How Did We End Up Here?- My SMU Story

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Hope. Heartbreak. Drama. Plot twists. Australia. You can find it all below, in the story of how I came to attend Southern Methodist University.

Today was the first day of school for the semester.

I am attending Southern Methodist University.

If you knew my story, you’d chuckle. When life gets ironic or takes unexpected turns, especially for the good, we tend to chuckle. I am chuckling.

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Halloween. October 31, 2014 was the first time I set foot on the SMU campus. Anyone who visits can tell that it is easily one of the most beautiful college campuses in the US. But I also fell in love with the Arts school. Long story short, after my very first college tour, I was hooked on SMU. As a high school sophomore.

When it came time to enroll, I got in. The acceptance rate is 49%, so I pretty much had a half and half chance.

The problem?

The price.

That’s fine, right? I can just get a scholarship!

Totally! I received a scholarship of $30,000!!! Super exciting, right? The problem:

SMU’s undergrad tuition fees are around $50,000 a year. Plus, they require students under 20 to live on-campus, so add another solid $14,000.

I did not have that money. My parents did not have that money. So off to community college I went, kicking and screaming.

The thing is, Collin County Community College actually turned out to be an amazing experience. I had a bunch of friends by my side in the same boat, and made some new friends along the way. I got to help start a Bible study group on campus and soon became its President. Attending community college was one of the smartest decisions I ever made because of how much money it saved me, and it was a crucial stepping stone into adulthood. I was also so grateful for that extra year I lived at home. It really prepared me for moving out.

But what now? What’s the plan? What happens after Collin?

That’s the question, isn’t it. That’s the thing with community college. You feel like you have multiple senior years because in the end, you still have to figure out where to go to school.

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With some dual credit courses under my belt, I could transfer from Collin after a year. So I had one year to decide where to go. Sounds like enough time, right? It should be, but not for me! No sir, it was approaching the summer and I still had no idea where I was going. I applied to 7 schools- UTD (University of Texas at Dallas), UNT (University of North Texas), TCU (Texas Christian University), Rice University, UT (University of Texas), Tufts University (a school in Boston), and SMU. I was basically waiting to see what the cheapest option would be, because money.

Slowly, financially things got narrowed down. But they got narrowed down too much. Everything was too expensive. Pretty much every school gave me a decent amount of money, but not enough for me to afford going for three years. Even UTD, the cheapest school I applied for, barely gave me money so it was still pricey.

And then I got the call.

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I was in Austin for a Leadership Training week, having a deep convo with one of my girls, when the phone rang. Out of the 100+ students that applied for a transfer scholarship, 25 were being chosen to come in for an interview. One of them, being lil’ ol’ me.

I got pretty much everyone I knew to pray. I had elders in the church on their hands and knees praying for this interview. So you can imagine the stress, huh?

No sleep for Isabel.

Only 10 would be chosen to receive a full-tuition scholarship to SMU for 5 semesters. That’s basically like winning $150,000.

My sister had her driver’s test that morning (talk about STRESSSSSS in the Arcellana family household), so my friend Lacy drove me up for my interview.

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(Photo taken right after the interview, when I was feeling pretty good about myself.)

I got the email soon after.

I didn’t get the scholarship.

I read it over and over and over until my tears blurred my sight. “We regret to inform you…”

Why was I crying? I’m not a very emotional person. But I am a very driven person with very high expectations of myself. I’m also a dreamer. SMU was my dream school. I had worked my butt off at Collin so I could just have a shot at this exact scholarship. I worked so hard. And what was it about my interview? Am I just not likable? What did I do wrong, what did they want?

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I also didn’t know where else to go. It was June by this time, and I had no idea where I was going to live in 2 months. My mom and I crunched numbers over and over. I would have to go into a lot of debt (which we were trying to avoid like the plague) to even go to UTD, which was not even a school I really wanted to go to.

At one point, I started planning on moving to Australia. People thought I wasn’t serious.

I was serious.

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I was already emailing friends out there and figuring out where I’d live. But my mom wanted to try for SMU again. She said we might be able to afford it if I commute the 45 minute drive, since I have some scholarships. So we started negotiating for me to live at home. And that’s when my SMU advisor asked me to come in.

