The Best of Both Worlds

Typically, those who major in the arts and those who major in the sciences rarely choose to cross paths. We are comfortable in the areas we excel at, and the dreaded biology or the dreaded English class can bring shivers to many. However, CNU pushes its students to explore other fields, engage in a multitude of diverse classes and truly attempt to become as well-rounded academically as possible. Usually this consists of taking a chemistry class here or a philosophy class there, but this coming fall there will be a class that bridges the gap between the arts and the sciences. Professor Denise Gillman of the Theater Department will be offering the class (that fulfills the creative expressions portion of the areas of inquiry) titled THEA 368: Science on the Stage. Professor Gillman’s award-winning work is founded on interdisciplinary courses among the arts and humanities and the sciences. From writing on Emilie du Chatelet to directing the new play based on du Chatelet’s life (“Legacy of Light”), Professor Gillman encourages her students to explore these two realms of academia that are generally regarded as opposites among many students.

I have had the pleasure to study with Professor Gillman for many classes and perform in her production of “Mary Stuart.” A highly disciplined, humorous, and invigorating educator, Professor Gillman has high expectations for her students because she truly believes that they can rise to meet her challenges (which they do!). The class (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-4:15), previously offered as an honors course with great success, will consist of reading 8-10 science-themed plays which explore such topics as astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, genetics, computer science and quantum physics. More than simply depicting these scientific philosophies, the plays will simultaneously examine major ethical and moral questions that affected famous scientists such as Galileo and Einstein. The only prerequisite for the course (no, you do not have to be a theater major) is English 123; however, if you are an incoming freshman, you still may take this course if your AP English test scores have exempted you from the ENG 123 course. Christopher Newport University consistently is adding new courses to not only meet the liberal learning foundations but also to give its students dynamic and groundbreaking courses that allow students to think critically while discovering their academic “place” in the process. If you are interested in taking the course or have any questions, please feel free to email Professor Gillman at

3 Things to Do Instead of Grad School (For Now)

I’m good at learning, which seems like a strange skill to have. A lot of my peers don’t understand my passion for going to class ready to engage, or the ways in which I scribble furiously in notebooks and shake my head up and down when something is finally clicking in my head. No, I’m not having an attack, I am just seriously excited to learn.

So it may seem odd, even to myself, that I haven’t applied to graduate school. Eventually I’ll go, obviously, but in the meantime there are so many other things to explore. Here are some of the things I would do, or am doing, instead of pursuing higher education.

1. Travel to someplace I’ve never been.

Ah, the beloved travel bug—it gets me every time. I love traveling, loved it since my first trip to Spain when I was younger: I love the smells of different cities, the vibrancy of people you meet along the way, and the unexplainable experience of pure happiness when you’re taking a train across the countryside and you realize how expansive the world actually is. So many people, so many walks of life all waiting to be discovered, which is why I plan to travel after graduation. People don’t put much stock into taking time to reflect on themselves, especially in this ultra-competitive society we live in. But take some time to slow down for a few weeks, experience things truly and wholly, and by the end of it you might have a better understanding of who you are and your place in the world.

2. Get an internship or a full-time job in a field that you are passionate for, or want to learn more about.

Experimentation can be the best medicine: sure, we all have grand ideas about who we think we are and what we’d like to do, but you’ll never know what being a lawyer or a public relations director is actually like until you test the waters. For me, I’ve always wanted to work in a nonprofit related to women’s issues. So I did some research, applied to a marketing and development internship position in a nonprofit organization, and got the internship until August! What will come out of the internship is completely up for grabs—maybe I’ll find that I enjoy marketing and asking donors for money, maybe I’ll find that it’s not challenging enough, or maybe they’ll offer me a full-time spot. Any which way you go, try before locking yourself in.

3. Participate in a service organization.

Peace Corps, City Year, Americorps: all extremely worthy options for your post-graduation plans. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t accepted into the City Year program, but doing service work is something I would love to pursue again sometime down the line. Yeah, it looks good on a resume and all that, but I think there’s something so essential about giving ourselves to others who need it more. Many of these programs offer living stipends, and I know that AmeriCorps program offers education awards that can be used to pay for educational costs at higher-level institutions.

