May 29, 2011 - 7:30 PM
Throughout my time in Eugene, I have had the pleasure of meeting some very inspirational people. In particular, I have met many people who work in my field of interest, homelessness policy and programming. On Friday, one of these people invited me to come with her to Salem for the Ending Homelessness Advisory Council (EHAC) meeting. EHAC is the state-level version of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. It seeks to promote collaboration amongst state partners to end homelessness in Oregon.
Our drive up to Salem was filled with wonderful conversation. I was able to pick her brain a bit about homelessness issues locally and we had great discussions on where we see homelessness programming going in the future. It is always nice to be in the company of like-minded people who believe in compassionate work to end social wrongs!
It was all very exciting when we finally did arrive in Salem, as well. Although Salem isn't as large as some of the other U.S. capitals, it still has that vibrant energy of a change center. I think capital cities are neat in that way. There is always something going on. Our meeting included representatives from nonprofits and government from around the state. Many were physically there, but others were also there through video conferencing. It was all quite technologically fancy.
The meeting touched on many topics. First, there was a speaker there from the Veteran's Administration to talk about homeless Veterans and the upcoming programs for that population. Later, there was also discussion on the One Night Homeless Counts that had taken place throughout the state during January. The final numbers are finally starting to come out. Finally, there was also discussion on how to do proper advocacy for homelessness issues. This involves changing public perception on how homeless people are viewed. The speaker on this topic shared that a recent study showed that the same part of the brain was activated in a person when they were looking at a picture of a homeless person as when they were looking at a pile of trash. It is becoming more and more important for organizations to show community members that homeless people are, in fact, people and not just a number during a one-night count. In mid-June, I will be attending a workshop in Eugene on this same topic.
Overall, the meeting was a great experience. It helped me to further understand some of the policy and planning issues surrounding homelessness. I can't wait to graduate and become an actual member of this work.
May 28, 2011 - 6:00 PM
As a complement to my studies at the University, I am enrolled in the Career Center's Professional Distinctions program. This program emphasizes your education in a way that relates to your professional goals. To enroll in the program, a student must choose an academic area of concentration. I chose to use my Nonprofit Administration minor as my area of concentration. The requirements for the program then include submitting a resume, completing an internship, and attending four Career Center workshops.
The Career Center offers a variety of workshops throughout each term that give students the opportunity to learn how to apply their education to professional activities. For the four required by the Professional Distinctions program, I had two waived for resume and cover letter writing workshops I took through the PPPM department. Attending last year's Business Etiquette dinner fulfilled my third. I just got my fourth and final one completed this week. For this fourth workshop, I attended an information session on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a test that asks about 90 questions and, from these, determines what personality type you are. This information is then used to determine which types of careers you would theoretically be the happiest in and which would not be a great fit. There are four categories of personality that create your overall personality type. These personality types include extraversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving.
Before we were given our results in the workshop, our facilitator explained some of the history of the MBTI to us, as well as how it works. We went through various exercises as well that helped us to make a prediction on what our type might be. Our facilitator explained the importance of understanding that this was just one type of testing and that we should compare it to what we believe to be true in order to make the most accurate decisions. He was great at explaining everything step by step and taught us the different ways that we could use the information to interpret things about ourselves.
In the end, I was not surprised by my result. In fact, through our activities, I had guessed the same personality type that I had actually gotten through the test. I was an INFP, or introversion, intuition, feeling, perceiving. The report said that this meant I enjoyed work that allowed me to help others, complete meaningful tasks, and be creative. It said that I enjoyed work that allowed me some private time and personal space, as well as opportunities to work with mission-driven individuals with similar values. A lot of the jobs it suggested for me included positions in the arts or community and social services.
I thought that this was a fun and informative workshop. I had been wondering about these types of personality tests, as we have discussed them a bit in my leadership class this term. It was interesting getting to actually take one and then learn about its interpretation. I am glad that the Professional Distinctions program included the requirement of taking some Career Center workshops. They are definitely valuable to the students on campus.
May 22, 2011 - 11:45 PM
As part of my weekend "thesis defense is over" celebration, my friend and I went to see a movie at the David Minor Theater in Eugene. Now, I must clarify that although I like to think of this as a celebration weekend, the reality is that I am still in school and have a five-page paper for one of my classes due on Monday. Therefore, I don't entirely get a break, but still, I'm forcing myself to have a little one at least! Everyone keeps asking me if this means that I am done for the term and have no more work to do. The answer is no. I am still enrolled in three classes with two jobs and thesis revisions to make.
This was my first time going to the David Minor Theater. I have wanted to go for quite some time now, so it was great to be able to check it off of my list before graduation rolls around. The David Minor Theater plays movies and allows you to order food and drinks while you watch. The food comes from various restaurants in the surrounding Fifth Street Market area. It is a very cute place. I enjoyed the little screens and cozy feeling of the place. It just had a much more mellow vibe than a traditional movie theater.
