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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!


Fall Quarter Finals

There’s no feeling more bittersweet than being halfway done with finals. Although I still have a lot more work to do and all-nighters in the library to suffer through, I already know how good it’s going to feel when I’m officially done with schoolwork for six whole blissful weeks! At DePaul, we do things a little differently than most schools. Rather than coming back to school after Thanksgiving, we take our fall quarter finals beforehand and then have a six-week long break for the whole holiday season. The break can seem a little unusual, but it’s the perfect opportunity to work a seasonal job, take extra classes to get ahead, get a “winternship,” go on an incredible study abroad adventure or simply spend some time at home with family and friends enjoying some much-needed relaxation time.

This year, I’ll be staying in Chicago and picking up extra hours at my regular job. Last winter I stayed in Chicago as well to work and take extra classes; so I’m a little relieved to actually get a little bit of a break from schoolwork this year. I’ll be going home for a few days for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’m excited to experience the holiday season here in Chicago for the remainder of break because the city celebrates​ in so many beautiful ways. Just thinking about ice skating in Millennium Park, attending the annual tree lighting, and shopping for gifts while walking down the Magnificent Mile is what’s getting me through this week. Good luck to everyone who is still finishing up finals! The holidays will be here before we know it (along with a much-needed break from classes).​


Six Things to do over DePaul's Six-Week Winter Break

Winter break is so close I can almost taste it. And one of my absolute favorite things about being at DePaul is the insanely long winter break we have to enjoy.  So whether you’re staying in Chicago or heading home for the holidays, here are six things you can do this winter break.

Take an online class: School might be the last thing any student wants to think about over break, but taking a class during winter intercession is a great way to catch up or get ahead on your credits. DePaul even offers a lot of online classes during winter break, so you can take the class wherever you’d like!

Visit friends/family: Six weeks of break leaves you plenty of time to do some traveling. Whether you’re planning a big trip cross country or visiting friends or family nearby, winter break is the perfect time to do it.

Apply for jobs and internships: Late fall and early winter is the perfect time to start applying for spring jobs and internships. Many employers begin posting job openings during this time, and getting a head start on your resume and application process can give you a leg up on the competition!

Volunteer: Volunteering is a fulfilling and fun way to spend free time during break. Organizations and charities are always looking for extra help during the holiday season, and a few hours of your time can make a huge difference in your community.

Make some money: While classes and homework are on hold for six weeks, it’s a perfect time to make some extra cash for the future. So pick up some extra shifts at work or look for a babysitting gig over the holiday, the extra money will come in handy once school starts back again.

Sleep in: Perhaps something that is on every college student’s to-do list over break is to sleep in. Sleep is hard to come by during the school year, so take advantage of the extra time and catch up on some zzzs while you can.  


Week 9 Focus

Week 9 for me is also known as my “get your life together” week. The fall quarter is almost over and our first break is so close. I can barely focus because I’m too excited to be done with school for the year, go home, see my friends and family, and celebrate the holidays.

Sadly, it’s time to prepare for finals even though it feels like I was taking midterms last week. Although it’s super easy to get distracted I’m going to take my distractions and use them as motivation. It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re near the end of the quarter and want to avoid your papers, group projects and studying but there are ways to stay focused. I’m just going to share some ways on how to stay focused when you have a lot of things on your plate.

My favorite way to keep organized and get things done is to make lists. Daily lists are the best. Where you can list all the things you need to get done for the day, and checking those things off as you go through your day is such a relieving feeling. Setting reminders is also very helpful, whether it be a reminder to do your laundry at 2 pm or finish your paper at 11:59 pm. This is a great thing to do if you’re very forgetful like me. Also, putting things on a calendar can help you see how available you are and how you can manage your time best. These are just a few ways I get my life together when I’m stressed, but stress is normal - especially when finals are approaching. It’s important to keep yourself motivated and not be too hard on yourself. Make sure to take breaks and make time for yourself.

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Life as an Out of State Student

Being from another state has pushed me to be more independent and reliant on myself. Rather than being able to call my parents to come check out an apartment I am interested in, I have to be attentive and responsible and decide for myself whether it seems like a safe place to live and a good fit. Instead of going home when I get sick or have had a hard week like some of my friends are able to do, I do not have that option. Being completely on my own has pushed me to succeed on my own without falling back on anyone else, and I am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved while living here in Chicago.

Another thing that going to school in another state has taught me is to treasure the time I have with my family and friends at home. When I fly home for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks, I will not have been home for eight whole months! Since this is the case, when I do have a few days at home I make sure that I take full advantage of them. Rather than spending any time watching Netflix in my room, I’m usually hanging out with my grandma, going on lunch dates with friends I rarely see, or catching up with my five siblings. I don’t waste a single moment because I understand how precious this time truly is.

Although it is difficult when one of my roommates meets her family downtown for dinner and I’m missing my family, or my other roommate calls her parents to bring her something she forgot at home and I crave that convenience, I do not regret my decision to go to school in another state. I would not be the person I have become if I had not pushed myself to do this, and there is truly no place I would rather be than living and learning in Chicago. My experience at DePaul ​is simply not something I would have been able to have at any school in Ohio where I am from.


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.


Debunking Study Abroad Myths

Let’s be real, everyone wants to study abroad. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? Spending a semester in a foreign country is exciting, fun, and adventurous. In fact, many study abroad alumni often credit a semester overseas as one of the best experiences of college. As much fun as studying abroad is, it can also be scary, nerve-wracking, and a total culture shock. Study abroad often gets a good rep, but there is some controversy out there surrounding the entire experience. After studying abroad in Budapest during the fall of my junior year, I learned a lot about what the entire experience is really like. Here are some of the most common ideas out there I hear about studying abroad, and why I think they’re not entirely true.

You’ll fall behind in credits: Many students think that you can only take electives while studying abroad which will make you fall behind in course credits. While it is true that many students decided to mainly take electives, most programs have classes that will fulfill major or learning domain requirements. So even if you don’t have any elective credits to spare, studying abroad is still an option!

It’s too dangerous: In the state of our world today, spending a semester overseas can be scary as far as safety is concerned. That being said, universities are very in tune with what’s happening in the world, and would never send students off to a country they believed to be unsafe. Many study abroad programs also have a very extensive safety protocol so the university knows where all students are at any given time.

You need to be fluent in another language: Living in a foreign country where everyone speaks a language you’ve never heard before is definitely a huge culture shock. Language barriers are one of the biggest turn-offs for students when choosing a country to study in. Knowing the native language of a country is absolutely beneficial, but not necessary. English is widely spoken and understood across the globe, and many programs have a language component where you can take a beginning level class to help learn the basics of the native tongue. 


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!


Finding an Internship in the City

Handshake: DePaul makes getting an internship so much easier with their online career platform site that is exclusively for DePaul students. Handshake has thousands of jobs and internships listed, as well as career-related events and resources. Because the site is for DePaul students only, it’s a great resource that can help you gain an edge over the competition.

Career Center: The career center is an amazing resource that DePaul offers and students should definitely be taking advantage of it. When I was looking for internships, I met with an advisor several times to strengthen my resume and create focused and concise cover letters for various positions.  The career center also offers interview tips, career fairs, advising, and so much more.

Clubs: Joining one of DePaul’s many professional clubs is a great way to meet people with similar interests and start networking with professionals outside of DePaul. Many of these clubs have networking events that can help you build connections and may even lead to a job or internship.

Follow up: This is a simple tip that can make all the difference in scoring an amazing internship. Following up with companies you have applied to can make you stand out from other applicants and give you a competitive edge. A simple email or phone call is a great way to show employers how interested you are in the position.

Email notifications: There are tons of job websites out there that can notify you when new companies are looking for an intern. Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn are always posting new jobs and internships for college students. A lot of these sites have a weekly email notification that tells you which companies are currently hiring.  


Treat Yourself

Midterms are brutal, but being done with them is relieving. My biggest motivation during midterms is thinking about all the ways I’m going to treat myself after. The minute I left my last exam I was out running errands and finding ways to recover from the excessive studying I did. I believe everyone should do a little something (or nothing) after a few tough exams. Spoiling yourself is one of the easiest things to do but if you can’t think of anything here are some ways to treat yourself .

Shopping: Retail therapy is real. Who cares if you failed your finance midterm if you look cute in your brand new shoes? It’s hard not to splurge when shopping , but it still is relaxing buying some new clothes or just window shopping after staring at textbooks for 2 weeks straight. I try to avoid shopping for clothes and usually buy myself flowers and some books because I finally have the chance to read something for fun.

Food: Order your favorite food! The best way to spend money is on food. I usually buy a bunch of my favorite snack foods which includes Jewel cookies, Reese’s, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The best way to treat yourself is to literally treat yourself- too bad it never involves anything healthy.

Shut Off Your Brain: Do nothing. After exams is the best time to start a new show to binge watch or stay in the night and watch one of your favorite movies (as you eat your favorite pint of ice cream). Being curled up in bed and not having to use your brain for something intellectual is so relaxing and rewarding.

Friends: After putting off hanging out with your friends to study you need to go out and socialize. Hang out with your friends and try to avoid talking about school. Get away from campus and enjoy some of the cool places Chicago has to offer.


Why Did I Apply

I remember growing up, a lot of my friends had a “dream school” they wanted to go, but I didn’t have that. As I was applying to colleges during the fall of my senior year I never thought that DePaul would be the college I’d end up at. I’m halfway through my sophomore year and have realized that DePaul is perfect for me. This university fits everything I need and it turns I am going to my dream school.

Location: First of all DePaul has an amazing location. Honestly, I found DePaul to be the prettiest of the Chicago universities. Although I’m from the suburbs and would visit the city almost every week for fun before my freshman year, I never get tired of Chicago. I love Chicago and couldn’t see myself in a rural area for school. Chicago is full of culture, opportunities, and lessons and it is true when everyone says “the city is your campus.”

Financial Fit: DePaul met my financial needs. Money is a very stressful thing and that played a large factor for me when I was applying to colleges. I was lucky enough to qualify for some of the many DePaul scholarships.

Business School: DePaul has a well-known business school and knowing I wanted to major in accounting made it easier for me to see why DePaul was a good fit. DePaul offers a lot of good networking opportunities since it is located in and near the city. I thought about how being surrounded by the fast pace lifestyle of Chicago would help me prepare more for the future.​​

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Why I Chose to Become a Blue Demon Vol. II

On the other hand, choosing to attend DePaul, or stay for that matter, solely based on the premise it is located in Chicago does not by any means constitute a valid reason to study here. Truth be told, I think it is the field experience - in terms of jobs and internships - that separates DePaul from most universities. I see firsthand the dedication of studying in honors programs, declaring multiple majors, working a job as a full-time student (whether it be on or off campus) and attaining internships before graduation; all to which typical DePaul students will have the luxury of accomplishing as opposed to those of a state school. I see old high school classmates in their state universities partying and tailgating, to which I must admit seems so fun, you know that stereotypical college experience. But, it is no wonder as to why parties are the dominant theme; they don’t have some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions, corporate employers, and recreational parks in their backyard. There is a reason why Chicago is the first destination they flock to when summer break comes around.  


#WhyApply

When I was a senior in high school, my head was spinning with the thought of all of the colleges I could apply to and potentially attend. It seemed as if the opportunities were endless, which caused me to feel extremely overwhelmed and unsure of which choices to make. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to attend school in a city filled with opportunity and potential for growth. I wanted to be in a place where I could do a million different things and not feel as if I was limited in any way. For me, that ended up being Chicago due to its location (six hours from home) as well as my love for the city and all that it has to offer.

Once I knew I wanted to go to school in Chicago, the next step was to decide which school was right for me. My situation was a little bit different than your average applicant because I applied before I even visited DePaul due to being an out-of-state student. By spending a lot of time on DePaul’s website, I gained some insight that led me to realize how important service is to the DePaul community. As secretary of my high school service club and an extremely active volunteer in my community, I knew service was something I wanted to continue to be a part of in my college career. DePaul’s emphasis on service was a large factor in my decision to apply as well as one of the reasons I was drawn to DePaul in particular over other Chicago schools.

Once I applied to DePaul, the decision to attend school here was fairly easy. It’s cliché to say that once I stepped on campus it felt like home, but it did. DePaul is unique because it does not feel like you are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. When you are on campus in Lincoln Park it feels like a college campus, and when you are downtown in the Loop it feels like you are right in the middle of Chicago. You could go from a class in 14 E. Jackson to an internship with any of Chicago’s Fortune 500 companies within ten minutes. On the other hand, you could also go from a class in Lincoln Park to relaxing on North Ave. Beach within about twenty minutes. At DePaul, you really do have the best of both worlds, and this is another significant reason that I was drawn to this school in the first place.

Good luck to all of you seniors who are in the application process! I know you’ll find the right school for you, and hopefully, that means being a blue demon for the next four years here at DePaul.


#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!    


#WhyApply

The entire college application process is definitely a stressful experience that brings with it a mix of different emotions. Despite the highs and lows that accompany this time in your academic career, the best piece of advice I can give to any high school senior is to forget all the doubts you have and simply apply to any and all schools that interest you.

When I was searching for colleges and universities I was easily overwhelmed with things like acceptance rates and test scores, so much so it led me to not apply to schools that I was interested in. I’ve realized that the college admission process is so much more than what your grade point average is or how well you did on one test. Instead of calculating the chances you have of getting into your dream school, skip the doubt and apply to as many schools as you can.

A major reason why I applied to DePaul was because I knew they had an incredible Public Relations/Advertising program. However, I also had to think about the possibility that I would change my major or career path sometime throughout college. DePaul offers so many different areas of study that I knew I could find something I loved even if I did end up going in a completely different direction.

Often times at DePaul you hear people saying “the city is our classroom” and the phrase could not be more true. It’s one thing to learn out of a textbook, but it’s an entirely different experience getting to test your knowledge out in the real world. The fact that DePaul is situated in one of the best cities in the world is another reason that led me to apply. Chicago offers thousands of jobs and internships across the city, and DePaul is the best resource to help students land their dream position.

I also loved the fact that DePaul is a university founded on Vincentian values, so much so that the school was named after St. Vincent de Paul himself. I was thrilled that DePaul could offer me an amazing college education, but it’s the things DePaul offers outside education that truly led me to apply here. From community service organizations to student government, Greek life, professional development and recreational sports, there is literally something for everyone here at DePaul.

DePaul has been a dream school for myself and thousands of other students across the globe. Good luck to all high school seniors with the college application process, and I encourage each of you to apply to be a blue demon!

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TTS: Decoded

Hi again! It’s me. Moving forward in these blogs, I’m going to start using some language common to The Theatre School students -- as a conservatory, we have a shared set of vocabulary to describe what we do as theatre students, but for those of you who may be new to this, let me explain! Every quarter, I’ll be de-coding some commonly used phrases here:

​TTS - This is short for The Theatre School. Whether you’re registering for classes, looking for somewhere to collaborate, or just chatting with another student, this is the slang you’ll use.

TTSSGA - We have our own student government! They help us with everything from having therapy dogs to organizing student-driven events that serve our 300+ student community. 

ST*RS - This stands for Support Tomorrow’s Rising Stars. It’s an organization of 4th year BFA and 3rd year MFA students that fundraise money to attend their graduate showcases in LA, Chicago, and NYC. Other funds go toward helping members pay to start their professional careers. They also put on a ton of TTS community programming - the organization has hosted everything from dances to drag shows! See our graduating class of 2017 here.​

Dramaturgy - Pronounced drama - ter - jee. This is a major and field of study within theatre. Sometimes known as “story detectives,” a dramaturg helps the creative team better serve the script and the audiences of the show.

The Reskin - Actually called the Merle Reskin Theatre, this space is a 1000+ seat proscenium stage. We host 3 children’s productions a year in this theatre -- more info to come in upcoming blogs. To see a history of the Merle Reskin, click here. It’s a building ingrained with Chicago culture!

The Fullerton - The Fullerton Stage is another one of our theatre spaces. It’s located in the first floor of our 5 floor building, and it holds 250 audience members in a thrust-style arrangement. This fall, we’ll be producing Into The Woods there! Check out Into The Woods here.

The Healy - This is yet another theatre space -- and it’s my favorite. This large black box has 8 different seating configurations, 5 catwalks, a floor to ceiling window, and an amazing view of the city. As of October 1st, this show is loading in for Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England -- more info here.​

Our Season - Referring to our production season, this statement can reference any of our 30+ shows in more than 6 theatre spaces per year. In addition to having this season databased online (we do everything from Shakespeare to new work!), our fourth floor has an amazing calendar of the season.

Have any questions on these terms? Want to learn more about how we function here? Email  theatreadmissions@depaul.edu for more information or to request terms for next quarter!


How To Spend a Dark Day

As someone in theatre, my days don’t end after 5 pm. I’m usually in rehearsal, working on creative projects, or in meetings. This past Monday, though, was a dark day (for all of the non-theatre folks reading this: a dark day is a night off from rehearsal or performances).

On this night off, I had the privilege of attending a Public Program at Victory Gardens Theatre. Victory Gardens is one of Chicago’s Tony-Award winning theatres, and it just so happens to be a 5 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

Many of our professors and students are connected with Victory Gardens -- whether they’ve worked there, acted there, or interned there -- which added to the fun of the night. I was attending a conversation between Jeanine Tesori (who has worked on shows such as Shrek, Fun Home, and Violet)and Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune Theatre Critic and DePaul University professor.

While the conversation and subsequent performances were amazing, one specific part really inspired me: At one point in the discussion, Jeanine said, “I’m happy Fun Home happened when it did in my career. It was at a point where my ambition matched my skill.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking about that statement. What does it mean to be a young artist, to live in a city full of art, to have tons of ambition, and not to know where your skill level lies?

I’m a director -- this means that regardless of my skill level compared to others in the rehearsal room, I’m expected to be an ambitious facilitator of storytelling. My fabulous professors have prepared me with a toolkit of ways to go about this; I’ve also had the opportunity to direct and assist throughout my 2 years in Chicago. Like others I go to school with, I’m constantly “on the grind” -- finding new gigs, stories to tell, programs to attend, and communities to interact with.

To me, those experiences are just as valuable at developing my talent as the experiences inside the classroom.

I’m thankful to have access to programs like this one at Victory Gardens. I know it’s absolutely a privilege to hear established theatre professionals speak every day. What I find myself wondering, though, is how I can use this privilege to enrich my education and take with me to the rehearsal room.

Part of being a 20-something means forging this path on my own, and part of being a theatre artist means combining my work within DePaul with my opportunities outside of DePaul. With the help of my formal and Chicago-based education, maybe, eventually, I can reach a point where my talent and ambition race side by side.

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Best Study Spots in the Loop

Now that fall quarter is in full swing, homework and assignments are starting to pile up. As a Public Relations and Advertising major, I spend most of my time downtown at the Loop campus. And while DePaul has an awesome library down in the Loop, sometimes you just need to switch it up a little. Whether I need to knock-out a paper or settle in for some serious study time: Here are some of my favorite study spots in the loop campus.

Goddess and the Baker​

A staple for many DePaulians, Goddess and the Baker is a chic and hip coffee spot with some seriously awesome eats. Whether you’re just looking for a caffeine fix or need to fuel up with lunch between classes, this place is sure to have something you’ll love. While it’s one of my favorite places downtown, it’s on the smaller side and definitely fills up quick during the weekdays.

HWL

Harold Washington Library ​

Although many of us know this as an EL stop, Harold Washington Library is home to one of the best study spots downtown. The Winter Garden is located on the 9th floor of the library and has some incredible study vibes going for it. Fit with a glass roof, the room offers tons of natural light and even has free (and fast) Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for a study spot with a view, this place is definitely for you.

Two Zero Three​

Although this cafe isn’t quite as close to the Loop campus as the others, the short journey is definitely worth it. Located on the ground level of the Virgin Hotel on Wabash, this chic spot offers comfy chairs in a cozy study atmosphere.  With plenty of outlets and natural light, Two Zero Three is a great place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat and knock-out some work.

Peach and Green​

This place is seriously a hidden gem. Peach and Green covers the trifecta of necessities for a great study spot: great food and coffee, plenty of seating, and fast Wi-Fi. With a hot food bar in addition to made-to-order food, this place has something for everyone. Make sure and grab a comfy seat in one of their couches by the window!​ 


What I Learned From My Freshman Year at College

From only one year at college, I have learned more than I ever did in my four years of high school. There are an endless amount of things I have learned but I’m going to highlight some of the most important things I learned my freshman year.

1. Don't stress about keeping up with friends.

You will go days or weeks without texting/snapchatting/ calling or just plain talking to your friends from home sometimes. THAT IS TOTALLY FINE. Actually, it is a good thing. When you and your friends get together the next time you all will have so much to say your conversations will never end.

2. Capture it. Write it.

You’re going to experience some cool things, document them somehow.

Journal

3. Do more of what you love.

You’re beginning a new life in a way; more of a life you’ve always wanted. You can be 100% in college. There are no cliques and everyone is who they want to be, so do the things that make you happy because there are no restrictions.

4. Keep an open mind.

This one is simple.

explore

5. Adventure/ Explore!

There is so much to do! Especially being in the city. So go out, get lost and find some cool places. If you don’t know what to do, ask friends about their favorite places to go and check them out yourself.

6. You are more than a grade.

I know that school can be stressful and you will most likely spot me vigorously doing my homework in the library on a Thursday night but don’t stress too much about grades. If you make an effort in class, talk to professors and find study groups you can work with, you will feel a lot more relaxed. It is not healthy to overstress about school- there is more to you than your grades.

I believe that we are always learning which is why my favorite phrase is an Italian saying: “Ancora imparo” which translates to “I am still learning.”  Michelangelo proclaimed this when he was 87 years old which is usually a time where a lot of people think they have seen it all and know everything with all the wisdom they have attained. These two words remind me how I can take any experience as an opportunity to learn. College is one great experience and I am still learning things about college and myself and continuously adding to this list.


New School Year, New Students

Now that the school year is back in full swing, I’m finally settling into my junior year at The Theatre School (TTS).  One of my absolute favorite parts of fall is getting to know the new TTS students!

Our conservatory is really small; we hover around 300-400 students spread over 12 BFA and 3 MFA programs. This means that every year, 90 new students enter a tight-knit, closely-networked group of upperclassmen excited to welcome them into their community.

Being a new student can be overwhelming. I remember feeling completely prepared for college, but arriving in an arts conservatory where you have 10 people in a class and 16 hour days was still a bit of a shock (see photo at right). Two years later, now that I’m well adjusted to the ins and outs of TTS, I’m a co-coordinator of a program called the Goodman Orientation Detail Squad -- better known as the GOD Squad.

This mentorship program takes its roots from the Goodman School of Drama, what The Theatre School was called when it belonged to the Goodman Theatre (back when DePaul hadn’t “picked it up” yet!). The idea is basically to pair upperclassman students with underclassmen in their same major, creating a community of empathy, networking resources, and helping adjustments to TTS. It’s amazing to see how comfortable students feel when they know just one person. As professional and grown-up we like to say we are, everyone can always use a helping hand.

It’s amazing to see where students hail from every year to come study here in Chicago! Every student has a different background, view on theatre, and framework on the world. My favorite part of this program, though, is the yearly reminder of the excitement that comes with entering college.

When I’m knee deep in homework and starting to feel some Fall Blues, it’s the excitement of a new Theatre School class that keeps me motivated. What better way to start the school year than to be surrounded by 90 nervous, excited young artists?

If you’re starting your career at DePaul this fall, remember this: GOD Squad program or not, students like me are ecstatic to help you through your journey. Your transition to Chicago is one of the bumpiest, most amazing, inspiring times of your life. Find your squad and live it up!

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Cherish Your Amazon Prime


This is by no means a plug for Amazon, rather just a college student fascinated by the conveniences modern technology is able to revolutionize constantly. Amazon Prime was something I thought I would never give into, simply because I thought it was a hyped service. Then, I signed up for the free six-month trial available for students, which in itself is a pretty good amount of time for a trial. My six months are about to expire and I am contemplating on whether I should renew the membership for the student discount of fifty dollars for the year, which is half-off the normal rate.

The first thing to know with Prime is that their deals are not always a deal. It would be wise to search other sites or stores before buying a discounted item through Amazon. However, there are some pretty good bargains from time to time. Prime was able to persuade me to buy something I did not necessarily need, such as the Versace Eros Eau De Toilette Spray that was too tempting at 65% off, or roughly a hundred dollars off from its retail value. Another purchase I made was for my new apartment room. Once again, kind of unnecessary, but I was able to snag a leather bed frame that included sideboards, headboard, footboard, and wooden slats for a hundred and forty. The next day, the price jumped to its retail value of two hundred and ten dollars. A key feature to Prime is the free two-day delivery with Prime items. I’ve had things shipped to me that took two months, so the two-day benefit becomes quite handy in situations such as when you desperately need school supplies or textbooks.

PrimeNow

With your Prime subscription comes the feature of Prime Now , which is free two-hour delivery from local restaurants and grocery stores. I’ve used this app a few times, ordering things such as Greek yogurt, vegetables, and even TGI Fridays once. But beware; this will ultimately culminate into a more solitary lifestyle where one will never have to leave the comfort of their home again. Okay, that may have been an extreme exaggeration, but it does hold some truth in it. I mean there were times I said to myself, “why make the trek to an Aldi or Target and haul the gallon of milk or cartons of eggs when I could have it brought to my doorstep.” That is why I limit myself to only purchasing items I prefer, that I cannot find at the Aldi by me, such as a certain nonfat Greek yogurt. I hope you try the trial yourself, for Prime is a college student’s life saver . 

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Welcome Back!

​​​With Fall Quarter beginning last Wednesday, DePaul students are finally getting back into the academic routine. For me, this means transitioning from focusing solely on working to balancing work with my class schedule and school activities. Although it will be a challenging ten weeks since I am taking five classes and maxing out my credit hours, I am eager to delve deeper into some of the subjects I’ll be studying such as Global Climate Change and American Sign Language .
Planner

Most students at DePaul typically take 16 credit hours per quarter which is a total of four classes. However, the tuition that you are paying includes 18 credit hours, so you get more for your money if you enroll in the full 18. This quarter, I am using this to my advantage by picking up an extra two credit class that fulfills a requirement for my Peace, Justice, and Conflict studies minor. Although I do not have to do this by any means, it is helping me to get ahead and potentially graduate early.

Taking this class along with my regular schedule is difficult, but it is manageable since a two credit hour class is not nearly as much work as my other classes. I highly recommend maxing out your credit hours, but it is also not necessary for many students. If it is going to be too much, don’t stress yourself out about it and simply take the normal amount. I’ve always been one to take on more than I can handle, so maxing out my credit hours was not a decision I took lightly.

For example, I signed up for 18 credit hours in the spring, but dropped my two credit hour class when I realized it was going to be too difficult to balance with my internship, job, and other activities. Finding what works for you is all about balance, and sometimes it takes making some mistakes to realize what will work best.

Succulents and Pens

Although I’ve only had one full day of classes, I can already tell this quarter is going to be full of interesting lectures/debates and engaging assignments. Taking 18 credit hours will be a challenge, but it is one that I am prepared for and excited about. Sophomore year is going to be a good one, I can already feel it!


Meet Richa!

Hi, readers!

My name is Richa (pronounced Reach-ah). I’m currently a sophomore at DePaul University double majoring in Accounting and Finance. I was born, but not raised, in Chicago. I’m from a close suburb called Des Plaines- known for being the home of the first-ever McDonald's and an absurd amount of trains. I am more than grateful to be going to DePaul and being able to take advantage of all it has to offer.

Books

I enjoy a vast amount of things but my favorites would include playing basketball, taking pictures, reading (especially poetry ), going to the beach, visiting art museums and galleries, and exploring Chicago. Chicago has been my classroom and in my free time, I always explore the city for its never-ending adventures. The two distinct campuses allow me to grow, mature, and prepare more for the future. I’ll be sharing a lot of these adventures with you through my blog.

Richa

I also think music is very important. I have a wide range of preferences and can’t wait to share my love for music with you on this blog.  

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Meet Sarah!

Hey y’all!

I’m Sarah, a junior pursuing a BFA in Theatre Arts, concentrating in Directing, in The Theatre School (TTS). I’ll be DeBlogging all year, so keep reading to find out a little bit about me:

pride

Hey Sarah, where ya from? I’m originally from Northville, Michigan - a small suburban town about 5 hours away from Chicago. My family loved traveling when I was a kid, and after visiting many urban areas, I decided Chicago was best for both my theatre career and my life. I now live in Boystown, a neighborhood about a mile north of DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. It’s full of history, great food, and fun! It’s also a historic site of Chicago Pride (glance at the photo to the right of me and my pals celebrating pride this year!).  Having so much culture at my doorstep is unbeatable.

What do you do? Within The Theatre School’s conservatory, I focus on new work and assistant directing. You’ll hear a ton about the shows I’m working on in the coming year! I work within The Theatre School’s admissions office, and I am a coordinator for the Goodman Orientation Detail Squad -- a mentorship program that pairs new TTS students with current students in their major to help the college transition. I was also a 2016 Orientation Leader. As you can tell, I absolutely love working with new students!

How about outside TTS? My work in theatre focuses a lot on nonprofit development, so many of my experiences in Chicago relate to that. I’m the Finance Director for DemonTHON, a 24-hour dance marathon benefiting Lurie Children’s Hospital. It’s DePaul’s largest philanthropic organization, which has introduced me to some fabulous people. I also work with Oxfam -- an international non-profit working to end poverty -- as one of 38 CHANGE leaders in the country.

But like… What do you do in your free time? When I’m not working on one of my projects, you can catch me eating all around the city. In each blog, I’ll share my restaurant of the week.

Restaurant of the Week: Pick Me Up Cafe! It’s a diner 2 blocks from Wrigley Field that is open until 3 am. Their vegetarian food is unbeatable, and they have a 90s vibe with endless coffee and free wifi. Check it out!

I’m super excited to share more with y’all throughout my year. Keep reading weekly to watch as I fall more and more in love with Chicago and DePaul!


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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The Grand Finale

Well, here it is. What was just a constant theme in my blogs throughout this year has now arrived. 

I remember walking onto DePaul’s campus for the first time filled with excitement at what the future had in store for me. Four years, 12 quarters, and countless final exams later and here I am excited once again for what the next chapter has in store. 

DePaul University, you’ve been good to me. 

Graduation
Thank you to everyone that has helped and supported me throughout these past four years. Thank you to all the clubs and organizations that brought me in, taught me valuable lessons, and enriched my college experience. Thank you to the readers that visit this site weekly and check out our works. 

Lastly, thank you to DeBlogs and everyone behind the scenes making it possible to have our content shared and read by students, faculty, and more. I’ve been with DeBlogs since my freshman year and have somehow managed to find something to write about every single week for 120 weeks (if my math is correct). When creativity lacked, when studies were difficult, and time was limited the DeBlogs crew worked with me and helped me stay on track. Having a weekly blog due made me go out of my way to explore DePaul and my city more than I may have without it. 

I developed personally and professionally from freshman year to senior, working on communicating with the DeBlogs team and maintaining what was expected of me. DeBlogs is also the only program I took part in, aside from my scholarship, for all four years at DePaul. So for those looking for a fun, rewarding experience and a chance to build your creative writing portfolio I highly recommend joining the DeBlogs team. 

Along with this Grand Finale blog is a farewell video​ I made talking about my experiences at DePaul. Give it a watch! That brings me to the end of this blog. Thank you everyone, once again, and for the last time…

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome friends!

Josue Ortiz
Class of 2017   

Graduating!

Last Sunday, I sat in Allstate Arena at the College of Science and Health’s commencement ceremony. I know everyone often says this, but I cannot believe that I am finished with undergrad! It seriously went by so fast, and were truly some of the best and transformative years of my life.

I have made many wonderful friends, some of whom will be FFL (friends for life). I struggled through my sophomore year, switched my major, and found something I am really passionate about. I became more confident in and steadfast to myself, and developed strong morals and convictions. 

Sarah
I grew a heart for people and for the world, and am determined to make a difference in my future career. I found a church I love (Park Community Church-- go check it out!!) and met inspiring people that have influenced my faith journey and walk with God. 

I fell in love with Chicago, which really isn’t a hard thing to do, even despite its winters. I studied a lot, and continued to develop my love of learning and knowledge. If I were to pick one word to describe these last four years, it would be growth. 

Thank you, DePaul, for the past four years. I have immensely enjoyed my time here in Chicago and am appreciative for the ways the city has been transformative. Thank you as well to those who have tuned in weekly to read about my life. It has been such a pleasure to update you all about my life here at DePaul and in Chicago. For the last time, thanks for reading! 

The Quarter System

99 percent of the time I love the quarter system. I love the ten week classes, getting to try a number of classes throughout the year, having a break from Thanksgiving to New Years, and starting later in the fall.
 
Every year, though, the end of May is when I get so envious of all my friends on the semester system already done with school. They’re hanging out, sleeping in, and taking time off while I’m studying for finals and am stressed out all the time.

To cope with this, I’ve figured out some tips. 

DePaul
1. I’ve been having “study dates” with my grad school friends, so while they’re studying for big exams or preparing for grad school, I can study for finals. Its different work, but work nonetheless

2. When I need a study break, it’s a perfect time to hang out with my friends already done with school and go out to eat, or have a movie night.

3. I still go to all the events and parties my friends are having, I just don’t stay for too long. I went to a Memorial Day brunch but left after a few hours.

4. I study with friends still in school! I have friends at Northwestern who also have finals in June, and also many friends at DePaul who are anxiously studying as well, so spending time with them forces all of us to stick to the books, even if all we want to do is go to the beach.

Farewell Freshmen Year

Yesterday, I hopped on a plane to head to Santorini, Greece ​for a wedding, and from there I'll be spending the summer in Cyprus, the country I'm from. Having to complete all of my finals early was stressful, to say the least (I wrote 21 pages of essays in one night...), but I'm finally done and it feels amazing! While most of my friends were still in Chicago studying and taking finals, I was able to leave early and get my summer started a little sooner. 

Greece
Being officially done with my freshman year feels bittersweet. I spent the day before I left crying with my friends, reminiscing on our year, and thinking about how we'll never again live right down the hall from each other. Although I'm really looking forward to living in an apartment next year, I also have come to realize just how convenient and easy it has been living in such close proximity to all of my closest friends. I'm really going to miss it! No matter how many times we complained about having to share rooms or constantly being surrounded by people, we all loved the experience and would not trade it for the world.

Looking back, this year has truly been one of the best and most challenging of my life. Living and studying in Chicago has been even more exciting than I expected, and the opportunities I have had make me feel extremely grateful. From having an internship as a freshman to simply studying downtown in the beautiful Harold Washington Library, being at DePaul has allowed me access to numerous things I would not have had at any other school. There's simply nowhere else I'd rather be for the next three years. While I'm still really sad about the end of this one, I can't wait to see what the next three hold. 

Junior Year Wrap Up

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again, and by that I mean the close of another school year. Twelve classes, thirty weeks, and one year later it’s officially time for me to close the book on junior year. Junior year is obviously a big deal, you’re officially an “upperclassmen,” yet you still feel pretty young. It’s the year most people get into the bulk of their major courses, and you start making strides toward where you want to be after college.

Budapest
I won’t lie, this year was definitely hectic. Regardless it was hands down the best year I’ve had at DePaul yet. I started out on an unforgettable note by studying abroad my fall quarter. I spent 20 weeks in Budapest , Hungary where I took tons of interesting classes, one being Hungarian language for beginners. The four months I was abroad I traveled to 10 different countries, successfully drained my entire savings account, and made some amazing memories. 

Going abroad was such a great experience, but come the end of the semester I was definitely ready to come back to America. Getting back into my daily routine at DePaul was hard, especially coming off a semester in Europe where homework essentially didn’t exist. Despite the challenging workload brought on by junior year, the best part of it was that I was that I was finally taking most of my major course classes. I was able to experience all the classes I had been waiting to take since I got to DePaul my freshman year, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. 

Brooke
One thing I did notice about this year was the fact that I kept feeling like I should be doing more. DePaul students are definitely ambitious, and it seemed like everyone around me had an internship or was making strides toward their career. It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed and start comparing yourself to what other are doing. I realized that everyone moves at their own pace, and working yourself up and comparing your progress to everyone around you isn’t going to do you any good. Overall junior year was definitely one for the books, and I can’t wait to see what senior year brings. 

Honors Research Conference

As I have talked about many times before, I wrote a senior thesis about maternal mortality in Afghanistan for my final project for the Honors Program. It was really rewarding to write, and I came out with a final paper that I am really proud of and a topic that I am passionate about. Every spring, the Honors Program celebrates these projects and other students’ research papers by holding the Honors Research Conference. I was able to present by paper at this conference, and it was a really cool experience.

Honors Research Conference
Overall, there were over 80 students presenting a poster, and about half of those students (me included!) were also giving a 10-minute long talk about their project. We had to design an academic poster and then create a cohesive summarizing speech about our project. Shortening my talk to 10 minutes was actually pretty hard – I had a lot I wanted to talk about! I was nervous going into the presentation, but it went really, really well. I feel like I articulated me point well and was able to give a brief overview of everything I talked about in my paper. It was also interesting to hear and learn about other students’ projects. The projects were so diverse, from healthcare to analyses of art and literature to creative writing pieces to economics.

This conference was a great experience, and one that I am sure I will have to do again in grad school. I really enjoy school, and am excited to continue learning and exploring and sharing my knowledge with others. Plus, I got to wear my Leslie Knope suit, and I’ll take any excuse possible to do that!

Why I Chose DePaul

The official College Decision Day was a few weeks ago, so congratulations to all of you who have committed to DePaul University! Go Class of 2021!

Orientation
At DePaul's orientation

When I think back to the season where I had to decide on a college, I remember it being really exciting. I couldn’t wait to choose the school I would attend for the next four years! By the time I had to make my final decision, I had narrowed my list down to two schools: Ohio State University and DePaul University. Ohio State was cheaper, closer to my family, and home to the infamous Buckeyes. However, DePaul was in Chicago, had the exact program that I (at the time) wanted, and had a special quality about it. I felt really pursued and desired by DePaul, something I never got from a giant state school, and knew that the four years I would experience at DePaul would be valued by its faculty and staff. I obviously chose DePaul, and I am so glad that I did.

DePaul has been the place that has enabled me to grow, both in my academics and in my convictions. It has been the place that has helped me find my passion and provided me with professors who have been strong influences and knowledgeable resources. It has given me lifelong friends and has molded me into an adult. I am extremely thankful for my time at DePaul, especially now that I am about to graduate. For those who are about to attend, you are lucky! Good luck!

Changing Paths

This weekend nearly all of my friends graduated from college. For months I was dreading this, knowing that I’m taking a fifth year of school due to transferring, changing majors, and a brief medical leave. I’ve felt so much shame about it, telling myself I’m not smart enough, good enough, motivated enough. That I wasn’t enough. Until I came across this quote and shared it around the Instagram community, and connected with dozens of other people who commented saying they related to being on a different path than all of their friends.

Art
Sometimes, life comes up but that doesn’t mean it’s a setback, or that I’m not ___ enough. In fact, if I hadn’t transferred schools I’d still be in Canada, if I hadn’t stop enjoying film I wouldn't have found Journalism, if I hadn’t been living back in Chicago I wouldn’t have met my best friends. I wouldn’t be writing for the DeBlogs.

Everyone has a different path, and sometimes yours turns out the exact opposite of how you imagined. Freshman year I planned to study abroad my junior year, graduate in 4 years, and then move to Toronto to work in television…

Things aren’t perfect, but I’m grateful I found DePaul and changed paths. Even if it means graduating a year later.

Mazza End of the Year Dinner

DePaul is an amazing university and I have had a great four years here. 

Cafe Iberico
My opinion is biased, I would recommend this institution to anyone and everyone looking for a higher education. While being a Blue Demon was always on my mind senior year of high school, the reality of tuition and other costs presented a threat to that desire. I was very fortunate to receive several scholarships that didn’t just help me pay for DePaul but actually made it a possibility to attend. 

One of these scholarships came from the Office of Multicultural Student Success . The Mazza scholarship was the foundation of my college experience. It grounded me as a student of DePaul University and contributed to my personal and professional development these past four years. I have been extremely blessed to be a part of such a great mission. I bring up Mazza now because just last Friday we had our annual end of the year dinner. Our group went to Café Iberico in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. 

