June 26, 2011 - 8:33 AM
With the summer solstice, a couple of 80 degree days, and trips to the river, summer has hit Eugene. I have spent the last few summers in Eugene, and they have all been fantastic. This summer is already off to a great start, with all of the festivities that graduation brought and the past week. The weather has also improved greatly over the past few weeks from the rainy spring that ended the school year, and despite the start of work and summer school, we have managed to get some quality time in the sun.
On Tuesday, the weather was especially warm, so after my class was over a group and I headed straight to the river. A couple of summers ago, we found a really nice spot along the beach with a little island, and headed straight there. Unfortunately, the water was higher than expected, but we still managed to walk our way through the slightly treacherous and slippery creek to the island to enjoy the sunshine. The warm night lasted into the evening, and since many of didn't have early morning obligations, we decided to take a break from the campus bars and make the long walk downtown.
Wednesday brought another sunny day, in which I had some leftover Spanish reading to do before class. So, I spent the morning reading on the upstairs deck of my house, which I have to say was a much better way to do homework than being cooped up inside. I am very excited to spend some quality time on my roof as the summer progresses.
On Friday, my roommates and I had a ton of left over buns, pop, chips and dip, so my house decided to host a barbeque. Lydia brought a bean bag game that her mom sent her, we broke out Frisbee, and I was able to break in my new barbeque. One of the best things about my house in Eugene is the big backyard; with more and more apartment complexes being built, a yard the size of ours is becoming a rarity. I'm so excited that the weather has finally gotten nice enough to use it regularly!
Later Friday night, I also made the drive home to Oregon City. I've spent the weekend with family and old friends, and have now made my way back to Eugene and am working on homework for my summer classes. This summer is already off to a great start, and I can't wait to see what the rest of my last months in Eugene bring! I'm certain that the 4th of July, Country Fair, and more nice weather will bring on the good times.
June 21, 2011 - 5:50 PM
After a wonderful week long break, my summer school has begun. I have two more courses until I am an official alumna of the University of Oregon! With all of the commencement festivities of the past week, it feels strange to be back in the classroom again, but I am excited to get started and get through these last requirements.
Now, I have about 60 more credits than what is required to graduate from the University of Oregon, unfortunately, they are not all in the necessary subjects or levels that the university requires for their degrees. I added a second major in the fall, so that pushed my requirements up a bit. Throughout this year, I chose to take obtain fewer credits in the form of courses and focus on enhancing my resume by utilizing other means of experience outside of a classroom. I worked as a Peer Adviser, a Research Assistant, volunteered with HIV Alliance, and held a part time job, so I feel that the trade off of summer school was worth it. Now however, I have to fight the feelings of graduation and that undergrad is in the past, and push through for eight more weeks.
The U of O summer courses are often only four weeks long, so I will be taking four weeks of Spanish followed by four weeks of Psychology. My first course, Hispanic Literature in the United States has seemed pretty interesting two days in. Not only has it been nice to get back into speaking and reading Spanish, but the class will cover some interesting content. Additionally, in several months I will hopefully be utilizing Spanish again so there is some extra incentive with the course.
After four weeks, Spanish will end and I will begin my Gender in Psychology course. I'm not too sure what to expect out of the course, but I have written several papers and studied in brief the topic of gender in psychology throughout many other courses, so I'm hoping the class won't be too great a challenge.
While I think that my coursework to extracurricular ratio was for the best, summer school isn't always what I would like to be doing when the sun is shining. Thankfully, this first class seems like it will be pretty enjoyable!
June 19, 2011 - 8:14 PM
With graduation in the past and a week break before my upcoming summer classes, it was the perfect time to get out of Eugene for a few days and celebrate. My family owns a little cabin on Detroit Lake, about a two hour drive from Eugene, which made the perfect getaway for a break from school and work.
