June 19, 2011 - 11:30 PM
Endings are always bittersweet. Looking back on an era, you see smiles and you see frowns. You rode the highs and you cursed the lows. You were shaped by the moments where you had to choose, by the lessons passed on to you by those who had been there before. I have been writing this blog for the University of Oregon Annual Giving Program now for three years. It is my Internet legacy, chronicling my junior and two senior years, each pivotal mini-journeys that pieced together the larger picture. I have been a University of Oregon alumna now for about a week and, as I sit here now in my little studio up in the woods, it is with bittersweet eyes that I watch the clock count down the moments until my Eugene departure.
The way I put it, to humor those who ask about my experience as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, is to say that the only thing that ever makes me doubt my decision to come here is how much more financial aid I could have received staying in California. Tens of thousands of out-of-state student loans later, the University of Oregon was, without question, the right path for me. I developed my interest in public service through meaningful work in the Lane County community. I met my best friend living in the postage stamp-sized dorm rooms of the Bean East housing complex. I traveled to Greece, New York, Atlanta, and Israel to complement the lessons I was learning in the classroom. I met dedicated faculty and staff who opened my mind and changed my life - Rhonda Smith, Laura Leete, Louise Bishop, Peter Quint, Bob Choquette, Richie Weinman, Chris Eckerman, Elizabeth Reis - just to name a few. I fell in love with this city and with this university and will always carry a piece of it with me as I go out to find new places to call home across the United States and the world.
All that being said, endings are bittersweet. Although I loved so much of these past five years at the University of Oregon, I look back upon them knowing that they did not come with just rainbows and smiles and that I cannot simply hold the University on a pedestal. This is not a criticism of the University, but rather a simple reality. I believe anything of value must have the potential, the opportunity for growth and change. Like many things in this world, the University of Oregon cannot be expected to be a perfect entity, but it can, and does, show itself to be an entity that strives for perfection. As I took in the beauty of the Duck experience, I also struggled with the sometimes far too blatant disregard of academics for athletics. I let the endless typos and poorly reported stories of the Daily Emerald get far too deep under my skin. I watched the College of Education terminate the career of a good man and an excellent teacher through disturbing and disgusting acts of discrimination. I fought an epic internal battle trying not to give up completely on my generation. However, these battles were often the ones that taught me the most, the ones that made me want to work hard to create positive impacts in the world.
My advice to the Ducks of yesterday, the Ducks of today, and the Ducks of tomorrow is simple - be passionate. Live, learn, love, teach, volunteer, protest, write, petition, applaud, advocate, party, sleep, explore, travel, read, cheer, do anything, do everything - but do it passionately. Things will not always be easy and fun, but they will also never just be difficult and sad, so soak it in. Embrace the stress, angst, fear, and sadness, but do it alongside the happiness, joy, peace, and relaxation. Take it all in and use it to create something good in the world. Turn it all into your passion. As a professor in the Planning, Public Policy and Management department once told me, "Do good - it's all that matters."
The final piece of this blog on endings is the answer to "the big question." So, what are you going to do with your life now? What's next? What are your plans? Ladies and gentlemen, loyal readers of my blog, fellow citizens of Earth, the answer to your questions is this - I do not know. For now, I shall move back home and blissfully live off of my parents while I apply for jobs and contemplate my navel. For a period of time, I felt like I had to hide this, as if I had to have some sort of concrete next step to prove that I was a success of the college experience. I am finally coming to realization that I don't need to. Regardless of these next few months of limbo, I will be fine. Why? Please refer to the above paragraph. It doesn't matter whether you graduate with the optimal job in Washington, D.C. or with a question mark, as long as you live your life passionately and set out to do good. All will be well. If I am still unemployed and living at home by mid-September, please send your encouraging remarks and remind me of this blog post.
Dear faithful followers, it has been an extraordinary three years. I wish you all the best. Farewell.
