Poetries, Politics, and Buttons

This semester I’ve had the pleasure to participate in the class Poetries-Politics. Students in the class acted as curators for an exhibit that opened last month in the Academic Building (and is still there on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors).

The exhibit was meant to build walls of poetry about politics that brought together languages from all across the world in one place. The class accomplished this by 1) curating poetry in different languages and 2) sending them to students in Mason Gross to design them.

In the first stage, each student in the class acted as a curator, creating and recruiting others to create briefs about poetry in their specific language(s) (mine were Latin and Ancient Greek). The briefs consisted of the poems in their original language, a translation into English or French, a brief history of the poem and it’s author,  and any visual elements we wanted to emphasize in the poster. I recruited four people and between the lot of us, we chose and wrote briefs for 9 poems by everyone from all across antiquity.

In the next stage, the Mason Gross students designed the posters and we proofed them, which was chaos. It’s a really interesting game of telephone analyzing what you get what a poem, trying to explain that to an artist you’ve never met, and seeing what they produce as a result, so not only was there the meticulous issue of ensuring they got the text right, but also the shock of things you didn’t expect. Still, ultimately all the posters were beautiful, bringing us to phase three: setting up and marketing the exhibit.

Setting up was interesting. We worked with people from the Zimmerli Art Museum to hang the posters and figuring out how to fit x number of posters in so little space. Still, the bigger challenge actually came from my job at the Honors Program.

See, the Honors Program has a button maker that they love to use when they can (if you were at Colloquium this fall, you might have used it) and, on the tailcoats of that button-making frenzy, they promised Professor Shaw who ran the exhibition that they would design and make 300 buttons. Then, like anyone college, we didn’t start until the week before. So the Monday before the exhibition, we had about forty and not enough designs. So, I designed two buttons. Then during a tutoring session I designed a few more and while waiting to go home to vote a few more and at night when I should’ve been working on homework a few more. Overall I made about sixteen (one for each language group) and started walking around with them all.


The exhibition opened that Thursday and it was a blast. There were speakers from all over and a lot of people saw our posters. If you didn’t get to go to the exhibition, that’s totally fine, the posters are still hanging on those floors so you can go appreciate pictures, poetry, and politics all at once. It’s a truly eye-opening to see how many ideas transcend national and linguistic boundaries. In may case, even time. You can read more here.

My Summer (A story told a little late)

Hi there!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, because life has been a little crazy (when isn’t it?). However, this one summer experience I had is one I’ve been meaning to share and now seems as good a time as any.

The Rutgers Institute of Women’s Leadership has many programs throughout the year to help female college students develop leadership skills they can bring to their careers and communities. This summer I took part in one of them,  the Community Leadership, Action and Service Program, otherwise known as CLASP. Through the program, students work in internships at local non-profits for five weeks. During that time, they also take a seminar on women’s leadership and responsible ways to help a community. For me, the experience was eye-opening and amazing.

The program placed me with the Sanar Wellness Institute, a non-profit in Newark that works with survivors of human trafficking. Specifically, they provide psychological support to survivors, mostly through yoga and art therapy.

Now, I didn’t work with clients, because I’m not a social work major, but I still learned a lot. My job consisted primarily of two things: social media and curriculum development. For the social media aspect, I managed their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, the more meaningful part came from the curriculum development.

The Institute had been chosen by Rutgers to rework the curriculum used to teach social workers about how to deal with survivors of human trafficking. My job was a combination of fact-checking, lesson arrangement, and secretarial duties(see: type, copy, paste). As far as the fact-checking went, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. For example, just this year Polaris published a new typology (see: listing different categories) of human trafficking: There are 21 types of Human Trafficking. Also, that big deal the news usually makes about human trafficking increasing around wherever the Super Bowl is happening? False. If you want more details, just ask and I can go through the PowerPoint.

In addition to this, the seminar also taught me a lot. It was an odd combo of Intro Race and Gender studies, Social Justice, and Community Building with the other volunteers from the program. Everyone there was really amazing and worked with organizations across New Brunswick like Unity Square, Youth Empowerment Services, and New Labor. If you’re interested in Women’s Leadership and/or helping out the community, be sure to check this out, as the applications will probably open soon.






Great Short Reads: A Colloquium Alternative

So as members of the SAS Honors Program, we need to do two Honors Colloquiums or an alternative. And there are a lot of alternatives. This past semester I took part in a relatively new one: a one credit Pass/Fail course called Great Short Reads.

So, you ask, how was it? Should I take it?

The answer to the first question is highly enjoyable and to the second, as with much advice, is it really depends on you and your situation.

