Olivia Griffin

Wait, How Old Are You?

You teach high school? But you look like you could be IN high school! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this…and sure I MAY have gotten stopped by the school security guards once or twice before.  But I’d like to attribute that to me just being in the halls at unconventional times—AKA during class periods.  Still, everyone always tells me I look so young, but what is a 22-year-old supposed to look like?  I am, relatively, young!  But when I look at my friends, I don’t feel as if I look noticeably younger than them, so what’s going on here?   

I’ll admit that I do not usually wear a lot of makeup and I don’t spend much time in the mornings selecting my outfit.  I am good to go with jeans and a tee shirt because I like to go with the flow.  Plus, I would rather spend more time in bed than in front of the mirror.  But as a teacher, I know that I need to dress professionally and I do!  Still, the comments come and although older women often tell me that I’m lucky and I will appreciate the comments soon enough, I don’t believe them. 

Whenever people make remarks or jokes about how young I look, I find it irritating.  What is the point?  To me, it undercuts the way I look and sometimes calls into question my qualifications as a teacher.  So next time you think you are complimenting someone by calling them baby face, think twice!  Because yes, believe it or not, I am a senior in college!  This too is something I had to say when I walked into immersion week as a CQM and was directed to where the freshmen were sitting… ​ 


Digication at DePaul

digication banner

If you go to DePaul, chances are you’ve had to make at least one Digication e-portfolio .  As a current senior, I’ve made at least six over the years! 

So what is Digication? 

Digication is an online platform that allows you to curate text, images, video, files, and more in a creative and visually appealing manner.

Who uses Digication? 

Both DePaul students and faculty use the web platform.  The first-year writing program especially likes to use Digication to allow students to document and reflect upon their writing process.  I have also had to make Digication portfolios for my jobs as a Chicago Quarter Mentor and writing tutor at the UCWbL to help me monitor my progress in achieving my professional goals in these positions.  

What’s the point?

The point is to create a portfolio that keeps your work in one place so that you can see your growth.  Portfolios are not only helpful to look back on, but they can also be extremely beneficial in preparing for jobs that require you to document your experience and showcase your work in some way.  I am currently in the process of curating my teaching portfolio to highlight my philosophy, goals, and successful lesson plans alongside student work.

If you haven’t already, you will soon be exposed to the joys and sometimes frustrations of Digication e-portfolios.  Lucky for you, there are plenty of resources to assist you along the way.  And nothing beats looking at the finished product—a professional looking website that is entirely created and populated by you and your work.   


'Twas the Night Before Student Teaching

Tomorrow is my first day of student teaching at Jones College Prep .  I cannot believe that this moment that I have spent over three years preparing for is already here.  It is exciting, but it is also slightly terrifying. 

Still, I know that DePaul has prepared me well.  I have spent the past two years observing in high school English classrooms throughout CPS.  I have spent the past three years reading and writing my own teaching philosophy.  And I have spent most of my life brushing up on my knowledge of American and British Literature, the writing process, and the nuances of grammatical structure.  I am ready.   

But am I?  It is crazy to think that last week I wrapped up my last set of classes as a full-time student (don’t get me wrong, I am still working on those finals, but still!).  How can I be finished with classes when I feel that there is still so much for me to learn!  Luckily, I will spend the rest of my life in a classroom learning from my students as much as I hope that they learn from me.        

I am excited for the opportunity to put my skills to the practical test and begin my transition into adult life.  I know that these 11 weeks will certainly fly by and that I will be sitting in Wintrust Arena with cap and gown on before I know it.  I am going to try and just take it day by day and I will be bringing you along with me.  So be prepared to enter the whirlwind that is the teacher lifestyle—it won’t disappoint!   


Professor Communication

Last year, I took a challenging medieval literature course in which we read long, sometimes very confusing, texts written in Old English.  I will never forget that class for a variety of reasons:

1) It was one of the most difficult classes I have taken

2) The professor was very intimidating 

3) One student stormed out on the very first day of class.

It was the first day of Spring Quarter and we were sitting in a beautiful corner classroom of Arts and Letters hall.  Our medieval professor was giving us an overview of the course and setting expectations for the level of rigor that we should all be prepared for.  All of a sudden, in dramatic fashion, a girl in the front row starts packing up her belongings.  The professor asked her, “are you leaving?” and the girl burst out:

“Yes! I hate this class. I cannot possibly stand 11 more weeks of this or you!” She then proceeded to storm out of the room. 

