Fall 2016 Class Schedule

Fall 2016 Class Schedule


My schedule this semester is, as expected for a junior political science major, very social science heavy. I’ve never had class all five days of the week before, but I’ve also never taken a full schedule of such Amy classes. All in all, I’ve been loving it so far! Here’s each class I’m taking at a glance.

U.S. Foreign Policy

Course Description:

This course will provide and analysis of US foreign policy with a focus on the interests, institutions, and ideas underpinning its development. While the course will offer a broader survey, the emphasis will be on important developments during the Cold War, such as the articulation of containnment strategies and nuclear deterrence, and the analysis of contemporary foreign policy questions, including the problems of terrorism and failed states. In addition to security issues, attention will also be paid to significant developments in international trade policy.

Grading Breakdown:

Participation in sections: 10%, Two midterms: 25% each, Final: 40%

First Impression:

This class seems like it’ll be just fine. The professor is really charismatic and energetic, my TA structures sections very efficiently, and the readings have been a breeze so far. It is technically a 200-level class, but it seems to be taught as an introduction. It satisfies requirements across Political Science, International Studies, and even GECS, so there’s a diverse body of students in every lecture. I’m a little concerned about the lack of papers in this class, though. Expository political writing is definitely my forte; I’ll be golden if the tests are made up of essays, but very nervous if it’s all short answer/multiple choice. Oh well, I’ll manage either way.


Course Description:

A one credit course for those undergrads who have been nominated as Writing Center tutors. Permission required.

Grading Breakdown:

Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory grades are earned on a holistic basis.

First Impression:

I could not be more pumped for this class. Since just four students are taking it, the professor has already paid close attention to my writing style and habits. This is only a one credit class, but I’d still enroll if JHU offered an 18 credit version. I’m down to think meaningfully about expository writing any day of the week.

Democracy and Elections

Course Description:

An examination of most aspects of democratic elections with the exception of the behavior of voters. Topics include the impact of various electoral systems and administrative reforms on the outcome of elections, standards for evaluations of electoral systems, and the impact of the Arrow problem on normative theories of democratic elections.

Grading Breakdown:

For those who obsess about such things, initial grades will be based on the first test (20%), the final (30%), the paper (40%), and section participation (10%)

First Impression:

The grading breakdown above is taken word-for-word from the syllabus. As a sheep who does “obsess about such things,” I was a little taken-aback at the Professor’s outward snark on the first day. But that’s just how he likes to lighten the room, and I really do appreciate it on a long Monday afternoon. By December, I will have written a 20 page paper about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its intersection with democracy/federalism. I’m exactly 0% excited for it. Though other students seem genuinely eager about trudging through all those pages of writing, so hopefully some of their enthusiasm will rub off on me.

Parties and Elections in America

Course Description:

Considers how parties and elections structure political conflict, and facilitate (or not) democratic control of government. Topics include campaigns, voting behavior, election administration, money in politics, presidential nomination, and party coalitions.

Grading Breakdown:

Participation: 15 percent. Midterm: 20 percent, Paper: 35 percent, Final Exam: 30 percent

First Impression:

I’m here for U.S. Politics, so this class is right up my alley. So far, the professor has blown me away with his ability to list every major political figure in any election in U.S. history. He’s a really bright guy who clearly enjoys his work. We are encouraged to bring in any daily news from the current election to chat about at the beginning of class, which makes the theory come to life.

Italy Off the Beaten Path

Course Description:

For centuries, Italy has attracted countless visitors in search of culture and beauty. This one-credit course is an invitation to a journey from South to North across some of the most stunning – and perhaps lesser-known – treasures of Italian cities, regions, and communities. The course is taught in English. No knowledge of Italian is required, but those who can read in Italian will have an opportunity to do so. Everyone will learn some Italian words and expressions.

Grading Breakdown: 

20%: Attendance  40% Group presentation  40% Final take-home exam.

