You Matter

In this guest post, Demetra Schoenig, Direct of Academic Enhancement in the Office of the Provost and the Graduate School, helps us gain some perspective as we ram up for the start of another semester! 

To conclude his graduate student orientation remarks on August 19, Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., encouraged students to “learn from one another.” It is no small thing for a philosopher and university president, skilled in the craft of argument, to emphasize collegiality and community as key components of one’s trajectory from student to scholar. I don’t pretend to know precisely what Fr. Jenkins had in mind when he offered this suggestion, but I’ve been part of the Notre Dame community long enough to conjecture that there are two reasons why his suggestion is a natural derivation of our institutional aspirations, while also, quite simply, why it’s advice worth repeating. Both of these are captured in a phrase you’ve probably come across already, one that you may be wearing on a t-shirt right now.

Your Research Matters. You Matter.

It matters when you’re still in coursework, when you’re rotating through labs, when you’re slogging through the literature. You are engaged in inquiry that has the potential to open new areas, elucidate long-standing divisions, or get your lab one step closer to a breakthrough. There is value in your work, potentially in the effect it will have in your discipline, but more immediately, in the way it will refine you as a scholar. Your faculty members, those teaching your courses and mentoring you as a TA, those writing the grants and running the labs, have all been where you are. As you plan your graduate training experience, take a look at the “Shared Expectations”, which serves as a quick reference guide to enable you to initiate and sustain productive dialogue with your faculty mentor. (https://graduateschool.nd.edu/graduate-training/intellectual-community/sharedexpectations/).  What Fr. Jenkins was pointing to in his exhortation to learn from one another, however, is that your colleagues, your fellow students, your friends, will form you as a scholar as profoundly as your faculty mentors.

Your colleagues in your program, and those who you meet across the world through your scholarly network, will often become the friends who remind you that while your work is important, more profoundly, and simply as a human, “you matter.” It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to predict that your peers and colleagues will likely be those who you can confide in, those who will walk closely with you the inevitable moments of adversity.  As you tailor your particular approach to graduate training at Notre Dame, keep your eyes open for the innumerable ways you can find the wholeness within “Your Research Matters” and “You Matter.”

Some of these are formal professional development opportunities, whether serving as a department representative on the Graduate Student Union (https://gsu.nd.edu/official), expanding your intellectual community via a writing accountability group (https://gradlife.nd.edu/events-programs/wags/) or developing the skill of grantsmanship through consultations with fellow students in the Office of Grants and Fellowships (https://graduateschool.nd.edu/graduate-training/research-communication/the-office-of-grants-and-fellowships/contact-the-team/). Know that there are individuals across the University who are deeply invested in your success. By listening well and speaking thoughtfully in the classroom, you will inevitably develop expertise in your field. By extending these habits of mind to the student and campus community, your growth while in graduate school, and your ability to mentor those who follow you, will be even more profound. Learn from one another.

Karoke in the Bend

In this post, Elvin Morales gives us the low-down on the best ways to do Karoke in South Bend. 

Hello dear readers,

Today is the day where my long-awaited… Alright, you guys probably didn’t even remember me mentioning I was going to write another post, but feel excited nonetheless because here I will finally talk about the one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning (other than healthy love of my profession and friends), and that is karaoke! *epic explosion sounds* Yes, you heard it right, the most epic of musically-inclined competitions where anyone can participate in rhythmic verbal combat. Come and test your mettle against a random group of people that may or may not judge you for the caliber of your voice, the crappy song you chose that has been heard like 90,000 times before (nobody wants to hear you sing “Sweet Caroline” again Chad!), and whether or not the fact that you don’t care about how you sound makes you the most awesome person in the place.