Silent and Not Deadly

I’m not a super outgoing person. It’s just not my personality. Quiet, reserved, shy, all these terms and many more apply. This being said, maybe you can begin to understand the anxiety I faced upon arriving to college freshman year. Just imagine, I had worked my way through four years of high school, slowly building relationships, opening up my life to others and generally getting comfortable. And then, all that work came to an end once I walked across the stage at graduation. Going to college meant starting from the bottom (but now I’m here! – thanks, Drake) and having to put myself “out there” all over again. And trust me, I am not a fan of putting myself out there. Thus, the first couple months at CNU were pretty intimidating. It was easy to be friendly to people on my hall and in my classes, but friendliness doesn’t guarantee best-friendship, and as an introvert, I longed to cut the small talk and start working on deep relationships with these people.

College stretches me in new ways every single day. I’ve found that I’m tons better at striking up conversations with strangers now, and the college me is already so much more friendly and approachable than the high school me. The other day, for example, I was standing in the nacho line at Commons, and I ended up having an almost five-minute conversation with a girl I’d never met before. Afterwards, I immediately told my suitemate, and we celebrated my small small-talk victory.

Also this semester, I’ve been enrolled in a public speaking class in the Communication Department. I’ve found that English majors have much in common with communication majors, but we definitely diverge on several points. One of these being how we express ourselves. It’s almost a given that communication majors are fond of talking and all things verbal (not to generalize, but this has been my experience thus far). On the other hand, English majors tend to enjoy writing more, although I know several English majors who could talk your ear off all while using the proper grammar. However, I tend to fall into the group of English majors who loves writing (obviously, I mean, I’m blogging right now) and is less enthralled with talking. Because of that, I was definitely nervous about taking a public speaking class. In fact, the only reason I took it at all was because it happened to be a prerequisite for admittance to CNU’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program.

But, here I am, ten-ish weeks into the semester, giving speeches IN FRONT OF PEOPLE every other week.

And, I’m enjoying it.

Because you still have to write the speech before you give it (at least, that’s how I function). And, writing is a passion of mine.

I am so grateful CNU has given me the opportunity to take something I love and look at more facets of it. What is writing if you have no readers? What is speaking if you have no listeners? I’m learning (slowly) that it’s OK to express myself. I may not ever become truly outgoing, But, CNU has put me on a path of self-discovery, and I’m loving every second of it. I’m truly finding my voice.

The SuiteLife

I am so incredibly thankful for the best friends CNU has brought into my life. Without this college experience, there is no way I would have met many people outside of my little 757 bubble. I know, this is a sappy beginning to a probably sappy post, but hang with me!

If not for CNU, I wouldn’t currently be living with the three girls I live with now. (Duh … but I promise I’m getting somewhere!) Our room has such a complex mixture of talents and personalities, it blows my mind. For example, my roommate is a biology major, and I’m an English major – that’s almost as different as it gets. And, she’s a sweet freestyler (she can dance like no other), and I have the rhythm of a baby rhino. However, we’re both local to the Hampton Roads area, so you could say we understand each other on that 757 level. As for my suitemates, they are both from Richmond, and one is a biology major while the other is a social work major. The social work major happens to be a fantastic tap dancer, while the other biology major has an incredible knack for braiding hair and painting gorgeous pictures. We’re all varying degrees of outgoing, creative and sarcastic, and living together has worked perfectly for us.

Living with strangers may seem no bueno, but it’s been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life thus far. How else can one learn to adapt to differing personalities and viewpoints unless one starts doing life with someone unknown? However, make sure you live with people who hold the same core beliefs as you. Let the basics remain solid and then allow everything that builds on top to vary richly – you’ll discover some best friends, I promise.

And, by best friends I mean someone who sneaks into your room while you’re gone to Saran wrap your pillow or someone who tolerates you eating loud, crunchy Panera chips after midnight.

