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How Choosing DePaul Has Helped Me as a Blogger

​If I’m being honest, DePaul was not my first choice school. I thought that I might’ve wanted to attend a big state school at first, like Ohio State, where lots of kids from my high school went. Then, I thought that I wanted to attend a school in Manhattan. But after visiting DePaul in the last semester of my senior year, I knew I had found the perfect place for me.    

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emma Lenhart, and I am a 19-year old sophomore at DePaul. Apart from being a full-time student, I also run my own online business and Chicago lifestyle blog at My work is a lot different than some of my peers at DePaul, because I work primarily from my laptop and never have to physically “go-to-work” or sit in an office/cubicle. However, having my own business online and blog has allowed me to create my ideal lifestyle and connect with some amazing people and brands.

This past fall, I was invited to attend HerCampus’ College Fashion Week. At the event, I was able to see runway styles from Chicago-land entrepreneurs and designers. I also got to network with other bloggers in my niche and make connections to brands. There were actually a few other DePaul students that also attended, which made me so proud of the university I call home! 

I know that DePaul is the perfect place for me and my personality, and it only becomes more apparent to me the further along I get at my DePaul education. As a student at DePaul, I feel free to express myself and pursue my dreams. Whenever I met someone new and tell them about my blog, they seem to genuinely be interested in my work and ideas. DePaul fosters an environment of creativity and individuality that you can feel in the classroom and even around campus. I’ve had the privilege of meeting other DePaul bloggers, and even big-time Chicago bloggers. Having access to one of the nation’s largest blogging communities has given me so many opportunities and experiences that I never dreamed I would have at only age 19.

Aside from being free to work on my blog whenever I find free time outside of classes, I also get to learn things that help me grow my presence and audience in the classroom. I am currently studying Public Relations and Advertising, and I’ve found that my professors are usually hugely experienced and wise in the subject areas I care so much about. DePaul has allowed me to connect with professors and professionals in my dream industry. Last year in one of my Public Relations classes, the social media manager for the Chicago Cubs came in to give a presentation to our class. It was amazing!

I can’t imagine attending any other university than DePaul and thriving as much as I currently do. I never feel embarrassed of my passions at school, and feel like I have people surrounding me that care and support my dreams. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for DePaul for helping me every step of the way.​

About Our New Blogger Emily

Oh hey there!

I’m Emily and I’m a senior studying Journalism with a minor in Psychology. I’m originally from the northern suburbs, Wilmette, where I frequently go to visit my dog Piper. 

Some (fun) facts about me: 
  1. I went to school in Canada my freshman year
  2. I’m a dual citizen with Canada and the US
  3. I have an obsession with elephants (and rode one once in day of my life)
  4. I’ve been making movies with my friends since I was 10 
  5. I tap danced for 10 years
  6. I can quote pretty much every line of Friends
  7. I could eat a PB&J for almost every meal
  8. I’m obsessed with yoga (and am getting into meditation)
  9. I played badminton in high school (it’s a real sport...we went to State)
  10. ​I just went on a 4 day meditation retreat for one of my classes (and I get credit for it!)
At DePaul I have experience transferring, taking classes part time (and taking a medical leave), commuting for a quarter, living in on campus apartments, writing for the DePaulia, changing majors and being a student worker in the CDM graduate admission office!

When I’m not in classes or working, I enjoy writing in coffee shops, taking my dog to the beach, rewatching 30 Rock (but my latest obsession is The Newsroom and Broad City), watching movies and being a film snob about them, practicing yoga (obviously), and making breakfast for dinner.

About Our New Blogger Logan

Who I Am: Hello students of DePaul, my name is Logan and I am the newest member of the DeBlogs team. I am a sophomore within the Drihaus College of Business double majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. I am from the southwest suburb of Yorkville, IL which is about an hour outside of Chicago. I went from driving 70 down country roads with a view of cornfields to riding the train everyday with a scenic skyline I can take in from my apartment. I was a member of the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program with the Career Center freshman year, but I am always seeking new means to get more involved on campus.

One of many great photos from the Nicki Minaj concert
What I Do: There are a few things you should know about me and what I am interested in outside of the classroom. First and foremost, I have a slight obsession with Chinese food. Whether it’d be takeout or a buffet, you know I’m always down for it. After an entire academic year I’ve spent here at DePaul, I have yet to find someone else who enjoys country music as much as I do. That being said, I often go to country concerts, an average of ten a year to be exact. However, I am a fan of nearly all music. My favorite concert so far was Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd, but then after that the best concerts were Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, etc. I enjoy exploring the city, always seeking new restaurants to try out. I often go to the Ray to play pickup basketball, workout, or play intramural volleyball. You can also catch me at the beach trying to relax and escape my academic responsibilities by playing sand volleyball or just sleeping. 

