Tag: Craig McConnell

Opening a forum

Opening a forum

Not long ago, the University Honors Program gave me an opportunity to add “event planner” onto my résumé.

Now it let me add “forum moderator” to the list as well.

For the last few days, the program has been holding Open Forums to introduce students to the three finalists vying to be next year’s Associate Director.

Co-Curricular Coordinator Tyler reached out to see if I wanted to be a student representative and ask some questions, given I already had some clout with the Honors Center as an Ambassador.

I saw no reason why not. Sure there are superficial benefits to the event being résumé filler and something to do on a Friday (slyly for blog purposes), but it also seemed like fun! An extension of personally sitting on panels.

Plus I was slated to run the forum for Craig McConnell, who I know pretty well.

I’ve had a lot of classes with the guy, most recently my Evolution and Creation course last semester.

Perhaps that makes me bias. Especially considering I didn’t go to either Open Forums prior… But I was just there to ask questions, so I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

At the same time as I was asking questions, I decided to take advantage of my recent training with SPJ by practicing image graphics for my social media feeds.

My role as a moderator meant I couldn’t Live Tweet as I often do, but I tried to put out at least two nice graphics at the start of the forum.

Here’s what I did for Twitter:

And this one is my piece for Instagram:

Figured having slightly different pictures to go along with the slightly different messages on each platform would make sense.

Perhaps I could have been more creative… But practice is practice.

Plus, there weren’t a lot of opportunities to get diverse pictures given the paltry audience we gathered on a Friday at the commuter college.

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The event was mainly for Dr. Perez (left) and Tyler (unpictured), as they are going to be voting on the new Associate Director soon. Other students were there mostly for McConnell to address and field questions from.

I featured two quotes in those social media posts, but those were drawn primarily from the start of the Open Forum.

We also went into specific ideas for improving the Honors student community engagement (because commuter campus) and the possible role of an Associate Director in helping students figure out their career trajectories beyond course adjustments.

Because you know. I work for a career oriented non-profit.

And wanted to write off this event as Internship hours.

Yet as vaguely self-serving as that was, Dr. McConnell had a good response:

“I think colleges should give students a few years to expand their minds,” he said of his concern that traditional schooling is too tunnel-visioned about post-grad careers. “But I’m also aware that it becomes more important every year for schools to help students find jobs as soon as they leave.”

He pivoted on my question quickly and easily, so I was impressed.

The only line of questioning I was unfortunately not able to delve into was arguably the most important.

I should have asked him what he thought of the Star Wars Episode IX teaser! It dropped about a half an hour before our event, so that would have been a perfect barometer of his cultural absorption.

But oh well.

Maybe next time.

Life finds a Way

Don’t worry, I’m not here to complain about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom again.

Even though I’m sure I definitely could.

In my somewhat exhausted, mediocre blog post from yesterday which I completely understand if you all skipped, I mentioned that one of the highlights of the day was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project.

It has been a long time in the making, as I was supposed to find a mentor and get a proposal for my project signed off on last semester. However, I didn’t feel very confident with my project premise at the time. At least not confident enough to ask anyone to stick with me for a year on a large venture.

So I took the summer to work on the overall premise of my novel, hashing out the plot and some of the major characters. All of it was under the impression that I’d come back to campus this semester and find someone to work with me right away.

For the most part I accomplished step one, getting myself to a place of comfort with my overall idea.

However, finding someone to work with was much more difficult.

I’ve approached a good number of different professors in the Comm Department, English Department and Honors Program over the last few weeks and had very little luck.

The reasons varied, usually fitting into one of three categories. Either they had no interest in working on an Honors Project, were too busy working on other things to devote enough time or had some extraneous circumstance preventing them from helping — despite wanting to.

It was frustrating and somewhat disheartening to me, even if I completely understood where most everyone was coming from.

Though it wasn’t all negative, as many of the people I talked with were able to offer various pieces of advice that I’ve since incorporated into my ideas for the story and how I’ll be processing the writing of it.

It simply became more of a concern under the upcoming time crunch of having to register for classes at the end of October. Because one of the main drives behind finding a mentor is that multiple independent study classes are required for the project, and your mentor grades you for it.

I approached Professor McConnell, who’s one of the main Honors instructors that helps students through the project planning stage, on Monday expressing concerns that I was not having a lot of luck. He recommended a few more teachers that I should try and talk to, and said if I continued to have trouble we’d take some more drastic measures down the line.

One of the teachers he had suggested was Holly Rizzo, who I’m currently taking Mass Media Ethics with. We’ve had a few conversations in the past and I genuinely enjoy chatting with her and being in her class, so it seemed like a decent option to try.

Within about 30 minutes of asking, we had already agreed to work together. It all just clicked so well for a number of different reasons.

After months of anguish and frustration, I finally had a mentor. It felt awesome. And I had Professor McConnell to thank for pushing me in the right direction.

Or so I thought.

The story continued today, when I talked with McConnell after our class — he teaches the Evolution and Creation course I’ve been enjoying thus far and have talked about a couple times. Namely with that short thing I did on Charles Darwin.

He was really excited to hear that everything had worked out so perfectly, as I was. Said it made his day even, and that I deserved to work with someone who was eager to work with me.

Felt good to hear him say that.

But then… He pointed out that he had no idea who I was talking about with the person I’d taken on as a mentor.

As it turns out, Rizzo was not the person he has recommended I talk to.

He had recommended I talk to Heather Osborne-Thompson, a professor in the CTVA department (who I talked to at one point for a story in the Daily Titan last semester, as a fun fact for you all).

Somehow or another I took that as Holly Ocasio-Rizzo.

Signals were very much crossed somewhere along the lines. I blame the very similar H & O name structures, and probably the fact that I was busy being worried about my midterm for Rizzo the next day.

Yet, despite the fact that I had gone somewhere he did not suggest, it all worked out almost too perfectly. Professor Rizzo has experience with Honors projects that are eerily similar to what I’m working on now, and she had a bunch of really interesting ideas to present that got me more excited for what I’m working on.

I’m not a very religious person. My family kind of lives by the moniker that we’re bad Jews.

But I would be willing to argue that some semblance of fate weaved its way into this series of events. Because it really does all seem to have worked out miraculously well.

Hopefully that will continue to be a pattern with my Honors project stuff. After all, now that I’ll be getting past this phase I’ve been held up at over the last couple months, I’ll probably have a lot more to talk about around here.

And boy am I excited about it!