Culture & Student Life

2022 Graduation Gift Guide: Top 10 Must-Haves for College Grads

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for: graduation season has approached us and it’s time to commemorate the graduating class of 2022! Whether they studied virtually or in-person, earning a diploma or degree is a significant academic achievement for many students—and they deserve to be celebrated accordingly. As this chapter in a student’s journey comes to an end, friends and family can show their support by gifting a college grad with something that they need. The best gifts are often the sentimental kind—but when in doubt, gift cards are on everyone’s wish list.

How will you be congratulating the scholar in your life? VC Social has researched the top 10 must-haves for the graduating class of 2022—starting at $25. Keep scrolling to find the best gift ideas for the graduate in your life. (Listed by price: lowest to highest.)

1. “We’re Not Really Strangers” Card Game $25

We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game—Target

The best ice-breaker for grad parties and hosting game nights with friends. Warning: be prepared for deep questions!

2. Custom Graduate Frame $35

2022 Custom Graduation Tassel Frame—Things Remembered

The best sentimental gift money can buy: a custom frame to celebrate the graduate. Consider pairing this gift with a diploma frame too!

3. JBL Go 3 Portable Speaker $29.95-39.95

JBL Go 3: Portable Bluetooth Speaker—Amazon

A pocket-sized speaker for a grad on-the-go. For under $50, this little boombox will bring the party to any gathering.

4. Instant Qt Mini Vortex Air Fryer $49.99

Instant – 2Qt Vortex Mini Air Fryer—Best Buy

Give the gift of quick and easy meals with a mini air fryer. This compact air fryer is budget friendly and will be sure to inspire more home cooked meals!

5. Alumni Merch $59.98

Ventura College Champion Hoodie—Ventura College Bookstore

Alumni merch and college apparel are great gifts for nostalgic graduates that want to showcase their school spirit. Support the alumni’s school by purchasing directly through the school’s website or bookstore.

6. Vankyo Mini Projector $69.99

Vankyo L430 720p Projector—Target

Movie nights at home will never be the same thanks to this mini projector. This tech gift is ideal for stay-at-home enthusiasts.

7. LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB Hard Drive $79.99

LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB Hard Drive—Staples

For the tech-savvy graduate: a hard drive is a very useful tool for organizing digital data—during and post-college!

8. Samsonite Slim Backpack $99.99

Business Slim Backpack—Samsonite

A polished laptop bag for the graduate’s next professional journey.

9. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera $130

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera—Urban Outfitters

In an instant, the graduate can document their best memories with this nostalgic camera (including receiving this gift). Say cheese!

10. Apple AirPods Max $469

Apple AirPods Max—Best Buy

Now presenting the hottest gift of 2022: Apple’s new AirPods Max. Ranging in 5 different colors, these headphones are a fan favorite— your graduate will be sure to get good use out of these!

Culture & Student Life Nature

Visit Ventura’s Hidden Gem the Ventura Botanical Gardens

As students we spend most of our time either stressing out about homework or procrastinating to do our homework (I am guilty of this). However, sometimes all we need is a break, a moment of peace and nature to recharge our batteries.

We happen to live in one of the most beautiful places in Southern California, but we hardly take advantage of it. We have a beautiful spot in our very own backyard, it’s called the Ventura Botanical Gardens and if you haven’t visited already it’s time you do. Would you like to see what it’s like to spend a Sunday afternoon there? Click the video below and watch as I take you guys on a quick tour of the place.

Ventura Botanical Garden – HOURS

TUESDAYS — SUNDAYS from 9am – 5pm. Closed Mondays.
$7 Admission for the general public.

(Members are free, children 18 and under are free, EBT cardholders are free and every Friday is a FREE day.

Leashed dogs are welcome Wednesdays, Fridays and monthly FREE days.

Visit their website: Ventura Botanical Gardens

Follow us on Instagram @ VCSOCIALBRAND

Culture & Student Life

Watching the News Daily…Is it Bad for Our Mental Health?

On this episode, Carolina talks about the effects of constantly consuming bad news on social media. She also interviews a special guest, someone who doesn’t ever check the news or is on social media and asks her about her take on the matter. 

Is Watching the News Daily Bad for Our Mental Health? VC Social

Culture & Student Life

Life as a Shy and Introverted College Student – How To Overcome the Obstacles

shy and introverted college student hiding behind a book at the library
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

For shy people, there is nothing worse than having to talk to someone they’ve never metTypically, shy people are also faced with the fear of saying the wrong thing and facing embarrassment. For introverted people, there is nothing more troublesome than having to talk to someone at all and getting past the small talk and exhaustion of leaving their home. The problem is, college requires interaction with others, especially when it comes to resolving a technical problem, talking to a counselor, asking the professor for help, and having to schedule peer groups for classes with complete strangers.

