Saturday, December 20, 2008

Home again...

So I'm back home in good 'ol Sioux Falls after the most stressful three weeks I've ever experienced (in relation to school and other things). All in all, I wrote over 100 pages in papers, 4 presentations, and still had to endure finals week on top of that. Additionally, the stupid allocated organization budget failed the first time around (after I spent the day prior in a 7 hour meeting making the budget), so I spent over 30 hours working on Student Senate stuff. If I made it to bed before 4AM, it was a good night. With all of this being said, Christmas Break is really really really needed.

This break will be filled with.....not much of anything. And that's for a reason. I need a mental vacation. I will be working on filling out my Truman application (VU is really pushing me to do this) and hopefully reading a book or two to clear my head. But I'm mostly planning on working out, working on my relationship with God, hanging out with good friends, and probably drinking. I probably shouldn't mention God and drinking in the same sentence...

I've made some pretty shady decisions over the past month and I'm not sure how I feel about it. So, goal #1 for break is to figure out why I chose to do such unmentioned things and figure how I'm going to change things for the future. This is why I love starting new semesters. This is my chance to start over. Three semesters left. Woo!

Goal #2 is to figure out a roundabout way to answer the question: "So where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?" I hate that question, because I DON'T KNOW. What's so wrong with not knowing? But for the sake of my parents, advisors, and the deans at VU...I'm working on it.

Goal out tons. I'm not going to elaborate on the usual 21-year-old female tirade of "I'm too fat," because that's not what I think....I just feel better when I'm on a more consistent work out schedule. And a good tone-up every now and then is good for a person.

Goal #4...figure out my summer plans. I have no job offers, but I haven't started looking yet either. I don't even know what I see myself doing for the summer. Ugh.

Goal #5...enjoy every minute of Christmas.

Goal #6...get drunk and go tubing at Great Bear with great friends.

With that...I'm off.


*on the first day of christmas break, my hometown sent to me...a blizzard and frigid temperatures.*

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tradition, Tradition!

First and foremost, I'd like to wish everybody a very Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday has never been particularly large in my family by any means, but it's something special nonetheless.

I have a somewhat-severe Type A personality, so I like traditions. I can appreciate change, but if something's working the way it is, I like to keep it that way. That being said, holidays often bring about the most profound, and odd, traditions in my life. Here's the run-down of my Thanksgiving holiday and please share some of your favorite traditions!

My immediate family has never hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner, and for good reason...we hate cooking large meals. And when I say we, it would be more correct to say my mother. It's a rare occasion when the five of us are home at the same time just to have a weekly dinner at our house so we don't get too excited about Thanksgiving dinner. However, we do make our way to my dad's parents (Grandpa and Grandma Heitkamp) for some food. Grandma is amazing, has the purest of hearts, but is slowly losing the magic touch in the kitchen. The strangest part is that Grandpa is a MUCH better cook, yet Grandma feels the need to take charge on Thanksgiving. I absolutely cannot stand stuffing that includes the turkey parts, but she cooks it every year and I promise it tastes worse with each passing holiday. She also makes homemade coleslaw, which is generally delectable, but sometimes, the seasoning can be quite potent. I'm crossing my fingers for this year... But apart from the food, the table talk is the best part of the day. I love hearing stories from my dad's childhood and all the stupid things him and his brother used to do. It's so great to have a family that you can laugh with and truly enjoy each others' company. Along with watching the Lions lose, or watching the Vikings when they play, a card game is usually thrown in there and then we bust out the pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is the key to my heart...that stuff is delicious. My grandpa still lets me lick the spoon used for serving up the Cool Whip :)

As for my mother's side, we always spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving at their house in Rushmore, MN (about 40 minutes from SF) and instead of turkey, we opt for soups. Chicken tortilla is usually my preference, but I occasionally switch it up for a good bowl of chili or broccoli cheddar. This is the one holiday meal I can walk away from and not feel obligated to call Jenny Craig...for this, I am incredibly grateful. This Thanksgiving will be different than all the rest because it will be the first that we spend without both of my great-grandparents (Grandma died in August 2007 and Grandpa in May 2008). They were incredible people in my life and it's times like these when those who are left behind are reminded of the loved ones who have gone to a better place. So that will be somewhat difficult for me. However, my cousin Sara (who is my only older cousin...and she's 3 months older than me) is planning on announcing the gender of the baby that she and her boyfriend, Cody, are expecting! This is somewhat out of the ordinary in our family because of the conservative, Baptist/Christian Reformed tradition, but hey, God has a plan and I'm not going to be the one to question it.

