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“Feels Like 11°”

I don’t watch or read Game of Thrones, but everyone keeps saying “WINTER IS COMING!” Last night it felt like winter was most certainly already here. Especially since the “feels like” temperature according to the weather forecasters hit a blustery and balmy 11°. It was the same temperature here as it was at home. I actually had to turn my radiator on, something I typically refuse to do because I can insulate well enough. Since it has been so cold lately, I’ve been thinking of Tinker Day for some reason. And yesterday I realized I’d never published any Tinker Day photos! So here are some long-awaited tidbits and photos from Tinker Day!

Tinker Day happened at the end of October. Being a senior, I had the luxury of knowing the night before at 10pm so that I could be sure to set my alarm for 5:30am. Having waited since freshman year for this, 5:30 came quite early and without apology, but getting up and putting on my pajama onesie and decorated senior robe was not that difficult. Reporting to Main in the early morning chill was slightly more difficult, but looking back it was not as cold as it has been lately. Speed-walking through the halls of Tinker at 6 am banging a well-dented bread pan was entirely worth the 5:30 alarm. Not to mention the fact that we were then rewarded with Krispy Kremes before meeting on Front Quad for the traditional Tinker Day Proclamation and Senior Photo.

Tinker Day! Grace, fellow Roundtable Member, Athletic Chair, Leader of the Hike, and Carrier of the Spirit Stick.

Tinker Day! Grace, fellow Roundtable Member, Athletic Chair, Leader of the Hike, and Carrier of the Spirit Stick.

This was only my second time up Tinker Mountain. I had gone up my first year, been in Paris my second year (Catherine and I climbed all the stairs of up the Eiffel Tower instead!), and last year it rained and we walked the loop in the mist and did skits in the gym. And considering that it had rained every Friday since school started and nearly the entirety of the week before Tinker Day, the fact that it was an absolutely gorgeous day was sheer luck!

 

The view off Tinker Mountain

The view off Tinker Mountain

As a member of Roundtable, I was part of the skit. Along with Mercury, the SGA VP, I dressed as a two-headed Kraken that kidnapped President Gray. How many students can say that they know their University president well enough to ask them to participate in a student skit? Probably not very many. I consider it an honor. Anyway, the skit went well, the Kraken was defeated, and President Gray was rescued.

Per usual, the Tinker Cake and accompanying lunch was fantastic. And seeing everyone dressed up in their best outfits is always enjoyable.

The outfit

The outfit – My horse/bunny stole the show.

All in all, it was a beautiful senior Tinker Day! If you want to see more photos visit Hollins’ Tinker Day page.

The library at the end of the weekend

The library at the end of the weekend

 

 

 

If you read my last post, you found out that I really enjoy playing the cello. And if you read to the end of the last post, you may have seen the teaser for future posts about school and SGA.

Did I ever tell you that I was elected SGA Secretary last year? I’m not sure how I didn’t. Oops. The how is irrelevant, the important detail is that I decided that I would take on the position. At the same time I am attempting to have a life, ride, play cello, and study enough. I forgot to mention sleep, but I am trying to do enough of that too.

This year, when I set my personal goals for SGA, I decided I would bring the core of my person with me to the position. And that core is very dedicated to reducing unnecessary waste on campus. I really dislike printing things. I also dislike wasting things. Therefore, this year I decided that it was 2014 and there was no reason that we should be holding student government elections on scantrons. The previous design of elections required the utilization of an entire sheet for less than 10 bubbles worth of bubbling. Not only was the old way of doing things slow and less environmentally friendly than desired, but it was also less than effective. We were struggling to get enough students to vote. To me, the only answer was to go digital and bring the vote to them.

And I accomplished that. Thanks to the numerous supporters on campus and in the administration, Hollins went digital in its most recent voting cycle and I am so proud. This is not something that could have been done without the help of Brad and Anna or the support of Roundtable and Dean O’Toole in addition to the countless others that helped make this a reality. The beauty of being at a small school that values its students is that student leaders actually have the avenues and the voice to make a change where they deem it necessary. As students we have a lot of agency to make small changes that have an impact for each and every one of us. And that makes me proud to attend Hollins and proud to serve my student body as the SGA Secretary.