Why I Do This: As much as I would love to explore the city, visit every Asian restaurant, and blog about how awesome the food is, I want to share all my experiences on and off campus, the good and the bad, so that hopefully others can learn from them to get the most out of their experience at DePaul. Between keeping up with two honors programs, maintaining physical shape, looking for jobs and internships, and trying to make friends along the way, I realize it all can seem overwhelming. Although these fours year are meant to pursue an education for your desired career, it can be much more than that. Studying at DePaul in a great city like Chicago is a unique experience!

Day in the Life: Shadowing Alderman Smith

Tim Arnold is a current DePaul student in the Political Science program. He was able to spend a day with Alderman Smith and get a view of what life is like for Chicago politicians. Read his essay below: 

​​​I’ve always thought of politics as the most direct avenue between public want and societal change. The legislature, in particular, empowers the people, providing a sophisticated platform for policy debate. Senators, representatives and city council members alike have the difficult task of advocating for their constituents. They look out for their own, making sure that no one’s opinions, or subsequent rights are left in the dust; that’s an admirable service. 

Through DePaul’s Professional Exploration Program (PEP), I spent a day shadowing Chicago Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward. Upon arriving at City Hall, Alderman Smith greeted me with a warm smile and handshake. We bonded over talk of her work in Lincoln Park and within minutes she had me accompany her to the traditional mayoral gift presentation ceremony. I felt incredibly lucky because this holiday ceremony is normally exclusive to city council members. I mingled with some of Chicago’s most influential politicians, including Mayor Emanuel himself! It was amazing how quickly I felt like one of them. Aldermanic powerhouses were treating me with the utmost respect, sharing their insights on current Chicago issues.

Little did I know, the excitement had just begun. From the ceremony, I was directed to find my seat in the viewing balcony of the main City Hall chamber. I got out my notepad and pen, sat back, and was blown away by the commotion that ensued. The chamber was jam packed with camera crews, politicians, security teams and countless protesters. I coincidentally came the same day as Mayor Emanuel’s last-minute mayoral address. He was to discuss the investigation of the Chicago Police Department in response to the Laquan McDonald video. Tensions were high and it was clear that it would be an historic day. The mayor gave a tearful speech, pointing out the injustice of racial discrimination by law enforcement. Many protesters scoffed at his “apology,” screaming for his immediate resignation. I’ll admit, part of me was terrified to be in the midst of such a volatile situation, but the learning opportunity was far too great to miss out on. I was moved by many of the speakers, especially by one alderman who said, “It's not the person, it's the position. And it's not the personality, it's the policy." I left City Hall reminded of the true responsibility of all politicians; to promote the wellbeing of ALL. Changes must be made, and I was lucky enough to see policymaking in progress. 

The rest of my day was focused in Lincoln Park, where Alderman Smith’s ward office is located. I had a chance to meet with her staff, sit in on meetings and get a better idea of how an alderman actually oversees a district. She gave me fantastic tips for getting started in politics as well as how I can become regularly involved in 43rd Ward activities. All in all, the experience was wonderful and I highly recommend that other students take advantage of the PEP Shadow Program. No matter what major you are pursuing, this program has strong connections that can set you up for future internships. I, myself, will return to the ward office in March as a part-time intern. Just remember to be open to anything. Who knows? A shadow day could uncover a passion you never knew you had. 

Summer Recap: Chicago Blackhawks

Editor's note: ​​​​​​​There were various exciting events that took place in Chicago this summer, and many of our DePaul students were there to experience them! Cami DeMarco recaps Chicago's many summer activities revolving around the Chicago Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup below:

​If you live in Chicago chances are you’re well aware of the how passionate we are about our food and our sports.  Good or bad, Chicago fans are diehards. Our Blackhawks have given us special reason to celebrate this summer as their three Stanley Cup wins in six years have cemented a hockey a dynasty.​

When the Hawks won in 2010, I was an incoming freshman to DePaul. I took the Metra downtown with my mom and joined in the chaos (I was mildly intimidated by the city I had chosen to move to - were people always this crazy?). In 2013, I was an undergrad student and one of the crazy two million fans waiting outside Grant Park to hear Craw’s memorable speech. In 2015 I am now a DePaul alumna, and could be found in the mass of people outside of Wrigley Field until the early hours of the morning the night the Hawks won. In 2015, I also realized that Chicagoans/DePaulians are spoiled.  We get to claim the Hawks as our own, and have gotten to do so during a time of their mega-success.​

One of the most exciting things about the Cup coming back to The Windy City is that the organization plans to celebrate with it all summer long.  Each player has the ability to keep the Cup for a day and do with it what they wish.  The Hockey Hall of Fame keeps journals of everywhere the cup goes with the players and can be found here: the 2010 ​journal, the 2013 ​journal, and a 2015 entry will be compiled later in the year.  

The Hawks do a great job getting the Cup out into the community for fans to see, touch, and take pictures with when not visiting player’s hometowns.  This summer, the cup visited Wrigley Field, the Cell, a variety of bars, and a Mumford and Sons Concert (the Cup has good taste).  In 2013, I spotted the Cup at The Pony Inn, and finding it almost seemed too easy with the help of social media. 

