18 Apr To Mock Trial, With Love

Yesterday, I was helping out at the SOHOP activities fair, talking to admitted students about Mock Trial. I was having a good time, excited to talk about something I loved. I was asked about the benefits of joining Mock Trial, and I told them about how your public speaking skills and ability to analyze an argument would improve, how you’d be exposed to new people and new careers and new places, and how you’d find a small, welcoming community in your team. And then came the kicker. “But if you don’t have a mentor or coach, are there really any benefits? How do you know if you’re actually doing things well?”

He didn’t want to listen to me for the next hour, but here’s the answer I wish I could have given him.

I benefited from the close and strong community I found here.

I didn’t come to college thinking I would do college-level mock trial. I’d enjoyed it in middle school and high school, but I was ready to branch out and try new things. At the Student Activities Fair I was misled into thinking that I could have the same sort of role that I’d had in high school, as a pre-trial attorney, and “knowing” that, I went to the information session.

I’ve never been so glad to have been misled.

The transition I had to Hopkins was rough academically. I was incredibly thankful for covered grades, classmates who made sure I understood the homework, professors who cared about me as people and not just as entries on a roster, and friends who looked out for me no matter what. Nonetheless, I still spent a lot of time feeling incompetent and not sure like I belonged at Hopkins. Mock Trial made me feel like I deserved to be here. Don’t get me wrong, Mock Trial still had a steep learning curve, but it was something where I could still feel successful, like I could do something right, and where I found a an instant community. I was hooked after my first tournament, and never looked back.

I benefited from learning how to win with class and how to lose with grace.

At the end of my first semester, I was selected for A Team, which meant completely new material to prepare, but a whole new set of great tournament experiences. I travelled to New York City for the first time, and experienced New York bagels, a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Times Square who was convinced that he could teach us how to deliver the best cross examination, and our first team trophy of the year (and the first trophy in recent program history!

The next month brought regionals, a 7-1 record, wins over top programs, and ended with us earning our bid to the Opening Round of the Championships Series (ORCS). Spring break started with our team camped out in our captain’s apartment, preparing for trial and making cupcakes, and ended with half of us making it on the plane home from Ohio…and 3 people being stranded in Ohio. It wasn’t the way any of us wanted to end (none of us were happy about the judging), and it made the returners all the more determined to come back strong the next year.

I learned how to lead a student-run organization.

In total, I spent three years on the Executive Board (two as vice president and one as curriculum chair). I learned more from those three years than in some of my classes. The amount of creativity, dedication, effort, and time that goes into creating a successful program is incredible, and by early on in my sophomore year I was appreciating all of the work that the previous year’s Executive Board had done for us previously.

I travelled to new places.

Before Mock Trial, I ‘d never been to Pennsylvania, New York City, or Missouri. With Mock Trial, I’ve traveled to Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College, Lancaster), New York City, St Louis, Richmond VA, Washington DC, and Boston, and thanks to school funding, I haven’t had to pay for any of those travel costs.

I’ve learned to teach.

I’ve learned to lead.

I’ve met so many new friends.

I found my favorite part of JHU.



01 Apr Passover at Hopkins

For the fourth year in a row, Passover and Spring Break have not coincided, and this is my fourth Passover away from home. It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, and being able to host seders at Hopkins the last two years has made it especially meaningful.

Last year, Passover began on a Friday night, which was pretty ideal as planning goes! There was enough interest within Mock Trial to do a Mock Trial seder (for about half the people there, including my roommate, it was their first seder!) and so my friend Jordan and I decided to plan our own. Jordan worked at Hillel last year as an Engagement Intern, working to get more people with Jewish ties to be involved in campus Jewish life. That also meant that he could spend time helping to plan and organize the event. Through a grant from Birthright, we got some of the food funded. However, as we discovered late on Friday afternoon, although the Mock Trial Shabbat dinner food for 15 gave us leftovers upon leftovers, the Passover food looked like it was barely enough for 8 people. We went to Giant and quickly stocked up on food and grape juice, and managed to have everything ready to go on time. During my freshman and sophomore years, I attended the seders at Hillel, which are large, group events. Our seder, although it had 15 people all squished around a not big enough table, was much more personalized (we had the freshmen read the 4 questions, for one thing), and tons of fun. It’s also one of those things that makes you realize you’re growing up–when you start hosting and organizing your own seder!

This year, Passover started on a Monday night–the Monday right after Spring Break. I was away the weekend before at ORCS, and no one from Mock Trial had taken the initiative to plan something else. I talked to my friend Emily earlier in the day on Monday, and we decided to plan a last-minute event. JHU_Kevin and I did an impromptu grocery trip to pick up ingredients, and in about an hour and a half managed to throw together everything we needed. In our last minute rush, we’d forgotten to find a Haggadah, so we had a very 21st century seder with the Haggadah on Kevin’s ipad!

