The End

Graduation is less than a week away and I’ve been walking around in a constant bubble of nostalgia.  With my comp completed, I reflect on my four years at Allegheny and what it’s meant to me.

You know, I almost didn’t come to college.  I had some lofty dreams of hitchhiking around the country.  I knew that I was a naive kid, and I thought bumming around would teach me what I needed to know about life.  Maybe it would have.  But I look back at who I was in high school and how I’ve changed since then and I fully recognize that I am a different person.  I’m comfortable and confident.  I didn’t have to wander around the country alone to figure myself out.

I took classes that interested me, a wide, eclectic variety.  I joined clubs and service organizations; even led a few.  I came into contact with people from all over the globe, and I was given opportunities to travel all over the globe.  I surrounded myself with fun and intelligent people that helped me grow everyday.

Sure, it wasn’t all sunshine and daisies (very little sunshine in fact), but the challenges and hardships that I experienced helped sculpt my character.  I learned how to meet challenges and rise above them, manage tough schedules, do difficult academic work, care for friends when they were in need, care for myself when I was in need.

Graduation Stage
Graduation Stage

They say that this is the age in which we become the people who we are for the rest of our lives.  If that’s the case, then I’m proud to have spent these years at Allegheny College, becoming the person I am today, the optimistic person who in 5 days will walk across the stage to shake hands and finally hold my diploma, the holy grail of my four year academic adventure.

What’s next?  I love to write, so I’ll continue to do that in whatever way I can.  And I love to travel, so I am getting certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language.  The opportunities are boundless.  No matter what, I feel very confident that what I’ve learned at Allegheny has adequately prepared me for the challenges of tomorrow and of the rest of my life.

VESA Capstone

My minor is the Values, Ethics, and Social Action program.  “VESA is an interdisciplinary academic minor that educates and engages students in social action and its ethics.”

Being a VESA minor has allowed me to delve into philosophy, psychology, languages, among other ethics classes taught by some of the best and most passionate professors on campus such as Kazi Joshua.  The minor has enabled me to gain the leadership skills needed to acclimate into any social environment and become a social activist.

The culmination of the VESA minor is the VESA Capstone Seminar.  This course was more of a weekly meeting in which we talked about food insecurity in Meadville and how to the solve the problem.  The point is to get at the core of the problem rather than provide temporary simple solutions.  For this we worked with Dr. Barry Bittman of the Meadville Medical Center.  We became his think-tank, brainstorming solutions and splitting up into teams to tackle specific projects.

VESA Capstone Meeting with Dr. Bittman
VESA Capstone Meeting with Dr. Bittman

VESA trained all of us to create the most intelligent and efficient solutions, which in this case involved a food resources guide to be distributed downtown, a how-to guide for encouraging businesses to help the cause, and a business model to create an institution that directly attacks the problem.

VESA and Meadville have been a fantastic training ground for all of the social ethics challenges of life.

Tools to Success

What are some tools that I need to use regularly as an Allegheny student?

Email:  Your Allegheny Email is powered by Google.  This means that your Allegheny Email is actually a Gmail with almost all of the convenient features that come with it.

Sakai:  This is the online classroom platform that allows professors and students to interact more easily than email.  Many professors post important class documents and links on Sakai, even presentations and videos.  Each professor can set their class’s pages up differently, but some allow you to view your grades and talk to other students about class content over a forum.

Web Advisor:  Here I check my student accounts.  Coming into Allegheny, this is the site where I took my Math and Language placement exams.  I submit my work hours to my office advisor and check to see if my loans have been disbursed.  Equally important, I use Web Advisor to search and register for the following semester’s courses.

Library:  The library’s website is fantastic for searching online databases for books in the Allegheny library or for books in other libraries.  You can use EZBorrow and Illiad to request books that Allegheny doesn’t have on hand.  You can even renew those books online.

There are many more tools available for students, most of which are available on My Allegheny, all of which help keep you organized and informed throughout your college career.

My Allegheny

The Music of Allegheny

For any comping senior who needs a relaxing break from studies, Allegheny’s music department never lets you down.

Alexander String Quartet performing in Ford Chapel

Lately, I’ve been craving a thoughtless destresser from rigorous school work.  Luckily, several different musical venues have become available to put my mind at ease.  First there was the Alexander String Quartet, who not only performed for an Allegheny audience, but also to individual classes and the broader Meadville community.  They played, flawlessly, everything from classical to romantic pieces in their entirety.

Next, a senior and friend, Ian Colley, played a powerful violin recital, the first one at Allegheny in thirteen years.  I feel as though it were only yesterday that I jammed with him and a roomful of other guys on the third floor of Ravine Hall…

Finally, this Saturday at 7:30 PM in Shafer Auditorium our very own Dr. Alec Chien, world renowned pianist, will perform his fourth in an eight concert series, counting down to the last one during Allegheny’s bicentennial year.

The music of Allegheny has arrived just in time for a stressed out senior, just in time to see the light at the end of the tunnel, just in time for spring.

Game Room

Yes, I’m comping, but sometimes I need to unwind from the stresses of analyzing texts, melting my eyes over computer screens, and stringing long words into confusing sentences.  That’s when I go to the Game Room.

The Game Room is the home of arcade games such as PacMan and one-on-one racing, board games such as Apples To Apples and Connect Four, and recreational games like billiards, table tennis, and air hockey.  Nothing calms the nerves like picking off alien stars ships in Galaga or smashing a goal on the foosball table.

