Articles by Tom Hagerman

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. 
​​​​​​​​

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 Students Guide to Visiting the DePaul Area

It's difficult to deny that we're incredibly lucky to go to college in Chicago, one of the neatest cities in our country.  We're in a neighborhood in Chicago surrounded by an unlimited number of things to do.

But, if you're not from the area, it's difficult to know what to do, especially when visiting campus just an afternoon or a day.  I found it incredibly difficult to know what kinds of things were close that I would be able to take advantage of for the next four years.  Well, I'm offering a bit of a solution to that problem.  

I've created a google map of some of my favorite things in the city.  They are good ideas for places to visit when you visit DePaul.  Again, there's an endless amount of things to do in Chicago, but it will hopefully give you ideas for places to go on your visit.  

Click here to access the google map​.  You'll need a google account (email ending in @gmail.com).  If you don't have on yet, you might as well create one because it will be useful in college, and you'll want to have a professional email address so professors don't have to email you @crazy4catsgirl.com.  

Here's a key to the map​.  
I separated it by places you can walk, take the train or bus, and places you'll need to drive.  It's color coded by restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops/study spots, and outdoor activities.  Check it out, and comment below if you have any questions.  I hope this helps spice up your visit to DePaul.  Don't forget to get off campus and see our backyard (and front yard)!  ​ 

The Best Thing About Spring Quarter

Spring in Chicago is like an awakening.  It’s a few long weeks of remembering just how many people live here, and wondering where they have all been during winter.  

The best thing about spring is the energy that comes alive.  The weather, the people, the events, and the outdoor meals.  Everything wakes up, and the weeks of spring almost make the entire winter worth the wait.  Admittedly, it gets difficult to stay focused on school during spring quarter.  However, the incredible weather and events of the spring do make it perfectly fine that we’re in school a bit later into the summer than other colleges.   

Spring quarter is also a time of preparation for transition.  Whether you’re just about to start college, finishing up an intermediate year of college, or getting ready to move on from college, there’s a lot to figure out in the spring.  It’s like saying goodbye to the life you had in the winter and hello to the new spring/summer life.  

The weather makes it possible to explore the areas of the city that you
The Art Institute of Chicago
didn't get to in the winter.  It makes eating outside at the local places possible.  You have everything that a city offers (like good food, interesting people, fun things to do for every type of person) and you also have the lake that almost makes you feel like you’re out of the city.  

I especially enjoy spring on campus because it's the best time to sit outside before or after class and get some sun.   It gives me an energy that sustains me through the class and helps me be more focused once I am ready to sit down for class.  

Still, my absolute favorite thing about the spring in Chicago is being able to walk around and see people that you haven't for a while.  The winter can be hard, but spring makes the winter months worth the wait.  Seeing people get back outside and all the happiness and activities make spring one of the best times of the year in Chicago.



​​​​​Why I Chose DePaul vs. Why I Like DePaul

Choosing what college to attend wasn’t an easy decision for me.  I knew that I wanted to go to school in Chicago, but I was conflicted between schools here.  I had visited the two that I was interested in, but didn’t necessarily know which was going to be better for me and which would better prepare me for the future. 

So, I chose DePaul based on these considerations: 
- Location in Chicago and proximity to downtown
- Smaller size of the science program compared to other Chicago schools

My story doesn’t stop here because these reasons only scratch the surface of why I’ve enjoyed my four years here at DePaul.

Here are the major reasons why I’ve had an incredible experience at DePaul:

- Small size of science program:  Because the science program​ is relatively small, there’s more of an opportunity to get close with professors and get involved in undergraduate research.

- Location in Chicago: The proximity of DePaul to downtown Chicago, specifically the major business districts and many hospitals, means that you have the more opportunities to get experience outside of classes.

- Relationships with professors and staff (feeling much more like an individual and not a number): This is one of my favorite aspects of DePaul.  It’s clear just how much professor’s care about their students and how hard they will work to help students succeed.  While they have high expectations for students, they make sure you have support and the resources you need to make the most of your experience at DePaul. 