First Night Seder 2013

In terms of eating on campus, there are two main options. Hillel offers catered meals that are certified kosher for Passover, or you can choose to eat at the FFC (which does provide matzoh). Most of the people I know choose to keep eating at the normal dining locations (albeit with more salads this week!). There, we’ve been trying to create things like matzoh quesadillas and taco salad, matzoh sandwiches, and other things that no one would eat any other time of the year! It’s also happened to be the week of being offered free pizza almost every day, but such is life!

It’s also a time where I end up doing much more cooking than usual! In past years, I’ve been more adventurous (read: had more time), and so things like apple pie cupcakes and mazoh brei also happened.  There’s been a lot of matzoh pizza, and some of my friends came over this weekend for a latke and matzoh ball soup night (because really, what other Passover food is needed?).

some of the lovely people I've been eating with!




10 Mar Senior Spring Bucket List

On Friday, the Senior Class Gift Committee had a “75 Days Until Graduation!” event. 75 days. That means today it’s 73 days, and by the time I get back from spring break, it’ll be under 60 days. Here are a few things I’d like to do before graduation!

1) Finish my thesis and be proud of it. I’m saving blogging about it until I’m done with it (because I’m sure I’ll want to write even more at that point), but it’s been an interesting process and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

2) Eat a weekend of spring fair food. Spring fair food is the best, and between a storm sophomore year and a 37 page paper to write junior year, I haven’t been able to accomplish my goal of eating all my meals that weekend at spring fair. Here’s to beautiful weather and a big appetite!

3) Go to NYC again. One of my good friends works there, and another friend and I have been trying to figure out when we can visit for a weekend (and visit the rice pudding and churro restaurants!).

4) Go somewhere in Philadelphia that isn’t explicitly Mock Trial related. The only times I’ve been to Philly have been for Mock Trial, and for our spring break tournament we’re getting there a little early, so I’m excited to do some exploring.

5) End the Mock Trial season on a high note. ORCS at the end of spring break could very conceivably be my last tournament, and I want to end it as my best yet.

6) Use one meal swipe to stay in the FFC an entire day. The FFC is actually a great study spot for me because I can eat healthy snacks while I work (what I can smuggle into the library or other technically food-less places on campus aren’t usually as healthy) and it has an outlet for paper writing.

7) Run around in the sprinklers on campus when the weather’s warmer. It’s in the 60s today, but I’m holding out for days in the 80s soon!

8) Visit the Air and Space museum at Dulles to see the space shuttle!

9) Have a tea party in the Sherwood Garden. In the spring it has tulips and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

10) Go inside every building on campus.

11) Find a real Mexican restaurant in Baltimore. There has to be one.

12) Make it to the top of the rock climbing wall.

Things that were added and crossed off my bucket list last year: visiting a potato chip factory (Fall Break 2012)



24 Feb Making It.

The current tabs on my browser are the “Add New Post” page on wordpress, the Mock Trial Forums, and the Open Bid listings for the Opening Round Championship Series. Since my team received an Honorable Mention last weekend at our regionals site, we’ve been in second place for an Open Bid (the top teams from each regionals site receive automatic bids, and the honorable mentions hold out for open bids) on the Open Bid waitlist. There are currently 33 teams on that list, 34 bids to be offered, and one regional site (out of 25) that hasn’t announced its winners. I think it’s pretty safe to say at the beginning of the year I didn’t think I’d be in this situation.

Let’s go back five months. I started out this year knowing that I’d be captaining a development team (a team comprised entirely of new members and returning members who weren’t selected for A team) and serving as the curriculum chair for the entire program. These were roles I wanted–I’d served as vice president for the previous two years, and although I gained a lot through the experience, I also found that I was spending tons of time on administrative work, and not nearly as much time as I wanted to on mock trial itself. Curriculum chair and captaining a development team allowed me to do that–I would be working with all of the new members and working with my own individual team.

I was excited for the year ahead, and I was excited to work with my team, but it also took some time to recognize what competing on a non-A team would mean. The first weekend they were away at a tournament and my team was still focusing on memorization was tough–it was a reminder that my team had so much to overcome and learn this year. But every time we met for practice, it was still a reminder that I shouldn’t be giving up hope on my team. That although they didn’t have the same tournament experience, they were fast learners and were outscoring returning members on the attorney practicals. That although they’d never actually seen a real mock trial, they had become incredibly familiar with trial procedure. That even though the majority of them would be attending the 52-team UPenn invitational as their first tournament, they were still determined to win.

We won that first round that weekend, and we went on to finish the tournament 4-4 (with the hardest set of pairings for all the teams that went 4-4 and our only losses were to teams that won trophies) and one of our new members won a witness award. We weren’t out of the woods yet, but we had had a strong first showing, and had shown that we were ready for trial.

