Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tips for Making it Through Finals

By Colton Hattersley, EPPS Blogger

Finals are now underway, and everybody is struggling to get the best grades possible on their various exams. The recent IcePocalypse, as I so endearingly like to call it, made me remember one very important fact about this month – CHRISTMAS IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the holiday season is a great time to relax and enjoy your friends and family, but the stress of finals week causes us to forget that there is a great opportunity within our grasps. To ensure that you get into the holiday spirit even before Winter Break, here are a few tips:

 1.      TAKE A BREAK TO DECORATE – much of our time spent studying occurs in our dorms or apartments. One way to keep in spirit is to decorate your room during one of your study breaks! The environment in which you study has an effect on your overall performance, so add some holiday cheer! Buy some lights to hang on your ceiling, put up a stocking and adorn the walls with candy canes.
2.      STOCK UP ON HOLIDAY SNACKS – we all tend to skip a meal here or there to maximize our study time, relying instead on the snack foods we have in our rooms. Another way to embrace the magic of the holiday season is to stock up on holiday snacks. Drink your favorite holiday drink, whether it is hot chocolate or egg nog, and munch on a candy cane or gingerbread cookie. Not only do they taste good, but studies show that sucking on a mint while working increases concentration, which is good for studying.
3.      LISTEN TO HOLIDAY MUSIC – many people have become dependent on some external noise to study with. For those of you who can, studying with Holiday Music is another way to fill yourself with holiday cheer. Make a playlist on Spotify or just YouTube your favorite songs of the season so that, while studying for your finals, you can feel cheery.

If all else fails, remember the advice of Buddy the Elf: The best way to spread holiday cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Happy Holidays everyone, stay safe!

Making Friends as an EPPS Student

By Yusof  Nazari, EPPS blogger

Entering college from high school is a move that’s filled with trepidation and worry. It’s much like moving to a new city. Leaving all of your friends, accomplishments, connections, networks, and maybe even your parents behind if you move far enough away.

Among all this commotion is the glimmering sliver of hope that change might not be such a bad thing, and that maybe you’ll find new friends among the masses that attend the same school that you do. It can be a scary task, as meeting people always is.

With this in mind, I walked into my UNIV1010 and EPPS Freshman classes with the same trepidation that one does when they see a fly they want to swat, slowly crawl onto their television set in the middle of a Will Smith movie marathon.

Thankfully, this wasn’t needed. My classes were filled with some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Whether it’s Henry with his 45 minute long joke about the billionaire’s pink golf balls, or Courtney, who introduced me to a lot of music that I’m currently loving, making friends wasn’t difficult at all. I was scared that the EPPS school was small, and that I wouldn’t find people to hang out with, but now most of my good friends are my classmates that I walk to lectures with on a daily basis.
They’ve taught me that reaching out and introducing yourself might be the most basic thing you can do, but it’s also the most powerful. Who knows, maybe the person you’ve got your eye on to friend up is just as nervous about meeting people as you are.

The best part about making friends in EPPS is the things we have in common. Being mostly liberal arts majors, we’re able to speak on and debate social and political issues with an openness and breadth of knowledge that I hadn’t experienced since my debate days.
I’ve heard so many opinions and arguments, whether agreeing or disagreeing with me, and all of my peers have brought interesting and new insights into my thought-processes on social and economic issues. If we can learn anything from out liberal arts degrees, it’s that the world is a crazy and nuanced place, and I’m glad I have new friends to talk about it with me.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sociology Club Offers Straight Talk about Sex

By Blaire Bayliss, EPPS Freshman

Whether or not you know it, you are a sociologist. If you want to understand the way the world works, if you’re interested in trends or if you want to know more about the way people think, then you are a sociologist in the making. If you have noticed the way that your circle of friends interact with each other, if you think that each group has its quirks, or if you have ever tried to understand other people’s lives, then you are a sociologist already.

Everyone is a sociologist- and by extension, everyone belongs at the Sociology Club.

When I first walked into sociology club on a recent Tuesday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The topic of discussion was sex trends on campus- something that was never publicly discussed in my conservative high school. Although I was interested to hear what would be said, I was almost certain that I would be awkward and uncomfortable. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The topic was addressed from both a statistical and philosophical standpoint. During a lecture by Dr. Lanham, the entire room was enthralled by the shockingly low use of contraceptives and the shockingly high trend of abstinence. Then later, during a debate on the topic, everyone in the room was given the opportunity to share their thoughts on a variety of topics. I was completely surprised at the maturity of the discussion. Students and teachers of all ages discussed previous psychological and sociological studies, philosophical ideas, policy decisions, and interesting pieces of data that they had heard before coming to club.

Not only was the information approached from a responsible and comfortable standpoint, but it was also completely fascinating. Listening to other students give their opinion was both interesting and inspiring- and I found myself taking the microphone twice during the night. Sociology club turned out to be a safe experience where I could discuss my opinion on the issues that mattered most to me without the fear of judgment, ridicule, argument or even so much as a sneer. My opinions were respected. My voice was heard. And it was incredible. A definite plus was that at the end of the night, I was able to take home an entire tray of chicken nuggets… and the staff actually thanked me for it!

Sociology club was, overall, an overwhelmingly positive experience. I plan to go back every Tuesday for the rest of the semester.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New to UT Dallas? Join the Club

By Joanne Nguyen, EPPS Freshman

New experiences can be pretty unsettling, and downright scary. Being a college freshman going into their first ever semester at a huge university and trying to navigate your way through school, while making the grade, making new friends, and maintaining close family ties can be pretty frightening for any young adult fresh out of high school. It certainly was for me upon stepping into my first college classroom for my first-ever lecture, along with all the other obstacles that came along with the new 'uni life' I had to get accustomed to. 