Cafe Iberico
The restaurant focuses on Spanish cuisine and has been around since 1992. They specialize in tapas, Spanish appetizers or snacks. The food was really good and the atmosphere was also nice. There were shields on the walls with different crests on each one. The experience was nice and I recommend Café Iberico to anyone looking for smaller eats that pack a big taste. As I finished my arroz con leche I looked around the table. I was sitting at the end so I had a good view of the group. Then it hit me; this was my last dinner with my Mazza friends. I’m graduating this year, a theme that has been pretty prevalent in my blogs, and I will soon go on to the “real” world to work and apply my major. 

The underclassmen sat on the opposite end of the table and they were all chatting, cracking jokes, and having a good time. They’ll be back next year, I won’t. As we said our goodbyes there were quite a few, “I’ll see you around” type farewells. From making it possible to attend DePaul, to contributing to my personal and professional development, to creating this family of scholars the Mazza scholarship has done so much for me. 

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome friends! 

Finals, Stress and Art

Art
When I walk around campus during midterms and finals seasons, especially in spring quarter when we’re all antsy to join our semester-school friends on summer break, anxiety fills the empty spaces. And it’s my own anxiety too. So, this time I decided to utilize my biggest de-stressors - art, and spreading positivity and hope around to other students.

In times between classes or at work, I made little reminders to keep going, and have been leaving them around the 
Art
Lincoln Park ​and Loop campuses. I also left my Instagram name on the back of them, and a lot of the students that found them have reached out to me expressing how it made their day, and they just needed a reminder, even anonymously, that they’re not alone. 

Art

Doing a random act of kindness for someone else made me smile and lessened my anxiety, even if just for a moment. So if you’re feeling stressed, join in on spreading around the positivity, because we’re all in this together.
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Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.: our nation’s capital; the home to monuments, the (free) Smithsonian museum, cherry blossom trees, and George Washington University, where I will be spending my next two years receiving my Master’s degree!

Washington D.C.
I went to Washington, D.C. over spring break, and I had such a fun time. I flew in early on a Friday morning and got to my hotel room with enough time to spare to take a quick nap. I then met with someone who works for the United States Agency for International Development and we talked about global health opportunities in D.C. It was great to meet with him and get advice about the career pathway I want to pursue. By that point, it was late afternoon and I had the rest of the day to myself! I took the Metro over to Capitol Hill​ and saw the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress and walked around the neighborhood for a while. I then went back to my hotel, read a good book, took a bath, and was in bed by 9pm – the perfect evening. 

The next day was Admitted Students Day for GWU, so I spent the day doing that. It was exhausting, but informative. I then took the Metra out to Maryland and spent a day with one of my best friends who recently moved to that area. It was a whirlwind weekend visit, but really fun, and I can’t wait to live there permanently in a few months!

Public Health

Public health is kind of my thing. I’m studying it at DePaul, I’m getting my Masters in it next year… I am super interested by all of it. Particularly, though, I am interested in global health, and what can be implemented around the world to alleviate health disparities and gaps that cause highly preventable diseases and circumstances to prevail. For example, no one should have to live without clean water, or without access to a doctor, or in fear of contracting cholera or tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. Science and medical technology are advanced enough that many of these worldwide problems could be eliminated, but unfortunately, resources and funds are not allocated and international politics gets in the way. 

Goals
Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations and international agencies working to eliminate a lot of these disparities, and one organization that is working hard is the United Nations. From 2000-2015, the United Nations implemented the Millennium Development Goals, which were eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. Some goals were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health. While the Millennium Development Goals produced significant results, they were not successful in addressing and ending poverty and its root causes. The United Nations​ then implemented the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development program, which lays out seventeen goals that “address the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.”

I personally geek out over programs like this because they are making such a difference to the health and lives of people all over the world. I am excited to see what the year 2030 holds for the people of this world – and you should be, too!


Lessons Learned: Changing Perspective

As graduation rounds the corner, I have been reflecting a lot on what I have learned in my last few quarters of college, and the new changes that are occurring in my life. I thought I would take this chance to share with you some of the things that have come up for me, in hopes they may help you in your reflection on your own journey to, through, and after college. 

Lessons
One of the biggest lessons I am learning is to begin changing my perspective when it comes to my accomplishments. This is admittedly a huge challenge for me. I can be a very “big picture” thinker. The way I think about things always includes the larger frame of reference in the world, and in my life. With that, the things I want out of life both professionally and personally, are, in a way, big. I have big dreams of an illustrious acting career, the type of work I’ll do, the places I’ll go, the people I’ll meet, the money I’ll make—all of these things are indeed “big.”

However, I have found over the past few months that not everything I do is as “big” as I can imagine. For years I had always imagined myself on a rocket to success come graduation, while in fact, the grind is much slower than I had once thought. There is a lot of hard work and a lot of challenges and failures that will occur on my road to the success I seek – and that’s okay. I have started to realize that the things I once thought about as “small” are actually victories, and for my own mental well-being, I should honor them as such. For example, I may not be on Broadway yet, but I am understudying at a great theatre company in the fall. While in my mind there are more amazing things I desire, I have to recognize that this is actually a great accomplishment, that will lead to other opportunities in the future. And while I do not have a talent agent before graduation, I am still auditioning and booking work to do post-grad. These are wins, and I am learning to find satisfaction and pride in these things, that help me keep my spirits up as I move forward. 

Lessons
I am learning to be grateful for the challenges I am facing in the transition out of school, because I know they are making me stronger and more resilient in the long run. I’m also learning that the seemingly small things add up to a big picture that I can call success. 

So, to anyone who may be down on themselves when it comes to your accomplishments, be it the schools you did or didn’t get into, the jobs you landed or missed, the opportunities that presented themselves or not, know that even if your successes aren’t as big as you imagined, they are still successes and you should value them as such. You are still working hard, and you are still moving forward, even if the path doesn’t look exactly as you thought it would. Stay strong, be proud, and keep working. From my own experience, I can say with confidence that little steps add up to big moves. 

Back from Madrid

When I wrote my last blog, which feels like forever ago, I was finishing up the first half of my time in Madrid. A week later, I’ve now returned from Madrid and I’m suffering from severe jet lag. I still haven’t totally processed the fact that I just spent ten days in Madrid. While part of me feels like my time in Madrid went by way too fast, another part of me feels that I had to have spent a lot longer than just ten days in Madrid. Maybe that’s just because I did so much in ten days; according to my phone, I walked over 75 miles while I was in Madrid (the weather was amazing, so I never took the subway). I’m very happy to be home, but not so excited about returning to my uneventful day-to-day life. 
 
View from airplane
My first glimpse of Chicago on my way back from Madrid. 
The real reason I went to Madrid was to do research for my thesis, and surprisingly, my research actually went way better than I ever anticipated. The DePaul Graduate Research Fund paid for me to go to Madrid so that I could visit both the National Library of Spain and an independent archive to gather sources for my thesis. However, I unknowingly booked my trip during Easter festivities in Spain, so the library and the archive were closed for several days while I was in Madrid.

To make matters worse, about a week before I left for Madrid, the archive’s website suddenly said that the archive would be closed until January 2018 for renovations. Just my luck, right? WRONG. Even though I was convinced the archive was closed, I was also pretty deeply in denial. One day, because I’m so obsessive, I decided to take a quick walk just to at least see the building of the archive. Shockingly, I discovered that not only was the archive open, but also that I would be able to take home copies of the documents that I wanted to study!

Before becoming convinced that the archive was closed, I had planned to spend three days at the archive, taking notes on as many documents as I could go through. Now, in a fortunate twist of fate, I could take the documents home, spend as much time on them as I wanted, and spend even more time at the National Library in the meantime! For a master’s student, that’s about as exciting as things can get. Now to get back to actually writing my thesis.

Why I Chose DePaul

As an out of state student, I've gotten asked why I chose DePaul more times than I can count. For me it was honestly a no brainer. Between the location, the academics, and the opportunities DePaul is able to give students, it was the perfect fit. Despite committing to DePaul being an easy decision for me, I know the stress the entire college application process puts on a student. After the countless admission essays, college tours, and weighing the costs of different schools, I was more than excited to finally make my decision when May 1st came around. Here are some of the top reasons why I chose DePaul.  

Academics: Even before I graduated high school I knew I wanted to study public relations. When looking up PR programs while I was applying to colleges, I continued to stumble upon DePaul’s program. Through research I was also able to find that PRWeek recognized DePaul as one of the top five PR schools in the U.S. three years in a row. Despite the fact I knew what I wanted to major in long before I my first day of college, I know tons of students go into college undecided on what major they might choose. The great part about DePaul is they literally have a major for everybody. Even though I was fairly certain I would stick with PR, I could rest easy knowing if I wanted to switch majors, I had a ton of options to choose from. 

Choosing DePaul
Location: I grew up on the seacoast of New Hampshire in a pretty tiny town. And needless to say, I was eager to move to a big city for college. Boston was too close, LA too far, and New York too big, which made Chicago the perfect fit. The past three years I've spent living in Chicago has been such an amazing experience. There are tons of great foods to eat, shows to see, and festivals to visit. Not only is it a fantastic city to explore, but the career opportunities that can be found throughout the city was something that immediately drew me to DePaul. When I first toured here and heard that many students get real life experience through internships around the city I was beyond excited.   

Campus life: Campus life is also a huge factor that made me choose DePaul in the long run. This includes everything from Vincentian service opportunities, on campus groups and clubs, and study abroad opportunities. While at DePaul I've been apart of tons of different community service projects across the city, joined clubs, and even spent a semester studying abroad in Budapest​. I remember when I first toured DePaul and it seemed like nearly every student was doing something they loved outside of class hours. No matter what interests you, there is a group here on campus that would be a perfect fit.


Easter in Madrid

Hola! I’m writing to you all the way from Madrid, Spain, where the weather has been so perfect, I ended up walking around for 8 hours yesterday. As a result, I now blend in when I stand in front of a stop sign. 

Despite the sunburn, it probably goes without saying that I’m having the time of my life right now. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I have a lot of free time to enjoy Madrid because I messed everything up. When I booked the trip, my one goal was to travel as early in the quarter as possible, so that I could keep up with my classes and still have a chance at finishing my thesis on time. Logical, right? Nevertheless, somehow, despite my intense research on air fares and hotels, I seemingly missed the fact that my trip coincided with Easter.
 
Grand Via
This is the view of Gran Vía from my balcony. Yes, you read that right. My balcony. Overlooking the busiest street in Madrid. I’m living it up. 
So while I’m here to do research for my thesis, most of the places where I’m trying to do research are closed a few days for Easter weekend. As a person who wants to get work done, it’s slightly frustrating, but as a human being, I’ll happily take any free time in Madrid. So far, in my free time, I’ve discovered that one of the traditional Spanish Easter pastries, the torrija, is actually a modified version of French toast, but somehow way creamier. I mean, the center is almost like a custard. I thought it was going to be terrible, but now I’m craving it and I think I’ll get another tomorrow.

In case you didn’t know, DePaul is funding my research here in Madrid through the Graduate Research Funding program. This trip is really all about working on my thesis. I spent a few days last week at the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) going through newspaper archives, and I’m hoping to spend as much time as possible going through transcripts of interviews at a different archive this week. Until then, I’ll be eating as much torrija as possible!

Chicago Jazz Showcase

Chicago Jazz Showcase
 
In order to get my money’s worth, I try to enroll in a two-credit class every quarter. I might as well if I am paying for eighteen credit hours. For the winter quarter I decided to take a five-week class that pertained to jazz in Chicago. I am a fan of nearly all types of music, but jazz is a genre I am not so familiar with. 

First off, it was not only an interesting class, but easy as well with minimal work. Most classes we spent listening to jazz through CD’s or YouTube videos, or watching documentaries. The most engaging component of the class was Professor Joseph Cunniff’s requirement of attending the Chicago Jazz Showcase at the Dearborn Station​, not too far from the Loop campus. Founded by Joe Segal, he has kept the showcase alive for seventy years now, with Joe still manning the entrance and collecting money. The showcase has seen many greats such as Count Basie and George Benson, and for a modest fee too. I paid around fifteen dollars because Cunniff has connections of course, having been in a jazz band himself. Whether you’re a fan of jazz or just curious and want to explore it more, this would be the prime location to hear good live music. 

How To: Stay Motivated Spring Quarter

Spring quarter at DePaul is undoubtedly the hardest quarter as far as staying motivated. While the rest of the college world is finishing finals and trading in textbooks for sunscreen, us DePaulians are still trying to make it through midterms. Pair that with Chicago’s summer-like weather conditions and it makes staying motivated for spring quarter pretty much impossible. But fear not, summer will (hopefully) be here before you know it. Here are some of the best hacks that will make spring quarter as painless as possible. 

Studying
Reward yourself: One of the worst things about prepping to start a boatload of homework or getting ready for a major study session is the daunting thought that it will never end. Though I personally give myself too many rewards while studying these days, it’s important to have something to look forward to. Set goals for your schoolwork and don’t forget to reward yourself every time you check something off your to-do list. 

Stay organized: If you’re like me, then right when school starts up after summer you raid the nearest Staples to get all the best planners, notebooks, and pens. And by the time spring quarter come around, you have to fish out an old pen out from the bottom of your bag. Revamp your organization skills to help yourself stay focused and finish off the quarter strong. 

Quit procrastinating: As the queen of procrastination, I know this tip is easier said than done. I mean my life motto is pretty much “if tomorrow’s not the due date, today’s not the do date.” But the truth of the matter is, if you really buckle down and focus on schoolwork, it’s not half as bad as you build it up to be. Block off a period of time and dedicate it solely to getting work done. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you don’t check Instagram every five minutes. 

Stay positive: Though it may seem like Spring Quarter has no end in sight, summer is getting closer everyday.  Don’t beat yourself up if you’re lagging behind in a class or didn’t do well on your last quiz. Think positive and stay focused on the end goal; it will be here in no time.  

Why You Should Be Excited About Taking College Courses

Throughout high school, my class schedule was mainly dictated by which courses would allow me to receive college credit. Rather than taking classes I was interested in, I packed my schedule with AP​'s and dual enrollment courses. In college, the experience is a lot different and here's why.

As I began scheduling classes last summer, I realized just how vast my choices are now that I've entered an entirely new educational setting. There are still core courses required for every student, but they don't even come close to filling up an entire schedule. Rather than only taking classes that I have to take, I'm taking classes that I want to take. What an exciting concept! Even though homework, essays and finals aren’t exactly thrilling, they’re much easier to deal with when they’re centered around subjects that I'm excited and passionate about. A class centered entirely on the multitude and variety of food in Chicago? Sign me up! 

Class Schedule
Another thing I’ve noticed with college classes is that I have more free time than ever before. Instead of being in class for seven hours straight, five days a week, I'm in charge of choosing which times work best for me. Being able to create my own schedule allows me to do a number of things I couldn’t in high school, such as picking up a dog walking job in the morning or spending time during the week at an internship. 

In college, Rate My Professors​ is an extremely valuable resource for students across the entire nation. Before scheduling classes, I am able to see which professors will work best with my learning style, and which ones probably wouldn't be as good of a fit. Even though I am not always able to get into the classes with the professors I want, being able to look through reviews of all of them is helpful in the scheduling process.

We all had a guidance counselor in high school, but how many times did you actually meet with them one-on-one? If you're like most high school students, your answer is probably fairly low. In college, it's a completely different story. I've already been assigned two advisors, one is an advisor in my major and the other is an advisor in the honors program that I'm a part of. When I attended orientation, they helped me immensely with scheduling and figuring out a solid plan for my educational path. I had expected to be pretty much on my own because it's college and we're all supposed to be "experiencing the real world" and all that jazz, but my advisors went to great lengths to help me figure things out in regards to not only my schedule, but being a freshman in general. 

Throughout high school, many teachers constantly bombarded me with homework that was not beneficial to either me or my teacher. Frequently, a teacher would give an assignment and tell the class that we needed to do it simply because we didn't have any graded work in yet. For me, this seemed pointless and I tended to get pretty frustrated. Although it's scary that in college your final grade only depends on a few tests/papers, it also makes me relieved that I'll never have to do any more "busy work." 

Although my classes are much more challenging than they were in high school, having a say in my education makes it a lot more exciting than torturous. More time out of class also means more time studying but hey, at least I didn't schedule any 8 AM’s!

Presenting and Flying

I’m a perfectionist, so I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. While I appreciate that it pushes me to do quality work, I’m not so much a fan of the anxiety I give myself. I just unnecessarily stress myself out a lot. For the past few months, I have been stressing myself out about presenting at the Midwest Political Science Association conference. Back in October, I applied to present because, I mean, why not? But after I got accepted to the conference, and as the date of the conference got closer and closer, I just really started psyching myself out.

Presenting
On one of the 500+ pages of this book, you will find my name. Good luck searching. In case you were wondering, this thick book is just a schedule of the presentations.

In the weeks running up to the conference, I regularly panicked about whether or not my paper was good enough, and I had trouble falling asleep because my mind would keep running. I psyched myself out so much that the day before I was scheduled to present, I decided to reorganize my whole paper and re-do my entire presentation. Against every piece of advice, I never slept the night before my presentation, choosing instead to change and revise my presentation. I may have gone a little crazy.

But on Friday, I finally presented my paper, and you know what? It went better than I ever anticipated. Not only did I get really good feedback, but I discovered that I just really like being at conferences. I loved going to panels and sessions to hear what other people are researching, and if you’ve never been in the Palmer House, it’s beautiful (and surprisingly huge—I got lost a few times). So, despite the mental torture that I put myself through, I’m actually super happy that I did the conference!

I’m writing this blog from my bed in Wisconsin. Even though the conference isn’t over, I had to run home right after my presentation so that I could finish packing for my trip to Madrid! I can’t believe it’s already time for me to go. It feels like I booked my trip just a few weeks ago, but now I leave in less than 24 hours! Next time you hear from me, I’ll be writing to you from Madrid while chomping on churros (and, of course, while doing lots and lots of research).

Introduction to Sustainability

As spring quarter began, I anxiously (and excitedly) awaited the start of my Introduction to Sustainability class. Having just declared my major as Environmental Studies with a Sustainability concentration, I was eager to dig in to a subject I was interested in and felt passionate about.

When I read through the syllabus for the class, one thing stuck out to me as especially daunting: the Impact Project. The main idea of the Impact Project is for students to lessen their environmental impact on specified days throughout the week by altering how they consume food, use transportation and electricity/water, and produce waste.

Shower Timer
The picture is of the shower timer I’m using
For food, students are encouraged to become vegetarian in order to conserve resources (such as land and water), reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the amount of methane emissions going into the atmosphere. Since I am already vegan I decided not to pursue this category, but many of the students in my class did choose it and are giving up many of the foods they previously thought they couldn’t live without.

For those who choose transportation, there is the option of either committing to entirely self-propelled transportation (biking, walking, etc.) or simply refraining from driving/riding in Ubers and instead taking public transportation. This seemed like a good challenge for me because I am often taking users when I am in a rush. Rather than paying extra money for an Uber, I have been trying to wake up a little bit earlier in order to make time for getting on the bus or the ‘L’.

In the electricity/water category, students are supposed to lessen their water and electricity use by at least 50% through strategies such as using a shower timer, unplugging appliances, charging electronics during the day so they’re not plugged in all night, etc. This part of the project has shown me that it’s easier than most people think to lessen shower time and conserve water.

Finally, the hardest category (for me anyway) is waste. On these days, students are challenged to produce zero waste. This includes food packaging, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, etc. I initially did not think it would be as hard as it seemed, but this changed immediately when I woke up and realized I couldn’t even eat my usual granola bar for breakfast because it was wrapped in plastic packaging. I am learning to carry around reusable containers/cutlery in my backpack and never leave home without my reusable water bottle.

Though the Impact Project has just started, I am already gaining a different perspective and understanding of the Earth and how I can make lifestyle changes that have the potential to significantly benefit it. Although this project is already extremely challenging, I can’t wait to learn more about what I can do to help the environment, and I’m so glad that DePaul offers classes that have the capacity to alter students lifestyles and make them into better and more well-rounded members of society.

Getting the Most From Learning Domains

A new quarter is upon us here at DePaul, and with it comes a new round of classes. One of my favorite things about taking classes at DePaul is that I was able to enroll in my major classes as soon as I got to campus my freshman year. As a Public Relations and Advertising major I came into DePaul not entirely sure I was going to love the major, but after being able to take an intro course during during my first quarter, I knew I had made the right choice. I got a little carried away my freshman year with my major classes and decided to leave many of my learning domains (general education classes) until later on. So here I am in my last quarter of my junior year and I am finally finishing up some of my required learning domains.

General education classes often get a bad reputation among most college students because many of the required courses have little to do with the area of study a student is perusing. I came into college thinking the same thing; why would I need to be taking classes in science and philosophy if I was majoring in something completely different? However once I stopped looking at these classes as a waste of time, I started to appreciate them for what they really are: an opportunity to learn about things that interest you outside your area of study.

Learning Domains
Although I am a studying Public Relations and Advertising, I’m also really interested in things like medicine, environmental science, and psychology. This year alone I was able to get credit for many learning domains by taking some of the most interesting classes I’ve ever been in here at DePaul. Winter quarter I took a class called Human Sexuality for a psychology credit, and I can honestly say I looked forward to going to the class every Monday and Wednesday. This quarter I'm fulfilling a philosophy credit in a class called Medical Ethics. After only two weeks of class meetings I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favorite classes this year.

Although I love all of the major courses I take for my Public Relations and Advertising degree, I’m also so grateful I've been able to study so many unique areas of study while here at DePaul. So before you roll your eyes and wish away your learning domains, take a second to explore the many different classes DePaul offers and enroll in a course that truly interests you.

My Last Show: Cinderella: The Remix

Now that spring quarter has rolled around I am currently working toward the opening of my spring quarter show at The Theatre School. Being that I am getting close to graduating, this is my final show of my undergrad career, making the experience very bittersweet.

Cinderella: The Remix
A rehearsal shot of Hunter Bryant playing Chocolate Ice in Cinderella: The Remix
The show I am working on is called Cinderella: The Remix. This play is part of our Playworks series for Families and Young Audiences. This play will be performed at the Merle Reskin Theatre, DePaul’s performance space in the Loop. This large proscenium theatre will welcome hundreds of young elementary school aged children and families this spring. 

I am really lucky to be part of such a fun show for my last production of undergrad. This hilarious play is a new twist on the classic Cinderella story. The play takes place in a fictional land called Hip Hop Hollywood. The protagonist Cinderella wants to be a DJ, but unfortunately in Hip Hop Hollywood, girls are not allowed to DJ. She and her best friend Chin Chilla (yes, you read that right) disguise themselves as boys in order to follow their dreams and DJ for the hottest rapper in town. They encounter challenges and triumphs on their way to empower young girls to follow their passions and realize their potential. The play includes music, dancing, rapping, and is a blast for the whole family. While it is odd to know that this is my last play here, it is heartwarming to go out on a high note.

Cinderella: The Remix
Chanel Bell shows off her DJ skills as Cinderella in rehearsal for Cinderella: The Remix
I play two characters in this show. First, I play Cinderella’s stepmother, named Bad Ma’amajama. She works hard to push her other son, Chocolate Ice, toward success as a DJ, and discourages Cinderella from auditioning for the famous rapper J Prince. I also play the fairy godmother of the story, who comes in the form of a entrepreneurial media queen named Hoperah, loosely based on Oprah. She shows up to give Cinderella and her bff Chinchilla the confidence they need to overcome obstacles and believe in themselves.  I have had a blast creating these larger than life characters, and rapping my way through a story that really means something. This cast is completely made up of minorities, and gives us the chance to represent the populations of young kids who come to see this play who are also from those communities. I really believe it is great to send a message that young girls are smart and capable, and if they believe in themselves, and persevere, they can overcome the odds and be successful. I am proud to be part of a show that can do that for its audiences. 

Themes: Fairy Tales; Gender Roles; Girl Power; Hip-Hop; Identity; Pop Culture; Sexism

Cinderella: The Remix
The cast features Chanell Bell Copeland (Cinderella), Hunter Bryant (Chocolate Ice), Mariana Castro Florez (Chin Chilla), Samantha Newcomb (Bad Mamajama/Hoperah), and Nosakhere Cash-O'Bannon (J Prince).

The production team includes scenic design by Angela McIlvain, costume design by Emilee Orton, lighting design by Richard Latshaw, sound design by Madeline Doyle, dramaturgy by Yasmin Zacaria Mitchel, and stage management by Emily Mills.

This show opens April 20th, and runs Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as Saturday afternoons until we close May 27th. If you or a youngster you know if looking for a great way to spend 70 minutes this spring, come check out Cinderella: The Remix! For more information check out our website

My Last Quarter

​Well, it has arrived. My last quarter of undergrad. That went by so fast! I feel like it was just yesterday that I moved into Munroe Hall my freshman year and started by first classes as a college student. Now that I have been here for almost four years, I have learned a lot on how to live in Chicago and perform well as a student. Here are some tips!
Lion King
Schedule your classes wisely: There are going to be required classes you don’t want to take, but don’t put them off until the end! I did that, and it was one of the worst things I could have done to myself. I am in three classes right now that I hate, and that is not a fun way to close out my undergrad career! Get the classes you dread out of the way so that you can take fun electives your senior year. You will not regret it, I promise.
Take advantage of your professors’ office hours: Your professors are there because they want to help and teach you. If you don’t understand something or need clarity on a topic, go in and ask! They purposefully block off scheduled time just for their students, so take advantage of it. Not only is it helpful to talk with your professors one-on-one sometimes, but they have the opportunity to get to know you better and see that you are putting effort into their classes. That can really pay off in the end, especially if you are on the cusp of a higher letter grade. Plus, a lot of the professors are super cool, so talking with them is really enjoyable.
Take advantage of Chicago. Guys, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. There is so much to do!!! Museums, restaurants, parks, sports, shopping, culture, shows...the list is endless. Take time to go exploring! Some of my favorite things? Rush tickets for Broadway shows, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Harold Washington Library, and all of the ice cream places in the city.
Most of all, enjoy your time living in one of the greatest cities in the world!

My Final Spring Quarter

​Welcome to spring quarter, everyone! I hope you all had a great spring break. I’m finishing up the master’s part of my BA/MA program, and I was just thinking, everything is becoming a “last” for me again. That was my last spring break at DePaul, and this is my final spring quarter at DePaul. It’s sort of sad, particularly because I had a ridiculously busy spring break. So much so, in fact, that I’m currently pretending that I’m on spring break. I’m only taking two courses this quarter, so my schedule allowed me to head home on Wednesday and try to relax a bit. Of course, I’m still doing a ton of work at home, so it’s not very much of a break, but being home makes me feel like I’m on a break. I’m enjoying it.

Madrid
I took this screenshot the night that I booked my trip to Madrid. As you can see, when I booked the trip, I was 49 days away from check-in. I’m now down to single digits.
But really, I’m home right now because I’m trying to rest up before tackling one of the most exciting and stressful weeks of my life. This week is the big one. In between thesis work and homework, I’ve been working on my presentation for the Midwest Political Science Association Conference. Lucky for me, the conference is just downtown, so I don’t even have to figure out travel plans. I could walk there if I wanted to!

During the official spring break for DePaul, I laid on my couch and stressed myself out about finishing my paper for the conference. Now, during my unofficial spring break, I’m lying on my couch, eating cake, and stressing out to a lesser degree over the presentation. At least I’m making progress, right? I present at the conference on Friday, and you better believe that I’m going to treat myself with Pizza Hut afterwards.

Then, just two days after the conference, I’m flying out to Madrid. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by! It’s crazy to think that I booked my trip less than two months ago and now I’ve already started to pack. I’m going to Madrid to do archival research for my thesis, so I want to make the most of my time. I’ve been doing whatever I can to prepare; I’m going to an archive with transcripts of over two hundred interviews, so I’m going through the list of interviews and creating a new, organized list that arranges the interviews in order of priority based on guesstimated relevance.

All in all, it’s a busy, but exciting, time in Willy’s life right now. Be on the lookout for my upcoming blogs from Madrid, where I will be regaling you with stories of my experiences while also vociferously praising the DePaul Graduate Research funding program for making my trip possible.

My Annual Trip to NYC: A Bittersweet End

As a college student, there are many different organizations that can become an active part of your 4-year experience. Over the past 4 years I have been lucky enough to be a part of a scholarship organization called The Jackie Robinson Foundation. This is a foundation comprised of young students of color at colleges across the country, dedicated to academic excellence and carrying on the legacy of Civil Rights Activist, Jackie Robinson
 
Debate
A scholar debate discussing living wages.
Each year of the program, the scholars make a trip to New York City for a mentoring and leadership conference. For one weekend we are immersed in workshops, panels, and networking opportunities related to career success. This is supplemented by cultural outings a fun events that make it truly memorable. This year the theme of the conference was Financial Savvy. There were career panels, off the record sessions with industry leaders, a scholar debate, guest speakers and more, and I spent the weekend overwhelmed with information and trying to soak up as much as I could. Being in my last few months of college, it is important to me to be able to best prepare myself for life after school, so I appreciated this conference even more than I did last year, knowing that everything I was learning would be applicable sooner than I think. 
 
Jitney
My playbill for JITNEY. It was awesome!
Some of the highlights of the weekend included cultural outings. Each class (freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors) goes to a cultural outing in the city, to appreciate another aspect of a well rounded education and life: art. For those who know me, as a theatre maker, this is my jam and therefore one of my favorite parts. I was able to attend a performance of Jitney on Broadway. This is a play written by one of my favorite playwrights, August Wilson. The play was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, an acclaimed director of Wilson’s work, who I met in my time as an apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival two summers ago. Two actors in the show I also met and worked with in my time at WTF, including Andre Holland, who was recently a part of the academy award winning film Moonlight (starring previous DePaul student Ashton Sanders). It can be such a small world sometimes, and you are reminded that you are only a few degrees of separation away from your dreams. The play was fabulous and I was so glad I got to see it. 
 
Dance
Me, at the Annual Awards Dinner, with Jackie Robinson's iconic number, 42.
After soaking in the knowledge about Financial Savvy over the weekend, on Monday night came the chance to dance the night away at the Annual Awards Dinner. Andre Holland, above mentioned actor, was the emcee of the night and hosted the award ceremony. We all got dressed in our best black tie attire, and shared in recognizing industry leaders and game changers in their accomplishments both in business and in philanthropy. After a delicious dinner, and some musical entertainment, the scholars were able to dance it up at the scholar after-party.  
It truly was a fun filled and informative weekend, and I left with bittersweet feelings. As graduation approaches, I remember that this was my last conference with JRF, and my last year as a scholar. It is a strange feeling to note something that has had such a profound impact on your college experience in coming to a close. I have very fond memories, and will use the knowledge and inspiration I’ve been given here as I move forward and tackle the world post-grad. 
 

Death of a Salesman at the Redtwist Theatre

Death of a Salesman
 
For my HON 101 World Literature class I was given the opportunity to see a live-action rendition of Death of a Salesman​, the play we were analyzing in class. Aside from the extra credit affiliated with attending, or that Professor Williams hooked his students up free of charge, I was eager to see the play live since I was exposed to the play through text and film only. Regardless of the thirty dollar ticket, the Redtwist’s version of Death of a Salesman was riveting and unique.

Upon entry, I was notified that the theatre only seats about forty people. I liked the sound of that since it would imply that I would be pretty close to the actors, the stage, and that I could get a good view rather than having to observe from rows away. However, when actually stepping into the theatre I was shocked to see its setup. The room was long and narrow, with the seating around the perimeter of the set and props, meaning that the play would unfold at the center of everyone attending. Sure enough, when the play began the actors were only a couple of feet away from me, with every detail in their facial expression, every word in their speech clear. The setup of the theatre gave it a communal environment since other spectators were in your view and you were all sharing this unique moment. 

Besides the setup, the actors were no less impressive. Our class was able to witness one of DePaul’s very own Zach De Nardi play the role of Happy Lowman with phenomenal execution. Located off the Bryn Mawr stop, Redtwist is a storefront theatre that will surely not disappointment. 

Honors Thesis

As many of you probably already know, last quarter I completed my Honors Thesis Project. I have written about my thesis in some of my previous blog posts, and I am happy to announce that I officially finished it and turned it in this past week! It ended up being 35 pages long, and I am super proud of it.

Honors Thesis
It was actually really enjoyable to write, and if you are in the honors program, I encourage you to take on the thesis project for your senior capstone. You get to choose what you research and write about, ensuring that you are actually interested and invested in the thesis. You have 10 whole weeks to write it - you have to be disciplined during those 10 weeks and manage your time well, but it definitely is enough time to tackle a project of this magnitude. You also get to choose the professors who you work with, so you can choose professors who you have experience with or who you know you work well with. There is a lot of freedom in this project, which is great, and the honors program really just wants to support you so that you can create some of your best work. 

If you are planning on continuing your education after DePaul, have a research study or project you have always wanted to do, have a topic that has always interested you that you want to explore in-depth, are a really talented creative writer, or just enjoy writing and creating in general, than this project is for you. Do not let the page limit or time length of this project intimidate you. You will end up creating a project you can be really proud of and present. If you have any questions about my experience with this project, feel free to ask them in the comments section!

Wrapping Up Winter Quarter

It’s to the point in the quarter where I’ve lost all track of time. I’ve stopped trying to keep track of the month or what day of the week it is. I was in shock last week when I found out I had to start working on finals already. I feel like I just finished midterms! But it turns out that I just haven’t been paying attention to how much time has passed. I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and race to the finish line this quarter.

On Saturday, I started my day by throwing a tantrum that the Pizza Hut on campus suddenly closed. For the record, I’m still only in the bargaining phase of the five stages of grief. After temporarily regaining my composure, I went out to go grab a wrap for lunch. It took me twenty minutes to figure out why everyone except me was inebriated and wearing green. I thought St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t for two more weeks! To be fair, I’m not that far off since St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until the 17th. But still, I probably still would have been just as blindsided.

Food
The most important thing is that the wrap that I bought was delicious.
Anyways, I got my sub, went home, ate it, and got back to work on finals. It was starting to get late, so I glanced over at my clock and saw that it was 1:45am. “Okay,” I told myself, “I’ll just work until 2 and then go to bed.” I look up just a few minutes later and I see that it’s now 3:04am. You guys, I panicked hard. I thought maybe I fell asleep, but I didn’t remember sleeping or waking up. Then, I thought that maybe my laptop was breaking and the clock on it wasn’t working anymore. But my phone read the same time. I felt like I was living in The Twilight Zone. A half hour later, I discovered that Daylight Savings Time had just started.

Needless to say, I haven’t really been on top of things lately. Between my thesis, finals, preparing to present at the conference, and getting everything ready for Madrid, I’m desperately trying just to keep my head above water. But I’ll admit that it’s somewhat a relief to know that finals will be done in just a few days.

Surviving a Stress-Free Finals Week

The most dreaded time of year is upon us, and we’re getting ready to pull the all-nighters to study for finals. This finals week I’m trying to make my habits and routine look a bit different in an effort to decrease stress and sleep deprivation, so I’m going to share my tips!

1. I’ve been living at my yoga studio this week. It’s been the perfect way to clear my mind of the essays I still have to write and connect with my body and mind. If you don’t have a yoga studio you go to, The Ray also offers classes multiple times a week, so hit those up! Even if you’ve never done yoga before, I started my practice going to those classes, they’re great for beginners!

Finals Week
2. Doing something positive for others always puts me in a better mood. Last weekend I was stressed out studying at a coffee shop with my friend, and we took a break to spread some positivity in the city, which made us feel SO happy after. We literally couldn’t stop smiling. We decided to take an all-time favorite book of mine, 300 Things I Hope by Iain Thomas, and wrote the different hopeful statements on post-it notes, then we put them all up on a wall in the Jackson red line train station spelling out HOPE. It was so fun and so many people stopped by asking what we were doing and looking at them, adding to it, taking a hopeful statement, etc. Sometimes it’s the little things, and for me, seeing someone else see our message and smile makes me smile!

3. Get out of your house. I usually don’t end up getting much work done when I have “study parties” with friends, but I also find that staying in my house leaves me anxious and distracted. I’ve been spending my Saturdays and Sundays at the Starbucks near my house, and it’s been SO helpful. I bring all my stuff, order a venti Strawberry Acai refresher (light ice - gotta get my money’s worth), and power through my work. That environment of having some background noise has been really helpful for me!

4. Two words: Google Docs. Ever since I wrote an essay late one night in the fall and then my computer froze and lost it all, I’ve been writing everything (including this article!) on Google Docs. It’s come in handy especially during finals week when I can access the study guides I’ve typed up or the article I started writing from any computer. I hate lugging my computer around, and now I can still get work done in the hour break between my classes at the computers at Brownstones, or right now, while I’m at work in the CDM building!

I hope some of these are helpful tips during your finals week! Happy studying!

1871

​One would think that after four years of attending DePaul University and having a desire to learn about everything the institution has to offer, one might have at least came close to seeing almost all of it. This past Wednesday, I came to realize just how impossible it is to reach such a goal. Taking a detour from our usually scheduled class time, my PRAD 373 professor decided to use this week as an opportunity to showcase 1871 to us, the startup and entrepreneurial hub of Chicago.

1871 is located inside the Merchandise Mart of Chicago. Conveniently staged around several CTA train lines, or “L” tracks if you’re native to the Windy City, it is easy and fairly hassle-free to get to and from there. With an array of shops, restaurants, offices, and more Merchandise Mart serves as a perfect location for 1871.

1871
Thriving in this melting pot of an atmosphere, 1871 provides various programs, workshops, events, guest speakers, etc. for all members. Here is the best part; all DePaul students have access to membership benefits through The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center in the Driehaus College of Business. Students can make a request to use the University’s dedicated space or to attend any of the many events 1871 has to offer. All students have to do is contact the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.

My friends and I have tried to explore everything DePaul has to offer and yet the more I learn, the more I realize I have even more to learn. It’s a good problem to have, in my opinion. So many resources offered that even in my second to last quarter of being an undergrad I’m still learning about new opportunities for students. Make sure to check out the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center if you’re interested in learning more about 1871.

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!

Planning for Madrid

In less than five weeks, I’ll be on my way to Madrid. I’m already to the point of excitement where I can barely fall asleep at night. I usually end up lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, just thinking about all the things that I’m going to do in Madrid. I’m boring like that. But with my trip coming up so quickly, it’s probably actually a good idea for me to start preparing plans for my time in Madrid.

As I’ve been working on my thesis, I’ve been forced to accept that not everything is accessible online. Since I’m researching Spain, it would make sense that there are some resources that are only available in Spain. The Graduate Research Funding program is paying for me to go to Madrid so that I can access those kinds of resources. To that end, I officially submitted my library card application for the National Library of Spain last night. The personal significance cannot be understated. With this application, I will finally able to settle my personal vendetta against the National Library of Spain.

National Library of Spain
This is a picture of the National Library of Spain that I took after the security guards refused to let me enter. Depending on the outcome of my library card application, they very well may have to let me in this time.
Back when I was studying in Madrid in 2014, one of my professors in Madrid recommended that I visit the National Library, knowing that I worked at DePaul’s library and would probably be interested in seeing the National Library. Very excited about this suggestion, I ran over to the National Library that same day after class. However, when I tried to enter, I was told that I would need a researcher ID card in order to enter, and was politely directed to the exit. Over two years later, I’ve only become more bitter about being rejected. This time, with card in hand, no one will be able to stop me from looking at books.

While I’m very excited about restoring my pride and digging through archives in the National Library, I’m mostly excited to eat my way through Madrid again. I already have a prioritized list on my phone of all the food that I need to consume once again. Expect a comprehensive blog about my culinary escapades after I get back.

We Are DePaul Blue

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a new student campaign called We Are DePaul Blue. They launched as part of a Public Relations Campaign class, where they’re part of a national competition where schools are teamed with a national non-profit client.

This year, they were assigned Campaign to Change Direction, whose philosophy is, “If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve”. 

Students Mia Hinkebein, Kate Hohenstatt, Alexa Ohm, and Meghan Thesing are working behind this project.

“Their mission is essentially what we’re localizing to DePaul, so it’s about mental health, self-care, and most importantly for them, knowing the five signs of emotional suffering,” Alexa said.

These five signs are:
1. feeling hopeless
2. poor self-care
3. feeling agitated
4. feeling withdrawn
5. personality changes

We Are DePaul Blue is aiming to teach these five signs to the DePaul community.

“Their big thing with the five signs is that we have to start with a common language in order to normalize it,” Mia said. 

Thus, the four girls are encouraging individuals and groups to take the pledge to learn them and are also presenting them to student organizations on campus. They want to start talking about it, because the only way to combat a stigma is to bring a voice to it.

