Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nine Weeks: Writing the Thesis.

My senior seminar met this week (for one of but a handful that we'll have this semester), and it was then that I realized I have about nine weeks to write my thesis. Since econ students have senior seminar in the fall semester as well as the spring, all of the spring is more or less devoted to research, writing, and presentation of the thesis. My project is on the topic of universal provision of anti-retrovial drug therapy for HIV patients in developing economies. Other projects are studying craft breweries in VT and sustainable business, to name a few.
This is what I like to do when I'm not doing work.

Since I got to do research with Professor Walsh last summer I feel somewhat prepared to tackle such a project for the next few months, but a new project will present new challenges. Also the nature of my thesis project (theoretical) is unlike my summer research, so the goals of my research this time around are quite different.

Luckily, I have a little extra time this semester because I'm enrolled in 14 credits, which is two less than the typical 4-4 workload of students at SMC. In any case, I'm sure it'll be April before I know it and eventually these next few months will fade into a research blur, as tends to happen with so many big projects.

When I'm not focusing on class this semester, I'm doing my best to maximize my remaining time as an undergrad. Skiing is a priority (I have Mondays off of class and work, and today I skied Mad River for the first time this season!), and so is making time for friends (who knows where we'll be come September). I also wanna go out to eat more, before my last chance to try all the various cuisine of Chittenden County passes by. Music too, and lots of day-trips around VT.

Anyway, this student's gotta tap out and resume the Sunday night work grind. Here's to something new.

As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Home Stretch.

I don't know whether to be surprised, or if I should have expected to hit the ground of this semester running. My first week back consisted largely of work, attending classes, seeing friends (for the beginning of the end... of school), and homework sandwiched between two rather busy weekends of ski-related activities. Tomorrow afternoon I'll have finished my AIARE Level 1 course, which is a three-day avalanche education program. To be honest, I'm running on fumes at the moment. Luckily I have time in the next few days to rest up and post something of substance, so I'm looking forward to that.

On another note, this week is full of programming on campus for the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation. Kevin Powell and Jasmine Rand are featured speakers; a complete schedule can be seen below. These workshops are especially relevant given current anti-racist political movements occurring in the U.S. Check these events out!


Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Doing an Independent Study.

Do you ever wish you could just hang out with a professor and discuss feminist political thought over coffee? No, just me? Wait, I see you nerds out there! Well fear no longer, at Saint Mike's, students have the option to enroll in an independent study, which is a one-on-one (or very small) academic course for which students can receive either 2 or 4 credit hours.

Why should a student ever consider such an option? In my case, I'm pursuing an IS in the spring with a professor who had to cancel a course I was enrolled in to teach another one instead (so I'm taking a condensed version of the class I'd originally opted). Another example; one of my peers did an independent study on public health and maternity after becoming interested in the topic while abroad. Frequently when I've known students doing an independent study, it's because they're motivated to learn more about a specific topic, and usually they're topics that a professor has studied but for which a class is not offered regularly.

From the college's website:

"Independent research is encouraged by the College as a complement to regular coursework for qualified students. Independent Study courses are available in certain circumstances and require a 3.0 minimum quality point average during the academic year. Independent study must be approved by the Associate Dean of the College no later than the last day of the course change period."

Further, IS is not an opportunity to slack; after all it's like class, except you're the only student. Blowing off reading and papers isn't really an option, and I imagine successful students doing an IS need to be focused and self-motivated. 

What is this all to say? If you're really into learning, if you're very interested in a professor's work, if you're motivated to learn more about a certain topic, or if you'd like to develop more learning on a topic from another class, you should totally pursue an independent study. Obviously, it's not the case that IS courses can be offered to every student every semester, but it's an excellent idea if the opportunity presents itself. 

If you're curious about the process or my own motivation for pursuing an IS, feel free to shoot me an email. If you have more specific questions, you can visit the registrar in founders to have those answered.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanks-skiing.

Just got back from Thanksgiving break, which means I'm up to my ears in stuffing and buckling down to face the home stretch of the semester. Two weeks until my second-to-last finals week, which is bittersweet in all the right ways.

Me and little bro.
After spending the weekend in Portland, ME with a good friend from school, I made my way back to the central part of New York State to touch base with family, relax, and watch lots of movies. Not only was it a restful week off, I also got to see a Syracuse basketball game and get out skiing for the first time this season at Gore Mtn.

For tonight and the rest of the week I've got thesis work and a large project to complete, but more likely than not I'll be able to get out to Smuggs this Saturday for some early December turns. If the weather's nice, pictures will follow!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Best Place You've Never Heard of at Saint Mike's: Center for Women and Gender

Center for Women and Gender in a bit of snow.
When you visit Saint Mike's, tours will frequently bring you by the academic quad, first-year quad, library, Tarrant/Ross athletic center, Alliot and Dion. Each of these are central to the SMC experience in their own way, but unfortunately you can't fit all the coolest places onto one tour.

The Center for Women and Gender, located right across the parking lot from Tarrant/Ross, is by far one of the coolest places on campus. Not only does the CWG host progressive speakers, events and student organizations, but the building itself is really cozy and has a full kitchen. Plus it feels homey, which can be a nice escape when classes get stressful.

Living room.
I first started visiting the CWG when I began attending Common Ground meetings my first year. Although now they meet in the Multicultural Student Affairs office, I've always appreciated venturing over for a variety of reasons: such as the pancake breakfast they do each semester, pre-trip India meetings, a workshop by Robyn Ochs on self-care for activists, and Common Ground coffee hours. At the moment, I'm sitting on a couch in the CWG living room for the hour before my 12.15 class.