First Impression:

This is entirely a wild-card for me. I don’t need to take this class for any kind of degree requirement whatsoever, I don’t speak Italian, and I’ve never been outside of North America. I’m taking it because my best friend from high school is studying abroad in Rome this semester, so hopefully I’ll be able to use this class to engage with her new home. So far, I’ve loved how the professor uses Italian art to guide the narrative of his presentations. It’s been such a refreshing way to end my week.

Sociology of Health and Illness

Course Description:

This course introduces students to medical sociology, which is the application of the sociological perspective to health and health care. Major topics include stress, social epidemiology, and the social organization of health care.

Grading Breakdown:

Course grades will be based on in-class quizzes (20%), two take home essays (10% each), a team presentation (20%), and a final exam (25%) as well as class participation, which includes lecture and discussion section attendance and engagement (15%).

First Impression:

It’s a miracle I even got into this class, it’s (understandably) very popular. The material lends itself to engaging lectures and substantive discussions. Most of the students in my class are Public Health majors, who really are taught to think differently than Political Science majors. So, my peers always think I’m saying something super novel. Absolutely no complaints here.

Introduction to Social Policy: Baltimore and Beyond

Course Description:

This course will introduce students to basic concepts in economics, political science and sociology relevant to the study of social problems and the programs designed to remedy them. It will address the many inequalities in access to education and health care, unequal treatment in the criminal justice system, disparities in income and wealth, and differential access to political power.

Grading Breakdown:

4 papers (70%), Participation (30%)

First Impression:

Economics will never be my cup of tea. I can’t believe I’m taking a course cross-listed in econ when my degree doesn’t require it. However, the social policy lens here was too enticing to pass up. It’s co-taught by three professors, one from each department of Sociology, Political Science, and Economics. Though I’ve been dragging my feet through the first portion of the course focused on econ, next week will be a welcome transition to sociology. The environment of the class lends itself debate, devil’s advocate stances, and criticism of established works. All in all, a welcome addition to my schedule.



Graduation made me reflective

Graduation made me reflective

Today is May 28th. Right now is a time of satisfying endings and sunny beginnings. Or, at least, it should be. My sophomore year classes are totally over, my on-campus job has wrapped up for the spring, and I’ve moved out of my dorm room. My summer job giving campus tours is starting soon, I have a fresh off-campus apartment, and the sun has marked campus with sharper shade and warm lawns for the summer. But still, I have a strong feeling that something is unfinished.

Maybe that sense of a loose end is because one professor of mine hasn’t turned in any grades yet. It might be because I’m still unpacking and organizing my apartment, finding new drawers and corners every day. But, I suspect that it’s more than that. I didn’t really have a typical sophomore year; I took a leave of absence from JHU in the fall. I stayed home for a full semester, and took a break from any kind of formal education. As much as I feel so deeply at home at Hopkins, the rigor has sometimes been difficult for me to handle. I don’t attribute this to Hopkins really; I was overly anxious about academics when I was a third grader in public school practicing for timed multiplication tables, and when I was a freshman at this elite university researching for crazy papers. During my first twelve years of education, I didn’t seek out any resources to help my anxieties. Naturally, during my thirteenth year of education, I also didn’t take advantage of any resources to confront this old burden of mine. But, the heightened stakes of college academics and the hectic transition to college culminated in a necessary semester off from any stressors.

I haven’t talked about this at all on my blog before. Before now, I didn’t feel as though there was an end to the story yet. While I was armed with new coping strategies and an established support system when I returned to Hopkins in January, I didn’t know if it would work. I was afraid that I’d still be consumed with and inhibited by anxiety. I couldn’t be sure any of it would help at all. But now, I feel very much on the “other side” of all this. I can spend ages quoting paragraphs from the counseling center’s website or citing every system JHU has to support students like me. Instead, I’ll just leave some screenshots of the incredibly meaningful support I’ve been given here over the last few months.

My sympathetic boss who understood that I couldn’t handle coming into work one day.


A professor from my freshman year, making an effort to check-in and show she still cares


A TA who was more “attuned” to my compulsive need to be praised than I ever could’ve realized.


All of my professors being very accommodating when I came down with the fluunspecified



My case manager in the Dean of Student Life’s Office going out of her way to check in with me all semester long.



