For the longest (and last) time: Why Hopkins

SONY DSCAs graduation looms just over a month a way, I have become rather reflective about my time here on Homewood. Although I’m eagerly anticipating the next stage of my life, I’m sorry to say goodbye the place that has been my home for the past four years and more convinced than ever that coming to Hopkins was the best decision I ever made.

Over the course of my blogging career, I’ve written several Why Hopkins blogs, (see here, here and here). But each new semester brought new reasons why I love this school, so I decided to compile a full list of why Hopkins has been the perfect place for my undergraduate education. From the silly to the serious, this list spans all the factors that have made these the best four years of my life.

  • Enjoying SOHOP with Ruthie and Gen

    Enjoying SOHOP with Ruthie and Gen

    Baltimore’s awesome neighborhoods – exploring Hampden, Harbor East, Fell’s Point and Mount Vernon has been incredible. The Baltimore food scene is amazing!

  • The emphasis placed on encouraging undergraduate research – not many other universities offer $10,000 to students to use on any kind of research project. See how I used my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship here!
  • My beautiful off-campus apartment (it’s a 10 minute walk from anywhere on campus). My building has it’s own gym, a pool on the roof and a movie theater. HEAVEN.
  • The federal style architecture of the Homewood campus – all the buildings are a matching brick and it’s perfection.
  • The small sizes of my humanities classes – from my very first semester at Hopkins I was talking seminars of 15 people or less.
  • There are so many different ways to study abroad – I interned for a summer abroad, studied at a foreign university for a semester and took an Intersession three-week abroad course through Hopkins.
  • The light distribution requirements have made it easy for me to take a wide variety of subjects outside my major but still classes I love to be in.
  • My wonderful thesis advisor Professor Walkowitz who could not have been a more attentive and supportive mentor.
  • I love my apartment

    I love my apartment

    My part-time job in the Admissions Office – I’ve been doing Admissions work since August of my freshman year and I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten to share my experience and passion for JHU with so many prospective students. Having a little extra cash flow from my job helps too!

  • Donna’s sweet potato fries and Tamber’s chicken tiki masala
  • If you come to Hopkins and don’t take a history class during your time here, you’re doing something wrong. In my opinion, there is no better department or set of professors.
  •  The incredible professional opportunities I’ve had by being a Hopkins student – I’ve interned at three different publishing companies in New York and London during my time here.
  • JHU is an environment where students are so passionate, driven and excited to be here. It’s so inspirational to be around and you won’t find a community as wonderful, diverse or rich anywhere else.
  • Hopkins has a three-week January term called Intersession that’s perfect for travel, research, classes or relaxation!
  • One of the great things about Baltimore is that you get to experience all types of seasons. You’ll see the autumn leaves falling, get emails about classes canceled for a snow day, watch the flowers blossom and tan out in the hot Baltimore sun.
  • Another aspect of Baltimore I love is it’s accessibility to other places – Washington, D.C., NYC and Philadelphia are all a train or bus ride away.
  • During the Admitted Student Open Houses, I am always asked about safety on campus. With blue lights located all over the Homewood campus, shuttles to off-campus locations and security guards visible at every step of my walk to my apartment building, there’s never been a time where I’ve felt unsafe in my four years here.
  • No matter what subject you’re studying here, you’re almost guaranteed that it is one of the topic departments of its field in the country, so even if you’re coming in to JHU undecided, you really can’t go wrong.

Insider Q&A

Gilman at night!

Gilman at night!

I’ve been giving a couple tours of campus this semester to family friends who have visited and wanted an “insider’s look” at Hopkins. I found that a couple questions keep coming up on my tours, and I thought posting my answers here might be helpful to you prospective students, especially those of you accepted RD students who find out tomorrow. Congratulations and enjoy!

Do you ever explore Baltimore?

My freshman fall, I don’t think I left campus once. There was so much going on on Homewood, there wasn’t a need. As I got older, I started hearing about different gems in Baltimore – Iggie’s pizza, Miss Shirley’s breakfast, the running routes around Rolland Park. I love having all these different options, whether it’s fun on-campus events like the Friday Night Film series or exploring Baltimore with my friends. If you want to stay on-campus for your entire Hopkins career, you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy. But I don’t recommend it. Baltimore is a fantastic city to be a college student in and explore.

