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.