In December, the team I took to Carnegie Mellon had even more new members–several returning members of the team had had to leave due to other commitments, three new members would be competing for the first time. We went 4-4 again, winning two individual awards and showing that we could hold our own.

Winter is tough for competitive academic programs at the college level. The winter break means that teams are removed from each other for extended periods of time. Although we made use of tools like skype and tried to stay up to date with case material, it was still tough getting ready for our next tournament. We competed at Richmond in the middle of intersession, and although we didn’t do as well as I would have hoped, I saw improvements, and spent the 5 hour bus ride back to Baltimore working on the list of team goals for regionals. Additionally, by some incredibly wonderful chance of the fates all colliding, both of my parents happened to be in the Virginia-DC area and were able to watch me compete (for the first time at the college level) that weekend. They’ve been attending mock trial competitions since 2003 (not a typo), and so for them to see me at the college level in my last regional was really meaningful.

And then came regionals last weekend. The weeks leading up to it were incredibly stressful–my horrible version of the stomach flu still hasn’t given me all my energy back, and it was much worse in the weeks beforehand. Lack of energy combined with horrible tournament logistical issues (the fact that people not affiliated with our program let us borrow their car for the weekend is proof that good people exist in this world) meant we were all pretty frazzled going into the weekend, but everything seemed to be working out. We found transportation, we successfully completed our internal scrimmage, we ate way too many cupcakes, and I got ready for what could have been my last competition. Ever.

I’ve started writing this paragraph about five times, and I still don’t have words to type here about how I feel. To think that this team, a team that had four combined years of college mock trial experience at the beginning of the year, a development team in a program that had never sent a team that wasn’t A-team to any sort of post-season competition, a team that no one was expecting anything from, placed 8th in a tournament of this caliber is incredible. This has probably been the first time I couldn’t have cared less about being on the losing side of a tiebreaker (we tied for 6th place in a 4-way tie, and came out 3rd), because just getting this far means SO MUCH. This past weekend was a tribute to how hard everyone on this team worked this year, and how between hard work, dedication, and passion, this team showed it had what takes to succeed.

Here’s to this coach-less team coming within two points of beating one of the top teams (with three coaches) in the country.

Here’s to turning around a lackluster showing at Richmond to a 5-3 Honorable Mention showing at regionals.

Here’s to using our $7 recycled demonstratives against teams with $100 new demonstratives…and winning.

Here’s to success.

Here’s to making it.

My favorite winners.



12 Feb 12 from 2012

This is a long overdue blog (and would have made more sense if it had been posted in the middle of January when it was supposed to). However, tournaments and training and the flu make the best-laid plans of mice and bloggers go astray, so here goes!

2012 marks the last full year as a full-time student. Here are some (12!) of the things I’ll remember from this year!

1) Starting a new language while simultaneously taking another one. I’ve taken French since 8th grade, but I thought having a background in Spanish could also be helpful. My friend Abby and I decided to take Spanish Elements together, and I took my first semester of Spanish while also taking a French culture class taught in French (with projects, papers, and tests all in French too). To top it off, the classes were back to back (and sometimes with tests on the same day!), so I spent a lot of time thinking I could say complex things in Spanish, only to have some version of franspanol come out. However, the year was a really good learning experience (and gives me so much more admiration for those people who study multiple languages).

2) Qualifying to ORCS again! My year wouldn’t be complete without at least one major Mock Trial memory, and the first one comes in the form of qualifying out of the regional tournament for the second time. Only the top third of teams in the country qualify out, and we did this as a student-run program. We had our ORCS competition on the first weekend of Spring Break in the Appellate Courthouse in DC (which included staying in an Irish hotel on St. Patrick’s Day). Although we didn’t move on, we had a solid showing, and I’m so proud of all the people I worked with that season!

JHU Team 1007 at Regionals 2012

3) Spring Break in DC and VA. After ORCS, I headed down to Virginia to spend time with my brother and extended family before heading back to Baltimore with my brother. Highlights include all the homecooked food and seeing the Air and Space Museum by Dulles (which we had wanted to do since we were little, but never got the option to do until this break).

All we do is cook!

4) “Senior Spring Say Yes” mentality spreads and our Annapolis trip. One of the other members of the Mock Trial exec board kept stressing his philosophy of “Senior Spring Say Yes,” which soon spread to the other members of exec (even if we weren’t seniors). We spent their last semester trying out new food and seeing new places, including Annapolis!