Aside from the pure awesomeness that I described earlier, karaoke is truly one of my favorite activities because it gives me an opportunity to let loose, and in those brief 5 minutes that I am up there everything else fades away it is just me, the mic, and the letters on the screen. Karaoke has served me as a tool for getting over my shyness about my singing, about being on stage, as well as to meet people and be more social, improving my life overall. Because of these reasons I want you to know about some really cool karaoke events around town so that you can benefit from kicking some metaphorical musical butt too. Here are some good karaoke options around town for most days of the week:

The first guy we’re going to talk about is my friend Garrett Swanson, he heads karaoke operation here in South Bend and Mishawaka and is one of the best and nicest guys you will ever meet. Aside from an awesome personality he also has one of the best and most versatile voices I’ve heard, singing anything from “Kings of Leon” to “Breaking Benjamin”. Below is his schedule:

  • Smith’s Downtown Tap and Grill: Sundays and Wednesdays from 6pm-11pm
  • O’Rourke’s Irish Pub: Tuesdays from 10pm till close (this is Karaoke Olympics, bring you’re A-game)
  • Danny Boy Draft Works: Thursdays from 9pm-12am

Mikey Trix is also another karaoke host around the South Bend area with his own series of events called “Trix Karaoke”, here is where you can find him:

  • Madison Oyster Bar: Mondays from 10pm till close
  • Taphouse on the Edge: Thursdays and Fridays from 9pm till close

There are many other events that due to space constraints I haven’t even mentioned, but remember that no matter which one you are interested in going to, all of these events are free to join and help support local South Bend and Mishawaka businesses. So, go out and enjoy a night with your friends while helping yourself and the local economy, but before you do I shall leave you with a few words of wisdom my fellow musical warrior: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Philo”

Getting the Most from Heburgh Libraries

In this guest post, Mandy Havert, Graduate Outreach and Digital Research Librarian in charge of Graduate Outreach Services, shares how to make the most of your Hesburgh Libraries experience. 

As a new graduate student or returning student at Notre Dame, you will find the Hesburgh Libraries has a lot to offer. Begin by checking out this guide for getting started with Hesburgh Libraries before you come to campus: https://resources.library.nd.edu/documents/faculty-checklist.pdf  Once you have a campus network login – your NetID – you will be able to sign in and customize your library account. We have debuted a new service on our library.nd.edu site called “Favorites” that can help track your preferred electronic resources and materials. My Account services help you to monitor the status of materials you have borrowed from our local collections or materials you have requested from other libraries.

In addition to our materials and collections, take a look at people and events in the Hesburgh Libraries. We have over 30 subject librarians located throughout campus to help you become familiar with what’s available to you, and to keep you up-to-date on how the libraries can support your research. You are able to request purchases for our collections, and if you develop a working relationship with your librarian, he or she will be able to anticipate what’s important for your research. Contact information for our subject librarians is available to you from our directory page: https://directory.library.nd.edu/directory, Visit this page to learn about campus locations for the Hesburgh Libraries: https://library.nd.edu/hesburgh-floor-maps#

The “Events” section of the library home page is regularly updated and includes information about special events, exhibitions, and workshops. Be sure to check our events listings regularly. The Graduate Student Newsletter also includes information on these and other events and is delivered right to your mailbox!

Workshops held by the libraries range from learning ways to add to your citation and research management skills to conducting archival research. Digital scholarship workshops are offered by our Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship. Regular workshops include beginner and intermediate sessions for building your professional web presence, how to use geographical information systems, working with data and statistics, and text mining. You can register for workshops using the Hesburgh Libraries Workshop Calendar: http://nd.libcal.com/calendar/allworkshops/?cid=447&t=m&d=0000-00-00&cal=447

If you’re not sure where to start, you can reach out to the graduate services librarian, Mandy Havert – mhavert@nd.edu, to ask questions and receive some tips on how to get the most out of the Hesburgh Libraries. Mandy will fill you in on regular events, such as our weeklong Dissertation Camps, and regularly scheduled Dissertation Day Camps.

Guiding Principles from Grad Career Services

In this guest post, Robert Coloney, Director of Grad Career Services, shares some advice on what principles will help us successfully navigate this Academic Year and beyond.

Welcome (back, should it apply to you) to the University of Notre Dame! Since 1842, the campus has always been most exciting when you, our students, grace it with your presence. After an extremely active summer planning and identifying ways to better provide value and insight to have a positive impact on your future, our Graduate Career Services team is ready to engage with you!