In general, it is difficult to predict where the Cup might end up, sometimes it’s all about being at the right place at the right time, as some of their stops are given little notice of their soon to be arrival.  

Happy Summer of Stanley current/future/graduated DePaul students and Blackhawks fans!  If you weren't able to catch a glimpse this year try, heading to the Blackhawks store​ at 333 N. Michigan Avenue to take an interactive, computer generated picture with your favorite player!  Here is to hoping for four in seven next year!

Summer Recap: Pride Parade

Editor's note: ​​​​​​​There were various exciting events that took place in Chicago this summer, and many of our DePaul students were there to experience them! Current student Lily Yonker recaps her experience at the Chicago Pride Parade below: 

June is national LGBTQ* Pride month, and here in Chicago, there were many events to attend to celebrate. The biggest and most popular event was the Pride Parade, which draws in an average of 750,000 people. The Pride Parade happens annually on the last Sunday of every June. Although the parade route is subject to change every year, it often goes right through the heart of Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood along Halsted Street and you will see floats from about 200 different businesses and organizations such as schools, the Chicago Police/Fire Department, Government officials, Chicago bars, and even local television stations. For a more comprehensive list of those who are a part of the parade, feel free to take a look here​!

The weekend prior to the parade is when Chicago’s famed Pride Fest is held. Pride Fest takes place on North Halsted (the same street the parade route runs later in the month) and is a festival with music, food vendors, free prizes, and tons of activities. Another thing that makes Pride events so popular is the fact that they are free to enter. The Pride Parade is completely free and open to all ages while the Pride Fest does request a voluntary donation when you enter. That donation however, is not required, but anything that is given goes back to support community programs.

When looking for free and fun events to attend during the summer in Chicago, both Pride Fest and the Parade are always a good bet! However, if that is not your scene, there are countless other festivals all over Chicago in the summer.

DePaul University Psychology - Q&A with Sophia Odeh

Sophia Odeh is a recent DePaul graduate, where she received a B.A. in Psychology. She was recently interviewed by Kara Studzinski of ValuePenguin​ about her experience at DePaul University as a Psychology​ major. You can read the full interview below:​

Sophia Odeh is a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology major with a concentration in Human Services. She will be graduating in the spring of 2015 [editor's note: Sophia has now graduated].

What has your experience in psychology been like at DePaul University? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

Studying psychology at DePaul University has been a wonderful experience because of our location. Having a university located in one of the most diverse cities in our country really puts the students and research conducted here at an advantage to work with underrepresented populations and more diverse clients. DePaul has always been my top choice for this reason. I was attracted to the idea of going out into the city and working directly with populations in need, and DePaul has offered me superb hands on experience that taught me that psychology is more than just the individual, but the person’s whole ecological system as well. 

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

Beyond the fact that I have a desire to help people, I wanted a rewarding career path. I want to make a difference in the world and the best start is by influence an individual’s life in a positive way. 

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

Through the Human Services concentration at DePaul University, we are required to have a yearlong internship for the duration of our senior year. We were provided a list of past internship sites that have taken in DePaul students, but it was up to us to reach out and find a place that was the best fit for our interest. I interned at DePaul’s Family and Community Services which is a training clinic for the second year graduate students in the clinical psychology doctoral program here at DePaul University. This was a very advantageous opportunity for me because I attended trainings for the doctoral students and was given the opportunity to work one on one with clients and families. 

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

My goal is to attend a child focused clinical psychology graduate program for my Psy.D. or Ph.D. I am going to become a clinical psychologist and continue working with underrepresented populations. I am specifically interested in working with adolescents whose environments make them prone to developing a mood disorder or other behavioral problems. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

I personally learned the most from my involvement in research and at my internship site. I found the hands on experiences to be among the most challenging because I was working directly with clients and some were at a high risk for depression. At first, it was difficult to not bring my work home with me because this is something that I was never taught to prepare for in the classroom or from a textbook. It was hard to predict how I would react to certain situations and clients, but this can only be learned through exposure and working directly in the field. I did learn that after the first time, I was able to handle future situations better and I found myself more prepared for difficult circumstances. 

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field? 

This is a very competitive field to be in, and you need to be passionate about the population you choose to work with. I would recommend joining a research lab or working with people very early on so you can learn if it is right for you because it can be difficult to change your path later on. 

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

It took me a long time to decide between working with adults or children, but now that I know working with children and adolescents is the right fit for me, I know where to involve myself more to prepare for graduate school. I feel that DePaul University has prepared me very well for a career in psychology by all the experiences they have to offer and ways undergraduates can get involved, and this helped me figure out my exact interest for this very broad field. 


"Hope That You Journey Is a Long One..."

​​​It’s hard to believe I only have a little time left in Greece​. May 15th will be here before I know it.