“A big component of our campaign is the friend aspect because people are more likely to reach out to a friend to talk about their mental health than go into a counselor, so it is just building that community on campus,” Kate said.

 
Events
Here is a list of their upcoming events - stop on by or follow their social media accounts to learn more! 
Since their launch mid-February, they have received a lot of positive feedback from students, and hope to turn this into a student organization at DePaul in the future. 

We Are DePaul Blue’s launch also comes at a fitting time with finals just around the corner. They recently had a “Decompress Your Stress” event, as well as “Positivity Pop Up” where post-it notes with positive sayings were put up on campus for students to take. 

In addition, a lot of events are coming up to encourage self-care and positive well-being before the quarter comes to a close, such as a self-care workshop on February 28 and a mindfulness meditation on March 8. 

“Even if the people coming to our events are people who are having a great day that day and just want to try this, they have a network of people who at one point are probably going to need them to know what these five signs are or know what that self-care tip is to help them,” Alexa said.

To get involved with We Are DePaul Blue, take the pledge to learn the five signs, attend their events, follow them on social media, and use #WeAreDePaulBlue. 

They also encourage you to share your story​ and talk about mental health more often to help combat the stigma and normalize the topic.

Lights, Camera, Action

One of the coolest things about the 4th year of the acting program at The Theatre School is the sprinkling of really fun and less common classes. By now we no longer have the same quantity of intense acting technique classes, but have a few different classes that give us a taste for other kinds of techniques. 

One of these classes is an On Camera acting class taken in the winter quarter. This one-quarter course is taken once a week for 3 hours downtown at Acting Studio Chicago. Our teacher, Rachael Patterson from Acting Studio Chicago, guides the class through audition technique and scene preparation for on camera work, helping us all to become more confident in our ability to tackle that aspect of the industry post-grad. 

On Camera
We began the quarter working on commercial copy. Students would receive various pieces of text from different kinds of commercials and work on preparing them for commercial auditions.  From pasta to health insurance we worked on making specific choices to make an impact when you only have a couple sentences, or a couple of words to work with. We then moved on to working on scenes from TV and film, and we learned what it takes to prepare for those. The quarter was topped off with scenes selected from various films and TV shows that we have prepared and will take in to audition for Gray Talent agency​

It has been a really interesting to learn about how the on-camera acting and auditioning works. The main focus during this course has been learning how to bring more of your own unique personality to the work. We’ve also been learning how to simplify your choices, and modify your actions to fit the frame of the medium.  I am appreciative that at this point, after 3 years of working on transformation in acting, we are coming back to ourselves and bringing ourselves to the party. After taking this class I am really looking forward to working on TV and film work in the future and putting these new skills into practice out in the real world! 

The Final Round: Auditioning My Final Time

As spring quarter rapidly approaches, graduating students are now looking straight ahead at their final quarter of college. Spring quarter will be a whirlwind of changes and mixed emotions. This will be the time when I take my last college classes, participate in the last events of my collegiate experience, and perform in my last show of undergrad. Now, at the end of February, we here at The Theatre School​ are in the midst of casting the spring quarter productions, which are the final shows of the year, and for me, the final shows of my time here at TTS.

Today I arrived on campus, highlighted scenes in hand, ready to audition for the last round of shows of my undergraduate experience. The audition process for the casting pool was the same as usual. Each member of the acting company split up into groups, and sent into three different rooms to audition with scenes from our three main stage productions.  We were greeted in each room by the smiling faces of students and faculty working on each of the shows, and were encouraged to have fun auditioning for each role we read. While the day had a familiar feel, putting it in those term s- the “last time”, really took me aback. 

Auditions
This is the last time I’ll go online to DePaul’s Backstage domain to check out the audition sides. This is the last time I’ll find a partner in the hallway who would be willing to read with me in the audition room. The last time I will walk into the room full of my classmates, colleagues, and cohorts, to audition for a play that I will help to create within this learning environment. 

Along with my final set of TTS auditions comes the realization that this spring will be my last TTS show. With this in mind, it makes me determined the make the most of whatever process I am in for the next few short months. I want to be able to learn as much as I can before I leave, and really enjoy myself in the process. It is also really exciting to think about what lies ahead. If this is my last show of my undergraduate career, the work that waits beyond is many wonderful experiences creating my own work, and working in the professional world! While it may feel a bit strange to know that this last show means something is coming to an end, it also means a very beautiful beginning to a chapter of life that I’ve been thinking and preparing for for a long time. Finally I can say I’m almost there, and finally I can say I’m ready.  Here’s hoping I’ll break a leg!  

We Are Proud to Present

The last show to open on the mainstage this winter was a unique and impactful play with a title to match the description. We Are Proud To Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the years 1884-1915​ was the last show to hit the Fullerton Stage this quarter. 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow. 
This contemporary piece written by Jackie Sibblies Drury, is an intense and thought-provoking play within a play that challenges topics of race, identity, violence, and storytelling. What stories do we tell? Who has the right to tell them? How do the complexities of our own identities influence these stories and how we fit in them. The characters of this play, a group of young passionate artists, wrestle with these questions, coming in and out of the world of their own presentation, until the lines between reality and the story their inhabit become blurred. 

The TTS website describes this play:

“An ensemble of eager, well-meaning young actors devises a play about a nearly forgotten African genocide. When their artistic director suggests they should not read the German letters that make up the core of their presentation, the group must come to terms with the fact that they can't tell a new story until they have unearthed the original one.” 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow.
To give you a little insight into how this play operates, the list of characters gives us a hint. The 6 character cast includes characters named Black Woman, White Man, Black Man, Another White Man, Another Black Man and Sarah (played by a white woman). These characters are played by actors who fit those descriptions.  I was lucky enough to see this play on opening weekend, and was insanely proud of the students who came together to create this play. A play that deals so personally with such tough topics and images requires a huge amount of bravery from each of the artists involved. This is an extremely relevant and well-acted play that punches you in the gut and forces you to face the realities of your actions and your history. 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow. 
The cast features Ayanna Bria Bakari (Actor 6/Black Woman), Tuckie White (Actor 5/Sarah), Keith Illidge (Actor 4/Another Black Man), Michael Morrow (Actor 2/Black Man), Sam Straley (Actor 1/White Man), and Arie Thompson (Actor 3/Another White Man). 

The production team includes scenic design by Jessica Olson, costume design by Olivia Engobor, lighting design by Joseph Clavell, sound design by Haley Feiler, dramaturgy by Hampton Cade and Lauren Quinlan, and stage management by Erin Collins.

For more information on our season of shows, visit the TTS website!
 

I’m Going to Madrid (Again)

In the fall of my junior year at DePaul, I went and studied abroad in Madrid for a quarter (you can read more about that here). I was a Spanish and International Studies double major, so I figured I should probably visit a Spanish-speaking country at some point. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement. I encourage anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to study abroad to do so.
 
I consider studying in Spain to be one of the greatest decisions of my life. Not only did studying abroad help me improve my Spanish and nearly complete my Spanish major, but studying in Spain also inspired me to get my master’s in International Studies and write my thesis on the Spanish transition to democracy.
 
Madrid
I’m going back to Madrid and I’ve never been more excited about anything in my entire life.
A little over two years after returning from Madrid, I sat in the International Studies department conference room and defended my thesis proposal. At some point during my defense, I made an offhand comment about how I was having a hard time finding some specific information on the transition because so many records and papers aren’t available online and are only held in Madrid.
 
The members of my thesis committee encouraged me to apply to the Graduate Research Fund, which funds graduate students who want to conduct research or present at a conference. At the very last moment possible (you can’t even imagine), I submitted my application for funding to go dig around in some archives in Madrid.
 
Ever since I submitted the application, I haven’t been able to think about anything else. I’ve just been looking up flights and hotels in the hope that I’d be accepted. And then, finally, just a few hours ago, I got the email. My request for funding had been approved. I started screaming and booked everything right away. In less than two months, I’ll be on the plane back to Madrid.

The Forgotten Two-Credit Classes

Money
When you receive your bill for your quarterly tuition, you’re being charged for eighteen credit hours every time. Yet, most students only enroll for sixteen credit hours a quarter. Why? They may find five classes to be too overwhelming, or simply because they don’t know that there are courses worth less than four credit hours.

I did not know until recently that there are one and three credit hour classes. Regardless of that, some majors have at least a few two credit requirements. What I am getting at is that there are ways to fulfill eighteen credit hours every quarter and not doing so in a burdensome way.

After getting those two credit courses that are required out of the way it leaves you with freedom to explore subjects that outside of your major or even college. As an accounting major I was required to complete a professional business writing course as well as a career management class for accountants. With no other requirements to look towards I was able to search for some unconventional courses for a business student. I currently am taking a two credit course in the history of jazz because I wanted to take a break from the formalities of business courses.

Some classes that intrigue me are the “PE” classes that are held at Lincoln Park’s Ray Meyer Center. These include basketball, volleyball, golf, or even actual fitness classes like weightlifting and conditioning. Imagine that, playing and studying a sport that you enjoy for credit. By fulfilling the full eighteen credits each quarter you increase your cumulated credit hours that slowly brings you closer to graduation. As a requirement for the Certified Public Accountant exam, I am obligated to complete one hundred and fifty hours, and each additional two credit hour class brings me nearer. So, before you decide to burn the money that goes toward those two credits, take a look into different areas of study and see if there anything that interests you.

Taking the GRE

For those of you planning on furthering your education after you receive your undergraduate degree, you know how extensive the applications are. They require many components: resume, transcript, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and some sort of test (and money – those application fees are no joke). Medical schools require the MCAT, law schools require the LSAT, and business schools require the GMAT. There are more specialized tests that I am sure I missing. However, the test that covers admission to most graduate schools is the GRE.

I recently took the GRE over winter break, and I’m here to give you all the inside scoop on it!

GRE Practice Book
I studied using the Kaplan GRE study book, pictured on the side. I like Kaplan – they give you lots of tips and have an online program with accessibility to tons of practice tests. Spend a lot of time reading over the tips on the essay section of the GRE. I would say that was the part of the book that helped me the most. Practice the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections as much as you can because you want to become as familiar with the test as much as possible before you officially take it. Also, look over some of the math terms/equations that you may be fuzzy on. Some of the math that was tested on the GRE I hadn’t done since sixth grade and I wish I had looked over those terms more. 

The best thing about the GRE is that is an individually-timed test. If you remember back to the SAT or ACT, you took it in a big room with lots of other students, and you all started and ended the test at the same time. Because the GRE is computer-based, timing is up to you. If you finish early on a section, you can just continue on to the next one. You don’t have to wait for everyone. I was told to allot 5 ½ hours of my day to the GRE, but finished the test in 3 ½ hours because it did not take me the whole time.

Overall, the GRE was not that bad. Was it the best 3 ½ hours and $220 I have ever spent in my life? Heck no. But, it got me into graduate school and for that reason I am mighty thankful for it. Don’t stress about the test, come prepared, and I can assure you that you will do great.

Dos and Don’ts of Journalism

On Tuesday in my News Reporting class, my professor brought in a panel of speakers to talk about the field, their careers, and what to do and not to do.

One of the panelists, Jen Sabella, who is the deputy editor and director of social media at DNAinfo, kicked off the panel saying her number one goal is to make any story, no matter how boring of a topic, into an interesting piece.

She expanded on her advice to reporters, which is to never stop asking questions. As an editor she said that the best reporters ask as many questions as possible, and if they do miss something, they always have the follow-up contact information available. In regards to pitching, she emphasized that you have to know your audience and know the style of the company you’re pitching to. “Do your homework. See what the site publishes. Lurk through the navigation,” she said.
Journalism
Here is a picture of the panel; photo by Evan Moore (my professor)

Another panelist, Julie DiCaro, a freelance writer and 670 the Score anchor, talked about how social media was her saving grace. “If you want to be a journalist, just start writing. If you want to be in radio, start a podcast. If you want to be in TV, start a YouTube channel” she said.

After being a lawyer for 15 years, DiCaro broke into journalism after blogging for years and building up a following on social media. “One of the best things law school ever did for me was teach me how to build a case because that’s exactly what you have to do [in this field]. People will come at you at social media about everything you say”

Alongside Sabella and DiCaro were Kathy Chaney, Ebony Print Managing Editor, Bettina Chang, Chicago Magazine web editor and cofounder of the nonprofit organization City Bureau, Investigative Reporter Maria Zamudio, and Andrea Watson, neighborhood reporter at DNAinfo.

Each panelist brought a unique and informative perspective to the table, and the remaining time was filled up discussing boundaries on social media, fact checking, interview skills, internships, and building connections. I learned so much!

One of the most memorable quotes was “Generosity is currency. You share other people's work and they share yours...helping people that way will help you 1000 fold. Stay in touch with your classmates, even if it’s just on twitter. Lean on each other and rely on each other,” Julie said.

BIG NEWS: The Theatre School Announces its 2017-18 Season

Big news has hit the halls of The Theatre School, in the form of the 2017-2018 Main Stage Season. The announcement was shared with the TTS community at an event in the Merle Reskin lobby of the new theatre school building on Fullerton and Racine.

TTS Season Announcement
A large crowd of students and faculty gather around with attentive ears to hear which shows had been selected for next school year. There was a general buzz of excitement from the students who will in the casting pool next year, each thinking about what the future holds for them and where they will end up. Over the past couple of years, it has become a new tradition for each director of the upcoming shows to present the show they are directing at a special event. They share with the community their reason for choosing the show, their thoughts and concepts about the production, and why it matters to our community. Each show chosen for the upcoming season was chosen because of how relevant it can be to the current social and political time we live in, and how the story may matter to our community and the world at large.
 
It is a very special time to see how our school is recognizing the current atmosphere and responding with art that fits in with our thoughts, feelings, and actions of the moment.  As a school, we still have not completed our current season of kick-ass shows, but we all have much to look forward to next year. Honestly, as a soon-to-be graduate, it was a little surreal to talk about the upcoming season knowing that I will not be a part of it.  I will be moving on to a world of unknown things, but will no doubt come back to visit and see what they do with this new season of shows. It’s all so exciting!
 
SO, without further ado, I am pleased to share with you all, the 2017-2018 season:
 
ON THE FULLERTON STAGE
 
Into the Woods
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim * book by James Lapine
Directed by Barry Brunetti * musical direction by Mark Elliott
November 3-13, 2017 (previews 11/1 & 11/2)
 
Frankenstein
By Mary Shelly* adated by Nick Dear
Directed by Micharl E. Burke
Frebruary 9-18, 2018 (previews 2/7 & 2/8)
 
Three Sisters
By Anton Chekhov
Directed by Jacob Janssen
April 13-22, 2018 (previews 4/11 &4/12)
 
New Playwright Series
Title, Playwright, and Director TBD
May 18-26, 2018 (previews 5/16 & 5/17)
 
IN THE HEALY THEATRE

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England
By Madeleine George
Directed by April Cleveland
October 20-29, 2017 (previews 10/18 & 10/19)
 
Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play
By Anne Washburn
Music by Micharl Friedman * directed by Jeremy Aluma
January 26-February 4, 2018 (previews 1/24 & 1/25)
 
MFA18, Title TBD
 An emsemble performance created by MFA III actors, directed by Dexter Bullard
May 4-13, 2018 (previews 5/2 & 5/3)
 
CHICAGO PLAYWORKS FOR FAMILIES AND YOUNG AUDIENCES
 
Augusta and Noble
By Carlos Murillo * directed by Lisa Portes
October 5-November 11, 2017
 
Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook
By Allison Gregory * adapted from the book series by Barbara Park
Directed by Krissy Vanderwarker
January 11-February 17, 2018
 
The Cat in the Hat
By Dr. Seuss
Directed by Jeff Mills
April 19-May 26, 2018
 
STUDIO SERIES, Titles/Playwrights/Directors TBD
 
 
For those joining the DePaul Community next year, it is already time to get excited about the many good things in store!
 

Get the Schedule You Want

Schedule
Perhaps one of the forgotten days with regards to its anxiety-inducing suspense, but stressful nevertheless, is your enrollment date. This is the day when you and many other students wait for the minutes to countdown until there is that mad rush when the enrollment button opens up. This is the day you either get that dream schedule of yours with classes that make your quarter flow smoothly or classes that tear your days apart. Yes, the procedure for class scheduling seems like a simple process, but what if your course cart schedule doesn’t go as planned before you even have the opportunity to enroll? There are some things to consider before you organize your class schedule.

Honors Program

Surely any honors program may give off an intimidating connotation, but there is a certain advantage that comes with the challenging coursework. If you are in any honors program whether it’d be the University Honors Program, Strobel Accountancy Honors, Finance Honors, and so on, you’ll get the advantage of priority enrollment over non-honors students in your grade and all students below you. This comes in handy especially when you have those required core classes that are critical to graduating on time.

Degree Progress Report

Beside D2L, I probably use this tool from DePaul the most. The degree progress report can be found on Campus Connect and primarily depicts the course structure for your major. However, the DPR can also make searching for classes a more efficient task by clicking the box of a requirement that will open up window providing details on that requirement. Clicking on “Course List” will open another window to show the courses offered in order to fulfill that requirement. Furthermore, clicking an individual course will lead you its description and sections offered where you can finally add it to your course cart or schedule.

DPR
What the typical DPR appears as for students
Advisors

As a twenty-one year old man I like to think I can do things myself. However, I’ve learned that even my judgments can be stubborn when it comes to class scheduling. I remember freshman year when I thought I had my schedule all figured out, taking a summer course and transferring it over to DePaul. Yet, there may be prerequisites affiliated with certain courses or some courses may only be offered during certain times of the year. I hadn’t noticed this until I met with my advisor to assist me with my schedule. She pointed out the flaws and how it would have actually hindered my future classes. Moral of the story is to get an outside perspective, preferably a professional one whose job is to advise students.

Other details

When searching for courses, be sure to look for those small details I’ve mentioned above. Within course descriptions it will tell you if it has any prerequisites, where it is located, and usually who the professor will be. If not, you could schedule a Loop class back to back with a Lincoln Park class, or get denied at the enrollment time like I did when I tried to take a class that wasn’t available until I had junior status. Another thing, make sure to be caught up on all payments and have no withholdings otherwise all classes will get a red X at the time of enrollment.

Even if one of the courses you want is full you can still request to be put on waitlist and have the chance to be accepted if another student opts out. I was able to get into two or three courses this way thus far. Take into these consideration so that when the enrollment date comes the most difficult part will be waking up early enough for your time.

History of TV

In my history of TV and Radio class the other week, we had to write an essay interviewing someone over 50 and under 25 about their TV watching habits growing up. It seemed like fitting timing also with the Oscars coming up at the end of the month (and the fact that my friend and I discovered a Spotify playlist called “Lizzie McGuire Comes On At 4pm” and it’s life changing.

SO, with those two things in mind, I thought I’d share my finding on interviewing my mom (born in the early 1960s), and my younger sister to compare their TV watching habits and show the contrast of the millennials.

For starters, my mom talked about how watching TV was a family event. She said that certain movies were on once a year around the same time so annually her and my grandparents and uncle would watch the Wizard of Oz when it came on.

That literally blew my mind when you compared it to my sister saying she remembers watching Full House and Lizzie McGuire before bed with me, and then starting talking about Shonda Rhimes “TGIT” lineup, saying “I’ve never watched it then though I always record it and watch it on the weekends because I HATE COMMERCIALS but I liked having Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal back to back.”

History of Television
Later on I asked my mom about “guilty pleasure” shows, and she said they were nothing like they were today, because shows were pretty innocent. Her “guilty pleasure” was watching M.A.S.H in high school.

My sister on the other hand went on about how when she was younger she loved watching SpongeBob every morning, and in high school she secretly was obsessed with (of course) Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Obviously TV has come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s, but the shift into it being a very isolating ‘in my room alone watching Netflix’ experience is what really caught my eye and I think shows the greatest shift from the family time it was back then. Next time you catch yourself isolating in your room watching endless hours of 30 Rock (or whatever show you never get sick of!) just be mindful of that!

Breaking My Bad Habit

So, I have a lot of terrible habits in my life. That should surprise no one. I am a super bad nail biter, I procrastinate a lot, I’m a stress eater, I have a tendency to make impulsive purchases (especially when it comes to buying things for other people), I’m never on time for anything… The list goes on and on. I don’t think it’s even up for debate that I have way more bad habits than I have good habits. Recently, one of my worst habits has gotten even worse.

I’ve written before about how stressed I get, and about my attempts to cope with stress. Whenever I get stressed, I sort of shut down and withdraw from the outside world. It’s really not the worst response to stress; it sort of has the effect of eliminating distractions and forcing me to focus all of my energy on addressing the cause of the stress. 

During finals, I might be stressed for a week or two. Prolonged stress can be mentally and physically taxing. In those situations, I typically try to give myself one free day to do literally anything else so I can give my mind a break. I’ll schedule all of the work that I need to around that one day. On that day, I usually take a long walk, go downtown, work out, and treat myself to some of my favorite food and watch a movie. Anything to distract my mind and that makes me stop putting pressure on myself for a little bit. 

Long Walk
It felt so good to finally get out of my room today.
Since I started work on my thesis last summer, I’ve reached a new level of stress in my life, and I haven’t been coping with it well at all. I’ve always been able to power through the stress of finals because finals might only last a week or two. With my thesis, I’ve been dealing with constant finals-level stress for six months at this point, and I won’t be done with my thesis for at least another four months. 

At some point, I suddenly just stopped letting myself take days off like I used to. Whenever I thought about taking a day off to escape from the stress, I would think about how much work goes into a thesis, and I’d force myself to stay at home and do more work instead. Of course, since I never allowed myself to recover, I’d struggle to focus, the quality of my work would decrease, and I’d get even more stressed. As a result, for the past six months, I essentially lived Rapunzel’s life. I locked myself away, and I only let myself leave for class or groceries. When I had to go out for special occasions, I was always doing work in my head and writing down ideas in my phone.

This week, I had a moment of clarity and decided that I had to cut myself some slack. I went to the gym twice this week (something that probably hasn’t happened in six months), took a mini-road trip with my cousin, and today, I finally let myself take my long walk again. Suddenly, everything seems a lot more manageable. 

Adventures on the South Side

As a journalism major, I often have to write articles or report on topics that don’t necessarily grab my attention, but are a class requirement so have to get done. In a journalism class I’m in right now, my professor is very focused on informing us about things going on all around the city, not just in the few neighborhoods we frequently visit or ones that gather breaking news. 

The current assignment we’re doing to cultivate this is a 77 challenge, where we were each assigned one of the 77 community areas in Chicago and have to go explore that neighborhood and then write an article about it. Mine was the South Shore.

Coming from the northern suburbs, I spend most of my time up there, and rarely venture past the Jackson red line stop. Thus, I had little clue about where the South Shore was, what went on there, or the demographic of the people residing there.

From my research, I quickly learned this is where Michelle Obama is from, it’s located along the lake (hence the name) just south of the University of Chicago, and is where Tiger Woods is building a brand new golf course in hopes of hosting future PGA Tour ​events. This is something that is super timely and current, as town meetings and discussions have been happening all month about it.

As I’m not an avid golf player or follower, I had absolutely no idea any of this was going on, when in reality it’s a pretty big construction. And, I found all this out by simply googling “South Shore Chicago” and clicking the “news” tab. 

Now I’m not saying you should google all 77 neighborhoods and find out random facts about each, but what I am saying is that a lot goes on in such a big city, and it doesn’t hurt to venture outside of your normal comfort zone every once in a while, or even just look up news about some new places in the city, because there’s always something to follow up on!

Post Grad Life

DeBlogs became the first organization I joined as an incoming freshman at DePaul. As many readers can see, our graduation year is stated under our names just below the profile picture. Back then my year was the furthest away from the other bloggers. “College of CDM ​‘17” it states with the earliest graduation year being the class of 2013. 

Throughout my time at DePaul and with DeBlogs I have moved up in seniority, leading me to 2017 – the year I graduate. It’s odd to see my picture at the top of the page where now graduated alumni once were. It’s metaphoric of the progression in myself and my character, as well as my professional development throughout these past 4 years. The little freshman entering the new realm of college life, being at the bottom of the page and the bottom of class levels. 

So here I am now midway through my last winter quarter and the questions are arising, “what are you doing after graduation,” “got any plans for post-graduation?” I’m applying to a few internships, searching jobs, and staying relevant with which companies are hiring in the Chicago and surrounding suburb area. Sound complicated? 

The Future
Senior year can be quite overwhelming but there are many resources DePaul provides that help make the process a little less stressful. To anyone that may be thinking in advance about their senior year or anyone currently there here are some things I found to be helpful. Having a good relationship with your academic advisor. Even if you’ve gone the past 3 years not talking or talking very little to them, just sending an email with questions and concerns makes a world of a difference. I’ve found that when I just list all my questions and concerns, filter free, to my advisor that is when I figure out the most and sort things the best. 

DePaul’s Career Center and professor emailing lists are also a huge help. Google is a great tool, but many times companies and businesses have a relationship with some DePaul faculty or staff members and that puts you in a better spot to reach out to them and create a bigger network of professional relationships. 

This last part kind of piggy backs off the Career Center. Career fairs and networking events at DePaul are a great way to meet people from all over the place. Usually many of these companies are looking to hire DePaul students because of an alumnus that currently works for them or they have some other connection to the university. I’ve been to some fairs as early as when I was a sophomore and the people are all very nice and very helpful with providing certain information about what they and the company they work for do. That’s about all the advice I have. I hope some of you find this blog to be helpful as you go about preparing for the next stage of life. 

Thank you for reading my blog, and as always, stay awesome friends!  

The Next Phase of My Thesis

Previously, on the “Willy is Getting His Master’s” show, I was a mess. I mean, you can read that blog and tell I was a mess. Not much has changed in that regard, but I am in a completely different place in the thesis process now, which is VERY EXCITING. I’ve been working on thesis research for a long, long, long time. Like, at least a year and a half now. In that time, I’ve read so much on my topic and my topic has gone through so many revisions. 

For the past few months, I’ve been slowly putting together my thesis proposal, which essentially outlines my argument, some preliminary research, and the general outline of my thesis. Right at the end of Fall Quarter, I decided to sort of shift my topic and take a different approach. I threw out most of the work that I had done up until that point and started anew. Well, this week, I successfully defended my thesis proposal! WOOHOO! This means I can finally get started on actually writing my thesis. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to finally be done with the proposal.
 
MPSA
I’m almost as proud of this picture as I am of the picture of me auditioning for American Idol back in the day. 
On a similar note, one day back in October, I got an email from the International Studies department that the following day was the deadline for applications to present at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference. I was pretty sure that I had no interest in presenting, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply anyways. Sure enough, I got accepted! Despite my initial apathy, and despite now being incredibly nervous and intimidated, I’m officially registered to present at the Conference in April! I have no clue what the preparation process for presenting will look like, but I will definitely keep you all in the loop! 

The Latest and Greatest: Richard III

Now is the winter of our...Latest show! Get it? That’s a play on the famous opening line of my current production! It’s another round of Shakespeare for me this winter at The Theatre School. This quarter I have been cast in Shakespeare’s Richard III​. I am taking on the powerhouse role of Queen Margaret, a noble woman scorned, as well as rounding out the ensemble of actors as the Lord Mayor of London, and a member of the opposing Army. This is an ensemble driven piece, meaning most cast members are playing multiple roles and helping to create this piece together. Having just finished Romeo and Juliet this past fall, and growing my love for this classical writer, it was exciting to me to try my hand at one of Shakespeare’s fiercest female roles. A mature woman, who had her Kingdom stripped from her uses curses to exact her revenge on the guilty parties involved. It has been a blast to explore this language and my more powerful qualities. 

The TTS Website describes our show: 

“Richard, Duke of Gloucester, conspires, manipulates, and murders his way onto the English throne, making more than a few enemies along the way. Can Richard rule England? Or will his misdeeds undo him? This Shakespearean classic explores the effects of morality, or lack thereof, in a political state.”

Richard III
Our show will be produced in the Healy Theatre, our large black box theatre within the TTS building. Tickets are now on sale with the opening of the show January 27th running until February 5th. Directed by second year MFA director Jacob Janssen, the goal has been to bring this politically charged play to our modern American audiences who are also experiencing the transfer of power, and have to deal with the aftermath (current election/inauguration anyone?). The neat thing about our production? The title character of Richard III is being played by a female actress! Yes to untraditional casting! 

For those in the Chicago area, come by and see this dramatic and powerful play. As always tickets are only $5 for students and $15 for the rest of the public. For info or tickets visit our website.

I am pumped to see how the show turns out, and the reaction from the community. And I am always glad to know that whatever the end result, the process and learning experience is always worth it to me. 

Be well DePaulians! 

Writing a Personal Statement

For those of you who have ever applied to graduate school or have looked into what applying entails, it is a lot of work! Most schools require your transcript, two to three letters of recommendation, your resume, GRE scores​, and the dreaded personal statement. The personal statement is a short narrative that describes your education, experience, and professional career objectives. You basically have to sell yourself to the university you are applying to. It is a lot of pressure to put on a 1,800 word essay! 

Here are some tips to writing your personal statement:

● Go to a workshop class. DePaul offers workshops specifically to help you write your personal statement. Use this free resource!

● Think about a moment or experience that is really important to you or has shaped who you are as a person. I wrote how my worldview was expanded by my love of reading. I had a friend who wrote about how her trip to the Philippines opened her eyes to the reality of human trafficking. Then, connect that experience to the reasons you want to go into the field you are applying to. 

Ohio State
My personal statement must have payed off - I've already been accepted to Ohio State!
● Give yourself time. Do not do what I did and give yourself a week to write your personal statement (I mixed up the deadlines for the programs I was applying to. Whoops!). You do not want to feel hurried or pressured to write this essay. Give yourself as much time as possible to make it the best quality.

● Use friends or professors as resources. I had a couple of my good friends who I knew were well-educated and eloquent edit my personal statement and it was one of the most helpful things I did. Getting another perspective on what I was writing and having someone fix a mistake I had glossed over really improved my personal statement. 

I hope these help! Good luck! I promise, writing your personal statement is not as intimidating as it looks. 

Winter Quarter 2017: Things to Do

I’m always grateful that I go to a school where there is so much to do. Not that I have a ton of free time, but I like to venture outside of my bedroom occasionally. When I do finally go outside, I want to make the most of my time. These are the events that I’m looking at this quarter:

January 23rd: Are Ya Smarter than Your Professor

Blue Demon Dance
DePaul Activities Board (DAB) is hosting an awesome event pitting students against professors in a trivia game-show style event that definitely has nothing to do with and is not inspired by the TV show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? I might show up just on the off chance that there are some questions about Parks and Recreation and the students might need my expertise.

February 22nd: The Scholar’s Improv 2: Academic Boogaloo

I love the DePaul Humanities Center. This quarter, they’re reprising a popular improv event starring comedians and professors. In between improv sketches performed by the comics, professors improvise a lecture as they present a PowerPoint that they’ve never seen before. Not only is it hilarious, but it gives you an appreciation for what professors actually do on the daily.

February 23rd: Polarpalooza

Every year, DAB hosts a big, free winter concert, just for DePaul students: Polarpalooza. Every winter, 600 students fill up Lincoln Hall for a private concert with an up-and-coming music act. Tickets are free, but limited, so you have to be on your game if you want to snap up some tickets. DAB has a knack for picking acts that get way bigger right after performing at Polarpalooza (see: Fun., Walk the Moon, Chance the Rapper). Be sure to check out their website at the beginning of February when they announce the performer!

February 25th: Blue Demon Dance

Every year, DAB also hosts a dance for DePaul students. It’s held somewhere fancy off-campus (last year it was held at Navy Pier!) and there’s food and music, and dancing, I assume. Keep an eye on DAB’s website ​to see where the Blue Demon Dance will be held this year!


Studying for the Big Test

Studying
When it comes to exams, it’s been a hit or miss thus far. Upon my first quarter at DePaul I thought I would be able to get by with my laidback high school studying habits (not studying at all) and walk into the midterm or final, ace it, and get an A in the class as I had always expected. However, I received a rude awakening when my overall grade of a B+ going into the final was lowered by a D on my exam putting me only a few tenths of a percentage from receiving a C in the class. After that I vowed to commit myself like never before and put in hours of studying for my exams. Since my first quarter in which I averaged a 3.0 GPA, I have raised my GPA to a 3.58 in a year. While studying does obviously improve test scores, I still managed to get a C+ in another class. Here are some observations and tips for when it comes to studying for exams.

The most obvious tip is one that will save you the stress and exhaustion of cramming in hours of studying, and that is to keep up with the work. In classes where homework is not required nor taken for a grade are the classes where I found myself taking advantage of this leniency and ultimately saw the negative impact. I would put off reading the chapters and relied on the class lectures for soaking in the material, but I was only lying to myself thinking I could possibly get away with this. Therefore, I recommend not only reading from the text but also reading the chapter before your professor lectures it. That way the material won’t be overwhelmingly new to take in and repetitive information won’t hurt anyway.

Nevertheless, doing the assignments simply won’t cut it for preparation of the exam. Material from the beginning chapters may have slipped your mind by the time the midterm or final comes around so it’s essential to revisit them. When it comes to studying I find it best to be in a quiet and solitary environment. The primary location I use for studying is the most familiar and that is my room at times when my roommate is not there. Sitting at my desk with no distractions enables me to solely focus on whatever I’m immersed in. If your room is constantly occupied then I recommend the study rooms available on every floor of DePaul apartments and dormitories. Although noise from the hallway may inevitably cause minor distractions it is still a good location for isolation. One last location I have used is the library. At the Lincoln Park campus library the third floor is dedicated entirely to quiet study. Here you can find yourself with many other stressed students all studying in near silence. The library is good study spot but I admit I’d much rather stay in my room in something comfortable than to walk over the library to study, being comfortable and doing what works best for you is the last tip I propose for when it comes to studying for exams. 


Writing a Thesis

As some of you may know, I am currently in the process of writing a thesis paper as my capstone project for the Honors Program. It is a lengthy process (my thesis will be around 30-40 pages), but a rewarding one. Thankfully, the Honors Program does not throw you into this project unprepared. The Honors Program offers a 2-credit class (HON 300) during Fall Quarter, taught by Nancy Grossman, the Associate Director of the Honors Program, to give guidance on the final project.

I am so thankful I took this class, and if you are remotely considering writing a thesis, you should take it too! It is a small class (my class had 12 people) and if you are planning on writing a thesis, everything that is due during the quarter would be due anyway. In order to enroll in the capstone thesis project, you have to submit a thesis proposal, which includes an abstract, annotated bibliography, and proposal statement for the project. Throughout the quarter in HON 300, those components are due, so you have the opportunity to work ahead and get feedback on the proposal that you will eventually submit to be approved to write the thesis. Regardless if you take the class, the thesis proposal is due, so it really is to your advantage to enroll in HON 300 (you get credit!).

Studying
Another reason to take the class is that you also get feedback on your topic and thesis statement from your peers. It was really helpful to get constructive criticism on my topic, as I was able to refine it and think about my topic in ways I never would have originally due to the perspectives from my classmates. It was also fun to critique other students’ topics, too!

While writing a thesis paper for the Honors capstone is ambitious and intimidating, it is also a satisfying experience. I know I will be better prepared for graduate school after writing this thesis, and it is definitely something for me to show off and be proud of. Come be ambitious with me!

Night Runner: Making History Exciting

With the start of a new quarter, comes the start of a new round of shows here at The Theatre School. The first to open on the Main Stage in 2017 is an exciting new play, NIGHT RUNNER. This action packed show has generated a lot of buzz for being a brand new play by hot Chicago Playwright Ike Holter. Part of our Playworks series for young audiences, this show is performed for Chicago public school and families downtown at our Merle Reskin Theatre, a space with a history of its own. This play takes place in South in the mid 1800’s, and revolves around a huge part of our nation’s history at that point - slavery. Essentially a thriller about the heroism of Harriet Tubman, the underground railroad, and the path to freedom, this play takes a look at history through the unique lens of a comic book superhero. The Theatre School website describes this impactful tale:
 
Night Runner
Designed by Megan Pirtle.
 
“Join us for the story of Cora, an enslaved 12-year-old, and the Night Runner, the mythic but dark figure who shows her the way. When a cruel slave owner arrives and snatches Cora's brother Marcus in exchange for debt, Cora flees to find him. In steps the legendary Night Runner, a fierce, fast-talking female superhero, who helps Cora escape to freedom and discover her own inner strength.”

This play opens this week, and I will admit I am more than excited to see it. The Theatre School’s program with Chicago Playworks ​brings a different children’s show to the students and families of Chicago each season. Hundreds of kids from across the city come and are exposed to the magical world of theatre, and are immersed in a story that asks them to use their imaginations and learn new things. Frequently these students don’t get to go on many field trips, or are new to learning about plays and theatre, and this is what makes it so special to share with them. This is a unique and special moment in their week, and in their lives. 

Night Runner
Personally, as a young woman of color, I know how important it is to see yourself represented in the art, literature, and entertainment that surrounds you. Having been in a kids show myself, I have seen the large and diverse audiences with children of many different backgrounds. Many of these students are young people of color, and I see myself in them, 10 years ago. Wide eyed and expectant, they are taking in everything around them, which makes it extremely important to consider what kind of stories you share with these young people. As a young black woman, the reason I am so excited for this show is that it shows my history. OUR history as Americans, in a way that empowers and celebrates the strength of my community. It is important that those hundreds of kids of all colors and backgrounds learn about the horrors of American Slavery, the heroism of Harriet Tubman, and the strength that all people have inside them. By seeing people like them on stage, or seeing their history in this light, we can have a profound impact on the learning, and the empowerment of these young kids. With the incorporation of beautiful new music, and exciting rhythm and dance, a scary and uncomfortable topic transforms throughout the story that will leave audiences cheering as our young heroine makes her way to freedom. 
Due to this serious subject matter this play is recommended for audiences 9 years of age and older. To find out more about our shows at TTS, or ticketing ( only $5 for students- yay!) visit our website

Welcome back and here’s to a passionate, and meaningful new year! 

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.​

December Intersession

Making the transition from fall quarter to having six weeks off for winter break is a pretty big change, especially since most schools are not on the quarter system so chances are most of your friends are in the midst of finals these weeks after Thanksgiving.

If you’re anything like me, you strive off of the structure associated with classes and due dates, and all of a sudden having nothing to do seems nice at first but after a few days you’re bored and stuck in a rut.

That was me the past two years. So, this year, I decided to make a change. For these three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I decided to get a required basic communications class out of the way by taking a December Intersession course online. Additionally, I continued working at my job in the CDM ​Advising office as a student worker.

Even though my class was online and I didn’t have that structure of needing to show up for class, I took that as an opportunity to structure my schedule by going to coffee shops or Barnes and Noble to do my readings or write essays. I scheduled in going to the library to take the midterm and final exams online. I used the structure of being in front of a computer at work to write these blogs or post the required discussion posts for the class.

These little changes made such a huge difference. And, so I could still see my friends that go to school in Chicago but do have finals, we could study together or take a break and grab lunch. 

So, if you have basic intro classes you’ve been waiting to get out of the way or even have open electives and one of the December classes offered catches your eye, I definitely recommend trying it out! Just be ready to do a lot of work, it’s not a blow-off period, you’re squeezing 10 weeks of class into 3!

Public Speaking

As a journalism major, one of the super fun classes I’m required to take is public speaking. Immediately after I signed up for this class during enrollment last spring, I dreaded beginning. Public speaking is on the top of my “things I hate doing” list.

Growing up I was super shy and introverted, and although I’ve outgrown that, I’m an incredibly anxious person and am still not a fan of having all eyes on me. Luckily, the class hasn’t been as bad as I expected, and I actually learned some valuable skills (and didn’t pass out or run out of the room during my speeches).

So, here are some tips I have for the next time you have to give a speech either in class or outside of school.

1. Notecards. We were allowed to have notecards with bullet points during our speech, and naturally there were those kids in my class who thought they were better than that, so didn’t use any. Luckily I looked past that cockiness and wrote down a few notes for each point I was making. It allowed me to not completely read from them but when I’m super anxious sometimes my mind goes blank so it was a good safety net. And if I wanted to quote someone I could have the whole quote actually written out.

2. Eye contact. Eye contact is one of the most uncomfortable parts, and I have a tendency to avoid looking directly at people, but instead look above them or literally anywhere else. Lesson: don’t look above them. When other presenters did that it was so obvious to the audience and it definitely looks odd. Instead just keep your eyes moving around the room without holding it anywhere for too long.