Apart from family get-togethers, Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the Christmas season in my life. I will bust out the Christmas music on iTunes, sync it to my iPod (all 2.5 GB of it...) and turn on XM Holly. Also, I will now allow myself to have a peppermint mocha from Starbucks (my BFF Missy also has this tradition). I also spend about an hour of the day contemplating whether or not I want to brave the crazy shoppers on Black Friday in order to begin my Christmas shopping. I went last year, armed with my iPod in hand, and managed to get some pretty good apparently it pays off with patience! The two years prior to last, I actually worked at Old Navy on Black Friday and never before had I so seriously contemplated suicide. I hope and pray I will never have to torture myself like that again.

Well this is definitely a longer post, but I love traditions and I love holidays and I hope you feel the same way. Even if you're not a fan of tradition, I hope you can find some time tomorrow to honestly think about what you're thankful for. So enjoy the time with family and friends...and if you want to go running with me on Friday to burn off the calories, give me a holler or meet me at McKennan Fitness!

Happy Holidays my friends :)

My name is Courtney and I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my entire family, friends, the USofA, Valparaiso University for giving me a much needed 10-day break, and YOU! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from Rachel and Courtney :)

Here you go!! Enjoy :) And please comment and let me know which one is your favorite!









My good friend Amanda (the photographer) uploaded 20 pictures from our photo shoot onto Facebook so I just picked out a few of my favorites so far. Well, minus the one of me, but I threw that in just for good humor.

As for me...I need to stop procrastinating on the blogosphere and get back to Constitutional Law...or something like that. Have a fabulous Tuesday before Thanksgiving Thursday :)

peace, love, and every happiness...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On the road again!

Well tomorrow is the last day of classes before the 10-day Thanksgiving Break and it couldn't have come at a better time. The two weeks before finals are going to be actual hell. Three presentations (one of which is a 75-min one) the first week and three papers the second week. It's a good thing I'm unemployed because I will be doing homework like it's my job...or at least, that's my goal.

But when I'm not doing homework, I'm really looking forward to catching up with my best friends...shout out here to my girl Missy and our partner in crime, Katie.

**Missy and I this summer in downtown Minneapolis**

I haven't seen this girl since mid-August, but I'm incredibly grateful for the fact that our friendship is the type where we can talk every once in awhile, but we understand that we have busy lives at school. Plus, I suck at answering my phone and I'm bad at talking on the phone (usually) for more than 20 minutes at a time. We both love the Minnesota Twins...

...and she's just the best friend I could ever ask for. We met at Patrick Henry Middle School, but didn't become good friends until sophomore year at Washington. We were both looking for something greater in our friendships and we found each other. Wow, kind of sounds like we're in love...but you know what I mean. Both of our families were struggling with church difficulties and our friends were giving into temptations that we chose to not partake in. I needed that support system and I thank God everyday that I found it in her. Not only is Missy fantastic, but her entire family has been incredibly supportive of every decision I have made and our parents have become great friends. People always say that friends from high school won't last, but I beg to differ. My friends from high school know me; they know who I was, they know who I am, and they know who I want to be. People here at Valpo just can't relate to that. I always forget that Missy almost came to Valpo and I often find myself wondering what it would have been like to have my best friend here with me. As many great times as we would have probably had, I know Northwestern was a great fit for Missy and the distance has only made our appreciation, respect, and love for each other grow.

Ahh...the joys of friendship. Makes life a lot more fun.