Two weeks after I had received that heartbreaking email and the day before my birthday, I was back at SMU. At the same intimidation building that was fancier than the White House.

I was led into the office of Jennifer Lasagna, and when I sat down she put a letter in front of me.

“I’ll let you read that.” She said.

I did read it. Again. And again. And again. (Actual footage of me that day)>>>

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I finally decided that I probably forgot how to read and did not understand the letter. “Wait, what?”

She laughed. “You got the scholarship!”

What a turn of events, am I right? I’ll take that as a birthday present.

As it turns out, I was chosen as one of the 10 all along. This whole time, there were 4 or 5 SMU staff members emailing back and forth because some of my credits weren’t transferring and they weren’t sure if they could accept them yet. (Because of me, SMU is having to change some of their policies on AP transferring credits.) They had to tell me no just in case things couldn’t be worked out.

So there you have it! I was absolutely blessed with one of the 10 North Texas Community College Full Tuition scholarships!

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The way I see it, God was like “I’m going to humble you first and make you rethink your whole life and really depend on me. Then I’ll show you my plan. It’s great, I promise. We’ll all laugh at this someday.”

Here’s to hard work paying off, God waiting until the last minute to reveal his plans because it helps my heart, and random life plot twists. Here’s to doors opening and closing right when they need to.

Pony up! I’m a Mustang!

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÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album: Thoughts and Fun Facts Part 1

Ed Sheeran took a year off. He got rid of social media, communicating solely through email, and traveled the world with his girlfriend. He came back, finished up ÷, and has recently released it. The following is a breakdown of each song, pulled from an interview (which will be in a link in Part 2), in which Ed addresses Divide track-to-track.

As Ed says, he “couldn’t have made a better album.”

Eraser

Track 1, and Ed hits us with verses upon verses of what he calls “verbal vomit.” The words strike with such rawness and realness. Almost the first whole minute is simply Ed spitting bars about fame, money, and the “trappings of the industry.”

Ed wrote this song in his treehouse the same night he wrote “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” He says “there’s so much that has happened to me in the last 5 years that I haven’t been able to talk about.” A great kick start to ÷, “Eraser” packs a punch for sure.

Castle on a Hill

Here we have a single that was released in January. A classic roll-your-windows-down-a-country-road Sheeran song. Most of his friends cried when they first heard it, and it’s his dad’s favorite song on the album (probably because he actually lives near the castle on the hill). Ed remarked that he was influenced by Snow Patrol, and that he had the idea of doing a reflective song for a while. He said he thought, “No one’s done this reflective thing! And then that Lukas Graham song came on- and I was like, aaaah!”

Dive

Ahh, now we’re chilling it out a bit after a couple hard-hitting tracks. A great ballad filled with Ed’s underrated belting skills. A classic beat with some very unique melodies and lines like:

So don’t call me baby
Unless you mean it
Don’t tell me you need me
If you don’t believe it
So let me know the truth
Before I dive right into you

When asked about this song, Ed said “that’s hard to sing.” Understandable. But he did it great, didn’t he? “It was meant to be sung falsetto. I was in the kitchen belting it out and Benny (Benny Blanco, producer) was like- ‘that’s how you’re meant to sing it!’.”

Another surprise in this song was the background female vocal. Out of nowhere, a woman named Jessie Ware (who did vocals for 3 songs and co-wrote “New Man”), comes in. Ed confessed that none of his managers and no one at the label agreed with adding her in (it had never happened before on a song of his), but he insisted.

Perfect

Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home
I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own
We are still kids, but we’re so in love, fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling just hold my hand, be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes

Before writing this soft, classic love song, Ed said that his mindset was “I need to write the best love song of my career, and I need to do it %100 me.” Ed’s mission was to beat his hit “Thinking Out Loud,” and ended up writing, singing and producing what he sees as his best song yet.

Talking about his current girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, he admits that he is “really happy, really comfortable,” and has “never been more inspired.”

Galway Girl

A personal favorite of mine, and apparently Ed’s as well. About this ode to Ireland, he said “That’s like my favorite one. My whole album is my favorite one, but that one I was so excited to come out!”