With Abby at the Naval Academy in Annapolis

5) Summer with family and friends. One of the things I’m most thankful for from 2012 was that I got to visit my family in England as well as seeing my friend Zoe who was studying abroad in London. I got to spend time in London (which I don’t usually do, since none of my family lives there), spend arguably the best day of 2012 in Edinburgh on a day trip with Zoe (where we saw Arthur’s Seat, the National Museum, the cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and at the best lentil soup I’ve had in years), spent time with my aunt and uncle in Newcastle exploring parts of the area I’d never seen before, and seeing the South Coast in England (which I’d never been to before). It was a wonderful trip (and a much needed respite from school), and I’m so glad that I was able to go.

Arthur's Seat, on top of the world

6) Off-campus, real-world internship with a real commute (not just walking somewhere on campus). I was fortunate enough to participate in the JHU Community Impact Internship Program last summer, which meant that we had a placement in the Baltimore community, but we had a stipend provided by JHU. This sort of fellowship program is really important to increase the number of students who are able to participate in internships in the non-profit, government, and social services sector–so many of these internships are unpaid, and this program provided an opportunity to have an internship in this area while still receiving a stipend. The program also had weekly reflection sessions and fieldtrips, so we ended up exploring more of Baltimore than just where we were interning. Spending the summer in Baltimore also had its perks, as I was here for events like Sailabration, and could travel to nearby events!

7)  Seeing the healthcare decision. I made the last-minute decision to buy an Amtrak ticket (so last minute that the MARC train had stopped running for the night) and camp out in front of the Supreme Court in hopes of seeing the healthcare decision be announced. I’d seen Day 2 of oral arguments earlier in the year, and I decided to try to see the case through. This was a much more comfortable wait–I’ll take 75 degrees over below freezing any day–and I was lucky enough to be in the first 60 people guaranteed a seat inside. It was an amazing experience–this case is one of the defining cases of our generation, and being present at the announcement of a decision that would affect so many people was breath-taking.

With my golden ticket into the Supreme Court!

8) Zion. At the end of the summer, I visited my family in LA for the first time since winter break. We went camping as a family in Zion National Park in Utah, which is one of my favorite places in the country. There’s so much natural beauty in the canyon, and we were finally able to hike part of the Narrows! The Narrows are at the top of the canyon, and you can only hike them when the flash flood risk is low enough. We ended up going about 2.5 miles in (so 2.5 miles of hiking in a river). The weather was perfect, and it was an incredible experience being in the middle of a river with 30 foot cliff faces on either side of you.

In the Narrows! (photo creds to my dad)

9) Fall Break Adventure. Jordan, Abby, and I decided that if our daytrip to Annapolis in the spring had been fun, a long weekend full of exploring the Shenandoah Valley would be even more fun. After consulting guidebooks, brochure stands, and the wonders of the internet, we settled on an itinerary that included caves, mazes, potato chip factories, waterfalls, wax museums, bridges, Foamhenge, the best donuts I’ll ever eat, the best BBQ a vegetarian in a relatively carniverous family can introduce her friends to, and a weekend to remember.

10) Captaining. At the end of last year, I decided that junior year would be my last year on A Team for Mock Trial. I wanted a chance to work with new members in a team setting (not just throughout the program), and I ended up captaining my own team of freshmen and sophomores. Besides me, only one of them had any college mock trial experience, but we’ve all improved so much as a team, and have held our own against some really good teams. I’ve had an amazing experience working with this team, and I’ve loved working with them.

This is actually from 2013, but it's the same people who were competing in 2012 (photo creds again to my dad)

11) Turning 21. I love birthdays, but birthdays don’t always love me. Midnight on my birthday happened to be at a gas station en route back from Pittsburgh, where we’d had a tournament. It was also the start of a horrible week of tests and papers that I’ve done my best to block out, and so I didn’t end up doing anything to celebrate my birthday on the actual day (in retrospect, a bad idea). However, the next week made up for it, when I had my delayed-pretend birthday with a group of my close friends (in addition to the lovely cake that members of the RA staff had made for me the week before). It reminded me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful group of friends, and how nice it is to finally be eligible to attend all of the Class of 2013 21+ events!

12) Ending 2012 with my closest family and family friends. There was more food than anyone of us predicted, and I was surrounded by people I love, and have known for most (if not all) of my life. Winter break was the last time I know for sure I’ll be visiting home, so it was extra meaningful to spend it with people who have always been there for me, and I know will always support me.

Started the day with a space shuttle and ended the day/year surrounded by friends and family, couldn't ask for more (photo creds yet again to my dad!)



29 Dec Final Survival

As of last Friday, I have survived my second to last (or potentially last, depending on my finals schedule) finals. Here are a few of the ways I managed to survive a finals period that may have beaten the “Write 80 pages on 5 topics, 10 pages of which are in French” horror week that was Sophomore Fall.

back to a Southern California winter and away from finals!

1) Find out what your finals will be like EARLY. I wasn’t anticipating what my final weeks (they were split into the ones due/occurring the last week of school and the ones happening in the last week of finals period) would really be like because my syllabi weren’t always explicit or because the professors changed what the format of the final would be like. Knowing what to anticipate will make things much easier to plan for, and can (hopefully) reduce some of the stress that comes with finals period.

