Rachel Newlin

February 25, 2014
Common Grounders in Kansas City

Rachel Newlin traveled with members of Common Ground to the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference in Kansas City.

As a member of the Dominican University community, one usually takes the motto of Caritas et Veritas, meaning love and truth, to heart and establishes a place for it in their everyday life.

While perhaps, as a student, one did not choose this as a motto, I would argue that establishing a place for bring love and truth into your life and the ones around you is always something a well-rounded person would want. One way I did this recently was on a trip to Kansas City, Missouri with my fellow Common Ground (DU’s Gay-Straight Alliance) members.

We made the 8-hour journey together for MBLGTACC (Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference) 2014, where Midwestern Gay-Straight and Pride college organizations all come together to share ideas and learn new ways to explore social justice and diversity on their own campus. This is especially important to Common Ground members in the way that the mission of Dominican University urges students and faculty alike to seek justice, diversity and social change in their everyday personal and professional lives.

Throughout the weekend at MBLGTACC, the words Caritas et Veritas and the message of social justice were explored in both very small and very large ways, both equally important.

At the outset of the trip, my fellow Common Grounders and I all packed into a 15-person van for the long journey that I can say honestly taught me more about love and truth interpersonally than I could have ever hoped for out of any 8-hour increment.

Perhaps you can think back to a long workday or a time in which you were stuck with a group of people for a long amount of time—it is not easy. People begin to irritate you and you hope for isolation, no matter how close you might be with the people around you.

Through arguments over the radio music, personal space, and seating arrangements one could get a little irked—and that is when the love and truth truly showed itself. Instead of lashing out at one another on the ride there and back, we continued to compromise on music choices (which ended up in a very nostalgic playlist of 90’s music; everyone can agree on a trip down memory lane via Britney Spears and Green Day, apparently), waste notebook paper on ridiculous games of Hangman and Tick-Tack-Toe (you never really outgrow it, even in college), and truthful conversations about our life goals, personal identities, and favorite Disney movies.

Overall, the interpersonal love and truth was very concentrated in that 15-passenger van. I’ve never felt more supported by the people around me.

Aside from the bonding that occurred among our own small and intimate group, we made our way to conference with the intention of making friends with other Midwestern Gay-Straight alliances, hoping to explore the ways in which we can work together to create social justice here in the middle of the country, where it is not always so easy.

We were inspired by the keynote speakers, among them that of Chely Wright, a country singer and LGBTQIA activist, and Rob Smith, an openly gay Iraq war veteran that chained himself to the White House gates in protest of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. These are just two of the impressive people that presented to us their own accomplishments and urged us to be the change we wish to see, to be loud and active as a generation of justice and social change.

Aside from keynote speakers, the sessions themselves that explored ideas of diversity, acceptance, fighting injustice, both on a large-scale national way, and on a small-scale college campus kind of way.

Common Grounders attended sessions on gender binary, feminism, and LGBTQIA visibility and perception in different communities. We got to share ideas with other Midwest college students through forums and interactive sessions, where we bounced ideas for change off one another and found acceptance among our different identified groups.

All-in-all, the MBLGTACC experience was not only an eye-opening experience as a believer of Dominican’s Caritas et Veritas motto, but also an experience that I think truly illuminated the ways in which one can bring love and truth to your friends, neighbors, state, nation, and even the world as a whole.

While it was an uplifting experience of positive change and motivation, it also highlighted how far the world has to come in fighting injustice and intolerance. Both as vice president of Common Ground and as a student of Dominican University, I take this reminder of all our generation has to do to heart, as I know my fellow Common Ground members do too. The ways in which we can spread Dominican’s mission of social justice to the people and places around us are limitless, and we should never let that slip our minds as young agents of change.

January 23, 2014

In starting a new year, the first thing that I tend to do is reflect on the past year. The first thing that comes to my mind is that I finished my first year of college, and after this spring semester, I’ll be halfway done with my entire undergraduate degree. It makes me think of the future and what I want from it.

