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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.

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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

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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 
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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. 

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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. 

​​

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. 
​​

CHE 362: Drugs and Toxicology

This has been one of the most exciting years of chemistry classes for me.  I was finally able to take a few major electives specific to the type of chemistry I’m interested in (chemistry with biological or medicinal applications).  Fall quarter I took chemical biology where we read many papers in the field about the development of chemical methods for studying biological systems.  Winter quarter I took medicinal chemistry where we learned the fundamentals of drug discovery, design, metabolism, and a few other aspects of how drugs work on their target and what our body does to the drugs to get rid of them.

This quarter’s elective is no disappointment.  Drugs and toxicology (CHE 362) is a continuation of medicinal chemistry where we are learning the specifics of the major classes of medicines and therapeutic drugs.  It’s incredibly exciting.  We started the class focusing on the metabolism of drugs, making sure that we understood the detoxification mechanisms that exist in our body.  Speaking of mechanisms, we learned arrow pushing mechanisms for how scientists think the enzymes in our body are modifying the drug for excretion (in urine or feces).  The picture with the crazy arrows shows how P450s (detoxi​​​fying enzymes)​ in our body modify drugs.    

 
The class is taught by Dr. Justin Maresh​.  I had him for biochemistry 2 and 3 as well as a proteins course.  His teaching style is fantastic and it really shows that he cares about students learning the material, not just for a test, but so that we are more informed citizens and scientists who can apply concepts to specific problems.  He’s certainly one of my favorite professors that I’ve had.  

We just spent a couple of weeks focusing on the major classes of antibiotics (drugs that target bacteria).  Of particular interest is knowing the target of the drug (for instance, pen​icillins​ disrupt the formation of the peptidoglycan, the protective layer of protein/sugars that bacteria have), the structural features characteristic of that class, and the ways that bacteria develop resistance to those antibiotics.  The content is highly relevant for anyone interested in health and medicine!  There are non-chemistry majors in the class as well, it’s that neat!  The picture below summarizes the major ways that different antibiotics target bacteria.​

 Don't get caught up in the specifics of what I've said above.  What I'm trying to say is that waiting for my elective classes has been well worth the wait.  Looking at my class list freshman year, it seemed like it would take forever until I got to the elective classes for my major.  But, the content I learned in those general classes was crucial for my electives, and I've really enjoyed getting to focus in on the type of science that I'm most interested in.  ​

Midterms

Midterms are kind of weird at DePaul. Finals week​ is a definitive, set week that is the last week of the quarter. Midterms, though, are not really scheduled for a specific time. I have had midterms during week 4, week 7, and one of my friends even has had one during week 9! I do not necessarily mind that, though, as it spreads out when I have exams or papers due. However, this quarter, my midterms were not screwing around. I had all of mine this past week: two tests, three papers, and a presentation. I tip my hat to you, Midterms.

It definitely was a rough week, but I was determined to make it manageable. My body is basically incapable of pulling an all-nighter, so I knew I had to be ahead of the game. I worked ahead, studied what I needed to, and did not save anything for the last minute. While I certainly could use a nap, I think it was pretty successful this week.

I think this attitude I adopted for midterms is something I should be doing all year. I have certainly saved many things until the last minute, and all that causes is stress and anxiety. I remember cramming for a biology ​test last year until 3:00 in the morning. I ended up having to drink something with caffeine, which I usually don’t drink- I don’t like coffee or pop. I felt awful afterwards, but I still had to keep pushing through. Needless to say, I did not do as well on that exam as some of my others. However, the exams that I studied for in advance and really prepared for were some of my highest exam scores. Really, this is all common sense, but I think for some reason it is somehow lost in the busyness and stress of school.

School does not have to be the big dread that we sometimes make it. In reality, we are super blessed to have the chance to get a higher education. Only 7% of the world’s population has a college degree. That really shows how lucky we are and how we should not waste our education. So, yes, organic chemistry​ might be the worst thing to ever exist, but at least I had the opportunity to take it and learn something. School will fly by and then we will be real adults (gosh, so scary), so I am determined to make the most of the education I am fortunate enough to get.

Undergraduate Research

It’s not everyday (everywhere) that you get to learn one-on-one next to a professor in the research lab as an undergrad.  But, that’s how I spent my afternoon.  And that’s nothing new either.  I’d say it’s a common occurrence at DePaul.

One of my favorite things about the science program at DePaul is that the small size and teaching focus means more face time with professors.  It means having a faculty research mentor and advisor to help you learn outside of the classroom.  I get it that this blog is a bit cheesy, but I can’t explain any other way how special this is.  

I started working in Dr. Karver’s lab my sophomore year when I was in organic chemistry.  I realized that I really enjoyed organic and I wanted to see how that classroom information was actually put to use (outside of the teaching lab).  So, I went to Dr. Karver’s office hours and told her I was interested and a couple of weeks later I was starting my first reaction.  

Being a part of a research lab has impacted my experience at DePaul substantially.  Not only has it offered a community of peers to look up to, but it’s made the information I learn in all my science classes more relevant.  It’s given me more motivation to learn in class and has fueled an interest to do research in the future.  Before I started in the lab, I thought that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.  I thought something along the lines of, “I like
working with people and talking to people and that’s not necessarily what you get to do in the lab.”  While it may be true that it’s not the most social activity in the world, doing research as an undergrad has really made my time at DePaul special.  It’s provided me with a professor that I can always go to for advice, even if it’s unrelated to research or her courses. 


Once you get started at DePaul, try to search what kind of research the people are doing that are teaching you in your lecture classes!  You may be surprised by the research that some professors are doing.  Then, go meet them!  Find their email and set up an appointment and convince them of your interest and you’re well on your way to an incredibly worthwhile opportunity. 

A Whole New World to Study

The birds are chirping, the grills are coming out, and the car windows are being rolled down. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Summer, of course, is what I am talking about. 

With summer being right around the corner I have found myself in search of new places where I can do work, study, and just focus on school stuff. Sure, the quad ​is beautiful but there are now frisbees invading the space and threatening our heads (which we need to study). And of course there is always the library to study, but with such beautiful weather it almost seems unfair. If you are like me and find yourself in need of some new study environments I have a few tips for you.

One:
 While it is technically still the quad, the hills by the SAC ​(Schmitt Academic Center​) have been a place I used to get some work done. The good thing about this area is that people usually don’t go there to fling their frisbees or toss any footballs around. It is nice, peaceful, and you kind of feel like a king, or queen, as you look down on the people that pass by. 

Two: Arts and Letters​, it is such a beautiful building with an amazing view. The giant windows in the lobby area may not provide the full outdoor aesthetic for you, but it sure does come close. The sun can be seen rising and setting from the very top floor. 

Three: There’s no way I can talk about Arts and Letters without mentioning the patio area right next to it. With several chairs and tables to use and an overall beautiful feel, I often find people sitting on the patio even during the winter. 

Last but not least: The Ray. ​I know crazy right? Maybe it’s a personal thing, but there is something about the fast pace of the Ray that I find relaxing. While others are rushing around and working out, I am simply sitting in my chair doing so​​​me work.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you for reading my blog and stay awesome!

Learning History Through Art

Something I took upon myself this quarter is to take a full course load of 18 credit hours. For me, this means 4 three hour credits and a small two credit hour course that meets every Sunday at the Art Institute of Chicago.​

What prompted me to take this course is the fact that Joe Cunniff, a sponge of knowledge, is leading it. I had Joe as a professor for my first course here at DePaul (Discover ​Jazz). He is such a unique being jam packed with information. Truthfully, I don’t even know how one person can have that much trivia in their brain. Joe is notorious for disappearing during class on hot days to grab ice cream and reciting Shakespeare out of the blue. I really can’t put into words how entertaining and well-versed he is. He is a real gem that keeps humanities alive.

​Once I figured out he was teaching the course I didn’t hesitate to enroll with my roommate Kat (whom I also met during that first class of Discover Jazz). I knew he was going to be the perfect professor to enlighten me on a subject I wish I knew more about- Art History​. The Art Institute holds a collection of pieces that offer wide opportunities for people like me who are interested in learning about historical happenings through the context of art. So far the course has only covered Roman, Greek, and Renaissance related art, but we will also dive deep into the late Middle Ages and modern/contemporary styles.

Although we have only met 4 times so far, I have already been able to deepen my understanding on how to study a painting through the use of trends that mark a certain period of time. Joe also stresses the importance of the artists that create the work and how their documented experiences give further insight into the time period.

I knew I wanted to take this class because I’ve been to the Art Institute a few dozen times and always seem to walk quickly by the rooms that don’t intrigue me. Instead of continuing to ignore and disregard art I don’t “get”, I might as well enroll in a class that can educate me without adding more to my tuition cost.

Joe also encourages out of class members to sit with us and listen to the lecture, so if you are free on Sunday 1-4pm you can see us all armed with notebooks at Michigan and Adams in front of the info desk.


On To The Next Adventure: Alaska!

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I've decided to go farther north next year. MUCH farther north. 

Where, you may ask?

ALASKA. No joke, I'm moving to Juneau, Alaska this July (just five weeks after I graduate!) to begin a year-long Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program for El Sistema​ music education at University of Alaska Southeast​. I know that you are already well informed about the El Sistema movement and what it stands for from my other blogs. You probably have already pieced together that I greatly respect it and desire to know more about how to teach music well, especially in underserved areas. 

I actually heard about this MAT program after I found out that I was accepted into another graduate program that was similar but wasn’t quite what I wanted. Upon my acceptance, I talked with colleagues in the El Sistema community who told me that they had heard of a brand new program at University of Alaska Southeast that is offering a Master's for people who want to study under nationally-renowned music pedagogue, Lorrie Heagy. Although it was originally difficult to picture myself in Alaska, I decided to look into the program and talk to Lorrie myself before making any decisions. Within hours of emailing her, Lorrie and I were skyping as she sat in a classroom of an Alaskan public school, and she told me all about her work, her vision for this program, and the details behind it. And I thought, "Why not?! I'll at least apply!" A month later, I had submitted all of my extensive application materials.

Throughout that month, I began to think deeply about what I want my first year, post-graduation to look like. I had been accepted to a job I was excited about in Chicago, I could also continue to teach with El Sistema Ravinia and privately, and accept gigs. I also wasn’t sure if I felt ready to leave this city or my friends. But there was also this feeling, this natural instinct within me, reminding me of how much I absolutely love adventure and exploring new places. I reassured
myself that this would only be a year-long commitment and started to come around to the idea of possibly moving outside the continental U.S. to participate in a program I had only just heard of a month before. I started to watch videos, read articles, and talk with others about the program and Lorrie Heagy’s work, and it became clear to me that this was where I wanted to earn my Master’s degree.


I received my official acceptance letter just last week, and I have already announced to all of my family and friends my decision. It was actually entertaining to see how everyone reacted to it; some were very excited for me and knew that this would be a great adventure. Others were puzzled as to why I would want to move there or why I was going to receive a Master’s in Teaching and not in performance. I just explained as well as I could about the transformation my career goals have gone through during my time at DePaul, and that yes, it’s crazy and scary, but that I want to pursue a career in El Sistema education. And with its bays, glaciers, and mountains, Alaska doesn’t actually sound like such a bad place to do it!

