Sample Post for The Smart Girls Conference

welcomeThe Smart Girls Conference 2014: a place where Smart Girls meet to become empowered and inspired to initiate their goals, while laughing and having fun along the way.

This jam-packed two day conference is not an event you want to miss! The conference consists of keynotes, resume workshops, networking opportunities, and speaker panels. Did we also mention that you’ll be receiving goodies from many of our conference partners, including Tieks and Stella & Dot. One of the incredible keynotes is Shiza Shahid, co-founder of the Malala Fund, who is working to empower girls through education. Another speaker is Brenda Berkman, who broke boundaries to become the first firefighter of the FDNY. In short, you will leave the conference with ignition, a new perspective, and many new friendships.

The conference is held on July 9 and July 10th at the Forham University Lincoln Center in New York City. Head over to http://www.smartgirlsconference.com/tickets/ to register now!

We can’t wait to see you at the conference!

The Smart Girls Group

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“We believe that with a little inspiration & empowerment, anything is possible.”

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In 2014…

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Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersI realize I have not blogged in ages. Maybe it’s the excitement of New Year’s fused with the guilt of resolutions, but I’ve decided to blog regularly again. It’s been a huge part of me in 2013 and I don’t plan to let that go anytime soon.

I don’t want to write a post about New Year resolutions or about “living life the fullest.” Despite its ups and downs, 2013 was a great year for me. I am going to highlight some of my favourite thoughts from 2013, and show how I will extend those thoughts in this new year.

In 2013, I began to unravel the beauty of getting lost in a big city with a best friend. My friend and I spent a few days in New York City last summer. Although we accidentally took the subway to Coney Island, we also strolled through Central Park and attended an incredible conference. I realized there was something magical about navigating a city alone: exploring its nooks and crannies, getting blinded by the lights, and conquering the public transportation system. In 2014, I hope to explore a city by myself, while simultaneously exploring more of myself in the process.

In 2013, my goodbye’s were becoming permanent when they should have been temporary. I graduated last June and left all the remnants of my high school life behind me. I still kept in contact with my best friends from high school, but I should have reached out to teachers, classmates, and individuals who have helped me succeed. In 2014, I promise to send a few more thank you notes, texts, emails, and hugs.

In 2013, I rejoiced in being a feminist. It was a monumental year for female leaders — from Sheryl Sandberg reminding us to lean in to Malala Yousafzai standing up to adversity. Pantene addressed gender equality in the workplace, while Dove showed us how women undervalue their beauty. Thank you for redefining what it means to be a feminist. In 2014, I vow to be more confident in pursuing feminism in all aspects of my life.

In 2013, I failed because I procrastinated. I let interview and internship opportunities slip through my fingers because I failed to prepare early. I crammed hard for exams that I should have studied for weeks in advance. Failure can emerge from various factors, but often the biggest obstacle prohibiting failure is myself. In 2014, I will work harder for the opportunities I want. Part of working harder means starting earlier.

In 2013, I unleashed my passion for writing. This blog became an outlet for me, accompanying me on long train rides and in local coffee shops. When I started university in the fall, I abandoned my blog because of my tedious workload. By doing so, I believe I let part of my creativity slip away. Writing came naturally to me; storytelling came naturally to me. In 2014, I want to become a storyteller again and document all my travels, opinions, and experiences.

2014. A chance to restart. Hope your year is filled with happiness, joy, self-reflection, and gratefulness!

How I Came to Love Lady Gaga

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Gaga

When I first heard “Just Dance” on the radio, I automatically categorized Lady Gaga as another auto-tuned, pop princess who only curated hit songs for the radio. However, as I listened to a wider repertoire of her music, I realized how far off my preconceived notions were. Lady Gaga’s music—though filled with ambiguous meanings and cultural references—represents a journey through her life. On February 9, 2013, I had the privilege of attending the Born This Way Ball (her concert) at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. After that exhilarating evening, not only was I continuously moved by Lady Gaga’s music, I was moved by Lady Gaga herself. If I could only describe the concert in one word, it would be “liberating.”