I came to Dominican University knowing what I wanted to do with my life after undergrad—I want to become a librarian. Thinking of Dominican’s tagline: “Inspired Minds. Amazing Possibilities,” I automatically think of how lucky I am to have chosen a career path that both offers me lots of possibilities for the future and will not only keep me inspired, but will inspire others, as well. With all that librarianship has to offer, I thought the best person to ask about the possibilities for a librarian would be, well, a librarian.

The thought of being halfway through my undergraduate college education is a scary one. I do not think this is something special to me: it’s a scary thought for any twenty-something. I like to replace all the apprehension and insecurity about what the future holds by reflecting on the possibilities for the future.

Carolina Sietmann, MLISAccording to Caroline Sietmann, an instruction/reference librarian at Dominican’s Rebecca Crown Libary, the possibilities are endless: “The possibility for librarians lies in there being so many places that one can go and work, and so many things that one can do, in terms of disseminating all this information.”

The thought of being able to join any workforce and be the person that people come to for information and knowledge is such an exciting one that it’s hardly worth it to feel apprehension about what I’ll do once my college years are over.

Caroline helps this feeling of excitement mature further when I ask her about working in a competitive workforce. When I asked her if a degree in library and information science is flexible, she does not even hesitate: “Absolutely, yeah.”

She listed just some of the options for a librarian outside of the traditional roles of reference and archives. “There are so many jobs for digital collections, data curation, and online technology,” she said. As any twenty-something hoping to enter the workforce eventually—hearing that your chosen profession is a flexible one are golden words.

During my interview with Caroline, I was both terrified and excited about the options open to me in my future as a library science student, and, eventually, as a librarian. It seemed only appropriate to use this time to ask how I should spend this new year and the rest of my college career.

I asked her about some qualities and skills sets that I should focus on and cultivate. Of these, the biggest things were communication, project management, and getting any experience that I can.

In starting a new year, I can see clearly the end goal for my college years as a librarian that can “help society make sense and find all the information out there,” as Caroline put it.

In my undergraduate career, I can replace the apprehension of the future with an active invitation to prepare myself for all the possibilities that lie ahead for me.

November 13, 2013

The Cyber CafeThis semester, I enrolled for an 8:30 class every day of the week. Some would call that crazy, others would call it brave. Either way, it’s tiring. And to stall the eventual need for a nap that comes with 8:30 class territory, I usually stop by Dominican’s Cyber Cafe to grab a cup of coffee before heading to the dreaded 8:30 class. This is something that is a ritual for me, and usually all that happens is that I sleepily mumble the kind of coffee I poured for myself and go on about my day, soon to forget about the exchange at all. But one day, a couple weeks ago, I witnessed something that I think really embodies the type of people that Dominican students can be.

As I was standing in line for my morning cup of coffee, there was another girl in front of me doing the same exact thing. The woman at the register pointed her out and told her that she didn’t  have to wait in line because her coffee was already paid for. Instead of a look of shock, which is what I expected to find when I turned around, she responded with “Not again!” And in that moment my heart was warmed with the fact that not only had someone paid for her coffee, but someone had done it before, too. It’s a subtle kindness that I didn’t realize was present on Dominican’s campus, but was not surprised to find that it did.

And instead of walking away like I think that most people would have done, their coffee paid for and all, she turned around and told me that she was going to pay for my coffee. She said that this happened to her all the time, and all she wanted to do was the same thing for someone else. Pay it forward, so to speak. I was so astounded with the girl’s kindness and need to do what others had done for her, that I absolutely refused to allow her to buy my coffee and the woman at the register agreed that she should just accept the gift and go on to class.

All-in-all, as I sat in class minutes later, coffee in hand, my day brightened by the idea that there are people on Dominican’s campus (even at 8:30 in the morning) that are so full of selflessness and giving that they not only not only paid for someone’s coffee once, but twice. In light of Thanksgiving, I thought that the idea of continuously giving back to the Dominican University community was embodied by this small act of kindness. As we approach Thanksgiving and go home to our families for maybe the first time all semester, we should all share this anonymous person’s kindness in giving others even the smallest of things to be happy and grateful for.