So as I mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare myself to graduate, pack up my things, and fly off to Juneau, I am trying to take time to be excited about this and also be present where I am now, soaking up my last few weeks at a fantastic school in a beautiful city. Making decisions about graduate school has shown me just how well being a music student at DePaul has prepared me for this big step, and it makes me ever prouder to be a Blue Demon.
​​​

My new school’s mascot is “Spike”, the humpback whale, so I can officially say that I am either a Blue-Whale Demon, or a Blue Demon-Whale! I’m not sure which one I like more yet. ;) ​
​​

The Intricacies of Scheduling

This week is week five of the quarter, and I cannot believe that we are halfway done. I still feel like I am acclimating to my new schedule and teachers, and forming my routine, but we are already almost done with midterms! This weekend, I received an email from one of my academic advisors that included information and instructions on scheduling for next quarter. Now, that is really crazy! I’m still getting a handle on this quarter’s schedule, and I somehow have to think and plan out my schedule for fall quarter which is still five months away? Yikes! Thankfully, DePaul makes it really easy.

First, there is this thing called a Degree Progress Report on our Campus Connect pages, which is a gift sent from God. It shows all the classes and credits that you need to fulfill in order to complete your major/minor. You can also choose a “What If?” option, which allows you add a double major, a minor, or completely change your major, to see what classes you would need to take!
This is my Degree Progress Report. The classes I need to take are highlighted red, the ones I am currently taking in yellow, and the ones I have completed in blue. 

The Degree Progress Report will show how the change would affect what classes you had to take or what electives would need to be fulfilled. I always consult it before I schedule my classes or I make an appointment with my advisor, just to familiarize myself with what I still need to take and how I should accordingly plan. 

To schedule, you add classes into your course cart on Campus Connect. I actually think it is really fun. On the site, you get to search for all the classes available for that quarter and see what professors are teaching. So, I can search for any 200 level Spanish classes to fulfill my Spanish minor, or a specific health class I need to take, or just for a certain professor who I have really liked to see if he or she is teaching any classes in the next quarter. I usually try and come up with two or three prospective schedules to see what I like best and to have as back up just in case a class is full when I try and register for it. 

Every student gets a day and time slot for when they are allowed to register, and it is only then when you can officially register. Upperclassmen, athletes, honors students, and special students (like Pathways kids!) get priority scheduling, while freshmen usually have the last time slots. It’s like a big game. Scheduling can be frustrating and stressful, but it so relieving and kind of exciting when you have registered and get to officially know how the next quarter is going to be. The DePaul advisors are always very helpful and accessible during these few weeks of scheduling, too. There are always questions to be answered, and they truly want us to have the best quarter possible. 

Come One, Come All: The Honors Ball 2015

Springtime at DePaul alludes itself to many picturesque images of flowers, chirping birds, and kids running around at the surprising multitude of public parks tucked in between neighborhoods scattered throughout
the city. And, of course there is the not-so-picturesque sense of spring fever that makes it more challenging than usual to hit the books.

But for me, springtime also means the Honors Ball.

The Honors Ball is a formal event that Honors Student Government hosts every year during spring quarter. While our social committee heads up the planning of the events, all board members help with its execution.

Every year the dance is held in the charming location of Cortelyou Commons​. This special space was originally built in 1929 and remodeled in 2006. Some people on campus equate it to a medieval castle, and I would have to agree. With two upper side balconies, chandeliers, and our former university presidents on the walls (which can get creepy at times because they all are just kind of staring at you), this “party” space is definitely unique and memorable.

Events are constantly happening in Cortelyou Commons. However, I feel like the springtime contains the most notable events to occur in the space: the College Democrats of Illinois Convention, the amateur drag show, various weddings and receptions — is it just me, or is springtime party time at DePaul?​

I’m looking forward to revisiting Cortelyou Commons in the future, and of course, I’m planning on going to some neighborhood parks this quarter because who doesn’t love a good ride down the slide?​


The Recital Marathon of Spring Quarter

There are so many beautiful things about the spring season at DePaul: the grass is green again, the flowers and trees are bursting with color and life, outdoor events are actually enjoyable in the warmth of the sun, and ice cream shops are overflowing with hungry kids...and college students. 

Even though everyone tries to avoid scheduling their recital during the "rush recital time", it inevitably happens. This is mostly because everyone wants to have as much time as possible to prepare for their recital so they can sound the best they can. I also think that once the weather is so nice, it just seems more enjoyable to perform because we are all genuinely happy that winter is over! It adds a lightness to every music major's playing when the temperature rises above 50 degrees. 

​Like every school, DePaul has a specific process for scheduling and preparing for a recital. All performance majors must give a junior and a senior recital as part of their degree requirement, and there are certain guidelines for the genre and timing of the repertoire. I gave my senior recital this a few weekends ago (woo hoo!), and as a senior, I was required to play a program of at least 60 minutes, which had to include a piece written after the 20th century. As I prepared for my recital all throughout winter quarter, I also had to take certain steps to secure an accompanist, a date, and a location for my recital. This had to be scheduled with the facilities office months before. Juniors and seniors are also required to write and submit program notes about their pieces in advance, which is a great way to inform both the audience and the performer of significant facts about the pieces.

A typical weekend in the spring could have as many as three recitals that you will want to attend. While this seems like a busy day that could have been spent outside or practicing, it is really nice to spend time with your classmates in a more social environment and to also celebrate with your performing friends about their musical accomplishments. Another great thing about recitals at DePaul? The receptions! You can actually have every meal taken care of for an entire day some weekends. Students almost always provide receptions directly following their recitals (which are usually in the Recital Hall) and have their reception across the hall in the student lounge. It's fantastic! 

So as spring rolls around, prepare yourself to spend a significant amount of time sitting in an audience and stuffing your face with delicious finger foods. Try to enjoy the beautiful weather as much as you can, but embrace the wonderful music-making! 


Three Pre-Health Resources You MUST Know About

One of my favorite things about DePaul is the relationships that are possible with professors and staff.  Because of the small size of the science/pre-health programs​, and DePaul's commitment to an individualized education, there's a bounty of invaluable resources to help you navigate your time in college and figure out what to do after college.  

My main point is that it's NEVER too early to start getting prepared for these things.  Professors are an excellent resource to help with class and getting involved outside of class.  However, sometimes you need to talk to someone that can provide you assistance that a professor can't necessarily provide.  These people are pros (literally) at what they do.  They know how to help students get involved, how to mentor students to be more professional and job-ready, and how to help students in their preparation for life after DePaul.  

Here they are, three resources that you MUST know about.  I recommend that you meet these women first thing at DePaul, how about the first month you're here?!
Lindsey Burdick
Lindsey is The Pre-Health Advisor at DePaul (I put a capital T in THE because she's a very important resource).  Lindsey is an incredible resource for anyone looking to go in to a health related field after college.  She'll help you make sure you are on track for success in the future.  I appreciate Lindsey because she is very approachable.  There have been many times in my admissions process for medical school that I needed to ask a question, maybe a silly question, and Lindsey has always been there to help.  A few times I have made appointments with Lindsey just to chat and make sure that I'm on the right track.  And the best part is that Lindsey has always been perfectly fine with this.  She's very informed of application processes and realistic with you about your progress and position.  She'll give you advice so that you're better informed and prepared for whatever will come after your time at DePaul. ​

 
Hilarie Longnecker
Hilarie is the Career Specialist for the College of Science and Health (CSH).  When I was receiving feedback for a committee letter recommendation, the major message from my advisor was to meet with Hilarie as much as possible.  My advisor spoke of Hilarie as a type of professionalism skills goddess.  My advisor said that Hilarie would be able to get me in the place I need to be with interview, professionalism, and confidence skills.  I've met with Hilarie multiple times and she's exceeded all the expectations I had from her based on my advisor's recommendation.  Hilarie was clear with specific actions I needed to take to improve, and she was encouraging yet realistic of how I can overcome some of my interview struggles.  Every meeting I have with Hilarie I walk out with a sense of excitement for the practical suggestions that Hilarie gave me on how to improve.    ​    ​

 
​Michelle Johnson
Michelle just started a new position as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Resource.  I met Michelle because I started as a biology major at DePaul and Michelle was the biology academic advisor at the time.  Even when I switched my major to health sciences and then chemistry, I still went to see Michelle once (I probably technically wasn't supposed to do this) for her wisdom.  Michelle is really easy to talk to, yet you won't leaving a meeting not knowing the next steps.  I especially appreciate the way that Michelle makes you feel encouraged, supported, and motivated.  You can tell that Michelle really does care about the success of her students.   


Why I Chose DePaul

DePaul kind of fell into my lap. As a kid growing up in the outskirts of Chicago, the bustling city was always intriguing to me. I spent many middle school nights taking the Metra ​inbound to Union Station​ to catch some terrible pop punk shows. After 4 years of typical high school angst, my plan for college was to get out of the Midwest and travel far away just to experience something other than flat land and indecisive weather. After looking around at different college fairs, I applied to several Arizona Universities.

Soon after the fair I visited DePaul on a tour that I felt like my mom was more excited for than I was. It was a cold day and I had the attitude that I had already seen all Chicago has to offer. BOY, I WAS WRONG. DePaul blew me away with the campus grounds that even looked decent on a muggy, cloudy day. I applied with high hopes and felt that even if I didn’t know what major I wanted to declare, I knew that I wanted to figure it out here. Having 2 academic years at DePaul under my belt has given me enough to process why, in fact, I choose this school when I was so dead set on getting out of the Midwest.

I honestly believe that it all comes back to DePaul’s reputation for being a part of a service driven community and using Chicago as a second classroom. The potential idea of being stuck at a campus ONLY surrounded by my peers made me feel so trapped…. but a campus surrounded by a large city?! That I can handle. The location was definitely a huge plus. And with a large city comes many opportunities for internships and volunteer work!

Besides the fact that I was awarded scholarship ​money from DePaul, I mainly based my decision on the fact that I believe that Chicago will provide me with all the tools I need to succeed in whatever I choose to do. It is a plus that I am so close to home but I rarely visit unless it is a holiday. I am happy to say that, although DePaul isn't the cheapest option, it is the best investment that I am making towards my future.​

Choosing DePaul

​I am not good at making decisions. Simply ask my sisters, parents, or friends who go shopping with me. I look at the shelves of lamps, the racks of shirts, the boxes of macaroni and cheese, and I just get overwhelmed. I spend thirty minutes deciding between two different pieces of jewelry and usually end up buying both, either because I cannot handle being so stressed about making a choice, or the person I am dragging around cannot handle being so stressed by watching me make a choice.

So when it came to choosing which music school to attend, which was the biggest decision I had had to make at that point in my life, it was a big struggle for me. I applied to seven schools. Three of them were music conservatories, two were universities with huge music programs, and the other two were big schools with smaller music programs. After I submitted my applications and finished my auditions for all of the schools I applied to, I did not let myself hope that I would get into my dream school, one of the conservatories. But when I was informed that I was accepted to my dream school two days before I was obligated to inform all schools which program I chose, and after I had already picked DePaul, I felt stuck. Here I was, standing in the hypothetical shopping aisle. In one hand, I was holding a small, competitive conservatory I had strived to get into for years and always thought I would love. In the other hand, I held a university in a fantastic city, with an incredible cello teacher, and much more of a liberal arts experience. So, I followed my instincts and chose the unexpected.

After a couple days of intense prayer, reflection, heart-to-hearts, and talks with prospective music professors, I chose DePaul. How did I have such a big change of heart in a matter of days? There were many logical factors that pushed me toward DePaul, including the fact that my identical twin sister was also interested in the conservatory and we had wanted to go to different colleges, but there were also deeper realizations about what I actually wanted to experience in college that hit me as I grappled with this decision.

