An Auburn Nursing Student Goes Beyond Just Taking Care of People

It has been said that it takes a special person to be a caretaker. These people volunteer to do the jobs that some people could never imagine doing. The kind of special person that can make the biggest impact on a person’s life is a nurse.

Reilly Sharp, a senior at Auburn University, is studying to become a nurse. Sharp knew at an early age that becoming a nurse is who she aspired to be. It was no surprise to her that she was interested in taking care of people because of her dad who also works in the medical field.

“I always knew I wanted to help and be there for people because I have always liked taking care of people,” said Sharp.

While Sharp was in high school, she experienced a time when her mother was very sick. She saw the impact her mother’s nurses made during the days she struggled with her sickness.

“I saw how her day was affected when she had a nurse simply there just to take care of her compared to when she had a nurse who actually cared,” said Sharp.

Through this eye-opening experience and after shadowing doctors and nurses is when Sharp realized taking care of people was important to her. She aspired to make an impact in people’s life by truly caring for people who needed help the most.

“I want to be an advocate for the family and the patient and not just there to take care of them,” said Sharp.

Since her time in nursing school, Sharp has experienced rewarding moments with her patients that have assured she is making a difference to them. One of her special moments was with one of her elderly patients during her first semester at Russell Medical Center in Alexander City.

“During our first semester, we are given easy responsibilities like giving baths, which is not everyone’s favorite part of the job,” laughed Sharp. “One day I was washing this lady’s feet, and she leaned down and kissed the top of my head and said to me, ‘Thank you so much because I know it takes a special person to do this.'”

As a part of their clinical experience, Auburn nursing students volunteer their expertise and assistance to nursing mothers during home football games. They are set up at private tents in different areas including the Auburn Arena, in front of the Jordan-Hare stadium and inside the stadium.

“It’s a calm environment that reduces stress where moms can nurse their infant in privacy,” said Sharp. “We have a rocking chair and changing tables for them, and if they have siblings then we have coloring and face painting stations for them too.”

Sharp aspires to become a labor and delivery nurse one day because of the circumstances her family experienced when her younger twin siblings were born. One of her twin siblings, Kate, was born with Down syndrome and her family was not aware of her special needs until she was born. It is a known fact that babies with Down syndrome are born with heart problems but the Sharp family was lucky to discover that Kate didn’t have any heart issues.

“As a labor and delivery nurse, I want to be an advocate for those patients, new moms, or families who have a child with special needs,” said Sharp. “Experiencing it with my sister was eye-opening, and I know I can be a backbone for those families since I know what they are going through.”

This semester Sharp is doing her clinical training at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham. She rotates every day between mother and baby, the NICU, and the labor and delivery floor. This experience allows her to see all aspects of Obstetrics.

One day while Sharp was working on the labor and delivery floor, she had a unique experience with one of her patients.

“This patient quickly went into labor before the doctor could make it down so the nurse and I had to deliver her baby,” said Sharp. “At that exact moment is when I knew I wanted to be able to help bring people into this world.”

“Being a nurse is such a rewarding experience, and especially being a nurse for moms and babies is indescribable unless you have seen it for yourself,” said Sharp.

From Auburn to Ibiza: An Auburn Graduate’s Unique Experience Working Abroad

Some college graduates aspire to move to another city or state to experience life in a new place, but this is not the case for recent Auburn University graduate Carter-William Palek.

Palek earned his degree at Auburn in Political Science and Business Administration with a minor in Spanish. He is an Alabama native, born and raised in Huntsville, and until recently Auburn was the second place he has ever lived. Now, Palek has gone entirely out of his comfort zone and is currently residing in Ibiza, Spain.

Ibiza is a small island off the coast of Spain known as the “Party Capital” of the universe in the summertime. However, Ibiza is actually a small town with a population less than Auburn.

“In the winter months when the children are in school, it’s not like that here,” said Palek. “I feel right at home, and it’s a city so I still get to walk around.”