I'm also really excited to spend time with my family, because I also haven't had the chance to spend much time with them since I left for school (well besides the 12 hours over Election Week). I miss my brothers and it's amazing to see how much they've matured this year. Nick is actually in college and I can't believe it. Josh is getting scholarship offers right and left...and was state cross country champion! My parents are amazing and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I'm really not sure what the purpose of this post was...I guess I've just felt that my life has been somewhat lackluster lately...just going through the motions, nothing too exciting. But, I just try to remind myself of all of the amazing people in my life (in which there are're probably one of them...I don't like non-amazing people) and I realize that I am truly blessed. I am blessed to be excited to go home.

So...if you're reading this...I'm coming home...tomorrow...departing Valparaiso, IN around 1PM and hopefully arriving in Sioux Falls before midnight. So please, call/text/keep me occupied...and if you're free sometime within this next week, lets get lunch/dinner/drinks/coffee!

Yay for Thanksgiving...oh my gosh, I love mashed potatoes...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh...let them eat cake...

So I wrote an editorial to be submitted to our student newspaper, The Torch....and it got published! I'm pretty was the first editorial I had submitted to the paper and I just think it's another great way to get the College Republicans name out there. Anyways, just thought I'd post it up here so you can take a look!


Throughout every election cycle, political pundits and media outlets discuss the power of the youth vote. This being said, I took it upon myself, as well as other officers in the group, to make sure that College Republicans (CR, as we affectionately call ourselves) maintained a presence throughout campus during this "excessively political" time. In doing so, we have worked extensively with Political Action League and the Conversations Project to host voter registration drives throughout the fall months, as well as holding our own tabeling events to promote CR meetings and activities. We have volunteered for local political campaigns, as well as the Porter County Republican Party. During this week prior to the election, our group will be logging 80+ hours of volunteer work.

Could we do more? Sure. Should we do more? You bet, and we plan to. However, this is not the point.

This past Tuesday, we teamed up with Political Action League in an open political forum in which student-submitted questions could be answered by both sides. Over 50 students showed up, demonstrating that we, as a college campus, desire to be educated voters. College Democrats, an allocated student organization here at VU, failed to show. Not only were they notified, they had personally confirmed the date, time, and the content of the event. Want evidence? Their name was on the Union Board flyers that were posted around campus. This lack of participation is a complete disservice to the student body as a whole. There are democratic Obama supporters on this campus and it is incredibly unfortunate that they were not able to represent their side at the event, and instead put it open the shoulders of PAL and an informed student (it should be noted, however, that these two gentlemen did a fantastic job).

At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled to see College Dems chalking about their first meeting of the year and for the sake of healthy competition, I truly hoped that they could continue to maintain regular meetings and events. Not one person at the forum on Tuesday, including those in PAL, could provide with 100% confidence the date, time, and location of any College Democrat meetings.

So, College Democrats, we as College Republicans are calling you out, because you just missed the "biggest election" our generation has ever seen. It's too bad for us, for you, and for the rest of the student body who deserves to hear both sides. We hope to see you around soon.

Courtney Heitkamp
Co-President, College Republicans

Monday, October 20, 2008

Embarking on Another Journey

I'm not even going to apologize about the lack of should just be used to it by now. It's not that I don't think about my shortcomings, I just opt to do other things, such as write papers, do endless amounts of reading, and organize all of the groups I'm involved with. Wow, way too extensive of an explanation.

Well, on Tuesday night I am flying to Washington, D.C. to meet up with my father and his parents (aka my grandparents) to spend Fall Break with them. I'm incredibly excited. I love Valpo, but I'm really needing a getaway trip. I haven't been to DC since my internship with Thune during the Summer of 2005, so it's exciting to get another opportunity to go back to the city that made me fall in love with politics.

On a different note that will make sense later, last Saturday (the 11th) I was privileged to attend a luncheon with the Christ College deans, as well as faculty, alumni board, and other distinguished guests as part of the Homecoming celebration and my involvement with Christ College and as an applicant for the Truman Scholarship. This was probably the first time in my life that I was truly questioned as to what I was doing here at Valpo, what my passions are, why I'm a political science major, and what I see myself doing in the future. I always like to think that I have those answers figured out in my head and when I eventually have to say them out loud that they'll make sense. Prof. MacFarlane asked me, "So what got you into politics?" I started with my typical..."Well my parents weren't overly active in politics, but I somehow landed this internship with Senator Thune before my senior year in high school..." blah, blah, blah. (I promise it was slightly more sophisticated diction than that)...but in reflection, I realized that I never delivered the true reason as to why I'm doing what I am, nor have I ever given this reason before. But this is the truth and this is the story:

My dad and I were coming back from a Washington Nationals game during the Summer of 2005 and were, as usual, taking the Metro back to the hotel on Capitol Hill. I immediately took notice of another young woman, definitely older than me, but no older than 25. She was flustered, emotional, distraught...and lost. Frantically unfolding, refolding, and turning the Metro map, I decided that she needed help. I ran the idea by my dad, who encouraged me to approach the girl, since it would be intimidating for a man to approach her and we wouldn't want her to feel uncomfortable. As I neared her, her misty eyes glazed in my direction and straight to my heart. I introduced myself and then asked if she needed help getting home. She, in turn, introduced herself (I, unfortunately, cannot remember her name) and added that she was studying abroad in the United States for a year and this was her first week. I asked her where she was going and she replied that she was looking for the Capitol. Relieved by the fact that I actually knew how to get there, I told her that Union Station is where both her, my dad, and I would get off. She continued to tell about how her parents had sacrificed so much for her to get the experience to come to America and see what education should really be like. After a few more moments of small talk, it was time to get off the Metro and walk outside. Her reaction is something that I have not forgotten. Tears of joy immediately fell from her already tearful eyes and she kneeled on the ground before us and looked toward the Capitol. I kneeled down next to her, put my arm around her, and asked if she was okay. She responded, "I can't believe it. It's actually here. I've been waiting for this moment since I was a little girl. Thank you Lord!" Not being able to help myself, I started to cry with her, completely taken aback by her innocent appreciation for a building that often means so little to Americans, yet so much to those who do not know freedom. After regaining composure, she picked up her bag and hugged both my dad and I and started running towards the Capitol. As she was running, she turned around and yelled, "Thank you! May God bless you and may God bless America!"

That is why I'm a political science major. I was only 17, yet that connection with a complete stranger is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. And now that I'm returning to the city of hope, freedom, and democracy...I could only wish that something similar would happen again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Okay, so I'm terrible at updating...

My sincerest apologies to all of my loyal followers...and by loyal followers, I mean (most likely) my dad and some random stalker. But I'm fine with that, keep on stalking...I guess?

Well if you actually don't know me, I'm back at school as a junior at Valparaiso University. It's been an absolute whirlwind since leaving SD. And it's hard to say whether or not that's a good thing. In the past, I've been incredibly excited about going back to school, getting away from my family again (sorry Dad), and hanging out with all of the great people I've met here at VU. This summer, however, was incredibly different. I had the great privilege of working on a political campaign that inspired me. Not only was the work itself inspiring, but even more so the people that I was able to meet along the way. I ran as far away from SD as I could after graduating from WHS (class of '06 baby!) because I thought I was done with SD...I thought I had figured it all out and that the state and the people had nothing left to offer me. I couldn't have been more wrong. Being the age that I am, I felt intimidated to have the job that I had without any direct experience and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do as good of a job that was necessary. Needless to say, I think I learned how to be successful in this environment. I worked with two other college-aged men and they inspired me. Not only are they BY FAR the most intelligent guys I have ever known, they both made me laugh the entire their own special way, of course. It's interesting to note that these two men have completely different personalities...yet I learned so much from each of them. And for that, I will always be grateful. My boss (well, both of them) were phenomenal teachers and mentors. Even though I might have doubted myself, they never once were apprehensive about me or my ability to do the job. And that means the world to me. When it was time for me to return to the Hoosier State, it was incredibly motivating to hear them say that they didn't want me to go. Nobody has ever had that level of confidence in me...and by no means am I saying that I deserve it, but I know now that it's possible to achieve it. I now have an incredibly high standard for future co-workers, because frankly, I'm not sure if it gets any better than this.

To sum up this point, it's 100% accurate to state that I miss South Dakota. I fell head over heels with SD this summer. And not just Sioux Falls, but the Black Hills, the Corn Palace, small town SD, and every single dorky tradition that the state has. I know that post-graduation plans will include me returning home, because I know that I would never be able to value another place as much as I now value my home.

