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  • Three sets of legs. Each person has a Star Wars themed light saber tattoo on their right calf.

    May the 4th Be With You!

    Hannah G. Brennan

    Just before writing this, I was slouching comfortably on my couch. I had a sparkling water, orange flavored, of course, and a bowl of extra buttery popcorn beside me. The TV was on max volume and my eyes were peeled as I watched the intense final moments of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

    At the start of every summer break, I dedicate a few days to rewatching the entire Star Wars saga in order of release date. (For my fellow fans out there, I felt this was important to note.) I have done this for the past 5 years, and each time I ask myself why I only do it once a year.

    From the first film released in 1977 and onward, Star Wars has become an integral part of pop culture. It is the culmination of iconic costumes, characters, fight scenes, background stories, and jaw-dropping family drama that fans like myself adore so much. What better way to honor the franchise than for it to have its own day?

    A long time ago…

    For those who do not know, “May the 4th be with you” is a play on the phrase “May the Force be with you.” After being said twice in the first film, the movie version of the phrase immediately became an iconic salutation, and the pun version soon followed.

    According to a blog by Lucas Seastrom on none other than, newspapers began using the phrase as a way to celebrate the Fourth of July in their headlines. But it attached itself to May 4th when The London Evening News displayed “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations!” on the day Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s prime minister– which took place on May 4th, 1979.

    Randy Thom, who was a location sound recordist on the Star Wars movie crew, is also credited with launching Star Wars Day. It was on May 4th, 1982 that the pun came to him. He then shared it with the crew and would continue to celebrate it every year going forward.

    Planet Tattoo[ine]

    Once I turned 18, I started planning to get a tattoo. After telling my big brother and cousin this, we decided we would all get one together. I was already on board, but the idea really won me over once they told me they would pay for it.

    We threw around ideas for about 10 minutes. I said jokingly, “let’s just get lightsabers.” Next thing I knew, I was in the chair going on hour number two with a needle to my calf.

    I have a green lightsaber, my brother has purple, and my cousin has blue. (I’ll let the Star Wars fans decide for themselves which they prefer, though I think we all know purple is the best one.)

    So why get this fictional weapon tattooed on me?

    Aside from the fact that the tattoo looks cool, it is a reminder to me of how much we love the franchise and why fans still celebrate it every year on May 4th.

    Enjoy, We Must [in Yoda voice]

    Star Wars fans are truly like no other. We are a global community with a shared love of stories that have withstood the test of time. We find entertainment, adventure, inspiration, and solace in them. And we love finding a fellow fan in a crowded room.

    Whether you are a diehard fan or new to the fan club, this may just be your sign to watch them all as we celebrate Star Wars Day today!

    Thank you for reading, and May the 4th be with you.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • An aerial shot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

    Living with Student Debt Pre-Graduation

    Hannah G. Brennan

    Student loan debt has been a newsworthy topic recently. There are definitely pros and cons to borrowing money to pay for college. Here’s my experience with how taking out loans can provide both a path to greater learning as well as greater student debt.

    As part of the first generation in my family to go to college, I knew it would be no easy feat — let alone a small bill. I sometimes think back to who I was when I was choosing a college. I was just an 18-year-old kid eager to get out of Chicago, make new friends, and take the world by storm. I did not know what new roads college would lead me down, but I did know that I wanted a fresh change of scenery. I got just that by taking out loans and heading up to Wisconsin.

    After getting sent home in the middle of my second semester due to the pandemic, I realized my student debt was turning out to be more of a mountain than a hill. I was very fortunate to have received grants and scholarships that put going out-of-state on my radar. But still, the loans I did have were enough to create a panic that was starting to set in. I had trouble sleeping and could think of nothing else for weeks.

    How will I pay all this money back? Will my quality of life be worse than my peers who did not need loans? Did I make the right choices? — These are questions I asked and still ask myself.

    At 19 years old with no clue what I wanted to do to earn money after graduating, I did not know how I would deal with this money mess I had created. Not knowing how I would solve this problem scared me and watching many of my peers not have this same fear frustrated me.

    But over time, I have found that the best way to cope is by changing my perspective. I am learning to look at student debt as much more than a bill on the kitchen table. Instead, it is a representation of my stepping into adulthood and taking control of my education, my career, and my life. Some days the stress still gets me down, but most days I feel as though it is fueling me to succeed even more.

    I do not intend for this piece to serve as any kind of financial advice. I certainly did not make my college choice based on what was most financially sound. However, I did make my college choice based on what I wanted. I chose the option that was right for my future and that felt right becoming my second home.

    I cannot go back in time and undo what I have done, but I like to think that if I did go back, knowing what I know now, I would not have chosen differently. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. If I had not chosen to take out loans and go to the school I did, I would not be the person I am today. And I would not be as responsible or as grateful for every minute of my college experience.

    I don’t want financial worries of the future tainting my experiences in the present. When I start to feel the pressure like I did freshman year, I take a deep breath and look at pictures from all my happy memories at school these last few years. I could not imagine them being taken anywhere else, and that keeps me grateful and reminds me that everything is going to work out.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

  • The blog author’s mom is sitting on a grey couch and working on a laptop computer.

    Going to College the Same Time as My Mom

    Hannah G. Brennan

    If you’ve seen Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 hit Life of the Party, then you witnessed a hilarious account of a mother and daughter attending the same college, going to the same parties, and eventually graduating together. Having not seen this movie since it came out three years ago, memories of it came rushing back to me when my mom decided to go back to school this past spring.

    After thirty years of raising two kids as a single parent, my mom’s decision to finally become a nurse while working full time is one that motivates me in my own college endeavors. And even though she is not attending UW-Madison with me, here are some ways my mom and I plan to motivate and inspire one another as we each continue our unique college journeys.

    #1: Practicing patience

    My mom and I both being in school has given us an additional experience in common, ultimately bringing us closer together. However, it has taken some work. I can sometimes get frustrated with my mom as I try to guide her through using the new technology that comes with doing schoolwork in the twenty-first century-- let alone the technological leaps education has taken the past year and half due to the pandemic. Doing this is even more difficult when I am on campus over two hours away from her. However, by taking a step back and putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, we are able to defuse our anger and find a positive common ground.

    #2: Staying positive

    By nature, my mom and I are highly self-critical. Whether it is lamenting over grades not as high as we hoped or letting the await of future assignments overwhelm us in the present, the energy can get negative quite fast. But since we acknowledge this behavior, we take steps to relieve ourselves of the burden. We talk things through (even when we don’t want to talk), help each other make lists to prioritize, and assure one another when confidence is low. For everything, but especially school, my mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. Now I get to be the same for her.