The ExCollege courses I’ve taken at Tufts

I have been at Tufts for four semesters, and I’ve taken three ExCollege classes during that time. The first was my Perspectives class, Superheroes in the Media, which introduced me to the wonderful world of the ExCollege and Tufts as a whole. I adored this class because I got to watch and talk about superhero movies with a bunch of cool people and two rad leaders, and then get a credit for the experience. (The only movie we watched that I didn’t like was “Daredevil,” which is generally considered to be one of the worst movies of all time anyway.)

Then, second semester freshman year I took a class entitled On the Record: Communicating for the Government. This course was taught by a woman who had worked for the Clinton administration, consulted for the television show “The West Wing,” and had been a spokesperson for the Department of Justice in the Obama administration. Her experiences and stories made lectures fascinating and fun, and it was wonderful to learn the behind-the-scenes workings of the White House. Occasionally I’ve considered entering politics after graduation, probably in a communications capacity (think Sam Seaborn on “The West Wing”), and this course made me aware of the difficulties and excitement that is entailed in such a job. We wrote mock communications memos for a hypothetical president. We had Skype interviews with the NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and writers for Politico and AP. It was an overall fascinating, fabulous experience that gave me insight into a possible future career path.

Unfortunately last semester I was too busy to take an ExCollege course, but was still able to be involved due to my position as a Board member. However, this semester I had the time to take the class Gender, Sexuality, and Comics. (It’s especially great because this course counts for my CMS minor as well as being generally fun.) I’m a feminist nerd, so GS&C was the perfect course for me to take. So far I’ve had the opportunity to read a variety of graphic novels, and even create my own DIY-comic. It’s a very different course from anything else I’m taking this semester    mainly Political Science requirement classes, alas    and so every Monday night I’m able to kind of let go and just talk about comics.

Experimental College courses give students the opportunity to learn more on a topic they’re passionate about, or branch out and try something new. They connect people with different majors and extracurriculars. Visiting lecturers are generally experts in their field, so courses allow students to really see first-hand what a person in a certain career path really looks like. All in all, I have loved the ExCollege courses I’ve taken, and I hope that I will take many more in my final two years at Tufts!

Don’t forget: applications to be a Perspectives of Explorations leader are due March 11.

 

Upcoming Opportunities for All Students

I often hear stories from underclassmen who are interested in the Experimental College, but aren’t aware of what opportunities there are beyond taking classes. Then I hear from junior and seniors who would have liked to be more involved with the ExCollege earlier, but just didn’t know everything that was available. In an attempt to rectify this trend, I’m going to let you know about the upcoming super cool opportunities the ExCollege is offering for the next year.

(I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about next semester, but to be honest I’d rather think about that than my numerous upcoming midterms, and I suspect I’m not alone in this productive form of procrastination.)

If you’re a rising junior or senior and you want the opportunity to create your own course to co-teach with a friend, you should apply to teach a first year seminar next fall. The ExCollege sponsors the Perspectives and Explorations programs, which allow upperclassmen to mentor first-semester freshmen while lecturing on a subject they’re passionate about. When I was a freshman, I took the Perspectives course “Superheroes in the Media,” and it was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had at Tufts. My co-leaders, Becca and Jehan, acted not only as teachers, but as mentors for me and my peers. They helped me to pick out classes and figure out which activities I wanted to do. I still get dinner with Becca around once a week, and meet Jehan at least once a month. My Perspectives leaders made Tufts seem inviting and fun on that scary first day, and I’ll always be grateful for their warmth and intelligence. The Perspectives program influenced me so heavily that I already am planning to apply in my senior year, with a partner and course subject in mind. (“Feminist Narratives in Science Fiction Television,” coming to you in Fall 2016.) If you want the opportunity to help freshmen while having a genuinely great teaching experience, you should apply for either of these programs. Also, you get 1.5 credits. The application for teaching an Explorations or Perspectives course is due March 11.

If you’re a freshman and want to be involved in the ExCollege next year, fear not: there’s opportunities for you as well! You can apply to be a member of the Board, which is an overall phenomenal experience that I would recommend to everyone. I’ve written extensively on why I love the Experimental College Board, but I’ll take the time to advertise it even more. On the Board, you have the opportunity to work alongside other students and faculty members to organize events and choose which courses will be taught in the next semester. The Board is great not only because you get to be on the ground floor of decision making, but also because of the relationships you forge with your peers and the professors. The application for becoming a member of the ExCollege Board is due February 27.