As someone who graduated from high school with honors and a pretty solid work ethic, keeping up with my GPA while in college wasn't as big of a concern with me as fitting in socially somewhere was to be honest. I knew my grades would be taken care of, but what would happen to my (nonexistent) social life now that I was here on a campus of about 20,000 students with the challenge and task of finding enriching people to be around?

UT Dallas is a very peaceful campus, the student body is overall very well behaved and you hardly ever hear anyone causing a scene or making a ruckus, which I think is wonderful. Coming from an inner city high school, the new surroundings I'm subjected to are just great. The only downfall- and after talking to many students who also agree, is that making friends can sometimes be difficult with how studious and shy the student body tends to be. With everyone focused in class on the professor and the lecture, meeting people in your own classes becomes a little difficult as well (unless you just happen to be a very outgoing person). 

For many students, clubs and organizations are a fun extracurricular activity that fosters their interests and allows for them to be around peers who also enjoy the same things and share similar interests. With UT Dallas home to about 200 student clubs and organizations (and growing) it's safe to say that there is a club out there on campus for just about everyone and every interest. If anything, it might be difficult just choosing which clubs to stick with and commit to seeing as there are so many wonderful ones available.

As for me, my loyalty has gone to UT Dallas' Japanese Student Association. I initially went to their first general meeting in order to see what this club had to offer and to connect with my Japanese roots, and found myself in very good, welcoming company. Not only were the members and officers of JSA very friendly and warm people overall, they also display wonderful organizational skills and the entire club has a very 'family' oriented feeling to it as opposed to some of the larger and more impersonal clubs on campus. 

The Japanese Student Association aims to introduce Japanese culture to UT Dallas and promote awareness of Japanese heritage, they regularly put on performances, attend volunteering events, participate in fund raising, and do many fun, social activities together to foster a bond between its members and much much more. 

They will continue to have me as a loyal member and I plan on sticking with this organization until I graduate and would highly recommend that other students pay JSA a visit when they have weekly general meetings. If anything, I would also highly recommend that any student who is not a part of at least one school organization should make an effort to be, in order to enrich themselves. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

UT Dallas Dorms are a Pleasant Surprise

By Hope Steffensen, EPPS Freshman

Privacy isn’t one of the things I thought I would discover when I came to college. It’s not something one thinks of in the typical college experience. Being from a family of six, privacy never was a common occurrence in my house. So, when I looked into coming to the University of Texas at Dallas, I was extremely surprised to learn that there were private bedrooms in the freshman suite.

All the other colleges I’d looked into had pretty terrible freshman housing. A freshman dorm room was a cramped little space with two beds shoved in the corners for a couple of poor freshman to cram into with all of their belongings. You also had to provide your own furniture, providing you could fit it in.

When I saw the UT Dallas dorm, I was sort of shocked and asked the person giving the tour if this was the set-up in all the dorms. The tour-guide was a little embarrassed, but he answered, “I know it isn’t the best set-up now, but when you’re a junior and a senior, you can move into the suites.”

Hearing that, I sarcastically thought, “Oh yes, don’t worry about the small rooms darling. It will only be for half of your undergraduate experience, so it is no big deal.” I liked other universities I visited, but the rooming was unacceptable.  When I told my dad about the freshman dorms at UT Dallas, he was sold even before I was. “You have to go there!” he exclaimed. “You’re going to love the privacy.” And, sure enough, my dad was right.

It is so convenient to have my own space here in college. The fully furnished room gives me my own dresser, my own desk and chair and my own closet space. I love it. I can have my blinds open and closed when I want because no one is there to complain about it being too light or dark. I don’t have to share my desk or dresser space. In my bedroom, it is all about what I want and when I want it. I have autonomy, and that is something the freshman college experience should be all about. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Oncoming Swarm

By Blake Eaton

Anyone who exercises regularly at a university gym knows the phenomenon: At the beginning of the year, a swarm of enterprising young fitness buffs flock to the fitness center only to drop like flies in a matter of weeks. So it wasn’t unexpected when I found myself having to strategically choose the times I spent at the gym these past couple of weeks. Thankfully, I seem to have found my niche; it turns out that college students don’t typically wake up at 7 in the morning.

I may have avoided the crowds, but the odd thing is that those crowds haven’t disappeared. Perhaps kids these days finally understand the value of good exercise. Maybe we’ve reached some sort of generational turning point. It’s only a few years until we reach an uber-fit utopia!

Or not.

I think this surge of gym rats at UT Dallas is really the result of something I’ve discussed before on this blog. We are witnessing a school on the rise. Over the past five years, the university’s student body has grown by more than 5,000 students—a whopping 34%! On top of that, the number of top-tier students has skyrocketed, with 88 National Merit Finalists beginning to study at UT Dallas this year alone. When you put it perspective, it makes sense that the gym feels a bit crowded.

In some ways, this growth is inconvenient. Not only is the gym crowded, but busy faculty advisors are swamped with students, and the university has been scrambling in some instances to find room for the amount of classes it needs to host. Overall, these facts could give the impression that the school has bitten off more than it can chew.