Palek is working as a Language and Culture assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education. His role is teaching English to students ages 3 to 18. He actually teaches his students about Anglophonic countries meaning all English-speaking countries. Occasionally he uses his expertise and teaches about Southern American culture.

“They find it very interesting because our culture in the south is very different from their culture,” said Palek.

In comparison to the American education system, education in Spain stops at age 16. Students have the option to continue their primary education two more years if they plan on attending college. Palek says these are his favorite students because he can relate to them by sharing his experiences as an adolescent and how it compares to their culture.

Palek teaches his older students about things that are illegal in the south which are mostly legal in Spain. For example, gambling and the legal drinking age are very much different. The legal drinking age is 18 years old in Spain and grocery stores do not card people when they purchase alcohol.

Although Palek earned the position independently of Auburn, his job is actually counted for internship credit to graduate from Auburn. He first learned about the internship from his RA during freshman year. Since then he was always interested in working for the program specifically for the Spanish ministry because of his Spanish background.

Palek says the job is heavily advertised to Americans specifically college graduates because they are excellent native English speakers. Also, he says American college graduates are highly wanted because they are more likely to savor the experience rather than European students. It is a low salary position, however, the assistants have the opportunity to live abroad.

While living abroad, Palek says being from Alabama has raised curiosity not only from Spaniards but other Americans from other parts of the United States.

“I’m probably the biggest supporter of Alabama, which has been interesting being over here,” said Palek. “When other Americans find out I’m from Alabama, the jokes start coming and it’s surreal how much pride I have in it that I didn’t know I had before.”

“I’m always quick to defend Alabama especially since where I’m from. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said Huntsville has the most Ph.D.’s per capita of any city in the country,” said Palek.

Interestingly, Palek’s dream career is not to be a teacher instead, he aspires to go to law school. He planned to take a gap year between college and law school, and this unique internship experience fits in perfectly. In addition, his internship has made him attractive to law schools.

“It has been fortunate while applying for law school because I am asked frequently about my internship since my address says Ibiza, Spain on applications,” said Palek. “I’m glad I did it this year because it has increased my chances.”

When his internship ends in May, Palek plans to enjoy the remainder of the summer traveling Europe before beginning law school in August.





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Recruiting for Auburn: A Student’s Passion for Recruiting New Student Athletes

Auburn students can agree that we attend the best college in the nation. Have you ever wondered what aspect makes the school great? Some might argue that their favorite part of Auburn is the beauty of the campus, but Auburn has earned its outstanding reputation because of the people that make up the campus. Naturally, Auburn appeals to many students all over the country, but some students do not discover their desire to attend Auburn initially. However, because of students like Taylor Searels, Auburn continually enrolls students that contribute to upholding the values of the Auburn family.

Taylor Searels is a junior at Auburn University who discovered her path at Auburn in recruitment. She became passionate about recruiting through her love for football which also runs in her family. Searels grew up loving football because her dad has been a college football coach her entire life. In middle school and high school is when she began recruiting for her dad’s teams while he coached at Virgina Tech and Texas.

“When recruits from high schools visited the school and my dad, I talked to them, and it gave them a different perspective from someone who was similar to them,” said Searels. “It was a great experience because eventually, they became part of the family.”

Growing up Searels moved around with her family because of her dad’s coaching jobs. Even though she lived in many cities, she wanted to carry on the family tradition and attend Auburn where her dad played football in college.

When she came to Auburn, she began working as a receptionist for the Recruiting Department in Athletics her freshman year. In the same year, her major involvement lied within the Freshmen Leadership Program which inspired her to become a director of the program the following year. Here she discovered her love for orienting first-year students encouraging her to take on other roles. She has served as a Camp War Eagle counselor, and she is currently a director of Emerge which replaced the Freshmen Leadership Program.

“Working with freshmen blended with recruiting for the football team, and I’ve enjoyed these opportunities to show these students everything Auburn has to offer and how it can make them successful during their time here and in the future,” said Searels.