2) If you’re going to snack mindlessly, find something healthy. With my unlimited meal plan, I could get full to-go boxes of grapes from Nolan’s, which are my go-to snack food all the time (and they’re easy to eat while typing!).

3)  Figure out how to make working on the computer more productive. Unlike in high school, where I could count on both hands the number of assignments in a year that needed a computer, all of my assignments are typed (and some finals are typed too!). This means a lot more time on the computer, and many more ways to be distracted. Over the years, I’ve figured out different tools that work for increasing my productivity (turning off my internet, “turning” my screen into two screens by making documents the right size to go next to each other, trashy music playlists on repeat).

4) Work in public. When I work in the library or somewhere with other people, I always think that people will judge me if I go onto facebook or something that’s clearly not research/studying related, so I stay on track much more.

5) Recognizing that getting sleep means so much more increased productivity. Working for two hours in the middle of the night can be as productive as getting an extra 1.5 hours of sleep and then working for a half an hour after that sleep the next day.

6) Don’t have your birthday during finals. But actually. For two out of the last three years, my birthday wasn’t during a Hell Week or Finals, but sometimes an early December birthday means not being able to celebrate your birthday the way you want to. This year, it was at the beginning of my first finals week (the last week of school), which meant I didn’t end up celebrating until the next week.

At the belated birthday dinner!

7) Make schedules and try as hard as you can to stick to them. When I’m stressed, blocking out my days into manageable pieces (with rewards, of course!) helps me stay on track and not get overwhelmed. It also helps if you tell other people what your goals are, and make yourself accountable to others!

8) Commiserate with others. It’s Hopkins, so most people are in the same situation, and take advantage of that.

9) Don’t forget that break and holidays are right around the corner! Mock Trial had a latke-making night, and one of my friends and I went to go see the lights in Hampden after we were done with finals, which was a fun reminder that we were so close to being able to go home and relax.

Mock Trial Family Brunch!

10) Study playlists. Here are few that have been played more times than they probably should have…

-Sunshine, Matisyahu

-Die Young, Kesha

-King of Anything, Sara Bareilles

-Tightrope, Paul Freeman

-Crushed and Created, Caitlyn Smith

-We Are Golden, Mika

-Romeo and Juliet, The Killers

-Can’t Hold Us, Macklemore

-Barlights, Fun.

-The Nutcracker soundtrak

-The Scientist, Coldplay

-Africa, Toto

Happy Holidays to everyone reading!


14 Dec Certainty (or “What the JHU ED Class of 2017 Can Start Looking Forward To”)

It’s been 1460 days since I received my email stating “Congratulations from Johns Hopkins University!” and it’s 160 days until I receive another form of “Congratulations”—my diploma. As I type this, I’m in the middle of finals for my second to last semester at Hopkins and my last set of fall semester finals. It’s a weird feeling, especially with the uncertainty of what’s happening in the next 1460 days. For the newly accepted members of the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2017, there’s undoubtedly some uncertainty too—what classes will you take? Will you become best friends with your freshman year roommate? Will you find a way to convince your parents to mail you all the food from home you miss so much? But there are also a lot of things that you can count on. Here are a few of my favorites!

People assuming that you’re going to be a doctor. For some of you, this is a valid assumption. And for the rest of us? Well, we’re all going to get a lot of practice in politely correcting people about our academic and career choices. Sometimes, people even assume you’re at Hopkins to just marry the doctors!

Realizing that you stayed up half (or the whole) night talking to people on your freshman floor. At the end of August, most, if not all, of these people should be strangers to you. But suddenly, by the second week of September, the majority of you will have bonded over all the memories you’ve collected together in the first three weeks of life at Hopkins/the fact that you don’t have air conditioning/convincing the people who’ve never tried sushi that they need to try it/trying to figure out where the parties were during Orientation Week/how few dining dollars you all have, etc. Even if you live in different buildings or floors sophomore year, you’ll still recognize them around campus, and still try to organize floor reunions before graduation.

The girls from 3rd floor Sylvester! (Fall 2009)

Have at least one class that you truly love. These come in different forms. Sometimes it’s a professor who’s an amazing lecturer and sometimes it’s a professor who remembers that you and your classmates are people first, then students. Sometimes it’s because of a class that explores your favorite topic in great depth, and sometimes it’s because they expose you to new ideas that make you reconsider everything you’ve believed about a topic, and make you reconsider your future plans. Sometimes it’s a class you’re taking for your major requirements, and sometimes it’s an elective that you took just to get distribution credits but ended up being one of your favorite classes.

