Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Dominican Difference

Dominican University is the third college I have attended in my post-high school adult life. I’m the kind of person who does things in the most non-conventional method possible—it’s always been my nature. I take wayward, meandering paths as someone who likes adventure, variety, and new experiences, as opposed to the linear path of “high school, college, internship, job, marriage, kids.” My philosophy has always been, “Live in the present, create rich life experiences, do what makes you happy.”

After brief stints at Northern Illinois University and Harper College in Palatine, I came to the conclusion that going to school to get away from your parents after high school is not a valid reason, and going to another school to spend time with your best friend is not a valid reason.

I took classes in the business administration and marketing field for a while, and while [sarcasm]I LOVE economics and accounting, [/sarcasm] I began to realize that the business world held absolutely no appeal to me. My friend and I wanted to start our own modeling agency, but deep within myself I wanted to use my brain power in a way that utilizes my strengths.

But what was it?

I had inclinations toward writing. That was really the only thing that I genuinely enjoyed doing—that and having a positive influence on people.

My roommate, Mariya Kozlova was a student at Dominican University, and she highly recommended I check out the journalism program.

We pulled up to the Visitor’s Circle on a sunny June day. I observed the ivy covering the buildings, the beautiful architecture, the quiet neighborhood nook down Division St. where the main campus was located.

It sounds shallow, but at that moment I was sold. Dominican isn’t a sprawling, indifferent campus. It isn’t full of impersonal lecture halls. There’s a different feeling to this institution.

I talked to Christa Raska in recruitment, and was even further sold. I was going back to school to major in journalism. In retrospect, I obviously didn’t know what journalism was—all I knew was I wanted to write and pursue truth.

My first class at Dominican was “Communicate: A personal, social, and career focus.” Dr. Germaine Goetz-Sota, a former nun, was the professor, and from the first day I KNEW I was WHERE I BELONGED at Dominican.

Dr. Germaine Goetz-Sota is one of the main people who so radically changed my life.
In this class, Germaine had us read a book called Please Understand Me: Temperament and Personality Types by David Keirsey. We had to take the survey in the book and learn about our temperaments, which resulted in a four-letter classification using a combiniation of Introversion/Extroversion, INtuitive/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling, and Perceptive/Judging.

My result was ENFP.

It was in Germaine’s class that I learned WHO I was. I finally understood WHY I am the way I am. I got HOW I relate to other people; how I perceive myself and how I approach the world. The test results said ENFPs are well suited for careers in journalism, like to express themselves and communicate, and are wordsmiths by nature.

It all made sense.

“ENFPs may suffer test phobias, because even those who do very well in class and know the material feel boxed in by fact-oriented exams that have only one "right" answer. On the other hand, they do well on essay tests, which give them the opportunity to integrate their knowledge into a bigger picture.”

Indeed. And as I grew to know more about myself at Dominican, I realized that I can’t make excuses for how, and who I am. There’s no fault in being different from the status quo. Human beings are complex and different for a reason—we all should embrace the way we function; the people we inherently are.

Germaine taught us life lessons that are absolutely invaluable. Through our class projects we learned the concept of empathy and non-judgment. We talked about paradigms and how individuals’ life experiences shape the way they see the world, and how they act and react to certain situations. Germaine had us write a mission statement for our lives. She taught us to look into ourselves, to truly dig deep, find out, WHO we are, and to run with it.

And from that semester, I ran with it. Germaine’s genuine caring for her students is stronger than any other professor or instructor I’d ever had at that point.

There was one day after class when she pulled me aside. “Are you okay?” she asked me. “You don’t seem yourself.” I spilled my heart out to her, just relieved that I could confide in someone who understood and would encourage me, regardless. The fact that she had picked up on my change in demeanor touched my heart.

Long after I had taken two of her classes, my random encounters with Germaine would instantly change the tone of my day. Her mere presence—her positive energy and love—has never ceased to make me want to do well in life, and impact others in the manner that she does just by being herself.

Through studying journalism, I’ve learned so much more than I feel I would have at any of my previous schools. I know what kind of writing I enjoy; where to focus. I embrace my strengths and don’t worry about my “shortcomings.” I focus on what I know I am meant to, and able to do.

Dominican University has been home to me for three years. After attending other colleges, I realized just how real the Dominican Difference is. Even though I may seem aloof to others—as a commuter I go to campus, take care of business, and leave without spending much time hanging around—the Dominican community is my extended family.