Her role in the Recruiting Department includes assisting with the recruitment of about 200 prospects. She works in the recruiting office weekly preparing materials to aid in the recruitment of new athletes.

On the day of football games, Searels begins working early in the morning along with other recruiting assistants. Her duties include working behind the scenes to prepare for when the recruits arrive for their visit.

“My job is to do whatever I can to make their visit enjoyable,” said Searels. “Whether it’s buying 10 blankets at 8:00 a.m. if we expect to have cold weather or simply answering questions about cool things students enjoy doing at Auburn.”

Being an assistant for the football recruiting team is an unpredictable job for Searels. However, her passion for improving the future of Auburn is exemplary of the values of Auburn students that maintain the success of our programs.

“Anything to make the program better is our motto at the Recruiting Department,” said Searels.

Student Spotlight: Initiatives from SGA Member, Hannah Clarke

Hannah Clarke’s interest in government first sparked in high school through her involvement in Youth in Government, a program that allows students to serve in model governments at local, state, national and international levels. Since then, Clarke has carried her passion to college leading her to pursue a degree in political science in planning to attend law school.

During her time at Auburn, Clarke has also served at different levels in Auburn’s SGA. Her first role was a member of Freshman Forum. During this stage, she met her college mentor, India Way, who was a member of SGA’s senate. She was also influential in Clarke’s interest in becoming a member of the Senate at Auburn.

However, instead of running for an SGA position after Freshmen Forum ended, Clarke spent her spring semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Europe, which allowed her time to discover her path at Auburn.

“Getting away and out of the bubble of Auburn, helped me realize what area I wanted to make an impact in on campus,” Clarke said.

After her return from studying abroad, Clarke chose to apply for a smaller role in Lobby Board through SGA in preparation for the upcoming elections for senate positions.

Members of Lobby Board through the SGA division serve as lobbyists for the university working with different administrators. They act as the voice of Auburn students to the members of the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate.

Through their efforts, they visited state legislators as Auburn representatives to discuss ideas around high education. Their main initiative was to work to receive more funding for higher education to cover the high costs to operate colleges with many people attending.

“As an advocate for higher education funding, Auburn needs money from the state to be able to carry out research projects that faculty members, administrators, and students are all working on and to have the technology resources to prepare us as students for future careers,” Clarke said.

Another initiative involved a push for voter registration to ensure students’ voices were heard through the voting process during the time to elect a new superintendent of education for Alabama and the upcoming national presidential election.

At the close of Clarke’s time with Lobby Board, she ran for Senate as an At-Large member. There are five At-Large members who represent the entire student body and are also voted on by the Auburn student body.

Clarke’s role for Senate is head of Student Affairs. Her committee acts as the voice for students to administrators, faculty and other SGA committees. Their main initiative this semester has been the Student Bill of Rights which selects 10 policies or rights from the online Policy E-Handbook and other education policies and put into an official document. The Student Bill of Rights applies to all students not limited to undergraduate students or students with specific majors.

“The hope is that it will be distributed at Camp War Eagle and other first-year experience programs for students when they first come to Auburn be aware of what is available to them,” Clarke said. “When we first came to Auburn as freshmen, we heard stories about college but we never knew the truth about what we could do as students, such as our right to go in front of the honesty board.”

Another initiative the student senate recently completed is updating the election laws for the upcoming elections in the spring and for elections in years to come. In the spring, there will be changes regarding the role of Miss Auburn and what rules candidates running for SGA must follow during elections.

“The point of these upgrades is for the safety of the students and what the students want,” Clarke said. “If you’re in the SGA or the campaign world you might not see these changes as a problem, but for students not in it, they get bombarded the week of campaigns and ultimately the changes are what the student body as a whole want.”

Students whose involvement lies in other areas than SGA have voiced concerns about being bombarded during the week of campaigns. The changes to the election laws are an effort to improve what the students want.

“Come spring elections, it will be a very positive change, and I can’t wait to see what happens with that,” Clarke said.

