Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

Join Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O'Donnell as they interview two of our Senior RAs, Deionte Harrilla-Gray from Lyon Tower and Thatcher Stevens from Braxton Tower. Deionte and Thatcher will share some tips to prepare for finals and what they wish they knew before their first WVU finals week! You won’t want to miss it!


Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Towers Talk. I'm Angela. I’m Patrick. Welcome back to another week. The Towers Talk podcast is brought to you by Lyon Bennett and Braxton Towers. Towers, you can live anywhere, but when you're here, you're home. All right, folks, today we are joined by two very special guests.

Some, some students that I've known pretty much as the moment they stepped on campus. I'm very excited to introduce to you all Deionte Harrilla-Gray, an RA, a senior RA from Lyon Tower who started in Braxton Tower, by the way, and Thatcher Stevens, a senior RA from Braxton Tower. So welcome Deionte and Thatcher.

Thanks for having us. I'm excited to be here. All right. So starting with Deionte, can you each share with us your major, how you ended up at WVU and how long you've been an RA. So my maid I'm Deionte, my major is biology and I ended up at WVU after I didn't get into Pitt, but I, I toured WVS campus and I really fell in love with it.

And I was like, you know what? I really want to go here now. It, it gave me that that college feel that the campus is beautiful. So that's how I ended up here. And I've been an RA for three years. This is my third year. I even though I'm a Pittsburgh person, I think where we're better than Penn.

I'm gonna throw that out there. Wow. Thanks for being honest, Yachty. Thanks for sharing that. That's part of your journey. I'm glad that you shared that with our listeners. Yeah, so my name's stature Stephens. I'm a. Senior in chemical engineering here at WVU and I came to WVU because I knew I was interested in some sort of STEM, some sort of engineering fields.

And I applied to all these schools. And at the end of the day, WVU not only had a beautiful campus, a great program but they gave me a lot of scholarships and they were the ones who reached out to me frequently and like, treated me like they wanted me to be here. So WVU really feels like home.

Awesome. Thank you both so much. So to our listeners this week, we thought it would be really great. You know, for our first year students to hear a little bit about how some of our seniors prepare for finals and, and how they feel about exams and, and just some tips to share with y'all. So, first question, I'm going to ask you both.

You know, I know you've both been through final exams for a number of years now. What is one thing that you wish you knew before your first WVU finals week, your freshmen year of college? So we'll start with Deionte. For me, the finals can always be a very stressful time and navigating them and, you know, making sure that we're setting enough time to study can be very stressful, but I just had to start telling myself how fun with it.

You know, this is your last couple of weeks on campus. This is might be the last time you see your friends. For until the next school year. So definitely just have fun. You know, more than you think, you know, just like reassuring yourself telling yourself that you you've prepared for this all semester, you can do it.

You can, this, this can be your best exam for the semester. You can do better than your last three. So definitely just mentally preparing myself before I go into them. And then once I'm in the final, just like taking my time. You know, reading the question thoroughly, if I don't know an answer going to the next question, things like that, stuff that I've been taught my whole life, but just really doing it.

Yeah. I completely agree with Deionte was one of the best parts about studying for finals is getting to do it with your friends. They, they make it a lot more fun. They make it a lot easier to focus for long periods of time. But something. The, and this is I'm going to expose myself a little bit. My freshman year, the first finals week, I went through some, the hard lesson I had to learn was that sitting in the library for eight hours and not studying is not studying being you can't call that studying.

It doesn't do anything for you. We'd go. We'd go to the library. We'd sit there in our little study room and we'd play YouTube videos. We'd listen to music. We'd go to the, like the coffee bar, every 45 minutes. Just for snacks and anything we could grab, and that was not studying and it did not improve my finals grades whatsoever.

But we did it and it was a big waste. We had a lot of fun. It was a big waste of time though. And I could've been studying and I would've, I would've, would've not had to be there for eight hours. I could have done it in four kind of thing. Yeah. I relate to that statement so much. I did pretty well in college, but as the kid that was paying, playing super smash brothers with my friends at like two in the morning while it should have been studying, I definitely can relate to that.

Thank you both. And so we asked them for their, for their advice for students as they prepare for exams. So what advice would you give to our students? Oh, man. I think that. My big advice. So two things start early, cramming does not work. Right? And so like maybe it's a little late in the year now, but going forward into next year make sure that you're reviewing your content like throughout the year and like getting to know things.

Before the end of this semester, I think that that helps a lot. The second thing as well is I know we made jokes about going and getting coffee and like playing super smash brothers. But what you have to realize is you have to take breaks, right. And sitting in the library and. Actually studying for like eight hours straight is really not good for your brain.

