Long Overdue Update

It has been so long since I have posted a blog entry here. As an undergrad, I posted updates pretty regularly, but as a grad student, I almost never do, and I regret that. I figured that I would take some time to post a new one. Hopefully, at least some readers have read my blog entries in the past. This is my final semester here at SUNY Oswego, ever. A masters degree is the highest degree that one can obtain here, and even if SUNY Oswego did offer doctorate programs, I have to start earning a considerable amount of money before I can continue to spend a considerable amount more, and I am not sure yet whether or not a doctorate program is even something that I want to pursue. I am having bittersweet feelings about leaving next month – happy because I will have a masters degree (which is a major accomplishment) and won’t be continuing to build up on debt but sad to leave Oswego. Over the six years that I have been here (I started as a freshman in 2008), I have, like anyone, experienced ups and downs, but I love the environment of the campus (especially when it’s not winter) and have had some really great professors whom I will truly miss. I will also miss my job (I am a desk attendant in Sheldon Hall) because it has enhanced skills such as organization skills and teamwork skills.

This semester has been very busy because since it is my final semester here as a graduate student, so I am writing my masters essay. The course on my transcript is titled Reading for Examinations, and it involves writing a very long thesis paper (mine is currently close to sixty pages) and then submitting it for assessment by a small group of three readers. Fortunately, my essay is almost finished. As I stated, it is nearing sixty pages, and not only is that about how long that it needs to be, I also feel like I am naturally winding down, anyway. It is something of which I am very proud. It is an expansion upon the final paper that I wrote for a film class (Women and Screen Studies) during the Spring 2013 semester, and my professor (Amy Shore) liked it so much that she suggested that I expand upon it for my masters essay. Because I, too, liked it so much, I followed up on her advice and have done that. I am so excited to get it officially finished and off to the readers for a final glance. As I said, researching for it and writing it has taken up a great deal of my time this semester, and it will be such a relief to be finished with it.

Graduating, as I said, though, is bittersweet, and the bitterness doesn’t just come from not wanting to leave Oswego. I have been applying to jobs since December or so, and nothing is puling through. I graduate next month and still do not have a job lined up. I know that in today’s day and age with it being so difficult to find a job, that is normal, but it’s so scary. I can’t live with my parents indefinitely, and I need to start making money pretty immediately to start paying off my loans. The most recent job to which I applied has a dual possibility (although one is a lot more likely than the other). I applied to the New Britain, Connecticut school district because there are openings for substitute-teachers (with which I have plenty of experience), and there is also an opening for a permanent position as a middle school English teacher, and I applied to both. I have not heard back from that yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. The state of Connecticut is at a serious shortage of substitute-teachers to the point at which students’ learning experiences are being negatively impacted, so my shot at getting a position as a substitute-teacher somewhere in Connecticut is pretty decent. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life subbing, but it would get my foot in the door, would get me more experience, and would increase my chances of being hired for a permanent position. My hope is that in a few months, I will be able to post a blog entry here with some really good news!

Although this is completely unrelated, I have recently developed a really strong interest in Wicca. For years, I have considered myself a deeply spiritual person but did not know what that meant for me. I have known for quite some time that unlike my father, I am not a Christian (despite my name, which means that I carry or bear Christ). I recently discovered that what aligns best with my own personal beliefs and whatnot is Wicca, and I have pursued that. I feel very passionate and excited because I have been buying books on Wicca and have been having a great deal of fun reading up on it. The more reading that I do, the more excited that I get; the closer to it that I feel. I just wish that this interest would have fully manifested itself earlier than it did because as fate would have it (another reason why I feel like I was mean to pursue this), I found out that there is an organization here on campus related to Wicca very shortly after deciding to pursue Wicca myself. The name of the club is Oswego State Pagan Association, so it’s broader than just being a Wiccan organization, but it’s partly what it embodies. I have not yet been to a meeting, but they meet on Thursdays, and I am going to my first meeting this coming Thursday (tomorrow) to check it out. I am really looking forward to it!

