Archive for November, 2015

Jamie at the Plaza

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by jmahoney No Comments

I ventured to SoCal, Southern California, or the OC, Orange County this month for the Active Minds National Conference. Instead of staying just for the conference, I decided I wanted to make a vacation out of it. It’s a long story… but I had a flight to Vegas I wasn’t able to go on during Labor Day, so I decided to pay the change flight fee and vacation to California. The conference took place in Irvine California, and our group was staying at the Hilton Costa Mesa (and shuttling to the conference). I had family about 20-30 minutes west in Long Beach, friends 2-3 hours northwest in Thousand Oaks, and friends about 40 – 60 minutes north in LA. Besides planning my flight (Nov. 12-19) I had NOTHING ELSE PLANNED. I didn’t know where I was staying or what I was doing after the conference (that ended Nov. 15th). I avoided planning anything because I didn’t want to get stressed out. I knew I had options- I could stay with my friends or relatives- but I didn’t get anything set. I am so thankful I didn’t plan anything because what I got out of my vacation was better than what I expected, or could ever think of myself. So here’s my story (as an Ode to the Hilton)…


When I first arrived at the hotel after the longest flight ever, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to check in (it was 1pm and check in isn’t until 3). Thankfully a room was ready and we were able to go up to the room right away. How awesome. As soon as I got to the room, I had to pull out my laptop and get a homework assignment done (the time difference made all my online assignments due two hours earlier! Definitely didn’t factor that in….). Then, all of a sudden, there is a knock on the door. I thought, “come on, are we already in trouble?? Someone go hide in the bathroom!” Nope. Not in trouble. It was a bellhop bringing me a plate of fruit with a card, “for Ms. Mahoney, thank you for staying with us.” WHAT! This is awesome! This is totally going to be the start of a great trip. I brought in the plate of fruit, an apple, pear, banana, and grapes, and the girls DEVOURED it! I read the hand-signed card and was instantly felt “right at home.” From there, things only got better.


I had to talk to the front desk several times because of problems with my ahead-of-time payment… but it ended up just being a positive experience because I made great friends with all of the staff! I was talking to Teague, Front Office Supervisor, and told him why I was there (the conference) and that I was actually staying later with no plans of where to stay or what to do. He instantly started naming off all of these fun activities for me to do, great places to stay, fun things to see. And then… he was talking about getting me the hook up places- discounts, coupons, and freebies. Hell yeah! Now he’s talking. I told him I’d totally let him know my plan once I figured it out and see if I’d take him up on any of those offers.


Later that night, I came back from the conference a little bit early because I wasn’t feeling well, and decided to get stuff done in the business office… which was in the middle of the lobby across from the bar. (It was actually such an awesome set up). I called over a staff member, Michael Flowers, and asked him if I was able to bring a drink over to the business lounge. “Of course!!” he said. And so we started talking. Told him about the conference, he said he was working late because of the conference (the students would be getting back and wanted to go to the bar, so he had to stay to make sure everything ran smoothly). It turns out it was his birthday! So I made him an origami party hat and colored it blue (his favorite color) and he brought me a lemon drop drink from the bar. My group returned from the conference and we all sang happy birthday to him. He loved it. Then I asked if there was anywhere else quiet in the hotel I could go to to work on homework and he said he could get my into the Executive Lounge up on the 7th floor (you need a special keycard access to get in). Instead I ended up going to bed.


Then the following day Teague was back at the front desk, so I asked if there were any rooms at this hotel I could stay at. Turns out there were tons! And he hooked me up with a pretty good deal. So all in all, my trip turned out to be INCREDIBLY AMAZING. Best experience of my life. I was alone in Orange County, eating organic and vegan food, shopping local, and feeling like Eloise at the Plaza at this Hilton hotel. Here is a brief list of all of the ways the hotel ended up taking care of me by the end of my trip:


Parlor Suite on the Executive floor for the same cost as my double suite (like a $350 discount per night), free breakfast every morning ($19 value each day), free snacks/happy hour upstairs in the Executive Lounge, free wi-fi for the week ($10/day value), free drinks once my friends visited me (after the conference of course), a ride to a restaurant nearby (not a shuttle, a nice SUV ride from the manager), and so on and so on and so on. It was the best experience I could have ever asked for. I have never had such amazing customer service. I literally had tears as I was leaving because it turned out to be my favorite place on earth. I was joking that I would come back to live there…. but it may not be a joke one day. Although it was a 4 star hotel, it felt like a 5,000 star experience! I was treated like royalty and enjoyed every minute of it. And none of it would have been possible had it not been for the gracious, fun, personable staff. I hope to return very soon! The team was responsive, I got WAY more value than I paid, the maintenance performed on my room was fast and discreet (a bulb went out above my Jacuzzi), the housekeeping staff made my room more than beautiful each time they cleaned, the bellhops helped me with all of my luggage each and every time and made everything hassle free, Teague at reception went above and beyond to make my experience 100% amazing, the business center had the biggest workspace and awesome huge high chairs so I felt like a little kid getting stuff done, room service delivered delicious food every time I ordered, my bed was so comfortable I was able to sleep through the night (which never happens in my own bed), my Jacuzzi was so nice and relaxing, I could actually make the room as warm as I wanted, the balcony overlooking Costa Mesa was outstanding, the breakfast (smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cream cheese on a bagel) was my favorite thing ever! (that I ate every single day), the little glass jars of raspberry preserves were the nicest touch to put on my toast, and the elevators were gorgeous. Think about THOSE things next time you’re staying somewhere!

Thank you, Elmhurst College

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by jmahoney No Comments

Although I plan to write an official thank you letter to the college when I graduate, here are a few things I took a moment to reflect on during the holiday break.

