to marry Sansa Stark to secure his family’s claims to the North (and Winterfell). He initially sets out to flatter his future wife, but since Theon confessed that she had seen him in the dog kennel, Ramsay starts to release his nasty side during dinner with the family by arranging for Theon to marry her off during the wedding. Lord Roose, in response, reveals that his wife is pregnant with their son. Observing Ramsay’s look of dismay, Sansa smirks. Ahh, the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Jon Snow’s Unpopular Leadership Decisions

Having been ushered into leadership by Sam and his big mouth, Jon Snow now must make some unpopular decisions in order to make sure that the Wildling women, elders, and children make it south of the wall before the White Walkers come. He must “kill the boy” to reveal the man that he is to become. 

Jon frees Tormund Giantsbane (or, the Guy with the Epic Beard) and offers to let the Wildlings live south of the Wall in exchange for an alliance with the Nights Watch. Tormund agrees, but only if Jon accompanies him to North to convince his people to come with them. Props to Tormund for negotiating power…One day I would like to negotiate as well as he does. Jon requests Stannis’s fleet to transport the Wildling folk.

Due to the Wall’s dwindling supplies, King Stannis makes arrangements to march for Winterfell in the morning. Ser Davos is worried about Stannis’s wife and daughter, but Stannis doesn’t trust the Nights Watch men, a large percentage who he knows are criminals, including rapists. It’s sweet how Ser Davos cares for Shireen’s safety.

Stannis bumps into Sam in the library and asks him about his research of the White Walkers’ weaknesses. Stannis recognizes that the pudgy sam is no warrior, but appreciates his scholarly skills and tells him to keep reading. I read somewhere that one of the traits of a good leader is to recognize the strengths of your subordinates, so Stannis gets an A+ in leadership today. 

Tyrion and Jorah: The Duo

Gotta love this duo. Jorah is taking Tyrion to “the Queen”. Tyrion, with his hands tied together, talks incessantly while Jorah solemnly rows the little boat. They cross the ruins of Valyriam, and spot one of Dany’s dragons fly overhead. Then stone people attack, which I think is an awesome concept. Tyrion nearly drowns but is saved by Jorah. However, Jorah has been “touched” by the stone folk, as we can see the leathery skin on his inner forearm. He must get to his beloved Queen soon, but he is a walking stonebomb…


+0 The creepy relationship between Ramsay and his peasant lover. At first I thought she’d be scared of boring him, but she seems to enjoy the thrill of sexing a dangerous man. This explains her unhappy face from episode 3 when Sansa Stark enters Winterfell.
+5 Sansa Stark’s face capturing both disgust and pity at the sight of Theon cowering in the dirt beside the dog kennels
+1 Great beard for the new wildling leader. I’ve always liked his beard.
+2 The old peasant woman: “The North remembers.” Ned Stark left a legacy of decent treatment of his peasants, and years later, people still remember his leadership with respect.
+1 The son prompting his father for that baseball-and-mitt talk? Oh my.
+2 Sweet moment between Grey Worm and Missandei, in which he says he felt fear that he would never see her again. They make a cute couple.
+1 Tyrion + Jorah make an interesting duo, with Tyrion’s playful (and occasionally biting) sarcasm clashing with Jorah’s earnest solemnness.

The 10 Best Books of May 2015

Check out these great reads by Neal Stephenson, Sarah J. Maas, and more

Selected from nominations from library staff across the country (LibraryReads), here are the top 10 books that librarians are thrilled about sharing in May 2015:

1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

In this awesome book by the author of the Temeraire novels, a young girl is uprooted from her family and thrown into a world of magic and war. In order to protect her home and village, Agnieszka must help the Dragon wizard fight against the corrupting forces of The Wood. Naomi Novik draws from folklore and legends to create a new take on old stories. (Release: 5/19/2015)

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas 

A new book and series by the author of Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses borrows elements from an old fairy tail: the beauty and the beast. A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in Sarah J. Maas’s new series about a young huntress who kills a wolf and gets kidnapped by a beast in the woods. The beast turns out to be one of the immortal and powerful faeries in the land, and he wants retribution for the wolf that she killed. As prisoner, Feyre comes to fall in love with the beast, but soon must figure out a way to defeat the shadow that threatens to destroy the beast’s land. (Release: 5/5/2015)

3. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

This is a companion book to Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, so you don’t have to read Life After Life to enjoy A God in Runs. In Life After Life, Ursula Todd found himself reliving the events of last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Ursula’s younger brother Teddy, a poet and bomber pilot, husband and father, navigates the dangers of the 20th century as he comes of age. (Release: 5/5/2015)

4. A Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

As a southern California in the midst of a very long drought, Paolo Bacigalupi’s dystopian thriller strikes true in the center of my fears. In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California fight over the remaining shares of water for the Colorado River. (Release: 5/26/2015)

5. The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, finds her twenty-something former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app. (Release: 5/19/2015)

6. Early Warning by Jane Smiley

This second installment of Jane Smiley’s trilogy brings the journey of a remarkable family with roots in the Iowa heartland into mid-century America. Early Warning opens in 1953 with the Langdon family at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch, Walter, who with his wife, Rosanna, sustained their farm for three decades, has suddenly died, leaving their five children, now adults, looking to the future. Only one will remain in Iowa to work the land, while the others scatter to Washington, D.C., California, and everywhere in between. As the country moves out of post–World War II optimism through the darker landscape of the Cold War and the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, and then into the unprecedented wealth—for some—of the early 1980s, the Langdon children each follow a different path in a rapidly changing world. (Release: 4/28/2015)

7. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson 

A thought-provoking science fiction epic in which a catastrophic event ushers in the Earth’s impending doom. Nations around the world unite to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. The complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain. Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth. (Release: 5/19/2015)

8. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths 

Book 7 of the Ruth Galloway mystery series. The chilling discovery of a downed World War II plane with a body inside leads Ruth and DCI Nelson to uncover a wealthy family’s secrets. (Release: 5/19/2015)

9. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf 

A bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in old age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future. In Holt, Colorado, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. (Release: 5/26/2015)

10. Little Black Lies – Sharon Bolton 

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise. But three islanders–Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum–are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves. (Release: 5/19/2015)

Thanks for reading! Which novels from the top 10 books of May 2015 are you interested in? Is there a title you think that should make this list?