The ExCollege is such a fantastic place to learn, lead, and grow, and I really hope that students take advantage of the opportunities presented for next semester. For more information on becoming more involved with the ExCollege, visit excollege.tufts.edu.

The ExCollege Board Is Never Boring

Being a member of the Experimental College Board over this past year has been an incredibly fun experience. “Fun” may seem like too casual a word for one of the most prestigious positions Tufts campus has to offer, but it’s genuinely the best descriptor. For me, being a member of the Board has been informative, challenging, inspirational, interesting, powerful. It has allowed me to meet new friends and colleagues, people with diverse skill sets whom I would not have come in contact with otherwise. It is a forum where I can speak passionately and be heard, where I can listen thoroughly to other opinions and reevaluate my own. Plus, there’s free food, which as we all know is the purest of motivators. So, in a word, fun.

The ExCollege Board meets on a monthly basis, in the conference room on the second floor. Over this past summer, the room was decorated with the timeline created for the 50th Anniversary Exhibit which was shown in Aidekman Gallery last year. When I sit in that conference room, I am surrounded by pictures of events in American and ExCollege history, a reminder of the importance of this institution and of the power that my position holds. At these meetings, we discuss and plan upcoming events, and prepare for course applications. At the end of each semester, we have our big “money meeting,” wherein we vote on which visiting lecturer courses will be accepted for the upcoming semester. These money meetings last for several hours, but fortunately everyone on the Board is great. Being around them and talking with them for such a long time is not a chore, but a treat.

I just can’t emphasize enough what a special experience being on the Board is for me. It’s a privilege to work alongside professors and fellow students, choosing courses and planning events that will benefit the overall Tufts community. I bet you’re thinking, “Grace really can’t be this insanely passionate about the ExCollege.” Well, you’re incorrect, because crazy enthusiasm for the things I love is my schtick.

I’m trying to think of my favorite part of being a part of the Board, and I’ve decided that its the relationships that I’ve made with my fellow members. I’ve known Robyn and Howard since I was but a tiny first semester freshman, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the ExCollege staff feels like my on-campus family. One of my fellow student Board members, Becca, taught me in a Perspectives course last year, and so I’ve thought of her as a friend and mentor for a while. But I didn’t really know any of the other Board members when I first started, and I’m pleased to say that has changed.

As a Political Science major, I probably would have never gotten to know at least half of the faculty members represented on the Board, who each come from several different departments. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to speak with them informally about proposed courses, and have my opinion treated as equally important to theirs. The ExCollege conference room is a special place, because it puts students and professors on a level playing field. Our voices are listened to with equal regard in Board meetings, and I believe this creates a really interesting and special bond between students and professors.

Due to weekly meetings for student Board members, I’ve also had the privilege to become friends with some incredibly intelligent, focused, friendly undergrads. Each of these dedicated students has interests that encompass all different fields and activities. Being on the Board has allowed me to meet new people and actually form good, unique relationships with them.

There’s a chance that I may be studying abroad next year, and will have to relinquish my position as student Board member. But I still have the remainder of this semester to get some fine work done, and I’m comfortable in the knowledge that someone (almost) as good as me will take my place. Being a member of the Experimental College Board has been amazing, and it’s not over yet.

External Reviews and Student News

The Experimental College is currently undergoing an external review, which is an exciting opportunity to explore the department’s strengths and weaknesses. This also allows students and faculty to reminisce on the ways in which the ExCollege has enhanced their lives. As a student Board member and active participant in all things ExCollege, I was asked to participate in a lunch which took place earlier this afternoon with the reviewers and fellow student leaders of ExCollege programs. Not only did I get free food, I also got the chance to learn more about my peers.

At the lunch, I got to hear Board members, peer teachers, and Explorations and Perspectives leaders speak. As a sophomore, I was the youngest participant in the lunch, so it was really interesting to hear from older students about how they were so positively impacted by the ExCollege. I know that the ExCollege has made my collegiate life better and more interesting, so it was fun to hear from others who had similar experiences. I intend to teach a Perspectives class when I am a senior, and I got to hear former Perspectives leaders talk about what the application and teaching process entailed. To be honest, it made me even more excited for my future here at the ExCollege.