We were all shocked, especially our professor.  She tried to laugh it off, but you could tell she was rattled.  This blatant disrespect was uncalled for and totally inappropriate, especially in front of the whole class.  Sure, our professor had been trying to intimidate us to drop the course all period, but I do not think she expected anything like this.

I am sharing this story to remind you the importance of proper professor communication.  This is clearly the non-example.  What this student could have (and probably should have) done was stick out the rest of the class period (it was already over halfway over!) or quietly drop the class via Campus Connect —no one needs to know why.  In this case, an email to the professor would not even be necessary, but in other cases, it might be.

One of the things most teachers and professors I know complain about is the informality of student emails.  Students jump right into what they want or need without taking the time and respect to offer a greeting, introduce themselves, and ask clear questions.  In this day and age, email etiquette is essential, so be sure to double-check your emails for the proper protocol.  


Premiere DePaul: A Preview of the Next Four Years

It was the end of June, just about a month after graduating high school, and it was already time to register for classes at DePaul.  But I later found out that registering for classes would be the last thing that we would do during the two-day orientation, known as Premiere DePaul

As I walked into the crowded Student Center, I was immediately directed into a long line that eventually led to a photographer.  It was time to get my DePaul ID! Little did I know that this would later be the key to swipe into U-Hall freshman year, Centennial sophomore year, and Sheffield Square junior year.

I then met my orientation leader and the other members of my group—all of whom happened to be girls.  We played a few icebreakers and learned each other’s names, hometowns, and future majors.  Another girl in my group was also interested in education, so we clicked right away!  With this group, we attended information sessions on DePaul academics, safety, and extracurriculars as well as taking a tour around campus. 

By the end of the long first day, I was excited for bed. All of the future freshmen filtered into Munroe Hall to find their rooms.  But my first night in the dorm was relatively sleepless because of all there was to do. On each floor, activities were held in the common area--everything from “spirit animal” readings to movies to munching on Insomnia Cookies.  In case you haven’t heard yet, Insomnia cookies are all the rage in college.  They deliver until 3 AM and are the key to surviving every all-nighter and orientation is when I was first introduced to this future obsession. 

The second day flew by and I was finally able to register for classes, which made the entire experience feel even more real.  And just like that, Premiere DePaul was over. On the way home, I thought about how excited I was to attend DePaul, which made waiting those next two and half months very difficult. But when it was finally time to move in—I was ready!   


Just Something About Snow

When everyone always complains about Chicago winters, I don’t join in.  Winter is, after all, my favorite season.  Yes, it is freezing cold and when you board the el all bundled up you become insanely hot.  But there is one magical thing that happens every winter—Snow

Snow is a blanket that covers the city and makes all things new with its purity.  Yes, it soon grows dingy, but for a time it stays perfect.  And have you ever noticed the sense of quiet that a new snowfall brings? With snow comes peace, even just momentarily. Then there is the satisfaction of making the first path of footprints in a fresh bank of snow.  You sink in and you step out, leaving your mark as you go. 

Snow brings me back to the days of being a kid—snowballs, snowmen, snow angels, sledding, forts, and the list of fun goes on and on.  When it snows at DePaul, adults are frolicking in the Quad and there is a sense of joy all around that is quite contagious. 

My absolute favorite place to go when it snows is the beach.  The lake turns into an endless tundra and once again it is quiet. It is just crazy to think that this is the very same place that will be swarming with people in swimsuits in just a few months. 

Now I know that I can feel nothing but positivity for the snow because I don’t have to drive or shovel--  #apartmentlife.  But still, just try and take in these beautiful moments with me before the slush of March and showers of April are soon upon us.


Let's Talk Resumes

The resume, a critical document that presents concise information about who we are as workers, is one page of writing that people spend years building and perfecting. Resumes can vary so much depending on the person, their major, and the position that they are seeking. They can range in design and organization and more obviously in their specific content details.

But they all have the same purpose: to convince employers to hire the candidate by capturing their attention and urging them to continue reading his or her resume when they could be spending their time reading someone else’s. The structural features that are expected and essential to every resume allow those reading it to better understand the person who wrote it. Resumes are broken down into specific sections, given labels, and identified by unique formatting patterns.