Louise Roe Interview: "Like it or not, modern society has become a little bit selfie-obsessed."

The fashion journalist discusses college fashion, selfies, and her new book, Front Roe.

As a fashion journalist and style guru who has hosted several style shows on television such as Plain Jane and The Clothes Show, Louise Roe has helped countless women uncover their most fabulous selves.  

“Part of why I love fashion so much is the power that it has to give women a boost of confidence,” says Louise in her blog at LouiseRoe.com. “We often don’t give ourselves enough credit, and a great dress or a new jacket really can have the power to make us stop and appreciate ourselves for a minute.”  

In her blog, Louise pairs colorful and eye-catching photographs with her articles on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Every time I visit her blog, I walk away feeling inspired to boldly present my best self to the world.  

Recently, Louise Roe spoke with College News about her new book, Front Roe: How to Be the Leading Lady in Your Own Life. Louise also shared her thoughts on college fashion, her blog, selfies, the allure of French women, and her tips for college students on landing your first internship. Her wonderful sense of humor and enthusiasm for helping women with their style made the conversation fun and insightful. Below is the interview: 

COLLEGE NEWS: You were from the UK originally, and now you’re living in Los Angeles. How was the transition like when you first moved to LA?   

LOUISE ROE: That’s right. I’m from just outside London.  To be honest, I had been out here a lot for work. I was working for Vogue at the time in England as a reporter, and I used to report on the Oscars, and the Grammys out here. It wasn’t completely a total shock to me. I already knew LA and I liked it a lot, so it’s a very nice lifestyle–it’s not hard getting used to waking up in the sunshine everyday.   

CN: The traffic is so insane though! How do you manage?  

LR: I know! Well, I live in West Hollywood on purpose, because it’s close to everywhere I need to be, pretty much. But otherwise, it’s a nightmare. I’d love to live on the beach. But it’s like you say, the traffic is awful.   

CN: Before we start talking about your book, I wanted to mention that I visited your blog and I love how your “Ask Louise” section helps readers who aspire to work in the fashion industry. How does it feel like to have people who look to you for advice?  

LR: Thank you! It is really flattering, and honestly that’s why I wrote the book. The book is an extension of the blog or the blog is an extension of the book, I don’t know which, but I wanted the two to be very synonymous.  

Even the opening page, and the back of the cover, is a collage of all my favorite Instagram shots. A lot of pictures in the book are Instagram shots. I wanted it to feel kind of like the blog.   

Over the years, I realized that advice is the thing that people want from me the most, whether it’s style or confidence, or beauty as well, or even interior design. So I thought, I want to put all my answers in one place, and not only give tips, but really detailed tips that I’ve learned from being backstage at Fashion Week or having makeup artists tell me insider stuff that other people might not have access to. I’d like to share that.  

CN: What audience did you have in mind when putting together Front Roe? I imagine that it includes people who have asked you for advice already, your blog readers…  

LR: Yeah! Exactly, my blog readers, and it really varies–I’ve got a big audience that’s in their teens and early 20s, like college grad age. I host a show called Plain Jane on TV, and the viewer of that is really quite young.  

And then I have a show in TLC which skews a little older, so more like the “mom” age.  

It’s a nice mix, and there are guys that follow me too–not too many–but there are some. I try to talk to everyone like I would talk to my girlfriends.   

CN: In your opinion, what was the most difficult part of making the book?  

LR: Honestly, I enjoyed the whole thing. I think that perhaps the hardest part was the deadline because I was filming very long days for a show in Asia in the hottest, most humid weather you could ever imagine! Like, forget Florida, this is times 20. [Laughs.]  

I was having to write at the end of those days, and I would be like, “Okay. Double espresso. Let’s go.” [Laughs.] But in terms of the actual writing and getting pictures together, it was really fun, so none of that was hard.   

CN: You look so pretty in the photos in the book. I really loved the picture of you wearing tangerine lipstick near the section about selecting lipsticks.   

LR: Ah, yes, with the camera! Thank you.  

CN: What tips do you have for your readers on how to look good in photos?   

LR: I actually just did a piece on the blog on how to take a good selfie, because I feel that, like it or not, modern society has become a little bit selfie-obsessed. In the piece, I talk about how you should place the camera, always a little bit higher than you. Make sure you tilt your chin slightly to the side, slightly down, and then small smile.   

I don’t like the duck pout. [Laughs.] I think the duck pout just isn’t friendly. But equally, a huge smile sometimes is not as flattering, so you want your mouth to semi-smile.   

More than anything, just have fun in your pictures. I love all the photos that capture emotions, whether you’re jumping up and down, or eating ice cream… Take lots, because the more you take, the better chance you’ll find one that you like.    

CN: A lot of style books out there tend to idealize French women, instructing readers on how to be more like them. What’s your view of the French mystique?  

LR: I am also pretty obsessed with French women. I think that they have a simplicity to their style, but also, an attitude. They’re confident, or they appear so confident in how they carry themselves. And really, that’s what style is.  

I’ve seen French women in skinny blue jeans, flat loafers, and a white shirt, and somehow they are the chicest women ever. The fit is perfect, they’ll roll the sleeves just perfectly, they’ll have a cute little pair of sunglasses…So it’s not what they wear, but how they wear it.   

CN: A lot of people cite Audrey Hepburn as a style inspiration. Which style icons have influenced your personal style the most?   

LR: Slightly later ones in the ’70s. I always look to women like Laura Hutton and Ali MacGraw for inspiration. They were glamorous, but in a very understated way, like denim jeans and a T-shirt. They just have this “effortless cool” to them. I love messy hair!   

CN: In the introduction to Front Roe, you mention how your grandmother didn’t need a lot of money to look glamorous. Can you tell us more about how she inspired your vision of what it means to live stylishly?  