The list can go on. My professor who speaks out about the counseling center before every midterm and final. My friends who have been everything for me, from exactly understanding to exactly goofy at all the right times. And on, and on.

This is all to say: Hopkins is the reason I’m feeling better than ever. I have found space where I can thrive here. Fact: Hopkins values and cares for my mental health. This semester has, beyond anything else, proven it.

I think the unfinished feeling comes from a part of me that wants this semester to keep going and going. It has been the best semester of my 14 years in school. I’ve learned better, produced writing with punch, and lived so well. This is what school is supposed to feel like. My brother just graduated from JHU last week. I couldn’t help but hope that, when it’s my turn in May 2018, I’ll be bursting with this same kind of learning— finished and full.

Three Noteworthy Papers

Three Noteworthy Papers

(This blog is inspired by JHU_Gen’s really great post from last semester- make sure to check it out!)

Looking back over all of my blog posts for the past year, I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time either reminiscing sappily or gushing over extracurriculars. So, here’s a sneak peak into pretty much all I do academically- write papers.

Paper #1

Class: Expository Writing: Persuasion and Dissent

Semester: Freshman Fall

Title: Police Interference in Occupy Wall Street

Length: 11 pages

Stress level (1-5): About a three. I’d already written a few papers for the class, and I managed to finish the whole rough draft in one night.

Basic Argument: As evident from its indistinct ambitions, complex global reach, and muddled successes and failures, the movement isn’t simple. To oversimplify OWS even slightly, as Madrick seems to have done, is to overlook key nuances within its argument and potential for influence. Therefore, the critical question becomes: if NYPD brutality is not necessarily the sole reason for the fall of OWS, how does its collapse inform discussion about the movement as a whole?

Favorite line of the paper: Occupy Wall Street was an important social movement which stimulated as much change and discourse as it could, before succumbing to a predestined expiration. (This line is actually the last line of the paper, and it never changed through the revision process. That ending to 11 pages was a perfect “mic drop” moment for me.)

My thoughts: I believe that this was the third paper that I ever wrote in college. It totally reshaped my perception of academic writing. This paper taught me how to properly negotiate a conversation between multiple scholars and sources. Having an in-depth understanding of Occupy Wall Street has also been super helpful for my political science studies in general. When in doubt, I always relate a reading or case study to the protests in Zuccotti Park.

Paper #2

Class: Power and Democracy in the American City

Semester: Sophomore Spring

Title: Urban Participation: Fenster’s Method

Length: 5 pages

Stress level (1-5): 4. I put this paper off for way too long.

Basic Argument: In the following, I endeavor to apprehend urban intersectional feminism through Fenster’s lens, ultimately challenging her approach to the right of participation within the city.

Favorite line of the paper: Ultimately, Fenster soundly uses her evaluation of urban gendered power structures to reject the Lefebvrian concept of the right to a city. (This line is pretty straightforward, but I felt like such a knowledgeable student writing it.)

My thoughts: Before this paper was due, my TA created an entire ½ hour long PowerPoint presentation on how writing should be done. That presentation totally psyched me out; the whole time I was drafting the paper, I was second-guessing my arguments. But, when I finally turned it in, the TA emailed me back almost immediately and praised my work. She really appreciated the direction I took, and even asked me to present it to the class as a whole. I was definitely smiling with relief as I read her sweet message. Even though it’s not necessarily the best work I’ve ever done, I think I’ll always look back at it fondly.

Paper #3

Class: Global Governance

Semester: Freshman Fall

Title: Implications of the WHO’s EVD Prediction

Length: 10 pages

Stress level (1-5): 6. Definitely the most arduous assignment I’ve been given at Hopkins so far.

Basic Argument: By examining the scientific process the World Health Organization used to determine how many individuals will report Ebola Virus Disease in the coming weeks, the ways this estimation is flawed, and the serious social repercussions an emphasis on this indicator could have, it is clear that it is in the best interest of public health officials and news organizations to treat any WHO estimation as a vague guess.