I will conclude this blog entry with some news (old news, which I suppose is an oxymoron) that I don’t believe that I have ever shared here before. If I have, then forgive me because I don’t mean to be repetitive. Some of you might remember how several years ago, I posted a blog entry about the many problems that I had with our organization, Pride Alliance. The group, for example, was far too focused on sex and not focused enough on larger societal issues, and I eventually decided to stop going because of how tiring that that became. As a graduate student, however, I gave them another chance since it was under new leadership, and I noticed a major change. The organization is now what it should always be, and I wrote a follow-up blog entry explaining how, in my eyes, Pride Alliance had reformed. I ended up (last spring) winning an award for that. It was to commemorate my faith in the organization, my willingness to give it another chance, and I was so honored and so happy. I have attached a photo of the award here for you to see. There you have it, bloggers – I actually won an award for writing a blog here, so don’t stop blogging! You really never know what will happen as a result of pursuing a passion.


2013-2014 School Year/Pride Alliance Event This Week

It sure has been a while since I have posted a blog entry, but boy, has life been busy. As a graduate student, I am taking three grad classes, and I also have a job as a Desk Attendant in Sheldon Hall, where I am also currently living. I am a Pride Alliance member (thanks to everyone who wore shirts this past Friday!), and I am also on Sheldon’s Hall Council. I am nothing if not occupied. I try to find fun within the mix, but it isn’t always easy; being a graduate student eats a lot of time. It will hopefully be worth it, though. I plan to graduate with my Masters this coming May 2014, and I will hopefully have a place of residence and a decent job lined up.

On an unrelated (although previously hinted at) note, Pride Alliance continues to be really great and productive this year. The events and gatherings have been both fun and informative, and keep in mind that this month is not just noteworthy because of Halloween; it is also Outtober! That means that it celebrates the notion of being proud of your sexual orientation and not being afraid to hide it. It is a great time to encourage those who are afraid to “come out of the closet” to finally do so, and I know that it helped me in the past. I did not come out until I was a freshman here five years ago, and that was, in part, due to the fact that I witnessed overwhelming support on this campus, and that is something of which I am proud.

This Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Campus Center room 133, we will be holding an event titled How’s your Gaydar 2: Meet the Men. It is a follow-up (as the title suggests) to an event that was held last semester; the only difference is that last semester, the panel consisted entirely of women, while this time, it will consist of men (which will include yours truly). The men on the panel will be asked questions such as “What kind of body soap do you use?” Afterwards, the “audience” will take a stab at guessing a sexual orientation for each one of us, and the ideal objective is to break stereotypes apart. I hope to see you there, as it will be a lot of fun, and be sure to check out the Pride Alliance’s website at pridealliance.wix.com/pridealliance, and check out the Outtober calendar below.

Outtober Calendar

Pride Alliance Reformed

Let me start by stating how happy that I am to be back at SUNY Oswego. I graduated last year in May with a B.S. in Adolescence Education, and for multiple reasons, I eventually decided to return to SUNY Oswego as a graduate student and just began a month ago. I truly missed SUNY Oswego and am, again, so happy to be back. I certainly haven’t missed this crazy weather, but I have definitely missed the campus and have missed being a student, in general. I got certified to teach late in the summer and subbed in the fall until I came back to Oswego, and I am so thrilled to be back in the classroom as a student. I am definitely a student at heart, and learning is such an exciting prospect for me. I am taking Women and Screen Studies with Amy Shore (which I love), Black Women Writers with Patricia Clark (which I also love), and Theories of Teaching Composition with Robert Moore. I love my classes and am really immersed in what I am studying.