October 8, 2013

Rachel Newlin at Riot FestOne of the great things about going to Dominican University is its close proximity to all things Chicago. I had already learned this lesson at the very beginning of my first school year. But, as a sophomore, being a student at Dominican University gave me the opportunity to take part in something that I never thought would even be a possibility. This, specifically, was Riot Fest 2013.

Now, for any parents reading this, let me tell you that the title of the musical festival was not indicative of my experience there. While a punk rock music festival, I never experienced so much love in one place. A love of music is all the weekend really entailed. While not a school event, I think it’s still worthy of mentioning because it shows just how many things are always happening in Chicago and why I’m glad Dominican is the place that I decided to spend my college years.

Riot Fest 2013 was held in Humboldt Park, a quick bus ride from Dominican’s Main Campus, and even closer to the Priory Campus. As a Saint Louis native, being so close to one of the best music festivals in the business was a new and exciting experience for me. It was held September 13-15, making it three of the best days of my entire life. I was there mostly to see Fall Out Boy and All Time Low, my two favorite bands. The opportunity to see them both in the same weekend was one that I could not pass up.

I went to the fest with my friend Kate, a Dominican student as well. While there I noticed many familiar faces and was happy to know that many other Dominican students were taking advantage of the close proximity. While I could go on for days about how amazing Riot Fest was, and how I saw my favorite bands, and even met one of them for the 5th time and showed them a tattoo that I got in homage of all that they’ve done for me, that’s really not the point of this post! Riot Fest 2013 was an event in Chicago that was targeted towards all the things I’m interested in as a person.

And in Chicago, there are those sorts of events for everyone. I think that one of the greatest things that Dominican has to offer is its ability to be right where the action is, yet humbly away from it when need be. I love the suburban atmosphere when I’m in need of studying (which, frankly, is most of the time), but when concerts and events come up in the surrounding area or downtown, I’m close enough to take advantage of those things to available to me. Whether you’re interested in comics, dance, music or theatre, Chicago has something for you. As a Saint Louis native, it can be overwhelming in the best of ways. I love it so much that over the summer I even came back to visit because I couldn’t stand to be away for three whole months! Dominican and Chicago as a whole have completely stolen my heart, and even as a now-veteran Chicago resident, I’m finding new things to spend my free time doing. 

October 2, 2013

Every college freshmen is excited and a little bit nervous about living in a new and unfamiliar place. If you’re anything like me, you’re also worried what that place is going to end up looking like. You buy posters and lights and all sorts of fancy things envisioning the room that you’re going to spend your first year of college in. And usually, if my first year of college was any indication, it doesn’t end up anything like you wished it would. Your roommate’s decorations clash with yours, you don’t have enough (or too much) wall space, and you didn’t think that lights would be so hell bent on agreeing with gravity. (Coming back to a room where the lights are always on the ground instead of on the wall was one of my many sob stories as a freshman.)

The point is, as a sophomore, I learned a lot about decorating a dorm room. I can’t think of a more fitting first-of-the-year blog post than trying to make sure all the mishaps that I encountered as a freshman don’t follow you, too.

My Corkboard

Tip #1: You will get homesick. You should do absolutely everything you can as a person new to a place to remind yourself that you were once new somewhere else too. For me, I bought a cork board and filled it with pictures and memories to remind myself that while I was new to Dominican and I didn’t have many friends just yet, I just have lots of people at home that care about me. And as a sophomore, you’ll end up putting a lot of pictures of people that you now go to school with. Friendship. Progress!

Tip #2: You can never have too many posters. You are a multi-faceted person with many, many interests. You should be able to display every single one of them in a 24 x 36 inches kind of way. A blank, bland, white wall will just bring you down and bum you out. A wall full of the things that you love in the world will inspire you and make you feel much more at home. In addition, they are absolutely a conversation piece. I owe many friendships to the fact that they just came in my room and saw that we had common interests.

Dominican University Dorm Room

Tip #3: As my third and final tip for dorm decorating, I think the best and simplest of rules to bring to the table is the idea of making it feel like home. Yes, you’re in a dorm room. Yes, someone had that room before you and someone will have it after you, but for a year, it’s absolutely and totally yours. It’s a place where you’ll sleep, study and spend time with friends. Memories will be made, and don’t you want to remember them in a place where you felt was totally and completely yours?