LR: Absolutely! I think any woman of that generation who went through the war certainly knows how to make the most of what they’ve got. There was an etiquette back then, where you did wear gloves to go to the grocery store. They didn’t even have supermarkets back then.  

You would not be seen dead, even if you spent the day at home cooking, without your lipstick on. Not that it has to be a literal copy of that–we wouldn’t wear gloves to go to Ralph’s, but I think it’s the idea of taking care of yourself and being just a bit more polished than perhaps you think you should.   

I love the cool chicks who have chipped nail polish to look like punk rockers, but that is just not me, and I like it when you just make the effort. I think it’s glamorous.   

CN: What are your fashion pet peeves?  

LR: Pet peeves–I think that when people have a lot of money, and they will just– [Laughs] –Look, I live in LA, and you see it everyday:  

  • People will literally buy an entire runway look head-to-toe and wear it. There’s no creativity there. Don’t be a fashion victim.   
  • Wearing things that don’t fit, which I think is a shame, because you don’t do your figure any favors. Forget what the number on the tag says, as in the size, and just wear what fits. Don’t be obsessed with fitting into a certain size because the sizing varies between shops anyway.   
  • Over-donning yourself with accessories. My mom always said, “You’re not a Christmas tree,” so less is more sometimes. [Laughs.]  

CN: About the advice about finding clothes that fit well, I saw these wonderful videos on Weight Watchers and HuffPost in which you were actually going through that, so I’ll link that in the article.  

LR: Oh, brilliant! Thank you!  

CN: On college campuses, especially in Southern California, it’s common to see students living in pajamas, Ugg boots, and sweatpants. What are your thoughts on the unofficial college uniform?  

LR: I’ve got to be honest–college is kind of the time where anything goes. I’m not going to lie–I played lacrosse in college, I was in my sports kit probably 70 percent of the time.  

No one’s got any money, so I’m not saying, “Hey! You should all be in cute heels, and hats, and amazing accessories all day long”, but at the same time, when it is time to go out with your friends, it is nice to get out of the sweats.   

I think there are certain stores–I still shop at Forever 21 or ASOS, and [in my book], there’s a whole chapter of tips on how to shop online or how to shop a sale.  

So I think it’s not just “anything goes”, there’s also no excuse, you can find cute things between 5 and 10 dollars that will revamp your look. Get the basics right, get the perfect pair of skinny jeans, a great biker jacket, a really good couple of T-shirts, and then switch up those looks and accessories. I think that’s what college is all about, rotating the accessories.   

CN: So, have your basics for the basic wardrobe, and switch it up with the accessories.   

LR: Exactly, and you know, look a bit harder if you are short on cash. Look for discounts. You can even Google sales online, and you can find the most amazing warehouse sales of great brands that they don’t really advertise. If you’re sneaky, you can find a way around it.   

CN: I read that you graduated from Durham University with a First Class Honors degree in English literature. What made you decide to study English literature?  

LR: I always wanted to. I’m a total bookworm–I’m a nerd over it–I love poetry, I love novels, I’m a big classics reader, and I always wanted to do that. It wasn’t like doing a journalism course. My dad’s a journalist, and he tells me that you don’t need to do a class in journalism, it’s actually a better idea to get an academic degree, like history or English. So that’s what I did.  

I think if you have a journalism degree, that’s awesome too, but I also thought that I would have a lifetime of doing a career, so if I wanted to study something, when am I going to be able to study Charles Dickens novels with an amazing professor again? I wanted to have that experience. Oh, I sound like a nerd, don’t I? [Laughs.]  

CN: Oh, you should sound like a nerd! It’s great! [Laughs.]  

LR: I can tell you’re a fellow nerd, so it’s okay! [Laughs.]   

CN: Yes, absolutely! You became an intern for ELLE during the early part of your career. A lot of our readers at College News are college students, and right now it’s internship hunting season. What advice do you have for these college students who are looking?   

LR: Absolutely, and this is a big question for me. On my blog, and I will tell you some more here as well, I wrote two separate pieces very recently under the lifestyle section, so I’d love to point people there because I wrote really long pieces with very practical tips.   

  • Keep your resume to one page, these editors and what-not, their attention spans are not long, and they see your resume, so they’re not going to get to the second or third page. Don’t put a photo on it, it’s cheesy, just let the words speak for themselves.–gotta be honest! [Laughs.] I would send your resume by email and follow up with a phone call, because a lot of editors or bosses, they’re all different, some still love paper and like to receive it in the mail.   
  • Follow up with a phone call a day or two later. And persevere, you do have to be quite pushy, and if you don’t hear back, keep trying once or twice more, because often things slip through the cracks.   
  • When you do get the internship, make the most of it: get in early, stay late, keep smiling even if you’re given the most boring, worst job. There will come a time when you get to do something cool, like at ELLE suddenly a few months later, my editor suddenly turned around and said, “You’re going down to London Fashion Week, and you’re going to interview Linda Evangelista,” and I was like, “Are. You. Kidding. Me?” [Laughs.] So your time will come.  
  • Make contacts. Even if you’re only there for a few days in this work experience, make sure you get every business card you can, and follow up the next day.  It only takes one editor to remember your name, and when the job comes up, you want to be at the top of their mind, you want to be the person they think about hiring. So yeah.  

CN: That’s very good advice. Thank you so much, Louise. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you would like people to know?  

LR: No, I think that’s great! If you’re able to put “Follow @LouiseRoe on Instagram” or anything like that, that would be amazing because I love continuing a dialog with people and it’s really lovely to talk with you! Good luck with everything!  

Find out more about Louise Roe’s book  Front Roe: 


Career Interview: Social Work – Jacob Stevens

“Don’t get into the field because you want to help people. Every profession helps people.”

This series of career interviews with college alumni will explore the various career paths that people take after graduation. Part of the goal is to show the wide array of options for college students who are on the fence about what they want to do, and also to get a scope on how it’s like to work in a particular field or industry.

Meet Jacob Stevens, a social worker at a welfare office who meets with clients and tackles documents and paperwork. In 2013, Jacob graduated from SDSU with a degree in Social Work. 

