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 EmmaLenhart.com
. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”