 As I debated between these two very contrasting school environments, cities, and college experiences, I discovered that being a student at DePaul seemed so much more appealing to me. I realized that when I thought about going to college, I always envisioned being on a beautiful, big campus that was full of a variety of schools and majors. I wanted to be surrounded by history, architecture, and nature. I wanted to be classmates with people whose majors were completely unrelated to mine, and with people who grew up in very different economic, religious, and physical backgrounds so I could learn more about the diversity of my generation. I craved to feel like I was in college while also gaining experience in this oh-so-scary “real world” everyone kept informing me about at every dinner party my parents ever threw. After talking with my future cello teacher and emailing with a current School of Music student, I saw that DePaul had these aspects I had been hoping for. Being in Chicago, a city with a very strong and diverse music scene and a great amount of history and sites to see, attending a school with a student population of 25,000, and being able to grow greatly in my musical aspirations, were my expectations and my actual experiences as a student at DePaul.

As I enjoy my senior year at DePaul and reflect on those two days of panic and difficulty, I am grateful I took the time to truly step back and ask myself, “Is this what I want?” I definitely heard strong, contrasting opinions about this major decision, but in the end, I felt it within myself. I envisioned myself walking the streets of Lincoln Park, wearing a DePaul sweatshirt and carrying a cello on my back. I saw myself growing into the person I wanted to be at DePaul, as I encountered many different cultures and ideas and grew in my faith. I chose DePaul for many reasons, but what really moved me to choose this school was that I finally felt at peace when I let myself say yes.



Spring Quarter 2015 Has Finally Sprung

One week into the quarter and we’ve already experienced everything from sunshine and 60 degree weather to rainy, cold madness. Chicago has never been known for its consistent weather…

But I do see some buds on plants and trees and couldn’t be more excited for spring.

One week into the quarter and I can tell that I won’t have any trouble keeping busy. I’ve already had reading and writing assignments in every class, and I did shed a tear when I realized the total dollar amount of my textbooks. That’s never a good sign. But regardless of the future stresses that this quarter will inevitably hold, the weather taking a turn for the best will surely nurse my worries away.


Last weekend before classes started, I took a trip to the Lincoln Park Conservatory ​to see some tropical palms and ancient ferns. I forgot how relaxing and inviting this space can be. If you’re ever cold in the winter, or at all for that matter, make sure to make a stop to the LP Conservatory. It’s about 1000 degrees in there.


The LP Conservatory must mimic the environment of which their plants are originally from. This means heat, damp soil, and lots of light, which is one of my ideal environments. I must have been a fern in another life. 


Something I like to do at the LP Conservatory besides admire the beautiful foliage is to stare at the fish and turtles in the various ponds. Koi fish fill one of the ponds, and if you’ve never seen a koi fish before they are bigger than you would expect. They can grow to be 2-3 feet long and weigh up to 35 pounds. That’s probably bigger than your average Chihuahua​​. When they are well cared for, their life expectancy can be about 50-70 years long. Basically, koi fish are filled with lots of wisdom so you if you have any problems in life, I suggest talking to one of them. They’re great listeners.​


I would highly recommend a visit to the LP Conservatory if you ever feel like going on a fun, free, fast topical vacation to a faraway land that is actually located right in the heart of Lincoln Park. 


On another note, I hope to have many interesting things and events to share with you all this quarter. 


My life is getting more and more hectic, and subsequently tragic and/or laughable, so get ready to rumble this quarter for the journey of a lifetime...well maybe not a lifetime, but anything else just didn’t sound as exciting. 


Critical Point, but really Lab Classes

Up until the other day, I had forgotten how mysterious science can be.  I was studying for an upcoming physical chemistry exam and I was reading up on "real gases" (as opposed to ideal gases... which is what we spend a lot of time studying).  Maybe I lost the art because of the intense quarter I was having, but I was amazed when I stumbled on this video (skip to about 3:40).

The video is of water at it critical point​a specific temperature and pressure (705 °F, 212.7 atm) at which the liquid and gas phases have the same density and the interface between them becomes non-distinguishable.  Pretty insane right?  In general chemistry you spend some time drawing phase diagrams, but it's not every day that you get to see what something looks like at its critical point.  One of the experiments in physical chemistry lab does something similar to the video above, except using carbon dioxide (and without the crazy music).  I bring it up because it was a sharp moment where my experience in lab really helped me understand course content.  The concept of a critical point is clearly pretty abstract, and it really helps to see and use the concepts you learn in lecture. 
If you're a science major there's no doubt that you'll spend a good amount of time in lab classes.  They are an essential part of our science training and lab experiments help us connect lecture material to how it is practiced in science.  After all, we're learning these things to put them to practice in our future professional life.  While lab requirements vary depending on your major, there's a good chance that if you're studying Health Sciences, Biology, or Chemistry that you'll take the general biology and general chemistry lecture and lab sequences.  

My first couple of years I thought of labs as a burden.  They were just an extra 3-4 hours of time that I would spend in class (not to mention that they are generally worth just one credit).  But, they really are essential to our education.  They are the main way that we improve our writing skills as science majors.  More importantly, lab is another place to develop critical thinking skills.  After doing a lab it's common that you'll have to write a report about the lab, and that is where we develop our ability to analyze many factors of the experiment and use the concepts that we learn in lecture.  Lab is also one of the best times to get to know professors well.  It's time where you get 1:1 attention from a professor and it's a great opportunity to build a relationship with them, which is important if you want to get involved in research as an undergrad (also a very gratifying experience).  

Have questions about lab classes at DePaul?  Let me know, leave a comment!    


A Thing Done in a Seeing Place

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For the past three weeks I have been working with an American theatre company, Bread & Puppet, in residence here in Athens along with seven of my peers through our theatre class at CYA (College Year in Athens​).

The Bread & Puppet Theater​ was founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann on New York City’s Lower East Side. Then, in 1974, Bread & Puppet moved to “the farm” in Glover, Vermont. Today, Bread & Puppet continues to be one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the United States. (Make sure you take the time to read their “Cheap Art Manifesto” below.)

The first two weeks were spent experimenting with the five Bread & Puppet members who had traveled to Greece. When they weren’t working with our class, they were working with Greek volunteers (musicians, actors, and puppeteers) to create the traditional “Greek chorus.”

This past week was when everything was finally brought together. Our first and final dress rehearsal began at five Thursday evening, and at 8:30, we opened the show! We performed four shows (Thursday-Sunday) all of which were full houses! On opening night the students of CYA had the opportunity to see the show for free (rather than paying the €15 for a ticket.

The show, “A Thing Done in a Seeing Place” was a black and white puppet show based off of Sophocles’ ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone​. This story of power struggle between big authority and “little guy” can directly be applied to Greece’s current diplomatic struggles with the EU.

It was extremely well received and went off all weekend without a hitch!

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to work with such a talented group of people and meet more Greeks which I otherwise would not have met in the process.

I guess I can check performing in Greece off my bucket list!


Three Things I Wish I Had Known as a DePaul Freshman

I have learned many things throughout my time at DePaul. From discovering how to manage my time to learning more about how to be a great musician, I know that I will be able to cross the stage at graduation feeling like I really learned significant things during college. But as a freshman, I had no way to know what my college experience would end up being like. There were so many unexpected moments, lessons, and opportunities that I encountered in just my first year of college alone. As I look back on my time at DePaul, I ask myself what I wish I had known when I first began this crazy-cool journey of college. I think that I can summarize the things I wish I knew as a freshman at DePaul in three basic points: one that is practical, one that is profound, and another that is pretty straightforward.​

The Practical: Learn how you work best and go for it.

I can remember many-a-night during my freshman year when I was doing a lot of musicianship (music theory and music history) homework or was studying for an exam. By sophomore year, I realized that I often work best alone and that group studying or homework sessions only work for me if I feel solid about the material and just need someone to quiz me on it or check over my work. Although many people would regularly meet together to learn test material as a group, it didn’t feel rude to study on my own and meet with a classmate or two the night before the exam or before the homework was due. I discovered what worked for me and felt no shame in doing what I needed to do. But if you work best in groups, find other people who also do and form them as soon as possible!​

 The profound: Everybody else is just as unsure about life as you are.

It really is true. Although we all express it differently (or don’t ever express it!), most people have no idea what their futures hold. Many of us aren’t quite sure what we want sometimes, and all of us have insecurities. I entered college with high expectations of myself; I thought that I had to have everything figured out. I also thought that I had to have everything together all the time, and I kept to myself the fact that I actually had no idea what I wanted to do with my major or with my life! I would show up to lessons, terrified that my professor might find out that I wasn’t feeling confident in my playing that week. Or, I tried to not let my new friends discover that I was actually super homesick and stressed some days. And with time, as I discovered more of who I was and what my fears, insecurities, and dreams are, I realized that those are important things that I am allowed to share with others. Once I began to stop expecting so much of myself and allowed myself to open up to others about how adjusting to college can be hard, I learned that I wasn’t alone. You are entering a completely new stage of life when you start college. Entering college marks a time in your life where you are more independent than you have ever been before, and it’s scary. You’re faced with big decisions that must be made in a not-so-distant future. So, allow yourself to not know everything about yourself or about life. And tell people; you might just be surprised by how many others feel the same way! And this nugget of truth doesn’t even just apply to college freshmen- all of us are unsure and scared about life sometimes!​

Pretty straightforward: You go to school in an incredible city—embrace it!

College really does just fly by. They all said it to me when I chose DePaul and moved into my dorm. I can hear my parents saying it now: “You couldn’t have picked a better city! Take advantage of Chicago; it’s your playground for the next four years. And remember- college really does just fly by”. That’s literally what they said. So enjoy where you are. Go to random school events you just learned about 5 minutes before they began. Make new friends. Try different things. Take advantage of free things, both at DePaul and in Chicago! Go to artisan fairs and food festivals. Go to the zoo, go ice skating, visit the Bean and take as many selfies as your hipster heart desires; attend concerts, have a picnic in a park, have a NAP in a park, attend master classes, walk to the lake. Get your nature fix, your shopping fix, your I’m-going-to-pretend-to-be-a-tourist fix. Host movie nights in your dorm room. Try to be fancy and serve cheese and crackers and sparkling soda. Go to pet stores with friends. Take a random train route you’ve never taken and get off at a random stop (as long as it’s safe). I wish I had done more of these things as a freshman, when I lived in the dorms and had so many new friendships to pursue and no jobs or extra obligations to consume my time.
 
Freshman year is an irreplaceable nine months of your life. I grew so much, learned a lot, and I discovered so many incredible things. But there were still things I wish I had known—don’t let these be the three things you wish YOU had known as a freshman at DePaul! 


School of Music Classes

Something really great about being a music major is that you begin taking classes directly related to your major from your first quarter at DePaul to the end of your time here. From private lessons to orchestral repertoire, there are some very helpful classes that I have taken that have really prepared me to graduate and enter the music world as a cellist. 
Here is a list and description of some of the main courses most music performance majors (especially string players) take in their time as undergraduates:
​Private Lessons
This is a “class” that performance majors will have every quarter for their entire time at DePaul. Lessons usually take place once a week for an hour, although some professors travel to perform, so they may happen less often and in bigger chunks. Every professor arranges their lesson schedule differently, but our cello professor, Mr. Balderston created a set lesson schedule for the entire year. So I always have my lessons at a certain time for the entire year. Lessons are worth 4 credits, which is the maximum amount a class can be worth. So they are obviously a big deal!

Musicianship
Musicianship is a class that is required of all freshmen and sophomores. Even if you have taken music theory (and even if you scored high on the AP music theory test), you must take this course. Musicianship is taught by a number of different professors, and by the time you reach sophomore year, there are a little more options for what time of the day the class will be offered. However, my freshman year, I had musicianship class at 8:30 am, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. It was a struggle! By sophomore year, you are assigned to a class that meets Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, and I was fortunate enough to be in the 11:20-12:50 musicianship class. Musicianship consists of music theory and music history. When you come to DePaul for orientation, you will take a theory placement test, and this will determine in which of the three levels of musicianship you will be for the first year. After those two years, you will have learned how to part-write using different chord progressions; how to listen to a piece and know its basic characteristics, time period, and its composer; you will do research on various composers; and you will write your own short piece of some kind. This class is very helpful in teaching you about the music you play!