A place that represented you as a person that’s always growing and changing? I think a large part of the college experience, especially at Dominican, is finding out who you are, what you love and what you’ve decided to believe. You have an entire room to display the kind of young adult you’re becoming. Take advantage of it!

April 11, 2013

As this year comes to an end, so does my first year of employment in a library. When I first got my job as Government Documents Assistant at Dominican’s Rebecca Crown Library, I was absolutely ecstatic. I came to Dominican University because of their American Library Association accredited Library and Information Science graduate program, and I thought I’d come here for my undergraduate degree as well. Eventually, my goal is to become a law librarian for some fancy law firm, and so landing this small work study job in the library working with government documents was all I could have hoped for!

In the beginning, I found it very confusing and it took me awhile to catch on, but once I did, I started to realize how helpful knowing government classification systems would be for my future job as a law librarian, and began to even read some of the documents while I was shelving them. As a political science major, having access to the congressional records and judicial hearings was exciting and useful. A job in the library, by the end of my first semester, became a really important part of who I am as a person and as a student. Once, last semester, in my introduction to political science class, we were talking about the President’s war powers and later that day at work, I found a document that directly related to that subject. I scanned the document and sent it to my professor. The next class, my professor had copied the document to share with my entire class. While a small thing, it made it obvious that my job as a Government Documents assistant has had an important and integral part of my education, even in this short time.

Besides being supplementary to my education in political science and my future education in library science, it has also taught me important skills in learning to work in a professional setting and how to create important professional relationships with your superiors. My supervisor was very helpful and supportive of my intentions to become a librarian. Her assistance in learning the ropes of maintaining a Government depository, which was essentially my job description was huge. I learned a lot about librarianship and professionalism. And even though she had a child and moved on from Dominican, I expect to stay in touch with her and learn more from her. So, in addition to all that this job has helped with me in regards to my education, it has also created an outlet for mentorship, which I plan on taking full advantage of.

On a last and lighter note, I have made friends at this job. I have fun while I am at work. I do not dread going to the library, and I do not see the ten hours that I work as a waste of time. I have the cell numbers of the people that I work with, and we are friends. I never have to hesitate to ask a question if I’m confused, and I probably laugh at work much more often that most people do. I look forward to spending time with the people that I work with at Dominican, and I think that’s very important.

All-in-all, I believe that my personal work study experience this year has taught me so many useful lessons that it’s an opportunity, that if you, as a fellow or future student, should take advantage of, if you get the chance. You may think that you don’t need the money, or that you’ll be too busy for an on-campus job, but I seriously urge to reconsider because you never know how many great things it can bring to your life.

March 25, 2013

On February 21st, I attended Dominican University’s talent show, sponsored by the Black World Studies program. There was a $1 entry fee, and beverages and snacks were provided at intermission. By the time  I arrived (twenty minutes early, mind you!) it was almost full, and chairs were hard to find. It seemed a popular choice, and for a Thursday night, the turn out was absolutely astounding.

When I got my program, I glanced at it and noticed that a lot of freshman were entering this talent show. That made me slightly proud to know that the people in my class were brave enough to bare their talents at Dominican, a new and relatively unfamiliar place, especially when they knew that they were being judged during their performances. The contestants were mostly singers and musicians, although there was a dancer, a comedian, a poet, and even two mimes. It was very interesting to see not only friends put their talents on display, but mere faces in the hallway, and learn something new about them and what they love to do.

One contestant in particular, Kayla Jackson, caught my attention because she was singing a song called “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran. As an avid fan of his, and just having seen in concert on Monday night (I traveled all the way to my hometown in Saint Louis, Missouri, to see him (and Taylor Swift), I was excited that someone else was taking an interest in his music. I had just heard the live version of “Give Me Love” just three days before, and was excited to see Kayla’s take on the song. She was not performing until Act Two, so at intermission I found her among the chaos that was college students and free cookies, to tell her that I was excited to see her cover Ed Sheeran’s “Give Me Love”. She assured me that it would not be nearly as good as his, but that she would give it her best. But when her time came to sing, she played guitar and sang “Give Me Love” with as much dedication and originality that I had seen Ed Sheeran do it just days before.

