Morgan Kail-Ackerman

DePaul Dance Company

At DePaul, there are so many different clubs that it is hard to choose one to devote your time to. There are a few organizations I perused before deciding on being an active member of the DePaul Dance Company.

This long-standing dance company, coined “DDC” by its members, is considered both a club and a team sport. Although we do not have games, trainings, or merchandise like the club sports, we technically get “team sport” funding and get to practice at the Ray Meyers Fitness Center, the campus gym. We have 30+ people across our six teams - ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, modern, and lyrical. For a small team membership, which lessens each year you’re on the team, you get the opportunity to rehearse twice a week in the Ray (a team rehearsal and a Sunday all-company rehearsal) and perform once a quarter at an off-campus venue.

My freshman year I auditioned for DDC and I do not regret it. As much as I love having friends in my major, it is nice to be friends with people outside of your major! It is also nice to be friends with people of all grade levels. Last year, we even had a graduate student on our hip hop team! I love that I have a group of dancers that I have cultivated friendships with through our passion for dance!  Because we rehearse twice a week, we get close to the people around us. In fact, I met my best friend through DDC. If you have a passion for dance, please consider auditioning and joining us!  


Chicken Places Better than Cluck

Cluck is the on-campus chicken restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Student Center (or the “Stu,” as coined by the students). As good as it is, there are many amazing choices for off-campus chicken in the city of Chicago and around DePaul.

1)    Branko’s.

Branko’s is a sandwich shop across the street from the Quad. It is a small little place right on DePaul campus that many students love to go to for a break from on-campus food. If you go, the menu is a little overwhelming but there are some delicious food choices! I would recommend the grilled chicken sandwich, which is made right there in the back. I’d also suggest having a long conversation with the sweet lady who works there because she is very interesting!

2)    Broken English.

Broken English is a Mexican restaurant a few minute walk from campus on Lincoln. This restaurant has a super fun and hipster vibe - with a giant blue cow in the middle of the store and a hanging red bicycle from the ceiling. It is a very loud restaurant but a fun place to be in for a lunch or dinner out with friends! I’d recommend getting the quesadilla “la gringa” with chicken. You will get about the biggest quesadilla I’ve ever seen! For dessert, I’d suggest getting the El Puro Churro, which is a churro with cinnamon ice cream! What’s not to like!

3)    Budlong Hot Chicken.

Budlong Hot Chicken is a Tennessee Hot Chicken restaurant located off of the Brown Line stop Armitage, which is one stop from the DePaul Lincoln Park campus. It has a really cool vibe with white picnic table seating and red bandana napkins. I’d recommend getting the hot chicken sandwich with the “classic” level of spicy. I’m so weak when it comes to getting hot food but the “classic”, although hotter than the “naked”, has a better flavor. To stop your mouth from burning, I’d suggest getting a side of their white cheddar mac and cheese!

4)    Batter and Berries

If you are looking for chicken in your breakfast or brunch, look no further! Batter and Berries is a really popular brunch place down Lincoln. Because of its popularity, I’d recommend not going during peak times, unless you’re prepared to wait an hour or so. But, although they are known for their delicious French toast, their Cluck-N-Gaufre is my favorite. This is their take on chicken and waffles. The waffle is sweet potato stuffed with pieces of fried chicken inside with a piece of herb chicken and nutmeg hot sauce on top. Although it is a little different from what you expect, it is quite a breakfast! To go with it, I’d suggest the irresistible cheesy potatoes.

5)    Mo’s Chinese Kitchen.

Mo’s Chinese Kitchen is a Chinese food (although they also have Japanese food) restaurant down Fullerton, about a 10-minute walk from the Lincoln Park campus. It has really delicious Chinese food that also delivers late night food for pretty cheap! Although I love their chicken fried rice, their orange chicken is the best! I’d highly recommend getting that and maybe some appetizers because the menu is expansive and everything I’ve had there has been good!


The Counseling Office

Although we are taught from a young age not to ask for help, having the courage to be vulnerable and say we need assistance is one of the most respectable things a person can do. Especially in college, where we are getting a taste of the real world and we are stressed about homework, work, social life, and pressures of the future, it is hard to do everything on your own. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

There are many different resources that DePaul has to offer, but one that I would like to highlight is the DePaul Counseling Office. I am not afraid to say that I am a frequent visitor of the Counseling Office. I love that they are currently working to get rid of the mental illness stigma. Just like there is nothing wrong admitting when you need help, there is nothing wrong with saying you have mental health problems and you’re struggling yet working through your depression, anxiety, etc.

Within the Counseling Office, there are many different choices of help. There is group therapy, individual therapy, and psychiatry appointments. I attended an all-women’s group therapy meeting for a quarter and it was amazing. I grew to love these powerful women who were going through the same struggles as me. Even if you aren’t having current problems, you could still learn because there is something nice about people voicing the similar insecurities you’re too afraid to say. Individual therapy is helpful because you can focus on your own personal problems with a therapist who is there for only you during a one-hour session. Psychiatry is also important because there is nothing wrong with needing prescriptions if the therapists think it could help your situation.