Aural Training
Aural training is another class you are required to take your first two years at DePaul. However, at the beginning of the quarter, there will be a “test-out” day, and if you have experience with aural training before, you may never have to take the class. The test usually consists of a harmonic progression (progressions with changing chords), a melodic progression (just a melody without chords), and a rhythmic exercise (which is often played on the piano on a single note. You are usually given the time signature and must write out the rhythm). If you don’t have experience with listening to music and writing it down and with sight-singing, fear not! Most people don’t have too much experience with it upon starting college. And although this class can be difficult, as you learn a new way of approaching music, you sharpen your listening skills tremendously, which can only help you in the long-run. If you end up having to take this class, it is often directly before or after your musicianship class. 

Group Piano
This class is a little more self-explanatory. It is also a class that you can try to test out of! In the same way, you can go and play for one of the group piano professors at the beginning of each quarter to try to test out of the class. By the time you finish group piano, you will know all two-octave scales and arpeggios on the piano, different chord progressions, how to play sevenths and ninth chords on the piano, and how to play and sight-read basic piano pieces/exercises. This class can be quite entertaining, as piano is a brand new skill for some people (that was pretty much me!). And when it’s a new skill AND you don’t practice, it can sound pretty bad. My advice: practice! I tried to practice piano a few times a week because I really needed it. That way, I only embarrassed myself in front of my classmates a couple of times each quarter. Even though it can be embarrassing or scary playing in front of your peers and professor, group piano helps you feel more comfortable with the piano and with showing your poor or not-so-poor skills you have on it.

Music Traditions
Music Traditions is a required course that lasts only a quarter, and you can take it pretty much any time you would like to. I decided to take it my junior year, and it was offered twice a week for an hour. It depends on the professor, as this course is taught by a few different ones, but mine was lecture-style for the entire course. My professor had an incredible knowledge about the topics of the class, which included an extensive history of jazz and various styles/genres of music from around the world, so he would lecture by memory about each topic, and I took notes on every word he said. The class had no homework or reading, but you have to be there for every class, or else you will miss an important topic discussed in the lecture. I really enjoyed the class because I never learned much about jazz, Eastern, or African music, and it was great to learn about genres other than Western classical music.

Orchestral Repertoire
This class was one of my favorite classes, but it was also one of the most difficult ones. I am unsure in regards to wind instruments, but each string instrument has its own orchestral rep. class. The cello class was taught by Mr. Balderston. A group of 10 or less of us would get together for this class once a week for two hours, and we would each perform excerpts that our professor had assigned to us the week before. We always had a week to learn the excerpts, and we sometimes had to learn up to 5 of them for a given class. It took a lot of work and practicing, and the turnaround was so fast! But because of that, we got through so many well-known orchestral excerpts that are often given in auditions, and I got so many valuable tips on them. My teacher also gave a booklet of all the excerpts to each of us, so I now have music with his markings from his time in major symphonies for the rest of my life!

String Pedagogy
When string students become upperclassmen, they are required to take orchestral repertoire one year and pedagogy the other year. I am currently taking pedagogy and will continue to for the rest of my time at DePaul. This class is super helpful to me, as I am currently a private teacher and plan to continue teaching throughout my music career. For the first two quarters, each instrument is divided into separate classes, as they are in orchestral rep., and for the Spring quarter, all the classes of different string instruments come together as one class. It depends on your instrument and your professor, but the cello pedagogy class has been learning about different books teachers use with young students, different teaching techniques, and things of that nature.

Orchestra
Orchestra is another class that you will take your entire time at DePaul as a performance major. At the beginning of each school year, string students audition for the orchestra conductors and the professors of their instrument, which determines the student's orchestra placement and seating for the year. DePaul has two main orchestras: Chamber and Symphony Orchestra. Once you are placed in your orchestra, you will either rehearse on Tuesday and Thursday for two hours each (if you are in Chamber, which we call DPCO- DePaul Chamber Orchestra), or on Monday, Wednesday, Friday (if you are in Symphony, DPSO). 

Chamber Music
Students are required to play in a chamber music group for two years in total at some point during their undergraduate. However, if you wanted to play in more chamber groups after those two years, you can totally do that! I have played in a chamber group almost my entire time at DePaul. Once the chamber requirements are filled, chamber music counts as an elective. What I love about chamber music at DePaul is the amount of freedom you have to make decisions- you are allowed to pick the members of your group, the repertoire you play, and you can request a specific coach. Once you have those things determined, your group is required to rehearse multiple times a week and have a one-hour coaching with the selected professor once a week. Each group must attend and perform in chamber music class, which meets every Friday from 1-2:30, starting toward the middle of the quarter. I have played in trios with violin, piano, cello and with clarinet, piano, cello. I have played in a string quartet that accompanied a clarinetist, and I have played in the traditional string quartet.

So that is a brief overview of the main courses undergraduate performance majors (in particular, string players) must take during their time at DePaul. I hope it helps paint a picture of what your experience at DePaul would be as a music student! Each class has been extremely helpful to me, and although a lot of them required a lot of work, it was all worth it. I feel like a well-rounded musician because of it!


String Chamber Showcase Performance

“Okay—everyone say, ‘Pants are useless’ as we take a bow!”

The violinist in my trio, Andrew, had been joking about how uncomfortable men’s dress pants were for the past three minutes that we had been standing backstage, waiting for our turn to go on and perform two movements of Debussy’s piano, violin, cello trio in the DePaul String Chamber Showcase.

As the group before us finished their final movement of the night and the applause began, my heart raced faster all of a sudden. Although I love playing in chamber groups and feel more comfortable performing an in ensemble than by myself, I definitely still get nervous each time I walk out on the Concert Hall stage for the Chamber Showcase that is held toward the end of each quarter.

Once the previous group came backstage, and we congratulated them on a stellar performance, the stage managers quickly asked me if I would prefer a cello chair or a bench; it was suddenly a very huge decision that was difficult for me to make. After going back and forth in my mind about which would feel more comfortable, I decided on the cello chair and waited for them to return and open the door for us to walk out onto the stage.

I was the first person to walk onto the stage, and I immediately noticed that there was a decently sized audience clapping for us, and the lights were very bright! Once I was near my seat to bow, I also noticed how close our seats were to the edge of the stage, and that scared me a little bit. I bowed anyways and told myself the strange saying Andrew had come up with as I bowed forward and rose back up.

We sat down, and I adjusted my endpin multiple times before I tuned to our pianist, Ryan, and let Andrew tune to me. Then, we were off! We played the cute Scherzo movement, beginning and ending with pizzicato. We then glided through the graceful third movement, a gorgeous Intermezzo with a stunning melody that the cello begins with and then passes off to the violin. We ended the third movement with a final G major chord that was held by a fermata, and Andrew and I both slowly took our bows off our strings, keeping eye contact.
 
Once we put our bows down, it took the audience at least 4 seconds to clap. When I was on the stage, I was worried that the audience wasn’t sure if we were done performing, and I felt extremely awkward. But when I talked to people afterward, they said that the performance was beautiful, and I realized that they didn’t want to ruin the moment shared between the audience and us as the final chord hung in the air. That is the mark of a successful performance for me!

As I am writing this, I am listening to the recording of us for the first time. And while I had some intonation and slight ensemble issues that I wish I could have fixed with my own part, I feel very good about that performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the chamber group I chose to participate in this past quarter, and we had a blast learning a piece that not many people have actually ever heard. I was able to fight through the nerves and completely enjoy myself on the stage, and we were able to emotionally connect with one another and with the audience, which was full of both our peers and strangers. And that’s all I could ever ask for in any performance I ever give!

Thanks for a great quarter of making music, Andrew and Ryan, and just remember, everyone: Pants are USELESS.


Chicago Music Scene

​Chicago’s music scene should be reason enough to move to the city. I love music and have grown to love it even more after moving to Chicago. If you look at current musical artists, many of them are from Chicago. Luckily, there are many ways to get involved in the music scene in Chicago and at DePaul. Here are a few ways my friends and I have gotten involved in DePaul and Chicago’s music scene.

1) Taking music-based classes
DePaul has an amazing music school. With one of the most well-known programs in the nation, there are many classes that are available for people majoring in music and for people that are not music majors as well. My friend Remy is taking a class exclusively on the Beatles and his experience in the class is a common discussion amongst my friends. Even classes not directly based on music are taught by professors involved in Chicago’s music scene. My sociology professor’s research is on white rappers in Chicago. Hearing him talk about what he has done was very interesting. There are also classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music if you are interested in learning an instrument.

2) Doing internships
There are many music venues in the city. Some of my friends have had internships at local music venues and have gotten involved in music and sound production both at DePaul and with local studios. My roommate spent most of his summer last year interning at Jeff McClusky and Associates, which is a huge player in the music scene in the United States.

3) Going to concerts and festivals
Almost any artist stops in Chicago for a concert. This is a great opportunity to see some of your favorite bands play live. We have some awesome venues such as Lincoln Hall, The Riviera, and Schubas to name a few that are just a train ride away from DePaul. I have seen some awesome concerts in the city. Chicago truly is a concert lover’s paradise. In the summer, there are a few concerts that are very popular. There is Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening and Pitchfork that are all nationally renowned festivals and are tons of fun as well.

4) FEST!!!
DePaul, every spring, hosts a concert solely for DePaul students. Some of the most memorable experiences I have had at DePaul have been from FEST. They have had artists such as Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco and Diplo play for DePaul, along with openers such as Portugal the Man.

Overall, the music scene is very vibrant in Chicago and at DePaul. If you have any interest in music, it is very easy for you to become involved in music at DePaul either as a career or as a hobby.

Standardized Testing

​I was reading an article last week in Time Magazine that was talking about standardized testing and it got me thinking extensively about the topic with my friends and professors.

Almost every week, I spend around forty hours per week in the library studying for the CPA exam. I will be doing for almost 6 months straight in order to pass the four standardized tests required to become a CPA. It is interesting to think that tests such as these exist and are supposed to grade competency. I am sure many of you are studying for the ACT/SAT to get into college. If someone were to ask you if it is a good test on your academic ability, would you say yes? Most people would say no. I remember studying for days on end for the exam. It does not make much sense to me as it is nearly impossible to test a person’s academic ability based on a test.

This idea coincides with many of the standardized tests that kids and adults take. Our society has become obsessed with standardized tests, with some people being forced to change their entire life over exam scores. Hopefully society will soon learn its lesson and understand that a person should not be judged based on a number.

Luckily, DePaul has the test optional​ choice, where if you are not good at taking exams or think your score is not a reflection on your academic ability, you can complete other requirements in lieu of the exam. This is a feature that has been offered for a couple years now through the Office of Admission and it is a great thing to take advantage of, especially if you are displeased with your test scores. Therefore, don’t stress if you don’t have the highest score. Your acceptance should be more than just about your grades and your test scores.


CHE 360: Medicinal Chemistry

This year it was finally time for me to take my chemistry electives, the classes that will afford me a "biochemistry/medicinal chemistry" concentration under my chemistry degree.  While those words likely won't show up on my transcript, these classes are ultimately the reason I chose to study chemistry.  

Sophomore year I was confused about how I wanted to spend my time as an undergraduate.  I knew that I wanted to go to medical school, but I enjoyed general chemistry more than general biology, yet at the time I was a biology major.  I took this as a sign that I might want to study chemistry, and subsequently I changed my major to chemistry halfway through my sophomore year while I was taking organic chemistry.  I started doing research in a medicinal chemist's lab, and I was convinced enough to change my major.