Public Speaking
3. Don’t wait until the very end to present yours. 

4. Timing. Because we had a certain time length our speech had to be, I would practice my speech alone and time it, but you almost never speak at the same pace during the speech. I talked much faster when I was in front of the class because I was nervous, so if your time requirement is 5-7 minutes, aim to have to be closer to 7 when you rehearse (if you're like me and your anxiety quickens your speaking rate).

5. Speak about something you’re passionate about! Luckily my professor was very open about topics, and we could literally present on anything, as long as it filled the general requirements (i.e.: a persuasive or informative speech). When you talk about something you're passionate about, you feel less inclined to follow the rigidity of your notecards, because you can just speak from all the knowledge and passion you have inside. So, naturally my speeches were about going to school in Canada, yoga, and companies that donate profits to charity (and I’m obsessed with elephants so used The Elephant Pants as an example).


Eat Your Salad, No Dessert

Salad
Last week I detailed which ways one can stay active and physically fit amongst the freedom of doing (or not doing) what you want and eating what you please. This week I want to focus precisely on the eating component. Like I said before, I could eat Chinese food just about everyday, however, considering sweet and sour chicken is not the healthiest choice I took it upon myself to seek foods that are tasty yet nourishing. For simplicity, I am going to divide these foods between on and off campus.

Being a freshman or even an upper classmen living on-campus such as myself, the Student Center offers an abundant variety of food at almost anytime of the day. There are times when I was guilty of eating mozzarella sticks and burgers at midnight or ice cream for supper, but there are healthier options available to those stuck within the limitations of a meal plan. Both the Student Center in Lincoln Park and the DePaul Center cafeteria in the Loop offer a “garden bar” with options such as vegetables, tuna, or low-carb pastas. If you’re like me then you’ll get tired of the usual offerings provided by DePaul, but not to worry, there are limited time platters that change on a weekly basis.

Additionally, since I have the luxury of an apartment with a full kitchen, I like to take some vegetables and other ingredients from the garden bar and use them to cook a little something of my own at my place. I often use the chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach for omelets, burgers, or pasta.

Of course, DePaul’s on-campus dining does provide a limited amount of offerings. Being in Chicago, you can just walk a block and surely find a refreshing alternative. Living in Centennial, there is literally a Whole Foods beneath my feet. I’ve only eaten there twice now, however there is a wide assortment of healthy foods available there. What makes Whole Foods unique is that it serves as a grocery store with an on-campus-style of eating as well. There are buffet counters in the center of the store where one can simply fill up a plate or to-go box just as you would at the Student Center. But besides Whole Foods, the city is bountiful of restaurants for the occasions when you want to treat yourself or not put up with having to cook or do the dishes afterwards. Going to a Walmart, Costco, or Target is also always a safe way to go for a greater assortment of ingredients and other packaged snacks.

Acing the Audition

For many students in their last year of undergrad, in addition to finishing up their studies, and enjoying the last moments of their college experiences, a lot of time and energy is spent planning the next steps. For some this means making connections, learning about possible career paths, securing jobs and internships, making plans for graduate degrees, travel, and more. As I have mentioned before, the 4th year of the acting program makes a lot of moves to prepare graduating students for the professional world of acting. One way to prepare students for the profession, is preparing them for the real job of an actor - auditioning. 

For actors, auditioning is the way to get in the door, get in the room, and get a job in the world of professional theatre. This is a time for you to make an impression with casting directors, directors, producers, and the creative team of a project, or particular theatre. It is of extreme importance to make the most out of your auditions, those few minutes in the room make a big impact on those watching. For those watching, ideally, they get to meet you and get a sense of who you are, see your work, and find out if you might be right for their project or season. 

Auditions
Additionally, it doesn’t always matter if you book the specific role you are auditioning for. What I mean by this is that sometimes those watching may not find you a perfect fit for the project at hand, but if they like your work, and you as a person, they are likely to call you back in the future or recommend you for other projects. You really never know what they can lead to in the future. This is the reason why it is important to work on getting confident and comfortable with auditioning. The best way to do this is through practice, and luckily the 4th year of the acting program gives you the chance to do just that. 

In the BFA performance program, students take multiple quarters of audition classes, to learn how to prepare, practice coming into the room, and presenting material. Over this fall quarter, 4th year students participated in an audition class that took the practice to the next level, by inviting guests to come watch. This class met once a week, for 2.5 hours every Friday. The first few weeks of class were spent searching for monologues that fit your “type” or personality well, and rapid fire working them to presentation readiness. Other classes focused on cold-reading scenes, presenting scenes without much preparation or information. Many times when auditioning for a role, you will be sent ‘sides’, or short scenes to prepare to bring in. The goal is to come in with strong choices, even under a time crunch. Later in the quarter, guests were invited to come in and watch our auditions and give feedback. Professionals from various theatres around Chicago, including Timeline Theatre, Writers Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre​, and more, watched us all perform our monologues and gave their honest feedback to help up reach our best potential. Then they sat down with us and spoke with us about the industry, auditioning in the future, and shared some tips and stories about their experiences working in Chicago theatre, and more. This was extremely informative and it was helpful to get an outside perspective on our work so far, and get some really helpful advice moving forward. This is a great way for us to learn, but also to make connections with professionals in the city, that we may be auditioning for in the future. Classes like this make me look forward to getting more experience and practice over the next quarter, and then taking on the real world! 

Finishing up the Quarter

How is it the end of the quarter already? These past 10 weeks went by so fast!

I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to winter break. This has been a crazy quarter and I am ready for a rest! This has been my busiest quarter thus far academically and I am really looking forward to having some time to watch Netflix, read for fun, and catch up on some sleep. 

Zoo Lights
Zoo lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo
I will be keeping busy over break, but not in the busy/stressful school way. I will be in Chicago over break working, which I am really excited for. I have a full-time nannying job for a 3-month old little nugget - it will be such a treat. I love babies and honestly she will take 3 naps a day so it will be a fairly easy job.

If you have never spent Christmas time in Chicago, I highly recommend you do so! There is so much to do and city feels so much more peaceful and magical. I personally am looking forward to seeing the Lincoln Park Zoo ​Lights and going to the Christkindlmarket downtown at Daley Plaza. 

This next week will be consumed with finals, but then we will be rewarded with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. Oh, I am so excited for Thanksgiving dinner! And then, only a month until Christmas! I hope this has been a great quarter for you all. Have an incredible and relaxing break and holiday season! I look forward to catching you all up on my life in the winter. 


Update: My Life as a Master’s Student

​I’ve written almost 50 blogs for DeBlogs. When I started at DeBlogs, I had so many ideas that I knew I wanted to write about. But after about the 30th blog, it started getting a little trickier to come up with new ideas off the top of my head. I was coming to the end of the list of things that I thought more people needed to know about (like Demon Discounts or all of the resources at the Library), so I just started writing more about my experiences and basically what I had been doing for the past week.

So every week, I sit down and grab my phone and go through all of the pictures that I’ve taken recently. Usually, I’ll find a picture that’s funny or has a good story, and then I’ll go write about where I was or what I was doing when I took that picture. Well, today, I went to look through my pictures. What do I find? Just a wall of pictures of random pages from books and my notebook and two pictures of bags of oranges in front of a sign that says “Apples” (see photo). Now, I know that I’m not the first person to take photos of pages in a book. I didn’t invent the wheel either. But this wasn’t just one day where I studying and snapping pictures of books —these pictures were taken over a five-day period.

Willy's Photos
This is very representative of my life right now.

So I guess what I’m saying is that my life has revolved around schoolwork and my internship this quarter. Since I’m a BA/MA student, I’ve had to take three graduate courses this quarter. A typical graduate course load is just two courses. I started the quarter off strong and thought that I’d be able to handle everything. By the third week, I had submitted my letter of resignation to the library, where I had worked since my sophomore year. The BA/MA program is no joke. It’s been incredibly challenging, but it’s also been so exciting to see myself progress in my research. I still so happy that I chose to do the BA/MA program. But in all honesty, nothing is more exciting to me than the fact that Winter Break is just a few weeks away.

Mindfulness and Meditation

At the end of September, I went on a 4 day retreat to Starved Rock for one of my courses - SNC198 Mindfulness and Meditation - and learned more on that retreat than I ever have in my other courses.

Retreat
Now for over 7 years, Dr. Michael Skelley, a professor in DePaul’s School for New Learning, leads a group of 20 students on a mindfulness and meditation retreat to Starved Rock semiannually. For 4 days we participated in meditation practices, group discussions, mindful walking and hiking, reflective journaling, and embracing the power of silence. We were also encouraged to turn our phones off and remain mindful the whole time (and we couldn’t bring homework!)

During the weekend, Skelley discussed types and causes of pain and suffering, invisibility, curiosity, and letting go. And, of course, we practiced meditating, because there really is no wrong way to do it. He says, “I think there are so many myths about meditation that people have heard and so people try to meditate on their own and they end up just getting frustrated or doing themselves more damage than good and so I’m really concerned about trying to correct some of the myths.”

Skelley has been practicing mindfulness from the age of 10 on, but found his interest in Buddhism while earning his PhD in the 1980s. At the time, Insight Meditation Society opened a practice in Massachusetts, and author John Kabat-Zinn developed his mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

The famous Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh​ said, “In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” This is the foundation of their teachings, and of the retreat as well. It was a really eye opening experience to notice what comes up for us in meditations, and being disconnected from society in general calmed a lot of my anxiety about school, work, deadlines, etc.

Retreat
He mentioned that most of the students who take his class say they’re taking it because they feel stressed in one way or another. Because of this, the 20 of us were able to bond and relate on so many levels even at all different ages, and spending 4 days with them was such a valuable experience. Now all we talk about is how we want to go back!

In reflecting on his own practice, Michael tries to do 30 minutes of formal meditation daily, and takes everyday tasks, such as reading, walking, and cooking, and slows down to do them mindfully. He encouraged us at the end of the retreat to put in place a similar routine, and we are currently following an 8 week meditation book and the meditations it includes. Now, I try to do a 10-20 minute meditation every evening, and it helps me fall asleep because it calms down my built up anxiety from the day.

Everyone should definitely check out this course! It’s available every fall and spring, and it’s one I will never forget!

Get Ready for Finals

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Now let me spoil your celebrations. News flash: hold on to your hat because finals are quickly approaching. I hope you’re ready. Finals Week officially begins on Wednesday, November 16th—just a little over two weeks away! However, if your schedule is anything like mine (I hope for your sake that it isn’t), your finals are coming up even sooner than that. My last final is due on November 14th, two days before the start of the so-called “Finals Week.” How does that make any sense!? It doesn’t. But it does mean that I have to start getting ready for finals ASAP. Now, as a master’s student, this is my fifth year of finals. I know what I’m doing. I’ve developed and perfected my own strategies for getting through finals. Here are a few of my suggestions:

-- Ideally, start working on your finals as early as possible. As teachers and professors have told you a thousand times, if you do a little bit of studying, reading, and writing every day, you’ll retain the information better and finals will be a breeze for you. Plus, you have time to go back and edit your writing. If this is how you work, be proud of yourself and know that I’m extremely jealous.
Halloween
In honor of Halloween, my mom dug out several different pieces of costumes that I wore when I was in elementary school. Here I am modeling a Harry Potter robe and part of a grim reaper costume. It had a hood, but it covered my face, so my parents made me cut it off.

-- Be realistic about yourself. If you wait until the last minute to do homework, you’re probably going to wait until the last minute to prepare for finals. So even though working a little bit each day is ideal, you can’t expect to suddenly adopt that kind of schedule just in time for finals. Instead, try to set achievable goals and benchmarks that improve, rather than change, how you normally work.

-- Building on that idea, prepare for the worst case scenario. I know that I’m a severe procrastinator. I always try to work on that. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. But I’m always prepared in case I procrastinate until the last minute. So now in the days leading up to finals, I’ll try to stock up on healthy(-ish) snacks and get extra sleep so that I’m as clear-headed as possible if I need to pull an all-nighter to write the essay that I’ve had four weeks to write.


Who is Logan Paluch?

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

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

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


Opening Night: Eurydice

Midterms have come and gone, and life in my little part of campus is just as busy as ever! The last couple of weeks have been a blur running from here to there, rehearsal to tech to performances, juggling class work, homework and just plain life work. But at the end of this very crazy workweek, the community at The Theatre School was rewarded by seeing another work of art come to life on stage. This past weekend marked the opening of yet another TTS Mainstage production, this time in our versatile Healy black box theatre, located inside the new Theatre School building on Fullerton and Racine. Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, was the second of three Mainstage productions to open this Fall quarter at DePaul. I was able to attend opening night of this gorgeous show, and while it took a lot of hard work to put up for all involved, it certainly was something to be proud of. 
  
Orpheus
Orpheus, played by MFA actor Keith Illidge sings at the gates of hell in Eurydice. Photo by Sophie Hartler 
Eurydice is a modern play with a twist on the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice; it is a beautifully written and poetic story of love, everlasting bonds, and the mysteries of the afterlife.   Our website describes the tale: 
 “Eurydice and Orpheus are young and in love. On their wedding night, Eurydice meets a man who claims to have a letter from her deceased father. She pursues the letter but dies in the effort. Orpheus descends into the Underworld to save her, and Eurydice must choose between a life with her husband and the certainty of her father's unconditional love”

This play is one that I have seen many times and know very well. For me, this is unusual, as I typically see a lot of plays I have never read or do not have any preconceived ideas about. I have seen this play 3 times in the last few years, and even performed in it myself during my high school years of acting competitions and festivals. The lovely thing about Friday night’s performance, was that I was able to see the play in a new and exciting way, seeing my ideas of the characters and the (under) world they inhabit in a fresh way that may have challenged how I thought about them before. The design of the show was stellar in my opinion, and created really striking memorable and moving moments, that I am still thinking about. Especially for myself, as a very visual person, the images I witnessed in the show were quite striking. I was so proud of the work I saw on stage that night, and really impressed to see the growth by many of the artists involved.
 
Eurydice
The lovers Orpheus and Eurydice, played by MFA Actors Keith Illidge and Sola Thompson. Photo by Joseph Clavel 
The production team includes scenic design by Joy Ahn, costume design by Emilee Orton, lighting design by Simean Carpenter, and sound design by Connor Ciesil.

The cast features Edward Hall (Big Stone), Keith Ilidge (Orpheus), Sarah Serebian (Little Stone), Kiah Stern (Loud Stone), Michael Stock (Father), Sam Straley (Man/Child), and Sola Thompson (Eurydice), all directed by MFA director Michael Burke. 

To any and all around the Lincoln Park area, looking to see an unusual, and undoubtedly gorgeous piece of theatre, I encourage you to come see Eurydice now through the end of October at The Theatre School at DePaul. Student tickets are always $5. For more information about our season visit our website and stay tuned for info on the last mainstage of the Fall season, Romeo and Juliet, coming next week. As always, stay great DePaulians!
 

DePaul in the Fall

We have arrived at one of my favorite times in Chicago. I absolutely love Chicago in the fall, especially in Lincoln Park. The changing leaves are beautiful, the weather is perfect, and everyone is cozy in sweaters and scarves. 

The changing season also means that so much is happening at DePaul right now! We have finished midterms and are experiencing the calm before the storm that is finals week. I personally have two huge final research papers, an exam, two formal poster presentations, and a thesis proposal due by November 18. *Gulp.* Everyone say a prayer for your friendly neighborhood DePaul student - most students' schedules are like this. 

Fall at DePaul
It is also prime visit time at DePaul​! I have been noticing a lot of tours happening around campus and it is cool seeing all of the students who could potentially become Blue Demons next year. Go class of 2021 (wow, so weird)! The tour guides do a great job of showing you around campus and highlighting the unique and awesome parts of the school. This is really the ideal time to visit - it is not snowing or miserably cold yet - so come and see why DePaul is the perfect school for you!  


The Kid Who Ran for President

The Theatre School mainstage season has officially begun with this week’s opening of the Chicago Playworks production, The Kid Who Ran for President.  The Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences series is a wonderful DePaul tradition.

These shows are fully produced each quarter just as our other mainstage productions, with a team of dedicated student actors, dramaturgs, designers and technicians for the lighting, set, sound and costumes, and often headed by a faculty director. These shows take place downtown at the historic Merle Reskin Theatre, now a venue specifically used for these children’s shows.  The stories told on this stage are often adaptations of well-known books for kids, or spins on popular characters and important figures, creating a mixture of classic and new material. Chicago schools and families are then invited to join us for 90 minutes in the magic of theatre.

This election season is kicked off rather appropriately with The Kid Who Ran for President by Jeremiah Clay Neal, and directed by Chicago Playworks Artistic Director, Ernie Nolan. This is a stage musical adaptation of the children’s book by the same name written by Dan Gutman. Here is a short description of the play:

“When sixth grader Judson Moon runs for President of the United States under the guidance of his campaign manager and best friend Lane, the campaign trail is turned upside down. Can Judson deliver on his promises once he is elected? This musical comedy full of hope and song brings some common sense and a rockin' pizza party to the White House, if only for a few days.”
The Kid Who Ran For President

This play hopes to engage its young audience in the conversation about our upcoming presidential election, the importance of good leadership, the power of privilege, and will explore what would happen if indeed a kid ran for president. Throughout the show, the kids in the audience are asked to be a part of the action by voicing their own political opinions, cheering along, and by seeing other “kids” engage in politics on stage, we hope to show them that they can in fact, change the world.

With its catchy songs, and interesting characters, audience members young and old are in for a wacky and rather relevant morning of theatre. I have already heard the songs and cannot wait to see it this weekend! With young characters, a striking parallel to our current election, and both kids and grown ups will appreciate, “Kid Prez”, can be enjoyed by a wide audiences of theatre goers. It is always the goal of our productions to stay current and relevant to the our community in Chicago, and by picking themes that align with a current climate, hoping to draw the most crowds and have the most impact on our audiences.

This show is now open and runs through November 12th, 2016. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:00am and Saturdays at 2:00pm. There are plenty of chances to see it, so do not miss out!

For more information about this show, our season, ticketing and more visit the TTS Website.

JYEL Credit

​Something that every DePaul student has to fulfill is their Junior Year Experiential Learning (JYEL) credit. There are many ways to fulfill your JYEL credit, like through a study abroad program, an internship, or community-based service learning. I currently am in the midst of fulfilling this credit through an internship.

I have an unconventional internship as it is not at a company or organization. I am a research assistant for a professor in the Health Sciences department through the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. At the end of last year, my professor and I both filled out an application for the program and we were accepted, which means that I get paid for the research that I am doing (a huge perk)! We are looking at Federally Qualified Health Centers in Chicago.

Stress
How I sometimes feel taking 18 credits and doing research.
Along with this research position, I am enrolled in a 4-credit University Internship Program (UIP) class about careers in the nonprofit sector. The combination of the class and the research position makes me eligible for JYEL credit. It is a somewhat unconventional way to fulfill the credit, but I am really enjoying it so far. It is a lot of work, but it is rewarding.

Every student has to fulfill their JYEL credit and if you are interested in research, I really recommend this route!

Political Science Watch Party

My four-year plan changed. As most of them do.

Most notably, it turned into a three-year-and-one-quarter plan. But also worth noting, it started in the realm of political science.

I began my journey at DePaul with a strong belief that my calling in life was to be a lawyer. I was going to become Elle Woods (minus all the pink), and ultimately rule the world. However, as I progressed through DePaul, I started to become more interested in public relations and advertising. 

Debate
At the end of my sophomore year at DePaul, I declared my secondary major as public relations and advertising​. The rest is history. 

Although my dreams of being a lawyer have been postponed (who knows, maybe one day I’ll go to law school), I couldn’t be happier that I gained a political science degree. Being a political science major has taught me how to be pragmatic and assess situations from all sides. It has taught me how to break up dense information, conduct research, and has strengthened my writing skills. 

Every single one of my classes was thought provoking and very useful. Despite hoping to pursue a career in public relations once I graduate this Thanksgiving, being a political science major has shaped the way I think, and I know I’m smarter because of it. Plus, it has given me the opportunity to join Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honors society. 

Last year, I had the pleasure of serving the club as Vice President, and was able to create my own initiatives and help out at the new member induction ceremony. It was an awesome way to end my year on the board. 

For the first presidential debate this week, Pi Sigma Alpha and the political science department hosted a watch party for students. It’s awesome to be a part of a community that is so interested in politics. 

Need advice on declaring your major? Let me know. But understand that adding majors or changing them isn’t as dramatic as it seems :)

Internships

I’ve talked about the sunny weather and the great hikes but now let’s get serious. Okay, not super serious but I am going to use this blog to talk about the educational part of being here in LA.

The key idea for LA quarter is to get an internship with a company that interests you. This can be working on creative development, script coverage, visual effects, etc. I currently have two internship positions. One internship is with Division Camera, a rental house on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and the other is with my professor, Tommy O’Haver.

Josue Internship
For Division Camera I work in the “QC” section, which is short for quality check. I test various cameras and accessories to make sure they work. After I check them, I tag the item and store it for our prep techs. I love the environment over at Division. Everyone I have met is really nice and has taught me many new things. It is also super fun to get hands on experience with different cameras, rigs, and more.

With my professor I get to see different aspects of the filmmaking process. Right now I am assisting him with some post-production work for a movie he just recently finished. It’s cool to see him interact and direct the actors as they go about the ADR process. Side note, for those unfamiliar with ADR it is when the actors come to a sound studio to rerecord lines for the movie. Sometimes a different tone or emphasis on a word can change the way a performance is interpreted. ADR is just another component to the movie process that allows the director’s vision to come to life.

Monkeyland Audio Inc.
Me at Monkeyland Audio Inc. a recording studio I went to for my second internship.
Along with our internships, we also take a normal course load of four classes (undergraduate) or two classes (graduate). Classes meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 PM-9:30 PM which allows students some time to commute after work. We have had, and will have, guest speakers come in to talk about their experiences working in the industry. There are also studio tours, as well as a huge variety of events set up by DePaul. If anyone is thinking about doing LA quarter, I personally highly recommend it (and it’s only week 3).

I hope you enjoyed this blog and until next time, stay awesome!   

Daring to Dream

​Many have said that as young college students yet to enter the “real world,” that a great unknown lies before us. The world is our oyster, the possibilities are endless, and our whole lives are ahead of us, waiting to unfold in amazing and surprising ways. When you really think about it, it is pretty true. College is the small chunk of time in the transition between adolescence and adulthood where one can explore and learn about the world, themselves, and what they want for the future. Being in my last year of undergrad has made me become very reflective on my true passions and desires, and well as contemplating the many possibilities for what can happen post-grad.

As a 4th year acting student, I am currently taking an audition class, where we learn how best to prepare for the world of auditioning for professional theatre. Within this course we discuss the realities of the business, and ways to be successful. One required text for this course is the book, “The Actor’s Business Plan”, written by former Theatre School professor and acting coach, Jane Drake Brody. This book guides the reader through preparation for the business of acting, and life. The first assignment I had to complete is creating a list of dreams. This seemingly simple assignment has really had an impact on the way I am examining the possibilities for my future, and has made me reflect on the importance of dreaming big.

Textbook
In this assignment, you create lists of your biggest, truest dreams in many categories. The dreams are broken down into categories for Career, Personal, Financial, Educational, and Community Service dreams. Your task is simply to begin listing your dreams for each of these areas of your life.

Growing up, we were often told to dream big, but as you get older, there is sometimes a pressure not to admit what your truest, grandest dreams are because they might not be realistic, they might not come true. There is an aspect of practicality that makes it hard to say what would honestly be your dream. This assignment took the pressure off and allowed me to truly evaluate my ultimate dreams for the future. In the days since I completed it, I have been noticing the importance of dreaming big. Before I wrote them all down, I didn’t even realize that some of these things on my list were dreams of mine at all! I believe that the bigger you dream, the greater success you can have. Even if your accomplishments don’t turn out exactly as you had them on paper, it is still important to name the dreams you have. To paraphrase what my audition teacher tells our class, don’t prepare for failure! There will undoubtedly come times when you fail at things in life, but don’t count on that. Count on making these dreams a reality.

I want to encourage all young people to take a good look at your dreams, and write them down. No one else has to see them, but if you are honest with yourself, you set yourself up for the possibility of them coming true with hard work and determination. Be great DePaulians!

Interested in learning more? Check out The Actor’s Business Plan: A Career Guide for the Acting Life by Jane Drake Brody, available on Amazon.

Get the Most Out of DePaul

Every morning, from my first day of kindergarten through my last day of 12th grade, as I left for school, my mom would remind me to “take advantage of my free education.” Well, when I arrived at college and realized that my education was no longer free, I felt even more pressure to get the most out of it. DePaul has so many resources for students, but tons of students don’t even know what they’re missing out on! So I figured I’d just compile a few of the ways to get the most bang for your buck at DePaul: 

I’m a huge advocate for regularly meeting with advisors. Especially because advisors can really help you strategize and maximize your time and credits at DePaul. I came into DePaul hoping to just be able to graduate within four years. I quickly realized that if I was going to pay for the credits anyways, I might as well try to get as many majors and minors as I can. Four years later, I graduated with two majors, a minor, and a few master’s courses already under my belt. It was only because I kept in touch with my advisors that I was able to figure out how to finish all the requirements within four years. 

Taking care of your mental and emotional health is extremely important. There have been times when I definitely haven’t taken care of myself like I should have, and my metal health suffered. And when that happens, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and unmotivated. The good news is that you definitely don’t have to handle that all by yourself. 
Don’t submit a resume without having someone look it over! I cannot recommend strongly enough that you go visit the Career Center (or, at the very least, their website). The Career Center offers so many great services, but my favorite one is easily the resume review. You can meet with a Peer Career Advisor who can help you with any questions you have about resumes, cover letters, and interviews. If you’re in a rush, they also offer handy walk-in appointments. 

career center
If need help with an essay or want feedback on your writing, you can make an appointment to meet with a Writing Center tutor. If you’re trying to clarify or strengthen an argument, write your thesis statement, fix your grammar, or whatever, the Writing Center can help. No matter your skill level, your paper will only get better if you meet with a Writing Center tutor. Pro tip: ask your professor if they offer extra credit for meeting with a Writing Center tutor.

There's nothing worse than having computer problems when you have work to do. Luckily for you (and me), DePaul’s Genius Squad is FREE and has locations both at the Lincoln Park Campus (in the library) and at the Loop Campus (in the Lewis Center). Next time, bring it to them and see what they can do before you give even a dollar to anyone else.

Welcome Back Blog

Happy fall, DePaulians! For those who don’t know me, my name is Samantha Newcomb, and I am a senior majoring in Acting at the Theatre School at DePaul

Holy cow, that may be one of the first times I have introduced myself that way (as a senior), and it is blowing my mind just a bit.  
School is back in session and I have already experienced a huge milestone. Wednesday was my LAST first day of school! It sounds crazy coming out of my mouth, but now that I am in my senior year of college, this is the last time I will experience the thrills of “back to school” (yes, okay, maybe some day I’ll go to grad school but not right away). Simply remembering that this is my last year of school –ever really puts things into perspective. For the last 17 years I have focused on nothing but school. Putting all my efforts into my studies and getting good grades, all the time and energy spent on getting to middle school, high school, choosing a good college. The time has certainly flown by, and while I consider myself a life-long learner, it really is amazing to me that I am facing my very last year of consecutive study. Next stop, getting my degree!

DePaul Campus
This year is really unique, because it is focused on the transition from academia to the professional world. For my course of study, this means focusing less on the “how to” of acting itself, and shifting toward the business aspects of the arts industry. Topics include auditioning, compiling good resumes and headshots, getting agents for representation upon graduation and more. Of course as many people put it, we are facing entry into the “real world.” I am both nervous and excited for this process, and hope to share my experiences with you all along the way! 

Other things I am looking forward to this fall:

Typical autumn things - changing leaves, fall clothing, warmer beverages and cooler temps 

Reuniting with my frie​nds and classmates - 3(ish) months apart is a long time!

My new classes -  I am taking a mixture of classes on familiar and new topics including Musical Theatre, Meisner Acting Technique, Movement to Music, Auditioning, and Rehearsal and Performance. Now that I am in my last year, my classes are entirely focused on my major. 

My Fall Show - Updates on this to come! 

I can say that I am genuinely excited to begin my senior year, and really soak up all I can in my last year at DePaul. I can already tell that it will be an eye opening, challenging, and growth-filled year. I have many goals for myself academically, professionally, and personally, that I hope to accomplish. I want to do well and work hard in class, and on stage, but I am really trying to keep in mind the need to have fun and enjoy it along the way! I know that I can often be too focused on doing the right things or on the goals I have, that I forget that college is supposed to be an enjoyable time to learn, explore, and have FUN! Life is about the journey.

Welcome back to all in the DePaul Community, I hope you are as excited to start Fall Quarter 2016 as I am! Stay tuned as I fill you all in on the happenings at The Theatre School, my life as a senior and more. 

Until then, be well and do good! 

Keep Calm and Senior Year

Ten weeks. That’s it. 

As I begin my fall quarter this year, I also begin my last quarter at DePaul...ever. On the one hand, no more late night trips to the library, finals week, or homework. On the other hand, no more “free” gym membership, L pass, or summer break either. 

I have mixed feelings about the end of my journey at DePaul. I’m excited to enter the real world and use my degree, but I’m sad to leave the routine of school and my campus community. While it’ll be nice to never have to attend a class again, it’s also new territory. The last time I wasn’t in school was a good sixteen years ago, which is crazy.

What is life without school? I’m not sure. I think I’ll have to pick up a new skill like piano ​or a language to fill the void of class and homework. 

St. Vincent Circle
Until then, I’m dedicated to the job search. (Shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of an aspiring public relations professional, please let me know.) This summer I sharpened up my resume, did some job market research, and finished up an amazing internship with Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. I’m optimistic about finding a job, but let’s see if I feel the same way in five weeks…

My classes this quarter are ideal, but my schedule, not so much. It figures that my worst schedule would occur when I had the earliest registration time. I’m taking two political science classes and my final public relations requirement. A mere 12 credit hours stand between me and graduation. That’s a hurdle I know I can jump.

So here we go! The ten-week stretch. What’s life got in store for me as a DePaul grad? We all will just have to wait and see.


Welcome to LA

The statuses are being posted, the pictures are being shared on Instagram, and everyone is sharing their first day of school posts. Many of my fellow seniors are even saying “last first day of school!” Which is true and makes me excited and nervous, but we will talk about that in a different blog.

Beach Josue

Welcome to fall quarter here at, my favorite university, DePaul! If you’re a new Blue Demon a super welcome to you! This fall I am studying in Los Angeles, California for DePaul’s LA Quarter program. It’s pretty nice over here in LA the weather is warm, the palm trees are cool, and the history is rich. I’ve yet to go to the Hollywood sign but rest assured it is on my to-do list.

For those unfamiliar with DePaul’s LA Quarter​, it takes place in the fall and spring quarters and is for students studying animation, film, and other majors of that nature. I was fortunate enough to get in this fall and will be here until the winter quarter. The main ideas while out here is to get an internship with a production company, explore the city, and network. I look forward to sharing more of my LA experiences with my readers throughout the quarter and if you’re interested in having a more visual experience with me, you can check out my YouTube channel where I will be vlogging some of my days here!

Thanks for reading my blog and once again welcome to another new year!

Stay awesome friends!


Apparently School Is Starting

Willy
As you can see from my technique and form in this picture, I almost made the Men’s Gymnastics team to compete in Rio this summer.
Like I do everyday, I got hungry today. After realizing that the only food I had in my apartment was half a bottle of ranch dressing, I decided to venture outside and wander aimlessly until I found some food. This has become my routine over the summer — I never remember to buy groceries until one day when I open the fridge and see tumbleweeds just blowing around a vast, empty space. So off I went to take my usual route and cut through the quad. Today, however, my trusty shortcut became a longcut. I quickly found myself in the middle of the DePaul Involvement Fair, stuck in an unmoving mass of people. Using the giant inflatable rock climbing wall as my North Star, I was able to make my way through the sea of people (and make a pit stop at a table that offered free cake) in a few minutes. As I walked away, it finally sunk in that the school year has officially started again. 
 
So, WELCOME BACK (or just WELCOME if you’re new to DePaul)! I hope everyone had a great summer. Personally, I had a roller coaster of a summer. It started off real rough for me. The second week of summer break, I went to get my hair cut because I was starting to look like a Beatles impersonator. I asked for a trim, but I can only assume that the hairdresser heard “buzz cut” instead. The result was not pretty.

Other than my new haircut that made me look like a moldy Mr. Potato Head, my summer was surprisingly fantastic. I had a summer thesis research course that was intense, but also super helpful (and it only made me cry a few times). In addition to working at the library a few nights each week, I started an internship that has been better than I ever could have imagined. I actually loved it so much that I decided to continue interning there through the fall! 

Willy Haircut
After receiving a panicked call from me about my disastrous new haircut, my parents demanded that I send them a picture so that they could assess how bad it really was. At the time, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. 
Since I’m a BA/MA student (which you can read all about here), I have to go above and beyond the standard graduate course load this fall and take three courses. By the end of fall, I will have to have a formal thesis proposal completed and ready to present. I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve already secured a thesis advisor, so hopefully the rest of the thesis process will go just as smoothly! I’m way excited to get deeper into thesis research and to see what I can come up with when pushed to the brink of mental collapse.
 
So it is time to buckle up and brace yourself for harrowing accounts of me stress eating my way towards my master’s degree. Welcome back to school! 

Design Tech Showcase

​Being a part of the performance program often limits my view to all the things going on in the performance department at TTS. However, there are so many different majors in The Theatre School, all working hard every day to learn and create in their prospective disciplines. The Design/Tech students make up a great portion of the student population, all studying design and construction in their  specialties in lighting, scenic, costume, sound, dramaturgy, directing and more. Now that it is summer, the design/tech students have finished many of their large projects and designs that they have been working on in their classes and MainStage shows all year long. 

During finals week, the many students proudly display their work in the lobby and scene shop of The Theatre School building. Each student has their own board displaying their research, concepts, process, and representations of their final product, including photos, drawing, models, and fully constructed items.  The school can tend to be very separated, not allowing students of other disciplines to see what their peers have been working on for so long. Being in such an open and accessible area as the Lobby, surrounded by windows and natural light, it is easy for all to view the wonderful creations made by the talented students of DePaul. 

TTS
Personally, as I walked through the exhibition, I was inspired and in awe of all the work that it takes to bring all of these designs to fruition. I have seen many of the shows and final products on stage, but I find it fascinating to see the process that one goes through before it comes to life. Seeing the mini models of sets I've walked on, or renderings of dresses I've seen in plays really makes me appreciate the talented and hardworking students all working toward one common goal. It reminds me to step outside my little bubble and appreciate what goes on all around. 

Thank You Ravenswood

It’s no secret that 12 weeks ago I didn’t want to be a teacher. Originally, I came to college freshman year upset that we couldn’t start observing in the classroom until our sophomore year, but by that February I was so amazed by the power of student leadership that I decided I wanted nothing to do with the K-12 classroom and instead wanted to pursue a career in Higher Education and Student Affairs. 

Three years and multiple student leadership positions later, the second floor of Arts and Letters let out a huge gasp as I shared in Dr. Hansra’s literacy class this winter quarter that I still didn’t want to be a teacher.

I held strong until the morning of my first day of Student Teaching. I didn’t want to be a teacher. I just wanted the next twelve weeks to fly by, so I could start graduate school. However, not even thirty minutes into that first day my cooperating teacher walked us down to gym class where I was directed to play dodgeball with my 6th grade students. As I continued to dodge balls thrown at me I couldn’t help but laugh - in that moment I knew that this place was somewhere special and the next twelve weeks might not be so bad. By my fourth day of student teaching I had fallen in love with Ravenswood Elementary and my students. I thought the honeymoon phase would end, but it didn’t.

Megan
After our first day of PARCC Testing my Cooperating Teaching and I rewarded our students with outdoor recess. For March, it was a gorgeous day. Full sun and nearly 60 degrees. During a game of soccer, one of my students with special needs scored not one, but two goals. He ran a victory lap around the entire field as the class cheered him on and chanted his name. Soon after, when it was time to head back inside to wrap up the day I was astonished with my student's ability to be silent in the hallways and respect others who might still be testing. The last 20 minutes couldn't have been more perfect, even if I had directed them in a movie myself. However, I was quickly brought to reality when not even two minutes after being back in the classroom a Social Studies textbook "mysteriously fell" out of a second story window. Every single one of my days at Ravenswood was special in one way or another. The twelve weeks passed so quickly that I found myself in tears at the end of my last day of Student Teaching. 

Thank you Ravenswood for making me love every day of my last twelve weeks of college. Thank you for being the reason I got out of bed in the morning and remarkably never felt tired. Thank you for giving my life energy and keeping me on my toes. Thank you for accepting me, testing me, and pushing me to become a better teacher. The 113 of you are the reason I am here. YOU are the reason that in the last 12 weeks I have decided that I DO want to be a teacher. 


The Value of a Science Degree from DePaul

A few months ago I finished a medical school interview tour through more than 10 cities across the US. I was working as a tech at a hospital in Austin, Texas after completing my BS in Chemistry at DePaul. Mostly, I was seeking refuge from the winter for a year - exploring a new city and preparing myself for the next stage of my education. In two weeks I will start medical school in Pittsburgh. 

Since leaving DePaul I’ve had the chance to talk to a lot of students starting med school this fall from other universities around the country. At multiple schools I was interviewed by current students from an alphabet soup of prestigious universities. These conversations helped me better understand that there is something special about a science degree from a Vincentian University in one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

Spring quarter of my sophomore year at DePaul I took a seminar to prepare to lead a service immersion trip the next year. We met from eight in the morning until noon every Friday for 10 weeks. I was simultaneously taking organic chemistry, and the classes overlapped for an hour. It’s pretty much unheard of to be enrolled in overlapping classes, yet, each Friday morning I took an hour detour to my organic chemistry class. 

CSH 

The first day of the seminar we created “safe space guidelines" - values to which we would hold each other accountable. One week I left a discussion of the difference between service rooted in solidarity and charity to attend a lecture on carbonyl reactions. In the seminar we occasionally “checked-in” with each other on our current emotional, physical, and intellectual wellness. We once started our early morning with a massage train. 

Every Friday that semester I went from a room where reflection, human connection, transparency, and dialogue were goals to an organic chemistry lecture hall where we were studying the fundamentals of the chemistry behind human life.

I was quite confused about the sharp contrast in environments but invigorated by the switch in thought and the mental space shared by these two loves - science and social justice. 

These are the worlds that a doctor is part of. Medicine and healthcare are moving away from the hospital and into the communities and people’s lives who they serve. Doctors and healthcare providers of the future will need to better understand the forces that shape the health of their individual patients and community populations as a whole.

Before starting college at DePaul, I knew next to nothing about the Vincentian mission at DePaul. But my experiences outside of the science department at DePaul laid the foundation for my career in medicine. The Vincentian mission showed me the utility of studying science and helped me understand what I must do in this world - use that knowledge and privilege to directly impact the daily lives of people. 


Combat Scene Showings: A Different Kind of Final Exam

The first two weeks of June are a much anticipate time at DePaul, as we come to the end of the year it is indeed time for FINALS.  There is so much energy both mental and physical that goes into the preparation the of final papers, projects, exams, and more. Here at The Theatre School, we absolutely have tests and papers to complete, but here finals can come in many forms. For the performance classes, given the content of the curriculum, a written paper cannot be enough to show how to the work is applied. This is where final scenes and monologues come into play. 

One class that all performance majors (and a few other theatre majors) take is Stage Combat. This is a class to learn the skills of fighting on stage. This includes hand-to-hand skills, like slaps, punches, kicks, and more. We learn Rapier and Dagger as well - yes, sword fighting is required here! 

In your second year of the Acting program, you learn all of these techniques in a special class designed to help you learn how to apply all of these to scene work. The point is not to learn how to fake punch someone, or sword fight for fun. The point is to learn how to do these things when they are in service of telling the story in a play. We then know how to safely execute these things, so they look convincing to the audience, to tell the story, but keep all involved safe from actual harm. As an upperclassman, acting students may take Advanced Stage Combat class as an elective. This is to sharpen the skills already learned sophomore year, and to learn new techniques with different kinds of stage weapons.

combat
Senior Sam Krey and junior Michael Edward Cohen practice their rapier and dagger skills in an intense classical scene
At the end of the quarter of stage combat class, there is a final scene showing, where the students pick scenes from plays to including hand-to-hand or sword fighting. The goal is really the acting work, the necessary staged fights are not simply a duel for all to watch! The students are tested on the execution of their skills in class, and then have an evening showing that the school is invited to come and watch.  