Favorite line from the paper: Since so much math to determine the projected spread of EVD relied on precise dates and time periods, this tendency for human error at AFRO has the potential to hurt the validity of the WHO’s findings. (It is unreal how much research I had to do to make this super crucial part of my argument come together.)

My Thoughts: Right before this paper was assigned, I found out that I’d pretty much bombed the midterm for this class. I spent more hours on this paper than I ever have on any test, project, or paper in my life. For days, my computer was absolutely cluttered with tabs of research loaded in the background. In the end, my professor was still able to pick apart a few bits of my argument. For my first proper research paper though, I’m still so proud of it.

Overall takeaways: I really do need to backup all of these files on my computer ASAP, and I will actively try to come up with more interesting titles for all of my future papers.

My Parents Talk JHU

My Parents Talk JHU

Since I’m home for spring break, I thought I’d give my parents a little interview for my blog this week!

Are you glad both of your kids go to Hopkins?

MOM: Yes! I have a son who is a senior majoring in neuroscience, class of 2016. And my daughter was a writing sems major, political science major, public health major, writing sems major, and now has finally settled on a political science major– class of 2018.

DAD: I am very glad that both of my kids go to Hopkins. It helps the logistics of getting kids to school and home.

You live in rural Illinois. Were you worried about sending your kids to Baltimore?

MOM: No. I am glad both of our children decided to step out of a community of 20,000 where everyone knows one another, so they could experience life in urban America and all that has to offer and the responsibility it demands.

DAD: Baltimore didn’t scare us very much. We both went to the University of Maryland and were familiar with the area. Baltimore has a long history of being a friendly community. We feel that the worst thing about Baltimore is that it is so far away from home, not that it’s super scary or anything.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

MOM: I’m a big Gilman fan. I enjoy the archeological museum, the big white hanging lights, the stained glass, and the reading room.

DAD: I really like the marble steps between the quads. However, every time I go over them I think of trying it when they are wet with rain or snow and they seem so smooth that they would be too slick and that scares me a little.

Best restaurant in Baltimore? What do you get there?

MOM: Amicci’s in Little Italy. Lovely, casual family restaurant. I’m obsessed with the Pane Rotundo starter (a round Italian bread loaf topped with shrimp scampi) and the Eggplant Parm.

DAD: We come from rural Illinois and our town has fast food and maybe one restaurant. Therefore, we love to go to Baltimore for the food opportunities. We had a really good meal near campus at Paper Moon. That place is full of atmosphere and the burger I got was fabulous.

Have you guys made friends or connections within the Hopkins community?

MOM: The parents facebook page has provided a bunch of opportunities for parent-to-parent connections. My favorite connection has been of the “small world” variety. My parents, who live in another state, have a neighbor whose daughter entered Hopkins in the same class as my youngest, so we’ve become friends by coincidence.

Favorite piece of Hopkins Gear?

MOM: I have 3 “Hopkins mom” mugs that go through the rotation every day with my morning cup of tea.

DAD: I love my Hopkins hoodie that has Hopkins embroidered on it. But I also bought a stuffed animal for my son majoring in Neuro. It was a stuffed brain cell with the axon and dendrites included. The fact that I could buy that at the JHU bookstore is just so amazing to me.

Something that you are still waiting to do in Baltimore?

MOM: I’ve been waiting years to go to The Edgar Allen Poe House, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to it. I’m a big knitter, too, so Lovelyarns in Hamden is calling my name.

DAD: I probably would not actually do it (because I am too cheap) but I have thought that it would be pretty cool to go to The Preakness.

(Editor’s Note: Dad they just call it Preakness)

What are you looking forward to doing during Jay’s (my brother’s) graduation week this May?

MOM: Of course I’m looking forward to the actual graduation ceremony, but also the Wilson Fellowship graduation. I would like to see the lab my son has worked at for the past 4 years and meeting the PI who has been such a mentor and advisor in his academic development over these past four years in order to say thank you. I would feel great success if I get my graduate to pose in front of something that says Johns Hopkins and snap a successful photo – this would be a grand accomplishment if you knew how averse he is to mom and her camera!

