May 30, 2010 - 5:00 PM
Last Friday morning, I awoke after a somewhat odd dream. Before I had gone to bed, I finished my PowerPoint presentation for my thesis prospectus class happening the next day. My friend I had discussed earlier in the week what it takes to have a successful PowerPoint presentation. We both agreed that it was about keeping it simple. Further, we agreed that a black background with white text just screams classy in the PowerPoint presentation world. Therefore, my twenty-two-slide PowerPoint presentation consisted of black backgrounds and white text. Anyway, this leads me back to my dream.
I awoke from a dream that I was getting ready to give my presentation to my class when I realized that all of the backgrounds for my slides had turned to a bright blue instead of black. I was horrified, of course, but luckily in my dream my thesis advisor came to the rescue and used her incredible PowerPoint skills to change all the slides back to black in one easy step. The more I think about this dream, the more I realize how not strange it is. Of course, this is what I would be dreaming about right before my presentation. I can only imagine what my dream will be the night before my defense.
Here's the weird part though. I got in front of the class and after a seven-minute failed attempt to get my MacBook to hook up to the classroom projector, I was able to transfer my presentation to my thesis advisor's thumbdrive and use the classroom's PC. Once it was finally up on the screen, I was ready to open my presentation with a joke about my dream the previous night. It was at this point that I turned to look at my projected work. The background was blue - black on my computer, but clearly blue on the screen. Go figure.
Anyway, the presentation went well. I really enjoyed getting to talk about my project and realize just how dorky I am about it already. I proudly declared that I plan on bringing my final thesis to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in D.C. when I am finished, at which point they will offer me a great job with three months of paid vacation per year. This week I will be polishing my draft, getting it signed, and then it is on to independent study.
May 23, 2010 - 11:55 PM
One of the reasons I wanted to get my thesis prospectus done early was so that I could make it to a very special event happening on campus this last Friday. At 2:00pm on the Memorial Quad, north of the Knight Library, I joined several other students, community members, and UO faculty and staff for President Richard Lariviere's Investiture. I was unsure what to expect when I first heard of it, but was very glad afterward to have been part of such a wonderful ceremony.
The ceremony acted as the official welcoming of President Lariviere as the sixteenth president of the University of Oregon. I overheard from many UO faculty members that this was the first time that many of them could remember having such a formal event for this. I think that it was very nice to reestablish this type of tradition.
The event began under tents as Eugene's May rain steadily fell. James Bean, Senior Vice President and Provost, gave the opening remarks. Next, there was a processional where several UO faculty members marched in and sat down, all wearing their graduation attire from receiving their doctorates. An honor song was then performed by a Klamath Tribe and then the President was presented with the President's Centennial Medallion and the University Mace. Next, ASUO President, Emma Kallaway, introduced the President. She talked a lot about how many students have interacted with our new President and have found him to be very open and interested in what is going on throughout campus. I had to agree with many of her statements, as all of my interactions with the President have been very positive this year and I believe that he has some great visions for the shaping of this incredible University.
After being introduced, President Lariviere stood to give his remarks to the audience. After listening to him speak, I found myself with a great sense of University pride and a belief that our school is heading toward great things. I was very struck by President Lariviere's personable and humble nature. He spoke about his strong belief in public education and about how it had been a public education that had gotten him, a first generation college graduate, to where he was today. His immense gratitude for his dissertation advisors, both of whom were present, was admirable. President Lariviere thanked everyone who helps makes this campus what it is, from students and professors, to safety and maintenance staff. I felt as though he truly saw the whole picture.
This past year, my faith in the system of higher education has wavered. I have questioned where our school's priorities stand. Can academics compete with our athletic program? I have had moments where I have felt like no one really hears these concerns and if they do, they just turn their heads in an attempt to avoid the confrontation. Listening to President Lariviere on Thursday, I finally felt like someone was hearing my voice and my concern and actually had a plan to address it. I listened to the President's words and I thought about all of the support I have received this term surrounding my internship with The Carter Center. President Lariviere is an individual who I believe is going to stick up for the quality of higher education for all students in a way that this University truly needs. I think we will see great improvements come within the next few years and I am very excited about this.
As the professors walked out in all of their regalia, the University of Oregon Brass Quintet played the Oregon fight song and without even thinking, the crowd began the historic clap along with it. I was tempted to sing along and yell, "Go Ducks, Go! Fight Ducks, Fight! Win Ducks, Win!" at the appropriate part, but chose to just stick with the clapping since this wasn't exactly Autzen Stadium. Hearing the song, thinking about the words the President had said, and being in this strong community of Ducks filled me with pride. I could not have picked a better school to do my undergraduate career at.
The ceremony was followed by a reception in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, which the President attended as well. He stopped by to chat some with my internship advisor and myself, which was very nice. He even mentioned that he's read my blog before and has linked it to his own!
Overall, I am very glad that I could make it to the President's Investiture. I believe this will certainly be a very important moment for the history and the future of the University of Oregon.