Last night I attended the final combat scene showing and had such a great time! The scenes ranged from silly to scary, featuring very convincing sword thrusts, face slaps, and gut kicks. It is always so fun to come together and celebrate the hard (and sweaty) work of the students as they show their skills in action. It has been over a year since I took that class, and watching the scenes I was wondering if I was getting a little rusty! Overall it is an interesting hour packed with creative, hard work from the students. 

While this isn't a 10-page paper or written exam, it takes just as much hard work to learn, practice, and present. These may seem like unusual, cool, or easy finals compared to many other classes or programs, but they are skills that are just as valuable to our careers and our safety in our craft.   

Closing Reflections: My Last Show of the Year

The end of the year marked the closing of a very long run of Peter Pan and Wendy, the show I was in during Spring Quarter of this year. This was the closing of my last show of junior year, and it has left me feeling very reflective of my experiences this year, all the things that I have learned, and facing Senior Year (whoa). At TTS only junior and senior actors (as well as 2nd and 3rd year MFA actors) can audition and perform in the many official productions. This time last year I was just thinking about how crazy it felt to finally be facing junior year, and finally be in the casting pool for the MainStage shows. There was so much uncertainty and nervousness and excitement around what it would be like to be an upperclassman, and be in a real show.  Now, a year later, I have just finished my third MainStage show, and looking straight in the face of my last year of undergrad, and my last 3 shows. It is an equally exciting and nervous place to be, but for different reasons. I now have an understanding of how the process works and of the work I need to do to be successful. 

Here are some things I've learned from the three shows I was in this year, and greatest memories. 

Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson-on the Fullerton Stage: 

Play 1
What I learned: This was my favorite show experience this year, and will always remain very special to me. A lot of this is due to the fact that it was my very first real production in college, and my first MainStage show. During this process and in exploring the role of Zonia Loomis, an 11 year old living in 1910, I learned to follow my instincts and really have fun in the work. They call it a play for a reason! This show taught me that I can have a truly safe, collaborative, fun, and wonderful experience creating a piece of theatre, when all involved truly love and care about the work in the same way. 

My favorite memory: The connections I made with the entire team are so special to me. Also, in the rehearsal process we explored rhythm, singing, and dancing  in a way that was improvisational and came from the heart. 

In the Blood by Susan-Lori Parks- in the Healy Theatre: 

In the Blood by Susan-Lori Parks- in the Healy Theatre:
What I learned: In this process I played a young homeless mother of five, struggling to beat the odds and create a better life for her family-but is ultimately destroyed by the forces around her. This role was very challenging to work on, given the size of the role and circumstances of the story. I will admit that I was very scared to work on this role. But after the process I learned that while it is okay to be scared, the only way to get the work done is to face it head on, and proceed step by step. I learned to be an advocate for myself and that I need to work on communicating my needs as an actor in the process. I learned that I can do things I didn't know I was capable of. 

Greatest memory: The bond I created with some of the cast members of this show. Also, on opening and closing night, sharing with each other the ways in which we were proud of each other. 

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie - in the Merle Reskin Theatre:

Peter Pan and Wendy byJ.M. Barrie- in the Merle Reskin Theatre:
What I learned: In this play I had two ensemble roles of the Neverbird and one of Captain Hook's pirates. During this process I was able to apply some of the things that I had been learning in the classroom over the last couple of years in some different ways. The Merle Reskin Theatre, located in The Loop, is the largest stage and theatre that we perform on at TTS. Such a large space and large audience demands you fill it up and send the story up and out so everyone in the audience can receive it. I got to play with my voice work to be heard in such a large space, and play with different voices for a bird, and for a pirate. I got to explore my movement work also in exploring bird-like movement, and playing a scruffy male pirate. Also, I took the acting lesson "Never let yourself get bored" into account and always switched up my point of view or actions on stage as a pirate. Because I was in the background and still serving the story, it was fun to play around with different things, just for myself. 

Greatest memory: Wearing awesome costumes made by the students at TTS! 

I have learned all of this in process, even more in the classroom and even more outside of the classroom. Being a part of these has taught me about acting, about life, and about myself. I look forward to many new learning experiences in the shows next year! 

My Summer in Chicago

I am now officially a graduate student! This week, I started my summer graduate class. This is my first summer staying in Chicago. Let me tell you, things at DePaul work a little differently during the summer. I’m taking one night class during the summer. While night classes usually meet once a week for ten weeks during a normal school term, the summer term is actually divided into two five-week sessions, so my night class meets twice a week for five weeks. It’s short, but intense.

cake
I spent a few days at home between my last final and the start of my summer class. Look at the cake my mom made me to celebrate my graduation!

Actually, my whole schedule is intense (at least for these five weeks). Following my own advice, I found a great full-time summer internship. So I work at my internship from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday. After work, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I then run to work at my other job at the Lincoln Park campus library from 6pm-10pm (because my internship is unpaid and I need money). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I head over to my summer graduate class from 6pm-915pm. And then in all my free time, I will try to finish all the coursework for that class. It’s looking to be a super relaxing summer. Despite my overwhelming schedule, I’m still hoping to find time to enjoy my first summer in Chicago, especially after my class ends in early July. There’s so much to experience during the summer.

To be completely honest, I just really want to go to The SpongeBob Musical. If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Spongebob musical that is premiering in Chicago before it moves to Broadway. The super unique thing about this musical is that rather than a single composer writing all of the songs, a bunch of famous musicians each composed a single song. So imagine a musical about Spongebob Squarepants featuring songs composed by Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, T.I., and David Bowie, among others. I cannot imagine what a T.I. song about Spongebob sounds like and I need to find out.

banner
When I got home after my last final, I discovered that my parents had repurposed my high school graduation banner.

If you’re not into Spongebob though, there are plenty of other things to do in Chicago during the summer. If you like music but aren’t as interested as I am about hearing a Panic! At The Disco song about Spongebob, you can try to find tickets to Lollapalooza. You can find the lineup for Lollapalooza here. Or if you’re more like me and you’d rather spend your money on food, you can always try to brave the crowds at Taste of Chicago. I’ve always wanted to go to Taste of Chicago, but I’ve never gotten a chance, so my goal this summer to is find time to make it to Taste of Chicago.

I’m so excited to finally be able to spend the summer in Chicago. Let me know if you have any exciting plans for your summer!


And That's a Wrap!

I always love when my friends from the suburbs come to visit me in Chicago at the end of spring quarter. It gives me an excuse to walk to The Bean and take silly pictures, and to ignore the fact that I’m still in school.

The only time I curse the quarter system with all my might is inevitably when all my friends get out of school a month earlier than I do. Their freedom rubs off on me, and I get dazed and confused about the fact that I still have to go to a week of classes and finals.

But, it’s hard to be sad when the weather is this beautiful in the city. My friends visited me last weekend, and we spent the sunny afternoon sitting along the lakeshore, attending Chicago street festivals, and eating way too much.

After coming to the sad realization that it’s beach season, and my nonexistent exercise routine that I worked so hard at during the winter has not prepared me for swimsuit shopping, I’ve decided it’s time to make a lifestyle change. No more nightly Kit Kat to reward myself for making it through the day. No more eating out everyday. And, for the first time all year, I even stepped foot into the Ray.

Yikes...it took me 2.8 quarters (a.k.a. 28 weeks) to walk into the gym. But, I’m slowly getting back into the habit. With no school work this summer and a part-time internship, it’s time to spend my energy elsewhere. I’ve also found out that a summer membership to the Ray​ only costs $42, which is a steal considering you get to attend fitness classes as well.​

Like always, I can’t believe that this school year has come to a close. Thinking that I’ll only be at DePaul for 10 more weeks next year is something that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. It won’t be reality until I walk out of my last class next quarter, and realize that I’ll never have to do that again (until graduate school, that is). 

With entirely no plans for post-graduation this November, who knows where I’ll be at this time next year. I could uproot and move to a different city after landing a dream job. Or, I could stay in the city that I now call home Chicago. Hopefully, this summer I’ll start figuring it all out. But, until then, good luck on finals!
​​​

Presenting at the Honors Student Conference

On Friday, May 13th, the unluckiest day of the year, I was lucky enough to be able to present at the third annual Honors Student Conference. This year, over 100 students presented research papers, artistic works, or thesis projects at the conference (you can see the program here!). 

While Honors thesis students are obligated to present at the conference, any Honors student is eligible to present a poster at the conference. In order to present a poster, an Honors student can either apply for the conference or be nominated by a professor. If you apply, you submit your paper or work to the Honors Student Conference Committee for consideration. If a professor nominates a work you completed for class, you’re automatically accepted to the conference. I was honored to be nominated by one of my favorite professors (thank you, Professor Steeves!) for a paper I wrote for my Honors Senior Seminar. 

To be completely honest, I almost turned down the opportunity to present at the conference. Unlike most people (I imagine), it wasn’t the idea of public speaking that gave me anxiety. I did theatre for years; I have no problem speaking in public and I knew my topic well. I got anxious when I found out that I would have to make a poster. Not only am I not a very visual person in general, but my paper topic was very conceptual and theoretical and did not lend itself very easily to visual representation.

Thankfully, the Honors Program offers two short workshops to prepare everyone for the conference. While everyone had to attend a workshop about how to present a poster, I opted to also attend the workshop on how to create a poster. I furiously took notes and started working on it that night. While I was able to format everything right, I still struggled to figure out how to visually organize my topic. I stressed out about it for weeks. Unsurprisingly, I finally had my flash of brilliance the day before the conference and stayed up until the early hours of the morning working on my poster. In the end, the stress was worth it and I could not be more proud of my poster.

The actual conference experience was amazing and stress-free.  Everyone was so complementary about my poster and at least pretended to be super interested in my paper and what I had to say. I had sort of forgotten that there are so many students studying subjects other than my own. Of course I’ve taken classes with students from different majors, but I rarely get the opportunity to see students represent fields of study that aren’t my own. So it was exciting to see people that I know and actually be able to see what they are studying. Likewise, it’s exciting to speak to professors outside of your department about your field of study. Each professor ends up approaching your topic from a different perspective and their questions make you understand your own topic even better. 

Presenting at the Honors Student Conference was really the best experience. If I weren't a senior, I would already be looking to present again next year. If you're ever on the fence about presenting, do it and I promise you won't regret it.


It's Graduation Time

Unsurprisingly, I think I'm holding a candy bar wrapper in my hand at my high school graduation.
Four years ago, during the rehearsal for my high school graduation, a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed me about my post-high school plans. Apparently, I told him that I wanted to major in Spanish at DePaul and then continue on to get my law degree and specialize in tort reform or immigration law. Four years later, I’m getting ready to graduate and I can definitively say there’s no way I’m heading to law school. And while I’m a little atypical in that I start (graduate) class again two days after the graduation ceremony, the fact is that I’m finally graduating and it’s a pretty good opportunity to reflect on how I’ve changed during my time at DePaul.

I had a really rough start at DePaul and almost dropped out. I don’t think I had emotionally prepared myself for such a big change in my life. I was so homesick and overwhelmed that for the first month of school, my dad would drive to Chicago all the way from Madison every Thursday, pick me up right after my last class, drive me home, and then drive me all the way back to Chicago on Sunday night. I remember my parents begging me to just try to finish out the quarter. I had a similar experience with International Studies as well—after I finished the first course, I contemplated dropping International Studies as a major because I thought I wasn’t smart enough and I just wasn’t good at it. I just felt so inadequate.

Here I am getting ready to sumo wrestle at my high school's party for seniors. I look super excited for college.

When I first came to college, my goal was just to graduate. I did not have high expectations for myself at all. And when I think about that, I realize that I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever thought I was capable of doing. All throughout high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point during college, but I sort of doubted that I would ever actually go through with it. Not only did I study abroad in Madrid, but I discovered that Spanish political history is pretty interesting. I got back from studying abroad and applied for my master’s (which never even crossed my mind in high school) so that I could study Spanish political history. The kid who almost dropped out of DePaul and International Studies because he thought he couldn’t handle it is staying at DePaul for a fifth year so that he can get his master’s in International Studies.

This summer will be the first summer that I’m staying in Chicago rather than going back home. It’s sort of bittersweet because I feel like it means that I’m finally officially an adult, but I’m also excited because I have a great internship lined up, I get to work on my thesis, and I'm just ready to start a new phase of my life. 


In Defense of the Quarter System

Every May, right about halfway through the month, you start hearing DePaul students complain about the quarter system. It’s not hard to figure out why. I know firsthand how brutal it can be to see pictures of your friends from other schools already enjoying summer break (or even worse, graduating) when you just finished midterms. I don't think that the quarter system gets the respect that it deserves. Here are a few reasons that I love the quarter system:

It's easy to fall behind and hard to catch up in a ten week quarter. At the beginning of the school year, I downloaded an app to try to stay organized and on top of my work. I spent six hours one night inputting every assignment I had during the quarter. I don't think I ever looked at the app again.
You get to take more classes. In a semester system, you typically take 4-5 classes per semester. At DePaul, the typical course load is 4 classes per quarter. Over the span of four years, the quarter system allows you to take 8-16 more classes than you would in a semester system. So while the 10-week courses in the quarter system move fast and can be hard to keep up with at times (these pictures show my desperate attempts to stay organized), those extra classes can make adding a minor or a second major so much easier.

If you have a bad quarter and your grades drop, you have plenty of opportunities to raise your GPA. Rough quarters happen to the best of us. Whether you’re dealing with personal issues outside of class or you just don’t understand the material in class, it’s way easier to recover your GPA in the quarter system. Under the semester system, your final GPA is the average of eight semesters. Under the quarter system, it’s the average of twelve quarters. So when it comes time to calculate your overall GPA, a single semester has a way bigger impact than a single quarter.

If you don’t particularly like your professor, you don’t have to deal with them for that long. Somewhere along the line, you’re inevitably going to end up taking a class with a professor who, for whatever reason, you wouldn’t take again. The good news is that, in a quarter system, your class with that professor only lasts for ten weeks rather than fifteen weeks. You can always see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The schedule just makes way more sense. The semester system is fragmented in ways that the quarter system isn’t. In a semester system, Thanksgiving break interrupts fall semester and spring break divides spring semester. In the quarter system​, Thanksgiving means the end of fall quarter and the beginning of winter break, which is the entire month of December. Spring break marks the end of winter quarter and the beginning of spring quarter.

Let me know what you think about the quarter system!


Pathways Program Mentors

I have started a dangerous journey: I have begun watching Grey’s Anatomy​

Do you think I could be a new addition to Grey's Anatomy?
I had sworn to myself that I would never watch it because it was such a big time commitment and I didn’t (and still don’t) have the time to get sucked into 12 seasons of a show that I knew I would like. I even know a lot of what happens because I didn’t care if my friends spoiled it for me. You guys, I seriously was never going to watch it. Until I watched a couple of episodes with my best friend and got completely hooked. I am now halfway through season three and it is taking over my life. 

I am invested in the characters, plot, and drama, but it also reminds me of the times I spent shadowing my aunt in the hospital when I was still a Pre-Med major. My aunt is a fertility specialist and I really enjoyed the time I spent with her. Her job is so interesting and I learned a lot from my time with her. I got to shadow doctors in the OR, attend patient consultations, and really get a clear picture of what it is like being a doctor. 

As part of the Pathways Program at DePaul, you also have the opportunity to shadow physicians in the field that you’re interested in. A really cool aspect of the Pathways Program is that you are assigned a mentor from Rosalind Franklin. Your mentor will be able to answer any questions you have, support you through the process of applying to Rosalind Franklin, and help connect you to opportunities, like internships or shadowing experiences. It is one of the most beneficial aspects of being a member of the Pathways Program, I think, because it helps you make connections and gives you someone who really knows what it is like to practice the profession that you are interested in. 

Wrights of Spring 2016

Now that spring quarter is in its final few weeks, most of the productions at The Theatre School have closed, but the hard work and creativity is still full steam ahead. 

It is now the time of year for Wrights of Spring, a special event showcasing new work created by students here at TTS. Playwriting students have been working hard writing and revising new work throughout the year. Wrights of Spring is the moment these writer get to share their work with a larger audience of students, faculty, and guests. 

These pieces range from shorter one-acts, to full length plays that are presented in staged readings. The playwrights cast other students from across disciplines in the roles they have created and often team up with student directors to come together to share their stories. 

For nearly two weeks there are daily showings of these brand new works. At any of these readings you will see dozens of audience members crowding into classrooms and theatre spaces. Each playwright sets up the space differently, perhaps with suggestive set elements, some with a bare stage, with fully staged action or actors standing behind music stands delivering the playwrights words. However it may be, audiences witness the actors, scripts in hand, present these new works. Often it is the first time the playwright gets to hear their piece outside of their classes. They have been working tirelessly to craft their plays throughout the year, and finally get to see how their play is received by a wider audience. This is a chance to hear what is working, and what is not, so they can continue improve and sharpen their writing. It is also a celebration of the talent we have among us here at TTS. This is a fun, supportive and amazingly creative event, with dozens of new plays showcased during these two weeks. 

The culmination of this event is the opening of the New Playwrights Series showcase production. This is when a student playwright’s work is chosen to be fully produced on the MainStage. This season that show is "The Women Eat Chocolate" written by 4th year Caroline Macon, starring BFA III and IV actors, and directed by Heidi Stillman, who among many things is known for her work at Lookingglass Theatre ​here in Chicago. 

On the TTS website there is a description of this World Premiere play:

"At age 13 Alexandra Appleton is certain she's a poet. Her life spirals out of control when her younger sister, Dot, passes her in the race to womanhood. After a psychedelic trip, Alex struggles to distinguish fantasy from reality. Are the adults in Alex's life out to get her? Is her poetry teacher more than just a friendly mentor? And most importantly, will Alex's body catch up to her brains?"

This is a beautiful written play that I am truly excited to see it on stage. 

Spring is undoubtedly the season of growth and here we are see some budding new work! 

Performing with the Chicago Symphonic Winds

I think I’ve most definitely said this before, but the opportunities for performing in the city of Chicago are endless. Even when you aren’t looking, they get dropped in your lap!

I’ve been pretty busy over the last few weeks, but when I got an email inviting me to perform with the Chicago Symphonic Winds I could not say no. I was recommended by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Erica Neidlinger, because she is the guest conductor for our upcoming concert. Aside from getting to play great music with equally great musicians, Dr. Neidlinger is my idol and I love watching her rehearse and conduct. We’ve been doing an independent study together this quarter where I have been analyzing wind band repertoire, working on conducting and helping out with the wind symphony rehearsals. It’s really cool to be recommended for this kind of opportunity as a music education major – it feels great to be respected as a musician even though my main focus is teaching.

 The Chicago Symphonic Winds is a non-profit organization of instrumentalists who want to keep wind literature (aka band music) alive. Not only do they perform several concerts a year, but also participate in educational outreach to bring music to local schools. You can read more about their mission here.

We had our first rehearsal last week and I was blown away by the musicianship of the other players. Mostly DePaul and Northwestern alumni, the musicians volunteer their time and talents to the ensemble. It was also really neat to be playing with people who I once played with at DePaul – it’s comforting to know that they are sticking with their passion and continuing to grow as professionals.

DePaul music students perform all over the city and country. Several of my classmates play with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony! Others have started their own ensembles and performed in master classes with people like Chris Martin (trumpet), Frank Forst (bassoon) and other successful musicians. My best friend Kelsey is attending both the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland and the Northwestern Summer Violin Institute over the summer, and many of our peers are headed off to other summer festivals, too!

The program for this concert is “Suite Francaise” by Darius Milhaud, “Variants on a Medieval Tune" by Dello Joio and “Sinfonietta for Concert Band​” by Ingolf Dahl. If you don’t know any of these pieces, just trust me when I tell you this is a great concert!


Leisure at DePaul

I have been getting in the habit of taking at least one online class at DePaul. This habit started late sophomore year. At first I was extremely apprehensive because I learn better with an in person instructor and am also motivated by their teaching to get my work done. With online classes, there needs to be some control within yourself to keep on track, since there is no human you see weekly reminding you about homework or projects. As I get deeper into finishing all my requirements before graduating, I am finding it hard to find domain requirements that are online (and interesting to me).

With that in mind, this quarter I took a shot in the dark and enrolled in an online class that didn’t seem super stimulating, but was the only one open when it was my time to enroll. The course is called Leisure, Recreation, and Health. I thought to myself “what is so scholarly about leisure....? Like riding a bike and reading on days off? How can this simple thing be an area of study?”

I was soon hit with the harsh reality that I have underestimated the world of academia, and also that of the human experience. Leisure is described as an elemental experience, essential to the total well-being of every person; it is a reflection and expression of the cultural values of a society, and it is an important vehicle for medical treatment. Also, leisure can be essential for a healthy community I terms of social climate and stability.

DePaul has many outlets for leisure and I am honored to have the privilege to choose to participate in them. DePaul has the Ray Meyer Fitness Center which provides everything from swimming to ping pong. DePaul also offers their students an amazing opportunity to participate in DemonTHON which is a 24-hour dance party to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. These activities make for a really connected community that have people who hold the same values. The sense of togetherness is something that leisure provides for people.

Although we are at DePaul to get a degree and a career, we also learn the importance of the binary of work and leisure and how the balance of each makes for a happy life  J


Discover vs. Explore Chicago

Awesome. So you’ve made it to the portion of your Orientation sign up where it asks you to select a Discover or Explore class. Follow these steps to ensure an informed and successful decision about your first class at DePaul.

Step One: Breathe. You’re going to take roughly 48 classes during your time here at DePaul, today you’re choosing just one of them. Any class you choose from the options listed will fulfill the same Chicago Quarter Liberal Studies requirement. ​

Step Two: Know the difference between these three terms: Discover Chicago, Explore Chicago, and Chicago Quarter. Discover Chicago includes immersion week. Since immersion week starts the week before classes, you’ll step five days focusing on just one class – which leaves plenty of time for class led excursions and discovery of Chicago. Once regular fall classes begin, your Discover class will meet once a week for 2.5 hours during the first eight weeks. Explore Chicago begins with regular fall quarter classes. Your class will meet a total of 4 hours a week for all ten weeks. You’ll still have plenty of time to explore Chicago, but your excursions will be spread throughout the quarter. Chicago Quarter is simply the overarching name of the program that includes both Discover and Explore Chicago classes.

Step Three: Decide which type of course is best for you. I recommend Discover if you’re looking for the opportunity to meet new people and are new to living in a big city. If you’re living on campus, you’ll have an early move-in to your residence hall – for no extra charge! You’ll have access to your meal plan early as well. If you’re commuting to campus, keep in mind that Immersion week days can start early and go late. You’ll be need to make arrangements to and from campus. On the other hand, I’d recommend Explore for anyone who’d rather start classes in September, has a less flexible schedule, or wants to get in extra hours at a summer job before starting school full time.

Step Four: Look through the course options here and choose your top five. 

Step Five: Sign up as soon as possible through Campus Connect as some classes fill up faster than others. Make sure you’ve completed your placement exams at least 24 hours prior! If you have difficulty signing up contact New Student and Family Engagement at (773)325-7360. 


The Misanthrope

This quarter I’ve been spending a lot more time on campus. With my Mondays now free, I typically spend my whole day in Lincoln Park. Besides spending too much money at the DePaul Whole Foods, I have been regularly reading our campus message boards and have found out about some pretty cool activities on campus.

While I admittedly jot down most of these activities in my planner, never to be revisited again, last week I actually followed through on something. Buying a ticket with my roommate to see The Misanthrope by Moliere​, I decided to take a trip to the DePaul Theater School on the corner of Racine and Fullerton.

Arriving to the theater just before the show started, I was a bit flustered as I sat down and took in my surroundings. The Fullerton stage is small and intimate; the glow of the lighting reaches all audience members, leaving no one completely in the dark.

The stage set a beautiful scene, highlighting a fancy foyer with large bay windows. Two double doors on each side of the stage acted as the entrance and exit points for the characters during the play.

The play itself was smart and quick. The characters were outspoken and comical, and all of the play’s lines rhymed, which is automatically very impressive. While I won’t spoil anything from the play, DePaul’s interpretation was marvelous, not that I’ve ever read the original or seen a different version.

I always appreciate DePaul Theater School plays. For only $5, not enough students take advantage of this opportunity. Plus, who knows which future famous actor or actress you might see on stage at DePaul.



What’s Premiere DePaul?

Attention incoming first year students! Orientation sign up is now open! During your time on Campus Connect you’ll be selecting both your Premiere DePaul Orientation dates, and more excitingly, the first academic class you will take at DePaul University (see my next blog for more info). You might be feeling some butterflies and stress, but reading the below Q&A will hopefully lessen those feelings!​
At Premiere DePaul you'll have an Orientation Leader to show you the ins and outs of DePaul

What’s the difference between Orientation and Premiere DePaul? All students go through some sort of Orientation; as in incoming first year student your Orientation is called Premiere DePaul.

Do I have to attend Premiere DePaul? It’s not that you have to attend, you GET to attend!

Do we sleep at DePaul overnight? Yes – in the infamous Munroe Hall! Unless you are not living on campus next year and plan to attend Premiere DePaul Session 12 or 13. If you have extenuating circumstances, email orientation@depaul.edu.

Should my parents or supporters come to Premiere DePaul? Bring them along! There’s a two-day guest program that runs along side the student program. You’ll have the opportunity to see your guests at meals and a few conjoined sessions.

Is Premiere DePaul boring? NO WAY! In addition to meeting new people and scheduling your first quarter classes; three meals are provided, there’s two tours of campus, a theatre performance, and friendly competitions at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center that always begin with a dance party!

Speaking of food, what if I have allergies or dietary restrictions? When you sign up for Premiere DePaul, make sure you list any accommodations you’ll need during the program. Someone from the Orientation team will follow up with you if they need more information. If you forgot to list your accommodations when signing up, you can email orientation@depaul.edu.

Do I have to pay for Premiere DePaul? There is a fee, but it will be assigned to your student account. The money is not due when you come to Orientation, instead it will be added to your Fall Quarter tuition bill.

Will there be time to explore Chicago? The Premiere DePaul schedule is jammed packed with DePaul campus events. Don’t worry! The exploration of Chicago is coming – check out my next blog on Discover and Explore Chicago for more info! 


Where to Study: Group Edition

Let’s get one thing clear: no one likes group projects. It’s impossible to find a time when everyone is available to meet. There’s always either someone who does nothing or someone who tries to do everything. If you’re lucky, you might even have one of those people in your group who asks a thousand questions or that one person that does all of their work, but does it all wrong. You can never decide on a place to meet up. Now I may not be able to help you with your annoying group members, but I’ve come up with a list of the best places for groups to study on campus.

I'm always at the library (and not just because I work there).
Probably the most obvious place to study is the library. All four floors of the library have tons of tables and chairs and desks, but for group work, definitely stick to the first two floors. Each floor of the library is supposed to get quieter as you go up and you don’t want to be that group that everyone else on the floor complains about. If you want to talk as a group, but don’t want to be distracted by everyone around you talking, you can reserve one of the study rooms in the library.

If your group is working primarily on your computers, try out one of the media:scape tables on the first floor of the library if you haven’t already. While you can reserve the media:scape tables in the Information Commons on the first floor of the library, the media:scape tables in the Scholar’s Lab in the library are first come, first serve. Each media:scape table has one or two big monitors, either a PC or a PC and a Mac, and a bunch of connection cables for laptops. After everyone plugs their laptops into the media:scape table, you can switch which screen is displayed on the monitor with the push of a button. It’s especially amazing for doing research as a group. Whenever someone finds a really helpful source, they can push the button and everyone can see that same source up on the big screen.

The media:scape tables could not be better for when your group has to make a PowerPoint.

If your group is a little more casual, or you’re just studying for a test with a bunch of people, the SAC Pit is the place to go. While the SAC Pit is super busy during the morning and early afternoon, it quiets down and turns into a great place to study. If you’re looking for somewhere quieter during the day, you can just go up to meet at one of the tables on the second, third, or fourth floor of Levan Center, which is connected to the SAC. The tables are right next to huge windows, which obviously provide tons of light, and aren’t used nearly as often as they should be.

My other favorite place to meet up and study is at the Arts and Letters Hall​, right across the street from Levan Center and the SAC. All four floors of Arts and Letters have different arrangements of tables, couches, and chairs that make studying a lot more comfortable. That being said, I get distracted way more often in Arts and Letters than I do anywhere else, so I can only study here when I'm feeling particularly motivated. It's one of the most popular places to meet for group work, so good luck finding a table during the day.

Good luck studying!


Media Studies at DePaul

During my course as a college student, I have heard some remarks about Communication majors that just do not add up in my brain. As a Communication & Media major, I continue to learn about the influences of media and where we stand within it. I have heard people saying that Communication is a cop out major. My response to this is loaded with factual ammo as to why Communication and Media studies are so important. Just like history, media has the ability to interpret the past and give us insight to where we have been and where we are going.

To me, learning about media is like a fish learning everything there is to know about water. As millennials​, we are constantly interacting with it and surrounded by it either consciously or subconsciously. Our inner workings are molded and mirrored by media and understanding it to its fullest degree is something I find philosophically important.  With this in mind, let me tell you about the current media course I am in this quarter!

The central idea of this media course is about diving into popular culture and exploring seemingly “trashy” or “stupid” media products. It makes for a very entertaining class and one where there is a lot of class participation because we all have a lot to say about the media texts around us.

By the end of this course, I will hopefully be able to understand and critically engage with a variety of academic methodologies and models for the study of media, usefully build on and reassess these same models in their own understanding of culture and media, and write my own analyses of media texts and related cultural phenomena. 


Bogdan the Carwasher

Another quarter, another nerd fest. Earlier this month, I packed up my poster, thumb tacks and blazer, and headed over to the Museum of Science and Industry to attend this year’s Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Bringing together hundreds of college students in the Chicagoland area, participants present their posters and speeches to a group of judges from the Chicago universities. I created a poster based on my honors thesis paper from last quarter because who wouldn’t want to translate 60 pages into a four-foot by three-foot space?

After various rounds of edits, my poster was finally ready to print. I admittedly almost forgot to print the poster, and I blame this on the fact that creating it was just so much effort.

Being the truly resourceful college student that I am, I also scored myself some free thumb tacks from the SAC Pit by volunteering to clean up our campus message boards. Ingenious.

When I got to the conference, I checked in, received a name tag and headed over to the West Pavilion to hear the welcome remarks from the event’s keynote speaker. Much to my surprise, the keynote speaker was renowned scientist Dr. Marius Stan.  While I honestly had no idea who Dr. Stan was, I did recognize him from his role in "Breaking Bad" as Bogdan the carwash owner.

The U-505 Submarine!

While Dr. Stan researches intelligence software to understand and predict the physics and chemistry of materials, he also has made a name for himself in acting. 

While being an extra one day on the set of “Breaking Bad,” the director asked him to say a line for him, and Bogdan the carwasher was born! Back for consecutive seasons, Dr. Stan became an integral part of “Breaking Bad.”

Dr. Stan’s speech was amazing. His double life was fascinating to hear about, and I hope that I am as fortunate to find two careers that I am passionate about, rather than just one.

Compared to the opening remarks, the rest of conference was definitely anti-climactic. Research on research on research, I escaped to explore the rest of the museum and was not disappointed. The coolest part was seeing the U-505 submarine ​from World War II. It was huge and very well preserved.

And with that, the research conference came to a close for me. I dipped out early, but not before getting my free t-shirt. Now that’s how you attend a research conference.​

Admitted Students Weekend

When spring rolls around students all over the country are going through the same thing: making college decisions. The acceptance letters are in, the financial aid packages have arrived, and now there is one thing left to do: CHOOSE. While I am now in my junior year of my undergraduate career, I remember this time of year vividly, my senior year of high school trying to choose the right college to attend. I've briefly mentioned some of my experience choosing a school, but there is an event coming up at The Theatre School that is has got this on my mind. That event is Admitted Students Weekend. I remember as a high schooler going on countless college tours, reading endless pamphlets, and surfing around too many college websites. Sometimes these would be an overload of too much information, and sometimes not enough information, but the tours and pamphlets and websites don't always let you know what the student experience is really like at a college or university. Enter Admitted Students Weekend. I remember once I had received my acceptance letter to DePaul, I was beyond excited. But I had a big choice to make whether to attend DePaul, which had been my first choice at the time, or choose one of the many other options I had. A big thing to consider is fit - do I think I can fit here? Will I get not only the education I desire, but also the student experience I want? 

The Theatre School at DePaul hosts an awesome event to allow students to get a taste of just that. Students who have been accepted into one of the many different degree programs at TTS are invited in April to come to campus for Admitted students Weekend. This is a 2 to 3 day event where students who have been admitted get to truly experience the student life of people with their major. These prospective students get to spend the night in the dorms with current students with their same major, seeing for themselves what it is like to live on campus. They get to watch classes attended by current students to see what they are learning, and get to attend a demo class themselves to try out some of the work. This is a chance to meet some of the other students who may attend, meet current students, ask questions and feel the energy of the school. There are panels with current students and panels with alumni, answering any questions, addressing concerns, and sharing their own experiences. 

As a girl from the Pacific Northwest, who had never really been to Chicago other than to tour the schools, it was important to me to know more before making a huge decision to move all the way across the country. Also I knew that the other school I had visited really didn't feel right to me. In April of 2013, I got an invitation to attend Admitted Students Weekend, to come see what it is like to be an Acting Major​ at DePaul. I can honestly say that it is one of the best decisions that I made. With some objections from my parents, I found a way to get a ticket to Chicago to visit for the weekend. When I got here, I got to tour the school (this was not the beautiful 73 million dollar facility we have now), meet the students, ask questions and get a feel for it myself. I really had to ask myself, based on what I have seen and heard here, could I see myself here? I think that is a CRUCIAL question to ask yourself when picking a school. There are many factors to think about, for me they were location, cost, curriculum, diversity, and more. To be honest, cost was a huge one for me, coming from a single parent home. But to be even more honest, it was important to me to put the cost aside and ask myself is this where I see myself for the next 4 years? For me, the answer was yes. I loved the idea of conservatory style training paired with a well-rounded liberal arts education. I loved the idea of being in Chicago. I loved what I saw as a collaborative environment with committed students and artists. I loved the values DePaul has regarding service to our community and using the city as your classroom. These appealed to me greatly. 

I just received an email today saying that this coming weekend is Admitted Students Weekend at TTS, and to be on the lookout for ways to make the students feel welcome, and help them with their decision. It is crazy to me to be on the other end of the experience this time around, as I have the last few years. I am so grateful that DePaul hosted a weekend like this, as it really helped me make one of the biggest decisions in my life. My advice to anyone currently making their own college decision is to definitely attend any event offered such as the one I have just mentioned. But if you have only experienced the tours, and the photos and paragraphs that are scattered across the website, really ask yourself, "Can I see myself here? Will I get what I want out of my education and my experience?" Answer honestly, and go with your gut. Everything else will work itself out. 

This is a very exciting time of year, and I am very excited to see who decides to become a Blue Demon next fall. 

DePaul Internship Credit

​​​As someone who has juggled a full-time class load with a full-time internship, it can be overwhelming. Last quarter I learned my lesson, and this quarter I tweaked my game plan.

Enrolling in an advanced internship course through DePaul’s College of Communication, I am now receiving college credit for my marketing internship. Classified as a communication elective and a fulfillment for my junior year experiential learning requirement​I go to my internship as normal and also complete career development assignments for class on the side.

I decided to enroll in an online course with DePaul career specialist and instructor Michael Elias​. At first, I was skeptical of the course's assignments. Would setting goals and having my supervisor sign them actually change my work habits? Did I really need to upload a recording of my elevator pitch and receive critiques from classmates? 

The answers? Yes, yes and yes.

Michael’s class has helped me not only in my internship, but also in my personal career development. I feel confident about going into my next networking event and introducing myself and my career goals to complete strangers. 

Our final assignment consists of making our own online portfolio, in which we showcase our accomplishments and essentially, our personal brand.  While the final project is somewhat intensive, the course load itself is very light, not causing students to be overworked with the balance of class and their internship.

Be sure to check out internship courses at DePaul for a great way to earn class credit and gain real-world experience, while also making a buck or two.​​​

Peter Pan and Wendy

Spring quarter is in full swing and it is that time again for me to announce the current show I am working on, and tell you all a little about it! I am currently a part of the company of actors working on Peter Pan and Wendy. Each quarter, among the many shows produced at TTS, we also put up a children's show, or as we call it TYA - Theatre for Young Audiences. These are fully produced shows that are showcased at the Merle Reskin Theatre in the Loop. Before the new state-of-the-art Theatre School building was erected on Fullerton and Racine in 2013, all Main Stage shows were performed at the Merle Reskin Theatre downtown. Now that we have two new stages right here on the DePaul Lincoln Park campus, the Reskin is just for our Chicago Playworks Series, made up of plays for young audiences. Chicago public and private schools are invited to bring their students to see these magical productions as field trips on Tuesday and Thursday mornings throughout the week. In addition to these more formal outings, families across Chicago attend these wonderful plays as well. 

Right now we are in the middle of the tech process for Peter Pan and Wendy. This is the point of the rehearsal process where all the pieces come together. This includes lighting, sound, set and props, and costumes, all coming together to elevate the play, and bring it to life. Peter Pan and Wendy is a stage adaptation of the well-known children's book following the story of a young girl and her interaction with a young boy who simply won't grow up, together they take a magical adventure to Neverland, complete with flying, danger, and lessons learned in the process. 

While creating the show, the cast and director had the tricky challenge of creating the flying sequence, where Wendy and her siblings fly to Neverland with Peter Pan and his fairy friend Tinkerbell. This involved the whole cast, as we are using our bodies to create the magic illusion of flying. This involves a serious of lifts, and highly choreographed sequences to fly the characters through this magical world. This had been a high energy, exciting - and sweaty - process! 

Peter Pan and Wendy opens April 21st and runs through May 28th. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10am, and Saturdays at 2pm. If you are in the Chicago area, take advantage of this brighter weather and make your way downtown to see this magical world come to life at the Merle Reskin Theatre at 60 E Balbo Ave Chicago, IL 60604. 

Visit the TTS website​ for more information about this show and the others running this Spring. 

Here is my fellow cast member Kayla Raelle Holder being flown by other cast members.
 


Here I am, trying out some of the fun flying moves, with two strong members of the cast.
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Status: Officially Employed!

With less than two months of school left, preparing for life post-DePaul is scary, exciting and stressful all at the same time! Though my main focus should be on finishing my classes, maintaining my GPA and enjoying my time in the city, I can’t help but worry about what is happening next – where will I work? Where will I live? What will happen to my relationships, and how will I go about building new ones? I feel like I’ve had job applications on my mind more than anything else – until this past week when my post-grad status shifted from unknown to employed!

After only filling out a few job applications, I’ve officially been hired by a school district to teach 5th-12th grade band. For this particular school, I had a FaceTime interview due to distance after submitting my application materials through email. The superintendent and I had a great conversation about the direction of their band program and the ways in which I could help provide a challenging and enjoyable learning environment for their students. Within three hours I had received the job offer! Taking the advice of my advisor, I made the three hour trip to the school to make sure it would be a good fit before making any kind of decision. Once I had seen the school, spoken with both principals and discussed further job requirements, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the job for me. I signed my contract and am now eagerly waiting to start my first job as a real-life teacher this August!

This new job will pose a lot of new challenges for me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will be responsible for teaching 5th-12th grade band (probably about 65-70 students), with the expectation that I will begin a marching band, prepare students for ILMEA auditions and perform several times a year. The school is located in rural Illinois, just about 3 hours outside of Chicago – certainly a drastic shift from the environment I’ve been living in these past four years! Aside from teaching and having ownership over my band program, I’m really looking forward to fresh vegetables from local farms, starry night skies and forming new relationships with my new co-workers and neighbors. I might even think about getting a pet to keep me company!

It is pretty uncommon for teachers, especially fresh-out-of-college teachers, to be hired this early before the start of the next school year. I consider myself extremely lucky to already have a plan in place! Being a DePaul student has prepared me so well – I know that all of my graduating colleagues will be successful because of the education we have received here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.

For now, I’ll be doing my best to stay focused and get my physics homework in on time. Only 6 more weeks until graduation and the start of the next chapter of my life!


I'm Going to LA!