My favorite chemistry class has been the yearlong sequence of biochemistry, and this year I am taking three chemistry electives in fulfillment of my concentration.  Last quarter I wrote about chemical biology.  This quarter I'm taking medicinal chemistry.

The class has changed my perspective on the pharmaceutical industry because I now actually realize how difficult the drug design and approval process is.  The class is an introduction to the drug development and design process, from finding a target to finding a drug that acts at that target.  We're learning to analyze pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic ​data.  Pharmacodynamics is the investigation of how well a drug works once it gets to its target (could be an enzyme in a specific tissue or cell type, or a receptor for neurotransmitters, among many things).  Pharmacokinetics deals with what the body does to the drug before it gets to its target.  After all, we're putting foreign substances in to our body so our body is going to do everything it can to get rid of that drug.  

You can watch a video below about medicinal chemistry:

This class has built extensively on knowledge from organic chemistry.  Not a class goes by where we don't explain something using organic chemistry principles.  We're learning the ways that chemists can alter drug solubility, polarity, reactivity with off-target enzymes, and acid-base properties.  These methods and many others yield an understanding of how the structure of a drug can be altered to make it more potent at its target tissue and more selective/less toxic (less side effects).

In the next few weeks we will examine computer aided drug design and development.  I'm especially excited for this portion of the class because of the role that technology will continue to play in science and medicine. ​It's a really neat way to bridge between my chemistry studies and my future studies in medical school.  The analytical skills we're developing in this class, and many others, will translate in our future careers and academic pursuits.  



The 3rd Annual Honors Student Government Alumni Panel

After a month of incessant e-mailing, scheduling on scheduling, and a mini social media campaign, the Third Annual Honors Student Government Alumni Panel was a go. 

The planning of this event had literally consumed my life for a good month, however, the success of the event was totally rewarding. 

​With the help of my fellow Academic Committee Co-Chair, the Honors Program staff, and the Alumni Office, I was able to put together a nice gathering of Honors students, former Honors students, meatballs, and cheesecake bites. Yes, of course there was free food. We scheduled DePaul catering which meant bruschetta, coffee, and lemon ice water. If that wasn't reason enough to come to the event, then I don’t know what was.


We had a diverse panel of four alumni come to share their knowledge of the job market and their respective industries with Honors students. This event was extremely helpful in gaining some affirmation that recent DePaul grads are doing some pretty cool things. For example, one of our panelists was the founder of his own startup company, while another was adjunct faculty in DePaul’s CDM College. All of the panelists brought great insight and were able to shed light on how the Honors program helped them prepare for their current jobs. 

They all recommended seeking out internships early on during your college career. This is important for gaining experience, and even if you hate your internship, it gives you information about what you don’t want to do. In the world of endless opportunities, every chance you can get to narrow your possibilities is helpful.


DePaul makes our alumni network super accessible to reach out to for advice. Through our College and Career Center’s ASK program (short for Alumni Sharing Knowledge), it’s possible to find a mentor to help guide you through your potential job field. They also can you help to prepare you for job interviews and look over your resume. The ASK program is a great networking source because you automatically have something in common: Once a Blue Demon, always a Blue Demon. 


Our event took place directly after our general body meeting for Honors Student Government and went as follows:

  1. 4:30-5:00 Set up and greet alumni
  2. 5:00-5:15 Head shots
  3. 5:15-6:15 Alumni Panel
  4. 6:15-6:30 Raffle and closing announcements

Overall, all the hard work paid off! The event went very smoothly, the alumni and students had fun, and there were those cheesecake bites...I had so many I lost track. It’s nice to know the DePaul community doesn’t end when you graduate. Through ASK and Alumni Panels, the fun is just beginning. 


Performing in Cello Studio Class

There is this terrifying vision that consistently runs through my mind whenever I sign up to perform in cello studio class: I walk onto the stage with cello in hand; I start playing, and my hands can’t stop shaking. I start missing all the shifts. My bow can’t seem to stay on the string.  And then, all of a sudden, my endpin slips, and my cello is sliding all over the place in my lap. And there it goes, falling off the stage and into the audience as pieces of wood chunks shower my studio mates. The lights start to get unbearably bright, and everything is so loud that I can’t hear any of the cues with which my accompanist is trying to help me. And I don’t even have a cello anymore - so what do I do?? Sing?!

Okay - that may be a little more dramatic than what I actually think or what actually happens, but the images in this nightmare are actually some of my most irrational, ridiculous fears that really do taunt me when I think about performing in studio class. So when I agreed to perform in the cello studio class last Wednesday at the very last minute, I instantly broke into a flushed sweat, just imagining getting on the stage in front of my 18 peers and my professor to perform. The image of sitting above everyone else with bright lights on me did actually flash through my thoughts.

When you talk to a variety of music majors​ about performing, you will often get very contrasting views and feelings about it. Some music majors absolutely love every minute of performing. For them, the best days of their life are when they can get on a stage and share their music with others. Others develop a lot of anxiety and constantly have to battle with their natural tendency to feel extremely nervous and insecure when they perform. And some are somewhere in between - it is scary and stressful, but they still love performing the moment they get on that stage. I also think these approaches vary by how a musician feels on a certain day and by the music they are performing. 

For this studio class, I played a piece to which I deeply connect. It has a very mellow, graceful, flowing mood, and I feel like it expresses significant parts of who I am when I play it. So getting on that stage was not as nerve-wracking for me this time. However, I definitely felt nervous in the day and hours leading up to it. Although studio class is meant to be a time to present a piece that is a work-in-progress, I often put pressure on myself to have a perfectly polished piece that is ready to be performed in a recital that very moment. I think this is a feeling that is mutually felt by many music majors. Getting on a stage to show everyone what you have been working so hard toward can push performers to place unrealistic and unnecessary pressures on themselves. I think the goal should always be to prepare as much as you can and then simply get on that stage, confident and ready to share your music and hard work with others. 

So that’s what I did. I got on the stage in the DePaul Recital Hall this past Wednesday, feeling a sense of peace and knowing that there is nothing I need to prove to anyone; all I was doing was receiving helpful feedback from my peers and professor and pushing myself out of my comfort zone to take part in the celebration of music we all choose to partake in every day as music majors. I performed with my heart and was then coached by my professor for the remaining time I had left in my thirty minutes in the hot seat. My cello studio mates then flooded my chair with studio class comment sheets with their critiques and encouragements. I always greatly appreciate and value my professor’s and peers’ input and will continue to work to make this piece, and all the music that I am working on, my own! And that is all we can ever strive to do. 

Now that multiple days have passed since my performance in studio class, I am laughing at myself, as I always do after I perform in studio class. I tend to build up the stress of it all so much, and then the moment I get off that stage, I realize that yes, it is scary, but I am in such a loving, supportive environment in which I can grow and truly embrace who I am as a cellist; there is nothing to fear! So although I will most likely always feel a little terror before any performance, I can always look back on my many studio class performances and remind myself that the lights never did blind me, my cello only slipped a couple of times (and never actually reached enough distance to fall off the stage), and I may have made plenty of mistakes I wasn’t expecting to, but it has always been worth it because I get to do what I love and be surrounded by others who support me and have that same love.

53% Office Hour Turnout

10/19 (53%) students in my thermochemistry ​class attended Dr. French's office hour on Wednesday this past week.  That's a pretty exceptional number of students, given that the professor has three days with office hours during the week.  It wasn't so much of an office hour, as we had to move down the hall to the conference room.  And this isn't the first time this has happened this quarter.  This was just a single office hour out of three for the week.  I bet by the end of the week every single student will have attended one of Dr. French's office hours. 

I didn't start taking advant​age of my professor’s office hours until my sophomore year in organic chemistry.  During first quarter organic I realized that I needed direction in how to study for the course and Dr. Karver had a few office hours that I was able to attend.  It was a slow process through my sophomore to junior years to realize just how useful and unique office hours are.  It's the chance to, often times, sit down one on one with the professor to get help with the class.  Some of the times I walk in with a specific question, other times I just want to check in with the professor.  Either way, it's unique because how much face time is available with professors.

Given that professors have, on average, three office hours per week, there's not been a quarter at DePaul that I haven't been able to make it to a professor's hours.  This year I started to take better advantage of the extra time that professors at DePaul provide, and I put the office hours that I could attend in to my weekly calendar. It's become part of my schedule, almost as if it was another class.  I know which days of the week I will be attending office hours, and it's benefited my learning experience greatly.  

Last quarter in quantum chemistry I visited Dr. Southern at least once a week (in addition to the 4 hours of lecture and 8 hours of lab that I saw her in the week).  Sophomore year I visit Dr. Cohn in cell biology once in a while, but I was still learning just how valuable office hours are.  

There are two major things about the turnout at office hours this past week.  First, it signifies the fact that senior students are often more comfortable approaching a professor for help.  If I have any advice for you, whether you're soon to enter college or already in college, take the step to drop by a professor's office.  You likely won't regret it.  In fact, when I did this for the first time sophomore year to my organic chemistry professor, Dr. Karver, I ended up getting a spot in her research lab a few weeks later.  

More important, it signifies how the science program at DePaul is unique.  Even in classes with 60-80 students there is time to meet with the professor one on one in their office hours.  In my experience at DePaul, I've found science professors to be easily accessible outside of class and it has made my experience in class with them better.  It's clear that the professors care about our progress in their class, but also about our development as students and future contributors.


De-Stressing

​This week, as a way to de-stress from midterms and CPA studying, I decided to go with one of DePaul’s accounting organizations to a game of WhirleyBall. I initially got introduced to WhirleyBall my freshman year when our resident advisor (RA) took our hall on an outing to play WhirleyBall. For those of you who do not know what WhirleyBall is, imagine playing basketball using bumper cars. It is honestly as fun as it sounds and is a huge adrenaline rush.

I am someone that really likes basketball; however, because of my size, I am unable to compete against the six foot giants that usually play at the gym. WhirleyBall does not discriminate against height, luckily. This gives me the ability to show how truly good I am at basketball if it was played at the same height level as myself.

One of the largest changes for me coming from high school was the transition from a school on the semester system to the quarter system​. This was because the amount of midterms and finals that the quarter system has is significantly more that at semester schools which can make it seem more stressful. That is why it is very important that you are able to find your methods to de-stress. 

I had never heard of WhirleyBall until I had come to DePaul. Thanks to my RA I have learned of a new, cool sport that Chicagoans play. In college, it is pivotal that you find your way to de-stress. There will be times that college will make you want to cry and pull your eyes out. In reality, your professors do this on purpose and use it as a method to challenge you. I personally like it because I know that there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. 



Screenwriting

This quarter I decided to give myself some creative leeway which prompted me to enroll in a class that would cultivate my artistic abilities. Intro to Screenwriting is presenting me with the opportunity to master the art of writing dramatically for motion pictures. I mean let’s be honest, I love sitting down with 1 or 7 bags of Doritos while watching a flick…but actually developing a solid idea for a film is a tricky thing. With the help of DC 201, I have been learning how to develop the correct format, visual writing style, scene, character, and dialogue for a screenplay. 

Every day we start the class discussing movies or shows we have watched over the weekend, which is the most entertaining way to begin a lecture. We are talking about pure entertainment, people. These conversations have brought to light how many films I have yet to see (and also how little time I have to watch movies). We learn these things through a series of writing exercises. I don’t physically exercise because…no… so writing exercises are going to have to do.

I like the feeling of having somewhere to go without moving anything but my fingers.  Creative writing is like giving birth to a world where you make the rules and the possibilities are boundless. When I write, I pull from personal experiences and mix and mash them with silly ideas that are not allowed in the typical “formal” college writing style.