Game room’s video selection and its dedicated student worker

What makes the Game Room special though is its selection of hundreds of movies available for rental.  Simply by presenting one’s student ID, students can rent any available movie for two days, choosing from a constantly updated catalogue.

So today, after expelling some mind sweat, I’ll retreat to the Game Room and rent out The Princess Bride after playing a  round of competitive Wii Mario Kart.

Hands-on Learning

Middle School Students

Last Thursday I received a call late at night.  A friend, who suddenly need to go out of town,  asked if I could cover his shift at work in  the morning.  He worked with the middle school education program of Creating Landscapes, work that I am highly familiar with. Gladly I took his place, meeting kids that I had met over the summer when I worked with the program and being welcomed by similar faculty.  Even now I learned new things about managing kids and facilitating their education.

A week earlier I had been asked to assist and attend a presentation on Egypt downtown for the community.  Because I had studied in Egypt last spring, I was able to participate and make connections with community members that I had never known before.  I learned about previously unrealized perceptions of Egypt and how to intelligently discuss them.

Experiences like these show me the value of an Allegheny education.  Not only do I have the opportunity to learn and discuss inside the classroom, but also in the real world on the community level.

Another blog about comping

The most useful comping resource: The reference librarian.

During freshman year, every introductory First-Year Seminar class is introduced to Pelletier Library.  We’re told about all of its resources; the Learning Commons, writing consultants, tutoring in the quiet rooms, special needs services.  But the single most understated service that the library offers is, without a doubt, the reference librarian.

I knew about the reference librarian.  I remember when Don Vrabel, reference librarian, spoke to my class freshman year.  I thought “Well this is great pal but I think I know how to look up books and write papers.”  Little did I know that about three years later I would need him to help me look up books.

I explained my topic to him in an email.  When I arrived at the meeting Don presented me with a paper, headed with my comp title, that detailed how to access different research databases and how to properly punctuate words in the search bar so that I find very specifically what I’m looking for.

the second most useful comping resource

The meeting only lasted an hour but by the end of it I had printed out three journal articles, I had requested two books from other libraries (they’re on their way now), and I found a book in Allegheny’s library that is now the cornerstone of my comp.  I realize now that before meeting with Don, I really didn’t know how to do research.

So now I’ll take my ever-accumulating stack of books from the reference librarian and pile them up in the second most useful comping resource in the library: a comp cube.

Greek Run-Out Spring 2013

Each semester, Allegheny’s Greek organizations welcome their new members with a Run-Out event.

Brothers of Delta Tau Delta

The new members construct a performance, random or traditional, to display to the public while their Greek brothers and sisters cheer them on.  This year my fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, accrued a large pledge class.  Their combined creativity led to an epic performance involving a banana suit, parkour flips, slender man, and a horse.  Because of it’s obscurity, I  fail to find the proper words to describe what happened.  All I can say is that it was a fantastic experience to be a part of the crowd cheering on the new brothers.

Chomp the Comp

When I was a Freshman here at Allegheny, an upperclassman tried to explain the comp to me.  At the time, all I saw it as was some overwhelming, large and intimidating monster that I would one day in the far off distant future have to face alone.  Now here I am facing down the monster, sword in hand, only to discover that it’s not so much a monster as it is a pet.

This is what late night comping looks like.

The project, coined the “comp”, is the comprehensive senior project that everyone needs to complete to graduate from Allegheny.  Instead of being some foreboding task or busying obligation, the comp is a research project that you select yourself based on your personal interests in your field of study.

Each department holds their own unique requirements, but what is true to all departments is the aid in which you are given to complete the project.  You personally choose your comp adviser who may or may not be the same as your academic adviser.  Regardless, you always have a guide who is willing to critique your work and provide meaningful ideas and assistance along the way.

Sure, it took me a long time to find a comp topic.  With a project this big, I knew that I had to do it on something that I was truly passionate about or else I would struggle through it.  I fended off many monster ideas before finding one that I loved, tamed, and came to see as a  sort of pet that I could grow and cherish. (Lame analogy?  Just go with it.)  Sure enough, now I enjoy working on my comp.  Everyday (yes this is a project that demands attention everyday, like a pet) I add something to it and also get something out of it, whether it’s interesting knowledge or personal insight.

Due this Spring, the comp is sure to bring me many challenges and long nights (like tonight – I have some stuff due for it before break), but in the end when I present it, I know I’ll have grown from this rigorous academic work; not seeing it as a monster work, so much as seeing it as grooming a friendly pet to show off at a show, proud of my accomplishments.

Grounds for Change

GFC (Grounds for Change) is a student-run coffee shop located in the Campus Center.  However, they sell more than just coffee, with a wide selection of hot and cold drinks such as tea and milkshakes and occasional baked goods.

GFC board member Natalie Cappellazzo said, “GFC is here to promote fair-trade coffee as well as to have a space for events such as concerts and discussions and group activities.”  For instance during campaign season, the presidential debates were hosted in GFC in which free drinks were offered for those in attendance.

GFC

Seth Bishop, another board member said, “We are here to foster an open and friendly atmosphere for students.”  Even when there aren’t events, students are studying, socializing, or playing games around the cafe.  Musicians feel free to bring in their instruments to play a tune or to play on the cafe’s piano.

If you’re lucky enough to know a board member, GFC is the place to be after-hours for some quiet studying.