Unfortunately, these fears and obstacles can get in the way of our success and close the doors to new opportunities. What can be done to overcome the obstacles and have a successful college experience? Here are my top 5 tips for both introverts and shy students on how to overcome shyness and introversion in college, let’s get started!

Use Technology to Your Advantage

The pandemic has changed the way we communicate with people. Things that used to be done strictly in-person can now be done remotely. You can schedule remote appointments for counseling and join office hours with your professors on Zoom. You can also schedule group meetings for your classes via Zoom and join from the comfort of your home. 

Another advantage we have now is sending emails. Staff and faculty on campus are very good about answering quick questions if you send them an email. You can find their emails on the Ventura College website under their respective departments. 

Research and Write it Down

Sometimes what holds us back is not knowing what to say once we talk to certain individuals. Something I like to do is get organizeddo my research, and write it down. What do I mean by that? For example, if you are talking to a counselor or a professor, you can research more about the topic you are going to talk to them about at home. Next, you write down a list of topics or questions and have them ready with you

For shy people, this will help get your ideas and questions organized and make it easier to express yourself without getting tongue tied or forgetting what you were going to say. For introverts, this will allow you to get straight to the point of your appointments, which will result in less socializing and ending your meetings faster.

Avoid Imagining Negative Scenarios

Our imaginations can take a very negative route when we visualize having to interact with certain people, especially strangers. Our mind is so powerful it can allow us to think that people are horrible, that people don’t want to help us and that we will make a fool of ourselves.

However, in that same way, the mind can be so powerful that we can flip the scenario around. If we imagine positive outcomes from our interactions, we can enter the situations with confidence and with optimism. For shy people, that means not walking into a room with fear of judgement and fear of embarrassment, rather imagining that everything will go well and be successful. For introverted people, that means walking into a room not envisioning how exhausting and draining the situation will be for them, rather imagining that the experience will help them grow, resolve their problems and that after the interaction is over, it will allow them to focus their energy back on the things that matter.

Step out of Your Comfort Zone

We all love staying in our comfort zone because it’s a place where we feel safe and unbothered. However, many times the comfort zone doesn’t allow us to get the best experience we can have in college. Meeting strangers can be exhausting and daunting, but it can also be rewarding and beneficial to us. As easy as it is to send that email to your professor, you can have even more meaningful conversations in person with them or on zoom. As easy as it is to avoid all counselors, staff, and other students at the college, if you step out of your comfort zone, you can end up making great connections that can help you all throughout your college experience and even after college. Stepping out of your comfort zone even if occasionally, is worth a shot!

Remember We Are All Human

We can sometimes get into the bad habit of thinking that we are the only ones who are shy and introverted. However, we are all human. Every person with more authority you’ve spoken to, has felt lost or confused and has had to ask for help before. There are also people who have jobs that require speaking to people daily and yet they are introverted in nature. If we remember that we are all human, we can overcome many obstacles and face our fears knowing we aren’t the only ones who have felt that way.

If you remember to use technology to your advantage, to make a list of your questions, practice optimism and push aside negative thoughts you can successfully navigate through college with a breeze. I hope these tips can help you all have a more positive outlook when it comes to social interactions in college. If you guys have any more good tips please leave them in the comments, we would love to hear them! 

Remember to follow our blog VCSocial and follow our Instagram @VCSocialBrand for more entertaining, helpful, and inspiring content!

Food Holiday Cook-off

Cafe de Olla

To me, being Mexican-American means eating complex meals on the holidays, surrounded by family, and talking about life and our favorite Mexico memories while we sip on a delicious mug full of Cafe de Olla.

This deliciously strong, sweet and cinnamon-y drink has been the center of countless conversations with my loved ones. I have sipped on it while my grandparents daydream with me about their childhood memories, their parents and how proud they would have been to have seen us build a life here in the States while still managing to hold onto the most special things Mexico has given us: family, love, memories, food and drinks. 

Making this drink is easier than many people think and the ingredient list is short so, if you would like to talk about life, love and memories with your loved ones this holiday season, this might be the perfect drink to warm up your palms and keep the conversation going.