June 18, 2011 - 5:50 PM
Some people go to one graduation. I decided to go to three. On top of that, I decided to attend three different graduation-related events. The way I saw it was that I might as well go out with a bang. When would I have the chance to graduate with a Bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon again? Exactly. Therefore, it is go big or go home. Luckily, my delightful entourage of friends and family put up with my graduation excess and were there to cheer me on every step of the way. Even luckier is the fact that this "entourage" has put up with ME every step of the way and has been there to cheer me on through the highs, lows, and plateaus of the college experience. It truly was nice to have people there who I knew supported and loved me.
The Graduation Extravaganza of 2011 began for me on Sunday, June 12 with the Planning, Public Policy and Management department's pre-commencement ceremony. Out of all of the various campus groups and programs that I have been a part of during my time at the UO, I have found the most connection with the PPPM department. I love its faculty and staff, classes, and general ambiance. Somehow, someway I found the PPPM department by the end of my freshman year and that small act managed to change my life. PPPM truly set me off into a direction that I am excited about. It gave me the tools and support I needed to enter into the world and effect positive change. Therefore, going to the PPPM pre-commencement ceremony was important to me. I saw so many faces of people I admired and felt the quaintness of the PPPM community. The ceremony recognized graduating PPPM students and announced different awards that they received throughout the year. I was also quite excited at this event to be awarded the Michael Hibbard Award for outstanding work as an undergraduate in the department. The only downside of this event was that I had to leave a bit early since I had another event happening during the same time.
I shuffled off with my friends and family to the next event, which was being held next door in the Gerlinger Alumni Lounge. Based on my academic performance, I was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honors society in the nation. Sunday was the initiation ceremony for PBK. The ceremony was nice, including speakers and a demonstration of our new secret handshake. We were also presented with our honors cords to wear for graduation.
The final Sunday event was scheduled to occur a couple hours after the PBK initiation ceremony ended, but things turned out to be a bit more complicated. My first graduation, the Honors College Commencement, was set to start at four. So, at 3:15pm, I headed over to Johnson Hall like I had been instructed to do. I won the Barbara Corrado Pope Award for my thesis and, since this would be presented at the commencement, I would be walking in with the faculty and other award winners. The award I won was given out to a thesis that passed with distinction and addressed issued of diversity and equity. Anyway, once in Johnson Hall, we were briefed on how our ceremony would proceed on the Memorial Quad outside of the library. However, as the time passed, Oregon, which had been sunny all morning, decided to show its fickle nature. It began to pour. Not only did it pour, but there was also lightning reported. In the end, our commencement was moved to Hayward Field (where the graduates still managed to get drenched) and started an hour later at five. It was quite an adventure, if nothing else. The Honors College was resilient and we shared some good laughs over the whole situation. I enjoyed my few minutes of fame, standing in front of the audience while they read my thesis title, comments on its distinction, and my future plans. Once this moment was over, I went back to huddling into a tiny ball inside my graduation gown in order to keep warm. My graduation cap (which has a cardboard interior) was mush by the time it got home, but we managed to flatten it out enough to make it to the next day.
And so, this brings us to graduation day two - Monday, June 13. I am not a morning person. When my alarm went off at 7am on Monday for the campus-wide graduation ceremony, I seriously considered just hitting the snooze button until it eventually no longer let me and at which point it would be too late. However, my good friend, Kelly, had earlier convinced me to go and I was on the "go big or go home" train already, so I managed to pull myself out of bed and once again decorate myself with my green cap and gown. My best friend, Kate, was also in town from Boston. Kate graduated last spring. How unfair is it to separate BFFs on graduation day though? Therefore, Kate managed to find her cap, gown, and even honors cords from last year so that she could come graduate again with me in the big UO ceremony. It was pretty funny. We had a great time walking through Hayward Field, sharing commentary on the commencement speakers, standing up with our departments, and hugging over our great accomplishment - for today and for yesterday. In the end, I'm happy that I woke up for the big ceremony. It was just a lot of fun and it felt really neat to walk through the big "O" and feel like I had truly finished.