For those who don’t know, Galway is a harbor city in Ireland. Ed had an Irish folk band called Beoga over at his house to record for some of his songs, and decided to write a song in their style. Some people are speculating that the “Galway Girl” is Niamh Dunne, the fiddler in Beoga, but some facts in her life don’t really match up with the song. Also, Ed has said that this was one of two fictional songs in the album (the other, we have no idea).

“I know there’s like 400 million people in the world that claim Irish, and they’re going to love it, and I can’t wait to put it out there. And also Ireland is my biggest market.” There you go, Ireland. A perfect song all wrapped in a bow.

Happier

Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain’t nobody need you like I do
I know that there’s others that deserve you
But my darling I am still in love with you

“When you’ve had your first relationship or second relationship when you’re young and it ends, you’re so bitter about it and I get to sort of… look at exes in their relationships and think ‘she actually looks happier than she’d be if she were with me’,” Ed said, when asked to explain the feeling that this song stemmed from.

“It was a kind of epiphany moment,” he commented, comparing it a little to Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He described meeting the new boyfriend of the girl who his first and second albums were mostly about, and thinking, “he’s so much more suited to her than I ever was.”

New Man

Now, this song is just plain funnyIt’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and proof that Ed can put things like Instagram stalking, kale, Kardashians, and eyebrow plucking into a song and still make you dance.

But still, I’m just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I’ll be creeping a little
I’ll be trying not to double tap, from way back, cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at
Let me remind of the days when you used to hold my hand
And when we sipped champagne out of cider cans
I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn’t superman, just a young boy trying to be loved
So let me give it to you

About this song, Ed said “I was basically like, let’s write a list of like- you know when your ex leaves you and the first guy she gets with- what that guy is like.”

Apparently this was going to be a bonus track (Ed wanted “Save Myself” to be in its place), but the management insisted on putting it in the top 12, and I’m glad he did.

Hearts Don’t Break Round Here

Ed did say that this was his favorite song of the album, but by this time he’s said that about maybe 3 or 4 tracks, sooooo we’re just going to accept the fact that he can’t show favoritism with his babies. That’s okay.

This track came a bit later, and was an “Ed production” as well, meaning that it was %100 Ed-produced, written and recorded. He wrote it on his kitchen table, remarking that he often “finds the best songs- like happier- where it’s not structured.”

What Do I Know?

This song was Ed’s way of having a say in politics.

We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one man show
No university no degree but lord knows
Everybody’s talking about exponential growth
And the stock market crashing and their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Saying love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?

Many a British artist can get confused about the craziness of American politics. I mean, even American politicians can get confused about it sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I love how Ed has put his two cents in. He describes this song as a “knee-jerk reaction” to what happened last year. “It’s me looking at the world and being like, we’re not doing too well here, are we?” I appreciate Ed giving us some perspective, and as always, backed up by a catchy beat.

How Would You Feel

I was a little iffy about the new album when I heard “Shape Of You”- I thought, this could go either way. I hoped Ed hadn’t gotten sucked into the swirling vortex of pop music. But after hearing this song, I was confident that Ed would never do that to us.

Another classic love song to add to Ed’s collection of perfect wedding songs. He was asking Cherry what her favorite song of the album was, and she replied with, “my favorite song, you don’t even know it exists.” So, she found it in her email and played it to him. As it turns out, he had written it a while back, recorded it on his iPhone, sent it to her, and forgotten about it. Thanks to his girlfriend, we get to enjoy this gorgeous ballad.

Another fun fact! Ed said that while he was trying to get the guitar solo down, he wasn’t satisfied and kept thinking about how only John Mayer could do it well. And since he’s lucky enough to have John’s number, he called him up. The brilliant guitar solos that you are graced with in this track is the John Mayer.

The last song and the four bonus tracks will be covered in Part 2.

 

÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album, Part 2

Supermarket Flowers

In a previous album, Ed had released “Afire Love,” one of my favorite songs of his, as a tribute to his late grandfather on his father’s side. Here is another song about a grandparent, this time about his late grandmother on his mother’s side.