Whenever I see academic advisor Angela Frazier—who helped launch my career here and was one of the leaders on my first Study Abroad program to Ghana—we have a lovely short conversation and she ends with a word of encouragement for me and a, “Tell your mother I said hello.”

Before Mariya graduated, she and I would spend hours hanging out with Professor Nkuzi Nnam, whom we lovingly referred to as “Father Nnam.” He is crazy, and we had the best bonding times in Ghana, but he taught us life lessons in his wonderful, African way.

Dr. Jeffrey Carlson, Dominican’s Dean, taught a Mystery of God course which radically revolutionized the way I view spirituality and changed my paradigms of Christianity. I LOVED the fact that a Catholic institution challenged traditional approaches to God, encouraging us to investigate and understand the concept of faith so that it was relevant to the individual.

A couple semesters later, Dean Carlson would encourage me and my classmates in our DominiNET endeavors, and tell me that he forwarded one of my blogs to everybody he cared about. The passion and realness of our quirky Dean never ceases to amaze me.

Professor Kathleen Prunty, instructor of “Communication as an Instrument of Personal Power” (I LOVE COMMUNICATIONS CLASSES) empowers her senior students, preparing us for the professional world with her practical knowledge and experience. Her incessant encouragement and genuine love for her students is astounding. She’s one of those people you instantly connect with—and a laugh riot. She keeps it real.

Tracy Samantha Schmidt, an adjunct professor of journalism who is all of a couple years older than me and SO accomplished, is a daily inspiration to me. She led me and a small group of students in an online journalism class which was quite revolutionary, compared to the other classes in traditional journalism which I had taken the years prior. Her instruction showed us how to ride the wave of the changing face of the industry, preparing us for the new generation of journalists. She is a nonstop hustler and is making a fantastic name for herself.

In Tracy’s class, I became good friends with Natalie Tolomeo, a sassy Republican whom I couldn’t stand in the beginning of that semester. She, Tom Blackwell (another journalism major) and I bonded over being some of the founding parents of DominiNET, declaring that we were going to take over the industry in the most fierce, flawless fabulous way. We are working on launching the TNC Dynasty soon—watch out!

"For the ENFP, work, too, must be play or it is probably not worth doing. Worthwhile tasks are those that affirm and enlarge the self and involve more fun than drudgery. They have a great deal of difficulty settling on just one career, for three reasons: They truly believe they can do most anything they want; the search for ever new fields to master is always more fun than remaining in a career already conquered; and they usually can do almost anything they set their minds to."

My experience at Dominican affirms that—showing me that I can do WHATEVER I WANT. Dominican unites. This community of exquisite people—professors, students, faculty—has forever impacted my life and drastically changed its course.

People, circumstances, and experiences such as all of the above (plus more) have made lasting impressions and been key in my personal and professional development. For all this, I am eternally grateful that my life’s path led me to this university. Undoubtedly, I would not be the person I am today if not for the Dominican Difference.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Controlling the Chaos: The Upside of ADD

Imagine a life that is constantly in fast-forward. Sights, sounds, smells and thoughts are constantly coming at you, one right after the other, making it nearly impossible for you to focus on just one idea. You concentrate on one idea, but unexpectedly another thought fills your mind, then a third, fourth and so on. All of a sudden, it feels like there are ten different TV stations in your brain. However, these different stations make up one single channel: The Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) channel.

ADD is simply just a different type of cerebral wiring through which an individual perceives the world. An ADD brain is like a turbocharged race car in the sense that it works rapidly, utilizing its high energy performance to cross the finish line in first place. Acceleration and dedication fuel the ADD engine. The ability to see the bigger picture, see that finish line, is one asset of ADD. Creativity, spontaneity and constantly “thinking outside the box” are also among the many advantages of the ADD-wired brain. Many ADD individuals take control of it, make ADD work to their advantage and, as a result, are very successful. However, if undiagnosed or untreated, ADD can drastically prevent an individual from achieving success. The root of the negativity surrounding ADD comes from the name itself: Attention Deficit Disorder.

For my senior thesis, I created a 12 minute documentary, "Controlling the Chaos: The Upside of ADD." This original video production includes interviews with top Chiicagoland area medical experts and ADDers. This film was presented at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Investigation's EXPO on April 1, 2009.

