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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.    

Emma
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.

Emma
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.​

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:

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​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.

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.  
M.McVay

“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!” 


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.”