Not only has the CWG been extremely functional in my experience, I've also learned quite a bit outside of class from events/groups/conversations related to things I've done, seen, or heard via the CWG. My understanding of gender, race, and class politics have hugely impacted the way I think about these systems of oppression in the context of politics and the economy. I wouldn't have learned all that I have without this place!

If you're a prospective student I highly recommend getting in contact with Julia (jberberan@smcvt.edu) so you can drop in and visit. And current students, if you've never been over this way it's well worth a visit!

Thanks to the CWG and the people who run it for all that they've given this campus. It's truly the coolest place you've (now) heard of at SMC!

Below: more photos!


One Billion Rising bulletin--a global campaign to end
violence against women.

Kitchen and front door.

I call this room the 'study'.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Autumn is a Wonderful Season at Saint Mike's

Campus on a late weekday morning.
I've grown up in the northeastern climate (born and raised in Syracuse, New York), so for a long time cold temperatures and changing seasons have been a given for me. To be honest, my plan is to pursue post-grad life in a climate much warmer than it is up here, but Fall still claims a special place in my heart (impossible to tell if this is a result of Stockholm syndrome or an actual affinity for the season). Not only are the changing colors beautiful (and very missed by graduates I know in places where Autumn doesn't exist), but as we get closer to winter there are different ways to have fun that just make more sense in the Fall.

Foster the People plays at Ross Sports Ctr., 10/23.
Pretty Founders.
  1. Shows are inside. Which is a great excuse to get to more shows. In the warmer months it feels less justified to stand around inside Higher Ground (or other indoor concert venues, cause usually there's something outside), but when it's chilly outside I have no qualms dancing around a loud and crowded ballroom to whatever band is playing that night. This probably feels like a cop-out reason why Fall is rad up here (cause I always talk about shows), and that doesn't bother me one bit. Because, once again, you don't even have to leave campus! On North (in Purtill Hall), there are frequently small band shows in the basement concert venue that we call Turtle Underground. Another reason to go to Turtle is that they frequently have complimentary food (e.g. wings, pizza), which is a great option for warming up away from the wind.
  2. This picture of Founders Hall is beautiful, because blue skies are always prettier in the fall. With the red and orange foliage that appears everywhere in VT around this time (I've met a lot of people who refer to this as the trees 'on fire', which is a term I never heard before SMC), the blue contrast of the sky on a clear day becomes more excellent than any other time. Also there are quite a few buildings on campus that are covered in ivy (check out Jeanmarie in ANY season), so all of them look 'on fire' around this time, as they say.
  3. You can still get a hike or two in before the wet weather. Hiking in the fall is nice because you can layer up and maintain an ideal body temperature throughout. Whereas hiking in the summer will probably leave you ultra sweaty and uncomfortable, hiking in the fall is all the fun/workout sans much of the sweaty back and armpits. But you gotta hurry, because sometimes there's not a huge interval between dry October days and their wetter, darker November counterparts.
  4. Obviously, skiing is right around the corner. And this season I plan to shred some backcountry with amigos in the Wilderness Program, as well as frequenting Smuggler's Notch and Mad River Glen where I have season passes. If you're not a winter person have no fear, take the CCTA bus into Winooski or Burlington for restaurants, coffee, shopping, movies, and performances of a wide variety. At Saint Mike's you're never far from a good time.
Thanks for reading! 



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Economics? This post is more or less unrelated...

Hey all!

So as I've alluded to and/or mentioned previously, I dig kitchen activities (such as cooking and baking... cleaning is fine, I guess). When I'm procrastinating it's usually while standing over a vat of black beans that I've been soaking since yesterday, or else trying to perfect my hummus (starting to sound like Rachel Ray I know). All I'm trying to say is it's a passion, and this week I've embarked on a new (mis?)adventure in the kitchen.

A friend of mine, Steph, who also is enthusiastic in the pursuit of food-creation made a sourdough bread a week or two back. See, over the summer she was given a copy of the book 'Wild Fermentation', which is a non-fiction novel/cookbook that offers tons of recipes for foods that require fermentation, such as kimchi, cheeses, wines, and sourdough bread. We have yet to prepare as many of them as we'd have liked, but for both of us the idea of fermented foods is exciting because it involves quite a bit of, well, nature. ALSO it's exciting because according to the book many fermented foods have added health benefits that their un-fermented counterparts don't... and while I'm not going to feign to know any specifics, that's pretty sweet (the author is a long-time survivor of HIV, and claims fermented foods have played a role in his good health).

Above: the sourdough starter. Currently
in our townhouse storage unit for warmth.
After Steph's overwhelming success with the sourdough bread, I had to give it a try. I'm actually not using the recipe in the book mentioned above (because I found an easier one, teehee), but as of today I've begun growing my own sourdough starter, which is the (hefty) step 1 in making the bread. After you ferment a flour-and-water mixture for about a week, you end up with a mixture that is the basis (starter, if you will) of the bread, and from there you add more flour, water, yeast, etc.

Obviously there's still a week or so to go, but I'm quite excited to see how this turns out. Either way, I'll do my best to post a picture of the end-product! At that point I'll probably need some time away from whatever paper I'll be writing, anyway.

Thanks for reading! And Happy Fermentation!