DAD: We are so proud of our graduating Blue Jay. We can’t wait to go to the Wilson ceremony and to meet his research mentor. We are also very much looking forward to the actual graduation ceremony.

What’s a class one of your kids took that you’d like to take yourself?

MOM: Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System. Each week a different Hopkins doctor lectured on their area of specialization. A great way to learn from the top specialists about various diseases.

DAD: One kid almost took a class from John Astin. That would have been a really cool class to be in (except that I have no acting talent) because John Astin has been a TV icon all of my life.

You guys lived in Maryland for a bit. Did you ever see Hopkins before you had kids?

DAD: I ran cross country in college and was in the same conference as JHU. We competed on the JHU cross country course twice during my career- it was such a great place to run. Open fields followed by a bit of roads and a track finish. The course was mostly rolling hills running on grass and that makes for a really good cross country course. There were two JHU runners that I was competing with, Dave Stewart and Andrew Brecia. Those two ended up just ahead of me at the conference meet the year I did my best. The fact that I remember those two all these years later means that JHU had made a significant impact on me long before my kids were even born.

Share a Hopkins-y story.

DAD: We were dropping our daughter off at school and we were walking on the street by the bookstore. Along came a former student of mine from Eastern Illinois University. He had just started graduate school at JHU. It had been a few years since I had seen him and we were both a little unsure who the other was. It is so strange to see people out of their normal context. However, he stopped and we had a nice visit. We have since learned that as of today there are at least 4 people from the small town of Charleston, Illinois associated with JHU.

Best things about Hopkins?

DAD: I have seen a number of opportunities made available to my kids that are exceptional. From research opportunities to internship opportunities to classes that are outside the box I have seen my kids given opportunities that are far better than we would see around here.

MOM: My two kids!


My parents are such parents. Love them.

My Acceptance

My Acceptance

Since March is coming up, I’ve been thinking back to when I was applying to colleges and waiting on decisions. Here’s a video describing what it was like for me to choose Hopkins!


New Schedule, New Me

New Schedule, New Me

I was nervous when this semester started. Most of the time, it was in an excited-nervous kind of way, the type that makes me stay up late just to think over what’s up next. Sometimes though, I was more anxious-nervous, in a check my planner too many times just to make sure everything is definitely 100% going to work out kind of way. My game plan this semester is pretty different from anything I’ve ever tackled before. Thankfully, two weeks in, it’s all coming together.

My Work Schedule

I’ve had a campus job since I stepped foot into JHU. From lifeguarding at the rec center, to human subject research at the medical school. For the past year, I’ve been working at a campus housing office. This semester, the dynamic of my role in the office is much more thoughtful and serious than it’s been in the past. I’m done with grunt work, I now focus on big-picture projects. It’s definitely more intense work, but a welcome change.

My Extra-Curricular Schedule

Largely, my extra-curriculars have stayed the same. The only real difference is in my Campus Tour Schedule. In the past, I always picked tour slots on Fridays, perhaps the most popular day of the week for prospective students to visit. Hoping for a change of pace, I give my tours on Wednesdays now. My last tour was just me and one family chatting about Hopkins together—definitely my idea of pleasant.

My Academic Schedule


Yep, I only have class three days a week. Three very busy days, four relaxed days. Repeat. Everyone always talks about JHU’s open curriculum in respect to opportunities for academic exploration. Of course I appreciate that reasoning for loving my curriculum, but for me the freedom means that I’m not stuck taking classes that don’t match up with my idea of a great week. Since I’d always selected a more conventional schedule, the new structure felt bizarre at first. Yet I’ve concluded already that I function best as a student, employee, and friend when I have a few low-pressure days to decompress.

On top of a pretty perfect schedule, my classes are better than I could’ve hoped. I’m taking two classes with Dr. Spence, my favorite lecturer in the Political Science Department. My laid back class on sci-fi movies has historical themes, so it actually counts toward my major. The professor teaching my marketing class somehow finds a way to be extraordinarily peppy at 9 p.m. And, although it’s outside of my comfort zone, I’m enjoying my anthropology class more than I ever expected to.