Complain about 9am classes. It doesn’t matter if you started school at 7am in high school and enjoyed it. Suddenly everything changes in college, and class at 9am is like going to school at 6 in the morning. And don’t ask a Hopkins student what they think about the 7am course registration time!

Find friends that you’re going to have for the rest of your life. I’ve found friends here that I know I’m going to have for the rest of my life. College brings people together, and with so many of us far from home, our closest friends really do create a sense of family. Every day I’m thankful for the people I’ve met here.

With Zoe in Edinburgh (Summer 2012)

Have at least one ridiculous FFC memory. Whether that includes the longest stretch of time you’ve spend in the FFC, figuring out how to get only the marshmallows from the Lucky Charms dispenser (or ordering 10,000 of them from Amazon, I’m looking at you JHU_Kevin), trying to make the classiest matzoh pizza during Passover, seeing how many Britney song you can get the jukebox to play in a row, or all the conversations I’ve had with friends in the FFC, you’ll have at least one moment you want to remember.

Waiting for a snow day to be announced. Hopkins is notorious for not closing during inclement weather. We were the last school to close during Snowmageddon my freshman year, and one of the last to close during Hurricane Sandy. On nights where you think school might be cancelled, you’ll see groups of students refreshing the inclement weather page, and collective screams/noises of people running around when the emails get sent out that school is cancelled for the next day. Snow days never get old, especially for a girl who grew up in LA!

Just a little snow (Spring 2010)

Realizing that when you say “home,” sometime you’re not referring to where you grew up/your parents live now. You’re referring to Homewood. This happens to people at different times—sometime partway through freshman fall, and sometimes not until senior year. But it’ll happen at some point, and it’ll happen because you’ve found another place you can call home—Johns Hopkins University.

Congratulations and welcome to the JHU Class of 2017!


29 Nov Keeping It Classy

Here’s my overview of my (wonderful) classes this semester!

Introduction to Developmental Psychology (Psychological and Brain Sciences, 3 credits)

I signed up for this course because several of the master’s programs I’m considering applying for require a child development class, and this class has been a really interesting overview for both infant and child development. Professor Feigenson is a really engaging lecturer, and her powerpoints go far beyond the traditional text-on-a-slide variety. A typical week in class will involve graphics, pictures, and several film/audio clips to help illustrate the issues we’re learning about. She also conducts research into child development, and several of the studies she’s been involved in have been part of our course material and part of our textbook! The course has exposed me to a lot of issues I’d never considered before with child development, and the parts of class that have focused on learning theories have been especially helpful!

Spanish Elements II (German and Romance Languages, 4 credits)

This course is a continuation of first-year Spanish, which I began last semester. Our class has a mix of students who took Spanish in high school, and placed into this class, and other students who began taking Spanish here at Hopkins. This semester has had a heavy grammar focus–we’ve learned three new tenses, as well as other basic grammatical structures (direct/indirect pronouns, when to use the subjunctive, etc). I’m actually taking the class with the professor who coordinates the entire Spanish Elements sequence, and I’ve really valued having someone with so much teaching experience! It’s also been interesting taking Spanish and not French at all this semester–this is the first time in three years I haven’t been taking French!

Introduction to Race and Ethnicity (Sociology, 3 credits)

I signed up for this class last semester when I needed a class to hold my credit load steady while I was waiting to register for another class (that I didn’t end up taking, irony!). The description looked interesting, and I’d really enjoyed the sociology classes I’ve taken, and when I went on the first day, I was hooked. Professor McDonald is an amazing lecturer, and does a good job engaging a lecture-style class in discussion. Interestingly, it’s actually a relatively film-heavy class, which for me is weird (I’m awful at concentrating on the vast majority of movies that aren’t romantic comedies or horror movies, and I usually stay far away from classes with large numbers of films), but I’ve really enjoyed most of them (Crash and Which Way Home probably being my favorites). This class has been a really good formal introduction to sociological concepts that are pretty pervasive in both general media and other academic areas I’m studying (it’s been really complementary to other work I’ve done with urban policy, and provides a good social context and historical background on racial and ethnic groups in contemporary America).

Comparative Political Philosophy (Political Science, 3 credits)

I discovered this class on the night before the first day of school when I was stressing about finding a political theory class before I graduate. At this point, I was just trying to find the easiest possible class with the least theory possible (if you’ve read any of my previous academic-y blogs, you’ll have noticed that I’m much more interested in policy), but this class caught my eye. It seemed like a more non-traditional introduction to political theory (aka getting to read more than the Western “great minds” of political theory). I figured if I was only going to take one PT class, this would provide a good introduction, and it would be relatively painless. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite political science classes that I’ve taken at Hopkins, and my friends know that when I start talking excitedly about a paper I’m writing or how much I’m enjoying a class, that I’m probably referencing this class. We’ve also had a lot of freedom in what we can write about for our papers, so I’ve gotten to explore two topics in great depth, and really enjoy the research associated with these topics. This class has taught me so much about trying a new academic area/how I can actually enjoy theory–watch for a blog at the end of the semester about this class!