Social Media Release: National Peanut Festival 2017

Note: The following social media release is a proof-of-content assignment for a university course.


It is the best time of the year in southeast Alabama. The 74th annual National Peanut Festival will be held November 3-12, 2017. The festival will hold its traditional events including beauty pageants, amusements rides, concerts, livestock shows, contests, a parade, fair food and more. This year the festival will feature music entertainers Corey Smith, Az Izz Band, Michael Ray, 38 Special, and Brett Young. Fairgoers will return to the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan, Alabama.


The National Peanut Festival is the nation’s largest peanut festival held in Dothan, Alabama each fall to honor local peanut farmers and to celebrate the harvest season. Dothan is known as the “Peanut Capital of the World” and is a prime location for growing peanuts. The festival was inaugurated in 1938, and it has since grown from a three-day event to a 10-day event attracting 200,000 fairgoers each year. The massive event is successfully run by 400 volunteers every year. The National Peanut Festival is dedicated to commending local peanut farmers and the Wiregrass agriculture industry for their continued dedication to giving the area a reason for celebrating such an important economic product.


  • When: November 3-12, 2017
  • Where: 5622 Highway 231 South, Dothan, Alabama 36301
  • Hours: Fridays (4:00 p.m.), 1st Saturday (10:00 a.m.), Monday – Thursday (4:30 p.m.), 1st Sunday (1 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.), Last Saturday (12:00 noon), Last Sunday- Carnival Only (1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
  • Gate Admission: $7 (ages 5 and under are free)
  •  Amphitheater concerts are free with gate admission.
  • Season Pass (9 days): $45 (available until 5pm on November 3, 2017)
  • Armbands will be available for purchase. Prices and availability will vary each day.


“This is shaping up to be the biggest festival ever. The 400 or so volunteers are to be commended. We build relationships, whether that is EMS, parking team, ticket takers, you name it. It couldn’t be done without them.”
– Jason Rudd, NPF Board President

“Having the opportunity to serve my community is both humbling and surreal. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the hundreds of selfless volunteers who serve and help make the National Peanut Festival possible each year.”
-Avery Willis, Miss National Peanut Festival 2017




Photo: Festival






Schedule of Events
Vendor Info
Frequently Asked Questions
Visit Dothan
Purchase Tickets


National Peanut Festival Association, Inc.
5622 Highway 231 South (5622 South Oates St)
Dothan, Alabama 36301
Fax: 334-793-3247
Office Hours: 8-5 (Mon-Fri)

5 Reasons to Discover Your Path at Auburn

There’s more to Auburn than just school believe it or not. Auburn offers countless opportunities to discover your path at Auburn. With more than 500 ways to be involved on campus, there is something for everyone. Club sports, Greek organizations, religious and spiritual groups, service clubs, and special interests groups are just a short list of the effective ways to make the most of your four years at Auburn. Some might think involvement can be overwhelming or prevent academic success, but with strong time management skills, future employers will be impressed by the skills and experience gained from being involved. Discovering your path is a way to spend free time usefully and enhance your Auburn experience.

1. Mentally, Physically and Emotionally Helpful

The stress from studying constantly can begin to take a toll on your mental well being. Taking a break from staring at your computer screen is healthy to let your brain rest and retain the information it has processed. This will refresh your mind while you put energy into something else. Why not put effort into something you are interested in or care strongly about. Being involved can also help you physically. Intramural or club sports is a great avenue to stay in shape and to maintain your physical health. Physical health also has a direct link to your mental and emotional health. Being involved in something that you care deeply about or brings you enjoyment is emotionally helpful. After only being emotionally invested in your studies, you can easily become burned out and lose motivation to make it to finals week. Don’t lose your endurance early on in the semester because you overwork yourself. Take care of your mind, body, and soul in school while enjoy doing something that is important to you.