This evening after Philosophy class I attended a lecture by Professor Gregory Jusdanis who is currently working with archives of the late Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy ​(most famously known for his poem, Ithaca) here in Athens to then publish a biography of his life.
He was a fascinating speaker and brought light to parallels in Cavafy’s work I could have never made myself.

The poem Ithaca is about a journey and more symbolically, personal discovery.

I have certainly found my Ithaca and begun my journey. The study abroad experience is like nothing I could have prepared myself for, and something I will never have the right words to describe. As anyone could expect I’ve learned so much about the country of Greece, it’s people and culture, surrounding countries, international affairs, etc. but I have learn so much about myself along the way as well.

Here’s to the journey, here’s to Ithaca.

​​​Check out the video below to hear Ithaca by C.P. Cavafy:

A Thing Done in a Seeing Place

For the past three weeks I have been working with an American theatre company, Bread & Puppet, in residence here in Athens along with seven of my peers through our theatre class at CYA (College Year in Athens​).

The Bread & Puppet Theater​ was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Then, in 1974, Bread & Puppet moved to “the farm” in Glover, Vermont. Today, Bread & Puppet continues to be one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the United States. (Make sure you take the time to read their “Cheap Art Manifesto” below.)

The first two weeks were spent experimenting with the five Bread & Puppet members who had traveled to Greece. When they weren’t working with our class, they were working with Greek volunteers (musicians, actors, and puppeteers) to create the traditional “Greek chorus.”

This past week was when everything was finally brought together. Our first and final dress rehearsal began at five Thursday evening, and at 8:30, we opened the show! We performed four shows (Thursday-Sunday) all of which were full houses! On opening night the students of CYA had the opportunity to see the show for free (rather than paying the €15 for a ticket.

The show, “A Thing Done in a Seeing Place” was a black and white puppet show based off of Sophocles’ ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone​. This story of power struggle between big authority and “little guy” can directly be applied to Greece’s current diplomatic struggles with the EU.

It was extremely well received and went off all weekend without a hitch!

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to work with such a talented group of people and meet more Greeks which I otherwise would not have met in the process.

I guess I can check performing in Greece off my bucket list!

Why I Write My Blog

Charles W. Johnson graduated from DePaul University in 1999, where he received his B.A. in English. He recently wrote an an article on his personal blog The Vociferous Envoy​ - a blog featured on the very popular Chicago Now website - in which he reflects on his time at DePaul and a special relationship that helped bring him to where he is today.

Why I Write My Blog -​

A couple of weeks ago I told you how I write, now I will let you know why I write or at least who taught me how to write. Trust me as much as some of us may have seemed to come out the womb writing, there were plenty of people to shape us, motivate us and tighten up our style.
I'd be remiss not to mention all of the great educators from Saint Columbanus in Park Manor, Paul Revere Elementary In South Shore, Seven Holy Founders in Calumet Park and of course Brother Rice in Mount Greenwood.
But its at DePaul University where writing took over my life and I realized not only did I have a gift but I needed to work on it. Now I'm no scholar, I started at DePaul University as a "Bridge Student" meaning I came in early that summer in a program that basically meant I was probationary.
But through that program I had tutors and mandatory study hall and that got my study habits right. It also got me on track with my writing and by the autumn quarter (yes DePaul is on a "three quarter system"), I was really into writing for my classes. It was right after that I switched my major from Marketing to English because it was clear where my talent was and where my passion was. And I really sucked at business math.
It was my sophomore year, when I got through all the first required classes and I took Creative Writing and the professor was Dr. Peter Vandenberg. He was the first professor who had us critique each others work. Which in the fall of 1995 meant making copies of your work at Kinkos and bringing enough for everyone in class in a cardboard box.
That process was eye opening (not going to Kinkos at 11 at night after my shift at Montgomery Wards), but having your classmates "talk about" your work. You quickly learned your strengths and weaknesses and Dr. Vandenberg would give you positive feedback but not enough to let you get full of yourself.
I came out of that class knowing I had some work to do but I was eager to write, I had the next writing class and I forget the professors name but she changed my life as well, I had written this 20 some page interracial, romantic comedy that made of some my classmates uneasy. The professor liked it and said it would be better if I changed it from third person point of view to first person point of view. And I had like two days to do it.
I rewrote the whole story overnight, literally. I took that challenge personally and wrote straight through for six or so hours and re did the whole story line by line and she was right, it was so much better with 1st person point of view. I got an A on the paper and never wrote in third person again.
My third year at DePaul was my most challenging, by the spring of 1997 I had lost two grandparents in the span of nine months and was writing like some deranged author. And I had my next class with Dr. Peter Vandenberg, it was Rhetoric a 300 level class that even had some graduate level work in it. This was a small class, I think nine of us and met at 10 in the morning Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was one of the hardest classes I ever had. Dr. Vandenberg challenged us every class, this was no "Creative Writing", it was ethos, long readings and lots of discussions. There was no hiding, you read, you wrote, you spoke, you sometimes felt dumb.
But what changed me was another challenge by Dr. Vandenberg. We had a writing assignment and I had just had a racial incident at my job at Montgomery Wards (basically a black law enforcement officer was a customer and asked me to break a cardinal rule so he could shop the way he wanted to, I refused and he questioned my blackness), the incident devastated me but my management backed me up. I told Dr. Vandenberg about what happened, he told me write it for class.
Whoa, okay but I did it and of course the class critiqued it (and I had to relive the incident), I never felt more "naked" before a class before or since. But after that I was fearless with my writing.
After that I had two more classes with Dr. Vandenberg (pictured is my last class with him "Rhetoric Of Graffiti"), or as he says "I majored in Vandenberg", and yes in the years since he's become a great friend but I will never forget his lessons in the classroom and even the time he took out of class for me. I remember at one point I wasn't writing as much and he told me "Shakespeare doesn't write much now either", but he was happy I was taking more time to read.
This past weekend the legendary former basketball coach of University of North Carolina Dean Smith died and basketball icon Michael Jordan mentioned how Coach Smith taught him about the game about basketball and life. I know what he means because Dr. Vandenberg taught me such much through writing and I'm no Michael Jordan but having a great mentor who is also a excellent friend is beyond words and its why I write.​​