In short: If you have the time to read three novellas/short novels and enjoy not only reading but discussing and briefly writing about literary fiction, then yes this is a great alternative to another colloquium that has all your favorite things and free pizza.

The course is led by Professor Paul Blaney, who also teaches that course that goes to Ireland every spring. For the past semester, he picked our first novella, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, then the class voted on our second and third pieces, which ended up being Slaughterhouse Five and A Clockwork Orange, three incredibly different pieces in terms of style, topic, and genre that were fantastic, if somewhat depressing, reads.

unnamed (4).jpg

For each of these, we read them, watched a movie adapting them, and wrote a short piece on the Sakai forums. Then, at the end of the semester, we had to write a short piece imitating the novels that could fit into the novel (essentially, we were told to write canon-compliant fanfiction for class). At each of the five meetings we held over the course of the semester, there was free pizza and everyone was generally into discussing the books. Overall, I liked it a lot more than colloquium and found the reading to be very rewarding and to be a nice change of pace from my other classwork. If you’re looking for summer reading, I would recommend any of these books (though maybe spread it out and read things that are maybe a little more optimistic in between each).

If you have any questions about the course or any summer reading recommendations, leave a comment 🙂

Have a great summer!

Also, since my last final is today at 4, enjoy this meme:

unnamed (5).jpg

Gotta Use ‘Em All: Getting Rid of Meal Swipes

It’s a problem that all on-campus freshman have faced. Anxiously checking their RU express page to see exactly how many they have left. In-depth discussions about how it’s all part of a con for your money. Leaping over the stack of styrofoam containers from takeout so you can flop onto your bed, clutching your aching, overstuffed stomach as you roll over and try to forget about finals.

Meal swipes. If you’re an on-campus freshman lacking an extraordinary appetite, you’re probably begging to give these away at this point.

For starters, if you will be an incoming freshman in the fall, please take note of this link. Within the first week of school, you can go here and switch to a lower meal plan, even lower than the required meal for freshmen.

Now, for those not savvy enough to know this particular trick, like me my freshman year, here are some practical ways to get rid of meal swipes in your last weeks of school:

  1. Woody’s

The medical school cafeteria is probably one of the more popular options. You can use meal swipes for almost anything from grocery-type items (milk, vegetables) to meals to sweets and ice cream. However, the mistake most people make is that they rush through three or four swipes as quickly as possible. The way to maximize this requires patience. Set aside a few hours outside of the rush, bring the some of the overwhelming amount of work you’ve surely been watching grow over the past few weeks, and prep for some back and forth between your seat and the food area. The limit is every twenty minutes, but if you play your cards right you can be like me in December of my freshman year, walking away from Woody’s 20 meal swipes less and with Christmas gifts for both my brothers and all six of my cousins.

2. Kilmer’s Market, Sbarros, Douglass Cafe, Cook Cafe, Rock Cafe, Red Pine Pizza, Take Out

Good places for meals and food for later. And since several of them are located around centralized areas, you can employ the same method as with Woody’s. The only problem is that if you’re not careful you’ll end up with a fridge of individual slices of pizza, stacks of individual cereal packs, and a significant amount of indigestion (because who can resist that much food sitting in front of them?). Which brings us to suggestion number 3.

3. Befriend upperclassmen

If clubs want to promote events, they offer free food. That’s because most students operate on a low budget. Now’s the time to use that to your advantage. Who could refuse your offer a free meal, be it a swipe into the dining hall, an offer for takeout, or a meal swiped from Sbarros? This is a great way to hang out with older friends, thank mentors for help, or generally socialize.

4. Invite your family

This one is fairly self-explanatory, however, if used in conjunction with number 3, you might run out of guest swipes, so be aware.

What are your favorite ways to get rid of meal swipes? Comment below.

Economical Entertainment: Cheap things to do as a Student

So this spring break I’ve been taking advantage of a lot of student discounts. However, I think the best deal I got was at RU Cinema. I got to see MoonlightLogan, and Get Out all on the same day for just $17. So I thought I’d list here some of the available cheap versions of entertainment available to Rutgers students.

  1. RU Cinema

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 5.53.05 PM

This is a really good deal, particularly if you bring your own snacks. It’s $5 per movie before 6 and $7 after 6, which is insane when considering how much tickets at a normal movie theater cost. Now granted, they only show 2-3 movies at a time, so you’re limited to what they have, but they’re mostly the good or popular movies, so it’ll satisfy most people.