Fun Schedule

Of course, I always schedule in some fun, too. Late night subway trips and giddiness with my friends is as necessary as everything else.

IMG_0826 2

Sure, I’m still trying to shake off some lingering nerves for the new semester. But I’m mostly full of boundless expectation and eagerness.

Freshman Flubs

Freshman Flubs

Dear Sweet Rising Freshman Amy,

As you walked out of your first ever college class today, you lost it. You moved so quickly and directly to the nearest bathroom stall, it was as if you actually knew where you were going in that unfamiliar building. Day One of a 100 level English course, Expository Writing: Persuasion and Dissent, and you’re already behind. The professor asked you, the girl who picked a daring front row seat, to identify the thesis in a 1 page persuasive essay. A question so easy it was practically rhetorical. You publically failed in the presence of impossibly smart classmates and an dauntingly articulate professor. You questioned if you were cut out for Hopkins as you ruined your curled hair with shaky hands in the bathroom of Levering.

 Of course, this won’t be your biggest flop of the year.

Preview of some grand moments to come:

  • You’ll trudge your way through four different work study jobs trying to find one that works for you.
  • Freshman orientation will leave you feeling surrounded by superficial acquaintances.
  • After months of working for the Wolman Housing Office, your boss will ask you if you know “anything at all” about your job.
  • You’ll ask an upperclassman if Penn Station is the JH Medical Campus.
  • You’ll perform super badly on a Global Governance midterm you studied like crazy for.
  • You’ll lose your keys and Jcard the same night you forget to charge your phone. You’ll sit in the outside of your dorm in pouring rain at 4 a.m., with no way of getting through the security entrances.
  • For the two seconds you resolve to become a Public Health major, you’ll interview for a lab job that you are laughably unqualified for. Seriously, the interviewer will laugh at you. You’ll even join in.
  • You’ll write a blog that offends tons of people from Charleston.
  • You’ll reread a syllabus, only to discover that you were required to submit an Oral Presentations term paper weeks ago.
  • You’ll sheepishly read an Ask.com article about how to ride in a taxi before you work up the courage to take your first cab from BWI Airport to JHU.
  • A professor will tease you for your obsession with getting good grades the same semester you fail to make Dean’s List.

And the list goes on. There are many more disheartening moments headed your way. They’ll hit you all like absolute catastrophes when they come. But, let me clue you in on one particularly exciting piece of news. One year from now, as you head into your Sophomore year, you’ll be notified that your intimidating expository writing professor recommended that you become a Writing Center Tutor. You’ll meet him in his office in Gilman for the interview on a sunny morning. You’ll laugh easily at his jokes, gracefully throwing in a few of your own. He will tell you that he thinks you’re a fantastic writer. He’ll offer you a position on the spot. You’ll take it without any reservations. On your way back into the sunshine, you’ll vaguely recall that one time you were convinced that very same professor thought you were the dumbest kid to walk through Hopkins.

Freshman Amy, right now you are a kid who just suffered through too many awkward orientation events, accepted a bizarre science job with a totally unreasonable commute, lost a blogging competition, and made a fool out of yourself in an English class. A year from now, I promise that you will find yourself enjoying some marvelous good fortune. You’ll see.

Very best wishes,

Rising Sophomore Amy

Looking Back and Forth

This week has been packed full of spontaneity and thrill. I’ve categorized my old papers from last semester, completed my mandatory online loan counseling course, and thumbed through new textbooks to get an early start on fall semester.

Okay, but in the middle of all those terrible adult-y chores, I did find something pretty interesting. As I sorted old files into folders, I stumbled across the first word document I ever saved to my brand new college Mac: my SAAB application! The prompt was pretty simple; I was asked to write a blog as if I was reflecting upon my freshman year. Considering my freshman year hadn’t even started yet, I had to make a lot of random guesses about how it would play out. With my actual freshman year past me, I laughed as I revisited my imagined life at Hopkins.

Priceless Presidential Picture

I thought that I would never be able to process the concept of my freshman year being over. Let me tell you, I’m kind of the master of denial. Yet, as I packed my freshman year scrapbook into my suitcase today, I couldn’t help but reminisce a little (a ton). I found myself thinking all the way back to my first week of orientation, and the speech which changed everything.