I couldn’t disagree more with that sentiment. It would be easy for UT Dallas to kick up its feet and let the status quo maintain itself. As it stands, the university is a pretty great place to be. The hard-working professors, advisors, and employees of UT Dallas want more, though. They want this school to truly grow as a community and as an institute of higher learning.

Take, for instance, the Supplemental Instruction program. Started just one year ago, the program has already grown to provide study sessions and services to over a dozen historically difficult classes. I may be biased (I’m a Supplemental Instruction Leader myself), but I see SI as an emblem of what UT Dallas stands for. It stands for looking forward, for seeing what the future can be instead of what the present is. 

When I see the flock of new students on campus, when I see the oncoming swarm, I smile because I know that it means we’re doing something right.

Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Get Involved at UT Dallas

By Vinni Anandham

Welcome Back UT Dallas Students!

I spent the majority of my summer working here at UT Dallas, and while I love my job, I got really tired of looking at a half empty campus. It is so wonderful to see all your lovely faces now that the semester has started, and I’m sure many of you are trying to find ways to get involved. Though there are a variety of things to do and get involved with at UT Dallas, many of you might wonder where you should start.

Well, I would highly recommend that you start by creating an OrgSync account at: www.utdallas.edu/orgsync/login. On OrgSync, you will find plenty of information about all the registered student organizations on campus. Many organizations have also posted pictures, videos and details of events. If you like what you see, send the organization’s president and/or advisor an e-mail to get in contact with them to find out how you can join.

Many students ignore this wonderful resource, especially in their freshmen year, but I suggest you take advantage of it and see what more you can learn. After all the excitement of Welcome Week, there will still be plenty of events on campus. The question is: How will you know and where will you find it? Well, OrgSync has a list of events happening on campus sorted by date so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

If you still come to find that you need help searching for or contacting an organization, or on how to get involved, or even using OrgSync then stop by the SOF office (2.416C) located in the Student Engagement Suite (2.4) in the SU across from the Galaxy rooms and talk to either Vinni (that’s me!) or my wonderful co-worker Garrett! We love for people to stop by and talk to us, so come over just to say “Hello!” We look forward to meeting you all and helping you get involved on campus!

Let’s begin the year with a Whoosh!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

College Cooking

By Blake Eaton

I’ll admit it: I had it easy during my freshman year of college. I had a meal plan. That meant two meals a day at a dining hall I rather liked, and I didn’t have to cook myself a single meal. As my parents said at the time, it was a sweet gig.

Many freshmen at UTD will find themselves in a similar position. This year, though, I’ll be living in an apartment. This time, I’ll have to cook my own meals. It’s a bit of a scary thought. As much as I excel at academics, and as much as I know about staying fit, I’m not what you would call a natural born chef.

Fortunately, I had the whole summer to dwell on the problem of staying fed during the school year, and I came up with a simple solution: Stock up on Ramen!

Not really. As someone with a family history of every chronic disease under the sun, I know that daily exercise alone won’t save me from illnesses like diabetes and cardiac disorders. Stuffing down a ton of easy-to-make junk food down my throat simply won’t do. Instead, I needed a real, serious solution.

It turns out that I can explain that solution in just one word: Practice. Practice, practice, practice. Since I returned home for the summer, I’ve been cooking all manner of dishes, from cream-filled cannolis to chicken fried rice. It started a bit rough, but now I know that even if I can’t quite match the versatility of an experienced cook, I’ll be eating much more than cereal and potato chips come the fall semester.

The summer is quickly fading away, but anyone who’s leaving home for the coming school year should do the same. Start cooking now. Have someone help you, if necessary. My mom stood by me as I cooked many a dinner this summer, but I wouldn’t have been able to start without that initial supervision. Maybe I would’ve ruined the recipe. Maybe I would’ve undercooked the food. With as many disaster scenarios as there are, I was glad to have a little help.

That brings me to yet another recommendation. It goes against every fiber of my being, as I love a good rare steak, but when you’re learning to cook, err on the side of overcooking. The reasoning is easy to follow. If you overcook your food, it might taste a bit bland or feel chewy. Worst-case scenario, it’ll be somewhat burnt. Either outcome is unpleasant, but it’s survivable.

Compare that to undercooking. The second time I tried cooking fried rice, I didn’t let the chicken cook for long enough. For the rest of the day, I was in agony. That was a good outcome compared to what could have happened. I could’ve gotten food poisoning.

Fortunately, both lessons found in this blog can be summed up in one tidy phrase: Don’t cook too little. Just keep cooking and you can’t go wrong.

Unless your food is on fire. Don’t let that happen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Daily Grind

By Blake Eaton

Freshman Fifteen.

It's a phrase I heard a million times before arriving at UTD. "Watch out for the Freshman Fifteen." "Make sure you eat right, or you'll get the Freshman Fifteen."

In case you were wondering: No, I did not get the Freshman Fifteen. I gained some weight--around 5 lbs--but that added weight came intentionally, and it came mostly as muscle.

If anything, it was easier to keep weight off during the school year. It sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. 
Here's why:

First, UT Dallas has a pretty great gym. There are machines that can exercise almost any part of your body, and you can always find something open for use. During the busiest parts of the day, your first choice may be taken, but something is usually better than nothing when it comes to exercise.

Second, and more importantly, my busy schedule at UT Dallas
forced me to structure my week around a series of routines. I went to class at a certain time every day. I found a regular time to eat in between those classes. And every morning, before I started any of that, I rolled out of bed, laced up my running shoes, and jogged over to the gym.