All of these resources and more are available through the Counseling Office. These appointments are only $5 - $10, which is a very low price to pay for your mental sanity and health.  


Winter is Coming

One of the most terrifying parts about deciding to go to DePaul was not about DePaul itself; it was about Chicago and its winters. Being from Los Angeles where there are no seasons, I was very nervous about coming to Chicago and living here in the dead of winter.

It really isn’t as bad as they tell you. Yes, at times it is very cold and you will regret coming to Chicago for that brief period of time when you are walking outside and hating your life, however, really, Chicago winters are not as bad as they say. For me, it was a huge transition leaving the 60 degree LA “winter” to -11 Chicago winters, however here I am! You just need to learn to dress smart. The changing of leaves in Fall is absolutely gorgeous and worth the winter that follows. The snow is beautiful and, although it can get tiresome, being in Chicago and fighting the winter is worth it.

What I would suggest is buying a very good heavy duty pair of boots, along with some great fuzzy socks. Keeping your feet warm is very important. Make sure to wear lots of layers. Get thermal leggings, basically just fuzzy socks for your legs, and wear it under your jeans or pants. Wear thermal shirts or just warm layers under your sweaters and your heavy parka. Make sure to get gloves, a scarf you can wrap around your ears and face, and a warm hat. I know, it sounds a little scary with all of those clothes, but being wrapped up like a penguin really puts you in the holiday spirit, ready for the White Christmas!


Favorite Professors

Looking back at my two years here at DePaul, I’ve had some wonderful Professors who I would love to take another class with. Some of these I had chosen because the class worked with my schedule or I heard recommendations, but these professors listed below were just incredible. I would highly recommend taking one of their classes if you can!

From the English department, I have taken two professors who just blew me away – Eric Selinger and Kathleen Rooney. I took a required course ENG 207 Literature from the 1900s - Present taught by Professor Eric Selinger. I was not all that excited for this English core class. It ended up being one of the best courses I have ever taken! He is so passionate and knowledgeable. He also treats his students like the adults they are, which I appreciate. Kathleen Rooney is a Creative Writing teacher and I took her ENG 291 Craft of Fiction Writing. Similarly, she is so invested in her students and passionate that, although there were some short stories I didn’t like reading, her desire to show what makes good writing can’t help but make you fall in love with her and her craft. She is a lot of work but absolutely worth it!

From the Film department, before I switched my major to English, I had two wonderful professors - Firas Aladai and Nick Schmidt. Firas Aladai taught my DC 110 Foundations of Cinema class. It was one of my first classes I took at DePaul and, surprisingly enough, it was his first class! He was a little shy at the time but he is so nice, eloquent, and taught us about some really interesting movies and basics of creating movies! My second class at DePaul was TV 110 Foundations of Television and was taught by Nick Schmidt. As a Film & Television student, I knew I wanted to focus more on Television and I was so blown away with what Nick taught us about the Television industry and some foundational television shows. I’m lucky right now because Nick is my boss on my on-campus job so I get to keep working with him!

Lastly, there are two Liberal Arts professors, Tim Mazurek and Zoaib Mirza, whose classes I really enjoyed. Professor Tim Mazurek, who taught LSP 110 Discover Chicago: Careers in Art and Culture, really inspires me to want to go out and pursue the arts. He is amazing, in particular with switching up the lessons so it was not always just a lecture and I appreciated that. Zoaib Mirza taught my LSP 121 Quantitative Reasoning II class. Although I am not someone who likes math and this class was not my favorite subject matter-wise, Zoaib made the classes interesting and pertinent to real life. I love how he always ended his classes saying “wasn’t that sweet and easy like a Hershey's kiss?”

Overall, I’m lucky to have had these great Professors and I’d highly recommend them! For me at least, a good Professor can make a bad class great!


On Campus Jobs

College is a stressful time financially. Your grandparents will tell you that they made it through college with the funds they made during their senior year of high school working at the Dairy Queen. But life is very different for us in this day and age. Being a student with a job is the norm.

Having an on-campus job is a wonderful way to make money and stay involved in your community! I work in the Production Office in the School of Cinematic Arts, where I am half a receptionist but also a producer of sorts because I organize and “rip” movies (another word for digitizing), and run our Quarterly Casting Sessions and other events.

I love this job for multiple reasons. First of all, it is nice working on campus because your peers and bosses are all on the same schedule as you. My bosses are both CDM film professors so they understand the stress of midterms week, the lull of Week 7, and the amount of work students have assigned. When I am overloaded with stress or when I have an exam when I am scheduled for work, they are very understanding. This also means that I only have to work when the academic year is up and running. I don’t have to work on school holidays. I don’t have to unless I want to, work over breaks. As an out of state student, it is great that I can work the hours when I am on campus and when I go home for spring break or summer, I don’t need to worry about being fired for having weird times off!