His grandmother was very ill and passed away when he was making the record. At first, he wasn’t going to release this song, but was encouraged to do so by his father and grandfather after he had played it at the funeral. A beautiful song, written from the perspective of his mom.

So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

Save Myself

Another one of those songs that make you sort of rethink your life. Thanks, Ed.

I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain
Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain
What line do we stand upon cause from here it looks the same?
And only scars remain

Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels
I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills
And all the ones that love me, they just left me on the shelf, no farewell
So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself

Nancy Mulligan

If you’re listening to this after “Save Myself,” it’s a bit random and out of place. Yet, it fits. Perhaps it’s a cousin to “Galway Girl”?

This was basically Ed telling the love story of his grandparents. The whole thing was a true story, which makes it a thousand times better.

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

Let me just say, wouldn’t we all want to have a grandson like Ed?

Bibia Be Ye Ye

After the opening lines about losing his shoes and not knowing where he put his keys, I was hooked by how relatable this song sounds, you know?

Someone told me, always say what’s on your mind
And I am only, being honest with you, I I get lonely
And make mistakes from time to time
Se enioma enko ye 
Bibia Be Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye

Okay, let’s translate. “Se enioma enko ye” means “if things aren’t working out,” and “bibia be ye ye” means “everything will be alright.” It’s not just a bunch of random cool sounds.

This is another ode to Ed’s year of travels, because it was recorded in Africa.

Barcelona

This song was going to be the first single, but ended up as a bonus track, and I’m not really sure why, because it’s awesome. I mean, not only is it one of Ed’s catchiest songs, but he even speaks spanish in it! He said that he was in Barcelona about to make the video when he got a call that his album wasn’t good enough yet. He said that his managers “know that if you put pressure on me, the songs will come.” At that point, he kept writing, and was happy he did, because he came up with an album he is really proud of.

For the full interview (it’s an hour long; I watched it so you don’t have to, but you do you), see below:

Zane Lowe Divide Interview

 

Random Questions to Ask Your Friends

Random Get-to-know-you questions

Watch out, awkward silences.

P.S. I made these up all by myself 😉 you’re welcome

  • If you had to be renamed based on what you ate for breakfast, what would be your new name?
  • What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say “don’t do it!”?
  • What restaurant have you probably eaten the most at?
  • What’s a unique skill you have that you wish you could get paid for?
  • What’s your spirit animal when you’re angry?
  • Which celebrity do you want to be friends with?
  • What TV or movie family you think you’d fit in with?
  • Would you rather fight off 3 toddler-sized adults or one adult-sized toddler?
  • What’s your fictional dream job? (super spy, superhero, mermaid…)
  • Would you rather have to act like you just won the lottery every time you saw a vending machine or cry a single tear every time you forget someone’s name?
  • What time period would you most like to live in and what one thing would you want to bring with you from the present?
  • If you had to be roommates with a movie villain, who would it be?
  • If you had to take a bath in a breakfast food, which one would you choose?
  • If you had to be renamed after a name of a restaurant, which restaurant would you pick?
  • What song describes your relationship with food?
  • Would you rather be a bird that can swim or a fish that can fly?
  • Which do you think is the most unnecessary letter in the alphabet?
  • If you had to trade places with one of your friend’s parents, who would that be?
  • If you had to dress like one movie or TV character the rest of your life, who would that be?
  • Which pop star would make the best math tutor and why?
  • What’s the nicest house you’ve ever been in?
  • Would you rather have an ugly car, an ugly house, or ugly clothes?
  • What board game do you wish you could earn money with?
  • What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What’s the smartest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What cartoon character describes you when you’re tired?
  • Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten that you actually liked?
  • Which historical figure would you like to have as a sibling?
  • You’re stuck in the last book you read. What are you doing?
  • If you could master 3 skills right now, what would they be?
  • What commercial would you love to be in?
  • If you had an exercise routine based on the last book you read, how fit would you be?
  • During a zombie apocalypse, would you rather go to an office supply store or a craft supply store?
  • If you had to/got to relive a day from last week, which one would you choose?
  • If you got to scroll through your Instagram feed from 1 year into the future, would you do it?
  • What book would you love to live in?
  • If you had to switch lives with one of your grandparents, which one would that be?
  • Who do you wish could sing you to sleep every night?
  • What store/restaurant would you rather be the manager of?
  • You have to spend the next 24 hours on one app. Which one?
  • If you had to change languages right now, which one would you pick?
  • What first comes to mind when I say “favorite”?
  • If you had a superpower based on the last restaurant you ate at, what power would that be?
  • If you got to talk to your childhood self but only got to share advice using song lyrics, what would you say?
  • What would your autobiography called?
  • What movie genre would your life be and what would it be called?
  • If you had to perform a commercial jingle in front of a live audience, which one would you choose?
  • What would you choose as the theme song for a sitcom based on your year?