As a senior this year, I have spent an absurd time thinking about resumes and obsessing over tweaking my own.  But luckily, I am not alone in this extremely overwhelming endeavor!  I not only have my peers to bounce ideas and formatting questions off of, but I also have the University Center for Writing-based Learning and the Career Center where I can make appointments to talk specifics.

As I have written about before, the University Center for Writing-based Learning ​offers a variety of appointment types, which can be helpful when you are trying to schedule time out of your busy life.  All tutors maintain their own updated resume, are equipped with assisting with specific word choice and basic formatting, and can always help catch those stubborn little grammatical errors.

If you are looking for more specific assistance within your major, the Career Center is a great option!  They have someone on staff who is knowledgeable on each major and they are always happy to help you streamline your resume for the exact job you are looking for.  The Career Center also has really helpful online resources to help you with formatting and using strong action verbs that are sure to get you hired!

Finally, I recommend two things to ease your resume stress:

1.      Drafting early and revising often.  Even if you aren’t ready to enter the workforce yet, keeping your experience updated makes things a lot easier when you are. 

2.      Make the appointments when you have the time and take others’ feedback into consideration.  Responsibilities will sneak up on you faster than you think and your desired employer should not be the first one seeing your resume!


Random Roommate or Facebook "Friend"

So you’ve committed to DePaul, now what? It’s time to decide: 1) are you living in the dorms? 2) which one? 3) with who?! It’s the topic on everyone’s mind—ROOMMATES! I am sure that you have heard both horror stories and love stories on this very topic.  And I am here to advocate for going random. Going random in the age of Facebook groups ?? Who does that!?  I know that it’s not very common to do this anymore and I probably sound like a dinosaur but here’s why… 

Now if you are going random, you are leaving it all up to fate. You cannot blame yourself if the situation does not work out like you might do if you had chosen your “friend.” Either way, you can, of course, remedy the situation with a housing transfer if you really needed to, but I would be less willing to do this if I felt like it was partly my fault. 

Now here’s something else to keep in mind, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate!  I definitely would not consider my roommate freshman year my best friend, or even a good friend really, but we still had a great room-lationship (and she helped me get a job, which I still work at four years later—thanks, Molly!). When you aren’t best friends with your roomie, it makes it easier to put yourself out there and meet a lot of new people during your first year, which is incredibly important.

So I encourage you to save your energy and don’t make a Facebook post. Instead, wait to meet people in real life and roll the dice with a random roommate!


DePaul Neighborhood Spotlight: Monograms on Webster

As we all know, Chicago is not a “college town.”  Choosing DePaul gives you a different experience than those who attend a state school.  But that does not mean that we don’t have our own neighborhood treasures.  The Lincoln Park campus is just a few blocks away from Armitage, a street known for its cute boutiques, restaurants, and shops.  But even closer is Webster Ave, another street packed with hidden gems.  One of the gems, where I happen to be sitting right now as I type this blog, is Monograms on Webster.

Monograms on Webster custom embroider almost anything you can imagine!  We sell everything from blankets, to cutting boards, to piggy banks, to PJs.  And if we don’t have just what you are looking for, you can bring something in and we can customize that too.  Before working here, I wasn’t aware that this place existed and I hear the same thing from many of our first-time customers who just happen to walk by.  But it is simply the best place to pick out a personalized gift for anyone on your list. 

If the creativity and cuteness of Pinterest came to life, it would look a lot like Monograms on Webster.  And that is why it’s such a great place to work.  Unlike most retail places, Monograms on Webster is a personal shopping experience.  You not only get to pick out your gift, but you also can embroider the receiver’s name or monogram on it in almost any font or color imaginable.  And I get to help with all of this!  Deciding which options to go with is imaginative and fun and seeing the faces of the customers picking up their finished, embroidered gifts is my absolute favorite. 

I can go on and on describing what it’s like here, but why not come see for yourself!?  Monograms on Webster is located at 1210 W. Webster, right next to Sweet Mandy B’s​—a delicious bakery I am SURE you’ve heard about.  See you soon!    


