Warming Up and Reaching High

You know those days that are so good that nothing can get you down? Everything is good: the weather, your lunch, the people you see & talk to, the lit exam you had that morning, you even feel great in your body.

Spring is officially here on the Evergreen campus.

I’m in such a good mood I’m even listening to Marry You by Bruno Mars!

Yeah, sure, the weather has a lot to do with it, but I think my very positive view of the world comes from some recent accomplishments I’ve been keeping from you guys (this blog isn’t supposed to be about me so much as the school, anyway). But I figured it should probably be known that Loyola really does honor students who put in a lot of time and effort into their work.

The first of these “nice things” that have been happening the past week is the phenomenal support I’ve been getting from you amazing readers. From a father whose daughter is looking at Loyola and has asked me some great questions to the senior who just told me he enjoys reading my work to the professors who compliment my style and ask if I’ve considered taking a class in their departments. Thank you all. You keep my spirits up and allow me to truly speak my mind. You are part of this blog just as much as I am.

Going along with this theme of recognition is the publication of The Forum, the school’s non-fiction literary book featuring the winners of the First Year Essay contest and other class writings. Last year I wrote a paper on how college campus stereotyping can have a greater influence on future social choices than we expect. As proud as I am to have tied for fourth place, I’m even more proud to say that I know the first place winner, Chandler Zolliecoffer. Her piece on self perception and personal development in the African American community through the role of her hair was amazing. Her mature writing style and combination of personal anecdotes make a riveting expository paper. I was lucky enough to take a photography class with her last year and her art pieces were just as stunning as her writing.

Loyola doesn’t just publish wonderful writers, but also displays student artwork in the annual student show in the Julio Fine Arts Gallery. As I walked by the gallery today to get lunch at boulder, I saw my cyborg piece from last semester’s Life Drawing class front and center. I’m pretty sure I was grinning non-stop for the rest of the walk through the College Center. However, as cool as it is that one of my pieces in the show, I can’t wait to see my fellow students’ work. My friends Christine and Amanda have some spectacular drawings and prints from their classes this year, and as seniors I know they’re going to excel in the art world after graduation.

It’s getting pretty warm out here on the Humanities porch and I’m pretty sure I’m sunburned (even though I’ve only been out here for an hour or so), but there’s one more thing I want to mention about Loyola’s tradition of celebrating students’ successes.

Weekend before last was the annual Dean’s List luncheon, an hour or two of good food, inspiring speeches, and much gratitude given to students and parents alike. To make Dean’s List, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.5 and take 15 credits each semester. Given that most, if not all, courses at Loyola are challenging in one way or another, earning this achievement is a huge confidence booster. As I looked around at the tables surrounding me at the lunch, I saw many familiar faces: friends, classmates, even students I see on my breaks between classes. It’s comforting to know there are so many people here who care about the intellectual spirit of the school and dedicate so much of their time to learning not just for the grade, but for the sake of knowledge itself.

So now that it’s about 75 degrees and my computer is uncomfortably warm on my slightly pink legs, I think it’s time for me to cool off with a cold drink inside. I’ll make sure to end this beautiful day with a bang though!

The Omniscient Fortune Cookies

Loyola administrators are smart. At least, whoever decides when to have breaks and special weekends is. It’s like they’ve figured out a formula to keep students at a tug of war with their parents over college’s newfound freedom.

Think about it this way:
Week of Fun Without Major Homework + Week of Intro Activities + Week of First Club Meetings & More Homework + Week of First Papers & Exams = Perfect Build Up to Family Weekend.

By the time 4 weeks has gone by, most students want a little bit of “home” back in their lives.

And then by Sunday they want their Loyola back.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but I also love my independence. This school is so much like a home to me I don’t always need the reassurance of my parental units to know there’s someone who cares about my existence. But it was still nice to spend the weekend with them, even if it was a short visit.

*Insert cheesy but heartfelt call out to Mom and Dad here*

For those of you who are wondering what this whole Family Weekend thing is about, I’ll give you the low down:

It begins on Friday with the Honors Convocation, during which all the students who received academic achievement awards, summer programs, or are in an honor society, are recognized. The first years who are in the Honors Program or received academic scholarships are also recognized. Of course, before the awards are given out, there are speeches and one of the faculty is honored for “outstanding achievement in scholarship or creative work,” (The Nachbahr Award).

The rest of the weekend passes in a blur of sports games, food (provided by the university and your parents’ ability to drive you to the Inner Harbor), a “big” event on Saturday night, and mass on Sunday (always packed).

The school keeps everyone busy, even if families don’t attend every event.
For example, I spent my Saturday morning drawing

and enjoying the quad with my parents

before working on homework while they chilled out in my common room.

We also went out to the Towson Mall; I needed some more “mature” clothing.
(I’m really more of a t-shirt & jeans girl, and have recently found myself lacking in the
“job interview” and “nice occasions” clothes department)

After asking my dad if there was an equation to determine the yield of clothes purchased from clothes chosen (in vain), we decided it was time to eat dinner.

Little did we know of the fates that awaited us at P. F. Chang’s.

It sounds crazy, but I’m pretty sure the fortune cookie writers have had workshops and focus groups to determine which phrases resonate most with customers, because my own and my parents’ fortunes were eerily relevant or accurate to our lifestyles.

Mine: Keep your feet on the ground even though friends flatter you.
My mom’s: Learning is a treasure which accompanies us everywhere.
My dad’s: Patience is a key to joy.

How could I apply these indispensable pieces of wisdom to my life?

Patience is truly the key to completing homework, as I try to reassure myself that my History paper is a treasure, and in the end a joyful experience when my professor will (hopefully) flatter me with a good grade.

Maybe fortune cookies and parents teach you more than you expect after all.