That’s all for now, folks! Let me know if you’d like more, there’s a lot where that came from! Thanks for reading!

My First Charcoal Attempt inspired by Eleanor Calder!

I’ve tried lots of mediums, but not charcoal yet. I’ve been wanting to take a wack at it, but I just never have until this week. My art teacher supplied me with all different kinds of charcoal sticks, pencils, and paper. I got to experiment with all that, and I rather like what I came up with.

But first, who is this Eleanor Calder girl? She’s most known as the girlfriend of Louis Tomlinson from One Direction, but she really is just an average, extremely beautiful girl who goes to the University at Manchester. She is considered by many as a fashion icon. She’s even got a fanbase. Her fans call themselves “Calderics”. Plus, the girl is just so sassy when people send her hate. She has more than 3.7 million followers on Twitter, and has been ranked 27th on a list of influential British Twitter users.

Anyway, she’s just one of those people that I really wanted to draw.

See, that’s the thing about artists. Some of us can be kinda creepy. We see someone’s picture, or even just a stranger eating lunch, and think, “Wow, I wanna draw your face.” This may or may not involve staring for a weird amount of time, or in my case with Eleanor, looking her up on Pinterest. I just like certain people’s faces, okay?

Well, I was commenting on one of El’s pictures on Pinterest (I pretty much live on Pinterest, just to let you know), and guess what? She responded! I was kinda fangirling.

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So, yeah. But what’s that got to do with charcoal? And why would I ask her that question? Okay, knowing what someone’s favorite Disney Princess is a very important piece of information for me.

After we talked about Disney Princesses, other fans started telling her she looks like Belle. She agreed, saying, “I’m Bell, but shhhh, is a secret! Xx”. So that kinda got me thinking to make a Beauty and the Beast-inspired drawing using her face.

So what I like about charcoal is that it’s really forgiving. I pretty much just went crazy with a charcoal stick and spread it around the paper pad my art teacher gave me. I made sure to leave a light spot where the girl’s face would be.

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And next, I added in more detail. I wanted to make sure her face was perfect before I got started on the rest of her.

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And then I added a book. In the picture of Eleanor that kinda inspired me, she was holding her phone and taking a picture. But I decided to put a book in her hands instead.

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Again, charcoal is so forgiving. Just get a gum eraser, and it lifts most of the charcoal off the paper. Any lines you made that you don’t want, you can just smudge into the background. As you can see, I was very rough with the sketching, but was a lot more detailed as I went in to refine the drawing. Just take it by layers, adding in more and more detail as you go.

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There’s my desk (I just cleaned my room, so I can actually SEE my desk, woohoo!!!) and my plush pencil that my sister made for me. Isn’t it cute? And then there’s me in a shirt I refashioned (by the way, if you want to see me refashion something, comment below!) And there’s my messy hand. Charcoal is VERY messy, but I like that. That’s just a little of how messy you can get your hand.

Tip: Have a wet paper towel nearby to wipe your fingers on. But don’t get your paper wet!

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And.. vwala!!!! (Is that how you spell it?)

Now, I didn’t try to copy El exactly, she was just an inspiration, and I kinda just liked her facial expression. But I love how it turned out. I’m working on a portfolio for college, so I can’t do any copyright things. The rule is to change a picture %30 I think, so I can’t really do fanart. So this is kinda my way of doing it, I guess? Anyway, I absolutely LOVE charcoal now and intend to use it a lot in the future.

Hope you like it!

Let me know in the comments below, what celebrities do you like drawing? Anyone’s faces capture your attention?