A lot of my friends could hardly believe how early I got up to exercise. (I think some still don't.) For me, though, hopping onto an exercise bike or treadmill is just part of my day. It's a habit, and just as bad habits are the hardest to break, good habits are the easiest to keep.

I’m pretty sure that’s why teachers always insisted that we students take notes and the like in high school, but even if you went to college without those skills, there’s no time like the present to pivot toward a more healthy routine. All it takes is a loud alarm clock and a solid amount of determination. I won’t lie. Those first weeks are the hardest, and it’s easy to weasel out of a work out. "I have too much homework." "I'm so tired now. I just don’t want to overexert." Those excuses will weigh heavily in the beginning, but they fade away. After a while, exercise is just something you do. I know that’s how it worked for me.

In fact, I started writing this at 9 AM, right after a half-hour workout. It's not as easy when I can choose to sleep in till noon every day, but the habits I developed at UT Dallas are staying with me even through the summer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Conversation with the EPPS Dean

Hannah Steiner

By Hannah Steiner, EPPS Guest Blogger

Although he’s only been dean since November 2012, Dr. Denis Dean seems to be settling into his new job well. As a member of the UT Dallas faculty since 2008, he’s no stranger to our campus, or to our successful Geospatial Information Science (GIS) program, a program that he chaired before being named dean.  After he spoke to my freshman seminar class, I was lucky enough to get to interview him about his involvement in research and how it has impacted the rest of his endeavors.

Dean Dean’s background rests firmly in forestry; something he says “started him down the road to GIScience.” He focused on Forest Management as an undergrad at Virginia Polytechnic before completing his PHD in Computer Applications in Forestry at the same school.  There must have been something about the college life that he liked, because he’s been involved in academia for the last 25 years, first as a post-doc at Virginia Tech, then as a professor at Colorado State University before he became a Comet.

Research plays a large role in Dean Dean’s career, and he preaches the importance for students to be involved in research, saying “I think being involved in research can be one of the most educational experiences any student (graduate or undergrad) can have.” While it’s usually mandatory for graduate students to do research within their field of study, he recommends it for undergraduates as well, as it “really rounds out an education.”

One look at the interesting projects Dean Dean is currently and has been involved in is enough to convince anyone that they should get involved in research as well. One of his ongoing projects includes his being involved in the team of engineers that navigate NASA's Opportunity and Curiosity rovers on Mars. Other GIS projects are based all over the world, such as a land management project in Nicaragua and environmental work with Dr. Yongwan Chun in Korea. 

Dean Dean ended the interview with some tips for students who are interested in GIS and GIS research:  “Start by learning the basics… But once you've got a handle on the basics, let your imagination go.” Looking at his accomplishments so far, I’d say his advice would be something to pay attention to; you might just end up traveling the world to work on projects, or work with NASA on something as far away as Mars. Or become a dean at UT Dallas. Whoosh!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Supreme Court Internship Dream Come True for Student

Last week, blogger Alex Noll posted a Q & A with Archer Fellow Hannah Chapman who interned at the Supreme Court. This week guest blogger Anh Nguyen reports on the experience of Archer Fellow Monica Niewiarowski, who also landed a Supreme Court internship. Monica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in Spring 2013 and will begin studies at the University of Virginia Law School in the fall.

By Anh Nguyen, Guest Blogger

            Monica Niewiarowski first heard about the Archer program when she was in high school and attended one of UT Dallas’ information sessions. She heard about again in the Collegium V orientation after she was accepted into the school. To Monica, the internship was not a “maybe” but a must. The fact that her friends had an incredible time in D.C. only made it more imperative for her to apply.
Monica Niewiarowski
            Monica applied in her sophomore year in the hope of going to Washington D.C. during her junior year. She spent several months filling out a general information form, writing a personal statement and policy paper, and obtaining three letters of recommendation. She probably spent longer than necessary because she wanted everything to be perfect. She also knew that by applying as a sophomore, she could reapply the next year if she was not accepted the first time.
            Fortunately for Monica, she was accepted and secured an internship at the Office of the Curator at the U.S. Supreme Court. Her job was to help maintain documents and information about the justices, lead tours, give public lectures, staff the information desk etc. She also helped oversee the large collection of court memorabilia, including birthday cards and gifts and judicial robes.
Although the internship was not paid, its benefits were much more valuable than money. Monica would definitely recommend this opportunity to other students. It was unique experience, and she made many friends who are highly motivated. For students who are willing to be pushed outside their comfort zone, and want to have something to remember form their college years, this is the right internship for them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Archer Fellow Gets Supreme Opportunity

The Archer Center was established by the UT System in conjunction with former U.S. Rep. Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington D.C. to participate in varied internships and take part in classes focusing on policy, economics and politics. Our EPPS blogger, Alexandra Noll, recently interviewed Hannah Chapman who participated in the Archer Fellowship Program during the fall of 2011, and interned with the Supreme Court Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice.

Alexandra Noll
ALEX: Why were you interested in this opportunity?

HANNAH: I was encouraged by Dr. Harpham and Dr. Champagne since my freshman year that I should apply for this opportunity. Several UTD alums that I looked up to as an underclassman had completed the Archer Fellowship and shared their inspiring stories with me. I liked the idea of living in D.C. for a semester, as I grew up close to UTD and felt I would benefit from the experience of really living away from home. Lastly, I know that these days, internship and work experience is becoming more and more important for prospective employers and graduate schools, so I wanted to expand my work experience.