Surviving Night Class

As an education major who volunteers at high schools during the school day, I am accustomed to having a night class at DePaul.  In fact, this quarter I have three night classes throughout the week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!).  But even if you are not an education major, you are likely to have at least one night class by the time you graduate from DePaul.

Night classes are once a week for about three hours, usually 6:00-9: 15 PM or 5:30-8: 45 PM.  They can quickly feel quite long, but I am here to share with you a few tips that can make your experience with night class go just a bit more smoothly: 

1) Eat dinner beforehand—Nothing makes class drag longer than a grumbling stomach.  Also, this prevents you from eating dinner past 9:00 pm, saving you from late-night eating induced nightmares!  When you get home from the class you can focus on unwinding by watching an episode of your favorite TV show, rather than trying to cook something up when you are already drained.

2) Be sure your professor is giving you the 15-minute break you are allotted—Sometimes professors try and negotiate with the class on the first day regarding this.  They may offer to let you out 15 minutes early in reward for powering through the three hours uninterrupted.  Although this may seem sweet at first, it is important to give our brains a break, even if it is only for a few minutes.  No matter what, just know that the lecture/class time is only supposed to be three hours, despite the class being three hours and fifteen minutes.

3) Bring a water bottle and pack a snack—I can definitely say that I drink the most water when I am in class.  It not only keeps my body healthy, but it mostly gives me something to do when I am stuck sitting in the same position for a long time.  If boredom strikes, you can at least enjoy a quiet, light snack and cool water from the water bottle fill-up stations, conveniently located in every building.

4) Try to make friends, or at the very least exchange contact information with one classmate—This gives you someone to talk to during the break, someone to collaborate with during discussions or projects, and most importantly someone to connect with if you miss a class.  Since night class is only once a week, it is important to attend every class.  But if you are sick, it is always helpful to have someone to text right away to find out what you missed!


#OneWord2018

It’s January—a time of new beginnings, resolutions, and future goals.  I am not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but in my English Education class, I was introduced to an intriguing idea. 

We were to choose a single word to reflect and focus on each day throughout the New Year.  Now telling someone who is thoroughly invested in the English language and its many intricacies to pick just one word for an entire year is definitely a challenging proposition.  But after watching this video in class, I was truly inspired.    

Breathe. 

I chose this word to guide me through 2018 for a variety of reasons. 

We breathe every second of every day, most of the time without even realizing it.  For the majority of us, it isn’t work to do so.  For my grandma with emphysema, it is an act of labor—one she cannot do without the assistance of 24/7 oxygen flowing through a “hose in her nose” as she says.  But together, we breathe. 

breatheTo breathe is to be alive and when life gets tough it is important to remember that even though it can sometimes be challenging, life truly is a beautiful gift. 

I am currently a senior and 2018 has been a highly anticipated year.  When I graduated high school in 2014, 2018 sounded so distant to me as I joined the “Official DePaul University Class of 2018” Facebook group. 

This year, I will student teach at Jones College Prep, graduate DePaul, and begin my life as an adult—no longer in that weird semi-independent, but still very much dependent on my parents' stage of life.   

Through all these exciting, but incredibly challenging and stressful changes, I will remind myself to breathe.  To take a step back and realize how lucky I am to live in Chicago, to attend a great university, to be able to rely on an unbelievable support system of family and friends, and to breathe—to be alive!

Though it has only been four days since I have selected my word, it has already positively influenced my perspective on this New Year and on my life as a whole.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, I breathe.  When I am feeling joyous, I breathe that feeling in too. 

So I encourage you to think, what word inspires you to tackle 2018?  What word do you want to think about right when you wake up, the moments before you fall asleep, and all the time in between?  There are so many words to choose from, but by selecting just one you can work towards living a more focused and intentional lifestyle. 

Happy New Year to all!  And don’t forget to breathe.    


The Benefits of Finals Week

It is round one of DePaul’s triple set of finals and it is my senior year.  Safe to say I am feeling fairly drained, but this blog post is dedicated to focusing on the positives of finals week.  As contradictory as you might find that last statement, finals week, in my opinion, is not as bad as it seems at first glance.

Yes, you have many things to do, but you also have a lot more time to do them.  The best part of finals week is NO CLASS and in my case no work either.  As a writing tutor, the benefit to not missing any of your shifts during the regular quarter is having the luxury of time off during finals.  All of a sudden I have found myself with this free time that I did not have all quarter and it provides a total breath of fresh air.  Once I have taken that much needed deep breath, however, I must use this time wisely to spread out my workload.