Three cheers for RD applicants!

Three cheers for RD applicants!

Is science research the only type of research available to undergraduates?

Absolutely not! This is a myth that really bugs me, because Hopkins works really hard to support research in all academic fields. I suggest checking out the JHU Undergraduate Research page for all the amazing projects Hopkins students partake in. I’m a history major and used the funds from my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship to visit Olympic archives in London for my historical research on the 1908 and 1948 London Games. As the first research university in America, research is a critical part of the Hopkins experience, no matter what subject you’re studying.

Why do juniors and seniors live off-campus?

I have to be honest. When I first visited Hopkins as a senior in high school, I was extremely put off by the idea that juniors and seniors lived off-campus. I thought that living off-campus would cause a disjointed campus community, and I resented the idea of having to cook for myself. Now that I’m a JHU senior having lived off-campus for the past two years I can say that living off-campus is one of my favorite things about the university. Off-campus living is hardly any farther from the campus than the dorms, and I love the space afforded to me by an off-campus apartment. Having learned to pay my monthly bills and handle the responsibility of living in a real apartment building, I feel much better equipped to go out into the real world. It’s also not too shabby that my apartment building has a pool on the roof, its own indoor gym and movie theater.

I'm going to miss this!

I’m going to miss this!

Do you take large classes as a freshman?

In the fall of my freshman year, the largest class I took had 30 students in it, the smallest had 10. So if you want to, you can take small classes from the moment you step onto campus. This might be slightly different for those in the sciences, where you’re required to take larger lectures classes as major requirements, but in the humanities, your classes will be intimate from the beginning. That being said, large lecture classes unfairly get a bad rep. One of my favorite classes at Hopkins, Intro to Sociology, was a larger lecture. Keep an open mind when choosing classes – both in terms of size and subject. You never know what fascinating professor or subject you might stumble upon.

Is it easy to study abroad?

If you want to study abroad, the JHU Study Abroad office will make it happen for you. As a history major, it was easy for me to translate my classes abroad to JHU credits. But even if your major isn’t as flexible, Hopkins affords tons of other opportunities to study abroad other than during the semester. Programs like the Vredenburg Summer Engineering Travel Scholarship funds engineers traveling abroad in the summer months, and the Intersession Abroad Programs also provide amazing opportunities to take classes in other countries in our January term. Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding college experiences and it’s an opportunity I think every student should try to take advantage of.

The one where I wrote my thesis

My blogging deadline was this Thursday, but for the first time in my Hopkins Interactive career, I missed that deadline. The truth is I haven’t really felt like writing since I handed in my thesis this Wednesday. It seems my brain went on strike until this morning, I think in efforts to recover from the herculan effort it took to write my 65-page thesis. I’m sure I will detail more about this journey in a later blog but for now, I thought I would share a section from my conclusion so you can get a sense of what I’ve been slaving over for nearly a year. Enjoy!

As the only host nation to have held the Games three times, London holds a unique position in Olympic history. However, a historical gap exists in Olympic education regarding the first two London Games. Studying the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics together highlights how the forces of nationalism and internationalism manifested themselves differently in these two unique moments of British history: a weakened Edwardian Britain attempting to reaffirm its declining empire and a post-war Britain seeking to embrace a lasting, albeit limited, post-war internationalism. In understanding the complexities of these moments, we can see their influence on the decisions of the BOA, the conduct of participating nations and the reception of the press. In 1908, the nationalist sentiment of the moment overshadowed the collaborative ideals of the Olympics and allowed London’s first Games to be a vehicle through which nations promoted their own interests. In 1948, an expanded London hosted the first peacetime Olympics since the end of WWII, emphasizing the difficulties of post-war reality and the limited nature of post-war peace. These two moments not only bookend almost perfectly the beginning and ending stages of British imperial decline, but also highlight how the role of host nation adapts to suit the needs of each historical moment. Peaceful collaboration may be the end goal, but it is only one of many priorities for the hosting country. As the 1908 and 1948 Olympics show, contentions between nationalism and internationalism constantly impede that objective.