2. Zimmerli Art Museum

unnamed (2)

unnamed (3)

This is a great art gallery and admission is free! There’s always Art After Hours the first Tuesday of every month. My personal favorite is when, during the last reading day before finals, they stay open all night so you can study in the Art exhibits. It’s always really empty and is a really good change of scenery.

3. Performance Groups

Be it the many choirs on campus, dance groups, or theater companies, there’s always some sort of performance going on on campus. Not all are free, but a lot have free tickets available through the Honors Program if you keep your eye on the newsletter.

3. Honors Program Trips

People should really check the newsletters because there seems to be boundless opportunities for free entertainment, be it tickets to the symphony, trips to museums in NYC, or film screenings around campus.

4. RUPA Events

One of my favorite memories from my freshman year is of a friend and I going to a Mystery Dinner Theater run by RUPA. One person at every table was assigned a role and they had everyone go around introducing their character. When they go to the last table, they asked the character to stand up and this six foot guy just shouted back at the host, “I can’t stand, I’m Teddy Roosevelt,” leading to an uproar of laughter from everyone else in the room while his friend explained this was the other President Roosevelt. Outside of that they have a bunch of events every week ranging from quiz nights to broadway shows, it’s just a matter of signing up quickly enough to get a seat.

3. Rutgers Radio Stations

Available from Rutgers Radio and the Core both online and free, my favorite combination. They also provide a really diverse set of programming

4. The Library

I’m kind of mad at myself for not realizing this sooner, but you can borrow DVDs from the library. Not a lot, but as the kind of person who spent three months out of their childhood watching Rear Window every night, it’s nice to have access to them without having to pay for them on Amazon. Not to mention the number of films and plays that are available to stream from the libraries website. It’s useful for some classes and it’s just fun to see what they have if I can’t find it anywhere online that doesn’t cost money/is legal.

5. Cheap transportation

Now if you want to do something in NYC outside of a planned group trip, there are discount bus tickets available for $17(for reference a typical round trip train ticket from New Brunswick costs $28). If you’re going regularly, it’s probably better to get the monthly pass from NJ Transit, but I went to the Met Opera for the first time last week (in the cheap $27 seats on the top floor) and that was a real money saver.

Applying for Internships: A Modern Symphony in Five Movements

I. The Search

LinkedIn, Internship, Indeed, LookSharp

They’re called the Dot-Coms (Doo-wop)

Honors Newsletter, Professors suggestions, family friends

Taking suggestions like a DJ (You can reach us at 732 . . .).

You bring them together, listen to their sounds, then list out their chords, harmonious and otherwise.

Go through deadlines. (Vader’s ominous boom)

Go through what is important. (A hopefully Hedwig’s tune)

List them out, heart beating out sixteenths. These aren’t everything (for the future, they’re everything).

Look at it again, think my qualifications are(so begins the motif).

My experiences show.

My interest in this is.

This will benefit me by (that last one’s mostly for you).

II. The Application

Look at descriptions again (They’re either Doo-wop or a random mix. The tunes all are opening deja vu).

Your heart is beating sixteenths. Closing your eyes, breathe. Start them one by one.

Fingers on the keys, start typing out a hybrid tune

My qualifications are (This always feels a little flat).

My experiences show (A memory of clarinet duck. Maybe it’ll be a swan).

My interest in this is (Bring in more flute, some viola, try to sound sweet).

This will benefit me by (that last one’s still mostly for you).

Each one’s a little different than the last, refined to match the specific memory (A little more bass here some more strings there).

The resume follows fast (or some days it comes first, depends on the audience).

Think again.My qualifications are. My experiences gave them to me.

Then the send-off (Sometimes hold out the last note, it give you time to add your samples or clips).




III.  The Wait

Keep sending out apps and searching for new (Doo-wop, calls to 732).

Search. Write. Send. The tunes now comforting, no longer new. (Softening each time, sinking into a lull).

Then you think: what about the others from before. You hear no no noise, no deja vu from them anymore.

You check again, maybe there you’ll see (No, it’s John Campbell, 4’33”).

All is still.


Then an offer: an interview (The cymbals give a celebratory boom)

Look at the descriptions again (This is doo-wop, but with more urgency, since they want you too!)

Now look more at the group. Where’d they start? What do they say? (Play it like you believe- like you have the knowledge to do so).

Once you’ve learned all you can, take it to the same things again.

My qualifications are (Tuned to a T).

My experiences show (Be prepared for small modifications based on the show).

My interest in this is (Short and sweet, with a little brass).

This will benefit me by (Now they want to hear it too).

Prep, then dress (Each note precise).

Make sure it’s all nice.