You can also use this time to explore NEW STUDY SPOTSBecause you don’t have to balance class and studying like you do during midterms, you can really travel away from campus to get your work done.  Try checking out local coffee shops, public libraries, or even a friend’s apartment.  It’s always nice to get a change of scenery when it seems your project is never ending! 

Another benefit of finals week is EMPATHY.  Everyone understands when you roll up to the library at 1:00 am in a mismatched sweat suit, messy bun, and a towering stack of incomplete work.  Everyone at DePaul is going through finals week together, which means everyone can complain, wear pjs, stress, and celebrate collectively when it is all over.

Speaking of celebrating, once finals week is over we get to enjoy a SIX-WEEK WINTER BREAK.  Not only is our break nice and long, it also allows us to celebrate all of the holidays worry-free.  Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the New Year, you won’t have to stress about projects or tests hanging over your head while you are enjoying this special time with your friends and family.   

So hang in there, DePaul.  You can do it, especially if you try your best to stay positive!


Common Freshmen Questions

Q: What’s the quarter system like?

A: The quarter system is fast, but I love it!  It gives you a chance to take way more classes and if you don’t like a class very much, it is over in just ten weeks.  But it can be difficult because midterms and finals definitely sneak up on you. As long as you are organized and proactive in completing your reading and assignments, you will do great!

Q: How do you stay on top of your academics?

A: Break up large assignments into smaller tasks, so you don’t feel totally overwhelmed.  Force yourself to write drafts of essays before they are actually due.  Ex. Midterm Paper is due in two weeks, but MY first draft is due in one week.  Reward yourself!  Ex. If I finish this chapter, I will watch a 20-minute show on Netflix (but don’t forget to return to your work!!)

Q: What are professors like?  How are they different from teachers in high school?

A: Professors, in my experience, are always eager to help!  But they won’t necessarily check in with you as often as high school teachers might. I recommend looking at the syllabus to see if they have listed specific office hours, so you can meet with them individually.  Be proactive and seek help and professors will respect that you are trying to succeed.

Q: What happens if you are absent?

A: If you are sick and cannot make it to class, email your teacher.  It is best to stay in good communication to show that you care and want to be on top of your schoolwork.  Additionally, try and get a doctor’s note.  You should bring your doctor’s note to Dean of Students so that you can get an excused absence.

Q: How do you meet people?

A: You can meet people in so many different ways: get involved with a club, go to DePaul sponsored events (DePaul Activities Board​ has tons of many events), try out group fitness classes at the Ray Meyer Center​, attend DePaul sporting events, talk to people in your classes, hangout in the common areas of your dorm, eat at the Student Center, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Q: What’s the best part about DePaul?

A: The best part about DePaul is being in the middle of the best city in the United States! There is always something fun to do and with your Ventra pass included in the price of tuition, there’s no excuse not to explore the city.


What is the UCWbL?

I have worked at the UCWbL for a little over a year now and this experience has greatly impacted my time as a DePaul student.  As a tutor, I have worked with students to brainstorm topics before they have even begun to write.  I have spoken with international students in comparing Chicago to their own cities, while simultaneously helping them to grow their English vocabulary.  I have even assisted students in organizing and designing their online portfolios through Digication. 

Many students do not realize all that the UCWbL offers and more students should really take advantage of our diverse services.  Some may think that they don’t have time to make an appointment, but with five different kinds of appointments, there is something for everyone: 

1. Conversation Partner: English Language Learning (ELL) students practice their vocabulary, grammar, and overall conversation skills in-person. 

2. Face-to-Face: Students collaborate in-person with their tutor during any stage of the writing or project process.

3. Online Real-time: Students meet and collaborate remotely with their tutor over video and live text chat.

4. Screencast Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides audio and visual commentary via a 10-15 minute video clip. 

5. Written Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides written marginal comments and a detailed summary note.

Note: Appointment options 1-3 require students be present during the actual appointment time, whereas options 4 and 5 do not.  Rather, in these options the tutor works independently on writers’ submissions and they receive feedback after the appointment is over.

