There’s Magic in You During the Season of Giving

Written by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

The day before the biggest holiday has arrived – Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas and is recognized as a holiday for many, in anticipation of Christmas Day. But for some, Christmas Eve is the day you hustle and bustle for last minute shopping for family and friends. And for young kids, it’s the day you stay up at night for the first sign of Santa.

Everyone tends to go through different emotions during Christmas season. While there are many who are eager to open their gifts and look forward to drinking Eggnog, others may be grieving a sudden loss in their family or have no home to be comforted with love.

From the highs to the lows, Christmas season is celebrated differently for a variety of people.While we may be caught up in the moment of excitement, we should always remember there are people with little to nothing.

Here are 3 ways your presence can make a difference this holiday season:

Participate in Holiday Food Drives


Throughout the holiday season, there are plenty of businesses hosting food drives. Many companies seek employees, and sometimes visitors, to bring in non-perishable canned goods. These items are usually donated to local food banks within the community. This is a great way to lend a hand to those in need and an amazing way to help your community.

Game Night


Who doesn’t love participating in fun activities for a great cause? I sure do! You may not want to collect perishable food items and bring them to your local food bank alone. But you’re willing to go bowling with your peers and dance along to classic 90’s jams. Well why not make it 2 in 1? Grab a couple of your friends to go bowling and have them bring perishable food items. In all, you enjoy a great night out with friends and collect cans where a group of you can later deliver to a local food bank.

Share a Smile


The simplest things mean the most. And they do say, “the best things in life are free.” Life is filled with the simplest things that can leave the greatest effects on an individual. There are days where the less fortunate don’t have a home. A home where one is cherished with love and feeling secured with their own being. By simply sharing a smile with someone you come across, this can completely change their attitude. It must be an amazing feeling for those in need to know there are genuine and warm hearted souls out there. If you come across someone, quickly lace them with a smile. A smile is free and has the power to be the source of joy for someone.


From my family to yours, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas!


Team uOPRA xo






Christmas Music: For Profit or For Cheer?

Written by: Jordan Alfred; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite holiday of the year. I was able to see extended family I hadn’t seen in months, indulge in Christmas food and lots of eggnog. All while listening to my favorite classic Christmas songs.

Christmas and holiday music have truly become an indispensable part of pop music. People in the music industry noticed that it became an essential factor in the holiday season and capitalized on this. They created an entire market based solely around keeping the same traditional themed music, just with different approaches and new artist. From a PR perspective, it’s clear that by using these songs in combination with promoting a company or product is extremely beneficial and generates vast amounts of profit. So, what songs have been commercialized and used the most year after year? Here are a few to give you an idea.


  • All I want for Christmas is You– Written and produced by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey, this song was released in 1994 as the lead single from her first holiday album, ‘Merry Christmas’. The song has been covered by 18 major artists and has been used in countless TV shows, movies and commercials. It also been critically acclaimed and established as a Christmas standard in North America, especially in my home.



  • “This Christmas” – Sung originally by American jazz musician Donny Hathaway in 1970 this song did not gain much recognition during its era. However, after countless other artists chose to cover this song it has become one of the most popular songs in Pop and R&B to date.


  • “Jingle Bells” – In 1857 James Lord Pierpont published one of the best-known holiday songs across the globe. Originally written for American Thanksgiving, lyric changes and multiple revisions altered it use for Christmas. The song has been performed and recorded by a wide variety of artist from The Beatles to Frank Sinatra and countless other artist. It was also the first song broadcast in outer space.


Of course those are only a few of the most well known Christmas songs. Other notable Christmas songs that have become commercialized are, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, “12 Days of Christmas”, and “White Christmas”. All things considered, whether you believe the commercialization of Christmas songs to be a good thing or bad thing, they are here to stay, just ask Michael Bublé or Mariah Carey.

7 Things to Let Go of Before 2016

Written by: Emily Guterres; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

The New Year is slowly approaching and with the holiday season already upon us, many of us are reevaluating life choices.

Some are reflecting on goals achieved or mistakes made. But why wait for the New Year when we can start making changes now?

Here are 7 things to let go of before 2016:

1. Let go of your comfort zone. 

The truest forms of self-actualization occur out of the richness we experience. Opportunities and life opens up in so many remarkable ways when we allow ourselves to face our fears and trade in our every day comforts for a life that we may have always desired.

2. Let go of your opinions of everyone’s life. 

Nobody has a perfect life. Although, we all like to make it seem like we do. Social media shows everyone’s filtered life, blissful accounts of flawless friendships and relationships. In this digital era, where comparing yourself to others has never been easier, it’s important to remember people are easily capable of curating and painting false pictures of their life. Those girls or guys we compare ourselves too are capable of doing the exact same thing.

  1. Let go of waiting.

It’s often easy to get carried away with the infatuation of waiting. Waiting for things can become almost familiar. Waiting for someone to ask you out, waiting for the promotion at work, or even waiting for the first text –it’s all easy to do. How about we let go of waiting and make our lives what we want it to be?