I’m sure I will have plenty more to tell you as my tenure as Secretary continues. Until next time, go work on changing something for the better.

Long time, no write. My apologies, but I’m not entirely sorry. I’ve been busy pushing myself to grow as a person. A potentially over-committed and mildly sleep deprived person, but I am accomplishing things. This week, I want to tell you about my music.

The last three years at Hollins have taught me quite a lot. They have also changed me as a person and given me a new truth that will shape my future. Being in my final year, I keep leaning in to the opportunities here even harder than I had before. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted since school began the first week in September. I’d be lying if I had said that I forgot. I was simply taking everything that I could from my first month back. That and I am busier than I ever have been. Which is impressive. And also scary. More on that later.

This year I am continuing to play cello and ride, two things that may seem superfluous when looking at my schedule packed with library time, classes, and SGA. However, both of those things are incredibly important to me and they have made me who I am today. I have a new cello teacher this year, Lisa Liske-Doorandish of Community Cello Works in Blacksburg. Though we have just started playing, I’m excited to see where things go. I’m not sure I ever told you all the story of how I found my way back to cello, but I like it. So here’s my cello story:

Beginning in the 5th grade, we were required to pick an instrument to play through 8th grade at the minimum. I was adamant that I would have nothing to do with brass or woodwinds as there was a grave amount of slobber involved and it seemed far from the elegant image I had in my mind of music. Instead I chose the cello. When I heard it sing, I knew there was something inherently passionate about its sound. The cello as an instrument is very expressive and vocal and it is said to be closest to a human voice, so perhaps why it seems to speak so clearly. Anyway, I played the cello from 5th until the end of 8th grade, so for about four years. I did so a bit begrudgingly and I probably could have been good if I had practiced (oh well). Once high school came, I was stopped playing because I had never been playing for me, and walked away. But luckily that is not the end of the story.

In Paris, I had a lovely week sometime around my birthday where I was able to go to a concert at La Sainte Chapelle (I blogged about it here). If you don’t know about Saint Chapelle, it is on Ile de la Cité in the center of Paris and dates to the 13th century. The stained glass is world renowned and the acoustics are stunning. As I sat in my small folding chair with the chill of an autumn rain biting at my neck each time the doors opened, I reconnected with the part of myself that was passionate about music. Listening to a quartet play Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” Pachelbel’s “Canon”, and Vitali’s “Chaconne,” I knew that playing cello again was something I wanted to do. And this time would be different, because I didn’t have to play.

Once the Fall term of 2013 came around, I had made the choice to pick up the cello and it was fun. I’ve misplaced my ability to talk about music, but not to read it (I can’t tell you what I am playing, but I can play it). I’m now entering my second year rediscovering the cello and I practice more than I ever did when I was made to play. And not only that, but I am satisfying my creative requirement for my education. I still get very tense playing for others, but when playing for myself, I enjoy it. My lessons with Lisa are going to push me even farther than I had hoped in such a limited amount of contact time. She’s a very talented and driven cellist, but she also lets me come to the music in a way that I understand instead of in a rigid, classical manner that one might expect with a traditionally classical instrument. I’ve also committed myself to practicing on a schedule that never would have happened even when I played in the youth orchestra.

So there you have it. In pushing myself to grow, I have rediscovered a lost love in the form of a cello. In the coming posts I’m excited to tell you about riding, SGA, and studying until my gelatinous brain turns to actual jello. So check back soon!

Jentry

Hello All!

Well I’ve made it through my 3rd year at Hollins, I’ve settled into my summer, and now that I’m not so busy with homework and other school obligations I have some new thoughts for you. Perhaps I’ll start a summer blog series. Or perhaps I’ll just post this one and let it stand on its own. We’ll see if I get more inspiration.