A lot about Hopkins Interactive has changed since I first joined the team as a freshman in August 2010. While our blogs are still going strong, and more extensive than ever, the site has grown to encompass all the fabulous forms of social media that have developed over the past four years. It has been a really exciting time to be a part of Hopkins Interactive, and I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. I’ve highlighted some of my favorites below!

One of my favorite pictures that I took for the Hopkins Insider Instagram!

One of my favorite pictures that I took for the Hopkins Insider Instagram!

Hopkins Insider Instagram

The credit for our awesome Instagram account really goes to JHU_Kate, who was the one who got it up and running, and helped develop a following. This account, featuring pictures from Hopkins students who use the hashtag #instajhu, allows prospective students a closer look at the Homewood campus and what it means to be a JHU student. Since JHU_Kate graduated early (WAHHHH), I’ve taken over the account and I’ve had such a blast taking pictures of all my favorite Hopkins things.


A recent pin from the "Happenings on Homewood" board.

A recent pin from the “Happenings on Homewood” board.

Hopkins Interactive Pinterest

The Hopkins Interactive Pinterest account is an amazing conglomeration of links to all the different resources we’ve put out there. Separated onto boards with hilarious category names (ok I think they’re hilarious because I helped make them), every aspect of life at Hopkins is covered. A recent idea I had was to create this board called “Happenings on Homewood” which features event flyers from on-campus events. I think it’s a great way to give prospective students even

The Insider’s Guide

Being editor-in-chief of The Insider’s Guide for the past three years has been perhaps my most rewarding Hopkins Interactive experience. It’s an annual 32-page publication that is handed out to all admitted students at their SOHOP visitation in the spring. It aims to these potential blue jays a realistic idea of what life on Homewood is really like. Because it is produced by current students for perspective students, I think The Insider’s Guide is an unparalled resource for accepted students like no other. It is extensive, candid and practical. It was actually one of the reasons I chose JHU in the first place. As a prospective student, being handed The Insider’s Guide had a profound impact on me. It made me realize just how much Hopkins students love the school and love what they do here. I knew then that Homewood was an environment I wanted to be apart of, a

community I wanted to join. Coming full-circle and becoming editor of the publication that made me come to Hopkins has really been an incredible experience. This year’s Guide is hands down the best yet, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Check out the link to last year’s.

An early mock up I had for the new Hopkins Interactive homepage.

An early mock up I had for the new Hopkins Interactive homepage.

Hopkins Interactive Redesign

Over the past two semesters, one of my main Hopkins Interactive projects was working on a new redesign for the site with JHU_Nick. I can’t even begin to explain how much effort goes into creating a brand new site from square one, and so JHU_Nick (who does the tech side of everything) deserves a gold medal for this herculean effort. My role in this process has been a lot of the visual side, so basically it consists of me designing a mock-up of a webpage on Adobe InDesign, sending it to Nick, and then harassing him until he can make my design a technical reality. It’s a long slow process, but the redesign will be launched this spring and I can’t wait. It features all the amazing things Hopkins Interactive does in a much more accessible way, so I know prospective students are going to love it.

Who am I? 24601

Did you know I loved cats? Me at my first cat show!

Did you know I loved cats? Me at my first cat show!

It’s strange to think that in a few months time, I will cease to be JHU_Tess and instead become a JHU graduate. While I can’t wait to begin this next stage of my life, I also don’t want to rush my remaining 14 weeks as an undergraduate. Like an archeologist preserving a fossil, I decided to take a snapshot of myself exactly as I am on this snowy February afternoon so for years to come, we will always know what it looked like to be a second semester senior history major at Hopkins, (because obviously people will care about this for years to come). Also I couldn’t resist the Les Mis reference in the otherwise unrelated title.

Name: JHU_Tess

Year: Senior

Major: History

Post-graduate plans: Graduate school (Oxford or LSE – please someone decide for me, the choice is too tough!)

Job: Part-time job in the Admissions office – it’s so easy to get an on-campus job at JHU. I find the mental break from my schoolwork relaxing and helps me to focus better when it’s actually time to do my homework. Plus it’s a great way to build up your resume and portfolio and make a little extra cash!

Alpha Phi during rush!

Alpha Phi during rush!