The movie my friend and I saw was "Blue Valentine." It was a very interesting movie and definitely left me with a lot of thoughts. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both did great acting jobs in it. It was my friend's second time seeing the movie and she admitted that the first time she saw it she had a similar reaction to it that I did. However, being a film student, seeing it the second time she just focused on the interesting camera angles throughout it!
I would definitely recommend the David Minor Theater to Eugenians who have yet to go. It is a fun activity to spice up the week with. Plus, it is cheaper than going to a normal movie theater. Since the movies are ones that were recently in theaters, but are not anymore, the ticket prices are much more reasonable. I am finding all of these cool things in Eugene now that I am graduating and leaving! Go figure.
May 21, 2011 - 9:00 PM
Yesterday, something amazing happened. I finally completed my thesis defense! It was such an incredible feeling to finally be done with it. The entire morning, I was running on adrenaline and when my presentation and question session were over I felt such a sense of relief. With all of the adrenaline leaving my body, I must admit that part of my celebration involved simply taking a nap.
I was lucky to have my BFF, Kate, in town from Boston for my defense. She helped me set up my computer in the morning and cut up some muffins to give to my audience. She also attended what I called my "mock thesis defense" the night before. I spent the entire week perfecting my PowerPoint presentation and practicing what I wanted to say in front of my mirror. It was quite the task fitting a 116-page document into twenty minutes of talking. I needed to be very detailed, but also very succinct. I finally managed to get it down to about 25 minutes. Anyway, I was pretty nervous for my defense, as I don't think of public speaking as my forte, so I wanted the chance to work out some of my jitters in front of actual people. I managed to round up four friends and then reserved a room in the library to practice my presentation. The way I saw it was that if I could manage to give my presentation in front of my peers, then I could do it in front of my thesis committee. Nothing is more terrifying to me than having to act serious and present in front of complete friends. It went really well and I managed to fight off my urge to just start laughing every time I made eye contact with my friends. They gave me some great feedback as well and Kate even spotted a tiny typo on one of my slides.
My "mock" must have helped because my actual defense presentation went quite smoothly. All of the practice certainly paid off. I only caught myself saying "um" a few times and managed to remember everything that I wanted to say without really looking at notes. I had a good little audience, as well. It was nice to talk about my research because I felt like it really hit a cord with my committee and audience. The question section of my defense ended up seeming more like a discussion.
Finally, it was time to leave the room while my committee deliberated. When I was invited back in, they informed me that I had passed with distinction, which is the highest level you can get for an Honors College thesis. They also provided me with some great feedback and a couple of revisions before I print my final draft. I must admit that those words that I had "passed with distinction" could not have sounded any better. After putting so much work and time into this project over the past year, it felt incredible to be given that recognition that I had done a good job.
However, I think that no matter what the outcome of my defense, I would have been happy because of the extent to which my research has actually had the opportunity to create meaning in the community. Right before my defense, I ran into an individual I had shared my project with during the Undergraduate Research Symposium. This person informed me that after seeing my project, they were able to get assistance through the program I studied and now they and their daughter have a place to live. To me, that is worth more than anything because true education should reach beyond the campus walls and make an impact for the community.
May 14, 2011 - 6:30 PM
On Thursday, I participated in the first University of Oregon Undergraduate Symposium. This event was held throughout the EMU and highlighted the research and creative arts projects of fifty UO undergrads. Students could present either by having a poster and standing by it to answer questions or by sharing their research through a panel discussion. I was there as a participant in the poster session, presenting my thesis research.
I thought that the event was wonderful. I am so happy that the University decided to organize this. Not only was I impressed by all of the incredible projects around me, but I was also excited to have the opportunity to talk about my research. I defend my thesis next week, so it was a nice event to use as a warm up. It also felt nice to realize that there were many individuals interested in my research. I was asked many questions by people passing by and had some great conversations with individuals on homelessness. It felt nice to be able to use my project to bring more awareness to the topic.
It was also nice to feel such a great amount of support from my department. I picked the University's best major. The Planning, Public Policy and Management department is full of such great people. The internship advisor stopped by to see my display, as well as to watch a panel presentation by another PPPM student. Several students from my major stopped by to support me as well. For lunch, my thesis advisor came to join me too. The lunch was very nice and a good time to chat with other symposium participants.
When I first signed up to participate in the Undergraduate Symposium, I thought that it would be an interesting experience, but I didn't expect to have so much fun. It felt great to be surrounded by such talented students and to have the opportunity to speak with people who really cared about my research. I learned so much from the event and feel a lot more confident speaking about my research now. It was a long day, but it felt like it just flew by. I am so happy that I participated and I truly hope that the University keeps up this event in future years. I think that it was a great success and really highlighted the important accomplishments our University's students bring to the world.
Thank you to everyone who worked on making this event possible!