So here I am...back at school. Taking 21 credits (gag me) and still trying to graduate early. Once again, I'm over-involved, professors are nominating me for too many things (said in the least-conceited way possible), drama has already started to form, and I'm exhausted. Without going into any detail for fear of boring my readers and giving off the impression that I'm over-emotional, I'm just sick of being disappointed by people. There's something about my personality that gives off the impression that I never get hurt...I'm never disappointed by the actions that other people make...that I don't deserve to have the conversations that are meant to be face-to-face. What is it? I have absolutely no idea...I'm trying to figure it out. Some people have told me I'm intimidating, which could be it, but I honestly have no idea. College is supposed to be the best time of your life, but at this point, I'm over it. I'm ready for something greater. But in the meanwhile, I just have to keep pushing, keep striving, and keep persevering...knowing that I'll catch a break sometime.

Back to the books...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Before I Die (in absolutely no particular order)...:

1. I want to be at the place where everybody breaks into the same song and dance (skip to 6:00).
2. I want to swim with dolphins.

3. I want to travel as much as possible.

4. I want to participate in as many humanitarian trips as I am capable.

5. I want to feel completely satisfied and happy with every decision I make.

6. I want to learn from the experiences that may seem troubling, daunting, or terrifying.

7. I want to share my life with someone I love.

8. I want to follow my passions, even if it involves taking
the road less traveled.

9. I want to surround myself with those who love me and rid myself of those who harm me.

10. I want my professors and mentors at
Valparaiso University to feel confident in writing strong recommendations for me.

11. I want to discover enough courage to do

12. I want to bring out the best in others.

13. I want to pay it forward, everyday.

14. I want to spend the majority of my days laughing.

15. I want, desire, and need to live every moment for my Lord and Savior.

I am fully aware that this list is brief, but I figured it's something that I should start...and this looked like a great outlet for me to express these thoughts....I guarantee I'll be adding to it as time goes by. So keep checking back :)

...peace, love, rock & roll...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

So I've decided to enter the world of blogging...

Back in high school, there was a huge fad to keep up with your own Xanga page...and I'm not gonna lie, I truly enjoyed it. Not only for the sake of myself to live journal, so-to-speak, but to also keep up on the lives of those who I didn't see every day. Now that Xanga is basically defunct (but page is still up and running, just lacking recent username is no_onelike_you....go check it out)...I decided to convert to Blogger. During some downtime this afternoon, I spent 20 minutes or so perusing through my old posts on Xanga and they allowed me to truly recall some memories and moments from high school that I had completely forgotten about. Not only that, but there are posts from when I was in internet cafes in Paris and well as posts from my first internship with Senator Thune in Washington, D.C. It's crazy to see how much things have changed over these four years, but yet so much as stayed the same.

I'm not entirely sure what this first post was supposed to entail, but I'm going to use it as an opportunity to throw something out there. I've been working on a personal statement for one of my classes that I'm taking this upcoming semester, but I would appreciate some feedback, especially from those who have had experience writing something similar before. The goal of this personal statement is to allow those who read it (scholarship committees, graduate/law school admission boards) to understand my passions, what I desire in life, and how I became the person that I am today. I'm actually satisfied with what I wrote...and it came together pretty quickly (late at night/early morning typing away in my bed). So here it is...

At the ripe age of twenty, I have already held two valuable internships with Senator John Thune and have served as the Field Director for a congressional campaign. These experiences were not handed to me by virtue of wealth, luck, or family connections, but rather through determination and a strong work ethic that began during my years in high school.

Growing up, I was always a straight-A student who loved working hard in both school and extracurricular activities. The hardest part about high school was not deciding what I was good at, but deciding what I loved the most. After completing my first internship with Senator Thune in Washington, D.C. before my senior year in high school, I was confident in making the decision to venture away from a math and science career and to enter the unpredictable realm of American politics. This is how I began my collegiate education and have not looked back since. Not only have I maintained a 3.96 GPA in my political science classes, but my horizons have been additionally expanded through my experience as an honors student in Christ College, Valparaiso University’s Honors College.