Where the Theater Never Closes and the Curtain’s Never Down

“Oh, you’re a theater major? So you, like, play all day? Lucky!” The common response to one stating that they are, indeed, a theater major. Before I graduate, even if nothing else that I’ve ever written “sticks,” I’d like to at least make it very well-known the plethora of work that theater majors, regardless of concentration, actually do. All students at CNU are extraordinarily busy and lead very active and fulfilling lives, and this is my one insight into one of the most demanding majors that the University has to offer. Listed below is a typical schedule of my day while in a production:

8:00 – Wake up. Stare at the ceiling and wonder why I can’t have the ability to stop time just so I could sleep some more.
8:01 – Roll out of bed (literally), shower and scramble around trying to find clean athletic gear for my armed combat class.
8:30 – Grab coffee or a Diet Coke and drive to campus, regrettably hitting every red light on the way there. Spend most of the drive trying to find a radio station that isn’t playing commercials.
9:00-9:50 – Beat people with swords. Kinda. Theater 438: Armed Combat (Rapier and Dagger) with Professor Gregg Lloyd. A wonderfully small class that allows extensive one-on-one attention with the professor, we learn fight choreography to eventually test to become certified by the Society of American Fight Directors (meaning we are recognized as proficient in stage combat – looks great on a resume) and continue using combat in the professional theater world.
9:50-10:30 – Change out of athletic gear, put my face on for the day (makeup), review the readings from the night before for my next class and meet up with my roomie to head to McMurran for class.
11-11:50 – English 423: Major Authors – Virginia Woolf. Read, analyze, interpret, dissect, rip apart, reinterpret again and continue discussing a large portion of Woolf’s novels, essays and short stories. Prepare for upcoming panel discussion and paper proposal leading to the final literary analysis paper due in a few weeks.
12-2:30 – The lengthy “break” time – typically includes lunch, working on lines for either “The Odd Couple” or “The Taming of the Shrew,” senior thesis paper on the production of “The Odd Couple,” archive press releases for a book I’m assisting a professor with, and if it’s a really good day – A NAP!
2:30-3:45 – Theater 430: Scene Study. Williams, O’Neill, Shaw, Wilde, SHAKESPEARE. Presenting specific scenes from these great playwrights, in-class work dissecting different beats during the Shakespeare section of the class. Work on character work, guideposts, tactics, scansion, paraphrase, ground plans, etc. (Yes – I’m probably speaking a foreign language to some).
3:45-5:00 – Rehearsal for “The Taming of the Shrew.”
5:00-6:30 – Dinner. Eat anything and everything in sight.
6:30-11:00 – Rehearsal for “The Odd Couple.”
11:00-12:00 – Finish up homework, attempt to ignore the drastic need for a cookie, realistically spend an hour doing nothing before passing out.

Additionally, you think we have a weekend? Oh, wait. Nope! Rehearsals Friday nights and Sunday afternoon/evenings. Saturdays are the most treasured of all days. This type of schedule goes on for about 2 ½ months until the production is complete and then the rehearsals stop … until it’s time for the next production. Or finals. Or both. Usually both. TheaterCNU – we don’t sleep.

Sun’s Out! Now, Where to Sit.

Okay, so we’ve had quite a few ups and downs in terms of weather over the last few weeks. It’s the bitterest form of mockery: one day that effulgent, yellow sun is shining gloriously over the campus, and the next day heavy rain and wind force us back into jackets and gloves. Even my allergies are finding it difficult to distinguish winter from spring!

But when the sun does decide to show its rays on a lovely warm day, you can bet that students will be out in troves, relaxing on blankets on the Great Lawn, playing Frisbee, and donning all kinds of spring wear from colorful tank tops to worn-in flip-flops. Which leaves us with a very important question: when the Great Lawn fills to capacity, where’s a student to go? Luckily for you, I’ve put together a list of secret and not-so-secret places you can go to catch some rays without fighting for space.

The lawn between Warwick River and Luter Hall. It’s right next to the Great Lawn and yet I haven’t seen but a few students sitting there, towels and books in hand. An added bonus? If basking in full-out sunshine isn’t your cup of tea, there’s plenty of shade to lay under courtesy of the large, lofty trees.