Maybe that’s why, when the time came for the judges to announce the winners, I was not surprised in the least when she came in first and won a grand prize of $200. Coming in second was Justin Wheeler, who sang an impressive version of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”. I had seen him before the show and wished him luck: turns out he didn’t need it. In third, Jasmine Brooks and her twin sister captivated the audience with their original and emotional mime piece. There were few dry eyes after their spiritual performance. All in all, I was completely blown away by the talent that is fostered here at Dominican University and lucky to have only paid $1 to see these talents, when surely, someday, they will charging just as much as I paid to see Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. (An amount that shall remain a secret to both you and my bank account, ahem.)

February 15, 2013

snow_pictFor the first time this year, snow finally made it’s way to Dominican University while I was here to see it. I think that this school is most beautiful when covered in white and walking to class seems like less of a burden when my feet feel snow below them. It’s almost as Dominican was built with snow in mind, because the school never looks more natural than it does right now. I almost hope that the snow takes it’s sweet time to melt away, because I want to enjoy the pretty picture that is snowy Dominican.

While commuters might complain about having to shovel ice out of their driveways, and scraping snow off their windshields every morning, I’m sure that they find it a little more worth it to be driving their car to Dominican, where the snow radiates off the Gothic architecture like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

While juniors and seniors might have gotten used to a snowy campus by now, I can’t imagine walking around at Dominican like it wasn’t one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever seen.                                      

January 25, 2013

Recently, I’ve discovered the magic of being away at college and being an avid fan of hockey. Although the lock-out delayed it a bit, it eventually came and I was excited. What I had not thought about was rooting for my home team in a place that was not my home. Being from St. Louis, I’m a fan of the St. Louis Blues and have been my entire life. I grew up watching the games with my dad, and he instilled a sense of appreciation of the sport. For the most part, my entire family has always rooted for the Blues.

Rachel and her roommate duke it out for their rival teams.Rachel and her roommate duke it out for their rival teams.

 

Having only watched the games with my family, I have never known another person my age that was equally as passionate about the sport and available to watch games with me. Fast forward to college: my roommate hangs a Chicago Blackhawks poster on the wall. Instead of being eternally bitter that our teams are old school rivals, I was ecstatic. Finding another person that was both my age and a female that loved hockey was like finding gold. Who cares if our teams are rivals, at least she understands what I am talking about! Or at least that’s what I thought until....

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013: the Blackhawks vs. Blues first matchup of the season. Both teams were 2-0, so tension was high that one of our teams losing would result in a smudge on such a good start. Suddenly, the happiness of finding another hockey fan subsided, and a friendly awkwardness set in. Even so, we headed down to our floor’s lounge with chips and salsa in hand and watched the game on the TV there. It made for a fun time, people walked by asking about the score or laughing at our face paint and rivaled color shirts. Soon, people joined, and I even found another St. Louis Blues fan to join in when the Blues scored. Even though the Blues lost that game (barely, mind you), I still think that I learned an important part of the college experience: building a sense of community with people that you otherwise wouldn’t interact with over something so simple as hockey reminded me that college is about keeping an open mind and allowing other people (yes, even Blackhawks fans) into your life for some healthy competition. And if you’re lucky, some long-lasting friendship, too.

November 30, 2012

Being a freshman, this is my first year experiencing the holiday season away from home, on my own. So far, Dominican has made it an absolutely magical transition. I thought that it would be irrevocably hard change to make, but I’ve learned that if you’re with the right people, the holiday season is fun no matter what. You might think that the holidays are about family, and while that it true, I believe that they are also about being aware of all the great people, family, friends, teachers and co-workers alike, that you are lucky to have in your life. Here at Dominican, that becomes obvious right around Thanksgiving, if not before.