- Vincentian mission: I didn't know anything about the Vincentian mission​ before coming to DePaul, but it's been an important aspect of my college career.  The mission has provided a larger purpose for my education here and guidance to how I see myself contributing to society in the future.



Three Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to DePaul

1) You're about to have access to one of the biggest cities in the US. Take advantage of it, it's what makes DePaul unique.  The fun events, the food, the cultures, the companies, the volunteer opportunities.  Of course it depends on what you're studying, but the point is that there's something for almost everyone.  Unless you're hoping to work exploring the mountains, there's a good chance that you can find something to do off campus.  I waited too long to get involved in things off campus, and I regret doing so.  

​2) The Vincentian mission​ can have an impact on your experience, if you choose so.   I knew nothing about the mission before coming to DePaul, but freshman year I got involved in DCSA ​(DePaul Community Service Association) and went on a service immersion trip to New Orleans.  These experiences started something that made my time extra special at DePaul.  The experiences helped me better understand what I want to do after college and how I see myself staying connected to the values that DePaul is founded on.  The two pictures below are of my group on a service immersion trip to Philadelphia.


3) You're going to have more options of what type of people you're surrounded by, and they will deeply impact you.  Your friends and their interests, work ethic, and choices will change you, and it's important to be ready for that.  In some cases this might require adaptability and in other it will require strength to move on from new friendships.  There are a lot of different people here.  Some people are really
passionate about social justice, some are looking to be top business executives, some are here for more fun, and many are figuring out who they are.  You get to choose how to spend your four years and who to spend them around, but know that they go dang fast.  The picture below is of some of my closest friends at DePaul after our intramural inner tube water polo championship game.

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.  



Life in University Hall (UHall)

Freshman year I had the fortune of living in University Hall.  To this day, I’ll stay loyal to UHall. The memories I made as a result of living in the building will last a while. My freshman housing experience was the foundation of the next three fantastic years at DePaul.

Life in UHall​ was pretty active.  Being surrounded by tons of other college students meant there was always something going on at home, always someone to talk to, always someone who wanted to do something with you, and yet there was always space to get away from the (good) commotion.

Life in UHall (for me) was all about building relationships.  Looking back on freshman year, my main accomplishment was meeting the people that I today call my best friends.  Life in UHall was about getting to know the people living around me.
Hanging out at the Sears (Willis) Tower with people from the 3rd floor.

Life in UHall was different than other residence halls.  Sure, the culture of reach residence hall at DePaul is established by the very people that live in that hall.  But, the floor plan of the hall has a lot to do with establishing that culture.  The culture that I felt my freshman year was one of students who wanted to get involved and be active members of the DePaul community.  Gradually through freshman year, peopling living on my floor and in the hall were getting neat opportunities that better connected them to DePaul.  They were getting on campus jobs, positions in organizations, and were looking for more ways to enrich their college experience.  That culture lead to today where I see the people I lived with freshman year and realize the amazing things they have done as a result of getting involved.  
View of UHall from the quad.

Life in UHall was something that I’ll never forget.  I couldn’t be happier with my living experience, and I think a lot of it had to do simply with the attitude I went in with.  One way to make the most of living in the halls as a freshman is about going out and meeting the people on your floor.  It’s about sacrificing some privacy for that connection with other people.  

I teared up a bit going through pictures for this post.  

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. 

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.  


My X-Favorite Season

From the time I was 11 years old until I graduated high school I volunteered at a haunted house in my hometown.  While the work always started during the summer, it makes sense that the excitement mostly took place in October.  Because of the haunted house, the fall has always been a time of the year that I look forward to.  Even after coming to college and leaving the haunted house behind, I still get good feelings about the fall.  So, fall is my favorite season if I’m back at home in Rochester, IL.  I called this post my x-favorite season because since coming to Chicago I can’t deny that the summer is heaven here.  But I do love it here in the fall, so don’t get me wrong. 