I firmly believe that life and our purpose therein becomes clearer as you allow yourself to embrace change, challenge, and faith. As you navigate to South Bend, either for the first time, or to continue a journey of exploration, you are undoubtedly called to have a profound impact on the world around you. Much like Father Edward Sorin, each of you have seen beauty, promise, and a future in the University of Notre Dame, and yourselves. Upon arriving on the banks of the St. Joseph River, and writing back to Father Basil Moreau in 1842, Father Sorin knew of the tremendous potential, believed in the opportunity, and in turn, founded our University…YOUR University. As we begin this academic year, we, the administration of this University, see that same tremendous potential, and believe in your opportunity to enact positive change on our nation, and our world. Throughout this year, and your time at the University of Notre Dame, I encourage you to stand by a few principles (from a career perspective, and beyond):

  • Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Allow yourself to be challenged. Go beyond the realms of where you’ve ventured before. Say “YES,” more than you say “NO.” By allowing yourself to experience all that the University has to offer, you will be immersing yourself in the tremendous educational opportunity you’ve afforded yourself through your tireless effort and work to this point. To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your innate gift; experience everything.
  • Find a Sherpa. No one would dare climb to the top of Mount Everest without one. In turn, no one is expecting you to navigate a challenging journey alone. Find a mentor, administrator, staff member, faculty member, or better yet, all of the above. Ask questions! Graduate School is challenging, but we’re all in this mission together. We want you to succeed, and want to ensure you have every tool available to you in order to make that dream a reality.
  • Failure is not permanent, unless you allow it to be. Each one of us, at one point or another, has been humbled in this life. We’ve all succeeded, but, personally, I’ve learned far more from my failures than my successes. In fact, I attribute any success I’ve had to the learning experiences that bloom from failure. In the words of the inspiring Randy Pausch, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

When Father Sorin founded Notre Dame, and corresponded with Father Moreau, he recognized that while the future was unclear, and the undertaking significant, the potential was tremendous. “…this college cannot fail to succeed…Before long, it will develop on a large scale…It will be one of the most powerful means for good in this country.”

Since 1842, the University of Notre Dame has held true to those incredibly powerful words. Now, YOU are tasked with continuing the mission. I encourage you to take advantage of this very special place – we are lucky to have you, and cannot wait to work with you on achieving your dreams, and realizing your full potential.

Your Research Matters. You Matter. Be a Force for Good.

Robert J. Coloney

A Long Look at Art with Art180

In this guest post, Rachel Heisler, Assistant Curator for Education, Academic Programs at the Snite Museum of Art, provides offers some key ways to learn to really appreciate the rich art collection available on campus! 

Did you know that the average museum visitor spends between 15-30 seconds in front of a work of art? It takes me approximately 15 seconds to tie both of my shoes, to scroll through 7 Instagram posts, or enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie from Hagerty Cafe (ok, that may be a lie, it’s more like 5 seconds!). 15 seconds is short, especially when you are standing in front of a work of art. To challenge people to take a longer look we created Art180 at the Snite Museum of Art – a commitment to look at one work of art for three hours over the semester.  During the 2018-2019 academic year over 220 people signed up to commit to 3 hours of looking and we hope you will consider joining us for the 2019-2020 academic year. To get you started I am sharing with you some helpful tips and tricks.

  • Set an alarm – Referencing the inventor of Ronco rotisserie cooker, “set it and forget it!”. Set an alarm and dive in to your work. In a busy stressful world, it’s helpful to take control of small things. By removing the distraction of constantly looking at your clock, you are now able to focus your attention entirely on the work.
  • Make it a date – Make your time with your work feel important and special by adding it to your calendar every week or maybe every month.  Treat it like a date by showing up on time and giving it your full attention, but please don’t bring it chocolate and flowers.
  • Don’t look at the label and don’t Google! – Do yourself a favor and bask in the unknown. You’re not going to be graded on knowing the artist, name of the work, or even the meaning of the work. What you take away from this experience is yours and only yours. Challenge yourself to not read about the work and enjoy the visceral experience.
  • Start by taking a visual inventory – Don’t know where to start? Start by writing down everything you see. Take an inventory of the work and keep adding to it throughout the semester as you will never stop seeing new things.
  • Make yourself comfortable – We want to let you in on a little secret….museums are not as scary as many think they are. Yes, there are rules and yes, museums have a certain stereotype, but really it is all in what you make it. Once you enter the front doors, drop your stuff in the coatroom and grab a stool or meditation cushion to make yourself comfortable. Stand, sit, or meditate in front of your work, but make sure you’re comfortable.