The Thanksgiving tradition here at Dominican reminded me immediately what the holiday season, no matter your religious beliefs or personal family traditions, are really about: giving back. You walk into a dining hall completely staffed with the faculty that you see, normally, in formal wear, in offices, on their telephones. You see them hurry through the hall, glancing at you and giving you a short wave before disappearing. But during Dominican’s Thanksgiving dinner, you see them differently. All dressed up in chef’s gear, hat on head and ladle in hand: they are there to serve YOU. The faculty, including the Sisters and President Donna Carroll, serving you Thanksgiving dinner as an ultimate gesture of giving thanks to YOU, the student, for putting your mind and your future in their hands. This tradition is an absolutely beautiful gesture that I imagine does not occur at many other universities, and one that I am so glad to experience. rachel_1

While I was home for Thanksgiving, time flew and before I knew it I was back here at Dominican (which, on multiple occasions while back in St. Louis, I called "home" much to my mother’s dismay). Once back on campus, I realized that the true holiday season is upon us! While this experience is so different than the family orientated one that I’ve been a part of in the past, it’s been nothing but wonderful. From watching a beautiful Noteworthy concert (DU's ac cappella group) in the Social Hall, where they sang Christmas Carols, Glee songs, and much more, to hanging Christmas lights in my dorm room with my friends while singing Christmas music, it’s all been new and exciting. I know that I will be home in time for Christmas and New Year’s, but I can’t help feeling that I’ll be missing the family that I’ve made here at Dominican.

November 19, 2012

As a wild enthusiast of theatre and the arts, I was ecstatic when I heard that DUPAC (Dominican University’s Performing Arts Center) was putting on their own production of RENT. My roommate auditioned and became a member of the cast, so it was was all I heard about for the last three months. It only intensified my excitement. Having just watched the movie version this past summer, the show was still vivid in my mind, the plot, the songs, the characters and their struggles. I was excited  to see my roommate and the entirety of the cast putting all their hard work together in the form of such a compelling show.

When I initially found out that Dominican University was putting on their own production of RENT, I’ll admit, I was utterly shocked. A show about the struggles and lives of gay people in the late 1990’s,  was not the first show that I thought would be put on by a Catholic university. I was elated that I had chosen a school that was so open-minded and accepting of other lifestyles, beliefs and people. I was proud of myself for choosing a place where differing beliefs could come together and put on such a controversial show. As a new member of Dominican University’s Common Ground (our Gay-Straight Alliance), I was moved by the sense of acceptance that Dominican and everyone responsible for putting on RENT, had. The idea that a Catholic university could put on a show about the struggles of living as gay, homeless, group of impoverished young artists and musicians  --a disenfranchised group--was utterly amazing to me.

So as I sat in the fourth row of the Lund auditorium, holding my ticket and waiting patiently for the house lights to dim into nothing, my excitement was through the roof. Looking at the set, I could imagine each character and their own storyline; I could see what was about to unfold on stage. Even more so, I was excited for everyone around me, the audience members whom had never seen RENT or were not familiar with the mission of the show, or the difference it was trying to make. It was as if the stage curtain was holding back a massive amount of love and acceptance, I just wanted it to spill out to the audience.

In the end, the show was everything I expected to be. The hard work that was invested in every member of the cast’s heart was visible on stage, and I did not doubt the commitment of any member on stage. Solos were sung, and dance numbers flawlessly executed, tears were shed, and a boisterous standing ovation was given at curtain call. If you did not manage to snag a ticket during opening weekend, I strongly suggest that you get a ticket for the 16th or 17th, because there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re after a musical with a mission, a long lasting message, acting that will make you both laugh and cry, or want to scope out all the talent that Dominican has to offer, you’ll find every single one of those things in DUPAC’s RENT. Don’t forget to bring a few extra dollars to donate to Vital Bridges, a foundation that helps low income people living with HIV/AIDS. Theatre and a good cause, what’s better than that?

November 6, 2012

I’ve always thought myself incredibly in tune with politics, even from a very young age. I come from a family that is neither completely Democratic or Republican, so political debate is no stranger to my household. I am an avid CNN viewer and Iam always subject to weird looks when other people my age see what I’m watching. I’ve helped with Rock the Vote efforts and campaigned for various politicians. Even with all this political knowledge, I learned most recently in my Dominican University American Government class that I essentially knew nothing, absolutely nothing. That realization was wonderful.