My graduation from the School of Architecture and Allied Arts wasn't until 3pm, so in the meantime, I took some of my friends and family over to the grand opening of the Ford Alumni Center. I must say that this is quite an extraordinary building. It is a neat center for alumni and it was fun getting to go take my picture with the Duck! I love that a lot of the wood used in the building was taken from fallen trees on campus and around Eugene.
After mingling around campus a bit and taking some time to relax, it was finally time for my last event of the Graduation Extravaganza 2011. It was time to get the coveted diploma cover. In a couple of hours, I would officially be done. My time as a Duck would actually be over. It was a weird feeling. I lined up with my fellow students receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in Planning, Public Policy and Management and then began the wait. This graduation was much different than my Honors College ceremony. I was hot and dehydrated this time around - got to love Oregon! As I walked into the ceremony, I looked up into the crowd to find my family and friends. I felt such a tickle when I would find them and get to wave. I couldn't help, but smile. This was kind of a big deal. I carried the euphoria of graduation with me through as much of the ceremony as I could, but I have to admit that eventually, there were just too many names being called. PPPM was in the back of the crowd and it is quite incredible how long it can take to read so many individual names. I zoned out for a bit, but then it was our time. I'll never forget the moment I shook the Dean's hand and received my diploma cover. I actually really did feel accomplished. It had been a truly exciting couple of days.
My dear blog readers, you are now in the presence of a Duck alumna!
June 11, 2011 - 3:00 AM
My brain is a little fried this week from finishing finals and running around trying to get everything ready for graduation. Therefore, I apologize for my somewhat generic blogs. My mind is just incapable of being creative right now and my energy level is plummeting. Next week, my last week of blogging, I promise to go out with more pizzazz. Anyway, I figured in this post I would explore three things about Eugene and/or college that I will miss and three things that I will not. They are not ranked and there are dozens of other things in addition to them. These three are merely what happen to come into my mind while I write this. Here goes!
Three Things I Will Miss About Eugene/College:
CAFÉ YUMM: I have come to love and rely on the tastiness of Café Yumm quite a bit during my time in Eugene. Its healthy convenience has nourished my soul since the very first time I walked through its doors. I am utterly attached. How can I live without Yumm sauce in my life? Café Yumm also sells a variety of Columbia Gorge juices, which are insanely delicious and soul satisfying. I honestly just can't think about this anymore right now. I'm getting too verklempt. I suppose all I can do is eat as many Yumm Bowls as I can before I must leave them as a fond memory. Someday, I will return!
CAMPUS CHARACTERS: Oh, there are so many. I am quite fond of observing people and I must say that the University of Oregon campus and, let's be honest, the Eugene community in general, is an excellent environment in which to observe. The Alliance of Happy Atheists versus the yelling Jesus dude who tells us we are all sinners? A classic spring term afternoon! The Music Man and his melodious songs on the recorder? His memory shall forever live on. The PPPM students battling their hearts out for bottle bans and bike rights? The world is a better place for them. In short, I have quite enjoyed the insanity of those around me. I salute them in their pursuits and I join them in their character!
BABY DUCKS AND GEESE: Alton Baker Park, first couple weeks of May, so much cuteness! These baby birds bring so much joy to my spring each year. I always look forward to going and seeing them peeping about in the endless fields of daisies.
Three Things I Will NOT Miss About Eugene/College:
HOMEWORK: A cliché answer? Yes. But, nevertheless, true? Yes. I can't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about something that I should be working on. Even last summer I couldn't just relax because the thought that I should be working on my thesis was always in the back of my head. I learned a lot from many of my homework assignments, but I will not shed a tear for no longer having them. I can set my mind free at nights now. I can do reading just for fun now! Oh, it will be glorious.
CITY OF EUGENE & UNIVERSITY OF OREGON PARKING TICKETS: At various points in time I have wondered just how much money I have spent on paying parking tickets during my five years in Eugene. I am now officially at a point where I do not wish to know this because of how sad the reality will make me. From here on out, I would like to describe my tickets as donations to the institutions and just hope that they have helped goodness happen throughout our community. The end.