Residence: The Halstead – I looove off-campus living! My apartment building has its own gym, a pool on the roof and is a 10 minute walk from everywhere on campus.

Favorite Professor: Hands down my thesis advisor, Professor Walkowitz. Her direction has been invaluable as I work to finish this capstone of my JHU education, and I’ve grown so much as a student through her guidance.

Embarrassing habits: I have an inability to stay up past 10PM so even as a college senior, I stick pretty religiously to a pre-10 bedtime.

Guilty pleasures: My primary news outlets are People Magazine and the celebrity news site LaineyGossip. Also I love candy corn so much it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

On-campus activities: My main activities are the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB), which is the group that brings you Hopkins Interactive, my on-campus job, my sorority Alpha Phi and my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship.

My girls

My girls

Pet Peeves: I really hate when people shake their legs or foot during class, I find that super distracting.

Places I’ve lived: Ridgewood (my hometown), Baltimore (obviously), London (for 7 months during my study abroad – the most amazing experience ever), Hoboken (my family’s new residence)

Best gifts ever received: Well technically I don’t know if they count as gifts, because I think of them as daughters, but my cats Jane and Charlotte were undoubtedly the best gift I’ve ever received. More practically, I got a rice maker and a kindle last year as Christmas/birthday presents and I love/use them on a daily basis.

Favorite Restaurants: Around campus I love, Donna’s for sweet potato fries and turkey burgers, and Tamber’s for Indian food. For something special, I think I had the best meal of my life at the Thames Street Oyster House near the Inner Harbor.

Why JHU: I honestly think that JHU has allowed me to reach my full undergraduate potential. The school has offered me so many different kinds of opportunities – in the classroom, in my internships, in my research – that I am graduating without any regrets or any interests unexplored. I don’t think I would be as proud of the soon-to-be graduate that I am if I hadn’t had all the resources of JHU at my disposal.

Read into it

One of my least favorite aspects of my academic career has been my inability to balance my class-required readings with my recreational reading. During summers and winter breaks I would inhale book after book, but come school time the pleasure reading would inevitably give way to purely academic texts. I decided at the beginning of my senior year that I would finally rectify this problem. To do so, I ended up cutting out some of my aimless hours trolling Netflix, and used my down time instead to read for fun. I have to say, as much as I love Netflix, the result was pretty successful.

Not only did I manage to read all of these titles, but I also applied/was accepted to graduate school, got the highest grades of my Hopkins career and kept a 10PM bedtime (I know, I’m 80 year old trapped in a 21 year old body). It’s so frustrating to hear the myths from uninformed prospective students that at Hopkins you never have time for anything fun.

So, I thought it would be cool to share with you all what I’ve been up to with my free time last semester – my reading list(s) from Fall 2013!

Recreational Reading

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girl by Anton DiSclafini
  • Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
  • This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Academic Reading

  • The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain by Bernard Porter
  • An Empire on Display: English, Indian and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War by Peter H. Hoffenberg
  • Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation by Ronald Hyam
  • British Imperialism by Robert Johnson
  • The Lion’s Share: A short history of British imperialism by Bernard Porter
  • Austerity Britain by David Kynaston
  • Ephemeral vistas: The expositions universelles, great exhibitions and world’s fairs by Paul Greenhalgh
  • The First London Olympics 1908 by Rebecca Jenkins
  • The Austerity Olympics by Janie Hampton
  • London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis by Jonathan Schneer

I be up in the gym

The start of the New Year brings a new set of resolutions for those eager to self-improve. I’ve jumped on board with the “2014 New Year, New Me” bandwagon and have made a pact with my mom to run a half-marathon in Oslo after my graduation – which I’m massively excited and a little nervous about. I have a couple more weeks until I head back to school, but I’ve been planning my training regime for spring semester. As I was brainstorming the ways in which I will prepare for our big race, I was struck by all the resources JHU has available for those eager to stay healthy and fit. To help you stick to your own exercise resolution, here is a list of all the fun ways Hopkins promotes a life of fitness:

Spring fitness classes at the Rec Center

Spring fitness classes at the Rec Center

Fitness Classes: One of the many cool things the Rec Center offers are weekly fitness classes, including Zumba, spin, yoga and Turbo kick. You buy a $45 pass for the semester, which allows you to go to as many fitness classes as you want a week – a pretty amazing deal if I do say so myself. They’re a really great way to mix up your exercise routine, making your work out a little more social and a little more fun. Check out the complete schedule to the left!