I want to, however, primarily focus this blog entry upon SUNY Oswego’s Pride Alliance. Some of you may recall the blog entry that I wrote quite some time ago; “Pride Alliance in Need of Reformation” is the title, and, in fact, if you run a search for Pride Alliance on SUNY Oswego’s website, that blog entry is currently the first page that will appear. I addressed my concerns regarding the organization because at the time, I felt that Pride Alliance was not focusing on what is truly important; it focused too much attention on sex and not nearly enough attention on more practical, more important issues. I was very harsh, but I do not apologize for anything that I stated because I definitely think that everything that I stated was very reasonable, especially since I was far from being alone in my opinions; even a professor here at SUNY Oswego agreed with me. However, I have been attending Pride Alliance this semester and have to say that I am so incredibly happy to see that the organization is much more practical and productive and is doing a lot more of what it should be doing both on campus and within the Oswego community. I am having such a great time as a member of Pride Alliance, and it is an organization of which I am vehemently proud to be a part. I am not going to say that it was my blog entry that particularly initiated these reforms, but who knows? Perhaps, it had some sort of impact.

Pride Alliance is now under new leadership, and with all due respect to the former team that led the organization, I think that that probably has a great deal to do with why the organization is a lot more productive now. Marian Holmes is the president, and I have to say that she is absolutely fabulous. Full of passion and energy, she is clearly dedicated to ensuring that Pride Alliance is not just mere entertainment but also makes a positive difference both on campus and within the community; the entire team seems great, and they are planning many awesome events for the semester. Yesterday, for example, we had the Oswego High School Acceptance Coalition join us, and it was a lot of fun. As Marian has pointed out, with Oswego High School being so geographically close to the college campus, it would be kind of ridiculous if we were to neglect the opportunity to build a bridge between our organizations, something that has never been attempted or, as far as I know, even discussed before. Next week, someone is coming to talk about living with being HIV-positive, and a comedian is possibly coming later in the semester, as well. In addition (and I am momentously excited about this), a NOH8 photoshoot is planned, which will take place during some point of the semester. Pride Alliance is definitely reformed, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If you’re interested in attending meetings (and I sincerely hope that you are because the more, the merrier), they are held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in room 133 (across from the auditorium) of the Campus Center. You can also check the Pride Alliance out at their website, http://pridealliance.wix.com/pridealliance.

The Future

The future has always been a concept that terrifies me. Even though it’s a reality for all of us, I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. I hate being afraid that the future isn’t going to be what I envision, isn’t going to work out. This creates a great deal of anxiety for me, and that was anxiety that I felt when I graduated from high school. I was terrified of leaving an environment with which I was comfortable and entering one with which I was not, and my freshman year of college was not very enjoyable; I made mistakes, and I made decisions of which, to this day, I am ashamed, and I can only imagine that it was because, emotionally, I was not ready for college. That’s not to say that I wish that I would have waited a year or two – definitely not; the only way that I could be ready was to experience it, which is ultimately why I’m glad that I did make mistakes. Still, though, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of dread that I’m going to make more, that I’m not ready for the “real world” and what dangers that it has to offer, the worst of them probably being uncertainty.

Luckily, I’m armed with something that I didn’t have four years ago; I’m armed with love. Four years ago, something that really beat me down was the thought that I was meant to be alone and that that was how I was destined to spend the rest of my life. I know; it was kind of ridiculous, but at the time, that’s what I believed, and if I hadn’t found my boyfriend Ray, I very likely would still feel that way. As a teenager, I didn’t really experience a real connection with another person like most teenagers do. Every time that I went to a prom or a ball, I went with a friend; I never knew what a real date was, a real romantic experience. Now, I do, and that very strong connection gives me faith that I didn’t have before.

Yesterday, I graduated, and it felt so strange. I knew that I was supposed to be overcome by an immense amount of bittersweet feelings – happiness because I have gotten through the last bloody and sweaty four years and sadness because I was leaving Oswego behind, a very special place to me that will always have a place in my heart, but I just felt embarrassed because I had lost my tassel. I looked around me for others that weren’t wearing one, but I didn’t see anyone, and I felt so embarrassed. Even now that it’s over, the fact that I graduated from college with an undergraduate degree hasn’t sunk in yet.

