July 29, 2011 - 1:38 PM
Ahhh, can you feel it? Green trees, a light breeze, and the supreme serenity of a summer in the Pacific Northwest. For those of us who made it through the dreary two-thirds of the year, summer comes as a truly wholesome reward. Come spring time, as the first rays of sun cause occasion for the relinquishing of our hoodies, raincoats, and umbrellas, the UO campus blossoms into a vibrant and youthful scene. Bikes, Longboards, Frisbees, slack-lines, and the ubiquitous sun-bather find their place among the now blissful hustle and bustle of campus life.
During summer term, the campus attitude is similar, although to a lesser extent; still the same characters but, not nearly as many. This is my third summer in Eugene, and I've found that I do much of best work this time of year and in this kind of environment. For me, summer hasn't ever really been a time for extravagant vacations to far away beaches. However, I do find time about once a summer to whet my appetite for adventure by traveling out east to Madison, Wisconsin and New York City to visit my family. These trips keep me sane, for the most part.
To me, the idea of summer ‘vacation' has always seemed, well, archaic. I mean, and many of my friends would hate me for saying this but, why do we even have it? Breaks are necessary and useful, however, such a long summer break is not nearly as beneficial as it used to be. My grandpa, a U of O alum, class of '68, often talks about when he would earn enough over the course of one summer to pay for all of his tuition and housing that year. Not to mention, he was married and raising my mother and uncle at the same time. This blows my mind, and I pay in-state tuition. In today's economy, and with our current tuition rates, paying for your own tuition with a summer job is almost unimaginable. So, what are we supposed to do with this ‘extra' time?
Over the last few years as a student at the U of O, I have spent the summer months trying to get ahead. I've worked as a student caller for the AGP, I've cleaned dormitories here on campus, and I've taken classes. Until now, I've managed to skillfully walk the line between work and play. This summer, the summer before my last year as an undergrad, I am approaching the final stretch of the race and giving it all that I've got.
Last fall I was accepted into the McNair Scholars Program and ever since then, I have been taking the necessary steps to ensure that I am financially, creditably, and emotionally prepared for the challenges of graduate study. My work with the McNair programs entails, roughly, applying for grants and scholarships, conducting undergraduate research, building relationships with potential graduate advisers, and learning more about the culture of the academy. Over the summer, all of the McNair Scholars meet weekly to discuss grant applications, work on our research projects, and discuss the various parts of the application process with our advisers.
During the rest of the week...
I'm working as an undergraduate research assistant for the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE) in the Rainier Building. There, I record instructional videos for the Strategies for Online Academic Reading (SOAR) project and work on my own research project studying digital literacy and open access educational resources (more on this later). After work, I usually go work out at CrossFit Intensify over in Springfield. I have been with this gym for over three months now and I must say that I love every excruciatingly intense circuit the trainers put me through. It really has been "life changing fitness."
When I'm not at CATE, a McNair meeting, or CrossFit, my friend Alex and I are working on releasing a t-shirt this fall. A couple weeks ago we sold the last shirts from our first inventory. We were thrilled to see the potential that our design has. Also, as part of our business venture, we are donating 20% of the proceeds to several local and national non-profit organizations. We currently have seven charitable options and let the customers decide where they want their gift to go. So far, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Who says businesses can't have a conscience?
Finally, after I have accomplished enough of what I set out to do during the week, I sneak in a lazy float down the McKenzie River, or a leisurely hike to the top of Spencer's Butte. And it is during these brief moments of intermittent tranquility that I remember why I love spending my summers in Eugene, Oregon.