On the last day of orientation activities, JHU President Ron Daniels spoke beautifully to the freshman class. He was quirky, articulate, and engaging. In his parting words, he urged us to make meaningful goals and stick with them no matter what. I remember walking back to my dorm with my roommate and just fawning over how President Daniels was so relatable.

That’s when my roommate told me that he’s actually known for being really involved on campus and has even taken selfies with students. After scraping my exploded skull off of the pavement, I told her that I was definitely going to get a selfie with him this year. She just laughed at me, poking fun at the fact that a goofy photo had just become my “meaningful goal.” I shrugged off her words and got to work.

I developed a plan. I knew that I’d have to go to as many popular JHU social events, lectures, and functions as I could in order to optimize my chance of meeting and taking my picture with Dr. Daniels. I was a heroine with a mission. Which is to say, a girl with a camera.

I saw him for the first time a week later. One of the courses I took my first semester was a super cool Leadership Challenge Seminar which taught students how they could get involved in the Baltimore community. President Daniels came in as a guest speaker, gave our small class a lecture, and even offered to stay after the period was over for any last minute questions. Camera in hand, I approached him to take my shot. Just as I was getting a “hello” out of my mouth, I fell into a coughing fit. Blushing, I walked away while cursing myself for being so awkward and shy and stereotypically freshman.

If possible, the failure made me more eager and desperate to prove myself. I figured that a man as insightful as he must spend tons of time in the library. It was going to be a shot in the dark, but my camera had a great flash. I paced through the entire Peabody Conservatory, but didn’t see him. Admittedly, I got so caught up in the architecture that I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else. Due to my aimless wandering, a student worker for the library asked me if I needed any help. After explaining my mission, he laughed and said that President Daniels had actually just left the library following a meeting with a faculty member. I couldn’t believe I’d let myself lose focus so easily.


The search continued. A famous poet coming to campus to share a sample of her prize-winning verse? I was there. A presentation on JHU’s new initiatives regarding safety and security on campus? Front row seat. An impressive theatrical performance produced by the students of JHU? You betcha.

I think you get the picture. Nonetheless, he remained elusive.


Sadly, my operation slipped to the back of my mind as finals came and went. At this point, I started seeing my world in a really negative light. Thankfully, I found the user manual and was able to switch my camera back to normal mode. Thus, I returned from Winter Break rejuvenated and ready to try again.

Since President Daniels has been known to frequent lacrosse games, I arrived to the first home game of the season early to claim my seat.


After JHU had scored for the second time, I saw him making his way toward the concession stand on the opposite side of the stadium. It was going to be a photo finish; gasping and forgetting all sense of composure, I started pushing through the crowds to get to him. Suddenly, a man I was passing fumbled his chocolate ice cream cone straight onto my shirt. By the time I recovered, President Daniels was lost in the crowd, tragically unphotographed. I was too hasty and sloppy with my attempt, and it had cost me my ultimate goal yet again.

Spring Fair rolled around, and I knew I was running out of time. I combed the entire beach looking for him, to no avail. After a moment of seriously doubting his character if he could resist the draw towards a good funnel cake or chicken on a stick, my eyes zoomed in on him from afar. With triumph in my gait, confidence in my grin, and all the poise a girl like me could muster, I asked the president of Johns Hopkins University for a picture. He popped into the frame without even a moment of pause.


As you can see, it wasn’t exactly the flawless picture I’d hoped for. Believe it or not, I don’t mind- I’m still so proud of it. Before I’d started this crooked journey, I was terribly shy, unfocused, and hasty. Day by day, frame by frame, I grew up this year. I became more outgoing, driven, and deliberate. In short, I learned how to set myself up to realize my goals- just like Dr. Daniels told us to do in his speech. I think he’d be impressed with my progress in spite of all of those pesky mistakes I made along the way.

Here at JHU, adventure is both accessible and worth chasing. The memories are worth the vulnerabilities, the risks. Capture them. Reel-y. Here’s to three more years of thrills, blunders, and scrapbooks. Someday, I’ll take that perfect picture. Someday, my prints will come.

