Monday, September 26, 2011

Making it Happen

You will note that #13 on my 30B430 list reads: Pass My Comps.

I am currently on my last semester of coursework towards my PhD in Higher Education. And to cap off that experience and demonstrate my learning, I am asked to sit for a full day comprehensive exam, in less than two weeks - 12 days to be exact. I will write a comprehensive morning question for three hours, take a break for lunch, and then do three one-hour afternoon questions. Eeek!

Do I feel prepared? Not exactly. Some of the courses that I'm being tested on were ones that I took back in Fall 2005 during my master's program. Not only was that a long time ago, I was attending a different university, and the courses used different readings and materials. Which means that I spent the last week reading this lovely book, in preparation:

It's not that I dislike Robert Birnbaum or his thoughts on the organization and administration of higher education. It was just a lot of my study time to devote to only one area of my test preparation. Meaning that now I really need to focus on the law and history of higher education (exciting stuff, I know), and student development theory. 

How important is this test? Well, if I don't pass it, I cannot proceed with my dissertation proposal, which is the next step before I can start my research. It would also put me back roughly a year, as I'm not available for the spring exam date. So yeah, kind of a big deal....

I took today off, to plug away at my review and squeeze in a few practice questions. Here's hoping that my brain doesn't turn into mush and that I use the time well. Basically all other things are on hold at this point. My apologies to my friends and family. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

30B430 Book #4: The Girl Who Played With Fire

That Lisbeth Salander sucks you in!

I quickly snagged The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second in the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson, once my mom finished it. Since reading on the bus is a no go, it took me a little bit longer than I had hoped to get through the book, reading a few chapters each night before I went to sleep. 

At first I wasn't sure how it would compare to the first book. It started out equally slow, as it retold some of what happened in the last book, while setting up a new storyline. The first book looked at themes of sexual violence against women. The second looks at the victimization of women in the sex trafficking. It also gives you a lot more information about who Lisbeth Salander is. And of course, it gets crazy! The second book also leads directly into the third book in sort of a Pirates of the Caribbean 2/3 way. I can't wait to see how it all ends. 

Did you catch a preview yet for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie? I saw it for the first time last night during The Office. It comes out in December, and I can't wait. If not, you can check it out here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30B430 Book #3: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I'm not a huge non-fiction reader. But several people had recommended that I pick up a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman from Baltimore, who died of cervical cancer in the 1950s.

While being treated at Johns Hopkins University, scientists cut out a part of Henrietta's tumor without her knowledge or consent, which was then used to study her cells, HeLa, which became an immortal line of cells. The HeLa cells have been used across the world for decades and have led to a number of major scientific discoveries, including the polio vaccine.

The book follows both the history of the scientific developments of the HeLa cells and the corresponding ethical issues of their use and mass production, as well as the history of the Lacks family, from Henrietta's youth growing up in Clover, VA to the later stories of her children and grandchildren, whose lives were deeply affected by exploitation by the scientific community and the media. The book weaves in Skloot's relationship with the family, as she attempts to build trust with Henrietta's relatives and research their story.

This was another book that I listened to during my bus rides. At times I fell asleep, more from exhaustion than boredom, and so I was often tracking back to the last part of the story that I could remember hearing. Overall, it was a really interesting look at the foundation of much of the science that we take for granted today, and the woman who made it possible. Although it's nonfiction, the storytelling is engaging and keeps you wanting to know more.

Definitely a good read.

I'm one-tenth through my reading list. Twenty-seven more books to go!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

30B430 Book #2: Bossypants

I love Tina Fey. Can't get enough of her. In fact, she may be my celebrity doppleganger. Well, maybe not Tina Fey herself, but Liz Lemon...definitely. I couldn't wait to get into Bossypants, her first book (I say first, hoping that there will be a second).

Because I have recently transitioned into a bus commuter, with roughly two hours a day spent in transit, I ended up downloading the Audible app for my iPhone. Sadly, reading on the bus makes me quite green, which is not exactly the way I want to start or end my day. Listening to books, however, provides an awesome way to spend my time, and still enjoy some fun reading outside of all my studying for my comprehensive exams. With my membership to Audible, I got one free credit for a free book. Enter Bossypants, read by Tina Fey herself.

Let me say, if you have read the book, go back and get the audio version. I have never laughed so hard. Which led to a few awkward moments with my fellow bus riders. I should have asked the bus driver to put it over the intercom so that everyone could share in my joy.

Tina goes through her life, from a young girl who realizes she has "old parents," through her time working at the YMCA post-college before joining the Second City in Chicago, and her eventual fame on SNL, 30 Rock, and mocking Sarah Palin during the 2008 elections. She also shares some of her hilarious experiences with motherhood, which are both endearing and hilarious. The only thing I felt like I missed was the pictures included in the book, that she references several times often to make fun of her clothing, hair etc. Apparently with some audio versions, you get those in a PDF.

This is one book that everyone should read, or have read to them by Tina.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Something Is Brewing....

For a taste of what I was googling for work today, click here.

Yep, I have a fun job. And it may help me check off #21.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

30B430 Book #1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I have shared my love of reading before, which is why one of the goals on my 30 Before 30 Bucket list includes reading 30 books for fun (#1). I was reading one book after the next last summer, but with work, dissertation/school and moving, this summer has been far less productive. Sadly, I just finished my first book last week. First on the list: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

I realize that I am way behind on the Millenium series. Most people have completed all three books and are eagerly awaiting the US version of the movie. But I am still in the early bird phase of my relationship with Lisbeth Salander and her crazy crime solving ways.