2. Learn Useful Skills

While studying and performing to your best potential in class might be the

most important priority in college, college is also a time to begin learning skills that are essential in real life. Being involved can teach you important skills that will set you apart when it comes time to apply for jobs. Time management, organization, communication, and professionalism are a few of the most important skills you can acquire while being involved. While your grades will qualify you for a job, practical skills are as important to employers when considering candidates. Involvement is the perfect experience to begin working on acquiring skills that are necessary to balance real life and a job. There is an organization for almost every career field allowing the valuable experience to exercise specific skills that will make you a competitive applicant. Involvement will prepare you for many avenues in the future especially life after college.

3. Best Way to Give Back

There are many reasons why Auburn University is the best college in the nation. Every student has their specific reason they chose to call Auburn home for four years. There is no other way to show your love for Auburn than by giving back to the campus and the community. There are councils for every college departments on campus that hold leadership positions to improve the relationships between students and faculty. There are service clubs that allow you to lend a hand to the community by volunteering at different organizations or assisting disabled and elderly community members. Being a part of the Auburn family is a feeling like no other, and delving into a campus group or organization will give you the full Auburn experience.

4. Networking

Auburn is the perfect place to begin building your network circle. Although the classroom is a great way to begin meeting people in your similar circle, it is rewarding to expand your network of people that are involved in various activities. It is a great way to begin meeting new people and starting important conversations that can equip you to work with people in the professional world. Networking is one of the most successful ways to develop relationships and learn about other opportunities to potentially aid in finding a job. In addition, networking is helpful in gaining references who can attest to your skill level and abilities. You will be surprised by the many people you will meet through different groups and organizations who can be beneficial to your success at Auburn and in the future.

5. Resume Booster

People will begin asking for a resume early on in college. It can be intimidating if you do not have one, however, it is easier to begin building one if you have plenty of items to list. One section employers look for on a resume is a list of involvement activities. They are interested in a well-rounded candidate who was more active in college than just school and an internship. A powerful list of involvement includes a variety of activities that display a person’s interests and experiences related to the position for they are applying. Another reason an impressive resume is important is that it is usually the first impression an employer receives from the person. Finding ways to vamp up your resume can easily be attained through involvement on campus.

After considering this list of reasons to discover your path at Auburn, hopefully, it is motivating to begin looking for the right organization to join. Thankfully Auburn has a great resource to begin the search to find the right place for you. Visit AUInvolve to find out more ways to get involved at Auburn and join the Auburn Family in fulfilling your four years of college.

Auburn Student, Nicole Finley, Seeks True Culture Change by Discussing Sexual Violence

Nicole Finley is a senior from Alpharetta, Georgia majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in business administration.

Earlier this fall, Finley was nominated as a Top 5 Miss Homecoming candidate. Her platform, Freedom with Finley, was a campaign to establish freedom from sexual violence for the Auburn family. Anyone who knows Nicole understands Miss Homecoming was not another item to add to her list of accomplishments. It was an opportunity for her to share her story and spark conversations about sexual violence, which is usually spoken about in hushed tones.

“Sexual violence is not something people are willing to talk about and a lot of times it’s because it’s not brought up in conversation and people don’t think it really happens,” Finley said. “There was and hopefully it’s been diminished but a blanket of awkwardness over the term sexual assault.”

Finley was first encouraged to discuss what she experienced when a previous Miss Homecoming candidate, Taylor Wesley, began her conversation around mental health.

“Before she was willing to step up and be really vulnerable with her story it wasn’t a conversation that was heavily discussed,” said Finley.

Following this inspiration, she first felt called to share her story and testimony with a close group of people during her sophomore year on a War Eagle Girl and Plainsmen retreat.

Finley said she initially thought she would remain very surface level, but she then was inspired to share her story after hearing another member’s story about childhood cancer.

“After talking with Victoria Starks who told me she shared her testimony not for people to know it about her but to open up that place in my heart so I could begin to heal through it, and I could be accountable in healing by the people around me,” said Finley.

Finley said she realized she wasn’t over what had happened to her when she became emotional as she told her story to the group.