I’m smiling as I reread this mock-blog. I did actually get some major parts correct; I had a blast at the homecoming lacrosse game, I loved President Daniels’ speech during Orientation, I enjoyed Chicken on a Stick and Chicken on Stick at Spring Fair (I recommend the latter, of course), and I’m definitely proud of the steps I took this year. Yet, I’m also a bit disappointed in myself. During my freshman year, I never actually visited Peabody Library, watched any student-run skits, or listened to as many visiting speakers as I’d like. I even dropped that Leadership Challenge Seminar within the first week, so I could focus on my “more practical” research job. Both then and now, I acknowledge my need to branch out of the library and classroom more often. Here’s to a more outgoing and adventurous sophomore year!

Vacationing in Baltimore

As I walked through the wide crosswalk, I gawked without caring. The flashy buildings, quiet water, and air of action yanked my attention far away from my destination. For a moment, my absentminded steps diverged from my family’s walk toward dinner. My Dad had to catch my attention, causing my brother to tease, “Awh, it’s Baby’s first trip to Inner Harbor! Panera is this way!”

A year later, I still haven’t forgotten that trip. My parents were the tour guides; I let their brief experiences with Baltimore’s attractions inform the preview of my new home. Though retrospectively I question our typical tourist-y itinerary and the reasoning behind visiting chain restaurants I could’ve enjoyed back in Illinois, I remember the trip fondly.

Earlier this summer, one of my best friends from Charleston came to the east coast to visit her cousin in D.C. I hoped that her week in D.C. might include a detour to Baltimore, so I could show around Hopkins. It’s really hard to constantly translate my daily scenery into terms she can understand. I was excited to finally have the chance to give her some context as to what home is for me. Unfortunately, due to some scheduling conflicts, I ended up visiting her in D.C. instead—leaving Cailtlin with the same muddled, kaleidoscopic view of what it means for me to walk to work or go to class or live my life.

With the acceptance that Caitlin won’t comprehend my home until some indefinite next trip east, I’ve doubled my efforts to share such perspective with my parents. In this spirit, here a few of the destinations I’d love to include in their vacation to Baltimore later next month:

  1. My work. I’ve been working in the Wolman Housing Office all summer, often over 50 hours a week. My summer is inseparably bound to that desk, my days spent processing keys, organizing contracts, and chatting about waitlists. Plus, My boss is the type of warm person who will love meeting my parents.
  2. My hours of being a tour guide may be put to good use. I plan to steer them across the quads, through Brody, around Gilman, possibly adding in anecdotes of study sessions or sorority events along the way. It seems sort of surreal that I could take them into my classrooms and say, “Here’s where I took that final I complained about forever!”
  3. Karma’s Café. If nothing else, I need to take my parents to my favorite resturaunt in Charles Village. Afterwords, we can rest in the shaded benches of the BMA Sculpure Garden.
  4. Inner Harbor. More specifically: Inner Harbor shopping. Of course I have some ulterior motives in welcoming my parents to Baltimore. Sentimental parents visiting their daughter for the first time in months are prime targets for overspending on spontaneous gifts in Anthropologie.
  5. Peabody Conservatory Library. Even though I commuted past the library a hundred times while I was doing medical research fall semester, I never took the time to go inside. I’m definitely not opposed experiencing more Baltimore firsts with my parents.
  6. My apartment. The Varisty has a famous balcony on its 11th floor, a vantage point from which all of Hopkins is visable. If that’s not getting the full picture, I don’t know what is.

So much has changed between my parents’ last visit to Baltimore and now. The girl who once gawked at the busy streets of the city now travels them without even checking her phone for directions. That girl has traveled far in a year.

The distance between Illinois and Baltimore becomes increasingly tangible every time I remember that nearly no one from Illinois has a complex understanding of my new home. Though I’ve accepted the inevitability of that distance by now, I’ll take any chance I get to close the gap. Even if it’s only a slight shift. You’re welcome to visit me anytime, Mom and Dad!