Friday, April 11, 2014

{ Saint Edmund's Hall }

Out of all the buildings on campus, I probably spend most of my time in the beautiful Saint Edmund's Hall. It's the academic building I associate most with language. I've taken English, history, Christianity, German, and applied linguistics courses here, the last of which is currently my minor (but hopefully soon to be my major- I promise to work on a blog post about this exciting news!).

The building itself is just gorgeous and is connected to two other academic buildings, Jeanmarie Hall and Cheray Hall. This is extremely handy in the winter when the chilly Vermont winds are in full force. You can go from one to another without having to trudge through the snow and cold! It's also very close to both Durick Library and Alliot, the dining hall, so anywhere you need to go is always relatively near. It usually doesn't take me more than three minutes to get anywhere on campus.


If you don't feel like walking over to the library, the St. Ed's foyer is the next best place to go. I often sit here and read when I have a few extra minutes in my day. It's one of my favorite spots on campus because of its livelihood-- there are always so many people here just talking and relaxing. Also, the natural light is wonderful, especially on a cold December day. St. Ed's is also home to the English programs for international students. Every week they host international coffee hour. It's fantastic and a wonderful way to make new friends from all over the world!

As I mentioned before, I have taken many classes in Saint Ed's. The room in the picture above is where I currently take Structure of the English Language, a class required for the Applied Linguistics minor.




Aside from the typical classrooms in St. Ed's, the building is also home to the school's IT help desk- on the second floor- as well as a couple of Mac labs (which are photographed above- one on the first floor and one on the second floor). Although I've never used the labs before, they are gorgeous and brand new. I think both labs are used by classes in the fine arts department. I have, however, been to the IT help desk. The experts there are extremely helpful and always willing to sit down with you and help you with whatever you're trying to fix. For instance, I went there last year when I couldn't get my final Digital Film project to export and they sat down with me at a computer for probably an hour to help me figure out what the issue was. There's also a printer here, which is very handy in between classes when you need to print something off quickly. At Saint Mike's you can print using any school desktop or your own laptop and then walk to any printer on campus, swipe your knightcard, and the wireless printers do the rest. It's really quite fantastic, especially for busy college students.


Saint Ed's is one of those places on the Saint Michael's campus that has so much to offer that you might never realize it. If you've never been there before, I suggest you go relax in the foyer for a while, take a walk around, or, if you're really feeling adventurous, take one of the Applied Linguistics courses!

(By the way, I know it seems random, but the image to the right is a piece on the second floor of Saint Ed's made completely of old pennies. I just thought it was so cool that I had to take a picture of it!)

I promise to write again soon about all of the excitement of spring as the semester winds down.

Until next time,
Love, laugh, and photograph!

-Jessica

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{ In Memory of Grace }

This post is not very typical of me, but I felt it was one that had to be written. The world lost a beautiful soul today.

I'm taking one philosophy class at St. Mike's this semester- otherness and marginalization. As part of that class, each of us has been carefully paired with a senior at St. Joseph's Residential Care Home, located only minutes from campus and run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Before the semester began, I was excited to form a new friendship and to hopefully make someone else's days a little bit more bright, even if only for a little while. Community engaged learning seemed like such an incredible opportunity.

My professor paired me with a woman named Grace, who, when we went around in a circle to introduce ourselves, spoke softly and demurely said that she liked to read, talk, and go to stores, but only to look and not to buy. She had gray hair and kind eyes. When I found out she would be my partner, I knew I was in for a treat.

Our journey began in Fletcher Allen Hospital. On the day of our first meeting, Grace wasn't at St. Joe's, so Professor Kirby and I drove a couple streets over and navigated the never ending maze of corridors to find Grace's hospital room.

You would never have guessed that anything was wrong with Grace. She was so sweet and genuine. When she said she was excited to be my partner, I could feel her bright eyes and smile welcoming me into her life.

As soon as she returned to St. Joe's, we quickly got into a schedule. I went to see her twice a week. Always on Monday and Wednesday and always at 2:00. We didn't do much. Just sat in her quiet, warm apartment and talked. And never about anything too serious. I learned of her childhood, all of the jobs she kept throughout her life, the farm she started with her husband, and all of her family, whom she made evident she loved very much.

She told me about the time she and her best friend fought over her new doll and the head popped right off and about how she and her family used to take trips to Maine in the summer. I quickly found out she could recall every detail of every memory of her entire life, as if she had relived every moment just before she told me about it.