MY INNER RAGE OVER ACADEMICS VS. ATHLETICS FUNDING: Ok, time to be honest - this rage is clearly not going to go away. However, it will be nice to no longer have it so blatantly screaming in my face every day. I sincerely hope that as an alumna I will never get a call from the University asking me to donate to the athletic department. I regret to say that I will have to hang up the phone. On the other hand, I will always happily answer the phone for calls about academic donations and, someday (when I'm making more than $12,000 per year working as a professional volunteer, while also trying to afford my unreasonable rent in whatever city it may be), I will gladly donate to the academics that truly shape what the University should be about.
June 10, 2011 - 9:00 PM
I decided to go out with a bang for my last final. The final was a paper on Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It analyzed Lee's leadership styles in relationship to topics we had learned in the class throughout the term. I described this paper a bit more in one of my previous posts.
Anyway, when I finished my paper, I decided that it just was not enough to merely turn in your typical, boring-in-appearance final paper. Instead, I decided that a paper full of this much meaning and symbolism deserved a gaudy, unnecessary title page as well. Therefore, I searched the Internet for the perfect red, white, and blue template to create my title page on. Eventually, I came across the winner. It was a red, white, and blue flag complete with a soaring eagle. I added the title of my paper to this template and printed it out. It was perfect. It was over the top and bizarre and humorous (at least to me). It was my last paper as an undergraduate and I was quite pleased with its end result.
I turned my final papers in on Monday even though one was not due until Wednesday and, just like that, I was done. College was over. As long as I passed all of my classes, I had just earned my Bachelor's degree. It felt amazing.
So, what has life been like post-finals? One might think it has been full of nothing but relaxation and fun times. Although some of this has been true, it is, alas, an exaggerated reality. The turning in of my final papers, unfortunately, did not bring resolution to my busyness. I immediately had to turn to cleaning my house to get ready for visitors during graduation weekend, finishing some job applications, picking up various forms on campus, tying up loose ends with different departments, selling back my books, finishing a community proposal, and much more. Somehow it seemed as though my to do list had gotten even longer post-finals!
It will all mellow out soon enough though. I am presenting my thesis research to the Human Services Commission on June 16, but then after that it is time for some serious relaxation. Of course I will need to pack up my house to move back to California and I will need to start looking for jobs, but before that, I will be taking time off and I am ok with that. Everyone deserves a break from time to time!
In conclusion, post-finals life has yet to be very relaxing, but this weekend brings graduation and the true end of era. It will be followed with the proper lounge time.
June 6, 2011 - 12:47 AM
So, I guess I just finished college. Well, I guess technically not until tomorrow when I physically go to campus and perform the momentous action of placing my final papers into my professors' boxes. Nevertheless, my work is done here. It is 12:47am and I have finished proofreading the last final papers I will ever write for the University of Oregon. One of them isn't even due until Wednesday at 5pm, but I, Korrin Bishop, am done.
Sometimes I wonder what it is going to be like. Will I wake up in the middle of the night panicked that I didn't finish some mythical paper? Will I find myself spending my afternoons and evenings twiddling my thumbs and wishing I had some sort of academic project to work on? Only time will really tell, but I have a funny feeling that everything will be ok. If nothing else, I have the sheer fear of trying to find a job and figure out what to do with my post-graduation life to keep me going.
I am writing this in the wee hours of Monday morning - Monday of finals week, that is. This means that by the end of the week, all of my family and friends will be in town. Three people will be staying with me in my tiny studio up in the woods (oh, how I will miss it when I leave). By the end of the week, I will be walking across the stage at the Clark Honors College graduation ceremony. As in THIS Sunday. Holy smokes! Am I ready? Did I really do it? Are they going to find something on my degree audit last minute and decide I have to stay an entire sixth year? Breathe.
I have an inkling as though tomorrow I will feel as if I had the weight of ten semis all carrying cement blocks taken off of my shoulders. However, to reach that moment, I must first sleep. When I awake, I will go finish college.