However, my passion for politics has not been fostered only in an academic setting, it has been most cultivated in my work. As Field Director, I was able to see the universality of politics and how it is a field which encompasses all American citizens, regardless of their actual involvement in the process. This is what moves me. Taking a piece of complicated legislation, lengthy executive order, or debatable judicial decision, and applying it to the farmer in northwest Iowa, the fisherman in northeast Maine, and the business executive in Los Angeles. It is not about making a name for myself or ascertaining a prominent desk job in Washington, I believe politics to be a continuous outreach to people from every walk of life. Not only does this sector of study enable me to apply my political science knowledge, but it also enable me to fulfill another passion, a passion for serving.

Because of my personal faith, I feel it is not only my obligation, but my duty, to serve others in as great of capacity as possible. For me, this capacity is public service and politics. Throughout my adolescence, I participated in numerous mission trips to Native American reservations and I also spent two weeks in inner city Los Angeles. Without a doubt, I can confidently state that these experiences of exposure and reality were truly life changing and forced me out of my comfort zone. Although these trips were challenging to me personally, they demonstrated the existence of universal love and personal sacrifice prevalent in all peoples, and I discovered this to be my responsibility to contagiously pass along. These first experiences with public service started when I was quite young, yet I feel that they have catapulted me to actively seek ways to serve in other areas. For example, participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, mentoring younger students, and even becoming a better listener has enabled me to become a more involved and effective public servant. I choose to look upon everyday as a new opportunity to serve and to be made available for others and I truly aspire to continue this lifestyle into the future. I am always looking for additional opportunities to take a week or two out of my everyday lifestyle and to implant myself into a completely different experience, like those I encountered in my earlier years. I have a hard time believing that this desire will fade and I hope it will only continue to grow as time passes.

I look to my future in American politics and public service optimistically not only because I know what I am capable of, but because I know of the strength I have based on situations I have already overcome. As a hard-working student in my earlier years, there was consistent pressure on me from both my parents and teachers to pursue a medical career, or at least a career that “guaranteed” a job. This pressure resulted in relentless stress during my final semester in high school and I eventually broke. I gave up in my classes, finally letting the stress and pressure eat away at my very being. I finished that semester with grades that most would consider to be great, but I left high school with a bitter taste in my mouth and a strong desire to prove not only to myself that I can succeed in whatever I choose to do, but to prove to all of those who doubted my ability to be satisfied with a political science major. Upon reaching Valparaiso University, I had a fire within me that could not be extinguished by the fiercest critics and that fire remains today and continues to grow stronger with every semester, every class, and every experience.

Running with this fire into the future, I see myself in a variety of positions post-undergraduate graduation and I am excited for those opportunities. Whether it be law school, a doctoral program, the work force, or public service, I smile at the thought of even having these options at my disposal. Ultimately, I see myself down the path that enables me to most closely work with as many people as possible and to make the difference that is always talked about in a whimsical fashion. I feel that I have the power inside of me to inspire others, who will in turn, pay it forward. America is in need of a cultural revolution; to find the principles on which the Founding Fathers were guided by 230 years ago. I want to be a part of this revolution and I know that without a doubt, it is my calling. I am not one to stand idly by while others work to make life in America, and life in this world, a better place. It is my duty as a human being and as a believer to play my part, and public service and politics is the arena in which I can be the most successful in working to be a part of something bigger, something to pass on to the upcoming generations.

Everyone desires a legacy, to be renowned for discovering the cure for AIDS, to have settled the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, yet I desire to lead my life as an example for others to look up to. I choose to embody personal responsibility, traditional family values, and faith. Through the outward exemplification of these characteristics in my lifestyle, my legacy will establish itself, if one can even label it as a legacy at all. Perhaps it would be better classified as an unavoidable calling and within my next twenty years of life, I know that I will reflect back and see significant personal experiences that accurately reflect these aspirations, beginning with the experiences of tomorrow.

So there you have it...feel free to comment and let me know what you think :) But as for my first experience blogging, it's been a blast, and definitely long enough...

Phil 1: 3-11