Rock Wall: The Rec Center at JHU is a fantastic place, and one of the reasons it is so unique is because we have our very own indoor rock wall! At the insistance of my boyfriend this summer, we tried it out and it was awesome. For those of you who have never climbed before, do not fear! They give you a lesson in climbing (which involves how to tie knots, how to put on your harness, how to belay another person), and then you have to pass a test to be able to climb. I failed it the first time I took it (whoops), so don’t worry about seeming stupid! Once you pass, you’re free to climb away! They have all the equipment there (harnesses, ropes, climbing shoes) so all you have to do is go and not look down.

JHU Rec Center

JHU Rec Center

Running Routes: The area around Hopkins provides some excellent off-campus running routes. I like to do these routes when I’m in the mood for some fresh air and challenging hills. Although I have never been a part of one (I run at a glacial pace) there are even JHU jogging clubs you can join that meet weekly to help you stick to your regime.

Tennis/Squash Courts: Hopkins has great outdoor tennis courts that I love to use when the weather is nice, and indoor squash courts to use when it isn’t! I had never played squash before I came to Hopkins, but as a tennis-lover, I quickly took a liking to the game. You don’t have to own your own squash racquet or ball– you can rent them (for free!) at the Rec Center equipment room.

To quote the ever fabulous Fergie – I be up in the gym this semester training for my race – see you there?

Reuse, Recycle

I was reading an article the other day on ways for you and your wallet to survive the holiday gift-giving season. One of their suggestions was to reuse gifts, and while I don’t think I re-giving presents is for me, it did inspire me to re-use a former blog idea. In a flash of genius my sophomore year (there haven’t been many since then), I wrote about the contents of my dorm room trashcan, called “From Trash to Treasure.” Now at face value, I know, this topic seems boring and probably a little gross. But I what I was trying to do was highlight some unique aspects of campus life through an unconventional medium. Still hanging onto my glory days/former genius, I decided to reuse the topic for a senior year edition. Enjoy!

Cupcakes for Kate!

Cupcakes for Kate!

Empty sprinkle box. Last Monday was our last SAAB meeting of the semester (SAAB is the student group that brings your Hopkins Interactive). It also meant that it was JHU_Kate’s last SAAB meeting ever, as she’s graduating Hopkins early and leaving us for the real world. While obviously we are all so proud of Kate for getting her dream job in SAN FRANCISCO, I am selfishly pouting to lose my SAABestie. Kate is an integral part to keeping this site running and our group focused, and I am going to miss her company so much. To mourn celebrate Kate’s departure, JHU_Nick and I made her farewell cupcakes, thus the empty sprinkle container!

One of my favorite aspects of JHU is all the different communities that I’m apart of. From my SAAB family to my Alpha Phi sisters to my fellow history majors, I really feel at home here on Homewood. I’m so sad to say goodbye to Kate, but I’m so grateful that Hopkins brought us together and can’t wait to visit her in California.

Draft of Ottoman and European Regional Reactions to New Commodities. This was a draft of a paper I recently wrote for my Early Modern Mediterranean history class. This period and geographical area, particularly in respect to the Ottoman Empire, was a huge gap in my historical education. I really knew nothing about it, other than that at one point the Ottomans were really powerful and then all of a sudden they were gone. Needless to say I had a lot to learn. This class has been really enlightening and interesting. In this paper, I wrote about the introduction of caffeinated beverages in Western Europe and the reception of the Ottomans to the new tobacco usage. In this paper, I argued that you could see a growing culture of pleasure emerging across all of the Mediterranean at this time, and I comment on the Islamic acceptance of these new commodities despite intense initial resistance. Such a cool paper topic!