I frequently talk about the film program here at DePaul University. The reason being is I am a film student. I am now done with the majority of my third year of college and have only this Spring Quarter to complete before I head into my final year at DePaul. 

It’s a bit nerve-racking, I must admit, but some good news has recently come my way. The LA Quarter​ is a program available to students that wish to go to Los Angeles and study for a quarter. It is typically provided for the fall and spring quarters. In order to get into the program you have to submit a piece of work, fill out an application, write a letter of intent, and get a professor to recommend you. All of which, I did about a month ago before the deadline. 

I didn’t tell anyone that I applied, not even my family, because I didn’t want there to be all this excitement if I didn’t get in. Also, I am kind of superstitious and did not want to jinx myself. About two weeks after applying I was onset for this short film titled Cobra Cliff. We were preparing our next shot and I got an email from CDM​ with the header saying “LA Quarter” but no giving any indication of acceptance or not. I pardoned myself from the set and immediately opened the email to see that I had been accepted to the LA Quarter for Fall Quarter of the 2016-2017 academic year. I wanted to jump with joy and excitement and tell all my friends but we were seconds away from rolling so I didn’t. 

Somehow, I held in all my excitement for the rest of the shoot but the moment I got out I texted my family, my friends, and everyone else that would care to know. Today, I share it with you my fellow reader and friend. If you are pursuing film here at DePaul be sure to check out the LA Quarter. I am very excited for this opportunity and look forward to writing to you all from sunny LA next year!


Last First Day of Class (Plus 9 Days)

On Monday social media exploded with “last first day of classes” posts. For College of Education seniors however, Monday was already our 10th day of “classes”. All aspiring teachers complete 11 weeks of Student Teaching the quarter before graduation, meaning that we start full time at our placement schools during finals week.

As stressful as this might sound, teaching 35-40 hours a week, recording your lessons for edTPA (the new teacher licensure exam), and writing final papers - it’s an experience you’ll become thankful for. Once you make it through five long days of hard work and little sleep, the rest of your Student Teaching experience will be far less stressful.

And that is what’s awesome! My last quarter at DePaul past the official “last first day of classes” isn’t stressful. Is teaching hard work? Of course! Five days a week you’re up on your feet in front of 30 preteens trying to convince them that history is cool. You’re teaching in the now, but constantly thinking in the future. Each day of your class needs to connect, or the instruction won’t be meaningful. You’re constantly trying to find the balance between independent and interactive activities while monitoring student learning.

Besides being a Social Studies teacher, I’m wearing multiple other hats. I’m a comedian that hopes at least half of my room thinks I’m funny. I’m a private investigator when someone jokingly steals someone else’s pencil case. I’m a referee when my students decide the pillows in the back of the room are toys. I’m an advocate for the moments where someone is being bullied in the hallway. I’m a cheerleader when I motivate my students to share their answer with the class. And what some days seems to be the most frequent – I’m a nurse responding to the bumps, bruises, and upset stomachs of the 5th and 6th grade.

Yes, being a teacher is hard work – but it’s worth it! Taking classes and participating in leadership positions the last three and a half years have prepared me to be successful in the classroom. There’s no other way I’d rather spend my last quarter at DePaul than with the 5th and 6th grade at Ravenswood Elementary School.

DePaul Opera Theatre Presents "Die Fledermaus"

​​​​For all you vocalists out there – or maybe even if you just enjoy opera – DePaul students blew me away a few weekends ago in their performance of Die Fledermaus​ at the Merle Reskin Theatre​ downtown. Accompanied by a full orchestra under the direction of Steven Mosteller​, DePaul Opera Theatre​ put on an amazing performance, I'd say the best one I've seen by DePaul students! DePaul Opera Theatre does three operas a year; the fall and spring operas are performed at DePaul’s concert hall, but every winter DePaul students take the stage at the Merle Reskin Theatre to present a full-blown performance - costumes, sets, props, galore!

The first thing (but certainly not best thing, of course!) about going to the opera was that it was FREE. DePaul knows we are hard-working students, which is why they make sure we have as many opportunities to see performance as possible without emptying our bank accounts. Not only did my student ID get me in without paying a penny, I sat in the fourth row! Some say it’s better to sit in the balcony for better views of the whole stage…I thought I had the best view in the house. The Merle Reskin​ is a really cool theatre with three floors – I was really impressed to see how many people came out to support my peers.

DePaul presents "Die Fledermaus"
The two best things about this Opera were that it was in English and it was hilarious! Die Fledermaus​ is basically about a man who must report to an 8-day jail sentence – but on his last night before turning himself in, he goes to a party to meet pretty ladies and drink champagne. His wife finds out and attends the party as a masked guest and her husband tries to flirt with her. In the end, the husband finds out it was the wife at the party and is in shock – however, we find out the whole ordeal was a prank played on the husband by a friend. My favorite part of the show was when they revealed that it was a prank - there was dancing, giant champagne bottles and bubbles everywhere! It was really fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music was great and I was floored by how talented my colleagues are. My best friend, Kelsey, was assistant concertmaster in the orchestra (second chair violin) – I couldn’t have been more proud!!

There is never a shortage of amazing performances around here.  The opera was so well done - a woman at intermission turned to me and said, "wait...are they all students?!?" Yes Ma'am, they are and they ROCK! I’m really looking forward to the spring because all of my talented friends will be giving recitals at DePaul​! It was really fun to have a night out and experience a great performance.

My Trip to New York: Jackie Robsinson Conference

As a college student, it is important to create networks of people to support you. While I have a wonderful community of people here at DePaul, I also believe in expanding your network. 

I currently am a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar. This is a scholarship foundation created in the legacy of the legendary black baseball player and civil rights activist, Jackie Robinson. 

I have been a part of this foundation since I applied for this award before entering college. The Foundation is made up of college students across the country studying various things. Each spring, the scholars attend a Mentoring and Leadership Conference. 

This is a four day event in New York City where all the scholars come together with professionals to learn about career readiness, professional skills, networking and more. The weekend is full of guest speakers, workshops and seminars where students get to interact with other students and industry professionals. This conference takes place the first week of March each year, and I have just gotten back from attending my third conference of my college career. 

While I was there I attended social justice panels, sessions on interviewing skills, financial planning, networking, being a career focused woman (the men attended a session of their own) and more. These were all so informative and I learned a great deal from listening and practicing these skills. 
While I was there I entered the JRF's Got Talent competition with a monologue I had prepared at school, and won 2nd place! I had a great balance of business and pleasure, also getting to attend a black tie formal gala and the ballet during my stay. 

Here is a photo of me and the other scholars from the Pacific Northwest, last weekend at the conference.
While I learned a lot and had great fun, one of my favorite things about attending is simply the people I get to be around. As an ambitious college student of color, it was great to spend time with so many other smart successful and talented students of color. The group of students involved in the Jackie Robinson Foundation are some of the best and brightest young minds in our society, and I am always so grateful for the opportunity to be in their presence and learn from them. What is especially amazing is just how supportive, encouraging, curious, and uplifting they all are. They are all individuals destined for greatness, who want everyone else to be successful in their prospective fields as well. That is the key. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. This is what JRF gives me. 

It is essential to your own well-being and your success in whatever you do to have people around who will lift you up, encourage you to strive for more, and inspire you along your journey. As I move closer to the professional world and my adult life, I am learning that there will be some people and places that do not foster the kind of growth you might want. So I am learning to create a network of people near and far that I can learn from, be supported by, and will be interested in my goals regardless of their own success. And I can do this for them. 

This past weekend in New York really has given me a breath of new inspiration to keep working toward my goals. I think everyone should create that network, and maintain relationships with people who help you to grow. 


Losing Wisdom, Gaining Strength

​​​My spring break left much to be desired.

As fun as getting all four of my impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed was, I just felt like my time could have been spent more usefully. Laughing gas, pain pills, and Netflix helped to numb the effects of the extraction, but nothing could have prepared me for recovery road.

I’m a worry wort. I worry over things I can and cannot control. So naturally, I worried about my healing mouth for a majority of my recovery. As the words “dry sockets” haunted my nightmares and daydreams, I sought WebMD and the always reliable Yahoo Answers to help me sort through my potential problems. In reality, they just created more things for me to worry about.

However, after days of applesauce, milkshakes, and swollen cheeks, I finally started to feel better. Currently, I am continuing my saltwater rinses, but the pain has subsided. I think I’m going to make it through.

All that time spent resting actually made me feel reenergized for spring quarter. My first class of the quarter went extremely well. With only 11 people in my writing class, the class will give us a chance to really hone in on our writing skills. I hope my next three classes go just as swimmingly.

This quarter is sure to be a busy one. Between school, my internship, nannying, friends, and nursing the newfound holes in my mouth, I’m wondering how many hours of sleep I’ll average this spring. Plus, as the weather starts to get warmer, it will undoubtedly become harder and harder to focus on school. But, like every other quarter, I’m always up for a challenge.

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Testing My Spanish

​​​​​HolaWhen I was in seventh grade, I took my first Spanish class. On my first quiz ever, I forgot the word for ‘angry’ so I made up my own Spanish-sounding word (“angrioso,” in case you were wondering). When I was a sophomore in high school, my entire Spanish class became so obsessed with Rebelde​, a Mexican telenovela​ about some teenagers at a boarding school who form a band named RBD, that we had a viewing party and each dressed up as a different character. When I was a junior in high school, we had to share our talent for Spanish class, so I performed “Genio Atrapado,” the Spanish version of “Genie in a Bottle​” by Christina Aguilera. When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Madrid​ for three months.

Almost nine years after my first Spanish class, I’ve officially completed my Spanish major. After I finished my last Spanish class last fall, I realized that I never have to take another Spanish class again. Pretty bittersweet. Two months later, my friend, who knows four languages and makes me feel terrible about myself, told me about the DELE test​​. Let’s talk about why I’m kicking myself for not taking a Spanish class this quarter.

Look how fluent I look here. How am I supposed to get good at Spanish again if I can't meet with Spanish-speaking Minions​?

The DELE test​ is basically a Spanish fluency exam endorsed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. So when my friend mentioned it, I imagined it being like the ACT or SAT. I thought I’d casually go in and take a test and they would tell me how fluent I am. NOPE. It’s no joke. You register to test for one of six fluency levels and then it’s 4+ hours of writing, reading, listening, and talking. If you pass, you’re certified at that level. If you don’t pass, then you just end up wasting $150. That stresses me out. By the time I take this test, it will have been five months since I was last in a Spanish class. Of course no one told me about this test when I came back from studying abroad in Spain and was at the top of my Spanish game. I basically sounded like a telenovela at that point in my life. Now I can barely pronounce the menu at a Mexican restaurant.

Like a geek, I bought the big study book in order to prepare myself. A day later, I’m already realizing that I’m in over my head. You may be wondering why I’m doing this to myself. I’m sort of wondering that, too. In all honesty, I just think it’d be nice to have an official certificate saying that I’m fluent at a specific level, rather than just saying that I majored in Spanish. I think it’d be something nice to have on my resume. Furthermore, since I’m done with Spanish classes, my Spanish is only going to get worse (unless, of course, I somehow get a Spanish-speaking job or move out of the country or become famous for my rendition of "Genio Atrapado"). If I do move, the certificate is internationally recognized and if I pass the level that I’m attempting to test into, I will officially be fluent enough to enroll in Spanish universities. Since it’s permanent and I’d never have to take the test again, I might as well take it as soon as possible. It’s not like I have anything else going on in my life right now.​


Winter Quarter Wrap-Up

​​​As finals week comes to a close, I really wonder where the time went this quarter. With the swiftness with which wet cement sets, the quarter was over seemingly before it began.

Fresh off of New Year’s resolutions that included going to the gym and creating more time for myself, the Zoe I was ten weeks ago could have never predicted what lay ahead for me during the past three months.

A career move, a 60 page thesis and a DePaul College of Communications advising snafu (that I am still trying to sort, fingers crossed) pretty accurately sum up my quarter. Did I accomplish my goals of getting in shape and reading more? Nope. Do I feel satisfied with my quarter regardless? Heck yes.

This is what doing a thesis looks like.

This quarter was the most sleep deprived quarter I have ever experienced. In the midst of morning cups of coffee and 7 a.m. commutes into the loop, I had the fortunate opportunity to do some serious soul searching. At least the soul searching that comes with loopy morning thoughts sandwiched amongst total strangers on the unpredictable journey to work also know as a typical ride on the Brown Line.

While I won’t delve into my philosophical reflections that stemmed from a lack of sleep combined with the ingenuity of someone who ate free birthday cake for lunch at work today, I will say that my quarter has been a quarter of rewards. I’ve managed to work a full five days a week, attend school at night, nanny on weekends and still maintain my sanity (or at least a majority of it). While I certainly had days where giving up sounded tempting, thanks to those around me, I never did.

Something I admire about going to school in Chicago are the opportunities that students are able to pursue. With the help of the DePaul Career Center ​and programs like ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge)​, finding an internship does not have to be a shot in the dark. I have made awesome connections through DePaul that have led me to take on full time internship positions while still in school.

Busy as ever, but thankful, I am definitely looking forward to spring break. What, may you ask, am I doing on my last-ever spring break? Getting all four of my wisdom teeth out! If that isn’t a banging way to end a crazy quarter, than I don’t know what is.  ​​​

Event Planning at DePaul

In high school, often students are forced into taking the same core classes over and over and over again. In college, life could not be more different. 

This quarter, I’m taking an event planning class, a film class, a social media strategy class, and am completing my senior thesis. Needless to say, my class schedule is far from boring or repetitive.

My event planning class has been one of my favorite classes at DePaul. My professor, Anne Davis, works for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and many of her lessons and homework assignments come straight from her actual job.

The insights you get from having a professor who actually works in the field that they teach about is something that is invaluable and very common at DePaul. Last quarter, I took a political communication class taught by someone who was working for U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth. I’ve also taken an honors art history course where my professor was a guest curator for an exhibit at the Art Institute.

Getting a firsthand perspective on real world, real time projects and events makes class so much more interesting. Anne has brought in some really impressive guest speakers, letting our class ask questions and learn the behind the scenes details of events like Taste of Chicago​, Chicago’s Draft Town​, and Chi-Town Rising​.

We’ve also learned how to negotiate sponsorship for events, plan event layouts, and create production schedules. Every homework assignment was created in the hopes that the assignments could be used as work samples on job interviews. I feel confident about the work and feedback I’ve received on my assignments from Anne, and would definitely consider bringing them with me to a relevant job interview.

One of the coolest classes Anne planned was a backstage tour of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra​. My class and I got to see the symphony’s dressing rooms, practice rooms, instruments, and we even got to sit in the seats behind the musicians  that face the audience.

Anne’s class has introduced me to the true nature of the event planning industry. I’m finding that I have a newfound interest in the industry and I hope that my future career will involve planning large scale events. Her class is definitely not easy, but the work that I am producing and the knowledge that I’m gaining makes every project and quiz worth it. ​​​

De-Stress During Finals

During this time of year, the weather gets nicer and the motivation to sit in the library to work on an essay decreases. I have always noticed that finals week is the most strenuous when the temptation to play outside is apparent. Sitting in the Student Center and looking out the window to see everyone walking to the quad to lay in the sun pains me because that’s LITERALLY all I want to do. Since finals are almost in full swing I figured I would make a list of ways to de-stress during a time full of presentations and papers.

1. Make a plan of attack: nothing like an open plan book and some highlighters to get your organization in check. The thing that helps me the most is to write down everything that needs to be done and when it is due. That way your plan of attack will go smoothly when you decide what to do first. Jumping off this of idea, it is=smart to find time in your weekly schedule when you can actually work on the things you outlined for yourself.

2. Find an animal: animals just want love! People have emotional support dogs for a reason, they really really do reduce your stress. Being able to take your mind off of the responsibilities of daily life for a moment can revamp you brain and kick start you into a healthy pattern of work.

3. Go for a run: I’m sure you’re asking me… “I have so much to do so when will I find time to up my cardio?” Well, I’m in the same boat. It sure does take a lot of motivation to do more than a swift walk, but if you have a break in your schedule a good way to de-stress is going on a run/jog/walk/whatever. That way it can hopefully bring you back to an alert state of mind that will help you with your studies. 

4. Take a few deep breaths: I know this sounds very hakuna matata, but so what. Deep breathing will help you decompress and get your noggin back to a neutral state. If you’re too stressed and start to work on a new paper, you might just end up producing some content that is not up to par. Take the time you need to feel okay before diving in.

I hope these will help you during your time at college! Just remember that everyone is in the same boat and stress is more than common in university. Find tools and resources you need around campus to make it through your 4 years with ease! 


Teach Abroad: Sierra Leone, West Africa

For many college students, the opportunity to study abroad​ is a must-have when applying for schools. Like most universities, DePaul​ offers a ton of options for studying abroad at several different times throughout the year! There are over 40 countries and 70 programs available, and students have the opportunity to travel with non-DePaul programs​ as well. If studying abroad is something you might be interested in, DePaul is an option worth exploring.

As a music student, studying abroad does not come as easily as many of us would like.  As part of our class requirements, everyone must be in a major ensemble​ every quarter to complete their degree within four years – and keep any performance scholarships​ you might receive. In light of this scheduling conflict with studying abroad, most students opt to travel during summer and winter break. Many vocalists at DePaul study in Italy over the summer through a program promoted through DePaul. During my sophomore year, I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to travel to Sierra Leone, West Africa for two weeks during our winter break, which helped to fill my wanderlust (aka desire to travel). 

Sierra Leone is in West Africa.

My trip to Sierra Leone was two weeks long and happened in December of my sophomore year. Instead of "studying" abroad, the purpose of traveling to Sierra Leone was to teach - which is why I like to call it "teach" abroad instead. Over the course of the trip, we visited four different schools – a music academy, an orphanage for the hearing impaired, an all-girls school and a 1st -8th grade co-ed school. We brought recorders for the children and taught them how to play short songs, danced, sang and donated paper, crayons and cases of water to each school that we visited. It was amazing how well we were able to communicate with the teachers and children even though we did not speak the same language – music is such a powerful medium for communication between cultures. We participated in drum circles, attended a soccer game, walked through major cities and engaged with local people – we also ate goat, cassava​ and lots and lots of rice and oranges!​

Dancing with some students!
Besides engaging in music during my trip, I also got a first-hand look into how lucky we are to have food, water and shelter easily accessible to us here in the U.S. Many of the children we worked with were hungry, thirsty and often extremely malnourished – at times it was very emotional for us. Even so, the children were so excited to have us there with them and seemed so happy and blessed to have loving families and a place to learn every day.

My trip to Sierra Leone was unforgettable – I’ll always remember 6-hour long drives through jungle-like conditions, hearing the prayers from mosques at 4am, bucket showers by candlelight and geckos all over the ceilings. I’ll remember the joy that came with sharing music with others, the smiles and hugs from the children and the sadness that came with leaving them. Above all, I’ll never forget how lucky I am to live in a supportive community of professors, friends and family and how powerful music can be in my life and the lives of others.

Coping With College

When I finished student teaching in the fall, I thought my last two quarters at DePaul would be a breeze. Thinking that taking three classes, instead of six or seven as in previous years, would be a piece of cake, I picked up extra shifts at my work, agreed to more babysitting gigs and committed myself to maintaining a strong GPA through the end of this year. Now almost done with the quarter, I’m realizing that I was very wrong! Though I am still managing to get all my work done, it has been a real challenge to keep up with my various jobs (four, to be exact!) and still make time to relax and see my friends. I think it’s pretty common for college students to overwork themselves, which is why I want to share a few coping skills that have been working for me in dealing with the stress of college.

The first and most important thing I’ve been doing to keep myself afloat is getting enough sleep at night. I have heard horror stories of my peers who have procrastinated so much that giving up a night of sleep is their only way to get work done. THIS IS BAD. Even if I haven’t finished my work for the day, I always make a point to get at least seven hours of sleep at night and wake up earlier if necessary.

Exercising has also been a saving grace for me these last few weeks.  Regardless of how much work I have to do, I try my hardest to get to the Ray Meyer Fitness Center​ at DePaul at least three times a week. Even if I only have time for a quick run or weight lifting session, getting my body moving makes me feel empowered and motivated to get things done.

Though it may not be the healthiest coping mechanism, food helps me get through all of life’s challenges. Often times I’ll set a goal – such as, get all of my homework due Monday done by Friday afternoon – and if I do it, I get a pizza. Who wouldn’t do homework in exchange for pizza? There is nothing more satisfying than a big slice of pepperoni pineapple from Renaldi’s​ or a massive plate of beef Pad Thai from Noodles in the Pot​ after a long week of online quizzes, discussion posts and readings. Side note: these foods are more satisfying if I eat well during the week - something I have been striving to do since the beginning of the New Year!! The addition of a Whole Foods​ with a gigantic salad bar on DePaul’s campus has been a dream-come-true for my waist line…

Lastly, my friends are crucial in minimizing the stress of school. Doing homework with my best friend Kelsey has been a major factor in my ability to keep up with my classes. Even though our assignments are always drastically different, it’s still fun to celebrate the completion of a task with a high-five or another cup of coffee. (Coffee and College go hand-in-hand for me. Addicted? Maybe. Necessary? Yes.)

One of the major lessons that I have learned this year is that my education needs to come first. College is becoming more and more expensive each year, and though DePaul offers great scholarships​, student loans can still be scary! Have bills to pay or enjoy having money for meals, concerts and experiences? Me too! Working is important for so many college students – myself included – but never forget that college is for learning first. Enjoy your time as a student; wherever you end up, never let work negatively interfere with your success in college.​


Student Spotlight: Natalie Vanderlaan, Vocalist

Enough about me already – let’s talk about another DePaul student that you should know about. Over the past 3.5 years I have had the opportunity to meet and network with some truly phenomenal musicians and teachers. Last week, I had the privilege of attending a performance by my colleague and good friend, Natalie Vanderlaan, a 4th year music education student (like myself) and fabulous vocalist, pianist, and composer. I decided to interview Natalie about some of her recent accomplishments and how DePaul has helped her along the way.​

Natalie Vanderlaan, Senior, Mezzo Soprano

First of all, let me tell you that this girl has accomplished A LOT over the past few years. Here are just a few highlights:

- Member of the DePaul Choirs where she performed works such as Beethoven 9​ and the Mozart Requiem​.

- A vocalist in Chicago’s annual Schubert celebration, “Schubertiade​” for two years.

- A chorus member for the opera, La Boheme​ her freshman year.

- Music director at Etc. Music School​ in Evanston, IL, where she helps to create and direct original musical theatre for children kindergarten to 12th grade.

- Music director and pianist for a show at Second City Chicago​.

- Regular performer at the DePaul “Lounge”​ – every Thursday evening, DePaul brings in student musicians to give performances for anyone who wants to attend.

Thursday night at the Lounge, located in the DePaul Student Center​, was where I saw Natalie perform last week – It was awesome! Not only is Natalie a great singer, but she also wrote a majority of the songs she performed. I kid you not; this girl could give Sara Bareilles​ a run for her money. I don’t think I could have been more impressed.

Natalie performing at "The Lounge" last Thursday

In an interview with Natalie after hearing her perform, it was really awesome to hear her talk about how much DePaul has helped in getting her to where she is now.

​“Through DePaul I’ve learned to be a compelling and original performer – and to not apologize for taking the stage and for making a statement” – Natalie Vanderlaan

Natalie said that the most helpful skills she’s learned came from her music theory, music history and music education classes at DePaul, and says these classes were really foundational in her recent accomplishments. Natalie also stressed the importance of collaborating with her peers - taking advantage of the knowledge and skills of others is crucial for a growing musician and educator.

“I chose DePaul not only for its excellent track record with music, but also because of the Vincentian ideal and integration into the city of Chicago. DePaul celebrates and empowers the inherent dignity of every human being, all while providing us with opportunities to strengthen our skills and learn through experience in the city”

So true, Natalie. Thank you DePaul, for surrounding me with some of the most talented friends I could ask for.


Interdisciplinary Arts: The Honors Program

As a member of the Honors Program​, I have had the opportunity to take many classes that have both interested and challenged me greatly. One of the nice things about the required classes for the Honors Programs is that they are so diverse. I get to take classes on subjects I would never learn about otherwise, which I think is one of the great things about college. I am a Health Sciences major which means I take a lot of sciences classes with labs and other health-oriented classes, but I also get to take classes through the Honors Program about, for instance, the rhetoric of fairy tales, film and literature representation of World War I, and the perception of Muslim-Americans in the United States following 9/11. These program offerings are not only interesting, but make well-rounded, educated students (something that I hope to be!). 

One of the best Honors classes I have taken thus far at DePaul fulfilled the Interdisciplinary Arts requirement (HON 205). The topic of this class was Constantinople: City of Two Empires. I knew nothing about Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) before beginning the class, so I did not really know what to expect. As is the usual of any Honors class, the course consisted of a lot of critical, intense reading. In all honesty, this class required the most reading out of any Honors class I have taken yet and at the beginning of the course that was definitely something I did not expect. As the quarter progressed, I became more and more fascinated by Constantinople ​and its rich history, beautiful art and buildings. As a result, the reading became less of a chore and more of an interest. That tends to happen to really good classes, and this one was no exception. 

The Hagia Sophia, church-turned-mosque-turned-museum, is one of the most famous buildings in the world and resides in Istanbul. It was one of the buildings we extensively studied in HON 205.
It helped, too, that our professor, Dr. Elena Boeck, was so passionate and knowledgeable about Constantinople. She expected a lot out of us, which is normal in an Honors class, and was super helpful during her office hours and genuinely cared about our progress. HON 205 was one of the hardest classes I have taken, but one of the best. It was a unique class because the history of Constantinople is something I highly doubt I will study in another class, but I am grateful to the Honors Program that I get to take classes like this. Plus, if I ever get the opportunity to visit Istanbul, Turkey, I will be able to show off my vast knowledge of the city (bonus!). ​

Writing At DePaul

One thing that I have always been told about the skills I need to be successful in any career field is the skill of proper written communication. Writing is definitely one of the most primary skills that you will be judged upon in college and work. Think of writing as making all of your thoughts visible for other people to see. Some people are obviously better at putting thoughts in words, and if that weren’t the case than we would all be famous authors. Writing out ideas helps you formulate questions/answers and can demonstrate your emotional maturity. Writing also can serve the purpose of solidifying ideas down in ink so that you can come back and refine them. 

In terms of memory, writing class notes with a pen and paper instead of typing with a laptop has proven to link the motor skill with processing the information. I have found that typing can lead to mindless processing because I’m too focused on typing the lecture verbatim instead of soaking in the concepts. When it comes to cognitive learning, I always chose a pen and paper before a laptop (even though having a computer makes some lecture way more bearable). But if creative writing is more your thing, DePaul has a lot of outlets for you.

You could be employed by DePaul at the Writing Center where your job will revolve around helping your peers formulate ideas or help grammar check their papers for fluidity. I have always found that by teaching others I also enhance my own skill set. You can apply to the Writing Center via email and must provide a few writing samples. Through personal experience, they rarely hire first year students, but once your writing becomes stronger and conceptual they take another look at your application. DePaul also has a creative and journalistic outlet with the DePaulia. The DePaulis is mainly student run, which gives people the opportunity to be independent with their work while also enhancing their organization and communication skills. Writing for The DePaulia is a great little test run of how newspapers work and what skill are needed to be a part of a printed paper.

DePaul has also recently started an award winning art & literary magazine called Crook and Folly. This published magazine gives students the opportunity to express their creativity in both written form and visual art. This is a great alternative to journalistic writing that the DePaulia provides. Along the same lines, The English Department has also created an outlet for students via a blog called The Underground. This blog is a newsletter type dealio that covers news, events, student writing, and alumni participation. Check the link below if you are interested!

Writing is seen to be a helpful source of therapy, expression, and skill for everyone I know! With DePaul I have learned to enhance a healthy skepticism in my own and other’s writings that has enhanced my imagination and creativity​.


The Theatre School Announces 2016-2017 Season

On Thursday evening a special event took place in The Theatre School. The Theatre School Student Government Association (TTSSGA) hosted an event to celebrate the announcement of the 2016-2017 Season! In the winter of each year, there is an announcement of the plays we will put on in the coming school year. Now typically this is sent out in the form of a school wide email. This year, however, member of the TTSSGA, wanted to bring the school together as community to announce next year's season of plays. 

At 5pm, students from all disciplines filed down the stairs and into the Merle Reskin Lobby of the school. This was the first time ever that there had been a collective event to celebrate the great work and great art we have to look forward to next year. The Dean of the Theatre School, Dean John Culbert, gathered in front of the mass of students along with the artistic directors of our theaters, and directors of next year's shows. 

The Dean began with some opening remarks about how we choose the next season of productions. He talked about how the subjects and themes of our Main Stage shows reflect what we as a school are thinking about. These production are how the world knows what is important to us. It was great to hear from the leader of our school, and know that he and the team he works with has us, as students and young artists, in mind, as well as the issues of our current world. I had always wondered who chooses the next season, how they decide and of course, what the shows will be. One by one, the directors of next year's shows got up to the microphone, announced their show, and answered a simple question, "Why here, Why Now?" The directors shared the themes of the shows they had chosen and why they think they are relevant in the community and world we live in. 

It was a great event to get the whole school excited about the season, and to be on the same page about our collective goal as a school. I cannot tell you how excited I am for next year’s season, and excited to share it with all of you. Next year's season is as follows: 


On the FULLERTON STAGE: 
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Cameron Knight 

by Jackie Sibblies Drury
directed by Erin Kraft

Wig Out!
directed by Nathan Signh
 
New Playwrights Series
Title, Playwright, and Director TBA

In the HEALY THEATRE

by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Michael Burke

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jacob Janssen
 
MFA17 
An ensemble piece to be performed by MFA III actors
 
CHICAGO PLAYWORKS FOR FAMILIES AND YOUNG AUDIENCES

by Jeremiah Clay Neal
directed by Ernie Nolan 
 
Night Runner
(developed through The Theatre School's Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre)
by Ike Holter
Directed by Lisa Portes
 
book and lyrics by Psalmayene 24
music by Nick tha 1Da
directed by Coya Paz
 
This coming season touches on so many relevant topics, such as election and new leadership, race, sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, family dynamics and more. I am so excited to explore these important topics on these amazing stages next year! Good things ahead! ​

DePaul: Urban Educated. World Ready.

A few weeks ago it was Blue Demon Week ​at DePaul! As a part of the many celebrations that took place Enrollment, Marketing and Management put out a new series of videos. Below you'll see a link to the headlining video. "DePaul: Urban Educated. World Ready​" is one of my favorite videos DePaul has ever put out (my #1 will forever be the Premiere DePaul Video​ the Orientation Leaders that I supervised stared in). In two minutes and twenty-three seconds the video hits home about what DePaul stands for and what it means to be a DePaul student.

 “DePaul isn't trying to be like every other university in America, we want to be DePaul.” 

Bold, but true. When you accept admission to DePaul you should be excited to know that your college experience won’t be like your friends’ who are attending other universities. As a student at DePaul you get to live in America’s third largest city. This means that you don’t have to wait until your senior year to have an internship. There are enough companies in the city for you to start interning as a first year student! When you’re sitting in class it won’t be with 500 strangers. At DePaul all but one of my classes has had between 20 and 40 students.  We only have two large lecture halls in Lincoln Park that hold at maximum 100 students each. At DePaul our educational experience is personal and extends far beyond the classroom.

“The fact that St. Vincent de Paul’s name is over our door gives us a sense of mission that we need to make a difference.”

After taking an entire course on St. Vincent DePaul I could share quite the list of fast facts. From at best an average priest to canonized saint, Vincent de Paul had quite the journey in his lifetime. More than 350 years after his death, Vincent de Paul’s Congregation of the Mission thrives on though the hearts and souls of Vincentians around the world. As a DePaul student you’re able to see hands on how the missions of justice and human dignity is fulfilled by asking and answering the question, “What must be done?”​

Open my blog to watch the video below:

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DePaul Students take on ILMEA

​​​​​As a soon-to-be music teacher, there is nothing more inspiring than being surrounded by successful teachers and talking about education. Every year, several DePaul music education​ students make the three-hour car trip to Peoria, Illinois to attend the Illinois Music Educators Conference​ – ILMEA for short. Over the course of two days, I attended four different clinics, two concerts, and a DePaul reception held for current students and alumni​.
DePaul music students with our advisor, Dr. Kelly-McHale
This year we were able to bring 13 DePaul students ranging from freshmen to seniors. We took three cars – I was lucky enough to drive a minivan rented from Zipcar​ – and arrived early in the evening. We made it in just enough time to attend band and choir performances, which were really good. Since I’m a bassoonist and interested in teaching band, I attended the band concert and absolutely loved all of the music. Listening to quality music played by talented musicians is really motivating and always reminds me of why I love music so much.​

Two good friends who have become great teachers!
The next day, we all went our separate ways and attended hour-long clinics that were most applicable to our interests. Between 8:30am and 5pm, I was able to attend four different clinics: Assessing students in the Performance Classroom, Warm-Ups and Ensemble Development That Work!, a student teaching panel (I was on the panel!!) and a “new music reading” concert where all the pieces were written within the last couple of years. A huge perk of ILMEA are the exhibitors that attend the conference; music and instrument distributors, representatives from different colleges and travel companies are only a few examples. I decided to skip a clinic so I could browse for some new music, and I successfully purchased some new bassoon pieces to work on over the next few months. Although the day was long and exhausting, I felt that I’d learned a lot and had a great experience.

After all the clinics and rehearsals had ended, our group went to a collegiate (college students only) dinner provided by the conference. The idea was that we would be able to meet and greet with students from other universities – but unfortunately the space was too small to accommodate the large number of students who attended! We were able to meet a few people, but we mostly ended up spending more time with each other…but we weren’t complaining. To complete the day, we went to a DePaul reception held in a large hotel room to reconnect with our professors and meet with DePaul School of Music alumni. It was great to see friends who have graduated and hear about the successes of DePaul graduates – it gave me a lot of hope for my own career after graduating! DePaul has prepared me well to be a music teacher, so I have no doubt that I’ll have plenty of success stories, too.


The 50th Annual NCHC Conference

I’ve conducted a surprising amount of research during my time at DePaul. While the task of writing a research paper is always intimidating, the rewarding feeling when the paper is done and handed in makes it all worth it.

Being in the DePaul Honors Program, most of my honors classes culminate in the writing of an original research paper. Since I’m currently taking my last honors requirement (my senior thesis) I estimate that I’ve written about nine substantial research papers consisting of ten or more pages through DePaul’s Honors Program this far.

My poster!

What’s great about DePaul’s Honors Program are the opportunities it offers to continue to develop research even after your class has ended. Sometimes it can be frustrating to spend 3875975 hours researching a topic only to get a grade back and never think about your paper again.

This past quarter I was fortunate enough to present my research from my Honors 201 course States, Markets, and Societies at the 2015 National Collegiate Honors Conference. The conference is an event held once a year by the National Collegiate Honors Council ​(NCHC) and invites honors students from across the nation to participate in weekend long activities. This year, the conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Chicago.

The DePaul Honors advising staff suggested that I apply to present in the conference. When my research was accepted, DePaul covered my registration fee, I turned my research paper into a research poster, and the rest is history.

My project was titled “What’s Wrong with the 99 Percent?: The Failure of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the United States.” In my paper, I examined how the messaging, protest tactics, and outcomes of the Occupy Wall Street movement were different from that of the women’s suffrage movement and the Civil Rights Movement. I made sure to include visual elements in my poster to illustrate the differences present within the movements.

For the poster presentations, students set up their posters in a large room within the Sheraton. We then stood by our posters as other students and faculty perused topics and mingled amongst themselves. I had some very engaging and thought provoking conversations regarding my topic with people from all over the United States. It was also fun to hear about other students’ experience in the city so far. Many of the students I talked to had never been to Chicago and wanted to know what was worth checking out.

The NCHC conference was a definitely a neat experience — but I won’t lie, I’m a total nerd so I dig these types of things. Regardless, the conference proved that you don’t have to be a graduate student to start conducting your own research. With the right resources and guidance, undergraduates can have the ability and confidence to examine and analyze any topic. 



Honors Program: What Actually Is It?

​​​​​​ANNOUNCEMENT (and update to my previous blog​): If you haven’t heard, DePaul Activities Board​ has announced that We The Kings​ will be playing at Polarpalooza​ this year!

It’s crazy to think about how my time as an undergraduate is coming to a close. Last quarter, I completed the last of the requirements for my Spanish major. After next quarter, I will have finished my International Studies major and will be registered as a graduate student at DePaul​. Right now, though, I’m taking my final Honors class.

No matter what you study at DePaul (during your undergraduate career, at least), you will have to take some series of liberal arts classes to fulfill your degree requirements. For most students, this requirement takes the form of the Liberal Studies Program​. For other students, the Honors Program​ replaces the Liberal Studies Program. I know when I was applying for the Honors Program, I really had no clue what it was. And now even as a senior, I still meet students who have never heard about the Honors Program and know nothing about it. With the deadline for Honors Program applications approaching quickly (March 2nd, in case you were wondering), I thought this would be a great time to talk about how the Honors Program differs from the Liberal Studies Program.

The Liberal Studies Program is comprised of two parts: the Common Core​ and the Learning Domains​. The Common Core is a series of 7-8 classes that all students in the program have to take, including the Chicago Quarter​ class, the Focal Point Seminar​, and the Sophomore Seminar on Multiculturalism. The Learning Domains, on the other hand, are extremely broad categories. Each student must take at least one class (depending on your major) from each of the six Learning Domains. Each Learning Domain can be fulfilled by taking one of ~100 eligible electives​.

A genuinely embarrassing throwback photo from freshman year. Here I am with the incomparable Steph Wade at an Honors event.

The Honors Program is designed for students who want an extra academic challenge. In particular, the Honors classes really emphasize writing and critical analysis. That being said, participation in the Honors Program severely limits your course options. While Honors students similarly have to meet the same Common Core and Learning Domain requirements as Liberal Studies students, Honors students are generally limited to the courses offered by the Honors department. For instance, while Liberal Studies students can choose from a list of over 100 courses​ to fulfill the Arts and Literature requirement, Honors students take HON101: World Literature​ (to be fair, the content of which can vary with the professor). While I’ve heard of one or two people that really didn’t like the limited options, I can say in all honesty that I’ve been genuinely satisfied with almost every class I’ve taken in the Honors Program.

In addition to your transcript reading “Honors Program Graduate,” the Honors Program offers a ton of perks​. Seriously, I tell everyone to apply to the Honors Program for one main reason: priority registration. At DePaul, freshmen get last choice for signing up for classes. By the end of registration week, a lot of classes are already full. As an Honors student, you have first choice for signing up for classes, even before seniors. It’s amazing (and a good way to make sure you always get the schedule you want). Beyond that, the Honors classes are never more than 20 students. Never. I have four years worth of emails from the Honors advisors reminding students not to waste their time asking professors to make an exception for them. Because the program is relatively small, you end up seeing a lot of familiar faces in your classes. And if you want even more of a familial atmosphere, the Honors Program has its own floor​ in Seton Hall​.

The Honors Program may not be right for everyone, but I recommend it to anyone who thinks it might be right for them.​ Check out their website​ and apply soon!


My Favorite Course This Year

As I have mentioned before, I am currently in my third year of the acting program here at DePaul.  As is true for many programs, there are a string of courses one must take in order to complete the major, and earn your degree. For the acting program, there is a planned out sequence of courses we take in our years of training. The third year of the program is when we get to finally tackle Shakespeare ​in our coursework.  This class is an acting class for us, meaning it is not simply a literature analysis of Shakespeare’s work, but it is geared toward performance majors and our goals to be able to speak and perform this wonderfully challenging text.​

          

This course has been a two quarter sequence, and lucky for my class, it has been revamped this year. The Theatre School​ has hired a new faculty member this year, Cameron Knight, who now teaches acting and Shakespeare to the undergraduate and graduate acting students. We began with part one of the sequence in fall quarter of this year.  The students in my class were all coming to begin this learning process with various experiences and knowledge of The Bard and his writing. By this I mean that some students came to the class already loving Shakespeare, some hating it, some having read many of his works, some never having read it at all, but we all started from the same place with the work.​

The first quarter began with form. Learning all the conventions of Shakespeare’s writing, starting with reading analysis and scansion of the text.  We then moved onto speaking the text and clear communication of the text. While analysis is great and essential, as actors we must learn how to be effective and clear in the speaking and communication of the text. We then moved into scene work leading up to our final, which was a presentation of these scenes for the performance faculty. This winter, we began the second part of the sequence. This quarter we jumped right in with scene work, paired with partners to work on different scenes, as well as monologues and group scenes.