 Now that we’ve given you some tips, what do you have to lose? Sign up here to become a part of the Art180 family. You may not receive a medal or a letter of achievement but we do hope you escape from your busy days and get to know a work of art at the Snite Museum of Art this semester.

 

“Business-y”

Terms and strategies within career development tend to feel very business-y”. The one page resume and “networking” just to name a couple. As an educator who has supported humanities, fine arts, and social science students with their career development over the past seven years, I find it difficult to connect with the mainstream terminology and approach that often dominates the landscape of career education. From my perspective, it takes changing perspective to better relate to, and understand, the career development process and all that it entails.

To begin, “business-y” terms feel more product-driven. In the business world, there tends to be a bottom line. Even though there are always people involved in any business, it seems the focus is on numbers, not names. This, I believe, has led to product-like hiring trends (one page resume, applicant tracking systems) and cold connectedness through competitive, passive, and getting ahead “networking”.

From a human services perspective, people are the focus. For those who are committed to this craft, any use of a product needs to have a direct correlation to the betterment of others. It isn’t about the bottom line; it is a focus on raising the bar of potential for others.  A person-first mentality can lead to hiring practices that focus on getting to truly know an individual through robust application materials and a willingness to connect directly without the use of applicant tracking systems. When it comes to networking, it does not become a means to an end to get ahead but centers on developing and building meaningful, genuine, and value-oriented relationships. It is active listening, not passive conversation. It is cooperation, not competition.

Overall, the key is to realize that there are a variety of approaches to anything you do in life and to decide on what you perceive to be the best approach for your unique values, interests, personality, skills and goals. If you prefer competition, networking, fast-paced environments, and a slew of other terms that tend to feel more “business-y”, there are certainly options for you. For those who don’t fit this mold, know that there are other ways to view this process. Solving societal problems instead of outperforming people can be your competition. Building genuine personal and professional relationships based on trust and cooperation can be your networking. Slowing down and taking the time to reflect can be your pace. There is a place in the career development process for being “human-y”.

Erik Simon
Arts and Letters Graduate Career Consultant (Center for Career Development – Graduate Career Services)

Schedule an Appointment

Summer in South Bend: The Big City

The perks of living in South Bend are many, and one is our proximity to the city of Chicago. One of the biggest cities in the United States, Chicago has something for everyone: museums, theaters, city parks, restaurants, and all manner of opportunity for adventure. If you are looking for food, music, or a just a stroll around the bustling downtown, the city is only a couple of hours away.

Getting to Chicago

The first step is to get to the city, a task not as easy as it may seem. The time it takes to travel to downtown Chicago by car from South Bend can vary from a low of 1 hour and 45 minutes to a high of 3 hours, depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic you encounter. If possible, you will want to avoid entering or leaving the city during the morning and afternoon rush hours, though you could hit traffic at just about any time of day. There are two major routes to Chicago from South Bend: the I-90/I-80 toll road and the I-94 interstate. Taking the toll road may save you some time, though probably not very much, and it will cost you a few dollars. Usually, taking the toll road is a better option for those who need to travel through the city to another destination.

If you are driving to the city, you’ll also need to locate a place to park. Be prepared to pay at least a few dollars though, since free parking is non-existent in downtown and other tourist-heavy areas. While there are numerous parking lots and garages near to many of the main attractions, some can be quite expensive. The best way to find an affordable and conveniently located parking spot is to use an app or website ahead of time (SpotHero and Parkwhiz are two popular options), so that you know where you are going and what you’ll be paying to park.

