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Morgan Kail-Ackerman

Small Classes and the Warehouse Writers

DePaul is known for having small classes sizes. Being from a small private school, it is nice to go into a classroom that I feel comfortable in. The biggest class I ever had was 40 students and, although it felt pretty big, it was not big enough to be overwhelming. The smallest class I was in had only 7 students. Compared to the dreaded 300-person lecture halls at other schools I looked at, I am very happy I chose a school with small class sizes.  

Because of the close-knit classes, I am able to really know my teachers, and, in turn, my other students. Due to the small class size in a Creative Writing class I took last year, I now have two really close friends. We are all in different majors but the discussion-based class allowed us to get to know one another and we soon became friends! The three of us, through a passion for writing, made a club together. We all decided that we wanted to continue writing outside of the classroom and, because DePaul allows us to make clubs with a minimum of four people, we were able to create a space where we could do just what we wanted - continue writing as a team. We named ourselves Warehouse Writers, referring to how we are not polished enough to work in a house or apartment, instead we are in-the-works, just like a warehouse. 

Today we still meet biweekly as a group to workshop writing pieces. We have twelve members now, and are still networking and growing. A few of the writers in our group have even been published in local literary magazines! DePaul, through the small class sizes, has given us the opportunity to learn and grow outside of the classroom. If you’re a writer and would like to workshop whatever you’re working on, please email me at morganerinka@gmail.com and we can set you up in our club! 


The DePaul Activities Board

One of the most intriguing parts of DePaul is the amazing community that the student body creates. There is always something fun happening on campus. If you walk through the “Stu”, or the Student Center, there are many events happening in and around that building. The events are free, engaging, and full of food! 

The organization that produces the most events is the DePaul Activities Board, or DAB. They have six committees that focus on different events for the student body. They run about 100 events each year and, for a student who is not involved in the organization itself, I enjoy going to these drop-in events. Listed below are the six committees and the top event they ran this year. 

1) DePaul After Dark. Every single Thursday, this committee has a fun events to end the week of classes. The most exciting event they had this quarter was “Bump Your Way Into the Weekend”, with bumper cars for the students to ride. 

2) Social Change. The most attended event they had this quarter was the Black Excellence Show Case, where a series of black-lead businesses showcased what they have done in their organization. Social Change has also done fun events like Parade to the Polls and Cookies and the Constitution. 

3) Arts and Media. The fun event (that I also personally enjoyed) was their Harry Potter event. They took one of our old buildings and decked it out with Harry Potter memorabilia. They served “dragon” eggs, pretzel wands, and “phoenix” hot wings. There was wand-making, trivia, fortune-telling, and pin-making. 

4) FEST. This committee is focused on one event, and that is the music festival in the Spring Quarter. We don’t know what the artist is this year, but the past artists have been Jesse McCartney, T-Pain, Childish Gambino, and ASAP Ferg. 

5) Signature Events. The Coffeehouse Series and “Sundaes on a Monday” are the long series events that this committee specifically focuses on. 

6) Amusement. The event this quarter that got the most people to come was the Snow Domes on the Quad. People could go inside of clear domes and do homework. 

You should follow the DePaul Activities Board on Instagram (@dab_depaul) and go to their events! It is so much fun! 


Spring Break for Out of State

One of the biggest dilemmas about being an out of state student is what you do during breaks. Right now, we are in Week 9 out of 10 in the Winter Quarter. We only have a week or so for Spring Break, before we have to come back for another 10 week Spring Quarter. 

Spring Break, in terms of time, is much different than the other breaks. We only have a week, unlike Summer Break that is about three months long and Winter Break, which is 6 weeks long. So what do we do? 

For an out of state student like myself, the idea of going home is exciting and stressful. For someone who is very far from home, over 2,000 miles, there is a big choice to decide when to go home. Every year, I struggle with my choice. I’d love to go home and see my family, but I would spend more time travelling than I would like. It’s difficult because a lot of people at DePaul live in the area, therefore, if you stay at DePaul, a lot of the people will be gone with their families. And you’ll be here alone, with very little to do. 

During my freshman year, I was homesick and wanted to go home to see my family. My sophomore year, I decided to stay in Chicago and pick up some extra work in the Film School. Although it was a little lonely and was jealous of my friends who took the train to see their family, I viewed more of Chicago than I realized. I took some walks alone, exploring the city of Chicago that I don’t have the time to see during the quarters. I learned about new restaurants and hubs of town that I didn’t know existed. 

So no matter what you decide to do this Spring Break, you’ll have a good time. Staying here in Chicago is a great for exploration, and going home means you get to see your family. Both will be a positive experience. 


Directing a Musical

To accompany the post I just made about amateur and DePaul organization theatre, I would like to talk about the show I just directed over the past weekend! With the DePaul Theatre Union, I got the amazing opportunity to direct my first musical and it was a blast. 

With the help of the E-Board of DePaul Theatre Union, I was able to put on a full production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn. This is a fun show, however it is a hard show to produce due to the audience volunteers needed. Three to four audience members are invited onstage and spell along with the actors. Due to this, the actors must be good at improv, along with being good singers and actors. They need to ad-lib and interact with different audience members every night, which makes for a unique show. 