I have really loved taking this course and have learned so much. Reading Shakespeare, and preparing it for performance really is like learning a new language, and a new way to approach language of any type. My professor was right when he says, if you can handle this author, you can handle just about any author/playwright. Once you learn the form, you get to "play Jazz" he says. He is truly a great teacher, and has facilitated this learning process in an individualized way. My class has gone from tentative and cautious with this challenging language, to truly understanding, loving, and now playing with these complicated and beautifully written stories. It has changed how I view this author, and how I see my future with this author as well, giving me a sense that I really could, with more work and practice, work confidently and well on Shakespeare and classical text during the rest of my collegiate career, and professionally. I love taking courses that directly apply to the skill set I desire to have for my career and this course has definitely done that. 



Don't Say It! Midterms!

​​​The following conversation actually happened:

Me: “Hey, how’s your day going?”
Friend: “It’s going…my professor has us working on our midterm already.”
Me: “Geez, why so early?”
Friend: “Midterms are next week…”
Me: “What?” *Checks calendar* “Whoa…where did the time go?”
Friends: “I know right.”

This blog is about midterms. Yeah! Yeah? Well, depending on your situation, it can be either or. Like the above conversation, mine was more of an “aw man.” See, here at DePaul, times flies by pretty quickly. As a quote I once heard, but can’t remember where it is from, said, “The days are long but the years are short.” Sigh. This is true. Now in my third year here at DePaul, I’ve begun thinking about the post-graduate life and what it has in store for me. I think about jobs, where I will live, my friends, my family, if I’ll have my own dog, the usual questions. However, that’s far-ish away, let’s talk about midterms and some life hacks to help you survive.

1. Study – Yes, good ole fashion hitting the books and getting all that information into your head. Studying is proven to help increase grade results more than if you did not study at all. Think you know the material well enough? No harm in at least reviewing it one more time.

2. John Richardson Library – Libraries have a lot of cool things. Like books that may be useful for whatever class you are taking. Regular library hours are posted weekly on their website here​. It is important to note that during finals week the library is open 24 hours for students to use. I didn’t know that my freshman year, but it would’ve been helpful.

3. Coffee – Yeah! Personally my favorite part of procrastination, I mean, getting my work done in a reasonable and responsible time. Coffee can be your friend. However, it is important to note that coffee should not be the only thing you consume. Water actually helps keep your body awake and alert by hydrating it. DePaul offers frequent and convenient water refill stations all around campus that will have your bottle full within seconds. Coffee and water? Midterms don’t stand a chance!

4. Sleep – It’s actually pretty important. With the hustle and bustle of midterms and finals it can be easy to forget about one of most essential needs as humans. Make sure you are resting, it can be the difference between you finishing your exam and getting an “A” or falling asleep and getting a “F” because you had to turn in a blank scantron with drool on it. Yes, your grades are important but so is your health, so make sure to get some rest my friend.

That is all I have for you today, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I wish everyone the best of luck on their midterms.

Thank for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!

December Intercession

While my friends’ winter breaks were filled with ski lodge visits and European travels, mine was filled with class, my internship, and the challenge of trying to Christmas shop for others, rather than myself. Needless to say, relaxation and adventure do not exactly come to mind when describing my 6 weeks off – or I guess I should say on. 

Although my winter break wasn’t spent hiking through the Swiss Alps or visiting historic castles in London, it was fulfilling in its own way. I turned the big 2-1, finished four more class credits, and picked up some extra work hours.

Putting in some extra class time over the December intercession was a great decision this break. Normally, I spend the six weeks off bored out of my mind without a car stuck in the suburbs, so being able to work towards graduation kept me busy. I took a special topics journalism class with Dr. Jason Martin. Throughout the duration of the course, my class and I reported on the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, also referred to as COP21​. We produced original content, graphics, maps, and social media accounts to help our reporting efforts.

This being my first December intersession class, I was a little apprehensive of how much work I would be asked to complete. The idea of intercession is to complete a regular 4 credit, ten week class over a shorter amount of time. In my case, I had three weeks to immerse myself in learning new skills and producing original content.

Our COP21 Tumblr blog.
Despite the quick three weeks, this course taught me a wealth of information.  Our class set out to provide real-timecoverage of an unfolding global event and to contextualize and localize environmental issues. We successfully completed our objectives and gained a voice in the flurry of live COP21 news coverage.

My role in our class reporting project was to aid in developing a social media strategy for the three week period. I learned how to read Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and was trained on a social media analytic program called Crimson Hexagon. Additionally, I learned how to utilize a conversation storytelling tool called Storify. At the end of the class, I contributed to a final social media engagement report, in which we tracked and explained our reporting growth.

The fast-paced nature of the class could be stressful at times, but covering such an interesting topic and producing content that our audience was engaged with was definitely rewarding. With a newfound interest in global climate change, it will be interesting to see how the promises made at COP21 hold up in the years to come.

If you’ve never taken a December intersession class before, I would highly recommend looking into it. I wish I had taken advantage of this option my first two years at DePaul. Additionally, I’d recommend taking any of Dr. Martin’s classes. He is an excellent professor and I’ve had him twice at DePaul thus far.

I guess while my winter break wasn’t spent traveling, it was well-spent at home in the company of classmates and co-workers. Maybe spring break will bring me some much needed relaxation time (unlikely, but a girl can dream.)


In the Blood

​​​​I am excited to announce the latest show I am working on for The Theatre School. I am currently cast in a play called ​​In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks. This is the second Main Stage production I have acted in during my time in the casting pool and what an experience it has been!

In the Blood is an intense and beautiful story of family, struggle, and triumph in the face of personal and systemic adversity. On The Theatre School website there is a description:

"Hester la Negrita is a homeless single mother of five who dreams of finding beauty and love for her family despite her poverty-stricken life. As she struggles to defy the odds, she runs into a series of harsh and unexpected obstacles. 
In this modern day riff on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks asks who has the right to the American Dream. Directed by Nathan Singh, MFA Directing, Class of 2017. 
Is poverty inescapable for individuals already in the cycle? "


The characters of the play include the protagonist, Hester, which is played by one actress. We also meet her five children, Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty, and Baby. The play is written as such that the five actors who play the children also double as five other adults that Hester interacts with, her doctor, reverend, welfare caseworker, her best friend, and her first love. The play explores their relationships and the way these individuals may be in positions to help Hester, but may not help her the way we would hope. 

I have been cast as Hester, the mother and main character that this world surrounds. It has been quite a challenging role, and the ultimate test to apply my training to performance. It is a mammoth of a role, and such a deep and important play, I am really lucky to be working on it. It is a beautiful piece of writing written by a black woman, about a black woman's experience with the powers that be, wrestling with race, class, gender, and the system that controls them.  While we are getting close to the performance dates, and it is a little nerve wracking, I am excited to see how it turns out! 

The show opens January 22, and runs through January 31, 2016. I encourage anyone to come see this important work of art! Student Tickets are $5, and $15 for the general public. The cast, crew, and design and technical team are all made up of current BFA, and MFA students here at DePaul, with the assistance of TTS staff. 

Please come see In the Blood and support the art of students like you, and as always, be well. 

To find out more about the show, other current TTS Shows​, and ticketing follow this link.​

The Midwest Clinic - The College Prospective

​​​​​I mentioned in a previous blog that I had attended the Midwest International Band and Orchest​​ra Clinic​ right before I went home for Christmas. I’d like to give you a little more information on just how AMAZING this event is - Especially for anyone who might be interested in pursuing a degree in instrumental music education!​

The Midwest Clinic​ is a four-day clinic that takes place at the McCormick Place​ in Chicago. McCormick Place is a giant convention center with rooms that seat hundreds of people – the perfect size for the thousands of teachers, and future teachers like me, to congregate and nerd-out over instrumental music. I would normally attend all of the days of the clinic, but because of student teaching I was only able to attend one day. There are several concerts​, tons of clinics​ and a room full of almost every music-related business you can think of - there is even a collegiate-track for pre-service teachers called, "Generation Next", which provides clinics that are more applicable for college students!The cost of the entire clinic for a college student is only $50 dollars – and I’m telling you, it is worth every penny. 

On the day that I attended the clinic, I was able to make it to three different clinics. There were upwards of 20 clinics and concerts occurring, but I made sure I had time to walk around exhibits and meet and network with other people. The best clinic I went to was about a program called United Sound​, which is an organization that provides resources for schools to include students with disabilities into their band and orchestra programs. In my high school student teaching placement I had the privilege of working with some diverse learners, and it really impacted my teaching philosophy in terms of having an inclusive band program. I’m so glad I attended the United Sound clinic because now I have a resource that I can use in my own classroom in the future! I also attended a clinic called, “The ten things you must do now before your first job​”, which was also very informational and worth attending.

 I’ve learned that as an educator, networking is one of the most important things you can do. I was really lucky to have a cooperating teacher, ( the person I did my student teaching with), who introduced me to some band directors from around the state. Just after a short conversation, it was really neat to have them say they’d keep their ears open for open teaching positions…score! It’s inspiring to talk to educators who have built strong band or orchestra programs – their dedication to and passion for the profession reminded me why I decided to be a teacher in the first place.

Had I not moved to Chicago and attended DePaul, it’s possible I wouldn’t have attended the Midwest Clinic at this point in my life. Not many people I know can say that they experienced a North Texas Wind Symphony concert before graduating from college! Though I haven’t taught in the field yet, I still think it’s important to learn as much as possible before getting on the podium for real. I always take advantage of the exhibitions​ and usually walk out with several books for my continually growing resource library. Attending the Midwest clinic, no matter where I end up after this year, will always be at the top of my priority list as a teacher and musician.​


Auditioning for DePaul

One of the toughest aspects of wanting to attend music school is the audition process. For those of you who aren’t musicians or don’t plan to apply to music school, auditions are short, live performances that perspective music students must play for an audience of instrument-specific teachers. For example, when I applied to DePaul I had to perform the first movement of a famous Bassoon concerto​ and some scales for two bassoon faculty members here on campus. Though academics are still important for getting accepted, the audition often becomes more important in the decision process.​​​​

What you might be thinking now is, ‘why are you bringing this up right now?’ ​ DePaul School of Music​ audition season is right around the corner! Starting the first weekend in February, musicians from all over the country will be here throughout the month (only on the weekends!) to audition for a spot in the undergraduate and graduate classes for the fall of 2016. It’s an exciting time, but for all those students auditioning it is probably equally or more of a nerve-wracking time. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some information and tips for auditioning at DePaul.​

Regardless of major, everyone MUST audition!

It’s important to remember that all of our majors in the school of music require an audition. Are you interested in Sound Recording Technology​ or Performing Arts Management​? You are also required to audition! Even if you are not a performance major, you will be required to take lessons and participate in ensembles​. You can check out the audition requirements for each instrument here​. Not feeling the performance aspect? DePaul School of Music is now offering three different minors that do not require an audition: Music Business​, Music Recording​ and Music Studies​. These can be declared once you’re already a DePaul student, so don’t worry about it until your first quarter.

Take the audition, and then make a day out of it!

During the audition weekends, current DePaul students will be offering music school and campus tours for perspective students and parents – do it! Not only will you get another look at all DePaul has to offer, you’ll get to talk to a current student about his or her experiences here. You’ll also be able to attend an information session with the director of admissions​ to get a recap on degree requirements​ and financial aid​. Lastly, DePaul is surrounded by delicious restaurants and fun things to do – check out the Lincoln Park Zoo​ or see a Chicago Symphony​ performance. Get a taste of what it’ll be like to go to school here.

Perhaps most importantly, be prepared for your audition.

Your entrance audition is your chance to show the DePaul faculty just how talented you are, so be prepared! At this point, you should be practicing every day for at least a couple of hours. Play your audition materials for anyone who will listen. Record yourself all the time. Take lessons with different teachers (even better – take lessons at the schools you are applying to!). The audition plays a huge role in decisions about admission and financial aid, so make sure you are putting your best foot forward.

Lastly, if you have questions, please ask!

During the audition weekends, DePaul hires current students to help make sure things run smoothly – don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Have a question about a program? Ask. Don’t know where to go for lunch? Ask. All of our students are eager to help and share their experiences, so take advantage of it. You can also email the admissions office at musicadmissions@depaul.edu​ if you have application or scheduling questions.

I wish you all luck during the upcoming audition season – and for those of you not auditioning, perhaps send some good vibes to anyone you know who might be. The audition process may seem, and quite honestly IS, daunting, but it’s all worth it for the chance to pursue your passion – it was for me!


You Are Awesome

I remember being told that if I didn’t get A’s and B’s in school that meant I was a bad student. I remember being told that if I didn’t read, study, or act properly I would never succeed in life. I remember being told that I had to dress a certain way and talk a certain way in order to be taken seriously. These things I remember. I also remember the first novel franchise I ever became obsessed with, Captain Underpants.  

With mean old, grumpy Mr. Krupp becoming hypnotized by his students, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, Captain Underpants​ was created to save the world from various villains that threatened our existence. I took an instant liking to the novels written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. 

With the success of Captain Underpants, spinoffs were produced such as Super Diaper Baby​. It was no question that I would begin to read those as well, given Pilkey’s talent for entertaining writing. Then one day I decided to take another look at the first novel. Usually I would read a book from cover to cover then immediately jump to the next one, indulging in a sort of pre-Netflix binge of literature. However, this time I went to one of the final pages and saw a picture of a man with text just below the image. It was Dav Pilkey and the text was a message to the reader. I cannot recall the full excerpt but what I do remember is the excitement I felt when I read that Dav Pilkey was not really a “good” student and that his teachers told him he would not succeed. 

This changed my world. It is a lesson that I have kept with me ever since that day. We are all unique in our own way and no matter what any teacher, boss, friend, or ex-friend says, in the end all we can do is be ourselves. 

It was not the end of the world if I got anything lower than a B. The teachers that doubted me were wrong because here I am today at a world-class university achieving and succeeding every single day. 

Who would have known that a superhero running around in his underpants would have taught me so much?


Surviving Night Class

As a night owl, I THRIVE during night classes. All of the synapsis are firing in my brain and my focus is on point. Fortunately, a night class is necessary for me because I’ve found that it frees up so many daytime hours that could be used to work and rack in extra cash. I am a slave to the dollar. Some people avoid night classes their entire academic career, but sometimes luck is not on your side and a required class is only offered in the evening. Anyway, I thought I would take this time to share some of the tips and tricks I have noticed about conquering night classes if academia after 6:00pm is not your thing.​

1. Bring snacks. Dear Lord, bring snacks. Nobody like a grumbling tummy and nobody wants to see you hangry. All of the night classes I have taken have been over 2 hours long which means a lil somthin’ somthin’ is necessary. Avoid loud snacks like super crunchy things or a noisy bag. That can become distracting OR you might be forced to share your noms. I always make the mistake of bringing carrots to the library, but I feel no shame because I need my vitamins okay?

2. Change your outlook and look on the bright side. Night class usually means it’s just one very long class a week instead of two short classes! This means fewer trips to campus and more time for you throughout the week.​

3. Wear something comfortable! It’s college...it’s nighttime. Nobody really cares if you wear sweatpants or not. Trust me, you’re not going to want to sit in your extremely tight high waisted jeans for 3 hours.

4. Look at the weather a day in advance. This tip mostly applies for people commuting to school. Sometimes I arrive to class on a hot day and by the time the sun goes down it’s cold as heck and I’m freezing on my walk home. Be prepared, y’all. It makes the week go by so much smoother.

5. Try to reverse your homework schedule for that day. Instead of waiting until after class just do some homework or readings in the morning. It might feel weird at first, but it’s an adjustment that will make your life easier in the long run. 

I hope some of these are helpful to you all! I really love taking night classes so if you are apprehensive at first, just give it a try and you’ll see for yourself how much more time you’ll have to work or do an extra-curricular. ​


The Return: Back at It Again

The thought of beginning my eighth quarter at DePaul University fills me with nostalgia, a dash of anxiety, and a whole lot of excitement. With three quarters until I graduate, senioritis looms large on the horizon, but just far enough away to be ignored. So while I wait for the inevitable, I might as well suit up and give another quarter everything I’ve got.

This quarter, my class load is a tad bit unusual. It’s like having eggs benedict for dinner, or eating ice cream in the winter -- while it is refreshingly different, it is different nonetheless. Excuse my food references, as one of my new year’s resolutions is to become a master chef by the end of 2016. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, which I’m assuming will be noticed through a surplus of extravagant and delicious food metaphors sprinkled across my blogs.

I’ve decided to take two night classes, a half-credit Friday morning class at 9:00 a.m., and to complete my senior thesis. This, combined with interning three full days a week, nannying on weekends, and dedicating myself to the culinary arts, is sure to keep me busy and on the verge of insanity, which is perhaps my favorite state of being.

In the next ten weeks, I hope to accomplish a few tasks that will help me to set up the future (fingers crossed) success of the rest of my 2016. I’ll share them with you for accountability and potential inspiration:

  • Complete my senior thesis. While a 50 page research paper seems daunting, I’ve got two professors by my side, an amazing library, two years of research experience, and 70 days...how hard can it be?

  • Apartment hunting 2.0. As my lease expires this August, it’s never too early to start the apartment hunt. While I love the Lakeview area, I’m open to moving somewhere else for more space and a better price. Is this possible? I’ll let you know.

  • Obtain a summer internship. Coveted summer internships go on the market now. Look in Spring and you might just be too late. I suggest you visit our career center for guidance, resume help, and free pens. I know I will!

  • Reconnect with friends. Sometimes it can be hard to balance it all, and this quarter, I won’t let my busy schedule get the best of me. Resigning from the DePaulia has given me my Fridays back, and it is about time that I use Fridays to re-energize and reconnect with the people who matter most.

  • Write and read more. I used to be an avid reader and writer, but now I have reserved my two former obsessions for school and work. But no longer! It’s time to take reading and writing back!

So here are my hopes and dreams for the next ten weeks. I hope the new year brings you good fortune!


Happy New Year!

​​​​​Happy New Year, Readers!
Though I had every intention to write some new blogs over the last seven weeks, I’ve been busier than ever with the end of student teaching, clinics and getting home for the holidays.  As we are quickly diving into a new year, I figured now would be a great time to give you a few updates about what I’ve been up to since Thanksgiving.

DePaul’s fall quarter concluded right before Thanksgiving, however I continued student teaching for another three weeks once I returned from spending the holiday in Maine. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was required to student teach for 16 weeks – 4 full months – to obtain a k-12 teaching license, for which I had to give up about half of my winter break. While most of my friends were catching up on sleep, work and their social lives, I continued to get up at 5am and drag myself to school every day.  It was definitely a struggle to stay motivated, but I did it! In the final week I conducted my first concert ever and was sad to say goodbye to the students I’d make connections with during my time in both teaching placements.

Before heading home again for the remainder of my winter break, I had the opportunity to experience two really neat things in the city. The first was a concert held by DePaul called Christmas at DePaul​ - It is so awesome! It’s a collaborative concert between the DePaul Music School​, Theatre School​ and the St. Vincent de Paul church​ on campus. The university hires current students and alumni from the music school to perform in a giant orchestra with a chorus of over 200 members. Christmas at DePaul really gets me in the spirit of the holidays with several Christmas carols and a reminder of the real importance of the holiday, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to attend the last couple years. Due to the concert’s growing popularity, tickets are free and distributed through a lottery. I’ve been very fortunate to have a friend in the orchestra who has been able to give me complimentary tickets, but you can bet I’d have put my name in the lottery if I had to!

"Christmas at DePaul", St. Vincent de Paul Parish

I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwest International Band Clinic​ before leaving the city. This clinic brings in hundreds of world-famous clinicians and performers to hold master classes for anyone interested in teaching band. They also have a huge exhibit hall where you can try instruments, talk with various band-supporting companies and purchase all kinds of books and equipment. The Midwest Clinic​ is one of the highlights of my year and I’ll share more about it with you later.

My winter break has come to an end, but I’m grateful for the time I had with my family and friends back in my hometown. I’m feeling refreshed and renewed – and aside from feeling glad to be done student teaching, I’m feeling ready for more knowledge and more experiences. Even though I’m nearly done with my time at DePaul, the gift of becoming hungry for knowledge and my desire to be the best teacher I can possibly​​ be are things that will stick with me forever – and for that I will always be grateful to DePaul and my professors.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season – I’m looking forward to sharing more of my DePaul experiences with you in 2016!​


Being a Blue Demon

The days are long but the years are short. I find myself balancing the daily life of a college student, oblivious to the time passing. I wake up, get ready, grab coffee, take the train to the Loop​, and head to class. It is a routine, it is my schedule. 

As I reflect on my college life thus far, I remember when I was a freshman taking my first steps on campus following the student orientation leader like it was yesterday. I was excited, apprehensive, and even a bit scared. I was entering a new world transitioning from high school to college. 

Fast forward, now I am a junior. I am in several different organizations with leadership positions in two of them. I’ve been on retreats with my fellow peers, participated in DePaul’s dance marathon (DemonTHON​), planned and coordinated events for the DePaul Activities Board​, and more. It has been, and still is, an experience I will remember for years to come. When I think and reflect on the person I am and the values I hold dear, my four years at DePaul will be a major aspect of that. As the days fly by and I continue to go about my routine, oblivious to the time passing, I am convinced more and more every day that I made the right decision by becoming a Blue Demon.

Thank you for reading my blog, and as always, stay awesome.


Introduction to BA/MA

​​​​​For a long time, I never imagined myself getting a degree past my bachelor’s. I had no interest in it and I just didn’t feel it was for me. While I was studying abroad in Madrid last fall​, I became fascinated by Spain’s transition to democracy​. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to continue my education and get my master’s in I​nternational Studies​. When I began researching different master’s programs, I found out that DePaul had recently begun offering a combined bachelor’s/master’s program in International Studies​. In February, I applied for the program. It was the best move I ever made. In June of 2016, I will be complete my bachelor’s. In June of 2017, I will complete my master’s. And I’m so pumped about it.

Combined BA/MA programs are relatively new in the grand scheme of higher education. You can see the ever-growing list of DePaul’s BA/MA programs here​ (they’re the ones with the asterisks). The conventional path to a master’s usually takes six years: four years to earn your bachelor’s and another two to earn your master’s. At DePaul, the BA/MA programs allow you to complete both your bachelor’s and your master’s within five years. On top of that, the BA/MA program cuts the cost of a master’s almost in half!

In my BA/MA program, the BA/MA students and the regular master’s students have the same class requirements. The difference is the distribution of those classes. During the two years of a regular master’s program, a full course load is generally two classes per quarter. Right now, during the senior year of my undergrad, I will be taking one graduate class and three undergraduate classes each quarter. Next year, I’ll be taking three graduate classes each quarter. So while it’s a shorter program, it is definitely more intense.

On the left is the cost for each year of the conventional master's program. On the right is the cost for the year (plus a summer) of the BA/MA program.

If you’re thinking about going for your master’s, but the price is intimidating you, I would definitely suggest looking into the BA/MA programs. The three graduate classes that I take this year are covered by my undergraduate tuition (and the credits go towards both my bachelor’s and my master’s). But that’s not even the best part. The real MVP is the Double Demon Scholarship​. Before I met with my advisor, I had never heard of the Double Demon Scholarship in my life. Don’t let the ridiculous name fool you. It’s pretty amazing. If you went to DePaul for your undergrad, and you’re coming back for a graduate program, you receive 25% off all of your graduate credits. So not only am I getting twelve graduate credits included in my undergraduate tuition, but the rest of my credits are discounted.

How much does that actually change the cost? The conventional two-year master’s program in International Studies at DePaul will cost $32,552. For me to earn my master’s through the BA/MA program, I will pay $18,503. That’s a savings of $14,049, not to mention a year of my time (which is priceless, as everyone who knows me will tell you).

Right now, I’m loving the program. All the International Studies grad classes are held at night, so it has been really easy to schedule around (especially since night classes only meet once per week). It’s definitely a new level of stress to be balancing the requirements of three undergrad classes and a grad class at the same time. But to me, a little extra stress is worth saving the money and time.


Master's Program at DePaul

I can NOT believe I am already a quarter into my junior year. As a junior, some people think it is nuts that I am still questioning my major. Although I am not looking to switch from my major of Communication & Media, I am still trying to find my place within it. Knowing about the options that DePaul has to offer is the first step!!

Within the last few years I have developed a passion for the health industry. Although I do not see myself as a nurse or a doctor, I do see myself working within the health field as more of a public health administrator and a member of a non-profit organization. That being said, this year I declared a minor in public health in order to understand the industry a little more. Luckily, the Communication field is HUGE and intertwines with every profession. This can be scary to some students if they do not narrow down their focus. For a student like me who has started to narrow down her focus within her major, it is a wise idea to look at the combined Bachelor’s/Master programs that DePaul has to offer.

The College of Communication offers a handful of combined degrees! This is mostly for successful students who are interested in earning a Bachelor’s AND Master’s degree in a 5 year total span. I am not 100% sure I am going to apply for any of these programs, but I do think it is important to keep in mind that college doesn’t have to be a 4 year experience. The program I am most interested in is definitely Health Communication. Other programs that are offered are Communication & Media, Digital Communication & Media Arts, Journalism, PR & Advertising. These programs are pretty time sensitive, so if I am serious about trying to get accepted I should get. on. it.

The idea really intrigues me, but naturally I’m going to make a pros and cons list to verbalize my feelings on either postponing grad school or jumping right in!

PROS of waiting: a chance to save up money, time to grow and further evaluate my options, time to travel and work in the field to gain more hands on experience.

CONS of waiting: it WILL be hard to get back into the groove of going back to school after time off, might be harder to get into school because the industry could change by the time I decide, what if things happen in my romantic life and can’t go back to school due to children or other responsibilities. 

OK SO there are a lot of “what ifs” f​​loating around my brain. If you foresee yourself in the same boat as me definitely talk to an advisor from the program you are interested in. There is no hurt in taking a few hours out of your day to learn about a possible avenue of life. I have my advising meeting later next week so I will let you know! :) 


A New Home for the School of Music

​​​​​This past week, an exciting announcement was made: The construction of a new School of Music ​building has begun! There has been talk of this new, state-of-the-art building for a couple years – though due to funding the project has been delayed until now. There is a lot of excitement amongst students, faculty and staff who have been anticipating this for quite some time. As prospective DePaul students, especially if you’re interested in the School of Music, there are a few things you should know.

1. There is going to be a lot of construction.

Though the School of Music building and the concert hall will remain standing, the building that sits parallel to N. Halsted st. (also known as McGaw Hall) will be demolished in January. The parking lot that exists now will no longer be available, as crews will need the space for construction. You can see a construction timeline here​.

2. You will have a place to practice.

Another reason why construction has not begun until now is because crews have been renovating a building on campus for us to use during this time. Don’t worry! It’s only a short walk to the Annex (the previous home of the Theatre School) from the School of Music. Students will be able to practice from 8am-9pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends. Need more time? You’ll be able to head over to the O’Connell building to practice between 9pm-12am. There are also practice rooms under the DePaul concert hall and many professors allow you to sign out their studio rooms. Getting your daily scales and etudes in won’t be a problem.

3. You’ll take the same classes and same lessons with our amazing faculty.

Though facilities certainly are an important element in choosing a college, I think the faculty and programs available trump buildings. Regardless of the construction and renovations, you’ll still be taking lessons and classes with the same esteemed faculty.

This is a sketch of what the new building will look like!
4. It will be worth the wait.

This new building will have four different performance spaces, designed specifically for our DePaul ensembles. A 505-seat concert hall, a 76-seat jazz hall with a “club” vibe and two recital halls; a 140-seater and a 81-seater to provide students with the best possible setting to showcase their talents. Brand-new studios, practice spaces and classrooms are also in the plans. I heard from a reliable source that there will be five whole classrooms and storage space just for the music education department – how amazing is that?!

The musicians, faculty and staff​ are what make the DePaul School of Music special. Though you will have a beautiful, new facility at some point during your time at DePaul, it’s the people inside who make your education worthwhile.  This period of construction is a small price to pay for the outstanding space that will help to showcase the extraordinary musicians (including you!) who attend DePaul.

If you’d like more information about construction, FAQs and facility facts, click here​.


Ace That Essay!

​​​​​It’s getting to be that time of quarter again: finals. I don’t know about you, but every single one of my finals for this quarter is an essay. That's why I've already started stress eating. No matter how many essays you’ve written (and I’ve written my fair share), the process of writing an essay can be tricky. And if you’re a freshman, your first college essay can be particularly daunting. In anticipation of the stress of finals, I’ve compiled a list of my tips to writing an essay:

1. Turn It Off

Everyone who knows me knows about my laughable attention span. So naturally, the hardest thing to do is to get away from distractions. I physically gravitate towards distractions, so this just kills me. Sometimes you really need to get work done and the Candy Crush​ request notifications just won't stop. There have been times when I have had to take extreme measures. I have (in order of insanity): turned off my phone, taken the batteries out of my remote, placed my phone on the other side of my room, and at my lowest moment, I even turned off my WiFi. But I got my work done, and that's what is important.

A relic from my freshman year, evident by the cringeworthy hashtags. I've known the struggle of essay writing all too well, as you can see. (Also, feel free to follow me if you're so inclined.)

2. Spread It Out

No, I’m not one of those annoying people who believe that you should write “a paragraph a day” or any of that nonsense. Honestly, I have yet to meet someone who actually does that. I am very much someone who has to write an entire paper at once. Nevertheless, I still spread my work out. How? One day, I might pick my topic and find some sources. Another day, I might outline my argument. Then, usually at the last moment, I write the paper. No matter what, I know I will put off the actual writing until the last second, so anything I can do in advance to prepare just makes my life easier. Try different ways of dividing the work and see what works best for you!

3. Phone A Friend

As my poor friend Joanna can tell you, I’m a talker. I talk all of my ideas out. Unfortunately for her, she’s always around when I have an epiphany about my thesis, so she is routinely forced to listen to me go over my argument. If you're struggling with a concept or you’re not sure if you're making sense, try to talk it out with your friends (especially if they’re in the class too!). Most of the time, they will be able to tell you where you’re going wrong or give you suggestions.

Disclaimer: Not all friends are made the same and it's up to you to pick one who will make your paper better, not worse.

4. Ask an Expert

If you’re struggling up a storm (we’ve all been there), you can make an appointment to meet with a Writing Center​ tutor. They can help you with almost anything you need. If you’re trying to clarify or strengthen an argument, write your thesis statement, fix grammar, or whatever, they can go over your essay with you. They won’t write it for you, but they can help you every step of the way.  And for the record, they can even help with papers for foreign language classes! 

5. Go to the Source

The most obvious and most underutilized resource you have: your professor. If there is something you don’t understand about your assignment, you can’t pick a topic, or you just need a little guidance, no one can help you more than your professor. DePaul professors are usually really good about being open and available for questions. Obviously, this varies from professor to professor. I’ve had professors who were only willing to meet during office hours or who wouldn’t reply to emails on weekends. I’ve also had professors who hand out their home phone number and tell students not to hesitate to call if they ever have any question. One of my professors even came in on a weekend to meet with me. No matter what, professors are there to help and want you to do your best, so don’t be afraid to talk to them!

I’m getting ready to write a ton of essays for my finals, so if you have any more tips, let me know!​


Why I Chose DePaul

The most common question I hear when I tell people that I’m from Maine is, “Why come to Chicago?” 

When I was in high school, I was one of those go-getter types. I wanted to be a part of everything and experience as much as I could; honors societies, science club, team sports, music in and out of school, and mission trips were only some of the things I was involved in during those four years. When it came time to apply to college, I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and get out of the New England bubble that I'd known my whole life. I wanted a college that was going to challenge me in my music and academic studies, provide networking opportunities and help me become the best musician and person I could be – and not to mention, give me a big, new place to explore!

I initially favored DePaul for two reasons: it’s in a big city and it offered me the most financial aid. My first visit DePaul was also my first time in Chicago, and I was in love with the big city vibe! Though not directly downtown, I thought it was so cool that I could hop on a train and be right in the middle of the 3rd biggest city in the country in less than 15 minutes. DePaul also offered me a great amount of financial aid…as a music student I was considered for both academic and talent scholarship awards. Though the scholarships now come as one combine package, (meaning, students receive one lump sum of scholarship instead of two different scholarships), audition performance and high school academics both still affect financial aid for music students.

After doing a little more research on DePaul’s offerings, reputation, and mission I was completely sold. In the school of music specifically, several of the faculty members play in the various symphony orchestras and other high-achieving ensembles (Chicago Symphony, for example!). Check out the DePaul Facu​lty pages​ if you want to know more. DePaul also offers several different performing ensembles​: two orchestras, two choirs, one wind ensemble, jazz bands and combos and many other smaller ensembles. There is never shortage of performance opportunities around here. When I made the switch from performance to music education​, I was sold all over again with a future of studying with inspirational educators, working in local schools and being able to student teach in some of the best schools in Illinois. (Not to mention – my advisor specializes in social justice in education, which is something I’m really passionate about)

DePaul is a Vincentian school and I’m passionate about the commitment to social justice and community support. You can read more about DePaul’s Vincentian identity here​. In short, St. Vincent de Paul asked the question, “What must be done?” to help those in need, and DePaul does as much as possible to continue this mission through service to the surrounding community. DePaul has several organizations that help students find volunteer opportunities, such as DePaul Community Service Association​.

Though I often miss my family, easy access to the beach and eating cheap lobster, I will never regret choosing DePaul for my college education. DePaul has prepared me to be a great teacher and person; and for that I will always be grateful!


Women's Health at DePaul

Since I’m in the school of Communication, I am required to take one science lab for my general education requirements. I have waited 3 years to get it out of the way because I assumed doing anything science related was going to destroy my GPA…boy, was I wrong.

I enrolled in Women’s Health this year for my science lab and it takes the cake for my favorite class I’ve ever taken. Sadly, it takes up my ENTIRE Monday with class from 1-3 AND 6-9, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for how much I’ve learned about my biological self.

During this course I have been able to look at the health care industry through a feminist lens and recognize that women’s health is much more than having different reproductive organs. In fact, it was only in the last 15 years that the medical world starting researching about the vast differences in health outcomes between men and women.

Interesting facts:

Woman listen to both sides of their brain! Most men show brain activity exclusively on the left side (typically associated with listening and speech), while most women show activity on the right side as well (associated with creativity and expressiveness). 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the US. Women are usually under-diagnosed to the point where it is too late to help them when the condition worsens. 

There are customary stages of experiencing heart pain— uncertainty, denial, seeking help from a friend or family member, recognition of the severity of symptoms, seeking medical attention, and finally, acceptance—but the difference for women was they spent more time in the denial period and were more likely to wait for friends or family to notice they were unwell, instead of approaching them with the problem.

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during her life-time

This course has made it obvious that I need to practice effective health-seeking/prevention behavior. I have started taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements to avoid osteoporosis because I do NOT need to be any frailer than I already am. Seriously, the wind pushes me to the ground. I have also taken up yoga as a form of exercise.

Not all general education requirements are a drag and this class proved it me because now I have a positive attitude towards science, technology, and math. Who would’ve known?​


MAP Grants

It is no secret that the cost of higher education is absurd. Luckily, there are many scholarship programs and grants at DePaul that can help students cover the costs. Education is truly an investment and it’s promising to see that our university is dedicated to helping students attend DePaul.

Outside of DePaul, the Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grants to Illinois students that demonstrate financial need. These grants do not need to be repaid and many DePaul students rely on them to attend our university.


DePaul Computer Screens

Unfortunately, the state of Illinois has not passed an annual budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, meaning that MAP grants are up in the air. 


While this situation is scary for many students who rely on the MAP grant, we as students can have our voices heard. Student Government Association and our school’s president Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider have been encouraging students to contact our state representatives and governor’s office to urge them to fund MAP now. 


If you believe in giving students financial help to attend college, I also encourage you to call.

​• Governor Bruce Rauner’s office may be reached by calling: (312) 814-2121 or (217) 782-0244. You may also leave a comment on his website here​.

• Using your zip code, you may find your state representative and his or her office phone number h​ere​.

I have already made some calls and plan to continue to do so. Every call counts and it’s important to have your voice heard. 


Spread the word and make a difference! 


Student Teaching - Half Way Done!

I recently hit the half-way point in my student teaching! Just to provide you with a little more information, music education students teach for 16 weeks – which is divided into two 8-week long sessions. For all other education majors, student teaching only lasts 10 weeks (which is exactly one quarter at DePaul). The reason why music students have longer teaching experiences is because our certification is grades K-12, while others are certified to teach specific age groups. I began teaching 4th-8th grade band August, and although I had a great experience, I’m excited to be heading to a high school to complete my next 8 weeks of teaching.​

Also this past week, I submitted my edTPA portfolio to the state of Illinois.  edTPA​ is a newly mandated teacher assessment tool that is now required for all teacher candidates who are applying for a teaching license in Illinois (there are quite a few other states doing this, too!). If you might be interested in becoming a teacher, edTPA will become a very familiar term to you! The portfolio is made up of three major “tasks” that prompt the teacher candidate to explain their processes of planning lessons, teaching the lessons and assessing the students. For example, my portfolio was based on an 8th grade saxophone sectional, where I planned all the lessons, taught all the lessons and then assessed the students on the material we covered. Though the process of edTPA can seem daunting, its purpose is to help us plan, teach and assess with greater attention to details so we can be the best teachers possible! The DePaul College of Education​ has done a great job providing students with the tools and resources we need to pass the edTPA. I should know what my score is in the next two weeks, and as long as I score a 35 out of 75 points, I will be applying to be a real-life teacher in no time!​

In the past 8 weeks, I have learned the following things about middle school students:

- Most of them have at least one shoe lace untied, and they like it that way.

- They talk using their "outdoor" voice 95% of the time.

- They ask questions that they already know the answer to, such as, “Do I have band today?” when they have band every day of the week every week.

- They are insanely creative, and need more opportunities to express themselves at school.

In the program I was teaching, all students used Noteflight at least three days a week. Noteflight is a web-based composing program that offers school memberships that allow students to create their own work, review the work of others and submit assignments to the teacher. Students in my classes were composing melodies and pieces that even I would struggle to write – and I’ve studied music theory! I loved seeing the students fully engaged in writing their own music, and their creativity was truly inspiring.

Though I know high school will be different in many ways, (they most likely won’t give me as many hugs on my last day), I’m looking forward to the new challenges I will face. 

If you want a true glimpse into the kinds of things middle school band students say, watch the video below. It is the most accurate I’ve ever seen and describes my experience perfectly.​

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My Current Show: Joe Turner's Come and Gone

As a Theatre major, life can prove to be extremely busy. While all college students have a lot on their plates, juggling classes and work and enjoying the social life of college, theatre students at DePaul seem to have a unique kind of schedule and academic experience. Lately I have been running from classes to rehearsals to study sessions, not really finding a moment to take a breath. However I have really been loving the projects I am working on at the moment. I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you all about the show I am currently working on here at The Theatre School.

As an acting major, you are required to perform in various productions during your time here, and are even evaluated for a grade. The goal is to gain experience performing, learn from these experiences, and also apply what we have been learning in acting classes to actual performance. Junior year is the first time that we have the opportunity to audition for the mainstage productions. I am so excited to be working on my first Mainstage here at TTS, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone!

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson is an American drama set in 1911 Pittsburgh.  Written by legendary African American playwright, August Wilson, this story is one of a cycle of plays Wilson wrote to catalog the black experience in America in each decade of the 20th century. The action takes place in a boarding house in Pittsburgh, and we see the interactions of the various characters who meet there, on their journey through life in America post-slavery.  It is an intense story about finding each other, and finding ourselves as a culture and as individuals.

Joe Turner Poster
Here is the show poster! 

This show has been so fun to work on, and not to mention so rewarding and inspiring. The production is a rarity for The Theatre School, as there is a nearly all black cast, performing in a show written by an amazing black playwright, directed by the only black female performance faculty member, with stage management and design teams who also include POC. Diversity and representation in schools and in the arts is so important, and as a woman of color, it is such a gift to me to be able to be a part of a show that is exploring, celebrating and showcasing my own culture and the complexity of human life.  I am currently sharing the stage with many MFA (graduate student) actors, as well as other BFA (undergraduate) actors as well. And it has been such a learning experience just watching my peers work as well.