I also get to do something that I am mildly interested in. Although I am not a Film major anymore, I still get to work with film students, read scripts, and help with casting. These are interests that I care a lot about! My roommate is a Film major herself but she works in the Theatre School because she also has a passion for theatre! By getting an on-campus job, you have a way of making some money while still being a student, people who understand the schedule you have, and a built-in networking system and DePaul community involvement at your fingertips.

Happy job hunting!


Housing

Living on campus in a dorm is a lot of fun. Your friends live so close to you, you can be social at any hour of the night, and you only have to leave five minutes to get to class on time (unless you are going to the loop). It may not be your own personal space, you might have roommates, and a Resident Advisor is technically in charge, but it is still a room of your own that is not your parent’s property. It is freedom for the first time.

Living off campus is a whole new type of freedom. You feel like a real adult. It is very stressful going to see open houses and filling out paperwork to sign for an apartment but it is so rewarding. I lived in an off-campus apartment, about a 10-minute walk to the Lincoln Park campus, my sophomore year of college and it was about the best thing that could have happened. I ended up staying for my junior year too because my apartment was just perfect.

Freshman year is a year of discovery, seeing who you are outside of your family and usual friends. Sophomore year, at least for me, was the year of being a real adult. I had to figure out rent, utilities, and grocery shopping. I had to make sure I wear presentable clothes to class because I’m walking around in the real world, not just on the DePaul campus. I had to leave time to walk to class. I had to fit grocery shopping into my schedule, meal-planning, and cooking, in order to have food for the week.

Although it may be stressful, living off campus is definitely rewarding and totally worth it. I feel like I understand “adulting” more than I did living in a dorm. I assume not being in college will make living in an apartment different because I’ll have to juggle money and job-hunting, but it is good to know that I have the basics down of how to get an apartment and how to live in one. Once it is time for me to graduate, I feel as if I can handle the real world a little better.  


Choosing Your Major

Choosing your major is a daunting task. Basically, you have to choose what area of study you want to devote four years of your life to and then you must spend the rest of your career in a job somewhere related to that field. As an 18-year-old, that’s terrifying. How do you know what you want to do? How can you choose a major when there are so many? How do you know you’ll want to stick with it for the rest of your adult life?

The beauty of being a junior and looking back at when I applied to DePaul is I realize now that I put a lot of pressure on a decision that I ended up changing. My high school counselors stressed me out because they told me picking and changing my major would affect my future and even hurt my chances of getting a steady and high-paying job. That is not true. I was admitted into DePaul as a Film & Television major. Sophomore year I decided that Film was just not for me and, after considering a transfer to the Theatre School, I landed on being an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. Right now I am in the process of changing that to a concentration in Literature so that I can apply for the TEACH program and maybe someday teach secondary education English.

And I am still doing okay. The world has not imploded, I am not behind in my studies, and I will still be graduating in four years. And I changed my major three times. So if you are having trouble picking a major, that is normal. If you want to radically flip a major in a whole new field, that is okay. I have a friend who was a pre-med student and now is a directing major in The Theatre School. But if you love your major and don’t want to change it, that is normal too! Do what feels right and you’ll figure it out. If you are struggling, contact an Academic Advisor on campus and they can help steer you in the right direction. I promise everything will work out.  


The Overeager Freshman

One of the most exciting parts about DePaul, at least for me, was the number of student organizations and extracurriculars you can get involved in. From sports teams to acapella groups to Greek life to the Pokémon club, there is something for everyone to do. DePaul has over 350 student organizations in just about every field imaginable. And the best part is that if there is an organization that doesn’t meet your fancy, you can go ahead and create that club!

Like your soon-to-be running theme of freshman year: with freedom comes responsibility. It is overwhelming going to the Involvement Fair (branded at DePaul the “real-life recess”) and seeing all of these clubs that you’d love to join. But I caution you to keep the clubs you actively devote your time to, to a minimum. As a freshman, you will join so many clubs and believe you can keep up with your commitments but don’t spread yourself too thin. Take the time to look over all the possibilities, but maybe select one or two that you can actively attend meetings for, become a member of, and possibly even become an executive board member. It is so much fun being actively involved in a club for years because you can bond with the people who share a similar interest with you!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do everything you love. Freshmen have the tendency to sign up for 40 clubs and only end up doing one or two because of time’s sake. I encourage you to go out and explore all the ways you could get involved but caution you not to overload your schedule. Please attend club meetings, events, on and off-campus events with the organization of your choosing! But also keep in mind that classes are important, studying is valuable, a social life is healthy, and taking care of yourself is non-negotiable. I wish I told my freshman self that I could not be a member of DePaul Dance Company, DePaul Theatre Union, Writer’s Block, Chinese Studies Association, DemonTHON, DePaul Democrats, DePaul Women’s Soccer, DePaul Film Society, and HerCDM at the same time. In the end, I consistently chose DePaul Dance Company and DePaul Theatre Union, the latter of which I am now President of.

Go out, attend all the Info Sessions and Club Meetings you can, and then choose one or two clubs that mean a lot to you. You’ll appreciate this advice by the end of Fall Quarter when you are slammed with finals. Good luck!