The benefits of making an appointment at the UCWbL are countless, but I will leave you with a few:

1. Second Opinion: It is always great to receive feedback and you as the writer get to decide what the tutor focuses on.  Whether you need to be reassured that your thesis is strong, double check your APA citations, or brush up on your grammar, having a second pair of eyes can’t hurt!

2. Minimizes Procrastination: Making an appointment allows you to set deadlines for yourself.  Whether you are brainstorming with a tutor or receiving feedback on a draft, with an appointment at the UCWbL you are not leaving your assignment until the last minute.

3. Possible Extra Credit: Some professors offer extra credit if you take the time to make an appointment at the UCWbL.  Be sure to ask if you are on the hunt for an extra point or two!


Escaping the Concrete Jungle

One of my favorite things about attending DePaul and living in Lincoln Park is the access it grants me to nature.  This may seem surprising to you because it is not the first thing most people think about when they think about living in the city of Chicago.  However, Lincoln Park is home to the zoo, lily pond, conservatory, and of course the lakefront! 

When I was very young, I used to tell people that I wanted to be a zookeeper when I grew up, so the Lincoln Park Zoo - of course - has a special place in my heart.  It is within walking distance of campus and the best part about it?  It’s free!  Not only are there always gorillas, giraffes, and lions to enjoy, but the zoo also hosts a variety of events that really help you get into the holiday spirit, such as Fall Fest and the Zoo Lights.  Fall Fest is a staple for me every year because there is an awesome pumpkin patch that transports you right out of the city!

The lily pond is right near the zoo as well and it provides you with the perfect place to escape the chaos of the city and reflect on whatever is going on in your life.  It is just the slice of quiet you need to remember the beauty of nature and self-care, which is why I always feel so relaxed when I spend time here.

If you especially enjoy exotic plants or you just need a place that will make you feel like it is the middle of summer, I suggest you make your way to the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  Here you will find beautiful flowers, greenery, and fountains in a warm and cozy greenhouse.  No matter how cold it is outside, you will always feel like you are on a tropical vacation in the botanical garden!

If you know Chicago, then I am sure you know about the lakefront path.  Still, it never gets old to come spend some time at the lake.  If you like to run or bike then it is definitely the place to be, or if you are more like me, then it is the place to see other people do those sorts of things while just relaxing and taking in the remarkable Chicago skyline!


Meet Olivia! (No, This is Not a Repeat Blog)

It was my second day of freshman year.  Classes had not yet begun and I ventured out of my dorm alone to attend Sunday Night Student Mass at St. Vincent DePaul Parish .  I remember sitting in the pew by myself for the first time.  I had always gone to church with my parents, but now it was time for me to independently live out my faith as an adult. 

After mass ended, a student announced that any freshmen interested in attending a first-year student retreat should meet at the back of the church.  I had attended a few retreats in high school and enjoyed them, so I decided to stay.  And boy am I glad that I did!  There was a small group of students gathered to learn more information and I introduced myself to one of the girls standing there.

“I’m Olivia,” I said nervously.  “No way, I’m Olivia too!” she smiled.  I laughed and I asked her if she was going to go on the retreat.  She nodded and so we both signed up.  We continued to talk as we walked out of church together, finding out that we both wanted to be high school English teachers too.  A few weeks later we were reunited on the retreat and became inseparable ever since! 

Flash-forward to today and we are still best friends.  We lived together for two years (sophomore year in Centennial Hall and junior year in Sheffield Square ) and have more similarities than we can count.  But we also have our differences and we use these to challenge each other to become even better people.  The only thing better than being friends with Olivia is being able to introduce ourselves as “Olivia and Olivia” wherever we go because we are almost always together.  

It’s crazy to think that I would have never met Olivia if I didn’t put myself out there in attending mass alone that second day of freshman year.  Sometimes you want to do things that others you know may not want to do and in doing that you can meet new people that you have something (or in my case, almost everything) in common with.  So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things, alone or otherwise!  


#WhyApply

It's crazy to think it's college application season already, isn't it? I cannot believe that I applied to DePaul four years ago! So much has changed, but my love for DePaul has not.