Hannah Chapman
ALEX: Could you describe the application and selection process?

HANNAH: The application was fairly intensive. It required a well-tailored resume, a transcript, a writing sample, a short essay on a specific and challenging topic, a well-researched list of potential internship sites, and several letters of recommendation. Putting all of this together took several months. I had my written materials reviewed by several CV professors, and I had my resume reviewed by the Career Center. After submitting the application, I was selected for the second round, the interviews. I prepared for the interview by reviewing my application materials and practicing potential interview questions and responses. The interview was very intimidating, but I felt prepared because of my preparation. I also got tips from friends who had already completed the fellowship.

ALEX: How did you find your internship in D.C?

HANNAH: I knew two UT Dallas students who had worked at the office in the Supreme Court, and that was my number one internship choice. I prepared and turned in my application far before the application deadline. I had professors and friends review my cover letter and written application sections. I made sure to keep informed of current events relating to the Court for the few months before the application and interview process. This helped me in my phone interview. The interview was incredibly intimidating, and I thought I had done a terrible job. The day of the interview, I wrote a very sincere, handwritten thank you note and mailed it to my interviewer. I know that made a difference because when I got to the Court, I found that thank you note included as the first page of my application file.

ALEX: What was it like working there?

HANNAH: The internship at the Supreme Court Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice was an amazing experience. We were always very busy in the office, and the work led me to pursue research in fields that I had never thought about. It was so inspiring to be working in this amazing, beautiful building, walls lined with portraits of great Supreme Court Justices. The office in which I was placed always hires two interns, so it was nice to have a colleague to share responsibilities with. We became very close, and still keep in touch from time to time. My most amazing memory at the Supreme Court was that one evening, we were invited to stay and help out at a function for the Supreme Court Historical Society. We watched a reenactment of a famous Reconstruction case where Associate Justice Antonin Scalia presided. During the
reception after the event, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice. We spoke briefly about her work and my experience. She was the most wonderful, strong woman. It was a memory that I will never forget.

ALEX: What did you do besides study and work?

HANNAH: All the Archer Fellows had very intense schedules. We were working full-time, five days per week. On several weekday evenings, we had classes at the Archer Center. For one of our classes, we would meet at a different monument or museum each week for class. There is so much to do in D.C., so on the weekends we committed to try to experience as much of the city as possible. We would spend time at the Smithsonian Museums (all of them, and there are many!!). We would explore that different neighborhoods of the city, and we always managed to find great places to eat and go out in the evenings. It was so great to have a group of 30 other people to make plans with. You never had to go anywhere alone if you didn't want to -you just had to let the house know where you were planning to go, and at least a small group of people would want to come along. The whole Archer class gets so close. The Fellowship is basically living in an amazing city with a huge group of your closest friends. Every Sunday, a group of us would walk down to the outdoor market, and select fresh, local foods to make dinner that night. We would all help cook, and we would gather in one kitchen in the evening for a big Sunday "Archer family" dinner. We would eat and catch up on what was going on at work with everyone

ALEX: How has the experience changed you?

HANNAH: First, the experience confirmed my belief that I definitely want to go to law school. It made me more confident in the academic and career choices I am making. It also convinced me that I should take some time off between my undergraduate and law school experiences. I had several mentors and professionals speak with me about how this was helpful to their eventual performance in law school and hiring prospects upon graduation. I have a whole new amazing network of friends that know me well and will be seriously be going places. The Archer Fellowship alumni network is ever expanding and provides great connections based on a common experience. Finally, I know that I grew as a person by leaving Texas and living and working in a new city, living with lots of new people. and experiencing a whole new type of life that was foreign to me before. I feel more confident in formal and work surroundings now that I have had these experiences and learned so much from the professors, mentors, and other Fellows during my time as an Archer. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

My First Meeting of the John Marshall Pre-Law Society

By Jordan Schwartz, Guest Blogger

Upon entering the small crowded meeting room, I was immediately drawn to the projector labeled “John Marshall Pre-Law Society Meeting.” The meeting itself was extremely important especially for someone like me in the pre-law program. It was just the second annual meeting, and in it, Ms. Anne Dutia (administrator of the Pre-Law Society) discussed many of the upcoming events. They included workshops for preparing for the LSAT, a Law School Admissions Dean Panel, JMPLS T-Shirt Day, as well as upcoming LSAT test days.

Dr. Anthony Champagne, director of the pre-law program, informed us about the importance of participating in these events. He stressed that it would only help our prospects of knowing which schools were good fits. He said that for students who become lawyers or enjoy law school, participation in these events was a mandatory process. He also urged students to start early when getting a teacher recommendation.

Dr. Champagne also addressed the typical law school application process and offered information about law schools participating in the Dean Panel Event. He also described JMPLS T-Shirt Day, where students wear their t-shirt to spread awareness about the organization on campus. He also discussed LSAT test dates. Dr. Champagne was adamant in saying that taking the test as many times as possible was an absolute necessity, the reason being that the more times you take it, the better chance you have of reaching a new maximum. The LSAT score is very important for admittance into law school.

I found the meeting to be extremely informative, and it was an absolutely vital part of my new knowledge regarding law school. I would recommend membership to anyone who is interested in going to law school as it looks especially good on your applications.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The IPE Meet & Greet (And Why You Should Have Gone)

By Gavin Roy

A pre-conceived notion among some UT Dallas students is that all faculty and staff members are incredibly stern, seeing students as bothersome. As such, talking with professors, advisors, and other faculty and staff members can be intimidating for some.