Alpha Phi Family Weekend Social

Alpha Phi Family Weekend Social

Deflated balloons. These balloons are left over from Alpha Phi’s first ever Family Weekend Social, an event that I organized/executed! The idea came from my mother actually, who once complained to me that her friends get to go to events for their daughter’s sororities but my JHU Alpha Phi never does any of the sort. I realized she was right, and that it was completely wrong for us not to host the parents in some form, so as Vice President of Programming and Education, I hosted our first Family Weekend Social over Family Weekend last month. It was so much fun to meet my friend’s parents, and have my mom enjoy all of my hard work. A local cafe called Carma’s catered, and so the food was delicious. I loved the experience of organizing and executing such a large-scale event, and am grateful for the opportunity to have a leadership position in such a wonderful organization.

My new NYPL card!

My new NYPL card!

Amtrak ticket. A great aspect of Hopkins is its accessibility to the rest of the East Coast, New York in particular. Three weekends ago I traveled up to the city to do research for my thesis the New York Public Library. Even though I’ve lived outside of New York my whole life, I had never been inside the building! Needless to say, I was awed. I spent the day working with primary sources, in particular, editions of the British periodical, Picture Post, in order to help contextualize the period I am studying. It was amazing to hold pages that were literally (almost) crumbling in my hands, and slightly scary I was being trusted with them. Such a cool experience for me as a budding historian.

Wrapping paper. The holiday season had me feeling all happy and festive so I got a jump start on my Christmas present wrapping. But after remembering that I am quite possibly the worst gift wrapper ever, my mood was slightly dampened. Since, I have watched several Martha Stewart videos online, and think I have got the handle on wrapping a present that doesn’t look like a three year-old did it, but no promises. Thanks to my many failed attempts, my garbage can is now stuffed with unsuccessful paper. I was, however, greatly cheered up by all the Hopkins holiday spirit with Lighting of the Quads (JHU_Sydney wrote about it here) and other festive events!

I hope this post, though initially questionable in topic, has actually proved somewhat useful in helping to gain better insight into campus life!

Like a boss

_SJS2235A sophomore friend recently asked me if I was experiencing any bouts of senioritus this semester. The question caught off guard, because I realized – oh right, I’m a senior! When I think back to my move-in day it’s hard to believe that was four whole years ago, but when I think of all that I’ve done at JHU since move-in day, it’s hard to believe I’ve only been here four years. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m dedicating this blog to a two of the people who have made my Hopkins experience the amazing journey it has been so far – my Admissions boss (and former boss), Shelly and Daniel.

As an incoming freshman, I made the spontaneous decision to apply to be on the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB), the student group that runs the site Hopkins Interactive. Little did I know, that choice would come to shape the rest of my four years at Hopkins. After being accepted onto SAAB, I became a full-time blogger, penning on average a blog every two weeks since freshman year. Through my involvement with Hopkins Interactive, I have been able to take on some amazing projects, get a part time job in the Admissions office and become one of the main organizers of this site. Daniel and Shelly are the two people who made that happen!

_SJS9929Being afforded the opportunity to be apart of SAAB and take on a leadership role was thanks to Daniel, who no longer works for the University, but still played an important role in my Hopkins life nevertheless. He saw potential in the eager, somewhat nervous freshman Tess, and gave me the creative opportunities and freedoms that allowed me to grow. It was Daniel who made me editor-in-chief of the Insider’s Guide (an annual Admissions publication), gave me my leadership role in SAAB, and entrusted me with many innovative projects that provided me with the skill sets that now populate my resume. Daniel saw that I had the drive to be a committed member of the group, and allowed me numerous opportunities to prove myself and implement my ideas.

So when Daniel announced he was leaving the university after my sophomore year, I was devastated to be losing such a great boss. Luckily, I was moved over to Shelly who has proved to be every bit the amazing boss that Daniel was. Under Shelly’s reign, I’ve learned more about the day-to-day functioning of the Communications Office, a field I am considering for my post-graduation plans. JHU_Kate, JHU_Nick and I are called in whenever Shelly needs a student perspective or is looking for our advice. Along with Kate and Nick, Shelly has allowed us to take large leadership roles in the group, and provided me with important experience in managing others. I’ve also continued to work on incredible projects like the Insider’s Guide and the Hopkins Interactive Redesign (coming soon), which make going into work everyday a fun, exciting and challenging.

_SJS0743Through my work with Daniel and Shelly, I have been able to attend internship interviews with a portfolio in hand, ready to talk about my hands on work experience in the Admissions Office. The practical work experience I’ve gained through SAAB and my Admissions work has been a critical component of my success each summer in obtaining an internship, and I know it’s because of the opportunities my bosses have provided for me.