Name: Jacob Stevens

Job Title: Social worker

Location (city, state): Las Vegas, NV

College You Graduated From: San Diego State University

Class of:  2013

Degree/Major:  Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


What attracted you to the social work field?

I wish I had something inspiring to say. I didn’t go to college dreaming of being a social worker. During my second semester, I got to the point that I had to pick a major if I wanted to complete a degree in four years, and social work is what had my interest that month.

How would you compare the reality of being a social worker to the vision you had of it while in college?

I do my actual job about a third of the time. Our professors had social work professionals come and talk to us, and many said that the paperwork would be overwhelming. We nodded along like we comprehended what they were talking about. We didn’t. 

On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your college courses in preparing you for your career?

8. SDSU has the oldest school of social work in the Cal State system. My professors were experienced, knowledgeable, and came from every specialization in the field.

What surprised you the most about being a social worker?

The massive amount of documentation necessary. I think many social work students picture themselves as counselors, intimately involved in their clients’ problems, then end up as paper pushing government bureaucrats like me.

Describe a typical day of working as a social worker at your company/organization. What do you spend most of your day doing?

I work in a welfare office. Most of my day is spent catching up on the backlog of notes, verifications, and assessments that I need to write up and enter in our tracking system. On those days that I have an assessment scheduled, a meeting with a new client to gauge their issues and develop a plan, that’s a two to three hour chunk of my day that I can’t spend working on the endless backlog of paperwork. My day is a constant struggle balancing between time spent on clients and time spent on documentation.

How many hours do you work each week? Does it vary depending on clients needs or is it constant?

We work a nine hour shift including an hour unpaid lunch. We are not allowed to get overtime. On those occasions when an interview runs long, typically when I am working intake, I have to leave early the following work day to make up the difference.

Describe your working environment. Is your company/organization/firm large/small, bureaucratic/intimate, do you spend a lot of time alone or talking to people face-to-face, etc?

My “working environment” is always on my mind. We work in an aging, out of code death trap. We don’t have fire sprinklers or fire alarms. The story I’ve heard from more seasoned coworkers is that the fire marshal tried to shut the building down, but the governor himself intervened to keep it open because the state doesn’t want to spend the money to build a new office or retrofit the old one. I interact with coworkers and all day. Sometimes, it’s even work related.

What are your favorite parts of being a social worker?

My clients are very interesting. Some people can be rather resourceful in the face of poverty. I genuinely enjoy talking to them. I wish I could do it more often.

What are your least favorite parts of being a social worker?

The endless, overwhelming stream of paperwork.

What changes can you see taking place in social work over the next few years? 

Hopefully, the trend towards evidence based practice will continue. That is, implementing practices backed by research and study.

What advice can you give to college students who are thinking of pursuing a career in social work?

Don’t get into the field because you want to help people. Every profession helps people. In my experience, the old social workers that make it in this field long term are really interested in the morbid, dark side of society. If you love hearing about the various terrible things that can befall your fellow man, maybe this is the field for you.

THE SPINE OF THE WORLD by R.A. Salvatore: Running from Fear

The Barbarian’s Path to Redemption

The Spine of the World
by R.A. Salvatore
(Paths of Darkness #2; Legend of Drizzt #12)
Before I read this book, I thought Wulfgar was a boring side character in the Drizzt series, maybe a copy of Conan the Barbarian, or the third corner to the love triangle between himself, Catti-Brie, and Drizzt. The Spine of the World changed my mind about Wulfgar – this book is about his path to redemption after being torn up by Errtu in more ways than one. The Spine of the World by R.A. Salvatore has become one of my favorite books in the Legend of Drizzt series.
The New Wulfgar: Dealing with Trauma
Wulfgar has returned from the clutches of Errtu, but he experiences a cognitive dissonance: his loved ones (Drizzt, Catti-Brie, Bruenor, and others) see him as the way he was, before being taken by Errtu and tortured for years. They expect him to be the same old Wulfgar that they once knew. That he once knew. However, Wulfgar can’t identify with the man he once was, so he sets off on his own and gets a dead-end job as a bouncer in a bar. He drowns his fears, anxieties, and sorrows in alcohol funded by his new career as a bar bouncer.  He also makes friends with a rogue named Morik. 
There’s a difference between understanding his angst on a distant, rational level, and experiencing the same angst in the form of surprise-PTSD-like flashbacks. Finally, I was able to connect to Wulfgar in a way that I hadn’t been able to throughout the series – not only through his trauma, but in his redemption. Knowing that deep down, beneath the fear, was a person with good intentions. 
Meralda: Stuck in a Nasty Love Triangle
My initial reaction to the parallel story line about Meralda was one of perplexity. “Who the heck are these people?” I wondered. “Why should I care about them, and how will their paths intersect with that of Wulfgar’s?” Meralda is a beautiful young peasant who is forced, by circumstances, to humor and marry a local lord for the sake of her mother, who is dying from what seems to be cancer. She loves another – Jaka, a handsome, local boy with a head of beautiful curls. 
I thought I knew where this was going. Lord Faringal came across as repulsive and moronic, with his odes of love to Meralda when he hadn’t even spoken to her. “Oh,” I figured. “Lord Faringal is the gross nobleman and Jaka is the poor lover.” I rooted for the poor guy until I realized Jaka was a jackass. Meralda is trapped between two men, who are competing for different reasons: love (Faringal) and ego (Jaka). Ultimately, this parallel story turned out to be really good–I wanted it to be its own separate novel with Meralda as its heroine! 


The Spine of the World by R.A. Salvatore is about Wulfgar not being able to reconcile his old self (with Drizzt and friends) with his new self (post-Errtu), and fighting against traumas of the past. He tries to run from the past, but ultimately realizes that there is no way to deal with his emotions but to confront them. Meralda’s parallel story was really cool too – I would love for her character to show up in more Forgotten Realms books.

My rating:

Find out more about The Spine of the World by R.A. Salvatore:

Amazon | Goodreads


Fresh Off the Boat Episode 12 Recap: Dribbling Tiger, Bouncing Pass Dragon

“I never should have become an actor.”