One of my favorite parts about fall quarter is family weekend.  My family and my friends’ families have come for three family weekends now and they have been a blast.  These weekends are one of the highlights of fall quarter because it’s so nice to have a weekend dedicated to spending time showing my parents the things that I’m experiencing at college.  In the past my parents have rented a house with my friend Delaney’s parents for the weekend.  It actually ends up being more economical than a hotel and the house always serves as a gathering place.  We generally end up spending a lot of time all together and we have a blast doing it.

Here’s a little flashback to sophomore year Family Weekend. My dog even got to come!
A more distinctive part of every fall for me is trying to get back into the swing of school.  Autumn quarter is always hard to adjust to after a nice summer break, and it feels like it ends just a couple of weeks after I’ve finally gotten used to being in school.  This quarter is no exception to that trend.  It’s soon to be the 9th week of school (of 11 weeks including finals) and I am just starting to feel like I’ve adjusted to being back in school.  It could be the quarter system that’s causing this, but it’s likely just a personal issue.  Whatever it is, I should warn you for the whirlwind of the autumn quarter.  It’s more of a reminder that there’s a lot to our experience in college, and it’s not time that should be wasted even though it feels busy.  I’ve especially been reminded through the hustle of this fall quarter how important it is to take a break from school-work and make sure that I am experiencing life as a college student, seeing friends, and enjoying the city.

My New Commute

I don’t know if I have the grounds to say that I really commute to school, as it only takes me about 30 minutes from door to door, but it’s certainly put a spin on my new school year. Some DePaul students spend an hour or two one way every day, so I can’t complain.

Even so, spending 30 minutes traveling is new for me because last year all I had to do was walk out my door and be in McGowan South (the science building) in three minutes. In short, I’ve loved the commute.

My mornings go as such: I wake up in a fury, probably after sleeping through about three alarms, and I turn the coffee machine before hopping in the shower. The first few weeks of school I was good about packing a lunch, but now I generally just pack any snacks that I can throw in my bag quickly. It takes me about 6 minutes to walk to the Sheridan red line station from my apartment, and because I leave in the morning during rush hour, I almost never have to wait more than 5 minutes for the train on my way to school. It’s more like 2 or three minutes. It takes about 10 minutes on the red line to get from Sheridan to Fullerton, and voila, I’m at school.  

What I enjoy the most about my commute is that I have time to enter and leave every day with a little time to myself to just think about the day or let my mind wander. Sometimes I read or look over class notes on the train, and sometimes I stare blankly into space for 15 minutes. I guess it just depends on the day.  

I thought it was going to be harder to get used to the extra travel time in the morning and at night, but it’s been great so far. We’ll see if I’m singing the same tune in the winter.    

You can see that the trip is pretty easy, I just have to hop on the red line and I’m there.

MSU-R Undergraduate Research Symposium

​This past weekend I went to an undergraduate research symposium at Michigan State University.  I traveled to East Lansing with two other DePaul students, Shrasta and Sanna, who also work in research labs in the chemistry department.  

In preparation for the symposium I updated a poster of the lab work that I’ve been doing since my sophomore year.   Putting the poster together was a bit tough, but it was nice to have something that shows the work I’ve done over the last couple of years.  

We left Chicago Friday evening and got to MSU pretty late that night.  Our hotel was paid for through the symposium, so the only expense we had was getting to the symposium.  The next morning felt pretty early, especially after a busy school week.  Before the poster presentation session there was an introduction from MSU staff and a brief Q&A with current MSU chemistry graduate students.  

I was a bit nervous for the poster session, but it went pretty well.  It was nice to have an opportunity to practice my presentation skills in such a low risk setting.  What was most interesting was to talk to different students and gauge their interest level in their research.  From the people I talked to, it looked like there were a good amount of students that wanted to go to medical school and another good chunk of students that wanted to go to graduate school in chemistry.  It was interesting (in a good way) to talk to the students that wanted to go to graduate school because they were so excited about their research and you could tell that graduate school is right up their alley.  It was also a nice reflection time for me, because it helped me realize that graduate school probably isn’t for me.  