**I also have an independent study (3 credits) for research for my thesis–expect to hear more about this come springtime!**




14 Nov Breaking Away

As much as I love being here at Hopkins, it’s also really nice to be able to escape for the weekend! I’ve spent two weekends this semester off-campus (with one more planned), and they’ve been really nice breaks from my schedule here at school. Here are two of my very different (but both fun!) weekends!

Fall Break–Shenandoah Valley

For Fall Break, two of my friends and I decided to take a road trip through the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. We researched fun places to go/quirky things to see, and ended up with a pretty cool itinerary!

Semi-on-purpose matching in Shenandoah National Park

With freshly made potato chips at the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory!

Luray Caverns (this is actually a reflection, and it's part of an underwater LAKE. The whole tour underground is over a mile long!

Garden Maze at Luray!

Hiking to a waterfall in Shenandoah!

Natural Bridge, VA. It's so strong that Route 11 drives over it!


UPenn Mock Trial Tournament

This past weekend all three Hopkins mock trial teams competed at UPenn, which made for a hectic but incredibly fun weekend! This year, I’m captaining one of the development teams, which means that my team has a mix of new and returning members (some of which have no mock trial experience whatsoever). This was our first tournament of the season, and I’m so proud of how much my team has improved over the last month and a half, and how competitive they still managed to be at a fifty team tournament. Outside of trial, we still managed to have a lot of fun–you can’t spend over 48 hours constantly surrounded by your teammates without going crazy if you don’t all learn to get along with each other really well. For us, that meant discovering how many people can eat the “I Dare You” wings while making it look like it’s no big deal (spoiler: JHU_Kevin can), trying to find a restaurant that can seat 27 people together on a Saturday night, out-weirding each other with tournament related CVS purchases, retelling all the funny stories from within the rounds, and trying as hard as we could to avoid sitting in the middle seat in the back of the van. Mock Trial has always been something that I’ve enjoyed, but this weekend was even more special to me because of how much my team has accomplished already this year, and how far I think we can go!


26 Oct What a Week!

If you’re a regular follower of Hopkins Interactive (and you should be), you might have noticed that several bloggers have posted microblogs–an in-depth look at what a day in their life looks like. I’m not as on top of my life as they are, and it took me until this evening to realize that today was in fact October 26th, and the day my blog was due, so I don’t have the same minute to minute updates you’ll find on other blogs. What I do have, though, is a semi microblog of my week. Last year, in response to frequent questions about the workload, I wrote about what the workload is like. This time, after getting several questions about this at the most recent Open House, I’m focusing on balance between classes, extracurriculars, and having a life, and demonstrating that maintaining all of these is completely possible!

Saturday, October 20

8am-3pm: FOHOP, Part II! Most of SAAB has an online focus, but we also help out at the fall and spring open houses. Open Houses aren’t really on the traditional college weekend schedule (aka we have to be there at 8am, instead of noon), but they’re usually fun (unless it storms, but this year we had two beautiful days!), and a good way to get to know new SAABers.

3pm: Catch up on email, and start preparing my lesson for Mock Trial tomorrow. This year, I’m the Curriculum Chair, which means I’m in charge of training everyone in the ins and outs of mock trial generally, as well as specific information for the case. Every Sunday, I present about two hours worth of material (which typically takes anywhere between 4 and 10 hours to prepare) on something related to case material or presentation. This week, our focus was on trial procedure, behavior, and successful cross-examinations.

6pm: Dinner break from Nolan’s. One of the biggest advantages about being in Charles Commons is that I’m able to get dinner without leaving the building!

6:30pm: Back to finishing up Mock Trial–I want to send it out to the other captains for any suggestions/comments that night, so that I can get any feedback.

8pm: Mini staff social on duty! One of my friends was on duty, so several of us visited her (which involved food and Bananagrams, easily one of the best games ever).

Midnight-ish: Bedtime, since last week was full of midterms and tests and I miss getting 8 hours of sleep.


11am: Sterling Brunch! Basically a reason to gorge ourselves–the other development teams captains and I met up for brunch (partially since we’re all good friends, and partially since we needed to catch each other up on where our teams were, figure  out logistical info for our upcoming scrimmages/tournaments).

1pm: Mock Trial! Two-ish hours of explaining various aspects of trial procedure–my favorite part was seeing the improvement during the Attorney Workshop–our newbies went from not knowing what impeachment was to being able to work as a team to successfully impeach someone in half an hour!

4pm: Homework (because that should happen sometime, right?), with a dinner break somewhere in there!

Monday (super packed, so here goes!)