In Fresh Off the Boat Episode 12 “Dribbling Tiger, Bounce Pass Dragon”, Eddie’s school principal speaks with Louis (Randall Park) and Jessica (Constance Wu) about the school’s budget cuts and pressures them to volunteer at their children’s schools. 

Martial Arts Meets Basketball: Who Needs Practice? 

Louis, a former semi-pro basketball player back in Taiwan, is the new coach for Eddie’s (Hudson Yang) basketball team. At first, Eddie flaunts the glamorous factor of his father’s semi-pro basketball history, but when the actual training begins, Eddie and his teammates are disappointed by the amount of practice necessary to improve their skills. They prefer to depend on their “star” player Dmitri, a ridiculously tall kid (played by Wally Schrass) who looks like he’s in his 30s. 

Fresh Off the Boat pokes fun at the feel-good sports flick: instead having a wholesome team winning against the odds by honorable means, Coach Louis gives up on trying to get the boys to play well and lets them resort to their violent and dirty tactics to win. 

Once upon a time, there lived a gumdrop who decided to become an actor. That was the worst decision of its life.

Jessica finds herself witnessing a world of chaos during the rehearsals for Emery and Evan’s school play. While children play and scream on stage, the other parent “volunteers” check their phones while sitting in chairs. The other parents regard the costumed children screaming and dancing on the stage with indulgent apathy, but Jessica reacts to the children’s “play” with horror and indignance: acting is a risky career devoid of financial stability, and should not be encouraged. 

Huang Lessons

Without the commitment of her fellow parent-volunteers, Jessica decides to take over the play production and create a narrative about the horrors that befall any kid that chooses to become an actor. A gumdrop that decides to become an actor becomes a sad and woeful “bumdrop”. “I never should have become an actor,” it laments. 

As a result of the woeful tale of the “bumdrop” who wanted to be an actor, Evan and Emery, visibly shaken from the moral of the story, are successfully deterred from ever becoming professional actors. 

Louis’s boys face a superior opposing team, and ultimately, Louis gives up on trying to teach them to play nice. He gives up trying to make them play by his principles, and then in comes a strange montage consisting of a boy lifting his shorts to blind an opposing player with his white legs, acts of violence on the court, and then Louis’s victory flips across the gymnasium. The team’s success might’ve been wrought by sneaky means, but it was also earned by teamwork and dedication.  

Observations from Episode 12 of Fresh Off the Boat, “Dribbling Tiger, Bouncing Pass Dragon”:

  • Major meta moment—Jessica points out to Evan and Emery that there are no Asian boys on television. Then the show proceeds have Evan and Emery “act” on stage at the school performance. Fourth Wall = Obliterated
  • Love the All American Girl (starring Margaret Cho) in the background, paying homage to the first Asian American family sitcom which came out 20 years ago.
  • Martial arts meets basketball – references to styles in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and also Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer. Since the movies came out after the events of this show, the references are a nod to the contemporary audience. 
  • Was that a “thug life” reference during the basketball montage?

Career Interview: Public Relations – Winona

“I actually kind of just fell into it. I wanted to go into marketing but found myself with PR internships.”

This series of career interviews with college alumni will explore the various career paths that people take after graduation. Part of the goal is to show the wide array of options and potential futures for college students who are on the fence about what they want to do, and also to get a scope on how it’s like to work in a particular field or industry.

Meet Winona*, who works as a Publicist for a PR firm in Los Angeles. Winona works with clients to schedule press interviews, meetings, and other publicity events. 

Name: Winona (*Name has been changed) 

Job Title: Entertainment Publicist at a PR Firm 

Location: Los Angeles, California

College You Graduated From: California State University: Northridge

Degree: B.S. in Marketing, Class of 2013


What attracted you to the public relations industry?

I actually kind of just fell into it. I wanted to go into marketing but found myself with PR internships and then eventually a PR job. I consider PR and Marketing to be very similar so I stuck with it. Would still like to eventually go into marketing though.

How would you compare the reality of being a publicist to the vision you had of it while in college? 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect in college but I think it’s a really fun job. 

On a scale of 1-10 (10=best), how would you rate your college courses in preparing you for your career? 

5? I had a few classes like writing for business and speech that I think helped prepare me.

What surprised you the most about being a publicist? 

One of the things that surprised me was sometimes we reach out to brands about doing partnerships with the clients. I thought that was something a manager did. 

Describe a typical day of working as a publicist at your firm. What do you spend most of your day doing? 

My typical day changes all the time. Some days we are pitching most of the day and some days we are out at press interviews and meetings with the clients. 

How many hours do you work each week? Does it vary depending on clients’ needs or is it constant?

It definitely varies on the client needs! Most of the time it is the typical 8 hour day but when huge events come around like fashion week, Grammys, Oscars, etc. we have to work extra to prep schedules and possibly staff if we need to be there. Product launches are also really busy, especially if we are planning a launch event. 

Describe your working environment. Is your firm large/small, bureaucratic/intimate, do you spend a lot of time alone or talking to people face-to-face, etc? 

We are a small firm in terms of employees. We all sit pretty close and that makes communication easy between us. We do a lot of pitching over emails and phone calls though. Sometimes we do get to meet with journalist face to face to grab coffee and that is always fun. 

What are your favorite parts of being a publicist?

My favorite part of being a publicist is when you get great hits and you see it come out. I recently secured an interview for a client in a national magazine and I’m so proud of it. I didn’t write it and it doesn’t have my name anywhere near it but it’s the next best thing. 

What are your least favorite parts of being a publicist? 

My least favorite part of being a publicist is making schedules and chasing the clients to follow those schedules. It’s the worst to get a call in the middle of the night because a client needs a car to go somewhere last minute in a different state. 

What changes can you see taking place in public relations over the next few years? 

I see a lot of press being online over. There’s already loads of online only shows and news sites that people obsess over. 

What advice can you give to college students who are thinking of pursuing a career in public relations? 