It was also interesting to hear the opinions of the external reviewers, who seemed to be truly interested and engaged with what each student had to say about the ExCollege. One of the things that I’ve always loved about the ExCollege is how much student input is valued, so it was nice to have that tradition continued in the external review. I liked hearing the accounts of other students, but I also really enjoyed talking about my own experiences with the ExCollege. I love to talk, and I love the ExCollege, and I love sandwiches, so this was basically the perfect lunch opportunity for me.

It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in my own little world, unaware of what’s happening beyond my own commitments and ambitions. This lunch was a nice reminder of the breadth of the ExCollege’s influence; it hasn’t just shaped my experiences, but the experiences of countless Tufts students before me and will continue to affect countless of students after I am gone. It was good to remember in a group what makes the ExCollege so great: its focus on students and student opinion. That aspect is what enticed me to take a Perspectives class my first semester freshman year, what drew me to apply to a position as an office assistant. I have been involved with the ExCollege in numerous capacities: as a student, as an employee, and as a Board member. In every position that I have held, my perspective has been appreciated and taken into account. It was nice to learn that the ExCollege has been such a positive influence on other students as well by hearing the accounts of my peers during this lunch.

I believe that the external review is crucial, not only because it gives the ExCollege the opportunity to reevaluate and revisit its purpose, but also because it is an opportunity to further inform outsiders of what the ExCollege is and the importance of its mission. The ExCollege is a large part of what makes Tufts unique, and I think that its strengths should be broadcast to the academic world. Hopefully what was said at this lunch, and during the external review in general, will be taken into account not only by those active within the ExCollege but also by those who may wish to emulate its tenets.

How the ExCollege Slowly Took Over My Life (In a Good Way)

Hi there blog-readers, my name is Grace and I’m the new student author of ExChange. I’m a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Mass Communications and Media Studies, with the vague goal of someday using these skills to become a writer. (Don’t ask me what kind of writer. I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

This is me. You can totally friend me on facebook or add me on twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won't think you're creepy.

This is me. You can totally friend me on Facebook or add me on Twitter, @Grace_Segers, and I promise I won’t think you’re creepy.

The ExCollege is probably my home away from home within the Tufts campus. I’ve been working here as an office assistant since I was but a wee first-semester freshman. When I first got to Tufts, I didn’t think I was going to get a good work study job on campus. But then I interviewed for a position at the ExCollege, and the rest is history. My little back office is a haven, and I have access to the Keurig Coffee Maker, which is nice.

I also took two ExCollege classes last year; a Perspectives course called “Superheroes in the Media” and a course taught by a visiting lecturer called “On the Record: Communicating for the Government.” I adored both of these classes, as I got to learn more about what I am passionate about (politics and fictional characters in spandex).

At the same time, the ExCollege was preparing for its 50th Anniversary Gala. I got to compile old documents, articles, and pictures regarding the ExCollege, send out invitations, speak with alumni about the event on the phone. When I attended the Gala in April 2014, I got to see how the ExCollege has helped and shaped the experiences of alumni across decades.

So I was working for the ExCollege, taking its courses, and attending its events. But that wasn’t enough for me! I decided to apply to become a member of the Experimental College Board, and was accepted. Now I get to plan the cool events and help pick out classes, a great power that comes with great responsibility and fills me with great glee.

I’m now taking another ExCollege course, “Gender, Sexuality, and Comics,” which is super fun and conveniently also counts for my minor. I spend half of my week working and attending meetings in the little brown house that the ExCollege calls home. I like to be here, and I like the people, and I want to be involved in any way that I can. If I could do more for the ExCollege, I would.

In addition to being a Board Member/office assistant/student at the ExCollege, I am also an Arts and Multimedia editor for the Tufts Daily and Co-Chair for the Entertainment Board. I’m also the secretary for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society at Tufts, because if you hadn’t gathered this already, I’m a gigantic over-achieving nerd.