Becoming a political science major was not a hard choice for me. I’ve always loved politics and the inner workings of the government, so it seemed an obvious choice. When I entered my Introduction to Political Science class at the beginning of the semester, I had a smug, arrogant way of thinking that I knew more than I could be taught. I’d spent my life learning politics from the news and the people around me, what more was there to learn? In the first five minutes of class, I was proved more wrong than I have ever been in my entire life. I was confronted with technicalities that I never knew existed, historical situations that I had never unearthed, reasoning that CNN never provided me. You would think that I was angered and let down by my self-imposed lack of knowledge on the thing that I love most, however it was quite the opposite. Gaining the knowledge that I never knew I lacked was enthralling, exhilarating, and completely and utterly exciting. In fact, knowing that there’s more to learn about the things you love should not give you anything but joy, and joy is surely what I felt.

As the election approaches, I see everything with a new pair of eyes. I see things that I never knew existed because now I know how the Electoral College works, know I know the importance of voting for your local representatives, and most importantly, I know that I don’t know everything. Dominican University, above all else, has taught me this semester that even among the things that I love, I still have tons to learn. In the light of this election, and seeing it as a Dominican University political science major instead of a political enthusiast, it’s a whole new election. For me, it has become less about who will be President and much more about what I can learn about our government and the way it works.

October 18, 2012

The story of how my roommate (and close friend) met is one that I love to tell anyone who will listen. A story of weird coincidence and utter fate, completely unbelievable to this day, it was the coolest way to start off my college education here at Dominican University. My roommate Katie and I are both big enthusiasts of the blogging website Tumblr, and being the social network connoisseurs that we are, spent a great deal of time cruising through the “Dominican University” tag, looking for anything of interest. And one day, during my spring semester of my senior year, I saw a post belonging to my future college roommate, before I had met her.

Casually blogging on a spring afternoon, I found a post where another Dominican freshman was gushing about her excitement in going to Dominican University in the fall and asked that if anyone else was going to do the same, to send her a message so she could get to know some of her fellow classmates before putting that first foot onto campus in August. I browsed her blog; and surprisingly, I found that we had a plethora of common interests. I sent her a message and from there we developed a great friendship where we talked to one other about the end of our senior year, our intentions at Dominican, and even our Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) experiences. We exchanged numbers and vowed to text one another on Move-In Day. But, strangely enough, we would end up having more than the casual conversation on Move-In Day.

I was coming back from the movies with my friend Rebecca when I got an email on my phone with the subject “2012-2013 Housing Assignment and Move-In Information” from Dominican Residence Life. I had been waiting patiently for this information for months now, wondering who I was going to be spending my freshman year living with. I was one of the last of my friends to get their housing assignment, so all my friends and I were anxiously awaiting my email. Rebecca forced me to open and read the email immediately, and while we waited at a red light, I opened the email and read the name“Katherine McLaren.” I spent the rest of the car ride home fervently searching Facebook for one “Katherine McLaren” and having absolutely no luck. I bid Rebecca adieu feeling defeated, accepting the fact that I wouldn’t find my roommate. I continued to search Facebook until I got a friend request from “Katie McLaren” later that night. After accepting her request, we began introducing ourselves to one other.

After awhile, everything seemed a little too familiar. I knew this person. I also knew only one person going to Dominican University in the fall, and her name was also Katie. But it couldn’t be, could it? I exclaimed on our Facebook chat: “You’re from Chicago, a political science and theatre double major, and I’ve seen your profile picture before. You’re the Katie that I met on Tumblr months ago!” Sure enough, I was right. The same girl that I had bonded with months before over our common interests and exchanged numbers with, was in fact, my new roommate. It was a coincidence of epic proportions. As soon as the mystery of my roommate was solved, I ran into my mom’s room and told her, called Rebecca and updated her, and now here I am telling the world. It was the weirdest (and coolest) way to start college.