We all have potential within us – it’s the adrenaline that makes your heart race, it’s what you think about constantly. If we meet our goals with the same ambition, we cannot fail at making even our craziest dreams a reality.

  1. Let go of trying to change people.

You should treat others with the way you want to be treated. So often we approach situations with an elitists attitude. It’s easy to think their way is the “right” way. Instead of pointing out what’s wrong with someone, maybe we should look at ourselves. We all can do things to improve our self. We could eat better, exercise more or motivate ourselves to find a better career.  Your energy would be better spent on helping yourself become the better person instead of focusing it upon others.

  1. Let go of a love that won’t love you back.

Love is quite possibly the most complex, exciting and addictive feeling. It’s a feeling that can build someone up to be the best version of themselves. Or it can break someone. It’s important to remember the struggles, the thing that caused the relationship to end in the first place.

There is always someone out there for everyone.

There is someone willing to accept your flaws, quirks, and insecurities. These are the breathtaking people that you should be looking for. There are so many people who have the potential to create something “special” with you, someone who drives you and inspires you to be the best version of yourself. Open yourself up to the standard of love you deserve.

  1. Let go of the idea that it’s too late.

It’s truly never too late to change your life. It’s never too late to be the person you always wished you could be or to love the way you wanted to love. We don’t have to be the same person we were a year ago. We don’t have to make the mistakes we did when we were younger. We can seek new opportunities.

We have to believe that we’re never too old to change, to pick up the puzzle pieces and start over.

  1. Let go of thinking you have to it all figured out.

It seems like everyone’s asking your sister, your parents, your cousins, maybe even your classmates, “What are you planning on doing with you life? Where do you want to be in 5 years from now?” A lot of people don’t know and that’s okay. Take time to discover your passions and what makes you excited.

Start asking yourself, “Why do I want this opportunity? Is it an opportunity to challenge yourself to grow and make the change you want to see in the world?”

You’ll earn a great income doing things you’re passionate about it, even if it’s not obvious at first. The people who are truly successful at what they do are people who love what they do.

Every day is a new day for a fresh start and a chance to make change.








The Red Holiday Cup

Written by: Courtney Saunders; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

“Can I Please Have a Grande Peppermint Mocha? Hold the Red Holiday Cup.”

With the unveiling of the 2015 Starbucks red holiday cup on November 1st, many have taken to social media to unleash their feelings about this year’s design. Why is there such uproar over a coffee cup, one might ask? You could say it all boils down to two things: publicity and visibility.

Every November, Starbucks releases their highly anticipated holiday cup design alongside their holiday drinks menu -just in time for Christmas. Starbucks, as like any company. has become increasingly conscious of the need to be culturally and religiously inclusive due to the gladly welcomed diversity represented throughout North America. However, Starbucks’ diversity inclusivity mindset isn’t something new. Rather, it began years ago with the launch of the holiday drinks menu, ensuring that their seasonal promotional campaign was inclusive and that it positively resonated with all customers.

Starbucks states that their 2015 holiday cup, a solid red design, with their iconic green Starbucks logo, takes on a more simplistic and holistic look. This look provides customers a “blank canvas” and a chance to “create a story of their own” expressing the holiday or Christmas in their own unique way. However, customers and concerned citizens are in an uproar over the removal of symbols of the season like ornaments, reindeer, snowman, and snow from the red holiday cup that have been featured in the past.

Those lashing out on social media believe that Starbucks is taking the ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christmas’, silencing the Christianity religion by not featuring iconic holiday symbols on their cups. While Starbucks stands strong behind the need to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity.

But what if that’s what Starbucks was going for? A cup that elicited argument through a healthy, controversial, public debate that revolved around an issue that people were passionate about, automatically conjuring up authentic emotions and opinions. In this case, the saying “all PR is good PR” should really be examined. Because why, year-after-year of having creatively and elegantly designed red holiday cups, would Starbucks make the decision to have a plain red cup absent of any of their usual holiday symbols?

The 2015 red holiday cup perfectly fits the Starbucks corporate values of diversity and inclusion. Therefore, Starbucks didn’t bend any cultural inclusion rules, or stray away from their ‘holiday’ themed yearly promotion strategy. With Starbucks being a successful billion-dollar corporation, was the commotion and noise caused by this year’s red holiday cup really an unforeseen accident? Or, is there a small possibility that the seemingly harmless and innocent solid red-coloured holiday cup was created the way it was to cause the controversy, visibility and heated discussion that it did?

How will you be celebrating the last day of 2015?

Written by: Sarah Pudwell; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-Broome

Now that Christmas is almost here, it’s time to start thinking about plans for the next big event of the holiday season. It also happens to be the last one of the year! You know what I’m talking about – New Year’s Eve!

I’ve compiled a list of events that you can do right here in Ottawa. There’s an event for everyone, whether you’re celebrating with friends or family, or even by yourself. So listen up because you’ve only got 13 days to figure out your plans.