I firmly believe that college is what you make of it, and the experiences you have here can and will shape your life in the future. I know that deciding to apply for the office assistant position at the ExCollege was a wonderful idea with unforeseeably amazing consequences, and I know that my time here has and will continue to make my time at Tufts fantastic.

Power of e: spruce

Power-of-e-Logo

Power of e, Logo by M. Regalado, 2014

“Power of e” is a series of my exploration of student innovative ventures and creations by Tufts students. Tufts students flex their passion through skills they’ve acquired in and out of the classroom and this is the stage to highlight these amazing students. “Power of e” will be featured on the blog at least once a month. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on these features and if there is anything you are working on, contact me :)

In my first feature, seniority takes hold. This week I’m featuring spruce created by current Tufts seniors Angus Schaefer, Bernita Ling, and Misako Ono. spruce heightens individuals visibility through  stylish resumés, elaborative logos, chic business cards, and eye-catching posters to gather a creative design edge against their competitors. But it doesn’t stop there! If you need a stylish design boost in any capacity you can run your idea by spruce.

All great ideas stem from a problem that an entrepreneur wants to solve with their product or service being a unique solution. I contacted Bernita Ling, a fellow Engineering Psychology major and design wiz who is one of the founders, to uncover spruce. Bernita explains: “Image matters. [The problem we] saw was many people here at Tufts who are incapable of generating the image they wanted for themselves, and we saw an opportunity for ourselves to help them.” 

spruce founders

Spruce founders from left: Angus, Bernita, and Misako

Once a great idea has been cultivated and formulated, an A-team is essential to generate this idea to life. This creative trio have been friends since freshmen year and approach their creative work together with immense passion, “which is one of the most important traits to have in a venture like this,” Bernita stresses. All of the founders had been doing creative work on their own before spruce: Angus – poster and logo design, Misako – photography and design, and Bernita – photography and design. Combining talent and centralizing skill set into one service, spruce was born. From the first glance at their website, the design layout is flat, straightforward, minimal, and clean. Bernita expresses the look and feel of the website maximizes the impact, while maintaining their own personal aesthetics without distracting from the content.

spruce has been showing great traction and the founders have been busy! Hopeful, the founders should see growth based on the positive reviews from their early clientele. “We aren’t positive what the future holds, which only makes it more exciting. Whatever happens, we are sure that spruce will remain as an essential starting point for all three of us in our future careers.” From one entrepreneur and designer to another, best of luck my friends! Excited to see what else is in store for you! If you would like to get in contact with spruce, you can use their contact form here on their website.

#PowerOfe #Entrepeurneurship #TuftsIdeas #Seniors

 

 

The Astronaut Has Landed!

Last evening I had the pleasure of joining alum Captain Rick Hauk, A’62. Now I personally always get so gitty when meeting an alum as it’s the chance to speak with someone who has gone through a different Tufts, but you both share the same love and fond memories of was it was like being in college. But the most important thing I learn from alums is what they learned here at Tufts in and outside of the classroom prepared them for their next adventure.

For Rick, his next adventure was space. While at Tufts, Rick majored in Physics while also being a part of the Navy ROTC program here.  Soon after graduation, Rick was commissioned for 20 months in the Navy. After his service, he  was selected for the Navy’s Advanced Science Program receiving his Master’s in Nuclear Science from MIT. He piloted his first shuttle in 1983 and also commanded the first salvage mission in history in 1984, as well as the first shuttle launched after the Challenger tragedy in 1986. 

It’s evident that Rick utilized both what he learned in the classroom and out in the world to assist him in being such an renowned individual. So what have you done at Tufts to help guide you to your next adventure? No matter the experience, every moment you spend in the classroom, in your student groups, internships, and beyond, they all will add a perspective to what you will do next–even if the next experience has nothing to do with it. Again I ask you, what courses, social issues, work opportunities and more will you take to better yourself for a great future after Tufts?

#Astronaut #Alums #JumboPride

What I Learned From The Rugby Field

November… The month that is consisted of lingering midterms, the ending of sports seasons, preparing for final papers/projects, and Thanksgiving. The most surreal and bittersweet moment is when something you’ve been a part of is coming to a close. I am talk to all of you student athletes out there. Regardless of whether you’re on intramural, club, or varsity, it’s a groups of students who come together on their athletic interest and skill. A unity consisting of any and all types of people coming together to play the one sport you all love equally.