On Wednesday, Emma and I headed out in the late morning from Eugene, later that day to be joined by Kelsey, Sarah, and Dana. The weather wasn't fantastic that evening, but we spent the day playing a few games and enjoying the view of the lake. We were all there by dinnertime, and enjoyed a rather elaborate meal with the leftovers off all of the graduation celebrations. For Kelsey, the trip was a pit stop on her move from Eugene to Portland so she had the majority of her life packed up in the car. So, we cooped up inside after dinner, raiding her DVD collection and enjoying lots of girl talk and reminiscing, waiting out the not-so-great weather.
With a sunny morning, Tracy joined the group just in time for us to take the boat out. After several phone calls to my dad to make sure that I was prepping everything right, the boat was ready to go and so were we. The weather was greatly improved; there was hardly a cloud in the sky. So we managed to fit in some tubing and then spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the boat. Since it was during the week, there weren't too many other boats out and we didn't have to compete for the bests spots on the lake, making for a relaxing and fun day in the sun.
After we had soaked up several hours of sunrays, we decided to head back in and make dinner where again we feasted on delicious leftovers put together. We ended the night by making a fire on the beach, roasting marshmallows and continuing the girl talk.
Friday morning meant goodbyes. For most of us girls, it meant goodbye for a few weeks at most, but for Tracy and I, the goodbye was much longer. Tracy is leaving for Guatemala for a year in July, and if I leave as scheduled for the Peace Corps, it could be three years until we see each other again! Thus, it was a strange and surreal feeling saying goodbye to Tracy, and unfortunately, the first of many serious goodbyes I will be saying over the next month as people file out of Eugene. We've had a fabulous four years and I don't like saying goodbye when I don't know when I'll see them next!
After the goodbyes from my girl friends, I hung out in the sun until my family made their way down to the cabin. I hadn't gotten much family time in before graduation, so it was nice to keep it coming. It was especially nice to see my dogs as well! We consider them members of the family, and I miss them a lot when I am at school. My parents had even recently adopted a new black lab, so it was great to finally meet him too.
The weather wasn't quite as nice over the weekend, so we spent a lot of time relaxing inside. It was still really nice to see my sisters, parents and dogs though, and I'm especially glad I was able to celebrate Father's Day with my dad. After an early dinner (delicious, of course) I had to make my way back to Eugene to prep for my Spanish class starting tomorrow. I'm looking forward to finishing up these last requirements before I am an official alum!
June 14, 2011 - 7:05 PM
Several commencement ceremonies later, I feel like an official alumnus! Yesterday was the University of Oregon's commencement, and I have done enough ‘graduating' to last me quite some time. Now, I won't be officially done until August when I finish up my last Spanish and psychology courses. I may be technically two speedy classes away from my official graduation, but it was still fantastic to celebrate with everyone.
A group of us had decided that it would be fun to walk in the all university celebration so that we could get some great group pictures as well as enjoy each other's company for part of the day. Dana, Kate and I were running late as usual, but managed to find the group just in time to start the Duck Walk and take a few pre-grad pictures. There were lots of laughs and more pictures as we made the walk through campus into Hayward Field, waving to each parent along the way. After the words of several students, faculty and alumni, I moved my tassel to the left for the first time that day.
Post ceremony, the crew naturally shuffled over to McAlister Dormitory where our friendship began. While we have added friends along the way, we still refer to the fateful complex as the start of our group. We took many pictures, and some of us even ventured back into the unlocked dorm.
As the crew began to disperse and head to our department ceremonies, I found my family and made my way to the Law Library for the Human Physiology ceremony. I found my parents, sisters, and Aunt Tammy seats, and made my way to find a seat of my own. I was joined by my fellow honorary McAlisterian Cam, whom I have had classes with every single term of college except for the term I studied abroad. Many of the speeches also reflected four years of science classes, and the nerdy jokes go with which I wholly enjoyed. It was great to finally walk across that podium, receive my diploma cover (the actual diplomas will be mailed to us) and shake hands with many of my professors and advisors.