  • Coffee
  • Water
  • Mexican whole stick cinnamon
  • Piloncillo (sugar will do but this is a block of cane sugar that is sure to give your Cafe de Olla a unique flavor profile)


  • Place however many cups of water you want in a pot and place a stick of Mexican cinnamon in it. Heat on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, depending on the amount of water you are choosing to boil.

  • Let the coffee, cinnamon and water come to its boiling point then add piloncillo or sugar to taste.

  • Once the piloncillo or sugar is in, leave on medium-high for 3-5 minutes. Once the time is up, lower the heat to medium/medium-low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Once the 15-20 minutes are up, take your coffee off the heat and set aside to cool for a couple minutes.
  • Strain into a mug (or a taza de barro like me), and enjoy your delicious cup of coffee! 
    • If you need to add some creamer, add a bit of a hazelnut or original flavor creamer and drink up!

I hope this coffee warms you up like its warmed the hearts of my loved ones for generations and generations!

Please leave us a comment to let us know if you tried this classic Mexican Cafe de Olla.

Culture & Student Life

First Semester of Digital Content Marketing Comes to a Close

Many of you know that VC Social is the class brand for Digital Content Marketing (BUS V52) at Ventura College, and that I spent many hours getting this course approved by curriculum, not to mention the time it took to build the website on WordPress. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing folks who work at Ventura College, and in particular, I’d like to thank my fellow Business Department faculty and my Division’s Dean.

As the first semester of this class comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on what we accomplished and where our opportunities lie in the future.

To begin with, I couldn’t be more proud of the first ever cohort of students that went through this course together. Each week, they brought enthusiasm and creativity to the classroom. Whether it was a group or individual project, students were truly contributors and I’m excited with the direction that this brand is headed.

Did everything run perfectly? Is the website completely done? Are our social media profiles complete? Probably not. But then, I was never in a rush, so these questions are moot.

Was there collaboration amongst students? Did quality content get created? Was a standard set for future iterations of this course? Yes. Without a doubt. I even got a chance to do a food review of my own!

I will continue spending time on this project over the holiday season, in anticipation of the Spring 2022 section of Digital Content Marketing (BUS V52). To make sure that my time goes towards relevant actions, I’d like to pose the following questions to the current students:

  1. Was this class organized in an efficient way, or could it have been setup differently to optimize our efforts?
  2. What assignments had the most impact on learning? What assignments could have been improved?
  3. What are your educational/professional plans for after this class/program ends, and what have you learned in this class that you can take with you into the real world?
  4. Were there roles or activities that you were hoping to practice that you didn’t get a chance at? If so, what?
  5. Were there skills or lessons that you were hoping to learn about that didn’t get covered? If so, what?
  6. Finally, do you have any advice for future students that go through not only this course, but the Social Media Marketing program at Ventura College in general?
Arts & Entertainment

Current in the Shadows: A Conversation with Artist Cara Lasell Bonewitz

In my first blog post for VCSocial I wrote about the future of Ventura College’s New Media Gallery.  It was my vantage point looking through the windows at a gallery that had weathered the global pandemic essentially by shutting down.  In this post, I get the chance to share with you the insight of Cara Lasell Bonewitz, the artist whose work hung in the gallery, in the shadows, for over a year.  

Cara speaking to Ventura College students about her process in creating Current in the Shadows. Photo by Gallery Director Jesse Groves.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with Cara one on one in the gallery that has now opened its doors to the public.  She was preparing to take down her exhibition after a brief but well-deserved re-opening of her collected works that embodied Current in the Shadows.  Below is the audio recording of that conversation.  

“(The shadows)…the most ephemeral part of this show…have ended up being the constant.” -Cara Lasell Bonewitz

As the art world grapples with the complications of a post pandemic future, the questions are many and difficult.  The conversation you’re about to listen to shares Cara’s insights as an artist, reflecting on her work and her experience with an exhibition that opened as the world shut down, hung in the shadows in a closed gallery for over a year, and then reopened for a final viewing as the world reopened its doors to a reality we never expected to face.  

How to save the Earth while shopping VC Social

In today podcast, I talk about Streets of Vintage Flea Market and how shopping local can not only help the community but most importantly our earth! Take a listen and follow Streets of Vintage for updates! 
  1. How to save the Earth while shopping
  2. VC On The Go Ep 2 "Gas Prices taking the gas out of life?"
  3. How to reduce your food bill and cheap meals for college student
  4. Professor Nick Interviews Caleb Scott Live In Class
  5. UEFA Champions League Results

Related Links:

Cara Lasell Bonewitz

New Media Gallery

Current in the Shadows