Olivia Griffin

Graduation

If you are planning to join DePaul University’s Class of 2022, first of all, congrats! Secondly, welcome.  Graduation is an exciting and also terrifying time in your life.  I should know because I myself am graduating on Saturday.  But just know that DePaul is a very inclusive and stimulating place to study.

One of the first things that you will do at orientation this summer is signing the Class of 2022 Graduation Banner.  This may seem like an odd thing for you to do at orientation, but it immediately brings you closer to your class. 

And when you pick up your cap and gown at the Student Center senior year…there it will be!  And you’ll get all the feels!  It took me a good 15 minutes to find my name this past Monday, but when I did it was really exciting.  I have come so far. 

My biggest accomplishment at DePaul was successfully completing my student teaching at Jones College Prep without missing a single day.  This was by far the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life; there were so many ups and downs.  But on the last day, I had them complete a teaching evaluation, similar to the one that DePaul students fill out for their professors at the end of the quarter.

I asked them how they would describe my teaching style, their favorite activity, an area for improvement, and an open-ended question asking them if there was anything else I should know.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive. Many described my teaching style as interactive, creative, as well as patient and in the free response question left me supportive messages.  One of my favorites reads:

“I just think that you were a really amazing teacher and I’m going to miss when you are here goofing around with us and telling us your jokes you were a really cool teacher I have only had like this type of fun bond and like that you get us as teens and not many teachers I had are like this even though I know I wasn’t the best student or I didn’t talk to you more about my work I know you totally helped me view English as a fun subject if you have the right teacher.”

Other students stayed after class to thank me and tell me how much I really helped them view English differently.  Even their areas of improvement messages were sweet, saying: 

“I feel like you should be less self-conscious of what you say in class. I feel like I learned a lot from you and you have a lot to offer students, but don't be afraid and don't doubt yourself because you're awesome :)”

Though there were many times where I doubted everything, these students made it worth it. 

So, Class of 2022, I recognize what you are going through—I have many of the same emotions as you do. But it does get better.  You will find your purpose!  And I wish you the best of luck. And Class of 2018? Let’s do this! See you Saturday!

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Captivating Courses

Recently as I have been applying to jobs, I have spent a great deal of time looking over my transcripts.  As a school on the quarter system, we have the privilege of taking almost fifty different classes throughout our time here.  This inspired me to share some of my favorite classes that I have taken at DePaul over the years:

LSP 111: Explore Chicago Dancing  

If you are a first-quarter freshman at DePaul, you will definitely answer the question—Explore or Discover at least 20 times.  I took Explore Chicago Dancing, which meant that I did not experience Immersion Week, but I did see many diverse dance performances throughout Chicago.  Though Discover wraps up in Week 8, I was exploring The Joffrey Ballet around Week 10, which was an exciting break from the stress of finals! 

LSP 112: Harry Potter: Welcome to Hogwarts

Similar to Explore/Discover, first-year students are required to take a focal point on a topic of their choice to strengthen their writing skills.  As a long-time Harry Potter fanatic, this was hands down my favorite course at DePaul.  We read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone together, but then we switched to texts that analyzed the series through the theoretical lenses of philosophy, psychology, religion, and capitalism.

ENG 211: Grammar and Style

Ok, now I am letting my English teacher nerd show.  While I recognize that the name of this course may sound like your personal nightmare, I loved this class.  It broke down the complexities of the English language and related its parts to the beauty of literature.  While the tests were difficult, the knowledge was incredibly useful as it made me further analyze my own way of writing.

CTH 248: Contemporary Moral Issues: Happiness

As you may or may not know, DePaul has a religious studies requirement.  However, that does not mean you need to study the principles of the Catholic faith.  There are a variety of courses that fit this requirement, including this course all about happiness.  Combining philosophy, psychology, and religion with social-emotional learning, this class helped me get through a difficult junior year.  Another perk…it was an online course, which meant I only had to attend three classes that quarter.

ENG 350: Modern British Literature

This upper-level English course was the most enjoyable of my literary concentration.  We read a novel every week including The Magic Toyshop, The End of the Affair, and Atonement and though the pace was quick, I genuinely enjoyed everything that we read.  The professor was also super passionate, allowing the class to give their opinion before analysis, which definitely helped the entire class be more involved in the weekly reading.

LSI 346: Mainstreaming Strategies

This education class allowed me to discover and implement differentiation strategies to allow students of all ability levels and learning styles to flourish in my classroom.  Once again, the professor was super engaging and the course tested our learning in a variety of ways—tests, essays, presentations, etc., so she practiced what she preached.  I don’t think non-education majors can take this course, but if you are an education major be sure to pay attention and take lots of notes here because it is one of the most important classes in the entire program.   


Class Sizes

Whenever they show college classes in the movies, they tend to depict the scene of a large lecture hall like this:

I have never been in a DePaul class that looks like this and for that, I am incredibly grateful.  One of the best things about my DePaul experience has been the opportunity to bond with the other students in the teaching program.  I know that this would not have been possible without the benefit of DePaul’s small class sizes.  I began to make friends in my classes right from the beginning, which is not something that most college students can say. 

During my sophomore year, I began to take classes in the education program and I started to meet people who were also majoring in Secondary English Education.  As my junior year rolled around, I saw the same faces in my English classes as well and I was able to form even closer relationships with these people.  Now that I am a senior about to graduate, I can honestly say that my capstone class feels like a second family.  We have all gone through the trying experiences of long observation hours, night classes, and now student teaching and we have shared stories, food, and sometimes tears.  Without these girls (and only a few boys), I do not know how I would have survived, but I am thankful to DePaul for blessing me with such amazing colleagues and friends.


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.  


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!


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!


#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!    


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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