Lunch came around and I randomly ended up sitting with Dr. Viktor V. Poltavets, who was in charge of the symposium.  He was a hoot.  He was quite talkative and high energy, but also humble and easy to talk to.  My conversation with him pointed out quite a few differences between DePaul and a school like MSU.  I had never been in an academic environment as big as MSU, but I don’t mean that in a positive or negative way.  What I’m trying to say is that it’s going to be important to think about what kind of environment you want to be in.  The science program at DePaul is not all that large, and there are pros and cons to that.  It means more face time with the professors, but it also means there is less opportunity to do some of the types of research that a large R1 school is able to do.  Either way, it’s something to think about.  

 
Sanna and Shrasta next to their poster.


Overall, my trip to MSU for their undergraduate research symposium was pretty important for me to think about the future and to appreciate my experience at DePaul.  



 

MCAT Bootcamp

​I promise this is my last every post about the MCAT.  Just one more.  

This summer was a bit lame for me, as I spent 10 weeks studying hardcore for the MCAT.  I took the test a couple of days before school started this quarter, and therefore ended up spending all but about a week of my summer studying for the MCAT.

Apart from the psychological experience of trying to figure out what score I was going to get, it was actually a pretty worthwhile experience.  It was the first time I had every really condensed everything I was learning in my classes (even in high school) into concrete knowledge and a basic understanding of the body.  The other day in lab we were talking about mass spectrometry, and I made a connection to physics principles that I wouldn’t have made had I not studied MCAT physics.  It was the first time that I really had to bring together material from multiple disciplines.

My good friend/current roommate Delaney was studying for the MCAT at the same time I was, except she was in Cincinnati (at home).  It was incredibly nice to have a friend to relate to and to go through the experience with.  My test date was a week before hers, and I swear we were going through the same emotions just a week apart.  

Now that the MCAT is all over, I’ll share a couple of things specific to DePaul that might be useful if you’re going to have to take the MCAT at some point.  Everyone and their mom will give you their advice for the MCAT and tell you everything you “should” do, so take everything I say lightly (some of what I say may not even apply to the new MCAT).  

  • If you can, avoid trying to study during school.  It seems hard to focus on the MCAT and your regular classes at the same time, and you don’t want your GPA to suffer.  I’ve been told that med schools care, in addition to many other things, about two numbers: your MCAT and your GPA.  You don’t want to let them both suffer.

  • Find a study friend; not necessarily to study with but someone who you can talk about the test with, or about how the last practice test you took was hard.  I thankfully had about 20 people to vent with.

  • Take your general science classes seriously and try to learn instead of memorize content, because you’ll just have to memorize the content again for the MCAT if you didn’t learn it the first time through.
My MCAT class comrades; this is the room I spent most of my summer in…

Happy studying!


Laundry and P-Chem

​This past week my room smelled so bad that my roommates did my laundry.  I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or just happy that they did my laundry.  Unfortunately, my room is right next to the front door, so it’s hard to go by and not pick up any odors, good or bad.  I’m not sure that it actually smelt bad, but they thought so.  

I called this blog post laundry and p-chem because they are actually pretty related for me right now.  I’m in the first quarter of two (for me, because I’m a biochemistry/medicinal chemistry concentration) of physical chemistry, more specifically called quantum chemistry, and it’s perhaps taken a toll on my personal hygiene.  I’m not some disgusting person that never does laundry, you should know that.  I simply got a little behind.  