Both my mom and my oldest sister graduated from DePaul, but that does not mean that it was the school that I always thought I would be attending. To be honest, I originally imagined myself at a school much further from my hometown of La Grange, IL. However, health complications that came up during my high school career made that choice a bit unrealistic, so I applied to a few universities much closer to home: Loyola, Marquette, Michigan State, Indiana, and of course DePaul. 

After that visit, I started thinking more and more about DePaul.  I knew that I wanted to major in Secondary English Education and DePaul would be the perfect link to Chicago Public Schools, giving me a much more diverse experience than my own high school gave me.  That is the beauty of attending a city school—you are surrounded by amazing, worldly opportunities rather than being isolated in a small college town.  There is absolutely never a dull moment!  Whether you are interested in art, music, sports, comedy, or food, there is something for you to do each and every day with the U-Pass at your fingertips.

After my first quarter at DePaul, I knew I made the right decision.  Not only was I living in one of the best cities in the world, but I was also surrounded by people who wanted to make a difference.  If you don’t already know, DePaul is a Vincentian community that prides itself on its commitment to service and social justice by asking the question: “What Must Be Done? ”  This was not something that swayed me in my decision to apply because I was not fully aware of its meaning, but it certainly made me feel a lot more fulfilled when I arrived and embraced the mission of the University. 

So, what must be done?  Your application to DePaul University of course! You’ll never know if you don’t apply!    


Never Bored on Eboard

Last week I wrote about getting involved, but this week I wanted to specifically dive into what it’s like to be an Eboard member.  For those of you who don’t know, Eboard is short for Executive Board.  This sounds super fancy, but basically, it just means that these members are elected to lead a campus organization.

In the spring of my sophomore year, I was elected to serve on Alpha Phi Omega ’s Eboard as the pledge educator.  As the pledge educator, I led weekly pledge classes to help new members get to know the ins and outs of the fraternity.  I really enjoyed this role because it allowed me to connect with our newest “bros” and get some practice leading a classroom, something I always appreciate as a future high school teacher. 

But something I did not think about when I ran for the position was the other part of being on an Eboard—working as a group.  I am not going to lie; being on Eboard was quite stressful at times.  Trying to coordinate six different schedules to coordinate meeting times, plan events, and keep our 60+ members happy sometimes felt as painful as a group project (and who likes those!?). 

But learning how to collaborate effectively with my peers in a new way was extremely beneficial in allowing me to learn more about myself and in preparing for the professional world.  Here are three things I learned as an Eboard member:

1.      Communication really is key: I know that is literally so cliché, but there were many times when our Eboard was a mess because people went totally MIA (including our VP of Communications ironically!).  If you are having a busy week, that’s ok.  Just let the rest of Eboard know so that they can cover for you.

2.      Some things are just out of your control: Our Eboard had a lot of lofty goals at the beginning of our term, but some of them were just impossible to achieve due to things outside of our control.  Planning takes time and we often were running out of it due to the speed of the quarter system.  We also struggled with the commitment and energy level of our members at times.  We could only control what we put in, not necessarily what they chose to take out, which is important to remember when leading a group. 

3.      No matter what, leadership is truly rewarding: Whether things were running smoothly or there were many bumps along the way, knowing that I was leading an organization in achieving their goals was exciting!  I loved leading the class, chapter meetings, and events because it allowed me to appreciate the Eboard before us and after us as well as all the leaders in my life. 

 


Getting Involved

As a first-year student, you will hear over and over again about the importance of getting involved on campus.  For me, this was a lot of pressure. I was just getting adjusted to living on my own (with a randomly assigned roommate) and excelling in college courses.  How could I possibly add anything else into my busy schedule?  Looking back, I laugh at the thought of me thinking my life was busy at this point…just you wait freshman year self!  But in all seriousness, the first year of college is crazy and it can feel stressful to think about how you want to get involved. 

With that being said, what I wish someone would have told me then is that getting involved does not necessarily mean joining a billion clubs.  Yes, when you go to the Involvement Fair on the Quad you will probably feel pressured into putting your email on at least 20 different pieces of paper, especially if you want free things.  But that isn’t necessarily the key to getting involved. 

Being a part of the campus comes in a variety of different forms and can take part at different stages of your college career.  This how “getting involved” went down for me:

Freshman Year: I chose not to join any clubs or organizations.  But despite what some of you may think after reading that sentence, I was still involved on campus.  I attended events sponsored by DePaul Activities Board​, I participated in group fitness classes at the Ray, and I embraced the activities within the residence hall.