Before coming to Hollins, I hadn’t really heard of Gap Years. And if I had, no one had proposed them to me as an option. And I certainly wish they had, though I’m not sure I would have taken one. In retrospect, I should have. I’ve been a “professional student” for my entire life. If you consider that, except for summers, most of us have been in school from 7-3 or thereabouts, 5 days a week, roughly 9 months a year, for 13 years, we are all professional students. We’ve been trained to sit in school and learn, and then go home and study for school. When you get to college this is intensified by rigorous courses and the need to balance a social and educational life with sleep. In addition the costs of university are growing. Most of us plan to attempt a graduate program also. Needless to say, we’ve had little time to think about many of the big questions that a costly education demands we know. The biggest is probably  some combination of “What do you want to do with your life/your degree/after you graduate?” And I certainly think that a gap year gives you the opportunity for clarity outside of the classroom, but they are not for everyone and that is understandable.

That’s not to say that I’m unhappy with my choice to come to Hollins when I did. I’m so proud to be part of the Class of 2015. I couldn’t imagine Hollins any other way than as I have experienced it with my 2015 friends and those that have since left Hollins. I’m saying instead that I feel that I have missed an amazing opportunity to make some decisions in life and I’m certain that a gap year could have been one year of amazing self-discovery. Most students that I know who have taken a gap year have come back from it more prepared than before for school with some of those huge life questions and answers. Some of those questions never get answered, but at least you can begin to have an idea if you’ve had time to do exactly what you want. If you come to school rather certain of what you want to do or where you want to end up, it helps. Certainly not everyone who comes in to university with a clear intention of what they want to do will continue to pursue those same interests. University changes you, it opens your mind. The same way a gap year spent working, traveling, and discovering yourself does.

There are a ton of programs that can help you find internships, jobs, and make travel abroad simpler during your gap year. Gap years are very popular in the UK. There are scholarships for gap years if you complete them with organizations like Americorps & CityYear. Some gap years cost as much as a year of university if all you are doing is traveling, or if you are paying a company to locate you for your gap year.

Here are a couple benefits I found for taking a gap year:

1. Gap year students who took a year off after completing high school are less likely to burn out in college. Harvard recommends in its admission letter (and has for the past 40 years) and on its website that students accepting admission should defer and take a gap year. I would really recommend that you read Harvard’s “Should I Take Time Off?” page

2. If you’re worried you won’t go back, 90% of students returned to school after their gap year. Source

Gap years are not for everyone, and they are not always a success. But with planning and foresight, a gap year can be quite beneficial. And if you’re afraid of being a year “behind” your classmates, I doubt you’ll even notice.  Also – you can take gap years in the middle of university. You can still com back and still be involved. Don’t let the fear of what is different when you return keep you from coming back to university. Think of it this way: it was like you took a year abroad, something that is becoming more common among university students. Just like those that went abroad, you will bring back new experiences, knowledge, and outlooks to every situation that you are in. Two of my good friends I met my first year are a year older because they took a year away from university to pursue other interests. I have some very insightful conversations with them on a regular basis and I go to them because I find myself respecting them as wiser and with life experiences different from my own. University is not just about learning from your professors, its about learning from the people all around you.

To close, if you’re lucky enough to be able to have the opportunity to take a gap year, do so. Or plan for one after university is over. Or during if you need it. This is the time in our lives where we are able to be self-focused and I find that to be something terribly important. But no matter what, arrive in the fall ready to work and with an open mind. Because university will change you. Hollins will change you more.

If you didn’t already know, these last three months in Virginia have been cold and snowy (deep snow for VA), a pattern slightly out of the ordinary. Personally I’m used to random snow days as far into the year as June, but I suppose that comes with growing up at a mile high. Here, snow is not something that happens on a regular enough basis to demand that the DOT have snowplows. Anyway: Snow. And snow means a lot of water and runoff that supply the lakes, rivers, and stream. But snow also means very cold run off, which in turn means very cold paddling.

 

This year we didn’t make the spring break trip to North Carolina, but the few that decided to put up with cold water practiced on the James  in canoes, kayaks, and on Smith Mountain Lake on a stand up paddleboard (a new team event at nationals this year.).

 

The drive to Dillsboro was uneventful and the van remarkably quiet. It was rainy on Friday and Saturday, so we raced in the rain. Considering I was the only paddler that had been to nationals before, we did quite well. My partner Ashleigh and I managed to garner 3rd place in the Women’s Tandem Canoe.