The courtyard outside the Freeman Center. Whenever I walk past the outside patio space in the Freeman, I never ever see anyone sitting at the chairs and tables. Sure, aesthetically it’s not the most pleasing spot for your eyes, but it’s quiet enough and when the sun’s out, there are plenty of rays to go around!

The Lion’s Gate Bridge. If you have a car on campus or have a penchant for long walks, the Lion’s Gate Bridge is the perfect secluded spot away from main campus with surrounding views of the water. You might not want to take a trip, however, if you have piles of reading and homework to do. The rippling sounds of water, the gentle warmth on your face, and cool lingering breezes are definite prescriptions for not being motivated.

The secret garden in the Ferguson. The first time I went to the secret garden in the Ferguson, my professor had led our class down the hallways and to a glass door that opened up into the most fantastic little spot, complete with swings and blooming flowers. If you can find it (and there’s the caveat!), the secret garden is a great spot to crank out some reading while absorbing your daily dose of vitamin D.

Do you have any special spots you go to when the sun comes out? Let us know on Twitter @CNUstudents!

The 12 Types of Friends You Probably Have

There’s a trend floating around Internet sites where articles become simple lists of everything under the sun: 36 Times This Celebrity Was The Funniest Person Ever, 18 Ways You Can Eat Spaghetti, 22 Reasons to Visit Bhutan For Your Birthday. You get the idea. So, I decided to try my hand at list-making (which is something I already do to keep track of schoolwork and my busy weekdays), and came up with a handy-dandy guide to the types of friends you probably have! Mind you, this is not an exhaustive list – you could go on about friend stereotypes for a pretty long time. But, these few aspects stood out to me. So, read on and see where your friends fit in!

1. The Sweet Friend: This person has Hershey’s beat for sweetness – everything he or she does oozes kindness. Or, at least seems to. He or she may be hiding all kinds of problems under that sugary exterior, and you’ll rarely ever catch it. This friend can be encouraging, but at times the sappiness gets to be too real.

2. The Salty Friend: (totally intentional pun on the sweet friend) Anyways, this friend is salty (read: annoyed/ticked off) at everything and anything. The sass is strong in this one – do not cross them. This friend enjoys telling you about how everyone is out to get him or her and how he or she singlehandedly verbally defeated all of them. At once.

3. The Friend-Zoned Friend: The few. The proud. The ones forever known as “bro,” “nice,” and “such a great friend.” There is hope for this situation, but only depending on how desperate one is to escape. These friends are the ones who are extremely thoughtful, great at listening and absolutely fun to hang with. In fact, they’d be great to date – but you just can’t bring yourself to. Why lose that precious friendship, you know?

4. The Annoying Friend: This friend just knows how to dance on your last nerve. Or maybe he or she’s completely oblivious to the repercussions of his or her actions. Either way, you’ll end up annoyed. Whether it’s the way he eats his dessert or how she drives, you have to portion out the time you spend with said friend.

5. The Forever Friend: You may not even remember meeting this person. Or maybe, it was so perfectly iconic you won’t ever forget. In either case, this person entered your life and doesn’t plan on leaving. You may not see this person often, but you know that nothing about your relationship will weaken over the years. In fact, it’s kinda fun to reconnect after a bit and swap stories about life; it’s neat to see how time grows your friendship.

6. The Crying Friend: Happy tears. Sad tears. All manner of tears in between. If something emotional is happening (or even unemotional), the waterworks are present and flowing. This friend is obviously tender-hearted … or maybe just a little unsettled. At least now you have a reason to keep a supply of tissues in your room!

7. The “Better” Friend: You will never top this friend. You can try your best, but they will be better than you at everything: sports, puns, cooking, sleeping, living. He or she may not even realize how awesome they are (oh, but sometimes they do). You’re just lucky this person likes hanging out with you; maybe some of their mojo will rub off if you spend enough time with them.