CYA (College Year in Athens)

​Γεια σας! My name is Zoe Wildasin and I am a sophomore at DePaul studying Public Relations & Advertising and minoring in theatre studies. I love Chicago and life at DePaul, but this semester I decided to leave all that behind and study in Athens, Greece from January to May. I am here studying with a program by the name of CYA (or College Year in Athens). Don’t freak out! You can do just a semester too. CYA is just one of the many programs offered by DePaul’s study abroad office. There are so many places, programs, and lengths to choose from. The possibilities are endless!

Because CYA is a program sponsored by DePaul, my financial aid transfers over to my program here in Athens and I pay the same tuition as I pay when taking classes in Chicago. There is a program fee on top of tuition, but these vary from program to program, and can be covered by an additional scholarship as well.

I chose Athens for so many reasons, one being the flexibility. The program offers many classes that can cover several of DePaul’s Liberal Arts Learning Domains. Some of DePaul’s study abroad programs are better suited for certain majors, and can sometimes even come with internship opportunities. By taking a variety of classes, most of which are centered around Greek history and modern Greek culture, I can learn about the city of Athens and surrounding areas while still earning credits toward my degree.

On the subject of classes; I am taking Modern Greek, Greek Philosophy: The Good Life and the Common Good, Aegean & Ancient Greek Art & Archeology, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Greek Culture, and Attic Tra​gedy Theatre. Most of these classes, in addition to time spent in the classroom, have an “on site” component, which allows us to go and see the very things we are reading about. All of my professors are fantastic.

Another great thing about CYA and reason I chose to come to Athens is that the program is all-English. Some study abroad programs require you to be fluent in the native language before going because your classes will all be taught in the native language. Modern Greek is not widely offered, and therefore not widely known in the states. Because of this, many students would be unable to study in Greece. But, CYA offers a way for you to come, take classes in English and learn Greek while you are here. Keep in mind all students are required to take Modern Greek – I know it sounds intimidating, but it comes quicker than you think.  

I hope you continue to follow my time abroad and feel free to ask me any questions along the way as well!
Γεια σας!

Student’s Service Project Builds Research Experience

​Chris Lamprecht, a senior studying community psychology, has participated in service since high school, but this year, he was able to find to a project that combined his desire to make a difference with an opportunity to gain skills for his future career as a community psychologist.  

“I was looking to get more involved with the community, as well as to do something related to community psychology values and research,” said Chris.  

Chris is working with DePaul’s Center for Community Research where he gathers and analyzes data on students who attend Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The goal is to identify stressors CPS students face that can lead to violence. Ultimately, the research will be used to support a program that helps these students find positive ways to manage stress. 

“It’s service, but its practical experience too in terms of me getting to participate in research. I’m still out there in the community helping to find a way for students to cope with stress, but this is great internship experience for me too.”

While participating in service shaped Chris’ education, it wasn’t a deciding factor in his choice to attend DePaul. 

“Choosing DePaul, I was very attracted to the campus, the city of Chicago—a lot of self-interested reasons, but it ended up being the best choice. Service has changed my outlook on life, the way I look at my friends, family and politics. It has opened my eyes to tolerance and acceptance. Being able to connect with other people has been one of the most profound experiences I’ve had.”

Senior teaches children to see college in their future

​Molly McVay grew up understanding she would go to college. Most of her family members and neighbors were college graduates. “All along the way, we talked about how my grades and the activities I did would come into play in college. At the time, I did not even realize that was such an advantage,” she says. 