Let me recap that magical evening for you:

Since my friends and I lined up for wristbands the morning of the concert, we gained access to the Monster Pit—which as the name implies—is a black pit right in front of the stage, reserved for dedicated Little Monsters. (We fans refer to Gaga as Mother Monster!) There were people there who opted for provocative fashion statements, which included six inch heels, capes, and wild hair in a multitude of colours. On the opposite end of the spectrum, others were dressed in t-shirts and jeans. The diversity of how the Little Monsters dressed epitomized Gaga’s prominent message: Born This Way. For some, the concert provided a creative outlet to dress in drag or something sexy that society would deem unacceptable. For others, dressing casually made them feel most comfortable, so they came wearing jeans.

Lady Gaga’s concert was not solely a performance; it was her story embedded in her songs, theatrics, dances, and aesthetics. The set transformed the stage into an exquisite looking castle, filled with towers, gates, and charcoal bricks. Gaga came out in glamorous outfits, ranging from a pink origami dress to a studded leather jacket—and of course, her signature meat dress ensemble. She sang with dignity in her voice, danced until sweat dripped down her face, and managed to instill motivation into us between songs.

Gaga also changed me through sharing her story. She shared the hardships she faced during the inception of her music career: how she dropped out of university to pursue music, the financial struggles she faced while living in New York City, and the balance of making music while working long hours as a waitress. Her song “Marry The Night” is about her first record label dropping her only a couple months after signing her. Gaga’s path to success seemed insecure at times, but she knew who she was as an artist and fought until someone would understand her creative compositions.

I highly respect her work ethic, especially how she did not succumb to conformity. Her story does not inspire me to become a singer (My voice is only worthy in the shower); her story inspires me to fight for my passions. I have many decisions yet to make, and Lady Gaga’s concert reminded me to make those decisions free from influence, with my head held high in confidence.

Celebrity Obsessed

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the bling ring

Have you done any of the following?

  • Read Perez Hilton like it’s a daily newspaper.
  • Anticipate watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians each Sunday, even if Kim throws a tamper tantrum every week.
  • When you get home from a movie, you immediately stalk/google/drool over that hot actor or actress you watched.
  • Constantly scour the web to decode the love life of various celebrities, particularly your favourite couples.
  • All of the above.

I admit, with a tinge of embarrassment, that I am very guilty of committing point c). It happened with Chris Pine after I watched Star Trek, and I immediately stalked Joseph Gordon-Levitt after viewing Inception.

So why do I—and most of society—obsess over celebrities? The thought of meeting our favourite movie stars can cause our hearts to race and tingle with excitement. I recently finished a book called “The Bling Ring,” which exemplifies celebrity obsession to the extreme. The book documents the true story of a group of California teens who robbed a string of celebrity houses. They stole Lindsay Lohan’s heirlooms, raided Paris Hilton’s closets, and rummaged through Audrina Patridge’s belongings. The intriguing part is: why? Why would a group of teenagers risk serious consequences to steal some designer clothes and shoes? They could have easily tried stealing clothes from department stores, which seems like an option with less risk. But stealing luxurious clothing was never the goal—or mindset. They were addicted to the notion of a “celebrity lifestyle.” To them, that lifestyle exceeded the dangers of their crime. Since they could not buy the celebrity experience, they opted for the next best thing—stealing celebrities’ clothes, and wearing them to feel like celebrities themselves. Perhaps if they strolled into nightclubs wearing Paris Hilton’s Chanel jacket and Lindsay Lohan’s jewelry, they would undergo the lavish utopia that celebrities live in.

The most terrifying part is the teenagers’ perception of celebrity lifestyles. They viewed celebrities as models of perfection, but they also misconstrued perfection with the celebrity lifestyle. Where did such a flawed perspective of happiness and success originate from?

Funny enough, it leads back to society. It even leads back to me, when I stalked actors via Google. Society is constantly curious about celebrities; they live an affluent lifestyle, one that is on the opposite end of the spectrum. TMZ and E! News exist because people watch these programs. People read Perez Hilton and various gossip magazines, such as Us weekly. Tweens go out and stalk One Direction after seeing them live in concert.

I am guilty of contributing to the celebrity obsession. You are probably guilty as well. However, if people stop treating celebrities like they are perfect, then the term “celebrity” would not exist. In democratic countries, like Canada and the U.S., equality exists. But if celebrities are such a large part of our culture, then isn’t inequality a core part of our lifestyle?