If you would rather avoid the headache of negotiating potentially heavy traffic and finding a spot to park, you can also take public transit from South Bend to Chicago. The most cost-effective and convenient option is the South Shore Line, an electric commuter train that runs from the South Bend airport all the way to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. The trip takes between one and two hours, and a one-way ticket will cost you $13.50 (less if you plan to get off before Millennium Park). At many stations in the city, you will be able to make an easy transfer to a bus or to the metro. Given that the cost of parking downtown for a whole day can easily exceed $20, taking the train is not a bad option. By transferring to the metro from the Van Buren or Millennium Park stations, you can also get to either of Chicago’s major airports. (If you are just looking for transportation to the airport, you might also consider the Airport Super Saver bus service, which runs at all hours from South Bend to both of Chicago’s major airports)

Once you have made it into the big city, getting around is not difficult. You can always drive in the city, though traffic and Chicago drivers can make things a little crazy. On the other hand, downtown Chicago is very walkable, and for locations in other neighborhoods, you can also take a bus or the metro. Check out current schedules, routes, and fares on the Chicago Transit Authority’s website. Various bike rental services are also available, including Divvy, the city’s official bike rental system. They have numerous docking stations throughout the city where you can rent a bike for 30 minutes at a time with your credit card, or you can buy a day pass online before you go.

Things to Do

There is no end of things to do in Chicago, and any claim to an exhaustive list would be spurious. Below are a few suggestions for major attractions, but if you look around, you will be able to find just about anything you could want to do.

Museums and Zoos

Museum of Science and Industry

Field Museum

Adler Planetarium

Children’s Museum (free admission Thursday evenings, first Sundays)

Chicago History Museum

Shedd Aquarium

Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission)

Since tickets to these museums and to the Shedd’s Aquarium can be expensive, and since only the Field Museum offers student tickets, the most cost-efficient way to see multiple museums is to purchase a CityPASS (about $100 for adults), which gives you admission to five attractions in the city over the course of nine days, often with add-ons included. The pass includes admission to Shedd’s Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Chicago Skydeck, and your choice of either the Planetarium or the Art Institute and either 360 Chicago or the Museum of Science and Industry.

Arts and Culture

The Art Institute of Chicago (small discount for students)

The Newberry Research Library

Lyric Opera of Chicago ($20 student tickets, discounts for ages 21-45, rush tickets)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra ($15 student tickets)

Chicago Shakespeare Theater ($20 tickets for students and young professionals)

The Chicago Theatre

Food

Chicago, like every big city, has great food. Although the city is best known for deep-dish pizza (with Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Pequod’s, and others all contending for the title of best) and hot dogs, you can find any other type of food imaginable if you are willing to look for it. For example, you might check out Cafe Ba-ba-reeba! for tapas or visit one of several Glazed & Infused locations for specialty donuts. If you are into coffeehouses, try Big Shoulders or The Wormhole. Pubs, cocktail lounges, and bars abound, as do restaurants serving Mexican, Korean, BBQ, Mexican-Korean BBQ, and foods that don’t belong to any category at all.  With dozens of “best of” lists available from far more knowledgeable sources, providing yet another list here would be a futile exercise at best.

Other things to do

Check out one of the numerous independent bookstores in the city, go to a Cubs or White Sox game, walk along the lake-shore, visit some of the city’s many neighborhoods, take an architecture tour, or check out one of the city’s many bars and pubs, where you can hear the blues, watch some improv, or get a tropical tiki cocktail. In short, you’re not going to run out of things to do while visiting the big city of Chicago.

Planning a Vacation

Question: I want to plan a family vacation for May or June 2015. When does Notre Dame’s spring 2015 semester end and summer 2015 session begin?

Answer: The registrar’s office maintains the university’s current and future academic calendars, which include the dates for the first and last day of classes, semester breaks, and exams:  http://registrar.nd.edu/calendar/future.php.