This show opens November 6th and runs until November 15th. Student tickets are only $5 for any show. If you’re already a student at DePaul, or are in the area I highly recommend seeing this show! For more information about this show, tickets, or our 2 other mainstages currently in performance, Esperanza Rising in the Merle Reskin Theatre downtown, and The Lady from the Sea in the Healy Theatre on campus, please visit  The Theatre School website.​

 


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DePaul’s Shopping Week via Course Cart

A very common question among incoming students is, “What kind of classes will I be taking at DePaul?” In preparation for your first quarter on campus your schedule will be chosen at Orientation alongside an academic advisor who will guide you through every point, click, and submit button. For all quarters after Orientation you’ll always have the option to meet with your advisor in person or ask those questions via email, but most of the schedule making process will be put in your hands! Campus Connect is DePaul’s online hub for MANY things, Course Cart being one of them.

About two weeks before your enrollment time (a day and time you’re assigned each quarter where you can official begin to register for classes for the next quarter) the infamous Course Cart will open. Once Course Cart opens current students can see all the classes in every single subject that will be offered including meeting days, times, and professors (if they’ve already been assigned).

It’s easy to get lost looking at all the interesting classes DePaul has to offer, so I usually start building my Course Cart from my Degree Progress Report (DPR). In every major there will be a specific set courses you will be required to take. As an education major my required courses have covered planning, assessment, and teaching strategies. The rest of your classes will be made up of liberal studies learning domains and elective credits. Elective credits are a great place to add a double major or minor. Learning domains on the other hand are a great way to learn about things you’re interested in, but don’t necessarily want to commit to for a major or minor. Although my major is Secondary Education, I have the equivalent of a minor in Political Science and have applied a few of my learning domains to Digital Cinema courses.

The DPR (shown to the right) breaks down all of the requirements that will be specific to your degree plan. When you click on the blue hyperlinks a window appears that will tell you all the courses you can take fulfill the specific requirement and the quarter in which each course will be offered. If the class sounds interesting after reading the course description you’re just a few clicks away from adding to your course cart. Keep in mind that your Course Cart is just like your Amazon cart. By adding a class to it you’re not committing to it yet. So go ahead and load it up with everything that sounds interesting. Just don’t forget to run the final 12-18 credits you decide on by your advisor to make sure you’re on track before your enrollment date!


The Magic of Interpersonal Communcation

In my experience, flip flopping majors in college has been a weekly experience. I switched out of AND THEN back into the Communication school a whopping total of 3 times.

Why did I switch? I think it was a mix of fear and confusion. Will it happen again? I hope not. The point is, I am happy in the Communication school and am slowly but surely finding my niche in the career world. Along the journey of acquiring a degree, I have found myself being pushed out of my comfort zone in my Interpersonal Communication class.

Interpersonal Communication is a course that really narrows in on what shapes communication between two people. Topics range from self-concept, conflict struggles, and nonverbal communication. Sometimes I feel like some people don’t take a Communication degree as serious as a Business or Economics degree, but I am here to tell you that after all my schooling so far I have realized that proper communication is at the core of human relations. A business cannot function if they do not have the fundamentals of communication covered.

I think we all share a drive to communicate, regardless of if we see ourselves as introverted or extroverted. That being said, this course really pushed the students to learn how to communicate assertively and confidently. Ever since I entered college I have had an insane fear of public speaking. I can totally hold a great conversation in a small group of new people, but when it comes to standing up in front of a crowd….NOPE. This came as a surprise to me because I always thought of myself as an extroverted person. I mean, I was voted “Most Likely to Host a TV Show” in middle school.

I’m not sure what changed inside of me to make me such a nervous person nowadays, but Interpersonal Communication is giving me the tools to enhance my confidence in an interpersonal context.

Listening is also a HUGE part of communication. Less than 2% of people have had any formal education on how to listen properly. We have been learning how to shut of our internal noise in our own brains in order to listen more effectively. Fun fact: we listen at a rate of 125-250 words per minute, but we think at 1000-3000 words per minute.

Regardless of whatever career you go into, effective communication will create positivity in your profession AND personal lives.

Click this link ​below to see an infographic on how communication has transformed through the ages. Sharing ideas and thoughts has happened since the beginning of human life! Enjoy!


Bernadette the Movie

Coming soon to a theater, school, and city near you! Bernadette the movie finished production this past summer and has a target release date of spring 2016. 

Professors John Psathas and Patrick Wimp ventured to create a feature length film utilizing the skill of DePaul students and the opportunity provided by CDM’s (College of Digital Media) Project Bluelight. 

With a dedicated student crew, John Psathas, director and producer, and Patrick Wimp, director of photography traveled all around Illinois to create the perfect suburb for their coming of age comedy. Taking full advantage of local Chicago actors as well as students from the DePaul Theatre School, the teaser for Bernadette has been played over 8,000 times with the Facebook page being just shy of 2,000 likes. Several articles mentioning the film have been released through various news outlets such as The DePaulia​, Reel Chicago​, and the Chicago Tribune​. The film is now in the post-production phase but behind the scenes photos, witty statuses, and other content is being released on their social media sites frequently, keeping fans of the film engaged until the premiere. To keep track of the film follow and check out the links below.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/131947745

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BernadetteMovie

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bernadettethemovie/

 As always, thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did working on it. It is a great display of the talent here at DePaul University and an even better display of what good collaborations can create.​


T.E.A.M.

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T.E.A.M., an acronym I learned at an early age, stands for “Together Everyone Accomplishes More.” Teams are important in life because they help everyone go further than they could ever go alone. With a group working in unity to accomplish a common goal, there are no limits. I’m a firm believer in teams, I have been taught my whole life that it is essential to work together in order to get things done.

I attended a Digital Cinema Collaborative (DCC) event just last week. We had first year students (and others that were interested in getting more involved with the film community) ask mentors about anything they wanted to know. There was one question that stuck out to me: “How would someone that wants to make a movie go about starting it?” Mentors then began answering the student with various responses about the process, planning, etc. Finally, it was suggested to the student to not be afraid to ask others for help. Proud of the DCC mentors, I related to that response the most. 

I often think about how many times we need help. It could be with homework, working out, or our car. Asking for help can often be a scary thing and I know I have personally shied away from requesting others assistance in a time of need. Yet, it is something so crucial to our existence.  

Sports consist of teams, companies consist of teams, and even our world is a team. We see others in need and we help them, or we have a vision and a goal and inspire a group to fulfill it. When people work together and do their role we see giant skyscrapers built, World Series or Stanley Cup championships won, humans on the moon, and progress for a better tomorrow. Indeed as a team, united as one, no task becomes too great and no challenge can overcome us. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand." Let’s work side by side for a common goal because together everyone accomplishes more.

Thank you for reading my blog, and as always, stay awesome!

Picking My Major (And My Master's)

When I was little, I dreamed of being either a chemist or the next Brad Pitt. Turns out that I hated math and that I have a slightly more chubby build than Brad Pitt. So both of those were a bust. While in middle school, I started to become a little more realistic in my career aspirations, telling people about all the work I would do as a lawyer with the  ACLU​ (there’s literally an article in the local newspaper with a quote from me describing how I plan on going into tort reform or immigration law). This idea lasted until I read a random article about the overabundance of lawyers and panicked that I would end up like Warner at the end of Legally Blonde​: single and without any job offers.

The result is that going into my freshman year of college, like tons of students, I had no clue what I wanted to study. Having taken six years of Spanish throughout middle school and high school, I figured that I would just continue studying Spanish and get my degree in that. After a quick talk with my Honors academic advisor, I discovered that my (alleged) proficiency in Spanish meant that in order to fulfill my foreign language requirement for the Honors Program​I would either have to pick up another foreign language or pick up a second major.
Look at Freshman Willy! Vanessa (now the president of Student Government Association) and me on the El during our first week of our freshman year.

Not wanting to confuse myself with another foreign language, I chose to take on a second major, despite having no clue what that major would be. At the suggestion of my advisor, I took some sociology classes, but I quickly realized it just wasn’t for me. One night, after scrolling through the majors offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences​ while having a marathon of all four of the Halloweentown​ movies, I made the rash decision to declare a major in International Studies​.

I don’t know why I chose International Studies. I didn’t really know anything about the major and I didn’t know anyone else who was in the program. To be honest, I was just lazy and wanted to be done with picking my second major.

After the first meeting of my first International Studies class, I was pretty sure I could not have made more wrong of a choice. I was super intimidated by everyone and felt so out of place. I was tempted to drop the major right then and there, but my pride got the best of me and I decided to stick it out for the rest of the quarter. At the end of the quarter, I had made so many friends in the International Studies department that I decided to take one more class to prove to myself that it wasn’t the right major for me (that makes total sense, right?).

I walked into that second class prepared to drop International Studies and pick a new major. I had been looking at possible new majors the night before. By the end of the first week of the second class, I couldn’t remember ever wanting to drop. I was calling my parents and telling them that the major was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

Two years later, I’ve just started the 5-year BA/MA program in International Studies. The BA/MA program is an accelerated program that allows me to get both my bachelor’s and my master’s within five years. Instead of completing my bachelor's in four years and spending another two on my master's, I start taking graduate classes during the senior year of my undergraduate career. Basically, I eliminate the second year of graduate school. Not only do I save that much time, but the graduate classes I take during my senior year are included in my undergraduate tuition and I get a 25% discount on the other grad classes because I also will have completed my bachelor's at DePaul (and you know I love to save money). 

The moral of the story is that if you're trying to find the right major for you, keep looking. I promise it's out there. And if you already have found the perfect major for you, push yourself and go as far as you can with it! And if your program offers a 5-year BA/MA, do it (it's a pretty solid deal).


Welcome Back!

The warm, relaxing nights have now passed and the days are starting to become colder. Starbucks has begun their Pumpkin Spice Latte season and Chicago gets ready to say goodbye to yet another summer. 

There’s always something happening on our quad!
Hello fellow Blue Demons and welcome to another new year of school, the third year in my college saga. With three years here at DePaul under my belt, I find it helpful to pass on a bit of advice to get the year started on a good note. 

Make sure to get involved! 
One of the greatest resources available to DePaul students is OrgSync. OrgSync is where students can find information on all clubs at DePaul.

Try new things!
With so many different opportunities on campus, your choices seem almost unlimited. Don’t see a club you would like to have? Make it! I’ve had several friends that have all kick started their own organizations this year including:  DePaul Eats, Doctor Who Club, DePaul Directs. You can read about more student organizations here​

Become close with your professor!
Professors are awesome here at DePaul, they come early to class and stay after class to talk. They will remember you more if you use them as the resource they are and might even help you out get into your field of interest.

As I sit here in the DePaul Activities Board office, I think of all the decisions I have made that led me to where I am now. The tips above, some provided by fellow friends, are all things that have changed my college experience here at DePaul. I’ll never forget seeing the theatre students perform during orientation. They asked questions like “Who am I? What do I want to do?” Being the cool high school graduate I was, I mistakenly found the skit to be cheesy and not appealing. Looking back to that moment now, I realize just how fitting it actually was. All those questions they asked were questions I was asking myself. The most important tip I would say is to be you.

Thank you for reading my blog, welcome back, and as always stay awesome!

A 20-Year-Old Senior Citizen

This year, I’m in limbo.

While it might appear that I’ve got all my ducks in a row – perhaps due to the new back to school watch on my left wrist, signaling that I always know the time – this honestly couldn’t be further from the truth.

To break it down for you, my watch is a “fashion watch.” Don’t fret if you don’t know the terminology because I just made it up to justify the fact that my watch, an object generally used for a utilitarian purpose, doesn’t tell time correctly. I learned this the hard way as I ran to class realizing that being early in fashion watch time meant being late in the time zone known as reality. Discount shopping is always hit or miss. 

Beyond my inability to tell time despite my new (fashion) watch, I have found myself already stumped by two questions presented to me in my classes. No, I wasn’t being asked the quadratic formula or in what year Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Nor was I asked who wrote “The Great Transformation” or what the scientific method is. The two daunting questions were as follows:

 1.)   What year in school are you?
 2.)   What do you want to do once you graduate? 

Clearly off to a great start in my classes, I “errr”ed and “umm”ed my way through my responses with the grace only a 20 year old millennial with a fashion watch that falsifies time can exhibit.

I acquiesce when professors make you introduce yourself to the class. It’s awkward as everyone digs around in the back of their minds for something remotely interesting about themselves. When put on the spot like that, I usually lie. Not on purpose, of course. But before I know it, my nonexistent skydiving experience leaves my mouth like hot lava spewing out of a volcano; unstoppable, unforgivable and dangerous.

As college credit from high school has saved me money, which I am very thankful for, I question if I am appreciative of the time it’s saving me. I’m a third year student at DePaul, but am set to graduate after next fall quarter (or possibly sooner). An odd time to enter the workforce and an odd situation to explain to a classroom full of people whom I’ve just met; hence, my confusion at the question, “What year in school are you?” As I debated being a junior or senior out loud to all of my peers and professor, I realized that I so don’t have it all together.

And then comes the second question, aka THE question that parents, coworkers, aunts, uncles and everyone else under the sun loves to ask young college students. I envy the people who explain detail for detail what they will do with the rest of their lives with a sense of precision and confidence that is reserved for talk show hosts like Oprah and Katie Couric.

Unfortunately, for me, my class was full of Oprahs and included a sprinkling of Courics. As my classmates described their aspirations to become lawyers and campaign organizers, policy makers and non-profit leaders, my fashion watch and I didn’t stand a chance. So we searched around for something exciting that might have been a stretch of the truth.

Instead, under the immense pressure of the question and the embarrassment of the preceding one, we said, “I’m just taking it day by day really. Trying to survive.” As I described my future as if I had a terminal illness, my professor gave me a half smile, pitying me and saying, “It’s okay. You’ll figure it out.” It was clear that school was back in session.

So here I am, buckling up for the long journey ahead and knowing that each step forward, or backward, at least means I’m moving.

Excited for the year ahead yet? I know I am. Just don’t ask me my year in school or what my future career is. Especially, don’t ask me the time.


DePaul University Psychology - Q&A with Sophia Odeh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reflecting on My First Year

​​​​​In honor of incoming freshman getting ready to go to orientation and start their first year at college, I thought I’d reflect on my experience at DePaul orientation and my first quarter at DePaul.

I took this picture on my way to DePaul’s orientation all the way back in 2012. I remember being so hungry and almost crying tears of joy when my orientation group went on a field trip to the bakery.
Three years ago, I was getting ready to step on DePaul’s campus for the first time. I (somewhat stupidly) never toured DePaul​ before officially enrolling, so orientation was the first time I ever actually got to see what the campus was like. I remember driving into Chicago that weekend, seeing the skyline, and not being able to believe that I would be going to school there for the next four years. Over the two-day orientation​, I enrolled for my first quarter of classes (I made the worst schedule ever and regretted it for the entire quarter), declared my first major, went to Sweet Mandy B's​ for the first time, attempted to figure out the layout of the campus, and made my first friend. Overall, I had a super successful orientation.

When I came back to DePaul to start school a month and a half later, I realized how much of a disaster I am on my own. DePaul's Lincoln Park campus is relatively small and ridiculously easy to navigate for 99% of people. The other 1% contains people like me, who have no intrinsic sense of direction. I got on campus and was instantly lost. Now, this had nothing to do with the layout of the campus or anything. I was 15 minutes late for every class on my first day of high school because I couldn’t find the classrooms (and my high school was a single one-level building). The campus is literally no bigger than eight square blocks, and my furthest class was only three blocks away, but I had to use Google Maps to get to my classes for the first two weeks. Bear Grylls gets dropped in the middle of a forest with no compass and finds his way out; I get placed in an urban area with clearly marked streets and can’t find my way to the student center three blocks away.

And like I said, I gave myself the worst schedule I can imagine. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I had class from 9:40 A.M. to 5:50 P.M.. Actually, let me rephrase that: I didn’t have class the whole time, I only had class from 9:40-11:10, 1:00-2:30, and 4:20-5:50. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to give myself an hour and a half break in between each class. I envisioned myself doing all this homework and eating all of these great meals and working out. What did I do in between the classes? I played a bingo game on my phone. That’s how productive I was during those times.

I met these two during my first quarter at DePaul (ignore the ugly jacket I’m wearing). Three years later and Vicky, Kate, and I are all still best friends. We had to go to a cultural activity for this Spanish class, so we went to a Día de los Muertos party at a bar in Wrigleyville. Despite arriving at bar at the moment the party started and being the only people there, we were told they were out of tamales (which they were selling especially for the party).
On top of all that, I remember being super intimidated by the entire CTA system. While enrolled at DePaul, you get a U-Pass, which allows unlimited use of the CTA​ system. Throughout my first quarter, I think I used the ‘L’ by myself one time (in order to attend a required play for a class). I don’t remember why I was intimidated at all, but I’m pretty sure I was. It probably had something to do with me thinking that I would never find my way back if I left campus. Of course, I take the ‘L’ all the time now, comforted by the fact that Google Maps has transit directions and schedules.

Now, three years later, I have a second major, I’m starting my combined BA/MA program this fall, I’ve made a lot more friends, I’ve perfected scheduling classes, and I’ve recently mastered the layout of DePaul’s campus (but I’m still completely lost outside of it).  

Spots You Don't Get to See on Your DePaul Tour

I understand how college tours can be because I was also once looking for somewhere to go to college.  Colle​​ge tours​ are.... well, an interesting time.  They are busy days of possibly seeing a couple of schools, doing a lot of walking, and hearing a lot of people talk about college.  If you don't catch my drift, I didn't especially love touring colleges.  I felt like I couldn't always get a real feel of what it might be like going there.  Here's my biggest piece of advice - walk around campus by yourself to see how it feels!  That's what ultimately led me to making a decision about college. 

On the flip side, I was also a tour guide at DePaul.  With my experience as a prospective student on hand when I gave tours, I did my best to show students what it might feel like going to DePaul, as opposed to telling people how old a certain building is - because really, that doesn't necessarily inform how your experience will be.

To aid in the process of getting a better feel for DePaul, I went out and took photos of a few spots that you don't get to see on your one hour tour.  It's not that you don't get to see these spots because they are private, it's simply because there isn't enough time.  However, these are some important and neat places.  Scroll down for a short photo tour of some places that you probably didn't see on your DePaul tour.

Also, I'm no photography major and the photos aren't edited, so you really get a raw look at these places.  

Arts and Letters Hall Student Computer Lab

This is one of my favorite study spots on campus.  There's a ton of sunlight and NICE computers to work on.  Again, the best thing about this space is that the sunlight and windows are incredible. 

Arts and Letters computer 
lab
Arts
 and Letters computer lab










John T. Richardson Library​ Third Floor (just one hallway of the floor)

John T. Richardson Library 

The library is a stop on most tours, but you only get to see the first floor, if there is even time to step into the library.  But, given that we go to college to learn, this is probably an important space because you could find yourself spending a lot of time here.  The good news is that they just renovated the first and second floors, and I'm pretty sure there are plans to renovate other spaces in the library.  Again, this spot offers pretty large windows!



Here's a spot you definitely don't get to see until your freshman orientation over the summer.  The track is great for the cold winters.  Also, the basketball courts are where many of the intramural games are held (soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, basketball, etc).  Although the picture isn't fantastic and it was a bit cloudy out, you can see the city from the track (8 minute trip on the train)!

Ray Meyer Fitness 
Center
Ray
 Meyer Fitness Center











Arts and Letters Room 415 - Awesome Classroom on Campus

Not every classroom in the world offers you a view like this one.  It's a corner room with windows looking toward the city.  I've never had a class in here, but I still try to sneak up there once in a while.

Arts and Letters Room 415









Nice Outdoor Space in Front of McCabe Hall
McCabe is a hall typically reserved for sophomores, juniors, and seniors; however, the space in front of it is really nice and a perfect escape from the indoors. 

McCabe 
Hall
McCabe
 Hall
That's it for now.  But again, if you've got a little bit of extra time I highly recommend taking a stroll around campus and seeing how it feels for yourself. 
​​​​​​​​

Class in Chicago

​​​​​Like I’ve said before​, I’ve always known I wanted to go to school in a big city. I knew that I would function best (and have the most fun) in a big city. I also figured I could probably learn a few things from living in a big city that I hadn’t learned growing up in the Horse Capitol of Wisconsin.

As you probably know, one of DePaul’s slogans is “The city is your campus.” No matter how cheesy that slogan is (I’m from Wisconsin and even I think it’s ridiculously cheesy), it’s absolutely true. For instance, this quarter, I had field trips. Yes, you read that right. I’m a college student and I had field trips this quarter. And let me tell you: I learned so much from those field trips. And the more I thought about those field trips, the more I realized that my classes at DePaul have always pushed me to take advantage of the kinds of opportunities in Chicago that drew me to going to school in a big city.

Exelon City Solar Power Plant: This power plant has been built on land that is essentially unusable due to pollution. How future looking, am I right?
At the start of my freshman year, I took the Discover Chicago​ class (rather than the Explore Chicago class). Discover starts a week before the normal school year starts, but that week is spent introducing you to the city and exploring a theme in the city. Of course, because I’m me, while other students were enrolled in Discover classes about biking or chocolate, I enrolled in a class entitled “Race, Gender, and the Justice System” that had us visiting museums, sending books to women in prison, and meeting with local charities that provided services to underprivileged communities. Not only did I meet 90% of my current friends in that class, but I also think about that immersion week all of the time.

Over the years, various classes have had me visiting the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Library​ to look at unconventionally assembled books, attending a Día de los Muertos party at a Mexican bar (one of many Spanish cultural events I had to attend), going to a play (which for some reason terrified me as a freshman?), and participating in a social justice event of my choosing (in which I marched with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless​).

As I said, this quarter has been no exception. As a member of Sigma Iota Rho, the honors society for international studies, I was invited to attend an event with keynote speaker Ambassador William Burns​, former Deputy Secretary of State. It was exciting to hear someone with such a successful and lengthy career speak about the same topics I’m studying. That same night, my Latin American and Spanish Cinema class met at a movie theater downtown for the 31st Chicago Latino Film Festival​, where we (obviously) watched a movie and attended a Q&A with the director. As you can guess, I bought way too much food and nearly went broke, but I don’t regret the jalapeño poppers and an ice cream cookie sandwich at all.

Later on in the quarter, my honors science course on solar energy had two back-to-back field trips. We toured Argonne National Laboratory​ one week and then Exelon City Solar Power Plant​ the next week. It was so helpful and enlightening to the see the real-world applications of what we were learning in class.

It’s been so amazing to go to school in a big city and be able to get out of the classroom and learn these subjects in the actual city of Chicago. Every time I get to do experiential learning, I’m reminded why I chose to go to DePaul.

Handshake at DePaul

Although I have about two years until graduation and the big job hunt begins, I thought I would begin to look a little deeper into what DePaul has to offer in terms of helping students find post-graduation work.

This inquiry came at the perfect time because DePaul just launched a new program called Handshake. The DePaul Career Center​ tries to showcase opportunities for meaningful connections between students, alumni, and employers. Handshake is a very very up to date program that is basically just like any other social networking site! The good thing about Handshake is that it is custom built for the DePaul Community AND is great on mobile devices for all you people on-the-go.

I haven’t gone too deep into the program yet because I am still working on my resume and noting down my work experience, but after playing around with it for a while I figured out that the questions they ask you at the beginning of the log in process are there to help pin point which area or real world job would be best suited for you. The more of your profile that you honestly fill out, the better the program is at making sure you see the job information that is most relevant to you. Eventually, Handshake learns what your major is and makes sure you see relevant listings that pair well with your professional skills. I am known to stress out a bunch about career matters of the future, but it’s nice to know DePaul has my back and is looking out for me and my prospective career.  

Thinking about robots taking over the world is scary and all, but this high tech program makes sure DePaul students don’t go without a job (which is even scarier).

If you’re interested in taking a peek look no further!

http://www.hiredepaul.org/employers

Happy job hunting!


Sound Design Studio

In my Introduction to Sound Design​ course we had the chance to use the professional sound studio in the CDM building. Although this course was one of my very first CDM classes, I never knew this part of the building even existed. According to the professor some of the equipment was out of date, but I feel like that happens extremely quickly since technology advances at warp speed. Nevertheless, the equipment we worked on for sounds mixing and recording was more advanced than anything I’ve ever seen. Buttons and switches GALORE! 

We first took a little tour around the studio before we dove into our final project. What we had to do was practice ADR. ADR means Automated Dialogue Replacement​ which is simply recording over original lines in a film. To do this we must match and synch the new lines with the actions on the screen. 

A few students got to be actors for a day and stand in the ADR stage which is the place where the actor can record their voice while watching the film to make sure their voice synchs up with the visual.  After this was done and their voices were recorded, we had to go into the original footage and replace the actor’s voices with the newly recorded ones. This was because our professor thought we needed a little more practice with sound effect and design editing.

Sound effects editors and sound designers are the artists who add the computer beeps, gunshots, laser blasts, and explosions (and more) to the film. If you can’t notice that the sounds are actually unnatural, than the artist is doing their job correctly. Sound designers use a variety of technologies to create unique sounds effects that have never been heard before, or to artificially create specific “mood” sounds to complete the filmmaker’s vision.

The best things we did in the sound studio must have been creating our own Foley. The word Foley was taken from the name Jack Foley​, a Hollywood sound editor, who is known as the father of these effects. Basically, Foley effects are sounds like footsteps, object handling, the rustling of clothing, ect…

This project made me realize that even the smallest details are needed to create a well-rounded film and that someone’s actual job is to make footstep sounds for films. If I could get medical, dental, and a decent salary I probably would do that too. All in all, I think this class was a success. If you are ever interested in learning more about sound in film, take Introduction to Sound Design. 


In Defense of Honors Students

In high school, I was an honors student. Like, I mean the textbook definition of an honors student. Anxiety-ridden, stressed and overloaded with positions on the executive boards of student groups. You know the one. That was me. The long-term effects of my honors-induced anxiety is a subject for a novel of Russian proportions, but the benefits I have reaped from the AP​/IB​/honors seeds that I sowed in high school are undeniable.

The later years of high school consisted of a combination of AP and IB work that helped me take care of a goodly amount of liberal studies requirements during my first couple years of college. I didn’t even get the highest scores on any of those exams and DePaul was still pretty generous with accepting the credit. I was able to complete all of my liberal studies requirements by the end of my second year. This opened my schedule up to take classes that I wanted simply for the fun of it. I took an Islamic studies class, a couple French classes, a German class, and a creative writing class. I was very glad for the opportunity to diversify my class experience outside of The Theatre School. But beyond that, the time gifted to me allowed me to see more shows, get to know more theatre companies, experience more around the city and figure out what my real goals are after school. That’s the biggest benefit. You have to have breathing room in school to be able to build relationships and just wander. 

In essence what I’m getting at is that if you’re in the thick of an AP or IB course load in high school right now and you want to pull out your hair, stuff it into your textbook and eat it with mustard, you’re going to survive. And you will reap some reward from the experience. I guarantee it. If nothing else, you’ll know that you can accomplish something you set your mind to and that’s a feeling worth its weight in gold. 

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting on You)







Editing Class

As I continue to narrow down exactly what type of career I want to go into, I decided to take an editing class in hope of mastering Adobe Premiere Pro​. I figured even if I don’t go into the digital cinema​ realm it is still a great resume builder to be able to understand and navigate an interface.  There is no prerequisite to this course (DC220), so feel free to dive in if you’re interested in editing that takes place for all types of video media, just remember to buy a big external flash drive. 

During this course we have analyzed and assembled dramatic scenes under a variety of conditions and narrative strategies. For example, our first assignment was to watch all the different takes of footage from an old short film call “The Hold Up”. The shots were jumbled up and we were supposed to put them and edit them in whatever sequence we thought fit. I loved this because my professor really stressed that there is no right way to edit the footage. Yes, there is a specific passing of time in the film, but the length of each shot and the way we splice them together is all up to us. It just has to make sense to any type of viewer. This class makes it so that the first step towards mastering the art of video editing involves trusting our individual creative skills and judgments. 

We also are introduced to the fact that there are difference types of formats, conversions, and aspect ratios that play a big part in the editing world. The beauty about these things or about Adobe Premiere in general, is that if you are interested in taking your projects to the next step you can always look up the Premiere manual or tutorials online. 

Through interactive lectures, demonstrations, readings, and projects, I have successfully been able to get the basics as well as some advanced techniques in Adobe Premier. 
 


Procrastination

​​​With the quarter finally coming to a close and finals on the horizon, now is (supposed to be) the time to start buckling down and doing work. Everyone, especially professors and parents, always tells you that if you start early and study and write a little bit each day, finals can be painless. According to that logic, I must just be a masochist. 

I am one of the worst procrastinators ​ever. I fully recognize that almost everyone says that and I fully recognize that almost everyone (else) is exaggerating. I’m genuinely terrible. Over my near 15 years of schooling, I have perfected the art of procrastination. Obviously, as I’ve matured, my methods of procrastination have become more advanced and time-consuming. I’ve moved on from Procatinator to much more worldly and profound distractions, like Buzzfeed ​quizzes and repeatedly pressing the random page button on Wikipedia​. It’s amazing how interesting the history of bread can be when you have so many other things you need to be doing. When I’m really desperate, I’ve even been known to clean on occasion.

Just to be clear, I know most of you reading this are expecting this post to be full of tips and tricks to beat procrastination and maintain your sanity (and a normal sleep schedule) during finals​. That’s not what’s happening here at all.

Actual image of me actually procrastinating (I didn’t want to go get my laundry).
When I started college, I decided I should finally try to start listening to that sage advice from my teachers and my parents. I promised myself that I would stop cramming and speed-writing at the last minute. Instead, I’d design a plan of attack, spreading out the work I needed to do over a week and a half at the end of the quarter. For six quarters, I tried to make this work for me. For that week and a half at the end of the quarter, I’d lock myself in my room every day, vowing not to sleep until I had completed everything on that day’s to-do list. Every quarter, the result was the same: I’d get nothing done and, due to my brilliant no-sleep clause, I’d be beyond sleep deprived when I actually needed to start working. All of my friends have heard the story about when I was so sleep-deprived, I hallucinated that Michelle Obama ​had walked into my dorm room (not to mention that about an hour after the Michelle Obama incident, I called out to my dad to make me some food, which obviously didn’t happen since he was back home in Wisconsin ​at the time).

This year, for the first time ever, I chose to accept the fact that I’m inevitably going to procrastinate. I’ve developed a new strategy that works around my procrastination instead of trying to fight it: If I don’t have anything due that day, I take the day off. I eat and sleep as much as possible and rewatch as many episodes of Parks and Recreation as I can.  If I do have a final due that day, I will still eat as much as possible, but I’ll just work up until that D2L Dropbox is about to close on me.

The moral of the story is this: find what works best for you. You know your weaknesses and your strengths: play to that. I can’t spread work out over days, but I work incredibly well under pressure. It’s in my best interest to rest up while I can so that I can do my best work when I start my essay six hours before it’s due. What works best for me is ordering General Tso’s Chicken​ and having a Halloweentown ​marathon the day before a 10-page paper is due. 

Do you have any special strategies to get through finals? Let me know so I don’t feel so alone!

Showcase!

One week from today, I will be in New York City​ doing the first part of one of the major closing events of my time at The Theatre School​: Graduate Showcase. During the first two weeks of June, my class and I will showcase our wares in New York, Los Angeles, and here in Chicago for industry professionals. It’s our chance to blast off into the professional world as a team.

Since the beginning of spring quarter, we have been presenting scenes and monologues to our showcase director Lisa Portes to find a piece that works best to showcase our strengths as performers. The people that will be in attendance are agents, casting directors, and alums in the respective cities. Once they watch our pieces, there will be networking events where we can introduce ourselves to those people as human beings. In addition to the actual events planned for showcase in each city, there will be plenty of time for us to explore the cities and see shows. It’s a great opportunity for us to get a feel for the place and see if we could actually see ourselves there. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends in both cities and also taking a little road trip up the coast in California​. It’s going to be perfect to see the ocean in all its vastness before graduating and starting the next chapter of my life.

Ideally, some of the agents that see our work in any of the cities will call us in to audition specifically for representation but it’s best to go into the showcase just focused on the work. In my opinion, this event is going to be great because it’s one last chance to work with this ensemble with whom I’ve gone through so much these past four y​​​ears. One last hurrah is just what we need. And we’re going to do it in style.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

Just trying to keep moving forward, ya dig?









The Annual Board of Trustees Luncheon

This past week, I was honored to attend the Annual Board of Trustees ​Student Luncheon. Besides a mouthful of words, what was it, exactly? That's exactly what I was asking myself the day of the event, as I was walk-running (a personal favorite exercise routine for me) toward the Student Center​, three minutes late for my scheduled arrival time. I had received an email, asking me to wear business casual attire (I'll take any excuse to dress up and feel like an adult!) and thanking me for participating in this informal "Q & A session"- did that mean I had to get up and speak in front of everyone?! I secretly hoped not. ​

I walked up to the third floor of the Student Center- a place I had only ever gone to receive my mail, stop by the University Ministry office​, or lounge around on the comfy seats- and picked up my fancy name tag and table assignment. As I walked into the large room, I saw 12 tables full of students from various schools within DePaul. When I walked over to my table, I was happy to see that one of my friends from the Theatre School​ was also sitting at my table; we represented the artistic majors at DePaul. After speculating what we would be doing, we were eventually asked to join a table of other majors because we did not have enough people at ours.

We joined our new table and became acquainted with everyone there: there were 8 of us students and two men on the Board of Trustees. I learned that we were simply having a delicious lunch with these members of the Board, sharing about ourselves, our experiences at DePaul, and recommending improvements where we see needs. I ended up being seated next to one of the Board members, a prestigious, nice man. He ended up asking me a lot of questions about myself and my time at DePaul. It was great to share my DePaul story and my thoughts about what could have made it even better.

After we all shared, each tab​le was asked to write down everything we had told the Board members about and present it to the rest of the room. It was a great time to hear about other programs and needs within our school and to see such mature, inspiring peers of mine be so passionate about DePaul. We finished our three-course meal and all said our goodbyes as the two men at our table left to attend a meeting with the rest of the Board members. I loved that both men were incredibly understanding and patient with listening to our opinions. It meant a lot to me that we could all come together over our common love of DePaul and work toward making it a better place.

My Sister's Graduation

Something really weird happened this past weekend. My twin sister became a college graduate a month before I did! I once again returned to Cleveland to celebrate with Rachel as she walked across the stage of Kulas Hall at Cleveland Institute of Music to receive her Bachelor's of Music Performance​ for viola. 

It was a long day on Saturday, as my flight had arrived into Cleveland at midnight that morning. And of course, the moment the taxi from the airport pulled up to my sister's apartment, a torrential downpour of rain started! I quickly discovered that my umbrella was broken and proceeded to run. It's always great to get a workout in before bed!

We woke up early that morning because Rachel and her two roommates had to be at the graduation venue early. It was amusing to hear the three of them laughing and singing and squealing at 6:30 am out of excitement, but it was also not the most pleasant thing after a long night of travel, so early in the morning!

My parents and I reunited for the first time since my recital in the CIM building and set out to pick some great seats in Kulas for the ceremony. We amused ourselves by taking plenty of selfies and texting my older sister, Rebecca, who couldn't attend the ceremony, and Rachel as she waited outside with the other graduates. And finally, it was time! Except it wasn't "actually" time for another hour or so, as there were plenty of musical performances and speeches to be made! But in that time, we had the honor of hearing world-famous composer, musician, and conductor, Gunther Schuller, give a speech at the ripe age of 89 from his wheelchair on the stage.

It was finally time for the graduates to walk and receive their diplomas, and I could tell right away that this ceremony was a unique one for a small class of musicians: each person was listed by their instrument, and they each received applause as they walked onto the stage. Rachel was among the first quarter of the 90 graduates, and we got plenty of pictures of her beaming excitedly as she walked onto, across, and off the stage.

After the ceremony, we were all invited to attend an outdoor reception in a tent full of food, drinks, and very happy people. Rachel was so busy saying hello to everyone, that she asked me to hold her cap and gown for her. Well, being a twin has always had its quirks...one of which is that if you go somewhere just your twin has been for years, people will immediately mistake you for her. I had already been mistaken for Rachel three or four times that day and decided to have a little fun: I put on her cap and gown and walked around the tent! It was great to have people come up to me as they were in the process of extending their arms to hug me until they saw the look of confusion and amusement all over my face. That definitely happened twice!
I eventually ceased my shenanigans so I could help take some nice portraits of my sister with her fiancé and the rest of my family, and we headed out to her favorite restaurant in Little Italy to dine on champagne and delicious pasta. My parents left after lunch, and I flew out the following morning. We spent the evening of that day at the beautifully ornate Severance Hall to hear the equally-as-beautiful "New World Symphony​" by Antonin Dvorak​, played by The Cleveland Orchestra​. It was a glorious performance and a great way for Rachel to say goodbye to Cleveland, as she is moving down to Georgia to get married in a couple weeks and attend graduate school!

It was a great time to celebrate Rachel's hard work and wonderful experiences these past four years, and I am very much looking forward to being able to do the same for myself in just under a month!!

My Time in Madrid

​​​​​Right around a year ago, I attended the DePaul study abroad​ orientation in preparation for my trip to Spain. This year, I returned to the orientation as an alumnus to talk to the group of students getting ready to go to Madrid ​this fall. It was an amazing opportunity to reflect upon my experience in Madrid.

Jennifer and Me in Park Güell in Barcelona. Fun fact: my host parents collected various Disney memorabilia, so I gave them this shirt at the end of my trip. I wouldn’t be surprised if they liked that shirt more than they liked me.
Just to set the mood, I had never been out of the country before.  The closest I had ever gotten to being an international jetsetter was walking around the World Pavilion at Epcot ​(I highly recommend the chocolate mousse at the French bakery). As a Spanish and International Studies double major, to avoid any potential irony, I figured I should probably get out of the U.S. at some point in my life. So after fantasizing about it for years and years, I decided to apply to study abroad in Madrid, Spain.

I decided to study abroad through DePaul rather than through an external company or by organizing my trip myself. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages that accompany each choice, but as it was my first time leaving the country, I prioritized convenience and efficiency. Whenever I had a question, I could always go visit the Study Abroad Office on campus, which was very comforting to me and most likely very annoying to them (they probably wondered how one student could have so many questions about passports and visas). The program was conveniently scheduled so that I would only miss one quarter, a feat not often achieved when most study abroad programs are structured around the semester system. And because I studied abroad through DePaul, my credits transferred without me even having to think about them.

Chloe, Sarah, a garbage can, and Me in front of Toledo. In addition to having one of the most photo-worthy landscapes ever, Toledo makes some ridiculous marzipan. It was amazing.
Most importantly, by going through DePaul, I had a built-in group of friends during (and after) the program. The moment I boarded the plane to Madrid, I realized I was sitting next to another student in the program (Hi, Chloe!) and that there were six other students from the DePaul program on the flight. Knowing we were all going into this program with the common bond of DePaul made all of us fast friends and over the next two and a half months in Madrid, we did almost everything together.

In Madrid, I lived in a homestay ​with a husband and wife. Before I arrived, I could not have been more anxious about living in a homestay. I was pretty convinced that I would end up in some horror-movie caliber living situation. I had this recurring nightmare where I would go to talk to my family and realize that the language I had been learning for years wasn’t actually Spanish at all and that I couldn’t communicate with my host parents whatsoever. When I arrived, I was relieved to be greeted by two of the kindest, friendliest, funniest people I’ve ever met in my entire life and to be ushered into a beautiful apartment (situated above a Tupperware store and a GameStop, but still beautiful).

Over my two and a half months in Madrid, I had the best time of my life. I saw the musical The Lion King in Spanish (El Rey León, anyone?). I ate at a Chinese restaurant located in an underground parking lot. I became best friends with the cashier at a bakery who bought all my pastries for me on my final day in Madrid. I bought churros and chocolate at 4am, celebrated Thanksgiving at a 50s-style American diner, and ate a disturbing
Paola and Me at a Real Madrid game at Bernabéu Stadium ​(which was only a ten minute walk from my homestay!). You can bring your own food into the stadium, so you better believe we were taking advantage of that.
amount of ham sandwiches. By the end of the program, I finally felt comfortable conversing in Spanish. I even discovered that I had an interest in Spanish history (which is going to be the subject of my master’s thesis). 

If you’ve never left the country, the idea of living abroad can be daunting. I know it certainly intimidated me. It’s so cheesy, but studying abroad changed my life and I personally view it as the best decision I’ve ever made. If you get the opportunity, take it. You won’t regret it. Plus, you can make an amazing photo book out of the pictures you take. Trust me. 
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