I’m now pursuing a really great, ideal job and hope that I get it. I could finally be looking at enough money to buy a car, which would really feel like a major step forward. I don’t even have my license because I’ve never had the support system that I would have needed, and I’ve never had the finances to afford a car. That may finally be a reality, but of course, it’s dependent upon whether or not I get the job. From experience, I don’t seem to interview well; I applied to be a DA on campus three times, was interviewed each time, and each time, I was rejected. I try to be positive, though. and I try to look toward the future as promise. My goal is to have a car by the end of the summer, so by August, and to then have an apartment with my boyfriend by January. On June 9th, I take two teacher certification tests, which is going to be really rough. They are in Syracuse, and the first is at 7:45 a.m. while the second is at 1:00 p.m. Then, I have another on July 14th. I am not good at taking tests; I never have been, so I’m nervous, but hopefully, I’ll be fine. I will definitely make an effort to write as often as I can throughout the summer.

Spring Break experience

I know that I sort of “complained” about having to move to Hart for the break prior to having to do it, but I just want to take the time, now that that’s behind me, to talk about what that experience was like for me; it would be nice if this editorial reached someone who has the ability to reform college policy in regards to this matter because I would really hate someone else in the future having to go through what I did, and I know that based on how many students that I observed on campus (which was very few), there aren’t generally very many.

Because I don’t own a car, I had to stay on campus for the length of the break; I love SUNY Oswego, so normally, that wouldn’t bother me; in fact, normally, I would take staying here over going back to Rome every time, but I wasn’t looking forward to having move the materials that I was going to need for the duration of the break over to Hart, since I’d be having to walk it over, and I wasn’t looking forward to having to stay cooped up here alone, since essentially nothing here was open, and no one that I know was staying here, too; my boyfriend Ray says that he asked the Residence Life & Housing office if he could stay here with me and that he was told no because staying here is reserved only for students that absolutely need to. However, first of all, there was another bed in my room (which could have instead been a desk, which I didn’t have), and second of all, I met another student that was staying here because his car had broken down, which doesn’t sound like an “absolutely have to” to me, as he probably could have caught a ride with someone or taken a bus or a train, and I know that that’s inconvenient, but really, “absolutely have to” is what it is.

I did “absolutely have to” stay here. I was doing my student-teaching in Fulton, and my parents live in Rome, so I couldn’t commute from Rome to Fulton without a car, yet I was placed in a very small, stuffy room that didn’t even have a desk (it normally functions as a study lounge), whereas he had an actual room, and I know that he doesn’t normally live in Hart (that would obviously be another story). Penfield was only open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but since I was having to take a bus to Fulton, I was getting up before 5 a.m. and not getting back until 5 p.m., which means that I was gone during the entire time that Penfield was open. There was, additionally, no gym open, not even a dining hall, so I had to prepare my own food, which meant having to prepare my own food, which meant even more material that needed to be walked over to Hart (it took me three trips to move everything, and it was extremely cold and windy).

What’s the botttom line of all of my complaining? Well, when I was telling a professor here on campus about this, he agreed that students having to move out of the residence halls in which they already live is relatively ridiculous. He said, humorously enough, that the college should be trying to make students happy so that they will be happy alumni and eventually happy donors, and I agree with him; it’s no fun having to needlessly acquaint yourself with a new setting for a mere nine days when there’s no reason that I couldn’t have stayed in Sheldon; I still would have been alone, but (a) I would have been closer to stores such as Fastrack and Kinney’s, (b) I would have been closer to the bus stop at which I caught my bus to Fulton, and (c) most importantly, I would have had the familiarity of where I usually live. Having to take three trips walking belongings over to Hart was a waste of time, especially since Sheldon is also an academic building, which means that for most of the break, it was open, anyway. Prior to break, one potential reason that I offered for having to move was that Sheldon wouldn’t have any DAs or RAs working, but there weren’t any at Hart, either, so that’s no excuse. My hope is that this policy will be reformed; students need to be kept comfortable, and their time certainly doesn’t need to be needlessly wasted.