Every chemistry major gets to have this experience, some just may keep up with their laundry better than others.  I wanted to write about p-chem because it has a silly reputation as being a crazy impossible class.  In fact, it might convince some people to not be chemistry majors, and that’s unfortunate.  Physical chemistry is really a quite advanced version of general chemistry where you finally begin to explore the WHY of many of the things that you are just told in general chemistry.  I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite chemistry class that I’ve ever taken, but I am beginning to appreciate the concepts that we are talking about.  The reason I switched to chemistry was to have a more concrete and focused understanding of biological processes, and physical chemistry so far has been very relevant to everything else I’ve learned as a chemistry major.  It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but I know that I’ll be appreciative of the concepts that I have learned.  And, maybe I will even pick up a regular laundry schedule once it’s all over!

I would put a picture of the state of my room on here, but you don’t want to see that. 


Don't Forget to Pack Your Bike

That's not me up there in the video.  If the rider took a right turn at about 1:45 (on Fullerton), in a couple of minutes they would have ended up at DePaul.​ 

I don't think I knew how to ride a bike (without training wheels) until I was at least in middle school.  Whenever it was, the point is that it was way later than almost all of my friends.  Because I was so behind I never really liked to ride my bike, until the last few years before turning 16 when not being able to drive was making me go crazy.  

At the start of my sophomore year at DePaul I convinced my dad to let me bring his bike up to Chicago.  I went out and got a nice lock because I knew that bikes are like gold in the city.  Turns out he would probably regret that decision because a few months later my bike (my dad's bike) got stolen.  It was locked up to the rusty fence outside my apartment one night and the next day the bike was gone.  There was also a piece of our fence missing that someone sawed through.  

I found a new bike on craigslist after mourning for a month and got back to riding almost every day.  It's one of my favorite ways to explore the city and find new things to do.  It's perfect for some alone time and for experiencing the city with friends.  Some of my favorite moments riding have been really late at night when there aren't too many cars on the street.  Biking is a great way to jump between study spots, quickly drop off a rent check, get to a friends apartment, or just to let loose and get away from campus once in a while.  Definitely bring a bike to school and get out there to explore the city.​

I Got a Pedicure... And Then a Manicure...

No, I didn't get them painted
Well, this weekend I found myself doing something somewhat unexpected.  But it was incredible.  Jeez it was great. 
I went to get a pedicure with my friend Brett at a local shop.  The two women that helped us out were awesome.  You should know that I have a little thing with feet, in that I really like feet.  I like getting foot massages from friends and I don't mind touching other people's feet besides maybe my dad's.  Sorry dad.

But it was so nice to have a time dedicated to my feet.  My feet were really happy for it.  They got to soak in some hot water and were massaged by JoJo.  She got rid of some old skin and trimmed up my toenails, something I don't really do besides when I eat my toenails. Just kidding about eating toenails.

The pedicure felt so good that we decided we might as well get a manicure too.  It was pretty nice.  My fingers never get attention either and JoJo could tell.  Halfway through the manicure portion of the evening I asked JoJo what time they closed and realized they had stayed about an hour after they were supposed to because we didn't check to see when they closed and they were too nice to tell us.  I felt horrible but I made sure to tip her well.  But, for any future DePaul students, I must say that the place we went to was very nice.  The women were incredibly sweet and it was a really relaxing atmosphere.

Overall, it won't be the last time I visit JoJo.  I think I might need to make another visit around finals week. 

Applications of Calculus: The Gini Index

In calculus right now we are talking about the area between two curves as an application of integrals.  I was excited when we started talking about something called the Gini coefficient and the Lorenz curve.  It’s a crude, yet revealing, measure of inequality in a country.  There are many different things that a Gini index can be calculated for, but today we talked about the Gini index of income inequality in the US.  

We took data from the 2010 US Census based on the percent of income that various groups earn.  For example, the bottom 80% of the earners received about 49.8% of the total income, meaning that the top 20% earned about 50.2% of the total income (AHHHHH!).  We fit a few different best -fit lines to the data in order to calculate the Gini index, a number from 0 to 1.  An index closer to zero signifies less income inequality while a Gini index close to 1 would be indicative of a substantial amount of income inequality. 