The thing my teacher stresses the most is to never be boring. No, not every synapse that comes out of my brain is a solid idea, but this class had taught me to run with my gut feeling and develop something regardless of my confidence in the idea. In the end, the opportunity to write creatively gives me the opportunity to express my inner feelings and experiences through the creation of as story.

I never realized how important it is to have a creative outlet until I neglected it for so long. By no means is this class a blow off, but it utilizes parts of my brain that have been dusty while I’ve been busy critically analyzing philosophical texts and peer reviewed sources.

Try to remember that the classes you pick don’t have to be rigid all the time, especially at the beginning of your college career. Open electives and fulfilling learning domains are great opportunities to play around with different interests that might not run parallel to your desired major. Keep creativity and humor in the mix because it definitely takes the pressure off of stressful course work when you know at least one assignment is going to be about Guy Fieri falling in love with a strip of bacon.

Happy writing!

Student Jobs in the School of Music

As a student worker in the School of Music Admissions office, I have been fortunate enough to see how DePaul's School of Music is run from behind the curtain. Although there is no crazy scientist who is trying to be a large, powerful wizard back there, I have discovered some pretty cool things about my school! In fact, I have realized that DePaul's music school offers a lot of great job opportunities for its students, and through that, we have all seen how efficiently our school runs.

Here are some positions around the DePaul School of Music where students work:

Front Desk Worker- The front desk worker is essentially the face of the School of Music. These workers sit behind the main desk, answering telephone calls for the school, directing people, and answering their questions. They also handle the sign-out sheets and keys for the different studio rooms and classrooms, giving out keys to students who have permission to access those rooms. Front desk workers also sort the incoming mail on a daily basis and handle the lost and found bin.

Admissions Worker- I will warn you- I am extremely biased about this position because I love my job! Admissions workers learn to do many things: we answer emails and phone calls about admission-related questions, handle admission materials- which involves scanning, uploading, and updating the documents sent to our office, give tours to prospective students and their parents, and send mail. We also work on audition days, when applicants are auditioning for the School of Music!

Set-up Crew Worker- Set-up crew is a more labor-intensive job. Workers are assigned to set up and tear down all the chairs, risers, and stands for the rehearsals and performances of different ensembles. Workers show up before and stay after the rehearsal or concert, making sure everything is in place and ready.


Stage Managing Worker- Stage managers act as both backstage managers and ushers during performances. They often work student recitals. They are in charge of controlling the lights during the performance and changing the stage setup when needed. For ensemble and other larger performances, workers can be ushers and pass out programs in the front of the hall and make sure the concert will not be disturbed. Stage managers are also in charge of locking and unlocking the two performance halls within the School of Music throughout a given day.


Students do not need to be eligible for work study in order to have these on-campus jobs; once you arrive as a student in the School of Music, you may apply for any job that has openings and decide how often you are willing to work. Student workers are paid minimum wage, gaining important work experience while making some extra money!


Be Motivated

Starting your day off the right way is very important, it can mean the difference between getting the job you want or doing better in class. As a kid, my parents would always tell me that I had to eat a good breakfast in order to get my day going. A good breakfast, in their opinion, usually meant a banana with orange juice and maybe cereal or toast. I’ve never been a big breakfast person but I do get my morning coffee every day.

Aside from food, there are other morning routines that are important to me. One of which usually consists of listening to music and getting the morning rust off me with a little bit of dancing as I get ready. Recently, I found this pretty awesome YouTube video that took a bunch of motivational speeches from movies and put them all together with music. It is great! I really get a kick out of it. It may be considered kind of cheesy by some, but when I hear just the audio without even watching the video, I get pumped for my day. There are several famous speeches and quotes like Rocky’s, “It’s not about hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,” to Will Smith telling his son in a film, “You got a dream, you got to protect it.”

I like the video because it shares a very special message with its audience. The message is that no matter what happens in life, no matter how difficult things get, and no matter what anyone says you have to keep moving forward. The world is a big place with over 7 billion people in it, with over 7 billion different opinions, and over 7 billion different ways of living. So no matter what anyone says, thinks, or how many “hits” you get from life, get up and never give up. I invite my readers to watch the video on YouTube and I hope that they get just as much out of it, if not more, than I did.

You can watch the video below:



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Course Registration Week: Yoga Breathing Necessary

This week was class registration week at DePaul. This means that students all over campus anxiously checked watches and phones for the clock to turn to their designated time and then proceeded to click the classes they wanted as fast as humanly possible, trying to get their perfect schedule. 

A stressful week for many, class registration always occurs around midterms. Yoga breathing and hot tea are definitely necessities during this part of the quarter.


Thus far in my college career I have been extremely lucky in my class registration. I haven’t had to be put on any wait lists or re-do my schedule, which is a huge relief. While this is due in part to being in the Honors Program (we register a few days before the rest of the university), it is also due to being highly prepared for registration day. Here are some expert tips from someone who knows how to get your dream schedule:


As soon as the course cart opens, be sure to start dreaming up potential schedules. Don’t wait till the day before registration to do so, especially if you work. It’s important to have time to work out scheduling conflicts.


Make multiple schedules. If you find out you’re put on the wait list for a class or a class is too full, then it’s important to have other options to register for. DO NOT BANK ON THE WAIT LIST. It’s a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. 


Talk to you advisor. It’s important to make sure that you’re fulfilling all your major requirements, your core requirements, and that your GPA is up to par with your college and scholarships. No one likes to find out that they’re behind in their schedule because they took a class they didn’t need.


On class registration day, WAKE UP! I know plenty of people who have slept through their class registration on accident. My registration time this quarter was 9 a.m. so I set multiple alarms to make sure I registered as soon as 8:59 turned to 9:00.


Make sure to find out which campus your class is on. While room numbers and buildings aren’t available at this time, information regarding which campus the class will take place is. This is imperative to know so you allow yourself time to commute from the Loop to Lincoln Park ​and vice versa. Making a mistake of which campus a class is at can be pretty devastating to your perfect schedule. 


Following my tips can help you get the professors and class times of your dreams. The key to success is being prepared in the game of class registration. If you don’t get your perfect schedule, it’s important to stay calm. Factors outside of your personal control (a class was moved to a different quarter, the professor can no longer teach it, etc) can contribute to extra difficulties in registering for classes. Just remember that as you gain more credits, your registration time becomes earlier and earlier. 


And remember yoga breathing and hot tea. Especially, the yoga breathing. 


DePaul Housing: Residence Halls vs. Apartment Life

For most likely the first time in your life, it’s time to decide where you personally want to live. Daunting? Yes. Exciting? Of course. Expensive? Sadly, yes.

I had no idea where I wanted to room my freshman year at DePaul. It’s hard to know what the dorms actually look like from raw floor plans and some dimensions. Based on a recommendation from my advisor, I ended up living on the Honors Floor in Seton Hall. Living on the Honors Floor was one of the best decisions I made my freshman year. If you’ve been accepted into the Honors Program​ and are considering rooming on the floor, I would highly recommend it.

As an honors student, your classes are capped at around 20 students. You will most likely get to know your classmates very well throughout your 10 weeks in class. Because of this, it is really nice to be just around the corner from classmates for homework advice. It’s easy to collaborate on projects and be in the loop about Honors Program events.

If you’re not in the Honors Program, I would still recommend Seton Hall. Seton has the biggest rooms and the biggest closets. Last year, I didn’t have to worry about what shoes to bring or what clothes to pack; I had the luxury of being able to bring my entire closet. 


My walk in closet at Seton Hall was so large, that I would often use the space to talk on the phone. It was a dream come true. I hope that someday in my life when I’m a working professional I will have a closet like I did my freshman year of college. I never thought I’d type that sentence when I was in high school.


Additionally, having high ceilings really opens up the rooms in Seton as well. I could stand up on my lofted bed and still not be able to reach the ceiling to give you an idea of how tall my room was.


If this is your second year at DePaul, I would highly recommend that you go on the apartment search. It can save you a few thousand dollars by not living in the dorms. Grab a few close friends you can see yourself living with, and hit up websites such as Craigslist, Padmapper, and Domu. It’s important to be wary of false advertisements and always make sure to see the space in person before signing any documents or giving money. I found my current apartment via Craigslist. While this may seem super sketchy, if you’re safe and smart, there are definitely some good spaces on Craigslist.

My number one tip for apartment hunters is to respond quickly and act fast. Apartments go really fast in the city, especially around this time of year. Being on top of new postings and listings will only work to your advantage.

Living on your own in an apartment with your name on the lease teaches you a lot about living in the real world. While apartment life has been no means been a perfect experience (i.e. water heater/fireplace leaks, broken washing machines, pipes freezing, and loud neighbors), it’s been completely rewarding. 

Good luck as you search for a place to squat for the next year of your life. Remember it’s not about where you are, but what you make of it!


CYA (College Year in Athens)

​Γεια σας! My name is Zoe Wildasin and I am a sophomore at DePaul studying Public Relations & Advertising and minoring in theatre studies. I love Chicago and life at DePaul, but this semester I decided to leave all that behind and study in Athens, Greece from January to May. I am here studying with a program by the name of CYA (or College Year in Athens). Don’t freak out! You can do just a semester too. CYA is just one of the many programs offered by DePaul’s study abroad office. There are so many places, programs, and lengths to choose from. The possibilities are endless!

Because CYA is a program sponsored by DePaul, my financial aid transfers over to my program here in Athens and I pay the same tuition as I pay when taking classes in Chicago. There is a program fee on top of tuition, but these vary from program to program, and can be covered by an additional scholarship as well.

I chose Athens for so many reasons, one being the flexibility. The program offers many classes that can cover several of DePaul’s Liberal Arts Learning Domains. Some of DePaul’s study abroad programs are better suited for certain majors, and can sometimes even come with internship opportunities. By taking a variety of classes, most of which are centered around Greek history and modern Greek culture, I can learn about the city of Athens and surrounding areas while still earning credits toward my degree.

On the subject of classes; I am taking Modern Greek, Greek Philosophy: The Good Life and the Common Good, Aegean & Ancient Greek Art & Archeology, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Greek Culture, and Attic Tra​gedy Theatre. Most of these classes, in addition to time spent in the classroom, have an “on site” component, which allows us to go and see the very things we are reading about. All of my professors are fantastic.

Another great thing about CYA and reason I chose to come to Athens is that the program is all-English. Some study abroad programs require you to be fluent in the native language before going because your classes will all be taught in the native language. Modern Greek is not widely offered, and therefore not widely known in the states. Because of this, many students would be unable to study in Greece. But, CYA offers a way for you to come, take classes in English and learn Greek while you are here. Keep in mind all students are required to take Modern Greek – I know it sounds intimidating, but it comes quicker than you think.  

I hope you continue to follow my time abroad and feel free to ask me any questions along the way as well!
Γεια σας!


Getting All the Nuts and Bolts

This quarter, my class has a tandem of two weekly classes at the Acting Studio Chicago​. The Acting Studio is a center for classes focused in acting technique and also the business side of the entertainment industry in Chicago. The classes we are taking are an acting for the camera class and also an audition technique class. They present an interesting one-two punch every week introducing every week to what it might really be like to work as an actor in Chicago.

In acting for the camera, we go through scenarios every week that resemble an actual on-camera audition that we would go on. We read commercial copy and learn how to most effectively use our training to make this sometimes dry text unique to us and boil down what will help us get callbacks on these auditions. It’s a subtle technique and looking at yourself on the screen once we’ve filmed the segments is very weird at first. I’m getting more used to it with each class but it can make you pretty self-conscious. It really just comes down to practice, I think. Doing this kind of material is something very few people in my class have ever done but we’re getting better. In addition to reading copy, we’ve gone through scenarios for auditions with no written text and worked in pairs. We are certainly getting an advantage because so many other actors our age not coming out of a program such as ours don’t have this opportunity to learn the industry and the technique before jumping in to an audition.