Quick, trip, done. Nice to meet you, thank you for your interest, thank you for your time, should hear from us in a couple weeks. (A short ferocious dream)

What’s done is done. Good or bad, can’t change the past.

So just continue on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Search. Write. Send. Pray to hear back.

V. Wait (Reprise)

Keep sending out apps and searching for new (Doo-wop, calls to 732).

Search. Write. Send. Prep Interview. Some in person, on screen, over the phone. Nice to meet you, thank you for your interest, thank you for your time, should hear from us in a couple weeks. Pray to hear back. The tunes now comforting, no longer new. (Softening each time, sinking into a lull).

The tune feels like nothing now, another routine (The melody is rising though, because it must).

Some nights you lay awake, heart beating out sixteenths, trying to tell yourself these aren’t everything (they feel like everything).

Look at your email once more or the dashboard on the sight (The music’s been stretched out too long, when will it be done?)

You reassure yourself. Someone will want you, they must.

My qualifications are (A dreaded refrain).

My experiences show (One more verse of the same).

My interest in this is (A catchy tune, now stuck to your core).

This will benefit me by (Bringing this to an end).

You check again, maybe there you’ll see (No, it’s John Campbell, 4’33”).

All is still.

An acceptance will come.

It will.

A Semester of Shakespeare

If you’re in the honors program, you may or may not have heard about interdisciplinary honors seminars (if it doesn’t come across clearly, that is meant to be sarcastic). They’re really good for exploring different topics, interacting with interesting professors, and/or meeting honors requirements.

For a combination of the first and last reasons, I signed up to take ‘Shakespeare in the Now‘ this semester (though Professor Bartels is really awesome too!).

In regard to the first reason, I’ve always been really into Literary Inspired Web Series (LIWS), series on youtube that adapt works of classic literature. The trend started in 2012 with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and since then, many groups, almost all small clusters of passionate book nerds with cameras, have given it a try, adapting everything from Peter Pan to Jane Eyre to The Importance of Being Earnest, with mixed results (see a full list here). One of my favorite of these groups is The Candle Wasters, a group out of New Zealand. So far they’ve adapted Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour Lost, and Midsummer Night’s Dream, using the plays as a framework to explore many issues including sexism, gender identity, sexuality, dependency on technology, and climate change, all while still being incredibly entertaining and remaining surprisingly faithful to Shakespeare’s works. Because of this group, the idea of discussing the way Shakespeare can still be relevant today seems even more fascinating to me than it normally would.

As for the second reason: I need 3 more honors credits to stay in the program.

Anyway, the class is really interesting since we get to go and talk about reading and adapting Shakespeare for three hours every week and, even if LIWSes haven’t entered the conversation, it’s still an interesting way to frame discussions about modern issues.

Part of this is seeing different productions of Shakespeare’s works. In addition to assigned readings, we’re also supposed to watch different adaptations that are available from Rutgers’ Libraries, like Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. In addition to this, we got to go see a live performance of Hamlet at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, tickets and transportation paid for by the Honors Program.

And it was brilliant, fantastic, molto bene!


The performance was by a group from NYC called the Bedlam Theater Troupe. In the production, 4 actors play all the roles in Hamlet. If you’re unaware, that’s 20+ roles, one of which has the largest number of lines for a role out there, bouncing between 4 people. Still, they managed to make it work with minimal sets and some audience participation. All the actors were amazing and their interpretation managed to make a tragedy seem comedic for a large majority of the time. It provided us with a lot of things to discuss in class the next day.

Beyond the performances, the class also gained a new dimension last week when we discussed King Richard III and fake news. This week we’re going to discuss Measure for Measure, which will definitely be an interesting discussion about power, surveillance, and forgiveness.

Towards the end of the semester, we’re supposed to do a group project where we use Shakespeare to explore a social issue that interests us. I’m hoping my group will find the idea of something like a LIWS as interesting as I do, because, while this class is great so far, making one of those series would be a dream come true.

Rutgers Press Internship

Since freshman year, I’ve read the SASHP Newsletter every week when it comes out. Often, there are a bunch of cool events and/or opportunities that I would love to try, but often there are schedule conflicts.

However, in one of the first few this fall, there was an announcement for an internship in the Health and Clinical Medicine Department at the Rutgers University Press. As someone with a heavy background in both biology and grammar, this seemed to be a perfect way to combine my bio and language knowledge in a unique way. Thankfully, it was perfectly timed to allow me to apply as well. I had just enough time in my schedule to squeeze it into my schedule.

So I sent in a resume and cover letter. Two weeks later I had an interview and I got the job. And honestly, it’s a really great experience(and I get paid!).