Now she and other student members of DePaul Volunteers Supporting Youth (part of the DePaul Community Service Association) are returning the favor. Every Friday afternoon they join about 60 elementary-school children at Hope Junior, an after-school program at the Marillac Social Center in East Garfield Park. The activities are simple—helping with homework, playing Capture the Flag.  The goal is greater—to get the kids imaging college in their future.  

“We’ll start talking about their dreams. Do they want to be a doctor, a policeman, a teacher?” she says. “To get those jobs, they need to go to college. To go to college, they need to get good grades. And that’s why studying for that spelling test matters.”

After three years volunteering, Molly is excited about the sense of community and connections that have developed between the DePaul students and the children they work with. With great affection, she talks about a boy who wasn’t interested in working with any of the DePaul volunteers until he connected with her.  “He’d tell everyone he had no homework until he saw me, and then out would pop the math and the English and the science,” she says. “Now, he’s excited to work with everyone. He’s really become more open and involved.” 

Molly signed up for the program because she thought it would be a good complement to her academic studies. She is double-majoring in sociology and American studies with a concentration in racial and ethnic integration and plans to become a social worker or lawyer specializing in urban youth.  She’s gotten the insights she was hoping for, plus some she wasn’t expecting. 

“It’s so much fun to walk in and see that the kids are excited to have us there!” she says. “To outsiders it might appear that I am helping them but often they are the ones providing me with the wisdom!” 

Student athletes ‘blanket’ kids with attention

​There’s something about fleece blankets that makes you smile.

Freshman student-athletes from all 13 of DePaul’s NCAA teams discovered that in September when they gathered to make 600 blankets for low-income children. It was one of the many service activities the Blue Demons do throughout the school year. Most of the student-athletes had never made a blanket before. Some had never done service before. They all loved it.

“It was more than team bonding,” says women’s basketball​ player Elri Liebenberg. “It’s that warm feeling in your heart that you know you did something that’s going to keep someone else warm during the winter. It was very fun.” 

But the big fun began when the student-athletes hand-delivered the blankets to kids in the St. Vincent de Paul Center. The Blue Demons helped with crafts, played “Duck Duck Goose” in the gym, and clambered around on the playground with the delighted children. 

“It was awesome just looking at their faces. They were so happy for all of us to work with them. Even if it was just gluing leaves on their sheet of paper, you could tell, it made their day,” says soccer player Lauren Frasca.

It can be difficult for college student-athletes to find the time to volunteer. DePaul Athletics works hard to create service opportunities that fit into players’ schedules, allowing them to connect with the community in ways beyond athletics. That’s one of the reasons softball player Angela Scalzitti committed to DePaul.

“That’s something that’s so great about this university. Service is a central part of the DePaul experience,” Angela says. “It’s part of how I’m growing as a person, not just as a player.”

Service that Builds Leadership Experience

Jessica Ramser is a leader. The junior’s involvement in service has provided leadership opportunities that have shaped her experience at DePaul.

“I started doing service through DePaul’s service immersion program and went on a first-year trip to St. Louis. From there, I was recommended to be a service immersion trip leader. I became a leader the spring of my freshman year,” said Jessica, a political science major.

After her service immersion trip, she joined the DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) and became the site coordinator for DePals, a program that works with adults and students who have developmental disabilities. 

“We mentor the students we work with, but we also offer friendship. It’s something I look forward to every week. We know about each other family’s lives. We build relationships,” said Jessica. As a coordinator, Jessica also communicates with the site, recruits volunteers, schedules visits and helps plan activities.

But Jessica’s role with DCSA expands beyond the DePals program: She’s also a member of the senior team. With approximately 25 service sites and two coordinators per site, the senior team ensures that resources are appropriately allocated and any issues that arise are quickly handled.
“Between planning events, setting up sites and securing transportation, we’re here to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the year,” said Jessica, “My leadership skills have developed and strengthened through all of these opportunities.”

But she’s not just gaining leadership experience and skills that will serve her well beyond her time at DePaul, she’s also had the opportunity to explore Chicago and think beyond the boundaries of campus and classroom.

“I’m not just going to school to get a job for myself and make money. I am part of something. We have a great city at our fingertips to learn and be involved. Service has challenged my views and given me a new perspective.”

Dance Marathon Director Finds Joy, Connectedness

“If you are really involved with something, you feel like you and other students are unified under one cause. That’s such an important part of the college experience,” says India Mayer, executive director of DemonTHON, DePaul’s 24-hour dance marathon that raises money for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

India is a four-year veteran of DemonTHON. She was a dancer representing her residence hall as a freshman and a dancer rep for her sorority as a sophomore. By the time she was a junior, she was director of dancer relations: “I was taking care of the people who were doing what I used to do.” Now she’s executive director for the entire marathon, working all year to forge DePaul students and families from the children’s hospital into a single, joy-filled community.

“When you meet these kids, you’re instantly brought into their world. You meet the families, and you realize how much the parents and siblings have on their shoulders,” she says. Yet, “they are all so cheerful. They’re so supportive of what we’re doing. That’s a pretty incredible community to be a part of.”