Students planning a 2015 summer vacation should keep the following dates in mind:

April 29, 2015 – last class day
May 8, 2015 – last exam day
May 11, 2015 – grades due (for those teaching/grading courses)

June 15, 2015 – summer classes start

However, before booking time away from campus (whether for work or pleasure), graduate students should consult their faculty advisor or director of graduate studies. Graduate students may have additional responsibilities in their department besides coursework, and it is important that students let their PI, advisor, or department know about their plans ahead of time.

Have a great vacation!

How to Write (When you really don’t feel like it!)

Question: I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin.

Answer: Needing a bit of time to orient yourself at the beginning of a writing session is a normal part of the writing process. If you feel you’re spending too much time getting started and not enough time actually writing or if you feel overwhelmed when you sit down to write, change how you end your writing sessions.

The best time to plan the beginning of your next writing session is at the end of your current one. At the end of a productive writing session you’ve just spent a significant amount of time immersed in the project, and you’re acutely aware of what still needs to be accomplished. Take advantage of this and spend some time thinking about what you hope to accomplish during your next session before you close your laptop. Write down the following: 1) what you accomplished today 2) your next writing session (date, time, and length) and 3) your goals for your next session. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and reasonable. For dissertation writers, examples might include: edit the footnotes of chapter two, figure out how to articulate the connection between data set X and theorem Y, or outline the literature review section of chapter five. Write your goals down and place them in a visible spot in your physical or digital work space. Next time you sit down to write you’ll be able to jump back into the project seamlessly.

More generally, learning about how other academics write can help you develop strategies for overcoming your own writing obstacles. Check out Gradhacker and Profhacker. Both blogs frequently post tips and reflections on academic writing issues such as overcoming writer’s block page or developing a daily writing schedule.

If you need more personalized help with your writing, schedule an appointment with a graduate tutor at Notre Dame’s Writing Center.

Things I Wish I Knew: A Letter to Incoming Students

I graduate in one week with a MA in Peace Studies from Notre Dame. The two-year program has provided amazing opportunities to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, there are things I wish I knew before coming to the program. I hope they help you in your journey as an incoming student.

  1. Your department or cohort is who you will spend the majority of your time with. The downside is that you do not have as many opportunities to get to know others in different departments. The upside is that you often become very close to those in your program. For an extrovert like me, I tried to overcome this by attending events for graduate students and meeting undergrads at football games and other campus-sponsored events. I also happened to have a few classes with undergrads and enjoyed conversation over coffee and lunch. Additionally, I contacted different professors, faculty, and administrators who I thought would be interesting to get to know and asked them out for coffee.
  2. Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of readings, assignments, and papers you have to do. During my first semester, my professors assigned about 500-700 pages of readings each week. Remember to take a deep breath and prioritize your to-do items. Eventually you’ll develop tactics to manage your assignments.
  3. There are a lot of free events, lectures, activities, and food giveaways on campus. I discovered this fairly quickly upon arrival, but think it is important to share. Notre Dame brings in amazing speakers, ranging from Heads of State to activists. While you may be tempted to skip out on certain events because you have a lot of work, consider attending some of these each year. It is also a great way to meet other people and take a break from work.
  4. There are a lot of wonderful resources on campus-from the Rec Sports fitness facilities to the Hesburgh Library and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC). Take advantage of the resources they offer, from kickboxing class and Kung Fu, to foreign language support.
  5. Notre Dame offers a variety of funding opportunities for research and presenting at conferences. Although MA students are not eligible for the same opportunities as Ph.D. students, I was able to secure funding to present at conferences in Italy and Spain. Consider looking at the Graduate School, Nanovic Institute, Institute for Scholarship and Liberal Studies (ISLA), and your home department.
  6. While academics are an important part of your grad school experience, don’t forget to enjoy your time on campus. Because Notre Dame’s academic programs are rigorous, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on maintaining a high GPA. While there is nothing wrong with striving for academic excellence, remember to keep things in perspective. You will develop life-long friends, be mentored by amazing faculty, and get to spend several years at one of the foremost universities in the nation. Remember to enjoy the sun after all the snow has finally fallen, meet new friends, and grow as a person.

Enjoy your time learning, growing, and experiencing all the wonderful opportunities Notre Dame offers.

Go Irish!

Tamara Shaya