3rd Place Women's Tandem Canoe

3rd Place Women’s Tandem Canoe

As a team we finished 3rd in the Relay, bringing us all a medal in the Women’s Division:

3rd Place Women's Relay

3rd Place Women’s Relay

And after a sunny and eventful day on the Standup Paddleboards, we came home with some snazzy hardware: 3rd place Women in the Nation!

3rd Place Women's National Team

3rd Place Women’s National Team

All in all it was a fun weekend and a good way to end Spring Break! Congratulations to all the other teams that competed and the winners!

This may have been the best January term of my life. The trip to St. John was one that I will remember forever and I’m already thinking of ways to return. Much like the connection I developed to a new home during the semester I spent in Paris, I’ve developed a similar connection to VIERS on St. John. For a look at the course blog visit it HERE. By the way,  you’re in for a long one. The trip was 10 days and we did SO MUCH. I won’t be offended if you just scroll through for the pictures.

If you read my previous blog post you’ll know that I was delayed in returning to Roanoke from Wyoming because of the winter storms, those same storms which are still hanging around and making it absolutely frigid everywhere. The flights to Roanoke from DC went something like this that Sunday: Delayed-Further Delayed-Cancelled. That happened three or four times before I found my way to a lovely hotel and slept. Monday, the same Monday I was supposed to be in class, I finally got on a flight around dinner time and made my way back to Hollins around 8pm. I was finally back but felt perpetually behind as I had to do laundry and study, while also catching up on what I missed that day. It was a bit rough.

The rest of that week went well, and we all left for St. John on Thursday the 9th. I abandoned all forms of communication from then until the 20th. It was quite nice. The flights were uneventful and we were incredibly lucky to get out of Charlotte as the winter storm proceeded to close down the airport after we took off. And stepping off the plane into the St. Thomas sunshine and heat was a very welcome change from the below freezing states we just left behind. Half of the adventure of Friday was getting everyone together, loading an open-air taxi with all twenty of us, plus our bags, and making across the entirety of St. Thomas to the 6pm Red Hook ferry to St. John. The drive was peppered with local artworks placed on the retaining walls alongside the road and the ferry ride was punctuated by our first island sunset. Once the drivers had gathered rental cars it was time for our first winding drive along mountain roads in the dark of the night to our new home, VIERS.

Sunset from the ferry  - January 10

Sunset from the ferry – January 10

Continue Reading »

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As I sat in Dulles Sunday night waiting for my perpetually delayed flight to Roanoke, I decided it was about time that I wrote a new blog. As it is a new year, it is only appropriate that I have a resolution, but the main one that even pertains to this blog is that I’ve set a goal to post far more regularly. Bi-monthy at least, weekly ideally, but I don’t always have great things to talk about so I suppose that I will do my best to have something interesting to say bi-monthly. I even put it on my schedule for the semester and I already have a few ideas.

You may have wondered where I disappeared to after November began, the simple answer is that I was absorbed by homework, which meant a lot of work over Thanksgiving (I stayed on campus) but also the prioritization of sleep as towards the end of any semester an ever-increasing deficit begins to catch up with me, and then finals. Once finals were over I basically decided to disappear for a while and enjoy the short time I had at home. Finals went well. I had three papers and one actual exam, so that wasn’t so bad, but it was a little overwhelming in the moment. I actually managed to bring up my GPA this semester, which I exciting since it was a pretty full semester for me.

Now we’re on to JTerm. It was great break, though a longer once would have been appreciated. However, I’m terribly excited about my class. I’m lucky enough to be going on the research trip to St. John, US Virgin Islands, with Professors Godard and Wilson, two fantastic biology professors. We will be there for 10 days, which will be jam packed and exhausting in the best way possible. I cannot wait to see the sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, and to swim with the marine life there. The other bonus is that everyone on this trip gets to skip over some of the lovely January weather that is pounding the whole country. We will be blogging as a class here:

St. John January Term 2014

Be sure to follow along. I plan on doing a follow up post when we get back, and then starting in with regular blogging again. Hopefully I will have a ton of fun pictures to share with all of you.

If you’re traveling: Safe travels! If you’re not: Stay cozy!

Talk to you all soon!

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