After sharing with the group, the president of the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen at the time talked with her about how she had support from men in the group, and she said it was exemplary of what an Auburn man is.

The following year at the same retreat, Finley shared her story again with the new group of members. This urged her to want to share her story again but on a larger scale.

Throughout the Freedom with Finley campaign, she strives to be vulnerable with her Auburn family about her experience with sexual assault. By speaking up, Finley hopes to give other survivors the confidence to open up and begin a process of regaining power over their lives.

“When I began to own my story and what had happened to me in my past that’s when I began to feel free,” Finley said. “Over time I have claimed it the more and more freedom and power I have over it.”

This effect of having conversations about sexual violence is the aspect Finley wanted to focus on through her platform.

“When we talk about our experiences we gain the power back from the person who made us feel powerless in our situation,” said Finley.

This is also a frequent conversation Finley has had with Melissa McConaha, a WE.auburn committee member and the woman Finley has become close with through her efforts with their initiatives.

One of WE.auburn’s initiatives is the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program. Finley first learned about the Green Dot overview when she volunteered as a representative from her sorority to attend a seminar.

WE.auburn trains people how to interrupt any kind of violent situation. A red dot situation is a possible situation where sexual violence is occurring. Green dots are having conversations and choosing to be an active bystander by distracting, directing, and delegating. This might look like spilling a drink, asking if the person is okay and asking someone with authority to intervene.

“Regardless of what your personality is and what you are comfortable with, there’s a way to respond to those for everyone,” Finley said. “It’s such a simple and tangible way to combat this issue with sexual violence.”

Finley said one of her goals by just beginning this conversation was drawing attention towards it. She said when someone finally recognizes they are in a red dot situation then they will be educated on what they can do, and they might feel more courage and acceptance to actually do something.

Finley’s motivation to spread this platform was to seek true culture change on Auburn’s campus. In order for a change to occur, Finley knew people had to acknowledge there was a reason for it.

“My first point was freedom to acknowledge, and it was one of my biggest goals because it’s not discussed and acknowledged then no one is going to do anything about it, and I don’t want that to be the case anymore,” said Finley.

One worry she had to begin the conversation was the way people would receive it.

“I didn’t know how the hearts in Auburn would receive this, and I think that the Lord was very faithful in softening the hearts of people here to receive it well,” Finley said.

Once the campaign started, Finley said she felt an unwavering support from very influential men on Auburn’s campus. This was huge to her because she wasn’t really concerned with Auburn women getting behind the movement because at first glance it is something that impacts women more.

“To see the guys on campus swell behind the issue and recognize that they have a responsibility to protect each other and the women here was so cool for me to see,” said Finley.

The Freedom to Protect campaign video was Finley’s favorite from the week. It featured the influential men Finley talks about, and they express the responsibility they must uphold to protect each other and the women on Auburn’s campus.

Finley said she never expected the men to have the courage or the desire to be at the forefront of the campaign. She said this exemplifies the culture we have at Auburn.

“It’s not a selfish culture and people aren’t just here to get through school, but it’s also an investment back to the community and culture we have on campus,” said Finley. “You can see that through the love that was written on that campaign and that platform and people’s pursuit of the well-being of others.”

Finley said that the efforts of the people that were supporting the platform that week drew people out of a hidden place of not discussing it and gave them the courage and confidence to step forward and share their own personal stories.

“Most people don’t think they know someone that’s been through it but they probably do,” said Finley.

She said she had a lot of people reach out to her and share what has happened to them. They also expressed their gratitude for her for starting the conversation.

“It’s still going to happen even after having a week of talking about it because changes aren’t made overnight,” said Finley.

Finley doesn’t credit her campaign for fixing issues around sexual violence on campus. Her goal to address these issues head-on can begin to give people the confidence to intervene and report when issues occur.

“What people really need to consider are the number of current events of sexual violence may actually be going down and the number of reports may be going up, and that’s what we want to happen because it’s a good thing,” said Finley.