I'm a big advocate for a power nap in between studying if you can fit one in, I love a good nap. So I think just taking care of your brain during this and taking breaks in between is like really valuable. What about you, Patrick? Your answer is much better than mine. I'd like yours would have been such a good segue into the next question we have for them.

But for me, my number one piece of advice for, for students as they prepare for final exams and, and the end of their freshman year is. My friend from my carpool friend from high school that I used to drive with everyday said this to me once. And it stuck with me for like, you know, the last decade is 90% of grades is confidence.

And so if you spent that, you know, four hours actually, Studying in the library, go into your exam with confidence in yourself. Because especially when you get to things that are like multiple choice or even free answer, you sit there and you're like, Oh, is it this or that? Like, believe in you yourself, because you've put the work in, you've studied hard, you've done all the right things.

If you, you know, you know, in your, in your heart or in your mind that you've, you've. Had the right process along the way, then you'll make the right decisions in the moment. But if you go into it, like unsure of yourself and like, you know, questioning everything, like you're going to spend more time on questions than you probably should.

Because like I said, you know what the answer is, just trust your gut, trust yourself. So yeah. Texted test anxiety is very, very real. I'm that person, that second guest is myself, like the whole time and then puts it in the wrong answer. So great advice, Patrick. So getting back to the R the senior RA.

So the next question we have for you all is we talked about, you know, the stress and the anxiety that all this can, this can create. So how do you handle that stress and burn out during finals after you know, three, four years? How are you, how have you learned to handle all of it? I feel like much of the same from my first question, it's, you know, taking time for yourself treating yourself to things setting goals.

And if you reach that goal, I'm rewarding yourself. So if you hit a goal that you had said taking yourself to get your haircut or gun retail therapy, shopping, you know, all that good stuff. If you have the money, I'd be a little broke sometimes. So yeah, so definitely, and and. And if you don't do good cause that, that also happened, you know, you're not gonna do great on everything, but it's just bouncing back from that and telling yourself you'll, you'll do better next time.

And then actually doing better. So I completely agree. Treating yourself at the end of something that's stressful. It's usually great for your mental health. I, on the other hand have a tried and true method. I'm a pro bit of a procrastinator. And so when it comes down to it and you're like two days before an exam, and you haven't even looked at your notes yet, or, you know, the exams tomorrow morning and you've got four hours left to study tonight.

There's a couple of things you should always consider prioritizing. And sleep is probably the biggest one. I would say you don't need 10 hours of sleep before an exam, but if you're getting less than seven, you're going to go into that exam more exhausted and do worse than you would if you had just gone to bed.

So prioritizing sleep, making sure you have your phone put away when you're in crunch time and making sure that you, you know, what you to be studying a large part of that kind of stuff and taking care of yourself is, is making it easier on yourself. Those are really, really great tips for you guys.

We really appreciate it. The one thing I want to add to doctor's note and something that I used to do that I. Completely blocked out in my memory because it's been five years since I was in any even grad school. But that just note about putting your phone away. I remember I used to, cause that was a struggle for me because as soon as it buzzes for anything, you're like, Oh, hold on.

Let me just, let me just one second. I'm going to look at this all. Let me reply to that text. It's important. Is put your phone in airplane mode when you're in that crunch time. Not the whole time that you're there, obviously. Cause he, like, we've talked about throughout this, you need breaks, but if you're like seriously stressed or crush or trying to crunch, then just put it in airplane mode.

Cause then you won't get any notifications until you're ready until you're ready to receive it. Definitely a good point. I think too, so we're talking a lot about like studying stuff. I think something that helps a lot with stress when it comes to projects and papers is, as I said before, do them in advance, start them.

Even if you say, you know what, I'm going to do my intro paragraph, and then I'll work on the rest. So that like in another day or something like that don't write your papers like last minute, because literally that was me and undergrad and it took till I got my masters a number of years later to learn that that was not a good idea.

Good Deionte. Another point that I would like to add too, is call your parents, call your family members, call your friends. You know, you want to, you want to make sure that you're talking with people and not bottling everything in. I know when I went through my first finals week, I was calling my mom every day.

I think back to the beginning of the semester when she dropped me off freshman year and she was calling me every hour asking me, did I wash my clothes? Did I make my bed, you know, just, just calling me to talk to me. And I was like, mom, I'm fine. Like. I'm okay. I'll be okay in college. But then at the end of the semester, it was me calling them all the time.

So it was just, you know, just making sure that you're keeping communication with your family members and your friends. And if, if, if your family members are hard on you and they're hard on you about getting grades and maybe having like a sibling or like a close friend that you can talk to can also help.

Awesome advice. I love it. So we talked a little bit about this in some of our answers, but self-care is like so important. All the time I will talk about it all the time. I ended up being the self-care lady everywhere I work. But it's especially important during, you know, your final exams. So how do you practice self-care and what is one self-care tip that you have to share with others?