Speaking of auditioning, our audition class on Fridays is an extension of the audition class we had last quarter. We are learning what it takes to get in the door with agents and do our best work when we get in the room for those auditions. I guess the biggest thing that I’m taking from all of it is that there is no right way to do it, really. The most important thing to me is that I don’t feel like I’m compromising any part of myself to get work that I think I “should” get or “have” to get. I want to and will do it my way and I am confident that, because of that, I will do the work that I want to do.  Rock on, amirite?

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
Say what you will about Beck, but the dude can really write a jam. 





Undecided? No worries.

If you're a junior or senior in high school, you probably get this question a lot.  "So, what are you going to study?"  It might also come in the flavor of, "So, what do you want to do?"  They're both pretty bold questions, as they ask you to predict your interests for the next four years or even longer.  The truth is that a lot can change once you get to college.  You might start college having declared a certain major only to find that you're not really interested.  In that case, you've lost some time in fulfilling degree requirements. 

If you're not sure what to study, you're not alone.  This Times article suggests that about 80% of college students don't know what they want to study when enrolling in college.  Don't feel like being "undecided" is a character flaw.  It means that you're willing enough to try something new.  Some of you may have known what you want to study in college for a while, but it's not a bad idea to figure out where that desire comes from.  Entering college "undecided" means that you have a little extra work to do, but the opportunity you have is extraordinary.    

If you're not ready to choose what to study you have an incredible opportunity for exploration.  While I didn't enter college undecided, I did change my major three times.  I started as a biology major.  Sophomore year I switched to health science for a quarter, and I eventually figured out that I'm most interested in studying chemistry.  I didn't lose time because I was still taking general classes.  If you're motivated to try new things, to get involved in something at college, to seek out help from professors and professionals, and to talk to people in the world, chances are that you're going to find something that you love.  It will take effort and patience.  There will probably be things that you realize quickly you're not interested in, and things that you are infatuated with from day one.       

The Times article gets at the same message by saying that some colleges have dropped the word "undecided" in favor of "exploratory".  What a cool opportunity.  If you're undecided, you have the chance to do some soul searching.  You have the chance to figure out where you want to fit in.  You're likely going to grow greatly in this search process, and you'll come out better informed about your future.  You essentially have a blank slate.  While that may be scary, you should try to see it as one of the best opportunities you've had.  So, whether you've chosen a major out of chance or you're still figuring your decision out, now is your time to think about how you want to contribute to the world. 

DePaul has an office to help.  The Career Center​ advisers at DePaul can provide guidance in your journey.  Another approach could be to simply talk to other students.  Ask them why they are studying what they are studying.  You might share common interests.  Or, you might find that they too aren't really sure.  Either way, you can walk away with a better understanding of how your interests can translate into a major and future career.         
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Watch the video below about college majors:


Why I Changed My Major

If you were to ask me when I was a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, you would have gotten a stereotypical answer like a teacher, or a singer, or an actress. If you were to ask me between the times of middle school and last week, I would have said a doctor. Now, I would not be able to give you a concrete answer.

I have been set on going to medical school and becoming a doctor for almost ten years now. It is something that I was very passionate about. I think, however, I was naïve about the process that it takes to become a doctor. Beginning this year, I began to realize just exactly how long I would be in school and how hard it would be, and it filled me with a sense of dread. School wasn’t fun anymore, I was stressed, and the thought of my future began to affect my mood and health. 

Go explore and enjoy this marvelous city!
This is not what I wanted my college experience to be like. So many people have told me that the four years of college are the best four years of your life. For me, it was beginning to turn into the worst four years. Therefore, I decided to take control of my life and change my plan. I dropped out of the accelerated path and changed my concentration from pre-med to a more general concentration. I still am a Health Sciences major​ because I still want to do something in the health field, I think. However, I now have room in my schedule to study abroad, take crazy electives, minor in Spanish, and explore and discover what I want my life to be like. 

I already feel so much better! I have so much more freedom and a lot of paths for my future have opened up. I for one am excited to see where I am taken. It is difficult for me to do something like this because I am a person who thrives and lives for a concrete plan. I don't have one anymore, but it is for a very good reason. College is such a fun time, and it is useless to spend so much time, energy, and money on something that you don’t enjoy or aren’t passionate about. Whether you are an art major, a chemistry major, or a business major, enjoy yourself! DePaul and Chicago are the perfect places to discover so much.  

Sometime vs. Some Time

A couple of weeks ago I was completing an assessment for a potential job.  One of the sections measured my proficiency in English by asking me to correct sentences if necessary.  In one question I was given a sentence containing the word sometime and asked to correct the sentence if it was used incorrectly.

It's unfortunate that it wasn't until then that I really wanted to investigate the difference between sometime and some time.  It's also unfortunate that I couldn't just Google it because the exam was proctored via the internet by a company that had control of my computer and webcam. 

As students growing up in a world where we can search the internet for almost any fact or information that we're looking for, our approach to education is certainly going to have to change.  This isn't a novel idea, people have been talking about it for a long time.  Check out this short video about that. 

But, here's why this is so relevant.  As learners and future productive members of society, we have to figure out how we're going to adapt.  We have to figure out what it means if we're not sure how to use sometime and some time.  Today in the clinic I volunteer at another volunteer was translating for a patient.  The volunteer knew Spanish well, but there were a few words that were difficult.  I had Google translate on call, ready for the moments when I was asked to look up a word.  And it worked.  The communication was much faster and easier than looking up the words in the Spanish medical dictionary sitting right next to us. 

Thinking about how we (as students) should respond is kind of frightening.  Not only do we have to think about how we will adapt to these changes, but we will have to think about how to teach our kids.  In biochemistry it's imperative to know the amino acids structure, pKas, and properties without having to look them up.  It's part of the language.  It's not possible to effectively interpret biological/ chemical information without "knowing" these things.  In this case, knowing definitely implies knowledge that require no consultation of external resources.  But, using this definition, I didn't "know" the difference between the uses of sometime and some time when I was taking my assessment, and I kind of felt ashamed.

I offer no answer or solution.  I'm just beginning to think about what all of this means.  This fascinating issue is becoming increasingly relevant to us as students.  We need to figure out how to find, process, interpret, and store the information that we come across.  It's our job as students to figure out how we'll use the technology we have to enhance our education.  We'll have to adapt to learn new skills applicable to the jobs we'll be performing. 

You must be wondering, if you haven't Googled it yet. Here's the difference between sometime and some time:
(Source: Grammarly.com)



Senior Recitals and Twin Time!

I had the great privilege to not only attend, but to also participate in my twin sister, Rachel's senior recital this weekend. She is a viola performance major at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and her wonderful performance was a huge milestone in her college career. As a music performance major, your junior recital is a big deal, but your senior recital is on a different level. Although she doesn't graduate until May, her recital being over is a strong representation of how much she has learned and grown as a musician during her undergraduate studies.

Rachel scheduled her recital for Sunday at 4pm, which was the perfect time for my parents to travel from Detroit, for my sister and brother-in-law to travel from Lansing, and for me and my boyfriend to drive from Chicago. We set out for Cleveland on Friday night after orchestra (which ends at 5:30 every Friday) and arrived around 2am on Saturday morning.

Rachel and I decided months ago that we would love to perform together at one another's recitals, so we selected the "Eyeglasses Duo" for viola and cello by Beethoven. It was a great idea that excited both of us- we love making music together, especially because we naturally communicate on a different wavelength than most chamber music performers- but we also knew it would be a bit stressful. Because we only saw each other during winter break for a couple of weeks and for one day before her recital, we had to crunch in a lot of rehearsal time at the last minute.
Saturday was full of lots of music making. Rachel and I practiced our piece together and then drove over to CIM for a lesson with her viola teacher. After our lesson, we had a dress rehearsal for the Beethoven on the stage of Mixon Hall, a gorgeous glass cube, where her recital would be. After our thirty minutes on stage, trying to learn and change everything we possibly could 24 hours before the performance, we both realized that we had a lot of rehearsing to do. But at that point, the late night and long drive had hit me, and her pre-recital stress had taken a toll, so we both rested for the afternoon and rehearsed later on in the night.

The rest of my family arrived on Sunday in the afternoon, and we all reunited just an hour before Rachel's recital. Many family selfies were taken, and we all stood in the back of the hall as we watched Rachel light up the stage as she rehearsed.

Soon after, Rachel and I walked out onto the stage, sat down, gave each other nods and smiles and were off to nervously playing through the Beethoven. Before we knew it, we had survived, and people seemed to be clapping. We got off the stage as quickly as we could and celebrated pulling off such a stressful task in such short time. I hugged her and wished her luck as she continued on in her program. I gladly joined the audience and sat with my family as we watched her and reflected on how far she has come.

After she received a standing ovation for her recital, Rachel joined us audience members and hugged and thanked every person who attended. Once she gathered her bouquets of flowers and I retrieved my things, we hurried out to enjoy a meal as a family at her favorite Italian restaurant nearby before we all dispersed to our respective cities.

My boyfriend and I enjoyed the road trip back, but we were both extremely thankful that we made it through the snowstorm that had hit Cleveland yesterday afternoon and could finally rest after such a hectic weekend.

I am so proud of my sister for all of the hard work she has done. Recitals are so significant for a music major. It is a time to put your all into something- to work with all your heart and motivation to make it great. It is a special moment where all your family and friends come together in one place to celebrate this hard work that you have done because of your love for music. It is a time to also celebrate all the joy and love in your life and enjoy those who have supported you through it all. It makes the music even more significant and special.


Making Your Schedule

​One of my favorite parts about going to a large university is the ability to create your own schedule. Every quarter, I have wanted a different weekly schedule based on my job, goals, and lifestyle. DePaul makes it very easy to make your class schedule fit your needs. Here are some examples of ways I have molded my schedule to tailor to my desires:


1) Freshman year

​During my freshman year, I really wanted to get a solid friend group and equalize the social and educational aspects of college. Because of this, I took easier classes that were during the day so I would have the evenings to study and hang out with my friends. 

2) Sophomore year

In my sophomore year, I spent part of the time working. Because of this, I molded my school schedule into my work schedule by taking night classes and taking classes only two days a week. This was surprisingly easy to do, and even though I was very busy, I was able to effectively work a job and go to school at the same time. You would be surprised at how many DePaul students do this.

3) Junior year

During this year I had some extremely difficult classes to take at DePaul. Knowing this, I molded my schedule so I was taking classes when I was the most focused. Having a large amount of class options, I could schedule my classes so I took my tougher classes in the morning and my easier classes as night classes. I was also able to take a December intersession class so I had a lighter work load during my winter quarter.

4) Senior year

My senior year schedule was very interesting. I had to both complete my classes as well as take my CPA exam​. Luckily, DePaul has online classes and December break classes so I could match my study schedule with my school schedule.

All of these things made it so much easier to make my schooling the way I want it to be. 

My Friday Experiments

About a year ago I read the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.  While the book is most pertinent to business people, it’s also highly applicable to us as students.  The book helped me better understand work ethic and motivation as they relate to life as a student. 

You can watch a video about the book below:
​I surprisingly found the most applicable advice in a section of the book discussing improvement in organizations.  An idea of using non-commissioned work as a stimulus of productivity and creativity was explained in the context of a physics lab at the University of Manchester.  The scientists put aside about 10% of their time for “Friday evening experiments”.  ”.  It was time devoted to projects with no funding and no real goal, yet it lead to an incredibly important discovery for the lab.  They discovered graphene one "Friday afternoon", a two-dimensional material that has hopeful applications for the future​.