While I do appreciate the formal events on campus that enable students to interact with the faculty and staff, informal meetings help establish a more comfortable relationship that's endearing for students.

For example, I attended a meet and greet for IPE students (and by extension, EPPS students in general) at the end of the spring semester. The event was hosted by Masters Advisor Nora Hernandez and Dr. Jennifer Holmes, Head of the Public Policy program. It was a very simple affair, taking place in a conference room at Green Hall, with simple refreshments provided for attendees. Doesn't seem like much, does it? However, for me, that simplicity was the appeal.

As I spoke with Ms. Hernandez, Dr. Holmes, and the few other students present, there was a sense of ease that I found encouraging. I was free to casually converse with esteemed individuals, whether the topic was academics, the challenges of learning a new language, or our experiences in foreign countries. From our conversations, I received tips on how to plan courses and I got to know Ms. Hernandez and Dr. Holmes as individuals. At the same time, they got know me as an individual. I even met a couple of other IPE students in the process.

It's important for students to be able to forge relationships with faculty and staff. It's also just as important for faculty and staff to get to know their students. Events such as the IPE Meet & Greet are great for fostering those relationships and connections. They help students realize that most members of their university's faculty and staff are much nicer than they realize. Events such as the IPE Meet & Greet can also help faculty and staff understand how their students react to certain things, making it easier to give advice when students need it. So whether you're a student, professor, advisor, or dean, try not to miss an opportunity like this. It's more significant than you might realize.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

EPPS Freshman Discovers GIS

By Nathan Yee, EPPS Guest Blogger

When I stepped into my EPPS 1110 course last fall, I was confused about the group work we were assigned to do. Each group had to give a presentation on one of the majors within EPPS. The reason my confusion was the fact that instead of my enrolled major, economics, I was assigned to the mysterious GIS major. GIS? I haven't even heard of such a major before! I had to investigate GIS pretty quickly and understand why it is connected to the rest of EPPS. Here are my findings.

What is GIS?

GIS stands for geographic (or sometimes geospatial) information systems. Basically all those words mean it involves maps, but GIS is far from a major just about topology or cartography. GIS is a relatively new major that combines the use of map systems with technology to gather and analyze information.

Thanks to massive improvements in communications and data gathering from both technology and techniques (especially from satellites), creating maps of the world has evolved beyond showing what is where on the globe. Now we can utilize information data gathered from a variety of sources by a plethora of methods to chart, graph, label, and sort all types of maps by numerous different categories. These maps can be used to examine the interactions of people, communities, metropolises, or even nations. There are a whole lot of reasons why GIS is part of EPPS, a school dedicated to the social sciences.


With GIS, economists can map out areas of resources much more effectively. The main role of an economist is to properly manage the resources that a business or corporation takes in order to make a profit. GIS in conjunction with economics can map out areas where raw materials are and their concentrations. Going beyond just raw materials, the most favorable or efficient routes to get to and transport the raw goods can also be charted by GIS. Then areas of processing those goods and distribution of goods to warehouses, retailers, or even direct consumers are also materials that GIS can use to improve economics. Even if a business does not physically produce products, it can utilize GIS to find where their range of services can reach. For example, utility companies need to know where their power lines, pipes, cables, and fire optics are going and in what patterns to avoid unnecessary wastes and sufficient levels of supply.

Consumers themselves are affected by GIS when they get their tracking number from shipping companies when they buy online or on the phone. When consumers buy maps, GPS, or browse a map software (something Apple needs to work on...), GIS has had its hand somewhere in those matters.

Political Science and other political majors

There’s an obvious reason why politics and GIS are interrelated: borders. Before the age of accurate map creating, often there would be many disputes on where the border of a country is (and sadly some parts of the world still dispute that). Now days, simple programs can easily split up countries in a variety of ways, even down to the city limits or road systems. Political scientists are quite interested in GIS as a nation sorter to see which areas of a country have certain political views and their voting patterns. This is how voting districts are drawn in the United States, and how some political parties might use this to their advantage or their battlegrounds to win borderline districts. On a larger scale, GIS can help politicians see areas that require their attention, especially in times of crisis such as natural disasters.


Sociologists can work with GIS to chart out numerous types of sociological factors. For example if a sociologist is focusing on the homeless populations of an area, they can find where homeless people are concentrated, their travel areas, any places that support the homeless, areas that produce homeless people, and so on. More general usage of GIS could be for racial and ethnicity makeup of places, family and marriage patterns between cities, educational and employment levels, consumption levels, and many more. These can all help sociologists predict what areas could develop problems in the future.

These are but a small description on how GIS interacts and relates to the EPPS majors. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how important GIS is as a major and might even consider taking some part in it. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Time to Reflect

By Saron Zekiros

I can't believe my freshmen year is over. Now that summer break has begun, it's time to reflect.

I can truly say I had a great first-year experience. I had a very funny way of ending up at UT Dallas, but luckily I hit the jackpot. I was placed in a dorm with some awesome roommates and met some great friends along the way. I enrolled in interesting courses with some amazing professors like Business Law with Professor Polze, World Geographic Regions with Dr. Vakulenko and Macroeconomics with Professor Ketsler, whose joy of teaching is reflected in the classroom environment.

I was involved in several clubs (IPESA, Circle K, and ESA) that kept me engaged. I recommend this to you all if you aren't already involved in a club/organization/sport on campus. It’s a good stress-reliever from classes.