Take simple steps. Trade Perez Hilton for The New York Times. Read a book instead of watching a trashy reality show. Maybe you’ll notice a change, a change for the better. Once in a while, you can stalk the hot actor or actress from that new movie. I repeat: only once in a while.

A New York City Dream

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nycNew York City. When I hear those three words, a million different ideas form in my mind. In my opinion, New York City is the most romanticized place in the world; people transform the city into their world, lifestyle, or dream. The Big Apple is a mecca for fashion; a melting pot of cultures; a tourist infested landscape; a business hub. Some would consider all these descriptions, while others would only focus on a specific description. However, the intrigue of New York lies in its ability of being a dynamic city, rather than a static one.

Manhattan has always held a special place in my heart because a kaleidoscope of my favourite memories were created in this city. As I ventured off to New York City again last Saturday (the thrill never goes away), I wanted to reflect on those memories:

‣ The smell of coffee beans and street vendor food infused in the air, its stickiness wrapped around my body, as I stroll through Central Park.

‣ Viewing the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty collection at the Metropolitan Museum. That experience enabled me to truly appreciate couture designs.

‣ The first time I walked through Wall Street. I felt like an outsider segregated among crisp business suits, but strangely enough, working at a Wall Street firm is my career dream.

‣ The breathtaking view on top of The Empire State Building. It reminded me of a Gossip Girl reincarnation, if such a thing existed. In that moment, I was Blair Waldorf, looking off into the blazing sunset that encapsulated the city she grew up in.

‣ Seeing the lines of flags outside the United Nations Headquarters. For me, the flags represent a celebration of different social cultures; it’s the realization that a utopia is achieved, even with a group of socialites and a band of misfits coexisting in the city.

Each time I visit New York City, I feel completely rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. I know each one of you has a special place you consider your “home.” It doesn’t even have to be a tangible place—it could be an imaginary haven or a scene from your favourite movie. Never forget how that place molded you; never forget the feelings of ecstasy when you reminisce about that place; never forget how many times that place acted as a refuge, both literally and figuratively.

I am coming back for you New York City. This time, it will be for the long run. I pinky promise.

tally marks

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in this moment
we are truly
infinite
with stars
dusted on our shoulders
thick bands
of moonlights
illuminating
the universe
choreographed
by the
pulse
of our hearts
this powdery
black paint
residing
on my fingertips
i meticulously mark the
scars on your
inner forearm
tracing its uneven
contours
like a skilled tattoo artist
branding an
imprint
to remember
line
after
line
like steps of a ladder
with nothing to hold
on to
maybe that’s why
i never reached your soul
no matter how many times
i’ve tried
climbing into the
perpetual darkness
of your
flesh
i count the
tally marks
i’m not counting the
probability of
winning
as a mathematician would
when i know
you’ve already won your battle
and with that
same powdery residue
you paint
black marks
from my shoulders
to forearms
each one
for each drink
i’ve consumed
i smile because
we have a lot of time
almost reading
my thoughts
she smothers and massages
my entire
arm in black
too many drinks
for us to
count
our sins revealed
and
engraved
we acknowledge our past
that marks
our future
we decide to leave
our own marks
i trace the corners
of her lips
and she slides black
lines
around my neck
and when we kiss
that tingling feeling
in my
spine
i feel like all the
tally marks are gone
but we keep
marking each other
aimlessly
and
deliberately
because we are
marking memories now
memories that
remind us
of us
and we kiss some more
in this blissful atmosphere
and for once
we’ll try to ignore
the tainted
gardens of eden
and
crumbling cities
below us
for they have been marked too
a different kind
of mark
the kind that we fell for
for too long to count

Her Campus National Intercollegiette Conference 2013: July 27th & 28th

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hc logo graphicImagine hearing from the publisher of Teen Vogue and speakers from Seventeen, Lucky, Glamour, and The Huffington Post. Imagine networking with the top industry leaders. Imagine attending workshops about marketing and PR, launching your own start-up, and making your blog successful.

Lucky for you, this doesn’t all have to be in your imagination; it can really happen at the Her Campus National Intercollegiette Conference on July 27th and July 28th in New York City.