 
To connect the class to the bigger picture… It was interesting to hear about income inequality from my calculus professor as well as from the perspective of mathematics.  I wish I could 100% say that the Vincentian mission is embedded in all of my classes, but there are probably classes where the Vincentian values aren’t necessarily applicable to the course content.  Yet, the the mission in other classes and in general interactions of people at DePaul has certainly been present.  ​
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Three Classes: Wooohoooo

As we start the third week of Spring Quarter I'm just beginning to get into my classes.  I'm trying to focus but for some reason this quarter has been a little different.  I was enrolled in four classes but decided to drop my fourth this past week, just before the deadline to drop a class. 

I'd say it's pretty common for me to change up my class schedule within the first week of classes.  I like to get a feel for the class and the professor, and if I need to change something I generally do what I can. 

This quarter I'm taking biochem 3, calculus 3, and doing in junior year experiential learning (JYEL) research (something you can choose depending on your major and interests).  This will definitely be one of the calmer quarters of my college career, and I'm going to try to take full advantage of that. 

Besides working a couple of jobs, I'm really trying to do a few other things.  I'm taking the MCAT this summer so I am spending about five hours or so a week right now studying as well.
 
Here's a little weekly goal list that I have:
- have a routine for taking a second to pause each day
- wake up at least an hour before my first committment each day
- watch one Khan Academy video a week
- read a book, not for school, at a new coffee shop or somewhere that I haven't been
- catch up with friends that I haven't seen in a while


Well, here's to a great quarter and hopefully a successful break from being 100% devoted to school.  I'll let you know how it's going.

Spring Break in Philly

I had the pleasure of spending my spring break with nine fantastic people in Philadelphia, PA. 

After going on two service immersion trips through University Ministry I decided that it was time to take on the challenge of being the student leader for a trip.  I applied last Winter and had a class last Spring in preparation.  This winter quarter before the trip I also had class once a week to prepare for the trip.

The service immersion trips are organized by the Vincentian Community Service Office of University Ministry.  The hope of the trips is not to necessarily provide services that would otherwise be unmet if we didn't go somewhere, but instead to hear stories from the people we meet and learn about the issues in that community.  We are on the trips to learn about our relatioinship with the poor and the marginalized and to examine how we live our daily lives back at home or at school.  The most important aspects of hte trip include awareness, simplicity, dialogue, and solidarity.  

After a 14 hour car ride to Philadelphia we arrived in Germantown, a neighborhood about 10 minutes outside of downtown Philly.  Each day we woke up around 7:30am and left the house by about 9am.  We would work at one or two service sites and then get back around 5pm.  Most nights we had some other type of activity planned, such as a visit to a Jesuit Volunteer Corps house in Philadelphia as well as a potluck dinner with members of the local dioceses.  Reflection is an important part of the trips and each night we would talk about the things we saw, experienced, and felt and what that means for us. 

I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to spend the week with.  Here are some pictures to give you a glimpse of our trip.


I Think the Library Is Almost Full...

It's 2:00 in the morning on Sunday (I guess now Monday) March 17th.  Today a lot of us will start finals week.  This is my 8th finals week at DePaul and every one of them gets a little more intense.  Before now I've always tried to avoid the library during finals week because it has seemed so stressful in there, but it's been pretty nice to spend most of the day here.  I can take a break from studying and walk around to chat with friends and other people that I don't see very often.  It's great.  The first floor of the library was renovated this past year and it's a whole new world.  It's perfect because if you need a really quite place to study then that is available upstairs, but there's also space to chat with friend or group members and not feel bad about disturbing the people around you.   

The pictures below are just the first floor, but it's this busy on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors.  I creeped so hard so that you could all see the real life of the library.  I'm no photographer so I apologize for the horrible lighting.  You should know that there's some real nice space in the JTR (the John T. Richardson library) that doesn't have fluorescent lighting. 