8. The You Friend: Sometimes, you question if this person is even a separate entity from you at all. You’ll laugh at the same things, champion the same causes, wear the same clothes. Others will call you by this friend’s name, and vice versa. Because why do life with different people when you can be best friends with yourself?

9. The Not-You Friend: Sometimes, you’ll question how you even get along with this person. You differ fundamentally – squeezing the toothpaste tube from the end or middle, loving cats or dogs, or simply being introverted or extroverted. You may seem like polar opposites, but it all just meshes somehow. Besides, why do life with yourself when you can be best friends with not yourself?

10. The Hurtful Friend: He’s offensive. She’s retaliatory. Face it, the fights that happen in this friendship will be damaging; it’s obvious you both love each other, but the chemistry will be ripe for frequent disagreements. Ranging from moodiness to anger issues to jealousy, this friend comes with baggage to spare. And, they don’t mind unloading on you.

11. The Niche Friend: There’s only one thing holding this fragile relationship together. Maybe you both love burritos, maybe you’re both from Nebraska. Anyways, it’s one certain aspect you haven’t been able to find in many others. It truly unites you! Just don’t change the subject … you do only have one thing in common.

12. The Mom Friend: This friend is more responsible than you’ll ever be. He or she probably has a color-coded closet and might even be known to drive a minivan from time to time. She’ll keep you punctual, he’ll make sure you take all your allergy medicine. You’ll realize you didn’t leave your mom at home when you moved out, she just morphed into your new best bud.

There you have it, a brief look at some differing types of friends! The great thing about college is that you have four years (more or less) to meet as many new people as you want. So get out there! Chat up someone on the Great Lawn, grab lunch with your chemistry lab partner, and see if you can discover a type of friend that’s not even on this list! And please, let me know when you do. I’m keeping all these friend-types organized on a sticky note.

Who Runs the World? The Quest for a Woman Commencement Speaker

Beyoncé once told me that girls run the world. And although women’s participation in the workplace has been steadily increasing, it sometimes feels like we’ve been stuck in the 1950s with paisley aprons and baby spit-up blankets forcibly glued onto our bodies. (OK—my professors would kill me for generalizing the female experience in this way; in fact, there are so many more perspectives I have not included. But for the purpose of the blog, I’m reflecting on my own experience, but needed to clarify that I do know that other experiences exist.)

It’s no news that women still remain under-represented among the highest earners. Although women comprise 59.2 percent of full-time wage workers, they only made up 2.4 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 chief executives in 2010. Even more significantly, in a report from the Global Leadership Forecast 2011, fewer women showed up in mid-level and senior-level positions in 2011 than in 2009.

These limited statistics are troubling to me, especially considering the ample evidence that suggests women in leadership actually help an organization’s operations. Did you know that organizations with more women in leadership positions report better financial performance? Yeah, neither did I, but unfortunately we’ve been taught that the opposite is true. I’ve left out so many convincing arguments, but the fact remains the same: advancing women into leadership positions is good for business and business culture.

So, why don’t we have more female commencement speakers here at CNU? On Wikipedia, no less, I found out that CNU has had two ‘notable’ female commencement speakers, including Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Ann Compton, a White House correspondent for ABC News Radio. It just seems kind of lacking to me, especially for a university that talks about diversity and has a student body that is 56.9 percent female.

I have no doubt in my mind that this year’s commencement speaker will be all right, inspiring maybe. Considering how lucky I am to even be walking across that stage, I might not have room to complain! But nonetheless, the point remains that commencement speakers set the tone, and the repetition of older, Caucasian men isn’t setting a high precedent of women in leadership for us to follow.

May the (Housing) Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

There are numerous stressful points throughout your college career, but I would have to rank CNU’s housing lottery in my top 5. In an ideal world, you could just gather up a group of friends, choose a residence hall and select the perfect room. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. By this, I mean that when housing lottery time rolls around, you can only plan so much – then, you just have to hope the system works in your favor.