Through my involvement in UT Dallas clubs I heard about the Univesity of North Texas Middle Eastern Conference, and through the Pre-Law Society, I had the opportunity to visit the Baylor Law School. For those students who are either considering majoring in IPE (International Political Economy) or have that major, I encourage you to join IPESA. Some of my favorite moments come from my involvement with that club!

My experiences in the fall and spring semesters seem like polar opposites even though I enjoyed both. From late nights studying with friends for an upcoming exam to attending the different plays, concerts, and shows on campus, my UT Dallas experience was surprisingly much better than I expected it to be.

I learned a lot of good lessons along the way that I hope to share with the incoming freshmen class such as always putting school first, but remembering not to neglect the experiences of growing up and creating memories with friends.

I leave you with these three things...

1. This campus is diverse with people coming from different backgrounds so find those that you mesh well with and your freshmen year will be a lot more enjoyable!

2. Find clubs on campus that match your hobbies, interests or skills and join! If you can't find one, then start one of your own! (be a pioneer!)  The old saying that UT Dallas is a "dead" campus will slowly disappear if more people are involved in campus activities.

3. UT Dallas is lucky to have some really esteemed professors so take advantage of the knowledge and experience they have to offer!

Finally, I hope everyone has an enjoyable summer! See you all in the fall :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

A School on the Rise

By Blake Eaton

A few weeks ago, I had a long conversation with a friend about why we decided to attend UT Dallas. Both of us performed well in high school and could have gone to any number of “top-tier” schools. Harvard beckoned to me, but I still came to UT Dallas. Both of us made that decision, but my friend wondered if it was the right decision.

I never had that crisis of confidence. I knew that UT Dallas was the right school for me, but I had to ask myself: Why? The answer: UT Dallas is a school on the rise.

Compared to the Ivy Leagues and other more established schools, UT Dallas is fairly young. That’s especially true when one considers the fact that it only recently turned its focus to becoming a residential college. 

To be certain, going to an older school with established institutions can provide a whole host of benefits. With time comes experience, and that experience can serve to make the organization more influential. Perhaps just as important, older organizations carry more prestige, and prestige can carry people a long way in their careers.

There’s one thing missing in that equation, though. When someone joins a longstanding organization, traditions have already been entrenched. The culture of the organization is, more or less, set in stone. What’s more, leadership is hard to come by in such organizations, and newer students especially have to wait before they can stand out among their peers.

Here at UT Dallas, we have our fair share of established organizations. There’s the John Marshall Pre-Law Society. There’s Mock Trial. There’s Moot Court. More importantly, though, we have plenty of room for more student organizations.

This year, I started a new organization on campus called Whoosh the Vote. As the presidential election grew near, we registered hundreds of students to vote. We were out and about on campus, reminding people to go to the polls, to make their voices heard. Unlike other organizations, registering people to vote wasn’t a side project for us. It was our central purpose, and we were proud to make a difference on campus.

As Vice President of Whoosh the Vote during the fall semester, I experienced firsthand the difficulties of establishing a new organization. Even as I went out three days a week to register people to vote, I had to move my way through the university in pursuit of official recognition. Working with others—not just to maintain something, but to start something—is an invaluable experience. As UT Dallas grows, more and more students will be able to gain that experience, and the lessons they learn will last a lifetime.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Advice to Freshmen: Get to Know Your Profs

By Alexandra Noll

One of the biggest mistakes I see my fellow freshmen making is not getting to know their professors. Most professors want to get to know their students, but they won’t seek you out. They post their office hours and expect students to come to them.

Last semester, I made an effort to go to each of my professors’ office hours and talk to them about the course. Not only did I gain a better understanding of what I was supposed to be learning, I connected with
each one.Now they know my name, and are interested in my continued progress at UT Dallas.

I took Criminology 1307 with Dr. Denise Boots, a class I highly recommend, and because I had the
courage to go and talk to her, I’ve been working with her on a research project this semester.

Most of the professors are friendly, and very willing to help you out. They want you to succeed, and will answer questions or offer suggestions. I would recommend going to each of your professors’ office hours at least once during the semester, and introducing yourself after class during the first week. Do this and you’ll be sure to succeed during your freshman year!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boomer Sooner to WHOOSH

By Poonum Desai, Guest Blogger

Choosing a college is never easy. It’s the first real chapter in life where you’re pretty much alone. That really hit me when four days before the end of April of my senior year, my dad just popped the question, “So, have you decided what college you’re going to?” It was like he had asked me “So have you figured out your life yet?”

I actually really wanted my parents to make the decision for me. I didn’t know what to look for in a school. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere with a good study abroad program, a good business school, and football.  Yes, you read right, football. I’m a born and raised Texan, I gotta have my seasonal dose of college football.  

The night before May 1, I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at my two options: OU and UT Dallas, and I decided to choose OU. Many people have asked me, “Was getting away from home a reason you went there?” I’m not saying it was a giant contributing factor, but if you have the option of getting away from your parents who still think midnight is the time when 22-year-olds go to sleep so you need to be asleep by 11 at the latest, yea, living on my own for a bit would not be the most horrid thing ever.

But as the headline suggests, I’m now a Comet. Why? First of all, I was worried about paying out-of-state tuition. I started out thinking, hey, in the end it will all pay off when I get a job at a firm I really want to work for. The reality that having a job right out of college is not a guarantee hit me mid-semester. That was a big reason I returned home.