I would say to make sure you like being around people and talking to people. it’s a very social career. You also can not have a thin skin. Don’t take anything personally. People will say no to talking about your client no matter how big they are and you can’t take it personally.

Interviewing Marivi Soliven: Spooky Mo Horror Stories

“I avoid writing stories with a message. It’s preachy and annoying.”

Spooky Mo: Horror Stories is a collection of nine short stories written by Marivi Soliven featuring women who deal with professional rivals, cheating spouses, domestic violence, and detestable neighbors. Marivi Soliven expresses the internal motivations behind each character’s actions – their dreams, fears, and desires – ultimately humanizing the people who live in her stories.

The Creation Process

Tell us more about how each story in this collection is a Filipino treatment of the Seven Deadly sins. 
I would rather have the reader go through that exercise. The Seven Deadly sins hook was something that came after the fact, when all the stories had been written. I did not start writing them with the intent to portray each of the 7 deadlies.What was the research process for these stories like? Minimal. For “Spooky Mo” I asked a professor friend who’d done research in Tokyo about the Japayuki and asked another professor friend about common Japanese surnames. Additionally, I looked up the phenomenon of vagina dentata after watching the indie flickTeeth. I actually went to that town in the Philippines where crucifixions are re-enacted, but as a tourist, not as a writer looking for short story material.

What role does the topic of domestic violence for women play in this short story collection? 
It’s in the story about the little girl being abused by her father and in “Bangungot”. I wanted to show how eventually, abusers get what they deserve, even if it has to come from supernatural sources.

The stories in this collection have also been described as “feminist horror stories“. How do the elements of feminism intersect with those of horror in this collection? 
The fact that the aggressors were women? I don’t know who described the collection as “feminist horror stories” but I never EVER start out thinking Well today, I’m going to write a feminist story. I avoid writing stories with a message. It’s preachy and annoying.

Which elements from your life or surroundings have played a large part in the creation of your characters and their respective worlds? 
Every experience is fodder for story.

There is an emphasis on traditional comfort food, the roles of women in a patriarchal culture, and Catholicism throughout these stories. What made you decide to explore these aspects of Filipino society? 
Ever experience is fodder for story. I happen to enjoy Filipino comfort food, I was raised in a Catholic patriarchal culture, so why not write from what I know?

Were there other topics that you aimed to emphasize in these short stories? 
The fun supernatural folklore stuff.


What audience did you have in mind when creating the stories? 
I never think of an audience when I write. If I did, I would be an advertising copywriter, which I was, before I turned to fiction.What advice would you give a reader unfamiliar with the Catholic context and Filipino culture to help with reading and understanding the themes behind your text? 
Just go with the flow and read other books if you really want to learn more about Catholics and Filipinos. I write stories, not textbooks.

Picking Favorites

If you had to pick a favorite story in this collection, which would it be, and why? 

That’s like asking a mother to name her favorite child.

Questions About Each Story

Below, Marivi Soliven kindly answers questions regarding each story in her collection:

1. “Talanung Manok (The Defeated Cock)”


In “Talanung Manok”, Socorro, a woman who has cooked for her husband’s clients for years comes to suspect that he has a mistress when his appetites change. After her husband fatally crashes his car on a stormy night while speeding to his mistress, Socorro gets a young doctor to cut her a very private piece of her husband so that she could serve it to his mistress… 
I read that “Talanung Manok” means “The Defeated Cock”. Why was the title in Filipino and not in English? 
Because Talunang Manok is the name of the actual Filipino dish.How did you think “Talanung Manok” would be received by the audience?
That’s not something I ever think about because how a reader “receives” a story is beyond my control.

2. “Child’s Play”


Lizzie, a little girl who lives with her violent father, is invited to leave him and live with the Kabaan, a mysterious doll-sized culture that lives under the tree. 

Where did the concepts for the Kibaan (tree folk) come from? 
Philippine folklore.

3. “Manananggrrrl”


In “Mananangrrrl”, witches separate their upper bodies from their lower halves when they go to feed. On the Wicca Watch talk show, a witch describes a gruesome (and hilarious) story of witchy rivalry between a slender witch and a heavyset witch. 

Was there a talk show in particular that you based this one? 
I am disappointed you didn’t recognize Oprah.

4. “Bangungot”


Rebecca has always carried the statute of Muniya, a voluptuous goddess who sweats ample amounts of sap. Muniya sees how Esteban, Rebecca’s deadbeat husband, beats Rebecca. One night, after Esteban kicks Rebecca from the house and cuts up her green card, the goddess decides to intercept…
What does “bangungot” mean by definition? 
Nightmare.The abusive husband is a common archetype used in your stories featuring domestic violence. From what sources did you draw inspiration and details for Esteban’s character?
He is an archetype but also someone I have encountered over multiple calls for the National Domestic Violence hotline.

What is “binagoongang baboy”? Google translate: “baboy” = pig, but nothing for “binagoongang”. 
Bagoong – shrimp paste. It means pork stewed in shrimp paste.

5. “Lost in Digestion”


Lola Ichay deals with an intrusive and close-minded neighbor by “killing him with kindness” in the form of her delicious traditional cooking. 
How does “Lost in Digestion” reflect your experiences in National City? 
It does not. It was inspired by a neighbor I detested.

6. “Penitence”

Magda and Tom visit Pampanga to witness Good Friday celebrations, which include the brutal reenactments of the crucifixion of Christ. Initially, Magda regards the acts of self-flagellation with disgust, but soon she surprises herself…
How did your own experiences with Catholicism (or religion in general) influence the details in “Penitence”? 
The repression, the endless cycle of guilt, the actual ritual of annual crucifixion in that small town.

7. “Migrant Life”


Eulalia, a woman unable to communicate orally as a result of a stroke, lives a dull life in front of the television while her resentful children quarrel about who has to take care of her. One day, the characters in Desperate Housewives invite her into their world…

Why did you use the set of Desperate Housewives as the source of Eulalia’s escape from her mundane, post-stroke life? 
Because I’d watched a couple of seasons and knew all the characters.

Which Deadly Sin is associated with Eulalia? 