That sense of community is pivotal to India. She relishes how DemonTHON pulls together all kinds of students—different ages, different majors, living on-campus and off—into one team working for a common cause.

“DemonTHON gave me this insight into the sense of student community and this Blue Demon experience that I really craved,” she says.

India’s goals for this year’s marathon on April 24 and 25, 2015, are simple: Raise one more dollar than last year’s $214,000 and recruit one more student than the 400-plus who participated last year.

“For me, to be able to see more and more dancers involved and more people on DePaul’s campus get unified is going to be the most satisfying thing. So as long as the building is full, I think I’ll be happy.”

Student Finds Service Opportunity Right in His Own Back Yard

Teaching three-year-olds how to read a picture book is harder than you think.

“They look at each individual page as its own entity. I help them understand that it’s part of a bigger story, that what happened the page before affects what is happening on the current page and will ultimately impact the end of the story,” says Deon Morrissette.

That’s an apt metaphor for Deon’s own story. He grew up just blocks from where he now volunteers with Jumpstart, a children’s literacy program funded by AmeriCorps (in fact, his grandmother lives just up the street).  Deon says he really benefited from similar programs designed to help him stay focused on succeeding in school and going to college. When a friend told him about Jumpstart, he knew he would be “a good man for the job” of helping other kids the way he had been helped. He quickly applied.

Now he works with kids ages 3 to 5 at Penn Elementary School in North Lawndale, helping them with the vocabulary and reading skills they’ll need to succeed in school.

“I strive to be a role model,” says Deon. He wants kids from the neighborhood he grew up in to look at him and say, “I can make it because I see that Deon made it.”

Community-Service Scholarship Makes Her Career Path Clear

When Rebecca Woods was applying for financial aid, she discovered DePaul’s community service scholarship

“It fit with my personality and what I wanted to do,” says Rebecca, who grew up doing service projects with her family. “The classes in the program sounded really interesting; I wanted to learn more about gentrification and segregation in the city.”

She and the two dozen other students in her cohort choose a location to spend about 30 hours each quarter volunteering. In some classes, they dig deep into issues such as homelessness, marginalization and racism. In others, they “unpack” their experiences, sharing what they’ve learned and exploring what service means to each of them. 

“Service has been very humbling in both my academic and non-academic experiences. I’m meeting people I wouldn’t have met, putting myself in their shoes,” she says.  “It’s taught me to think more critically about my actions and my education and how lucky I am.”

Rebecca spent her first three years at DePaul volunteering at LIFT, an advocacy program in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. She started as an advocate and worked her way up to the leadership team. Now a senior, she’s supporting senior citizens living in a retirement community. At both locations, her volunteer work has had an impact on her résumé.

“I developed professional skills as well as academic skills. I created marketing campaigns for LIFT, trained people, developed organizational skills, learned to delegate,” Rebecca says. “I really got a lot more out of it than just putting in my hours."

Her experiences also have shaped her professional goals. Although she’s always wanted to work in marketing, she now wants to work on cause marketing for a socially responsible company.

“My community service and business ethics studies have really crafted my goals,” she says. “Applying for the community service scholarship is one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Teaching English Connects Service to Family for Two DePaul Students

Alex Petrus' and Christian Alba’s families come from opposite sides of the world—from Greece and Mexico, respectively—but they both understand what it’s like to watch their parents struggle to communicate in a new country.

“My mom came here with her family, and my grandparents didn’t really speak English. It was hard enough trying to support a family, let alone not being able to speak the language,” said Alex.

That’s why participating in Achieving Immigrant Rights and Equality (AIRE)—an organization through the DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA)—appealed to both of them. They knew firsthand the impact that speaking English can have. So on Fridays, Alex and Christian head to Erie Community House in the Chicago neighborhood of Little Village to converse with immigrants who are learning the language.

“In the U.S., if you don’t speak English, it can be difficult to do anything—go to the store, go to the doctor. By helping them learn to speak English, it empowers them,” said Christian.

They both began tutoring English as part of a service requirement for DePaul scholarships they received, but after their commitments were satisfied, they continued on. In addition to their personal connection to AIRE, they felt deeply connected to the group.

“I love the AIRE community,” said Christian, “We’re a family. We have consistent members, many of which aren’t a part of DCSA or scholars and aren’t required to do service, but they continue doing it because we feel like we belong.”

And their participation has made an impact on their lives beyond the feel-good aspect of giving back—it’s provided them with an opportunity to learn valuable skills outside of traditional classes.

“My experience at DePaul has exposed me to different things besides school,” said Alex,  “When you’re tutoring, you have to improvise and over time you learn how to communicate more clearly and you develop a strategy to teach people. These skills will help me in any future career.”

Service gets sustainable with the Environmental Concerns Organization (ECO)

Editor’s note: During the holiday season, we will be highlighting our students who have served communities and organizations over the past quarter as part of a "Season of Service" series. Today, we share the story of Sarah Mitchell.