There's a ton of white board space in the library. There are walls of white board, moving white boards, and personal white boards. And you can rent out markers. It's awesome.
Sanna and Delaney "studying hard" for their organic II exam. But no really, they were working hard.

 


Where You Gonna Live?

​I'd like to think that I have a somewhat objective take on a few of the (mostly) freshman residence halls.  I'll go ahead and say that I did live in U-Hall my freshman year and I'd go back to living in U-Hall 313 any day if I could, I still see value in the other freshman residence halls on campus.  For the past two years I've been a Facilities Assistant for Housing Services for the West Side of campus.  This has allowed me to spend a good amount of time in Cliffton-Fullerton, Belden-Racine, Munroe, and U-Hall.  I also spent a good amount of time in Seton my freshman year because my closest friends lived in Seton.  

It's no lie that each hall has a unique character, and the feel of each hall changes every year with a new group of residents. What I'm trying to say is that the people you live with make all the difference.  All of the freshman residence halls on campus have pretty much the same amenities, and really who needs super nice amenities as a freshman in college.  It's fun to have a time in your life where personal space is somewhat limited and you have the chance to live around so many other people.  My favorite part of living on campus was coming home to a building where I knew without a doubt that something fun was going on. 


Here's a little thought about each resident hall that I can talk about confidently: 

Munroe: The rooms are pretty close together which is awesome because people are social and I always see a lot of people in the lounges.  If you're down to sacrifice some personal space for a really great experience I'd say go for it.  The 6th floor (east side) has crazy cool views of the city.  I highly doubt you can request that though.

U-Hall:   Like I said, without a doubt, U-Hall is the place to be.  Each floor is somewhat separated in to a north and south wing, with about 20 rooms on both side (2 people per room).  The bathrooms are nice (you share with three ther people), as long as you don't mind cleaning your own bathroom.  You'll have to clean your own bathroom unless you live in Seton or Corcoran.  Cleaning the bathroom sucked so much that we just didn't do it.

Cliffton: It's one of the newer halls, and it's a little more spacious.  It's got some of the best study lounges and views of the city.  I've probably spent the least time in Cliffon so I don't have a ton of advice about Cliffton.  I will say that when I've seen the largest TVs of any halls (the TVs that residents bring) in Cliffton.  

Belden- Racine:   It's really close to the new theater school, which means there are a good amount of theater students living there.  So yeah.  But really, my freshman year crush lived in Belden and she had a real cozy space.  Maybe it was her decoration, but it was nice.  Also, she had a really nice big desk.  Bigger than the desks in U-Hall for sure.  Cliffton has nice big desks too, again because it's one of the newer halls.

Seton: Anyone that has ever lived in Seton will probably tell you it's the best hall on campus, but so will anyone who has ever lived in U-Hall.  Seriously thought Seton is cool.  It's one of the closest freshman halls to the "L" (so is Corcoran).  It's also about to be right across from a Whole Foods (in 2015).  Seton is community style which means it's somewhat more social than some of the suite style halls.  My good friends that lived in Seton freshman year spent on average one hour every night in the bathrooms brushing their teeth and such.  It's a cool place to be.  Also the ceiling are the tallest you will get as a freshman and the closet space takes the #1 on campus. 

I had some of the greatest moments of college in the residence halls.  So, whether you get in to your first choice hall or not, I hope you'll realize that it doesn't matter all that much.  What matters is that you explore the hall outside of your room and get to know the people you live with.  Get to know them real well because they might end up being some of your best college friends.  

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The ceilings are so tall in Seton that you can stack three beds on top of each other... and then get down in interesting ways. I hope this pic isn't incriminating...
One of the best days ever. We spent 8 hours in the hallway of U-Hall one lazy Saturday.
This is Chelsey and Delaney, two great women that I met in U-Hall freshman year. Chelsey is excited for her package, it's really one of the best things getting mail (hint hint mom and dad).