(Because YouTube only allows 10 minute clips to be uploaded, this film was split into two clips (Parts 1 & 2) to allow the full 12 minutes and 27 seconds to be available.)


Friday, March 13, 2009

Alternative Spring Break

A big part of Dominican's mission is service. This spring break, students had the opportunity to go beyond beaches and bikinis and take part in some service. University Ministry's Alternative Spring Break gave students that opportunity.

Myself and five other students took advantage of Urban Plunge, one of four trips offered. This trip was over March 6-8 and consisted of working with several Chicago agencies to learn more about their causes and different volunteer opportunities. We visited an organization called Eco-Justice Collaborative that focuses on people taking care of our environment. We also worked with a mens homeless shelter and helped served food and prepare beds.

Overall the trip was very rewarding. At about $50 a person, the short-term alternative spring break offered us an opportunity to do service and learn more about the organizations in our very own back yard. Every student who went on Urban Plunge said that they felt their weekend was worthwhile.

Next year's spring break is less than a year away. How will you spend it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cash Flow Cyber...

It's been an ongoing issue, but at the last RSA meeting as well as Monday's SGA meeting; the changes in the Cyber were brought up.

What some may not know, the Cyber was designed with a focus on being a cash flow service - meaning not for heavy use of meal exchange. But students have been using the Cyber for meal exchange when they should be going to the dining hall.

Amy Preston and other executive board members of Resident Student Association met with Chartwells a few weeks ago to discuss these issues. As RSA representative at the SGA meeting, Preston informed attendees that Chartwells wants to reduce traffic to the Cyber and encourage people to go to the dining hall for meal exchanges. To this effect, that is why there is now a limit of 2 meal exchange transactions at one time at the Cyber.

Preston also mentioned that Chartwells employees at the Cyber were having to stay until midnight cleaning up - and that wasn't a part of their job description. As a result, hot food service has been changed to end at 9:30 PM (while closing is at 10 PM) to allow more time to close up.

At the RSA meeting, an executive board member said that the clean-up crew was behind on their duties because security was kicking them out - due to staying two hours more past closing time.

With all the changes, it's hard to keep up with what can be ordered on meal exchange and what can't be. The chicken caesar salad and outtake sandwiches were on meal exchange, but then they weren't. They may be back on meal exchange, I don't know, but I feel it could just as easily get shifted around the next day with the way things have been working. I'm glad that the pizzas and subs allowed on meal exchange are clearly labelled. I understand the supreme pizza not being allowed on meal exchange (with all the ingredients on it), but I usually order that and have found myself ordering something different or just going to the dining hall.

I understand the need to encourage meal exchange use in the dining hall - that's what it's primarily there for, but you never know what to expect there. Even with the buffet selection, some days the food choices are not worth a meal exchange. For example, today I only grabbed dessert from the dining hall before heading to the Cyber for dinner. Nothing else was worth getting.

What you might not know:
A little over half of the money made in the Cyber goes back to Dominican (out of $10, only $4.50 goes to Chartwells).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Peace vs. Hate..."The Laramie Project" Demonstrations.

Students, faculty and staff members of Dominican University gathered hand in hand, forming a human peace sign on Sunday, March 1. The demonstration was successful in overcoming the powerful hate messages from members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. The extremist picketers stood on Division Street as they protested DU's production of "The Laramie Project," a play based on the real-life aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual college student from Wyoming.

Watch this video to see video coverage from the protest and counter-protest.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Music: Battle of the Bands 2009

Watch this video to see DU students performing at Battle of the Bands 2009. Tom Blackwell, Tomasz Jurczak and Austin Hall talk about their musical styles. Learn about new musical genres such as space crowd rock and noise music.

Did you know you can manipulate sounds by using a gameboy??

This video will show you how....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coughlin 2 Wonder Water Fountain

The 8th Wonder of Coughlin 2 was on display late last week. It was the never ending water fountain! The water would go and go without any human assistance.

While the attraction undoubtedly created by some mischievous resident was amusing at first, the aftermath left nothing to smile about. After about an hour of running, the water began to fill up and overflow. Maintenance was called by two RA's and a resident in order to fix the problem. At around 12am, Jeff Powell, a member of Physical Plant, came to shut the water off.

The prank lead to a giant puddle in the hallway and a water damage on the floor below. For now, the water fountain has been shut off indefinitely.

If you did not get a chance to see the attraction before it closed, please check out the video below.