#1 NYE Extravaganza Club Crawl 2016

Night Out with Friends

(or family if you’re parents are super hip and into this sort of thing)

Hosted by: Student Tours and Clubzone

Price: $25 (early bird tickets)

Location: The crawl starts at Pub 101 and continues to three other clubs downtown.

Get your friends together for a night of fun in downtown Ottawa. No line or cover at 4 clubs as well as other perks that can be found on their website:

#2 NYE on Sparks Street

Fun With the Family

(or with friends because some people don’t do clubs, myself included)

 Hosted by: Sparks Street

Price: FREE

Location: 35 O’Connor Street (Why not Sparks St. you ask? I don’t know, you’ll have to go to find out!)

Live music, midnight countdown feat. Maple Leaf Drop and FIREWORKS. #Kaboom Check it out here:

#3 NYE in Front of the TV

Night in with the Bae

(friends and family are optional)

 Hosted by: You

Price: Priceless.

Location: Your house. Or your friend’s house if they happen to have a better TV/ couch/ food selection.

If you’re not one for crowds, invite some friends over to watch one of the various NYE Countdowns on TV. Don’t forget the bubbly.


Have a safe and happy New Year!

See you in 2016,

Team uOPRA

Surviving my First Year as a Public Relations Student

Written byAlyssa Dobranski; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-B.

Here’s how I deal with my courses:

  1. Take a lot of notes in class and read them over later.
  2. Actually read the textbook and take notes along the way rather than just highlighting the bolded words.
  4. Use the anonymous question box on LectureTools and Echo 360 to ask the TA questions because I’m too shy (I’m in communications, but I am too shy to communicate. Oh the irony!)
  5. Keep all classes and their content separated and organized.
  6. Take a five minute dance party break when I’m studying and want to die.
  7. Make tons of friends in my classes so I have someone to study with later.
  8. Understand how all of my professors teach so that I get the most out of the class.

I know these seem pretty repetitive to what everyone was told at the very beginning of the semester but trust me, they’re all important when it comes to managing your courses. I’m always so surprised at the amount of notes I have when studying for an exam. Granted, I am that really annoying person who has to write down every tiny detail but either way, there’s always just so much information to know for exams.

The struggle of studying

I think I stayed up until 2 a.m. the night before an exam just trying to cram the last bits of chapter three into my brain, which I can assure you is very useless. No matter how much information you may get in the lecture, be safe and read the textbook anyway. I’ve definitely learned my lesson and I’m so thankful that my good friend coffee was there to support me in my time of need. Okay, so maybe coffee and dance party breaks aren’t essential in surviving course work, but fuel for your body and study breaks are. I really am a coffee addict though so whenever it’s time to whip out the books and slowly die, I usually keep a cup of java nearby just for a little ‘pick me up’. However, the coffee doesn’t last forever and my brain slowly realizes that I’ve tricked it into studying for too long and that’s when I become restless. My body needs to get up and do something after sitting for hours trying to understand why we’re so bad at communicating that we need to be taught how to do it.

Music and Studying

For me, I enjoy listening to music and dancing so much to the point I will put my headphones in and blast Eminem or Beyoncé and dance or fake rap around the room until I feel better. Normal people would just go hangout with friends or go for a walk to the cafeteria where there are mind blowing cookies to make your day, but I’m not normal. Thankfully this is unknown to most people so I can still make all those lovely study buddies in class. And if people find out, well there’s still that anonymous question box for the TA’s.

Friends aka study buddies

I wouldn’t have survived this long without the friends I’ve made and that question box. It’s a relief to know that when you feel completely lost in class other people do too and you’re not alone.. I’m fortunate enough to have the same group of friends in all three of my communication classes, which is especially nice when all of my classes start to merge together. The past few weeks my friends and I have noticed that our professors have all brought up the same points or examples at different times throughout their lectures. Thankfully, my friends and I are able to stay on track understanding the content of our courses.

Understanding my Profs

While keeping the content for each course separate is important, paying attention to each of your professors teaching styles and understanding how to learn from them is just as significant. I got lucky with my professors this semester. They’re all wonderful people and exceptional in their field, but it took me some time to get used to how they teach. Professor Salha is really funny and full of life during her lectures. But at times it’s hard to get the point of her lecture for that day so you need to take notes as best you can and go back later to look at the PowerPoints. Professor Ferguson, I’ve already briefly mentioned, has a lot of experience in her field and has many outside examples that tend to take up most of the class. Utilising the question box in LectureTools and asking the TA to help you understand her point is sometimes necessary. Lastly, Professor Hashash is really good at lecturing but he doesn’t post his slides online. So if you don’t get the information in class, you’re out of luck. (unless you’ve made friends who have the rest of the notes)

These are very minor issues. Overall, my professors are very fair about their examinations and expectations for their students and they’re all willing, to help me if needed, so I really did hit the jackpot this semester.

My experience so far has been great and I can only hope that it will remain that way throughout my next few years here at the University of Ottawa.