Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plans for Next Semester

Junior year has been a big one for me, because I finally declared the major that I believe I'll graduate with (Economics). Also, it's the first year I'll be doing some serious free skiing, since I was training with the Alpine team freshman year, and last year I broke my wrist in January. As you can imagine, I've got big plans for this coming semester.

1. Jay Peak weekends

A buddy and I, both of us former ski racers, are psyched to shred the North Country this coming winter/spring. I think all of Vermont has great skiing (like Smugg's: to which SMC students get a $65 SEASONS pass), but Jay has always had a special place in my heart because: (1) the terrain is yummy, (2) they're constantly pounded with snow, and (3) it's semi-francophone, given the proximity to Canada. What a trifecta for a shredful winter.

Above--a sick ski edit (not mine) of Jay peak. From YouTube: 

2. A math-y courseload with a hint of social science

Being an econ major, I've actually forgone some of the intro courses that I need to take to finish the major. Sooo, this coming semester I'm taking Microeconomic Principles, Stats, and Calc II--a mathy group of classes for sure. But I'm also taking a Political Science class called Multicultural Theory and Practice, which will be reading and social-science heavy. A divergent courseload for sure, but an interesting one I hope!

3. Fundraising and planning for India

As I mentioned here recently, I've been selected to go on the MOVE extended service trip to Kolkata, India this May. In preparation, our group will be meeting weekly to iron out the details of travel, raise money for our partner organizations in India, and work on any other details necessary for making the trip successful. 

4. Wilderness Program: Backcountry Skiing 

This will be my first season taking people into the field as a certified Backcountry WP instructor, and I couldn't be happier! Backcountry skiing takes skill, safety and precaution, and is also a great time for more experienced skiers who want to ditch the lifts. SMC students: sign up for a trip if you're ready! And to those prospective students out there, this program is a good enough reason for deciding on SMC ;)

5. Common Ground 

I'm currently the president of Common Ground, SMC's LGBTQIA organization that works for advocacy and representation of LGBTQIA people on campus and in the community. We're hoping to bring some interesting speakers and other events to campus, and working on a campaign for housing reform to make campus more comfortable for a plurality of identities. It should be an interesting semester!

6. Tours, Blogging, and Talking to You!

Finally, as a lover of the SMC community, I'm looking forward to doing my best to represent the college through tours, this blog, and answering any questions that YOU have. My email is, or you can comment here any time. I do this because I want to be a resource for you, the reader, so feel free to contact me any time!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reflections on the Semester: The Importance of Taking a Deep Breath

As I'm sitting in my parents kitchen with a beautiful view of the falling snow outside, it becomes much easier to self-critique, and remember the things that I've done well, and the things that I haven't done that well.
My dad tells me all the time that school is a time when you're going to make mistakes, and all you can do is your best. Of course, one's "best" is relative, so it becomes harder to reassure oneself when Sally Knowitall consistently gets higher grades on those reading quizzes and ALL YOU WANT is that A-minus. 

The thing is, many students do so much more than school. Saint Mike's students volunteer, organize, manage, protest, meditate, mourn, and celebrate. I'm sure students everywhere do, but I speak only from my own experience. What I mean to say, then, is that to narrow one's definition of success to a series of grades on a transcript (over which students have only as much control as the effort they put in) is ludicrous, when the majority of our responsibilities lie outside academia. Is academia less than these outside experiences? Of course not, but to imply that the plurality of divergent experiences on SMC campus can be measured by an antiquated system of letter-ranking is preposterous, especially when some students are spending a majority of their time working or organizing service trips.

In light of all this, I'd argue the best thing any of us can do in a moment of calamity is to take a deep breath. To stress in the face of challenge is to accept and perpetuate one's state of anxiety. That being said, it's not an easy thing to calm oneself when one has a test in the morning and a twenty-page paper due yesterday. But all we can do is try.

This semester, I've learned that Yoda wasn't right after all. Yes, I suppose we could restrict the definition of human effort and attainment to a cut-and-dry binary of "either do, or do not," but that only bleaches any given story to one of outright success or failure. If a student learns more than they ever have about the social construction of race but gets a C in the class, how is that a failure? Moreover, how can one qualify as "intelligent" the student whose pompous nature and sturdy resolve allows them an A, by virtue of their predisposition? Neither of these stories is fully explained in the assignment of a letter grade.

In conclusion, then, I encourage my peers, prospective students, and parents to reflect on the importance of trying. More often than not, trial and error yield understanding. So why get down on ourselves for futzing that one Chem procedure, when we know for the next time around that we probably shouldn't add the water to the acid? It's all a learning process, because learning is never finite.

Thanks for reading, and here's to the close of one semester, the dawn of another, and the never-ending process of learning what "it's" all about.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Baby Picture Finals Week.

Hey there everyone!
The students of Saint Mike's are currently immersed in this thing called "finals week." It is during this week that we take large cumulative exams, turn in final papers/projects, and work through other stressful situations that arise from finishing a substantial amount of schoolwork.
It's not easy to stay stress-free during this time, but I also think there's a lot to be said in pursuing non-stress. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself that you're not stressing, that everything will get done, and that finals week have relative limited relevance in the cosmic sense. This doesn't make everyone feel calm, but it's the exact opposite of creating stress for oneself. Most likely, we'll get the grades we deserve, and besides the effort we expel there's not very much in our control.
In recognition of this cosmic reality, I invite everyone to reflect on a time when you weren't stressed, maybe a time when you couldn't say any words, let alone 'I hate finals week'. For me, this reflection is rooted it some photos that my uncle sent me,  pictures of my grandpa and I when I was a baby. He's since passed on and I'm no longer the fleshy small person I was, but those moments of calm that were pictured are still real and relevant.
Don't be too hard on yourselves, take a study break, and laugh with your friends when you can.
Happy Finals Week :D

Thursday, December 5, 2013


As the semester comes to a close, my time on campus has mostly been occupied with finishing finals/schoolwork, and attending to fundraising for the 2014 trip to Kolkata, India. MOVE, the service organization on campus, runs extended service trips, and SMC students have had the opportunity to travel to Kolkata for 3 weeks each spring to bring resources to the Mother Theresa homes, and also to assist in the service these organizations have already established. This year, seven  students, a student leader, and two faculty leaders will be making the trip. Every year that I've been at Saint Mike's, a close friend of mine has gone on the trip, and in that way the India trip has always existed as a part of my experience at Saint Mike's. This year, I get to go for the first time, and our first fundraiser is an international market featuring crafts from India and the Dominican Republic (another international service trip).

If you can and are willing, you should stop by the market between today and Saturday! All the funds from this market go directly to the service organizations we work with in India and D.R., so it's a good cause.
To my fellow SMC'ers: best of luck on finals!
Thanks for reading ;)