In the grind of school, working a couple of jobs, and other commitments, I found that I wasn’t engaging in activities that allowed me to develop and exploit my curiosity.  I wasn’t using my imagination in a way that I wanted.  I was caught up in finishing tasks for deadlines, studying for tests, and making sure that I was fulfilling all of my responsibilities.  Yet, I lacked activities and experiences that allowed me to explore without a cause.  My imagination wasn’t being cultivated and I needed a change.

That cycle of realization has repeated since I read the book about a year ago.  Each quarter, in about the seventh week of classes, I realize how much time has flown without taking time to let my mind wander.

It’s time that I start my own “Friday afternoon experiments”.  Maybe I should be doing real experiments on Friday afternoons, but that's the point, to intentionally not do something that I've made a commitment to.  The point is to explore something new, to feed and stimulate my curiosity, to renew creativity, and to awake my imagination. 

Fridays are beautiful because they signify the end of a (hopefully) productive week.  They’re a moment to step back and be thankful for what the week brought.  This quarter I have back to back commitments from 9 am until 1 pm on Fridays, so I’m especially in the mood to be active.   Autonomy, Challenge, Mastery, Making a Contribution.  Daniel Pink says that these are things that fuel our motivation.  So, I’m going to use these as guidelines for my Friday explorations. 

This Friday’s experiment: Barnes and Noble.  I'm going to set up a nice playlist on Spotify for browsing the shelves at the local book store.  There's something wildly energizing about searching through stacks of books.  I'll see where it goes.  I'm going to use the books as Wikipedia links.  When I read something intriguing in a book, I'll jump to another section of the store to read more about that.  I can't wait. 

Looking for a challenge at DePaul? Apply to the Honors Program

​When applying to DePaul, I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of the Honors Program. I was used to the extra rigor of honors classes from a high school career dictated by AP tests, so the transition from high school classes to college level honors classes was pretty smooth. If you are considering applying to DePaul, I highly suggest looking into the Honors Program. If you are ready for the challenge of more difficult classes, this is definitely the route for you.​


Honors Student Government Meeting​​

Being in the Honors Program at DePaul was one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far in my college career. Our class sizes are capped at 20 students, we register before other students, we have quarterly student-faculty dinners, and we have our own student government. I like the sense of community that the Honors Program has to offer. At a school with around 20,000 undergrads, being in the Honors Program creates some recognizable faces while walking around campus. 


The Academic Committee Chairs






This year, I am serving as the Academic Committee Co-Chair on the Honors Student Government executive board. My job is to help maintain the relationship between Honors Program faculty/staff and our club members. My fellow co-chair and I are currently working on planning for our annual Alumni Panel, so stay tuned for a post about this in February. ​


Honors Student Government provides honors students with many opportunities to become involved through and with the Honors Program. We have a Service Committee, Social Committee, Academic Committee, Newsletter Committee, an Ambassador Committee, a treasurer, vice president, and a president. Freshman can become involved too by either joining the general body, or running for a position called the honors floor representative, if they live on the Honors Floor (3rd floor of Seton). 

​​Some events that we have recently had has been ice skating, an internship tip information session, a scholarship information session, ambassador lunches, study sessions before finals, and the Service Committee is currently hosting a canned food drive. Each year we have a spring quarter dance which is always fun as well. It’s easy to become involved in any aspect of Honors Student Government and meet new people. I’ve posted a few of our event posters throughout the blog, but you can always check to see what we’re up to and what we’ve been doing at: https://dphsg​.wordpress.com/​​


While I will say that the honors curriculum can at times be very challenging (flashback to last quarter when I wrote a 25 page research paper double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font and I almost broke my brain), I think that my college experience has been really enriching because of it. 




We do have a lot more reading and lengthy writing assignments for our core classes, but the academic community that I am a part of makes it all worth it. I have formed many close relations with many of my honors professors and classmates, which has played a huge part in the positivity of my college experience thus far.


For those starting to make those tough college decisions, good luck! Wherever you end up, college is truly what you make it. 




Tech week update

 This past week has been a doozy. I've been in tech rehearsals for my show The Memo by Vaclav Havel. The piece is an absurdist play from the 60's satirizing communism within a corporation. It's been a fascinating process to unpack this play and figure out how it is relevant to my generation. Even though it is not a terribly complicated show in terms of its technical effects, tech week has still been pretty exhausting. 

For those of you have never done a play, tech week is the time during a play's production where all of the design elements are incorporated before opening. As such, it necessitates going through the play moment by moment and folding in lights, sound, and transitions. I personally love tech because it demands a high level of focus as an actor and allows you to feel out, in a deep way, what it will truly take to perform the show each night. The key is to take care of yourself, especially during the winter. You have to make sure you have enough food at home to sustain yourself because you probably won't be making it to the grocery store any time soon. It also always helps me to have my room clean and laundry done for the sake of my mental state. That way, even if I'm stressed about rehearsal or class or whatever else, at least I know that I have clean clothes and sheets waiting for me at home. 

I'm very excited to open this show and share our ensemble's work with the community. It's a wacky piece that I think will be very interesting to perform for The Theatre School.

Tyler's Hot Track of the Week:

I'm a big fan of Bon Iver and have also started taking in Bon Iver creative force Justin Vernon's other work as well. This song from his band Volcano Choir called Byegone is particularly good and I hope you'll give it a taste.



Student Debt Reform Super PAC

Two weeks of the quarter down already! Of course, I’m already as busy as ever. So typical.

This quarter, I am working on a really exciting project with some students at DePaul that I am extremely pumped about. 

My friend, Colin Mackintosh, is the founder and president of his own Super PAC, which is quite amazing. I feel very lucky to be a member of this political organization.

The Super PAC is called the Student Debt Reform PAC and works to fight for the right of current and former students to have the ability to refinance their federal student loans. This issue is such an important one for anyone pursuing a higher education. Trying to tackle the issue with my fellow students is a really refreshing project. To give you a quick snapshot of the current tuition situation in America, take a look at these facts I found while doing a quick Google search:

  • Student loans have passed credit cards and auto loans to become the second biggest source of personal debt in the U.S., trailing only mortgages
  • Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, a number that has tripled in the last decade
  • The average Class of 2014 graduate with student loan debt has to pay back some $33,000. Even after adjusting for inflation that’s nearly double the amount borrowers had to pay back 20 years ago
  • Only 41 percent of students graduate in four years. 
Quite honestly, these statistics are quite unsettling. People shouldn’t be punished for wanting to pursue a higher education and make a better future for themselves. With the creation of a Super PAC focused on spreading awareness about student debt reform, it should be comforting that there is an effort in the political realm trying to make a difference. 

One of the PAC’s goals is to stay as bipartisan as possible by focusing more on alerting and education people on the importance of the issue of student debt, rather than focusing on promoting individual candidates. I think that student debt reform is truly a bipartisan issue. Unfortunately, everyone can relate to the astronomical amount of debt that our country’s undergraduate and graduate students face.​

Check out the Student Debt Reform Super PAC’s website at www.studentdebtreform.com


On the website, individuals can donate to the PAC using credit or debit cards, PayPal, or by sending a check that includes the required information listed on the website. Individuals can even donate using cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin. Pretty tech savvy, I must say.


Also on the website, people can buy debt reform stickers and use them to spread the word! All of the proceeds go to the Student Debt Reform PAC.


 

It’s cool to apply many of the concepts I have been learning in my classes to a real world project. Being a political science and public relations and advertising double major, I have found my education thus far to be extremely useful.


Whether you’re looking at colleges now, are a current college student, or are still paying off student loans, I hope that you consider student debt reform to be a possibility. Spread the word about the Student Debt Reform PAC!



Winter quarter with Sanford Meisner

The fourth year of the BFA Acting program here at The Theatre School is largely an exit year. We take classes like audition technique, acting for the camera, and voice over to help prepare us for the realities of being a working actor in Chicago or elsewhere. Important stuff like how to format headshots and resumes, and how to interface with agents and casting directors is covered. All of this in addition to some more acting technique. One of the pure acting technique classes this quarter is Advanced Meisner and it is a fascinating course.

Many of you have probably heard, at least in passing, of actors using Meisner technique. It is a study of the teachings of a man named Sanford Meisner. The idea, as with most acting training, is to help the actor personalize text to a high degree and be able to fully exist with his or her scene partner in the moment. The training starts with what is known as “repeating”. This is where two actors will sit across from one another, observe each other, and state what they see. For instance, I may say to my partner “You have a blue shirt.” And then he or she would repeat, “I have a blue shirt” and I would say my statement again until one of us made another statement. Eventually, the goal is to be able to make statements about what your partner is doing or feeling and the partner can agree or disagree with them and make observations about you. 

It is an excellent tool by which to drop in to meaningful presence with your partner. Another aspect of the training is personalization and emotional preparation. This uses the given text of a play and helps the actor make it mean something very deeply to him or her in preparation for a scene. Ideally, this preparation takes the actor to a vulnerable place in some way and then when they enter the scene, they do not have to consciously think about it. It will be there in them and they can be fully present with their partner and the circumstances of the text. 

The emotional prep stuff can be scary. It leads to some very strong reactions during the training but, as far I have seen, can also lead to some decidedly truthful and vulnerable work if handled in the correct way. We’ve only had one class so far but I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this training. It’s a great class to have at this stage of my training.


Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
I’ve been feeling sentimental this week and Marvin Gaye always has a way of encapsulating what I am feeling or what I want to feel. Here’s the real jam for the week.



My DePaul Lenses

As a senior, it’s increasingly on my mind that I will be moving on after the next two quarters.  A lot of conversations with friends (and family members) these days are about what's next.  There’s not much of a unifying theme to this entry.  I wanted to talk about how my experience at DePaul is getting me ready for the next step, and this is what I’ve ended up with.

I’m incredibly grateful for my time at DePaul.  Going to college in Chicago has changed who I am.  I’ve been exposed to the realities of people in the world that I may not have if I wasn't at DePaul.  Of course there are things that I wish I did differently, but I’ll save that for another time.  Overall, DePaul has made me think differently about how I will contribute to this world.  Not only have I drank the DePaul Kool-Aid, but I’ve purchased a pair of DePaul lenses (this is supposed to be symbolic). 

My mind has been exploding with interests and thoughts lately.  Over break I became interested in learning about computer programming.  I know that in the future world we will live in, if not this one already, it will be necessary for everyone to understand programming.  My kids will be learning coding at the same time they’re learning basic math and (hopefully) Spanish.  I’m also increasingly interested in statistics and data analysis.  I do lots of data analysis as a chemistry major, but I’m especially interested more about data analysis outside of a scientific context.  I want to be more literate as a data consumer, more aware and critical of the information I take in.  Over break I took a religion class taught by a historian, and I realized just how little I know about US history and world history, for that matter.  The world changed a lot since I was born, but I feel like I missed out on the significance of those changes because I wasn’t thinking broadly enough.  I started listening to PlanetMoney (from NPR) podcasts religiously, and I realized that I wish I knew more about economics.

So, how does this relate to DePaul?  My curiosity to learn is symbolic of my time at DePaul.  There’s no way that I could have spent time exploring all of these things in college.  That’s the point though, right?  We’re in college to become more prepared for continued learning.  I would like to think that because of my experience at DePaul I’m prepared to continue my learning journey.  Even more, DePaul has shaped the lenses through which I will take in new information and experiences.  The Vincentian mission at DePaul constantly comes up in my head when I listen to an economics talk.  There seems to be a contradiction between the growth that economics calls for and the human dignity that may be exploited in that growth.  My experiences at DePaul have caused those thoughts, and I couldn’t be more thankful because I know that those reminders will continue to help shape the decisions that I make.  


International Wine Education and Management