8. “Consumption”


In “Consumption” Guinevere Go and her father are the co-owners of a successful company of malls. Guinevere transforms into a giant snake to feed on children a few times a year, which causes her waistline to fluctuate dramatically, causing people to become suspicious…
Where did the idea of a person-snake come from? 
There is an urban legend in Manila that the daughter of one of the richest Chinese Filipino department store owners has a snake for a twin.

9. “Spooky Mo”


When Rhacel informs her mother that she is going to Japan to be a dancer, her mother enlists the help of a toothy friend to protect Rhacel’s dignity… 
What does the last line in this story, “Bilib ako sa iyo ‘Day–ang s-puky mo” mean? I see the “Spooky Mo” part in it. Is it a pun? (Google translate offers something akin to “I believe you–it’s the Spooky Mo!”) 
Yes. Spooky = puki (cunt) + spooky (scary)+ mo (your). Figure it out.


Face the Wrath of the Woman in Spooky Mo: Horror Stories by Marivi Soliven

A Filipina Twist on the Seven Deadly Sins

Spooky Mo: Horror Stories
by Marivi Soliven, author of The Mango Bride

Spooky Mo: Horror Stories by Marivi Soliven is a collection of nine short stories based on the Seven Deadly sins — with a Filipina twist. In each of these stories, Filipino women from different walks of life deal with professional rivals, husband’s mistresses, domestic violence, close-minded neighbors. Each woman has her own vices, which range from gluttony to pride, lust to envy.

Throughout Spooky Mo: Horror Stories, we see the wrath that woman are capable of, or as Marivi Soliven reminds us in the introduction, “how we members of the gentler sex can, when provoked, turn into genuinely scary bitches. Consider yourself warned.” 

Each story features some supernatural element or another. In “Mananangrrrl”, we have Wiccan witches who can detach the upper halves of their bodies from the their lower halves. In “Child’s Play”, a little girl is invited to live with the folk beneath the tree to get away from her violent father. The supernatural elements can be stripped away to reveal the inner motivations of each individual, from a young dancer disillusioned by the “entertainment” industry of Japan to a fresh widow who is filled with resentment and wrath towards her husband’s young and attractive mistress.

I loved all of the Spooky Mo: Horror Stories by Marivi Soliven because even though each story is inspired by a Deadly Sin, it was easy to connect with each of the characters–their aspirations, fears, and secrets. I read through one story after the next, thinking, “Oh, it can’t possibly beat the story I just finished reading!” I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the last of the stories, “Spooky Mo”, a tale with a gruesome guest appearance of vagina dentata.

My rating: 5/5
Find out more about Spooky Mo: Horror Stories by Marivi Soliven:


Interviewing Michelle Perry Higgins: Avoiding "Bad" Debt and Saving Money

Money. It means different things to people. Financial freedom. Material pleasures. A fleeting resource. Savings for our dreams. Investing in our future. Whether some of us grew up with a savings account or spent our allowances on snacks and indulgences, money is a resource that we all must learn to manage because it encompasses an essential part of our lives–now, and later down the road. 
When speaking with Michelle Perry Higgins, author of College Poor No More and financial planner at California Financial Advisors, I was struck by her charisma, warmth, and dynamic speaking style. From her voice, I could tell she loves what she does. She truly cares about educating people on how to manage their money. 
Below is a transcript of the insightful talk with Michelle Perry Higgins about the money saving concepts that she covers in her book, College Poor No More (click to see review)  
CN: Was your family frugal when you were growing up, or did you pick up these frugal skills later on in life?   
MPH: I grew up in what I would consider the middle income class, but there were definitely times where my family really struggled financially. At a very young age, I was very sensitive to my parents always talking about money and making sure that we lived within our meansI wanted to make sure that in my lifetime I would be helping people with money because of having to listen to that.   
CN: When are good money management habits formed in young people?  
MPH: It’s really important that these habits are formed well before college. Unfortunately, what I found in research for this book is that students in college were never taught these good money management tips, and then it’s way too late by the time that they get to college, to all of a sudden learn what it means to budget, to look at your bank account, or to learn opportunity costs. 
This book, the one hundred tips [in College Poor No More], really is helpful for those individuals who maybe feel like they’re not equipped, or they need a refresher on what they can do to stretch their dollar.   
CN: Absolutely. This is one of the things that I wish my high school had a class on. 
MPH: Yup. It’s so true. It’s a must, and ultimately, if it’s not taught, then it becomes a problem–debt accrues, or it becomes a big fight in relationships and marriages down the road. It’s a ripple effect, and that’s why I really wrote this book–to help students gain control of their finances before it’s too late. 
I called [College Poor No More] the “bathroom book” because it’s a small book, it’s a 4 x 6″ book. I want it to be thrown all over your college dorm or apartment. It’s not something that I want you to say, “Oh my gosh, I gotta sit down and read another book!” It’s not like that. It’s something that you can flip through really quick while you’re watching TV, and grab a few tips here and there.  
I want it to be a fun book with a lot of cartoons, so that it’s not another thing that you have to add to your schedule. 
CN: Why is debt during or after college a problem?   
MPH: Having student debt is not the problem. This book is not about me saying, “Oh, students shouldn’t have student debt.” I had student debt. I graduated from St. Mary’s College with student debt because I couldn’t afford to get through school without borrowing money. 
What I am trying to say is a problem though, is taking more debt than you need. If you only need $15,000 of a loan every year, don’t take $20,000 if they’re going to give you $20,000. Only take the $15,000. 
Don’t borrow more money than you need to. That’s really the bottom line: we don’t need you to graduate with more debt than you’re already going to have, because it’s going to be hard enough already to pay back existing debt. So it’s what I’ll call the “bad debt”. 
We don’t want “bad debt” to accumulate in addition to the student loans that you’re already going to have to take. And that’s happening a lot, like, “Oh, I’ll just put the money into my savings so that I have money to go out and go to a football game”…And that $10 drink and that $20 hamburger at the football stadium really adds up. 
Iyou don’t have that money, maybe you’ll drink that beer at your house before you go to the football game, which is a lot cheaper than spending ten dollars on a beer. It’s little things like that where I really want to help students realize that there is that “bad debt” that we want to stay away from.   
CN: When I was in college, I kept getting all these credit card offers in the mail, and even on campus, they would have booths trying to sign students up. How can students avoid giving in to all these tempting credit card offers?   
MPH: They gotta just keep walkin’. [Laughs.] Ignore the free shirt, ignore the free keychain, the free this, the free that–nothing is for free when it comes to credit cards. So, learn to live on a budget. 
Learn to live within your means, then in your senior year, you can get a credit card. Then, by the time you do get that credit card during your final year of school, then you‘ve got it all figured out! No one’s going to want to have debt, it’s like why have debt? I’ve already gotten used to living this cash poor life if you will. That really helps a lot of students, when they realize, “I don’t need to have this debt hovering over my head.”  
CN: Can you sign up for a credit card but not use it? Would that still affect your credit?  
MPH: The reality is yes. Students can get the credit card and not use it, but it’s too tempting. So I wouldn’t recommend that. A lot of parents do give their child a credit card that they’ve co-signed on, and I would prefer that situation much more, because parents can monitor how much is being spent. It’s too darn easy to have a credit card and not use it when you don’t have the good money management skills yet. We need to build up the skills first before you go and have that temptation.   
CN: What’s the number one mistake that college students make when it comes to managing money? Would it be going into too much debt with credit cards, or something else?    
MPH: A lot of students feel like they’re in college, they’re not really on their own yet, and they don’t feel the need to take the time to figure out a way to stretch their dollar. A lot of this gets pushed by the wayside until they graduate. I don’t want to say it’s too late, because it’s never too late, but they really do need to take the time to understand good money management tips while they’re in college: to learn to live on 90% and save 10%, to never borrow, to check their credit once a year. 
All of these basic tips are very vital, so a lot of college students are making the mistake of saying, “Oh, I’m just so poor, money management tips aren’t important to me now because I have none!” Well, yes, you do have money. You have allowances, you’re getting student loans, and we need to learn to stretch that dollar.   
CN: How did you gather the money saving tips for the book?  
MPH: Because I mentor a lot of interns, I was lucky enough to have students that worked for me. I had them help me do a lot of research, and having that team of students who were set in school, they really helped me find the tips to be relatable to students. 
Hopefully when you read this book, you don’t feel like I am preaching to you, I want you to feel like, “I can do this! She understands me,” and that was with the help of my research and obviously having a whole team of students who helped me.   
CN: There was this tip in the book, tip #67, “Convince one of your roommates to get a dog instead.” I laughed because I thought that was so clever, and also a bit evil, because it’s like, persuading a roommate to get a dog so that they’d be facing the costs instead of you. Was there any context to this tip? Where did this tip come from?  
MPH: That one did come from one of my interns who, we were joking because he told me how everyone wants a dog on campus. Once you get off campus and have your own apartment, it’s like the cool thing to have a dog! 
Then I said, “You know, let’s do some research and really find out how much a dog costs.” It was profound, I mean, it was thousands of dollars a year by the time you add up the cost of the dog, the shots, the foodanimals are expensive. 
Yet we do want them, and it’s kind of the first sign of independence, like, “I want a dog!” but for the time being, it’s best to pass on that, because you need those dollars for other things, which are more of a priority than having an animal while you’re in school. You’re better off getting something that doesn’t catch much. Like, get a fish. [Laughs.]  
CN: Exactly. [Laughs.] Less upkeep.  
MPH: Right. Right.   
CN: What makes this book, in particular, stand out from other frugal advice books?  
MPH: When I did the pre-writing of this book, I really went out to the market and said, “Okay. Is there a book like this on the market?”
I didn’t want it to feel like the other books that students are reading while they’re in finance class, because I knew that it’d end up in the garbage. I wanted something that packed a lot of information in a small, compact way that was relatable. And there was nothing else on the market that I could find that was like this. 
I am really passionate about this because I mentor so many college interns. I really wanted to find a way to help college students gain control of their finances, and again, I just didn’t see anything like this on the market.   
CN: What’s the top tip that you can share with us today?  
MPH: The top tip…  
CN: ...You’ve given us so much.  
MPH: I know! The top tip…Which is the most important one? Well, one thing we haven’t covered is professional matters. Making sure that college students graduate and find a great job includes getting them financially ready, and also getting them professionally ready. 
And I’m finding that a lot of students are not ready. They haven’t had internships, they haven’t joined clubs and gotten exposed to the outside world, or networked. They haven’t taken their wild stuff off of social media. 
My greatest tip today is get an internship for the summer, one that is in your field or that you are passionate about, and put something that you’re proud of on your resume. Because employers like myself want to see internships or good jobs on your resume. 
Here we are in the month of March, where everybody should be aggressively finding an internship for summer. Even though it’s wonderful to sit on the beach, even if it’s a couple hours a week and you have to go get another job where you’re making a lot of money, get that internship.   
CN: Great advice.  
MPH: Because ultimately, that is going to relate to finding a job and making good money when they graduate to pay off their student loans, so again, the ripple effect.   
CN: Yes, absolutely. Build the resume.  
MPH: Yes!   
CN: And where can we get your book?  
MPH: If you go to Amazon.com, it is on there, you can pre-order [College Poor No More] on Amazon, or if they want to learn more about me, follow me on social media, you can go to my website, MichellePerryHiggins.com, and everything’s on there.  
CNYou lead an interesting career as a financial advisor. How can we learn more about you and your work?  
MPH: Also on my website, MichellePerryHiggins.com, you will find that I have a Facebook page, I have a Twitter page, and so I’m very active on social media, and on the news, so there are a lot of different avenues to follow me. Or if students are interested in applying for internships with me, then they can send in their resume. I’d love to hear how everybody likes the book!  
CN: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell us?   
MPH: 100% of the profits are going to college scholarships, that’s important to know. I really appreciate anyone who buys this as a college present, a graduation present for high schoolers, or for their college student, because all these profits are going back to raising money for scholarships.