The second reason was the social atmosphere. Let’s talk about the concept of “partying” for a second. I love to have fun. But how many shots or beer you can chug or how much of whatever substance you can smoke before you regurgitate your intestines should not determine who you are.  At OU, I felt that my thoughts on partying did not necessarily match those of a lot of the other students, which is fine; it was just an indicator to me that I needed to relocate to a school that places academics on a higher pedestal.

When I was at OU, I started to think, “How happy can I be here for four years?” The thought of staying there that long made me cringe a little, and that’s when I had the epiphany: I needed to transfer to UT Dallas.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of awesome things at OU. The professors were some of the coolest people I have ever met. The campus was gorgeous and even though it wasn’t their best football season, the games were still pretty awesome. 

But I felt UTD fit my personality perfectly. I love my fellow peers. As a campus, I feel we are a bit more reserved, but if I talk to you, you will talk to me back and then BAM, I just made a new friend on the elevator. The professors are so passionate about helping students that I’ve considered ditching my dream to be a talk show host to come back and teach at the university. The campus is close enough to my house so I can easily make trips home, but far enough for my mom to not come check on me. The business school (which I’m in along with EPPS) never fails to stun me. It’s almost as if there is nothing in this world that UTD students haven’t accomplished. And I’m a part of that school. 

I seriously am so excited to enter the work world now because I know I’m going to enter it as prepared as possible. And although there is no football, our intermural sports are really impressive. I really love it here. I am a proud Comet who can’t wait to blow the socks off the world. Transferring to UT Dallas was best step out of the many I have and will take to achieve everything I set my mind to.  Go Comets, WHOOSH. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rewards of Student Mentoring

By Vinni Anadham

At UT Dallas we have wonderful student leadership programs that do work within and outside the university to help our community grow. One of them is the UTD-HBI Mentoring program with AVID students at Williams High School where UT Dallas students work with the 9th and 10th graders. This program is funded by the US Department of Justice through a nonprofit organization, the Home Builders Institute in Washington, DC. 

On our campus the EPPS School leads the program, however all current UT Dallas students are eligible to join. The program’s goal is for current college students to motivate high school students to attend college and answer any questions that they might have about college life. The student coaches, including myself, spend a couple hours with them on a Friday afternoon, once every month while enjoying a slice of pizza or two! Every meeting, there is always a new surprise waiting for us, whether it’s a game, project, or trip!!  

I joined in October of last semester and attended my first event in November when we all went over to Williams High School for a Scavenger Hunt. All of the mentors were divided up with our own set of 5-6 students to find random items around the school. It was my first time there, and I had expected it would take time for the students to get to know me. But the minute I met my group, we clicked and were laughing at jokes as if we’ve known each other for years. I was amazed to see how welcoming the high school students were to a complete stranger.

Obviously being a student mentor requires a lot of responsibility, because despite professors, teachers, and other adults present there, you are in charge of your group and they don’t always want to do what’s asked of them. So it’s necessary for you to make sure they are all there, and staying on task. Younger students will more likely listen to older students rather than the adults. They look up to older students as role models, so even though it’s fun to chat with them, we have to remember to set good examples for them so that the world is a much happier place for everyone.

Since I’ve joined we have done a variety of things such as learning how to knit,  organizing a mini demo of college life on campus, and even a Christmas celebration. Currently we’re getting ready for our big end of the year event, and along with that we will donate some "get well" items to children who are hospitalized with cancer and long term illnesses.

I enjoy being with the students not only because they remind me of the fun high school years, but also because they are so much fun to hang out with.  Unfortunately we only get to meet them once a month, but I have to say that I’m always looking forward to our Fridays together!! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Defense of the Dining Hall

By Blake Eaton

I hear a lot of talk about the Dining Hall at UT Dallas. By itself, that’s not surprising. Eating is a pretty big part of anybody’s life—especially a college student’s—and plenty of students eat their meals at the Dining Hall. More surprising to me is the amount of criticism levied at the Dining Hall. I know I’m in the minority, but I think the food offered there is pretty good. No. I think it’s great!

There are plenty of reasons why I defend the Dining Hall, but I’ll start with a small point of criticism. While the food at the Dining Hall is almost always high quality, there are plenty of times when it isn’t there. If you aren’t there at the right time, then there will be nothing but salad and a few pieces of fruit available. As such, you need to build your schedule around the Dining Hall’s. That’s inconvenient, but not terrible.

Aside from that question of availability, I have very little bad to say about the Dining Hall. On a typical day, there’s something for everyone. Pizza is a standby, as is the salad bar and fruit. The main food options are handily split between vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, and they change nearly every day. This can be unfortunate on the days when none of the selections look appetizing, but it’s a godsend most of the time. In college, one of the primary concerns is that food will get repetitive, and unless you restrict yourself to the basics, that won’t happen at UT Dallas’ Dining Hall.

I admit, any judgment of taste is by definition subjective, so I don’t have any concrete facts to support this, but I think the food at the Dining Hall is generally quite good. In fact, the worst I can say is that sometimes it’s only decent. I’ve heard the food described as “hit-or-miss” by some, but even they admit that a “miss” doesn’t mean the food is horrible. On most days, it’s just decent. There’s nothing special, but it isn’t unpleasant to eat. On good days, though, the food is nothing short of delicious. On those days, everything goes well and all is right in the world.

You could probably get all kinds of reviews of the Dining Hall, and a lot of people would find more to complain about than to praise. I, for one, am a fan of the Dining Hall’s food.