Student-Teaching Q4

Today, I began my second student-teaching placement. Last quarter, I was placed at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, and that was a bit shaky, I hate to admit. I made some mistakes and didn’t do my best, but there were a few reasons for that, none of which do I want to spend time discussing. Now, I am placed at Oswego High School, and so far, it seems like a much better fit. It’s practically right down the road from Sheldon (where I live), so I’m free from the stress of worrying how I’m going to get home and how I’m going to get to required events, and so far, the students seem to be responding better to me than they did in Fulton, so we’ll see how it plays out, since I haven’t started teaching yet (the plan, I believe, is to start teaching next week, when I will be teaching Judith Guest’s ORDINARY PEOPLE to eleventh grade American Literature students). I’ll definitely be attempting to write as often as I can about my experiences while, of course, respecting confidentiality, but I’m definitely going to be busy; this is the quarter that student-teachers have to complete a teacher work sample, so that’s definitely going to be time-consuming, but I’ve already begun organizing it. I’m really looking forward to this placement, as, like I said, I think that it will be a much better fit. I get a pretty good feeling from the school’s environment alone.

Student-Teaching over Spring Break

While I don’t mind having to student-teach over the college’s break (I get a week’s break in February and another one the first week of April), I do certainly mind the conditions under which I have to stay on campus. To those of you that don’t know (obviously, most essentially lower classmen that don’t have vehicles and will be student-teaching in the future), if you are student-teaching over Spring Break and consequently need to stay on campus, you may not stay in the residence hall in which you already live, anyway; you have to unnecessarily move to Hart, an utter waste of time. I’d really like someone try to explain to me why this is necessary because honestly, I have played out every possible theory in my mind, and I’ve ultimately debunked every single one.

Hart is open, anyway, because that’s where international students reside, and Residence Life shouldn’t have to ask any more RAs to monitor residences and ensure that they have permission to be here than necessary, and that’s true, but we are adults; there shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t live in our respective residence halls without RAs and DAs on duty. Because international students will be staying in Hart and Hart will therefore be open, anyway, Hart’s doors will be the only ones that will be open to students that need to stay. Again, that’s true, but if you can program my ID to open Hart’s doors, you can program it to open my own residence hall’s doors, and I’m sure that it’s within Residence Life’s capability to program only the IDs of students that will be staying over the break. That’s about it; I honestly can think of nothing else, and in my opinion, I’ve successfully debunked every possible reason that I’ve presented.

Why does it matter so much to me? Well, I’m not looking forward to this as it is; I’m going to be here for nine days with nothing open (not the gym, not the library, not even a single dining hall), and essentially no one here that I know, and I would imagine that even that amount of people will be relatively minimal, so this campus is going to be a ghost town to me, on which there will be absolutely nothing to do. So, the least that could be afforded me is the familiarity and the comfort of my own room, the one in which I’m paying to live. I don’t even think that I get a room in Hart; from my understanding, I get a lounge on the fifth floor. It seems so utterly ridiculous that I have to waste time moving when my own room is going to be empty the entire time, especially since I will likely have somewhere important to be on Friday night (my school’s musical) and I also have to somehow set time aside to take two or three different trips walking belongings that I will need over the course of nine days from Sheldon to Hart; everyone that I’ve spoken to about this agrees that it is ridiculous.

Yet another reason that I care is that like I said, no dining hall will be open, so I will be responsible for preparing my own meals. This means that I will be having to make trips to the store to purchase items and will be unnecessarily further away from Fastrac and Kinney’s. I know that it must seem like I am an annoying person that loves to complain, but I really do think think that this is ridiculous. My Friday afternoon and evening will be spent moving belongings when I shouldn’t have to do that, when I already have a place to stay. I sincerely hope that in the future, Residence Life will at least look into amending this ridiculous standard and maybe even allow future students that need to stay on campus to remain in their respective residence halls so that, unlike me, they will not be drastically inconvenienced by being made to complete extremely unnecessary tasks such as removing belongings and acquainting themselves with a new environment when they should not have to do that.