The Producers of DePaul Theatre Union, comprised of student volunteers, helped organize auditions in the Schmitt Academic Center. Over 50 people from all grade levels and majors auditioned to be apart of the cast and crew. After careful scrutiny, we chose 9 strong actors, 10 commited crew members, and 5 production leaders. 

Over four months, our whole team worked very hard to create this amazing piece of art. The Theatre School gladly let us perform in their facilities. Over the last weekend, we had over 150 come out to see our performance. Friends and family of the cast and crew flew out from all over the country to our beautiful musical. We were sold out for all four performances and got really good reviews. 

All in all, I had so much fun directing my first musical! It was stressful at times, but I could not have chosen a better community to find myself in. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to direct a musical while here at DePaul! 


Theatre on Campus

One way to get involved at DePaul is through theatre. If you ever did theatre in high school, you know how much fun it can be. At DePaul, there are many ways you can continue your love and get on the stage (or behind the stage if you would prefer to do tech). 

The Theatre School at DePaul, widely regarded, is a space where smaller clubs can perform shows. If you are not a student in The Theatre School, unfortunately, you cannot participate in their big performances. But there are other shows, small one acts and the like, that you can audition for. 

There is DePaul Theatre Union, which is a fun club organization that any student can join. Their motto is about that anyone of any major can join and perform shows. DePaul Theatre Union usually does one show per quarter and they are recognized and licensed shows. Last year they did Mousetrap, Waiting for Godot, and Steel Magnolias. This year they’re currently working on the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and 39 Steps

If you love theatre but want something different, you can do Springboard Theatre. This company focuses on self-written work. They do a lot of smaller projects throughout the year too, instead of full shows like DePaul Theatre Union. 

For the last 20 years, DePaul also organizes a performance of The Vagina Monologues. If you are interested in a play about feminism and women’s bodies, this play runs annually, always in the month of February. 

Hopefully these options are a way for you to get your theatre fix. If it isn’t, you can start your own organization and put on the performances you want to see! 


The Transition into Winter Quarter

Fall Quarter, especially for freshman, is an introduction to DePaul. For the most part, the classes are easy and they can seamlessly learn and transition into college. The focus is on making friends, figuring out living outside of home, and attempting to learn in a higher education. Because we are a quarter system, everything goes very quick and, after eleven weeks, students are right back home for a very long six week break. 

As lovely as it is that DePaul students can spend their Thanksgiving at home, it is quite a shock spending six weeks with family after living for a few months without parents. For six weeks, freedom feels much different than it did for the Fall Quarter. 

Then, after break, students are right back for Winter Quarter. For a lot of people, the transition is difficult. Especially if students are a West Coast kid like I am, the transition back into freedom, along with the shock of realizing that Chicago is very cold in January, is a struggle. Coming into Winter Quarter can be hard, with the new added stress of moving back in, starting another quick quarter, and the seasonal depression that could kick in. 

I would suggest making sure to really take care of yourself coming into Winter Quarter. Everyone, including the Professors, is struggling with the transition from the holidays back into work. Keep a to-do list to keep yourself on track. Make sure to stay on top of your work, but also give time to see your friends and do something fun. The transition may be a little bit of trouble but another wonderful quarter is ahead and in a few weeks everything will go back to normal.  


Advice I'd Give to my Freshman Self

As a junior in my winter quarter, there is the depressing and looming fear of the “real world” coming in my near future. As I reflect back on my time at DePaul, I think of how I would have done my freshman year differently, or what I would have told my freshman self if I could go back in time. Here are the five pieces of advice I think are important to know going into freshman year: 

1) Although your counselors or advisors or even your parents will make a big deal about how you need to make a decision about a major, don’t listen to them. You can always change your major, your concentration, or your minor. Just because you made a decision as a 17 or 18 year old about what you want to do about your future doesn’t mean you have to stay with that decision forever. You can always make a new choice. 

2) You’ll make friends. Do not worry that no one will like you and you’ll be lonely. I promise, you’ll find a friend, if not multiple. If not, I’ll be your friend. 

3) Strike up conversations with the people around you. My freshman year, I was a little too introverted than I should have been. I lived on campus, in the hub of DePaul. I wish I spent more time talking to people in the Dining Commons, in my dorm, and even in my classes. As an upperclassman living off-campus now, I don’t get as many opportunities to meet new people and I wish I could go back and make friends as easily as it would have been when I was on campus. So make sure to put yourself out there and meet new people. DePaul students are very friendly. 

4) You may or may not fall in love and that is okay. I was scared out of my mind that I would not find anyone I would want to go on a date with. I was worried everyone would date someone and I would be single and lonely. That is not true. I have friends who are dating, I have friends who are not dating, and everyone is happy with their choice. If you want to date, the option is there. If you don’t want to date, you won’t feel left out. 

5) Although the quarter system may seem stressful, everyone is in the same boat and you’ll make it through. The teachers and your fellow students are just as stressed about the timeline as you. The syllabus may look scary at first glance but everything will be okay. Just make sure you keep up with the readings, homework, and attend class. I was so stressed about homework my first quarter freshman year, and I wish I told myself that everything would work out. You’ll get the hang of it. 


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!  


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!