After the Human Physiology Ceremony, I wasn't done yet. To be honest, I was ready to be and I would guess so was my family, but the psychology ceremony was calling my name. The call was mainly in the form of my close friend and fellow psych major Emma, and that we ran into my roommate Erin (a junior) who wanted to watch. Thus, my family and I moved on to graduation number three for the day. I was very glad though to be able to sit with Emma and our families, to celebrate our accomplishments.
Finally, the day of graduating had ended. I said goodbye to my aunt, dad, and sister Kaila, who had school the next day and my mom and sister Chelsea went a met some of the girls at Taylors, for a post ceremony beer in our caps and gowns. My remaining family then grabbed a delicious dinner, exhausted. It was a long day of graduating, and I can't believe it's all over! Now just those two pesky summer classes until it's official.
In other exciting news, I received my official Peace Corps nomination earlier this week! I am nominated to work in health services, focusing on HIV/AIDS education and prevention in South America! This is exactly what I preferenced during the interview, so I couldn't be more thrilled. My placement is still not set in stone, as there are still several steps along the way that I need to complete. These include an extensive health review and continuing my experiences, specifically in the areas requested. Thus, much of my summer and fall will be spent preparing for 27 months in South America! This has been an incredible week, with the exciting news and the overall happiness and cheer that comes with graduation celebrations.
June 12, 2011 - 3:30 PM
While the big University of Oregon Commencement ceremony isn't until tomorrow, the McAlister crew hosted a shindig of our own to celebrate the past four years. This graduation ceremony has been in the works for several weeks now; a small group of us had been meeting on Wednesdays for a few weeks to plan how to get 20+ of us and our families together in one location for an awesome event.
So, this morning was the big day, and we gathered at Alton Baker Park will a full ceremony planned and ready to go. Emily had designed adorable invitations and a program, and with those asked each family to bring a side dish or the fixings for mimosas. There ceremony started around 11:30 am, with all of us graduates walking in with our caps on. Our friend Bob, a junior this year, was graciously MC-ing the event by managing the music and transitions.
Leslie and her roommates, some of the central planners behind the event, gave an excellent introduction and welcomed our families. Cam followed up by reciting a poem that he wrote about the boys in our group last year. He titled it "The Keystolopes" in honor of our favorite cheap beer, and spoke of all of the fun that they had. He said that the he woke up one night, suddenly inspired, and scribbled down the poem half awake. To honor the girls, Emily read part of the letter that she wrote to the Ellen DeGeneres last year. Our group of girl friends gets together every year on Valentine's Day to celebrate and last year the girls entered a contest to get Joshua Radin to perform through the Ellen Show. While we didn't win, we were finalists, and the girls wrote a very touching letter about our friendship. By this point in the ceremony, my eyes were already filled with tears, and I wasn't the only one.
A fellow AGP blogger, Trafton, also gave an amazing "Keystone" speech (again, not a typo). Trafton's speech focused on our group of friends, and the memories that we had amassed over the years. He is an excellent and charismatic speaker (kind of like he is in person), and everyone really enjoyed his portion of the ceremony.
We also had the opportunity to thank our families for everything that they have done over the years. Not only have my parents been an amazing help to me over the years, but the other parents have also provided us with many wonderful experiences. My roommate Kate's parents have given us incredible tailgaters for the past four years, Leslie's family has hosted the gigantic group three times at their home on Bainbridge Island, all of the Californians have housed us for football away games, we've been to Cam's lake cabin, and my parents have invited my friends to our lake cabin, the list goes on and on. Our parents have been so supportive in so many ways, and it was fantastic to be able to collectively thank them.
Then, Bob handed out our "diplomas" which officially recognized just how great we all were at college. He even signed them, ever so eloquently, as BOB. Once everyone had received their diplomas, we tossed our caps in the air as a final act of the ceremony. Then, we all chatted and ate some delicious food.
It was so great for everyone's families to meet each other! They have all done so much for all of us over the years and we all appreciated the opportunity to meet and thank each other. I'm so thankful for the wonderful friends that McAlister dormitory gave me four years ago, and for everyone we've added along the way!