This is something I’m experiencing at this very moment. Tufts Women’s Rugby ended our season with a loss against a regional championship game against Stonehill College. On the pitch, I looked around the 25+ other women who I’ve been playing side by side either for just this season up to my entire college athletic career. This sport has given me the ability to learn something new, master a skill, and then mentor and teach others joining. I look back and remember when I was the confused freshman. The transitions of skill and identity shifting throughout my career. I had the pleasure of getting to know other women outside of their academic interest and see a side of people that a classroom just doesn’t set the stage for: camaraderie.

Of the million other extra curricular activities I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, Rugby has been one of the few that I carried through all four years here at Tufts and where I can find community and friendship. I’m curious, what has your experience been with your sports team? What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned on or off the field? If there is one thing I could say I took away from rugby, it would have to be learning to mentor others. Mentorship has been a large part of my career regardless of I was the mentor or the mentee. Cheers to a great final season!

#TuftsSports #TWRFC #StudentLife

Course selections: Already!?!

It’s that time in the semester where soon after your blood has slightly cooled off from a hectic midterm season, it’s time to focus on the new set of courses you will endeavor for the following semester. Depending on the amount of course preparation you’ve done for your next installment of courses, this can be a breeze. However, for those of us preoccupied with our current work load, the list of our new course work could have easily been missed.

By the time this post is published, a quarter of the school will have already selected their courses for their final semester of their undergraduate career: the seniors. It’s a bittersweet moment for this round of course selections. It’s the last time we’ll be able to have the free range of course selection that Tufts has to offer, but at the same time finishing off our assigned rigorous course work. Seniors be sure not to waste your last semester and think critically of what you want to challenge yourself with or what else you will want to learn!

I’m not going to lie, picking courses for this last semester was a bit of a challenge. I could do the whole “seniorities” schedule and minor in yoga during my final semester to begin to unwind from the tight-winded course schedule I needed to follow that past three and a half years. But instead, I looked at my final semester as a chance to explore and add more toward my major and personal interest. After needing to complete my sign up for my thesis and capstone project, I had the liberty of taking an course I desired. So, the curious 7 year old me had me enroll in ENP 166: Computer Interface Design with Michael Wiklund, REL 145: Tibetan Buddhism with Professor Joseph Walser, and finally COMP 20: Web Programming with Professor Ming Chow.

This is far from the notorious spring semester senior schedule, but I rather put my young brain to use. Give my toolbox a few each tools to apply in the real world. Continue to meet other curious Tufts students because all I have left is one. One semester. So I’m going to make it count.

#SeniorYear #Scheduling #SIS

 

Maintaining Motivation During Mid-Terms

As a senior, a lot is required from you. Not only are you finalizing your courses for your major(s) and minors and applying for graduation, but due to competitive acceptance rates in the work force, you have to juggle job applications, current internships, senior swag (rings, portraits, etc.) at the same time. Hopefully, if you’ve mapped out your entire Tufts academic career just right, you may be in better shape of giving you leeway to juggle.

The juggle may be difficult, but the courses you are taking now and in the future may be a key factor in keeping you motivate during the entire semester. The biggest advice I always give to students is find courses that intellectually stimulate you, while giving you a breadth of knowledge that can be applied outside the classroom into other facets of your interests, work, activities, and even sports. The most interesting courses I’ve taken here at Tufts, are the ones that compliment my major, yet are not part of the list of required courses needed for my major. These courses assist in your critical thinking skills while encouraging an application of what you are learning to a different audience–truly supporting the interdisciplinary education an elite university like Tufts can provide to its students.

Many friends and colleagues of mine will do just this as well. These are the courses that keep you motivated during midterms and finals because you are applying knowledge and skill in a different manner. Courses offered here at the ExCollege can do just that! They can provide these intellectual stimulus or application of your skill set in a different manner, or even bring your perspective into the class which others benefit from. Keep up the great work! Tufts is a difficult school, but it’s here to teach you to critically think, critically analyze, and formulate opinions and ideas that will benefit you in life after your undergraduate career.

#Midterms #Motivation #Tufts #EngineeringPsychology #HumanFactors