Thankfully, the two times I have gone through the lottery, my roomies and I have gotten our exact choice (meaning Warwick River Hall this year and Wilson in the CNU Village next year). But, I have numerous friends who have not had the odds in their favor during the lottery, causing them to have to shuffle plans at the last minute. Whether that meant cutting or adding roommates or switching to a new residence hall, it is stressful.

I know my Class of 2016 is one of the larger ones populating campus, and this has provoked some housing problems for us. Freshman year, Santoro Hall was known for its staggering amount of tripled rooms; when it came time to find somewhere to live for sophomore year, two of the three sophomore residence halls had filled up by the second day of the housing lottery.

It is somewhat comforting knowing that the housing department on campus is working overtime to make sure everyone has a home for next semester, but there are times when I wish the system worked a bit differently. While I haven’t been burned by the lottery (yet!), I can sympathize with those who have. It’s tough to add worrying about where you’re going to live to the massive amount of day-to-day college stressors.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t like raising a problem without actively working on a solution, but the issue of the housing lottery has me stumped. So, what do you all think? Would you keep CNU’s current housing selection process, or do you have something even more efficient in mind?

Library Woes

I’m an English major. And, I have a confession.

I hate doing work in the library.

There. I said it. I don’t like studying in the Trible Library.

Don’t get me wrong, I love libraries. I love getting to spend a couple of hours rummaging around for the perfect new book(s) to read. BUT, I pretty much despise having to turn my sweet library full of classic British lit into a research and studying dungeon.

OK, so maybe I just don’t like doing schoolwork in a library.

Regardless, I find it extremely difficult to get work done in the Trible Library. For one thing, if I want to study there, I have to pack up my entire life and move in (it’s tough to carry a backpack full of books and a computer, and a snack, and a water bottle, and a blanket, pillow, and toothbrush across campus). Then, once I’m finally settled in there, I’ve typically left something integral to any work getting done behind in my room. Meaning I have to pack my entire life up AGAIN and trudge back to get the calculator or psychology notes. If on the off-chance I manage to bring everything I need to the library, I still have to find a good spot in which to study. I can be indecisive about things like that, and it has often resulted in me circling around the study rooms like a vulture. And, if a miracle happens, and I bring all necessary items and find somewhere to settle down, I still have to deal with the fact that people often talk a lot louder in the library than they are supposed to. This, of course, means I can’t focus, and then my entire journey to the library is a waste.

I am unfortunately one of those people who can’t listen to music and study at the same time, and I also don’t like the idea of a silent study room. I need some kind of ideal middle ground, and so for that reason, I do almost all of my studying and homework in the comfort of my own room.

Even though I personally haven’t been able to use the library part of the Trible Library much, it still has been incredibly helpful to me in other ways. For example, the library has a 24-hour room with computers and printer, and it’s open (you guessed it) all day and all night. So, when I finish a paper super late at night and need to have it printed for an early morning class the next day, it is so comforting to know there is a printer available. I also like that room because the IT Services Help Desk is located there; the students who man the desk are incredibly knowledgeable about computer issues, and they’re usually really friendly!

The librarians are another definite asset I have come across. They know how the online journal databases work like the backs of their hands, and they are more than excited to help students navigate finding research material. I recently went to one of the librarians with what I thought was an impossible research topic; I walked out of the library 45 minutes later with two printed articles in my hand and at least seven more sitting in my email inbox. Our librarians are clearly passionate about assisting students.

And, I’d have to say my favorite part of the library is Einstein’s. Yes, I know it’s not where I get my research and homework done most of the time, but hey! A girl has got to have somewhere to go to get her mind off an English essay, and Einstein’s is the perfect place for a study break. Whether you want to grab a cappuccino with a friend or simply sit back and people-watch, stopping by Einstein’s is always a good decision. Plus, their bagel sandwiches are heavenly.

So there you have it. I may tend to use our library  a bit unconventionally, but it’s still been an extreme help to me. When finals week comes around, you won’t find me sequestered in the back study rooms, camping out with piles of textbooks and Mountain Dew. But, you are almost guaranteed to see me printing out one last study guide and sipping a freshly made mocha frappuccino before scurrying off to class. And, that’s just the way I’d like it to be!