May 22, 2010 - 7:45 PM
This last Friday at 4:00pm, I reached the deadline to post a rough draft of my thesis prospectus on the Blackboard website. Therefore, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were spent with an old, dear friend of mine. Our relationship falters from time to time, but there always ends up being at least one instance throughout an academic year where we reunite, best buddies once again. Some dread the library; I embrace it as my companion. I nestle up behind the Dewey Decimals section on the fourth floor, sip my bottle of Kombucha, and immerse myself in whatever my topic at the time may be. At one point during my library love fest this week, it dawned on me that I had spent 14 hours out of an elapsed 24-hour period in the library. That is over half a day and yet, I felt just fine about it. When I needed a break, I would skip up and down the aisles of books or do some quick yoga poses off in a corner.
Throughout this term, I have gone through what seems like thousands of thesis topic ideas. My main topic is homelessness, but in order to address this topic in any kind of reasonable manner, it is imperative to break it down. Homelessness is a topic that runs off into so many different directions, from mental illness and family dynamics to federal policy and nonprofit work. Some of the thesis topics I contemplated along the way were as follows:
• How is homelessness different on the West Coast than it is on the East Coast?
• What can a case study of homelessness in four West Coast college towns tell us about the characteristics of homelessness and the most effective ways to deal with it?
• Is the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act an effective public policy for educating homeless youth within the Eugene School District 4j?
• What are the characteristics of homelessness based off of the 2010 Project Homeless Connect of Lane County event?
• How can St. Vincent DePaul be used as a community model for effective work toward ending homelessness?
As you can see, I came across many ideas during the process. The biggest problem was that each idea was truly fascinating to me. I wanted to do all of them! It took a few meetings with my departmental thesis advisor, Professor Laura Leete, and a lot of reading to finally come up with my final thesis topic that I could actually form a prospectus on.
I will officially be doing my thesis on the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). HPRP is a $1.5 billion program that was a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I will be doing a case study to see if this is an effective federal policy within Lane County, Oregon and use my findings to comment on the policy as a whole. I am so excited and could already feel myself completely nerding out over it as I spent hour after hour organizing my thoughts in the library.
After three days of a ton of research, several outlines, many rounds of my inability to not thoroughly think through every word, and many proofreads, I remember leaning back in my chair and smiling. There it was - the beginning of my baby. I was so proud of myself. I posted it that Thursday night, way before my deadline.
Throughout week nine, I will be organizing my PowerPoint presentation to give to my class, professor, and advisor on Friday. It is a twenty-minute presentation followed by a thirty-minute question and answer portion. Everyone will give me their feedback and then I will have one more week to finalize my prospectus, get it signed and approved by my advisor, and then pack and leave to Atlanta!
Overall, I am so excited about this thesis process. I think it is going to be such an amazing and rewarding experience the day I finally defend it and am done here in the grand Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon.
May 16, 2010 - 11:55 PM
In roughly twenty days, I will be on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia. I am incredibly excited, but am also beginning to feel the stress of time and not having enough of it. I have quite a few things to accomplish before I can step onto that plane without worries.
Probably the biggest task at hand right now is finishing my thesis prospectus. I have to have a rough draft of it in by 5:00pm this upcoming Friday. I have spent all term researching my general topic and brainstorming about 5,000 subtopics that I just recently figured out what I should really be doing research on now. I have decided to do a policy analysis of the recent Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program that was a part of the 2009 American Recovery Act. I am very excited about my project, but also feeling the time crunch and need to do a lot more research in order to bust out my thesis prospectus by Friday. Wish me luck.
Also on my list of things to do is to finish my final art projects for the term. I have already been assigned my final projects for both my drawing class and my two-dimensional design class. The thing about art projects and homework is that you really can't procrastinate or it ends up looking really bad.
I have other school stuff to finish up as well before I leave, including taking my Nonprofit Finance final early during week ten. However, another thing that is very important to me right now doesn't involve school, but does require a lot of time. Since I am taking a fifth year, many of my very close friends will be graduating and moving on this year. It is very important to me that I take ample time to hang out with them as much as possible. Next thing I know we will all be in different parts of the world and in the blink of an eye everything will have changed. I want to spend these next twenty days cherishing some of the best friendships I could have ever asked for.
It is far past time for bed at this point (thus is the life of a college student), but expect to hear more soon on my thesis and the bittersweet feeling of graduation season.
May 15, 2010 - 9:00 PM
This year, I was very honored to be one of the students at the University of Oregon to be chosen for a University Award. All of the awards presented at this year's University Honors and Awards Celebration focused on things like academic excellence, campus involvement, and community service. It was great to be in a room with so many other high-achieving students.
This year's reception was held in the EMU Ballroom. It included the presenting of several awards, some student entertainment, and, possibly the best part, cake. In between sections of awards presentations was when the student entertainment took place. It was all very nice and included performances by Divisi (a UO women's scapula group), the UO Wushu Club, and an undergraduate woodwind quintet.
I was excited that my mother and brother were able to travel up to visit with me and come to this event. It looked as though many other students also had parents and various family members there. It was great to see so much support in one room.
I ended up receiving the Centurion Award. The Centurion Award is given to undergraduate students for dedication and outstanding service as student leaders. It was quite an honor to receive this award on such a large campus. I also enjoyed seeing several people I know from different classes and student groups be honored as well.