10: Developmental Psychology

11: Spanish Elements II

12-1:30: My break, aka reserve rooms for our scrimmage, grab lunch, pay my library fine, figure out how to order transcripts, and send out a meeting reminder for Mock Trial

1:30: Work at Admissions

4: Tutorial Project (1 on 1 tutoring with a 2nd grade Baltimore City student). Tutorial is always fun, and today I also got to learn about how bad I am at football (in the form of two second grade boys showing better football skills than I have ever demonstrated at any point in my life).

6:15: Mock Trial team practice

8: Duty, aka JHU_Kevin and Cara coming over and making plans for MT fundraising, and then watching the debate.

JHU_Kevin and Kathleen at the Mock Trial BBQ!


10:30: Introduction to Race and Ethnicity. I love this class. The professor is incredibly engaging, and this class has been a really good complement to the other policy and education classes I’ve taken.

12: Lunch at Levering. Three of my friends and I have standing Tuesday lunch plans, and this Tuesday is no different! We were all on the same team last year, and now we’re on separate teams (and miss seeing each other for 10+ hours every week in practice), so this lunch is our catch-up session for the week, as well as a chance to hear about how Carolyn’s tournament went this past weekend.

1: Homework and meet with one of my witnesses for our attorney-witness meeting (if you’re getting the sense that most of what I do revolves around Mock Trial, you might just be correct!).

3: Comparative Political Theory. We’re finishing The Analects by Confucius, and doing our summary of this section, and getting ready to move on to The Prince on Thursday.

4:15 onwards: A mix of homework and dinner. Faculty-Student Interaction, which is part of the Charles Commons ResLife program, is hosting a dinner with Dr. Lisa Folda from Public Health Studies, and so I went with a group of RAs to mingle and eat some very delicious food. We also had our staff meeting for Charles Commons, which I love because of  the fun activities we do in them (we all left this meeting feeling very loved and appreciated, as well as with our sweatshirt design in place!). I also had a paper for Developmental Psych due the next day, so I stayed up too late finishing it (and not remembering my lesson from last time about putting these off until the last minute).


Everything up until 6pm is essentially the same (except I do different things on my lunch break!).

After Tutorial, we had an event called Fall Fun at the FFC, which meant there was apple cider, caramel apples, pumpking carving, cookie decorating, and lots of faculty members and their adorable children. After that, my super helpful friend and co-RA drove us to Giant, where we picked up program supplies. A lot of my residents had a big test on Thursday, so I got food for a study break program, and set it all up in the common room at 9 for an ongoing study break.


Same classes as on Tuesday, but different evening plans! I spent my breaks working on homework for Friday, and finishing up edits for documents for my team attorney meeting that evening. I had SAAB from 6-7:15, and then headed over to Maryland to finish up a little more work before my attorney meeting.

8-9:30: Mock Trial attorney team meeting, which today meant going through all potential objections (so we don’t end up like this) and discussing openings and closings (reading over this, I realize how little sense this will make to anyone outside the crazy MT world!).

9:30 onwards: Finish up homework, and take a study break to get frozen yogurt from Nolan’s (clearly the purpose of having an unlimited meal plan!)


Same classes as Monday and Wednesday!

Every other week I have an interview for Admissions Representatives (where we interview prospective students), but this week was my off-week. I took that opportunity to meet with my other witness for mock trial in Levering (I just started to type what we worked on and realized how incomprehensible it’ll all sound again), and then met up with some fellow RAs in the FFC for lunch, and then over to Mason for my tour. There wasn’t a huge group, and JHU_Ian and I ended up not having to give tours (and instead invented a new sport called BrainBall–I beat Ian 7-2 in the first game!). After that I headed to the library for an hour before dinner to get most of my Mock Trial curriculum finished, and then to dinner at Nolan’s with my fellow RAs! Right now, I’m finishing up this blog and then my best friend is coming over to hang out and watch a movie!

With Zoe on Hadrian's Wall this summer!

And now for a few more questions that inevitably follow…

How late do you stay up?/How much sleep are you getting?

At least 7 hours per night, and during most weeks, at least 8 hours. I’ve been able to take classes this semester that work most realistically with my sleep schedule, and I also know how much sleep I need to be functional, and I work with that.

Okay, but how many other people have schedules like this?

More than you would probably expect. Hopkins students are quite driven, and you’ll find many students with multiple extracurriculars and jobs and research commitments. Something we’ve all learned how to do is balance our commitments, and not waste our time so that we have time for what we want to do.

But how much caffeine are you all consuming to do this?

This varies student by student (you’ll definitely see lines at Starbucks and Cafe Q close to midterms, and abandoned coffee cups everywhere). However, I’ve been doing Hopkins completely caffeine free for almost a year (and decaf only for a year before this), so that’s proof that this is all possible as well!