At the conference, you’ll be exposed to a plethora of different panels and workshops, including opportunities in the book publishing world, a guide to freelancing, how to negotiate, resume and cover letter reviews, and learning about the life of an entry level magazine editor.

You will get a chance to hear some A-list speakers and panelists talk, including speakers from SELF, Cosmopolitan, Ok!, Psychology Today, Alloy, Glam Media, New York Daily News, Levo League, and many more!

Did I also mention you have access to a braid bar, mini manicures, a special BCBGeneration sample sale, and a screening of the “Girl Rising” film?

After the conference, you’ll walk away with an amazing goody bag full of free swag and tons of networking contacts. But most importantly, you’ll walk away feeling inspired, confident, and ready to take on the media world! 

If you are nodding your head right now, please be sure to register ASAP for the conference.

You can only attend the Saturday July 27th conference if you’re a part of the Her Campus team. Register here.

Her Campus readers AND team members can attend the Sunday July 28th conference. Please register here

I sincerely hope to see some of you at the Her Campus National Intercollegiette Conference this year!!!

Essential Clothing Items for Women

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the essentials

Whenever I head into a clothing shop, I repeat the fashion mantra: “Quality over quantity.” Yet my closet tells a different story. I tend to find many excessive items, such as studded shirts, pastel pants, and crochet tops. While these pieces are trendy and cute, they will hardly be viable over multiple seasons. I’ve compiled a list of the top 8 fashion essentials that I think every woman should own.

1. Fitted Blazer: A blazer is not an item that is exclusively reserved for the workplace. The diversity of a blazer makes it easy to incorporate into any outfit. I would suggest a fitted black blazer with an interesting lining underneath. For example, the one shown in the picture shows a pop of pastel pink when the sleeves are rolled, which is perfect for spring. A simple, black blazer is an essential for the workplace and interviews; however, it can also be paired with a white t-shirt and boyfriend jeans to create a cool contrast.

2. White Button Down: The white button down is arguably the most classic and timeless piece of clothing. Personally, I adore the white button down because it can stand on its own without the need of any extra accessories. It’s perfect for creating an effortless, structured look. Wear it against a colorful circle skirt or tucked into skinny jeans with a pair of flats. If you are into layering, throw a v-neck sweater overtop to show just the collar peeking out.

3. Leather Jacket: Need I say more?

4. Neutral Flats: When compared booties or bright pumps, flats seem like such a boring option. Despite that, flats are guaranteed to match with any outfit. Plus, your feet will thank you when you’re on a long traveling day or scrambling around campus. Buying a pair of good quality flats is a must. I have had to buy countless pairs of black flats for my school uniform because I always bought flats that were on sale. However, I did invest in a pair, and they’ve lasted me about two years now.

5. Quality Denim: Every girl should own a pair of jeans that will make her feel confident, no matter how bad of a day she is having. The perfect pair of jeans are flattering, well fitted, but also comfortable. Opt for a dark wash pair of denim with either a straight or skinny leg. Dark wash tends to match well with almost every color top, and a straight/skinny leg exudes a sleek look to every outfit.

6. Silk Scarf: A lightweight silk scarf is easy to throw onto any outfit, and its versatility makes it perfect for the summer and winter seasons. Scarves add that extra something to sweaters, dresses, t-shirts, and just about anything else. I would recommend choosing a scarf with neutral tones to get the maximum use out of it.

7. Watch: Watches can truly last a lifetime, so it’s crucial to invest in a watch that is well made. Gold, rose gold, and silver metal band watches will always be in style. When selecting a watch, less is more; don’t feel like you need to go heavy on the bling. An ostentatious looking watch can be misconstrued as “cheap.”

8. Trench Coat: There is a reason why the iconic Burberry trench coat will never go out of season. The coat is flattering, classic, and instantly sophisticates any outfit. The beauty of trench coats is that they are long enough to cover dresses and skirts, which makes them perfect for cold or rainy days. Splurging on a trench coat can be validated since you’re most likely going to wear it your whole life.

Trends come and go with the season, but these timeless pieces are guaranteed to last a lifetime. What are YOUR essential clothing items?