Sophomore Year: I worked in the New Student and Family Engagement program as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM), leading a class of first-year students in discussion about campus resources at DePaul.  I also joined Alpha Phi Omega​ (APO), a co-ed service fraternity that volunteers with organizations throughout Chicago.

Junior Year: I continued working as a CQM, became an Executive Board member of APO, and began tutoring at the University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL).    

Senior Year: I am enjoying my third year as a CQM and member of APO and my second year as a tutor at the UCWbL​.  I also started writing for DeBlogs!  Originally, I was hesitant to apply for DeBlogs because of my status as a senior.  I felt like I may be joining too late. 

But I soon realized that it is never too late to find something you are interested in and getting involved isn’t something only freshmen do.  I speak from experience when I say you can always find new ways to get involved at DePaul.  Being a member of the campus community is an ongoing process and it is important to keep your eyes open for fresh opportunities!   


Meet Olivia!

Hi! My name is Olivia and I am a senior majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in English.  I love to read, write, and spend all my free time working with kids, so it’s a pretty fitting major for me.

I grew up in La Grange, a western suburb and have been a lifelong fan of all things Chicago.  I am a huge Bulls fan, despite the fact that their management has made quite a few poor choices recently (cough cough the Jimmy Butler trade cough).  But I continue to watch and Bull-ieve that we can soon return to the glory of the 90s.  

I am one of the few bloggers on DeBlogs that won’t mention their love for food in their introductory blog because I am an incredibly picky eater with food allergies.  So if you are looking to hear about Chicago style pizza hot spots, look to someone else.  But if you’re sick of hearing the debate between Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s, read on!   

Though I can’t speak much about Chicago restaurants, I can certainly make up for it by sharing my Intel on Chicago’s music venues.  A few of my favorites are Northerly Island and Aragon Ballroom, but I’ll save those details for a future blog.  I absolutely love going to concerts and that is where I spend most of my money.  

Luckily, I have money to spend thanks to my many on-campus jobs as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, writing tutor at the UCWbL, and of course blogger with DeBlogs.  I also work at the local shop, Monograms on Webster and as a Lincoln Park nanny (I told you I like to spend a lot of time with kids!).  

Well, that’s me!  I hope you continue to follow my posts to learn more about me, Chicago, and of course DePaul!   


(Re)Discovering Chicago

 This year, as a senior, I experienced my first Immersion Week.  For those of you who don’t know, Immersion Week is a unique DePaul opportunity that allows you to meet with the class of your choice every day from 9am-5pm and embrace one of DePaul’s many catchphrases: The City Is Our Classroom. 

Most people enjoy this adventure during their first quarter at DePaul, as freshmen.  This allows them to get the hang of the public transit system, explore the city’s neighborhoods, discover the hidden gems of Chicago, and of course bond with fellow first-years.

As a first-year student just a few short years ago, I had chosen not to arrive at DePaul a week early to participate in Immersion Week and thus opted for my Explore Chicago Dancing class.  I remember moving into my dorm room in University Hall and feeling behind.  Many of my fellow floormates already knew each other and the city better than I did due to the intensive Immersion Week that I had shied away from. 

With that being said, I am delighted that I finally amended one of my biggest first-year regrets as a senior, checking Immersion Week off my DePaul bucket list! I participated in our class Discover Chicago’s Printed Works Past and Present as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM). As a CQM, I led discussions regarding campus resources, adjusting to newfound college independence, and academic success.

Before I go, I will leave you with my Immersion Week highlights:

  1. Speaking with Streetwise, an organization that allows those suffering from homelessness make an honest living by selling their magazine and providing necessary resources to help them get back on their feet
  2. Personally connecting with first-year students by reflecting on my own DePaul experiences
  3. Visiting Open Books, a used bookstore located in the West Loop that promotes children’s literacy by working with Chicago students through various in-house programs
  4. Typing on a typewriter, or at least trying to, at The American Writers Museum
  5. Bonding with our staff professional Justine and our professor, Prof. Easley over delicious Chicago meals

I totally recommend checking out Open Books and The American Writers Museum to experience their greatness for yourself. But until then, you’ll have to just take my word for it!

 

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