My internship is in the Acquisitions Department, which focuses on recruiting editors/authors, making sure that they submit their manuscripts on time, and preparing those manuscripts for editing and publishing. Mostly, I communicate with editors/authors and work on contracts and manuscript prep, plus any other miscellaneous tasks that my supervisor can come up with.

While that might sound boring, the array of books we work on makes it pretty interesting. We work on everything from textbooks to self-care manuals to books about advances in a particular specialty. They have editors and contributing authors from not only New Brunswick (i.e. Rutgers, RWJ), but from Chicago, Arkansas, Dublin, Athens, and Mannheim. And while the writing may at times be dry or formatted completely incorrectly, the topics are always diverse and range from epilepsy to cardiovascular health to ovarian cancer. Now we’re even working on some more unique volumes like a children’s book to help those with special sleeping issues and a medical school textbook that helps to teach psychology through film (mostly the one’s based on Stephen King novels).

All of which make the work, which is at times is boring, incredibly cool.

My supervisor is new to her position, having only taken it three months before I arrived, meaning we’re learning a lot of department procedures together. This is the third internship-type position I’ve had with someone who was relatively new to the position. It’s a situation that I think is beneficial if you’re just starting out in a certain workplace. Since the supervisor doesn’t have an established rhythm, you have the opportunity to work with them to mold the position into something that works for both of you rather than having to fill the shoes of a previous employee. That gives you a chance to do more or less or maybe just different things than others in your position, as long as your boss likes it.

For example, in this internship, I’ve not only managed communications with editors/authors, created contracts, and formatted/edited manuscripts like other interns, but have also done illustrations, helped develop proposals, and helped calculate budgets.

Overall, this has been a cool experience that has combined two things I have studied a lot of over my college career and has introduced me to a career field that I wouldn’t have even thought of otherwise. Thankfully, I read the SASHP Newsletter, otherwise I wouldn’t have found out about it.

Just Dance

My freshman year (2014) I wanted to volunteer and to do so regularly. So, I went to what was at the time volunteer services (now Give Where You Live) and looked at there Semester of Service programs for the semester. As luck would have it, there was one position that really stood out to me: teaching dance for the New Brunswick 4H dance program. As someone who took a variety of dance classes for thirteen years, this seemed like a great idea.

For the first year we ran the program for an hour every other Friday out of Unity Square. There were three teachers including myself and after the first semester none of us were working through any Rutgers program, but with the 4H. After that school year I was the only teacher to stay with the program.

Starting in the summer of 2015 we moved the program to the New Brunswick Public Library in the hopes of a higher attendance (hopes that were fulfilled). The program has been going on there for a little over a year with us holding one 2 hour session per month (days vary based on my class schedule). I’ve taught everything from ballet to soft shoe to break dancing to the cha-cha to students ranging from toddlers to grandmothers. We’re even expanding into the local after school system with a new STEAM Program which will combine basic science lessons with dance.


It’s a great program to teach, requiring diverse knowledge and providing a great opportunity to expand kids’ cultural knowledge. For example, most classes we have a rotating door of students — each only staying as long as they can or only coming in when they hear a song they like. Last class, there was a period of twenty minutes where there was only this one fifth grade boy who only wanted to learn turns. So, I taught him to spot while doing chaines (two step turns), then showed him piques and arabesque turns, and releve turns. He was very excited about until I let it slip that these were ballet turns after which he started to complain because, “Ballet’s for girls.”


Which was, of course, something I needed to correct immediately.

So I pulled out my phone and googled boys ballet and showed him the second video that popped up (watch it, they’re really good).  After a few moments, impatient with the fact we were no longer dancing, he commented:

“They’re wearing tights.”

“Yes, but do they look girly?”


“How do you think they look?”

“They look cool, can we get back to spinning?”


Point made, we went back to turns until a group of boys came in who wanted neither jazz nor hip hop, but settled for Michael Jackson for the last fifteen minutes of the class. But still, at least one boy learned it was okay to do ballet.


Not all of the classes have anything as clearly perspective changing as that, but I can still introduce pretty much any kind of music or dance that I want to, providing both physical activity and new experiences.


However, I will be graduating next year and would like to start training new people ASAP, so if you’re an underclassmen and this seems like a position you would like to have, feel free to email me at: kpbookworm2196@gmail.com. Or if this just seems like something you would like to come and participate in, or if you know a kid who would like to participate, our next class is this Friday, November 11, from 1:30-3:30. The current plan, inspired by the boys from my last class, is “Thriller”. However, if there’s something you’d like to learn, feel free to ask.