Service has been a part of Sarah Mitchell’s life since high school, but it wasn’t until she was chosen to be part of the DePaul’s community service scholar’s program that her outlook on service changed.

“I knew that helping others was a good thing, but through this program, I’ve learned how to think about a community—what are the needs, what are the best ways to connect,” says Sarah. 

Sarah co-coordinates ECO, an organization through the DePaul Community Service Association (DCSA) that works with high school students in the Green Teens program at Gary Comer Youth Center in Englewood. The focus is on encouraging the students to live a healthy, green lifestyle.

“The idea is to be a near-peer mentor. The mentors have recently started college, and the students are about to graduate from high school. We work out together, and we work on garden projects. In the winter, we’re going to focus on green careers and how they can incorporate sustainability in their future jobs,” said Sarah.

Service has made a major impact on Sarah. Not only did her involvement with the community service scholar’s program make it possible for her to attend DePaul, it has also opened other doors and provided her with opportunities to gain career skills. She sees service as a guiding force in her life after graduation.

“I think a lot about teaching, social work, nonprofit work, or maybe policy or corporate giving. I’m personally searching for the best one, and with the community services studies program, I have the opportunity to figure out the best fit for me.”

All Hallows Eve

​Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank! Yes, pre-packaged Halloween costumes can cost anywhere from $40-$80, but who has that much money to spend on just one weekend? Plus, in college, Halloween tends to span over an entire weekend, so unless you’re willing to spend over $100 on two costumes in just one weekend, you’ve got to be creative!

Putting together a DIY-homemade costume doesn’t have to cost a lot money and you don’t even have to know how to sew! I’ve compiled a list of some costumes (mostly for girls) that won’t break the bank and use a lot items you might already have around the house plus some simple, inexpensive things to pick up from a craft store. Remember, creativity is the key to saving money….and looking awesome on Halloween.

1. A BAT – This one is so easy! Just put together an all black ensemble…everyone should have black pants and a long sleeve black shirt somewhere around the house. The only things you’ll need to buy is black fabric to make the cape, and black headband + felt to make the ears. At the craft store just be sure to buy a couple yards of black fabric, cut it and attach it to the black shirt and now you have wings. The headband is even easier because all it involves is a simple black headband and a sheet of black felt. Just cut out the felt and glue it onto the headband by folding them/creasing them in a way that the ears stick up. (this costume is pretty esay to mold into a cat and a raccoon!)

2. WALDO – This one is good for both men and women, and so easy. All you’ll need are jeans, a red and white striped shirt, a red beanie, glasses and a camera to have around your neck. This honestly requires absolutely zero sewing ability so it’s incredibly easy to just throw together at the last minute.

3. NERD – absolutely nothing needs to be bought for this costume! All you have to do is grab some shorts and wear them a little higher than normal, tuck in a shirt, add a tie or suspenders, and glasses! You look fun, silly and totally affordable!

Countdown to Classes: 10 MORE Tips to Get You Ready for DePaul

We posted 10 tips to help you prepare for life at DePaul. Here are 10 more to quench your thirst for DePaul knowledge. 

1.      If you’re living on campus, move-in day will be the start of your DePaul adventure. Get a feel for this exciting start to your college experience.

2.      Curious about what awaits you at DePaul? Take a break from getting ready and explore #IAmDePaul on Instagram. Soon you'll be having experiences just like these students. 

3.      Put (773) 325-7233 in your phone. That's how you call public safety escorts and, during mid-terms and finals, the Vinnie Van! This off-campus shuttle that helps you get home safely after a long night in the library. 

4.      Have car, will commute? If you're driving to campus, leave your street-parking woes behind and purchase an on-campus parking permit.

5.      Make your space your own. Check out these decorating ideas for your residence hall room, apartment or bedroom back home.

6.      Meet "Vinnie." Do you know more than these students about our patron saint? 

7.      Bookmark Demon Discounts and follow it at @DemonDiscounts. You'll find over 100 deals ranging from movie tickets and restaurants to rental cars and moving services.

8.      Connect with the DePaul Student Government Association, which represents your interests on everything from tuition rates to sustainability initiatives to two-sided copying.

9.      Win DePaul swag. Visit the bookstore on either campus on Monday, September 8 between 6-8 p.m. for refreshments, discounts, personal help with your textbooks, and a chance to win prizes.

10.  Pick up your U-Pass from ID Services. The U-Pass gives you unlimited rides on CTA buses and the "L" train during the academic term—which means unlimited access to everything Chicago has to offer. 

You’re officially ready to start fall quarter at DePaul. But if you have a question once you get to campus, be sure to visit the Welcome Tables in Lincoln Park or the Loop. You also can follow @DPUWelcomeWeek on Twitter to keep up to date on all the goings-on around campus. And don’t forget, you can find all these tips and more by following DePaul University​ on Facebook.

See you on campus!