What makes Daniel and Shelly so unique is the trust they place in me as their student worker. Coming to a real office everyday where real decisions were being made, one would think that students would be relegated to photocopying or stuffing envelopes. Instead, they created an environment where my opinion mattered and my responsibilities important. I love being able to go into work with some idea or suggestion, and have Shelly sit there in front of me, value my input and help me to implement whatever idea I brought in. This trust in students isn’t going to be found everywhere, and I think it’s a characteristic of the university as a whole. Hopkins students aren’t just practicing for the real world; they’re given opportunities to jump right into it. My bosses Shelly and Daniel are amazing examples of that and as I look back on my three and a half years here, I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

My hypothetical thesis

I went to the New York Public Library last weekend to access some of their archives.

I went to the New York Public Library last weekend to access some of their archives.

I’ve titled this blog “My hypothetical thesis” because there is still some doubt in my mind that I, JHU_Tess, will actually be able to form enough cohesive thoughts to populate a paper of this length and scope. But as the semester comes to an end, I find myself facing the reality that I am, in fact, well on my way to completing my senior honors history thesis! When did that happen?!

I really have to credit the JHU History Department for molding me into the young historian I am today, the young historian who will hopefully have a thesis to turn in come March 15 (t-minus 118 days)! See as I’ve mentioned in some former blogs, the journey to writing your senior history honors thesis really begins your sophomore year when take the Undergraduate Seminar in History. I really think it is the practice and training I received in that class with the fabulous Professor Connolly that has prepared me to tackle the challenge of writing my senior thesis.

The Undergraduate Seminar in History is the only completely mandatory course history majors have to take. It is designed to teach budding History majors how to write a research paper of publishable quality and follow through with a yearlong research project. You spend two entire semesters learning how to conduct personal research, and it concludes in a thirty-page thesis.

My work station!

My work station!

This class was really important, because it meant that I had a trial run before even beginning to think about working on my senior thesis. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was receiving step-by-step training on how to write my future thesis. I learned how to write a historiography, analyze primary documents, organize a year’s worth of research materials, write pages upon pages that all connect to one main argument. I think I would feel a lot more overwhelmed at this stage of my thesis, if I had not already been exposed to this kind of project. Now it almost feels like second nature – there are no surprises here.

Another great thing about the Undergraduate Seminar in History is if you’ve found a topic you’re really passionate about, many students build upon their sophomore thesis when they take on their senior honors thesis, which is what I’ve done!

My sophomore paper explored the contentions between nationalism and internationalism at the 1908 Olympics as seen through the conflict between the American and British teams. This paper mostly used American and British newspaper sources, and looked at the conflict that emerged during the actual sporting events and how that was portrayed in the media.

Such a beautiful space to work in!

Such a beautiful space to work in!

My senior thesis (in conjunction with my Woodrow Wilson Research Fellowship) differs in several different ways. First of all it includes the 1948 Games, which I did not cover at all in my sophomore paper. It examines the perspectives of the British Olympic Committee organizers and their message in comparison with how the media portrayed the Games. I am more concerned with British imperial image that the organizers are presenting and how that manifests before and during the Games.  In regards to the 1948 Games, I want to discuss the very different image of Britain that is being presented in these Olympics (a Britain proud of its “battle wounds” and recovering state), as opposed to the 1908 Games, and how there is an element in these Olympics of international collaboration that was not present at the 1908 Games. I am also discussing in this paper how through these two Games, Britain helped to shape the modern Olympic movement in terms of making it a large-scale international spectacle in the 1908 Games, and then harkening back to the movement’s original objectives of international cooperation with the 1948 Games.

SO, as you can see while my topic for my senior thesis is similar in many ways to what I studied in my sophomore paper, I have taken a different approach and focus with my thesis. I think that this topic is not only more expanisve, but fills a more important historiographical hole in studies of the Olympics Games, which is discussing these two Games in historical comparison and continuation is something that has not been done before. I feel so much more experienced and equipped to write this paper having already engaged in a personal research project of similar scope. It’s really one of the most unique and wonderful aspects of the JHU History Department!