I had started the book several times, but struggled to get past the first few chapters. At the urging of others to just get through the first 100 pages, I gave it another shot. I liked the book a lot, especially as the story began to weave together and I wanted to know just what had happened to Harriet Vanger. However, I am leery of any book that makes you read that far before it gets interesting. I'm hoping that the second book provides a quicker start.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

#15 Move in with my man.

It's official. We have been living together for one whole week today.

Unfortunately, right now it is in my sister's room at my mom's house, But at least we are together.

You see, we have lived apart for our entire relationship. When we met, I was living in St. Louis. Chris was in Providence, Rhode Island. Over 1,100 miles and a time zone between us. And still we started a relationship.

A few months in, Chris moved to Indianapolis. That cut down the distance to just 243 miles, about a four-hour drive. Still the hour time difference (which I continue to think is weird). For two years, one of us would make the trip down highway 70, usually every two or three weeks. But with our crazy work schedules, sometimes we would go two months without seeing each other. I know that there are many other people who have even more distance and time between them, but that didn't make it any less hard.

So last summer, we made the decision that we needed to be in the same place. We discussed both Indy and St. Louis. And ultimately decided that we would love to move to Wisconsin, to be closer to my family and friends.

Flash forward a year. Now we are here. We have stuff stored throughout the house and are living with four cats. But we are finally together. Plus laundry is free and my mom also feeds us. Winning. We hope to find our own place in the next few months, but we will call this home for now.

To quote a favorite line from Babe, "That'll do pig. That'll do."

An Honor.

I started writing this post a few weeks ago (on August 13 to be exact) and just couldn't bring myself to finish it. Until now. Here goes...

On Friday, August 12, after an emotional last day, I came across this post. Written by one  of the students from Panhellenic - a touching tribute. To me.

Being an educator can be challenging, frustrating, even heartbreaking at times. I have spent the last four years working with some really fantastic students. But I also had those moments where I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into.

And yet, these really special moments come that fill my heart with more joy than I could ever imagine possible. Those moments where the connection happens. The part in all the struggle, where the students learn, and when we learn too. And as I walk away and on to my next adventure, I can't help but reflect on all that I have learned over the last four years. I continue to do what I do because of these students. And together we have created some amazing memories. Here are just a few of my favorites.

My Love/Hate relationships with sorority recruitment. I can't speak for all fraternity/sorority advisors, but for me, recruitment has its highs and lows. It is an exciting time of welcoming new members into our community. But it's also a high stress and emotion/low sleep whirlwind two weeks. And sometimes my crabby pants come out. Because I don't do what I do for arguments about balloons, or hours listening to cheer practice. I do it because I believe in fraternity/sorority and sharing the experience with as many as we can. However, there are those moments that make those weeks memorable. Silly conversations about "that sisterhood pants movie." Serious conversations about the stereotypes in our community. Surviving an H1N1 recruitment with serious amounts of hand sanitizer. And lots of gummi bears. And of course, bid day - when we get to see the women go home to their new sisters. The day that it is really all about.

My Love/Hate relationship with conduct. For most advisors, we don't get into our jobs because we love conduct and can't wait to run a hearing. As self-governing organizations, I believe that standards and accountability are one of the most important aspects of our community. But my heart sinks a little each time that I have to put aside the other projects I am working on to respond to an incident and prepare to oversee a conduct process. I cannot think of another part of my job that is quite as emotionally draining. It is hard to see a chapter struggling. It is even more challenging when mistakes are repeated, and no learning has happened from the previous time. At the same time, I know how much that I learned from my own experiences with the conduct process as a student, especially during those times that I failed in my own leadership. And I have appreciated those moments when I can be there with the students through the icky, hard, dark times until they push through to the other side to become a stronger chapter.

Serving in Jonesville. When I think of love, joy, and community, I will forever think of Jonesville, Virginia. And the amazing group of students with whom I traveled for a week of service with the Appalachia Service Project. Plus my partners in crime, Vinny and Steve. When we were approached by students interested in creating a Greek Mission Trip in late spring 2009, I don't think I had any idea what it would become. Steve might have, because he was good at dreaming big. But I didn't. What we were able to create with the students, was one of the most genuine/real experiences I have ever participated in with service that really captured what a fraternity and sorority community can be. If we could recreate that same experience every day on the college campus, I don't think we'd have nearly as many issues with alcohol, hazing, and the other diseases that plague our community. Those were the best two spring breaks that I have ever had.

Supporting the students as they create successful programs. One of my proudest moments as an advisor was sitting in the room for the sorority community's first Panhellenic Grand Chapter, a program created by the council and a chapter president to bring sorority women together around issues important to them. It was a conversation that was challenging, and meant to push people to think and to act. Hopefully the starting point for a conversation that will continue.

This is my job?! I love those moments when I have to stop, smile, and say to myself, "I get paid to to this." It happens when I'm sitting at a free concert as "staff presence" of a band that I love. Or when I get stopped at Sam's and asked if I run a daycare because my cart is full of bulk quantities of mints, capri suns, gummi bears, etc. Sometimes I feel like I am herding cats. Most of the time, it is just plain awesome.

I am so proud of the men and women that I have worked with at Saint Louis University, and wish them all the best. I hope that I am leaving things a little bit better than when I started. I can't wait to see what they all do.

It has truly been an honor.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...