  1. I am thankful I found the non-profit organization, Active Minds, for several reasons. 1) I am able to continue improving my leadership abilities, 2) I found a close group of peers I can process with and can support me in times of need, 3) transform the campus and leave a lasting impact for students to come to feel comfortable in a more understanding, educated community, 3) the structure of this organization has inspired me to create my own similarly structured non-profit, 5) I was able to attend the annual Conference in College Park, Maryland and in Costa Mesa, California.
  2.  I found my true calling through my discernment process in the Niebuhr Center, through gaining an amazing life-coach (Mark Draper), being awarded the 2014-2015 Goetz Essay for exploring a life of service, and exploring faith perspectives in REL 281.
  3.  I was given the opportunity for what I like to call “super research” I created a short documentary called “Hipsters and Hispanics” as my final project for my Honors Intercultural Communications Class (HON 302/COM 315) based on the neighborhood, Logan Square, I chose for my Neighborhood Report for Cities (URB 210).
  4.  I am thankful for the Honors Program for endless reasons, but some main ones being: 1) the opportunity to conduct my own independent honors research that was inspired by my aforementioned projects, and 2) The generous research stipend for the Honors Summer Fellows project to continue my research and present at the Illinois Political Science Association 2015 Conference.
  5. I am thankful I have a “family cluster” I can lean on and go to for support AS WELL as develop my “vision” from Leadershape 2015.
  6. I am thankful I got to explore Charlotte, North Carolina  and remember how passionate I am for construction during my Alternative Spring Break trip with Habitat for Humanity.
  7.  I am thankful for the CPE in general, but mainly- I had an excellent mentor in the CPE’s Mentoring Program- Doug Porter, (now) retired CEO of Ronald McDonald House who was the first person who was able to explain to me how I should list my accomplishments on my resume. And now he is just an excellent contact to have.
  8.  I learned all about abuse (sexual, physical, verbal, psychological, and so on) as well as forms of sexual harassment in my Human Sexuality class (KIN 346) and I was able to end a harmful situation I had gotten myself in and better understand my own history of abuse.
  9.  I was given the opportunity to share my voice with prospective students through a video/photo shoot and THIS blog, so my experience can inspire anyone who hears it.
  10.  I was given the opportunity to help encourage and assist other transfer students in feeling more comfortable and more connected to resources on campus.
  11.  I was offered a new internship as Sustainability Intern where I get to work on a wide variety of projects to improve this campus- the garden, participation on the sustainability committee, revive the Elmhurst College Greenjays,and educate students on recycling.
  12.  I was able to start a chapter of Food Recovery Network on campus to help donate food to food pantries to feed the hungry.
  13.  I am thankful for the DELICIOUS AND AMAZING FOOD AND SERVICE IN CHARTWELLS, as well as the opportunity to change students’ perception on the matter.
  14.  I am thankful to have been inducted into three honor societies: Pi Gamma Mu, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Delta.
  15.  I am thankful my hard work was recognized and received the I Am Elmhurst award.
  16.  I am thankful for the bike program for providing a stranded commuter with a healthy, sustainable mode of transportation.
  17.  I am thankful I was able to converse with donors, alumni, and community members of the college during the annual scholarship dinner to show them how truly amazing scholarships can be.
  18. I am thankful for Co-op: 1) for funding programming for Active Minds, specifically, meeting Mike Veny, now amazing friend and professional mentor; and 2) for having a great opportunity to see how a funding group works and operates.
  19. I am thankful for the countless scholarships I was awarded to help fund my study abroad travel to Jamaica.
  20. And most importantly, I am thankful for my liberal arts/intercultural education for completely changing, enhancing, and improving my world view.

Can you appreciate your education as much as I can?

Halloween Night In

Posted on: November 2nd, 2015 by jmahoney No Comments

Dilemma solved! I did not have to come up with any clever costumes, nor did I have to spend anymore money that I do not have. I had plans to go to a costume contest up in Libertyville… but that is over an hour drive. I cancelled that plan because 1) I didn’t want to risk driving drunk/Uber would be too $$$ and 2) I would feel bad if I didn’t want to try to win a costume contest. Then I had a bonfire I was going to go to. Well, safe to say the hours of never-ending rain cancelled that. Next, my friend invited me to her new place out in Jefferson Park. As it turns out, she made other plans as well. So what am I left with? A night to myself to get stuff done.


I pigged out on the obligatory treats and enjoyed a minute or two at the Best Buddies Halloween Party. Other than that, I am not looking to get dressed up or get so drunk I don’t want to work out tomorrow morning. Does this mean I’m getting older?  I’m excited to go home and be by myself under my warm blankets and light a candle and get homework done… I am totally okay with that.


I did dress up while I worked at Topgolf last night- I was”Halloween.” Which turned into “Old lady on Halloween.” While I was at Goodwill buying decorations for a gala that I’m planning, I decided to see if I could find any suitable costumes on their clearance racks. I was getting so mad that the whole time I was looking for something, these thoughts kept popping up in my head: “This isn’t sexy enough” or “This wouldn’t win me the contest.” I realized in that moment, how many men I had been in contact recently that were (whether they realized it or not) pushing me to dress as something sexy, revealing way more than anyone should be seeing. I made the split second decision to say FORGET looking sexy… so I picked out a long sleeved tee dotted with pumpkins and autumn leaves, with a black sweater vest with patchwork pumpkins and gold buttons. I was pretty proud.


In the end of the day, after my $5.42 costume,  I didn’t buy into anything my peers. or society at large, told me to do – no sexy costume, no drinks, no going out… and I couldn’t be happier.