I touched on a lot of them, I think, but listening to music or listening to new music that just came out, that I've been just like holding back or reading a book right now. I've been on a huge Billie Eilish kick. So like I've been playing her music if I'm not feeling good or like, I, I need a little boost of, I don't know, sometimes I need extra sadness to get me through some things.

So. Billie Eilish has been getting me through a lot. Reading, I read game of Thrones. I've actually been reading them since I think 2013 ish, but they're such big books that like, I take huge breaks from them. And then the TV show, I have not finished the TV show yet because I'll read a book and then watch the season that corresponds with it.

But since I've been on like a huge pause from the books, I haven't been able to pick them up. But as soon as I graduate this semester, I plan on reading this summer and picking back up on that kind of stuff. I love it. I definitely just want to jump in on the sad music or emotional music, Patrick and I listened to Florence and the machine like a lot.

And that's like our big like me, like that is very, very sad music sometimes, but I feel that I feel that. And if you don't listen to Florence, she's my girl. So check her out. I don't think we're allowed to officially sponsor anything on this podcast, but we officially unofficially sponsor Florence and the machine.

Right. Sorry. That's you didn't mean to interrupt? You're good. I was just going to say, I am also all about that game of Thrones life, because it took me three years in high school to read all the books that were out at the time. And it took me maybe like two weeks to watch the entire show because I watched it all day.

Like. Animal. But as far as self-care, getting back to the topic at hand I think what's really, really important and that what we forget about a lot of students is that like being a student’s kind of like our job right now. And as anyone with a, you know, a full-time job knows you gotta put it away sometimes at the end of the day, like we're students and our homework follows us home, all of our responsibilities follow us home.

So just taking an also as RA as a side note, we live where we work and especially this year with COVID we live and work and do schoolwork in a, in one room for the most part. So a large part of it is putting that stuff away in a drawer, whether it be mentally or physically and taking some time away to like, just hang out with your friends.

I'm a huge fan of board games and card games. And that's what we do, whether it be online or in-person a couple of nights a week, we'll play. Board games and card games and another huge contributor to taking care of myself and self-care is getting out of Morgantown. If you ever have an opportunity to go for a hike up at Cooper's I went to Blackwater falls a couple of weeks ago.

We love to go swimming out at cheat Lake, that kind of stuff, and being out in nature, really rejuvenate it's a person. So cannot recommend enough. Thank you. I was going to make a joke about Thatcher and how he spends his time because he watched 60 hours of game of Thrones in two weeks. And that like, just by Matt, that's about 20% of all waking hours possible, but then he went and add real good positive advice.

So thanks for that, that year. All right, folks. So we end our call guests with the same question every week. So we're going to ask you all, what is one piece of advice that you wish to share with our first year students here at WVU? I think I hidden theme of this conversation was putting our phones down.

For me it would have been live more in the moment and not worry about the future because that's, that's something that you can like me. It was always worrying about getting the grades that I needed to make sure that I can get into med school or PA school. But at this point I feel like I did a lot of that, that these past four years have flown by flu flown.

Flew by. And I just wish that I would have just lived a little bit more in the moment and just enjoyed everything as it was happening. I also wish in that same sense that I took more pictures and videos. Cause like I've been going through like my Snapchat and my photo stream. I've been gone through my camera roll and I've been looking for memories to kind of just like compile and like maybe put together like a little.

Video or something, but it's been really hard. So definitely live in the moment and take lots of pictures while you're here. And most importantly, enjoy the time. I totally agree with Deionte. I'm in a bit of a crisis at the moment because I realized a few weeks ago, I don't have that many pictures from college, whether it be because I was too busy or whatnot.

So I've been taking pictures everywhere. I've gone with all of my friends for the last few weeks, and it's really going to contribute to actually having some really solid memories. As far as advice The also kind of in line with what Deionte was saying. Finding a work-life balance is really important in college because we are expected to do so much in so much out of classwork that, you know, sometimes you gotta recognize the difference between a 91% and a 98% is an extra five, 10, 20 hours a week.

And you kind of have to pick your own adventure through college. And the rest of your life school is super important and you have to get good grades to meet certain marks, right? But you also can't you know, run yourself into the ground over it because a lot of classes are set up for you to succeed and you have to put in hard work, but taking it to an extreme as also to your detriment very often.

So making sure you have good friends and a good work-life balance is critical for actually enjoying, you know, what are often remarked as four of the most important years of your life or five or three or six. Awesome. Great advice, everyone. So that's a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining us this week and thank you so much, Deionte and Thatcher for your time today.

Make sure to tune in next week when we interview another member of the WVU community.