Student-Teaching Update

The semester is really driving me crazy, and it’s definitely left me with very little time to myself. The student-teaching experience itself is quite interesting; some of my students drive me insane because they’re so crazy, and others are fantastic, doing their work and staying quiet when they should be quiet. My classes are definitely a “mixed bag” if that’s an acceptable term to use. Currently, I am going over what makes a person a monster with them, so they’re examining good and evil, morals and a lack thereof, etc., and right now, they’re reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and after this upcoming mid-winter break, they’re reading “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson, and I’m excited about that because I think that the point will come across a lot quicker to them, or at least I hope that it will. I have a lot of planning to do over this break, but I’m actually kind of excited, and I’ll try to write again soon; thanks for reading.

Student-Teaching – Blog 1

Monday, I was placed at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton for the first half of the semester; the second half, I am at Oswego High School, which I’m very happy about because I don’t have a vehicle, and that’s well within walking distance. At first, transportation to Fulton was very inconvenient because I was taking a bus to Fulton in the morning (which meant getting up before 5 in the morning) and then taking one back, which was very problematic. To make a long story short, I got on a wrong bus in Fulton on Tuesday, and the driver was very rude when he made this discovery; I get done at Fulton at about 2:30 and didn’t make it back to campus until after 5. Luckily, I found more reliable, comfortable transportation last night, so my placement doesn’t make me feel so flustered anymore.

At this placement, I unfortunately won’t have much freedom as a teacher. My Host Teacher, who is very pleasant and funny, says that because the school district tends to perform so poorly, she is hesitant to give me control, so I will be teaching her lessons most likely as her co-teacher, but I think that my placement at Oswego High (which begins in March) will afford me a lot more freedom. I have already communicated with that teacher via email, and I already know that she is allowing me to select a novel out of a list that provided, most of which are on Challenged lists, so she sounds like a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to that for that reason and also because I won’t have to depend on someone for transportation; I hate having to rely on people, not because I tend not to trust people but because I strive to be an independent person that is not needy, which unfortunately isn’t always possible.

This week, the students are taking Regents exam, so I have yet to really meet any of them. On Monday, I will be partaking in an introductory activity with them which I did actually organize, so I’m looking forward to that. I am also going to go over my expectations with them. My Host Teacher said that a majority of the students are not motivated and consequently don’t care about their work. I am hoping to help them find that part of themselves that I know does care, and maybe that’s too ambitious for a student-teacher who has such a small amount of experience, but I want to do everything that I can; my primary teaching goal in general is to make a difference in young people’s lives, to motivate and to inspire them. I’ll be writing more as soon as possible; for now, take care, all, and welcome to the new semester.

Winter Break So Far & Student Teaching Very Soon

It’s hard to believe that the break is almost over, yet it is; there is only a week until it’s time to go back to Oswego, and I have very mixed feelings about that. Normally, my sentiment would be, yes, yes, get me away from this godawful prison so that I can be in Oswego with Ray and get back to my studies and my life with my friends, but I have spent the majority of my break with Ray in Connecticut, so I’m not in any kind of hurry to get back, especially since my student-teaching is this semester. I can’t believe I just said that; as you can see, I’m nervous.

It may sound like I don’t have much motivation to do my student-teaching, which could potentially be a scary situation if teaching is what you want to put your life into; however, as I said, I’m just nervous. Going to bed early and getting up early every day is something that is going to take a great deal of adjustment, as I haven’t had to do it since high school. I’m not a morning person; I am, in fact, a night owl. I’m usually happiest and most active at night, so going to bed early isn’t easy. Additionally, what’s definitely more monumental is that I am nervous about teaching itself. Teaching is something much different than learning how to do laundry or bake cookies; it isn’t something that can be perfected after one or two tries. It requires years of experience to master, and even teachers that have been teaching for many years will say that they still make mistakes, so I’m not so self-important that I would think that I’m going to be a good teacher right away, and I know that there is a very strong possibility that I won’t be well-liked by most of my students. I will be at Oswego High School for my first term, and that, at least, is good news because I don’t have a vehicle, and that’s well within walking distance from where I live on campus. I will be writing again as soon as I can.