There were some things Grace and I didn't have in common, and we found humor in them whenever they were discovered-- Grace hated sewing and struggled to make a dress in her home economics class, while I found pleasure in the activity and made my own prom dress senior year. Grace loved seafood, but I couldn't stand the smell of it.

But there were many more things that we shared love for. We discussed TV and movies and musicals for hours one day, discovering that we both loved The Sound of Music, we didn't know how we felt about the overly-artistic style of the new Great Gatsby with Leo DiCaprio, and also that we thought olympic ski jumping was simply terrifying. We both also worked on our high school yearbooks and decided that I would bring mine on my next visit so that we could look at it together. And we really loved pie. Coconut cream, blueberry,  lemon meringue-- it didn't matter. Grace lit up when I suggested we undergo a covert mission to sneak pie into her apartment one afternoon. We were very excited about our pie date.

But I never got to look at my yearbook with Grace or sneak pie into her apartment. Today our journey ended in the same place that it began.

I will truly never forget the gentle yet humorous woman who made it a point to hug me and kiss me on the cheek every time we said goodbye. I won't forget the magical, positive way she made me feel, even on those days when the sky was gray and the world seemed bland. I think our partnership, although short, was more of a gift to me than it was to her. Her friendship was the best thing I could have asked for.

And although my experience has been tough thus far, I have learned through it all the importance of community engaged learning and how it really can change the way we look at life. Being a part of something bigger is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences and I am so lucky to be a part of it through my education at St. Mike's.

So after you read this, please send a little prayer or thought or whatever you'd like for Grace and maybe have a piece of pie in her memory. She really was a beautiful soul.

Until next time,
Love, laugh, and photograph.

-Jessica




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{ Winter Walks at SMC }


Hello, friends!


The spring semester has officially begun, and after winter break, I feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to get back to the grind. I'm only taking four (rather than my usual five), so I'll have a little more time to enjoy St. Mike's, and hopefully more time to keep my blog updated for all of you!

This week is going to be super cold (as in below zero), to the point where you step outside and the inside of your nose freezes, but last weekend was beautiful. I think the temperature was up around 40 degrees, the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and explore a part of campus that I usually don't visit.



I made my way over to Gilbrook, a forest right next to the 300s field with beautiful trails and even more beautiful trees. Then I took a little walk around and just appreciated the the snow and the water and all the other parts of nature that you wouldn't think you'd be able to find right at the edge of a college campus. Here are some photos:







I plan to go back soon, and definitely want to make more visits when spring comes. I'm sure Gilbrook is even more beautiful then.

If you feel like taking a walk (alone, or with friends) in a beautiful place that's not difficult to find or too expensive, try Gilbrook! I think when we're constantly sitting at desks and computers, clicking away on laptops and iPhones, a little bit of nature can do wonders for the soul.

Exploring new places reminds me of the wonderful childhood I had, playing in the woods for hours with my sisters, digging up bones and catching frogs. While I wish I could spend more time just being in nature, like I did when I was younger, I appreciate even being able to take an afternoon walk in the woods. After all, sometimes it's the little things that can really make a day so much better.

Until next time,
Love, laugh, and photograph!

-Jessica

Sunday, December 15, 2013

{ My MJD Travels }

Well, the semester is over!

It's been a long and very busy fifteen weeks (as is made evident by my lack of recent blog activity), but just like every previous semester, the media studies, journalism, and digital arts program has allowed me so many unbelievable experiences. I thought I'd take this chance to document some of the places I've been since August and share a little bit about whom I met or what I saw in each place. So here it goes!

1. Basin Harbor Club - Vergennes, Vt.

One of the first stories I covered for The Defender was a Color Vibe 5k happening about 40 minutes south of St. Mike's. My fellow photo editor Sheila and I created a multimedia piece about the color run and Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a camp for children who have or have had cancer with whom Color Vibe was partnered for the event. Seeing so many people come together for one cause was inspiring and wonderful and the energy was indescribable.



Click here to view the final product!

2. Norwich University - Northfield, Vt.

My next story was about the Westgate Mall shooting and problems spilling over the border from Somalia to Kenya. I really wanted to include the voice of an expert, so I traveled to the country's oldest private military college to talk to an expert on international and domestric terrorism, Dr. Travis Morris, as well as a Norwich University student who lived in Nairobi when she was young. The more southern part of Vermont was gorgeous as the leaves were just beginning to turn and it was really awesome to be able to talk to someone who specialized in a subject we don't offer at St. Mike's.



Click here to see the final story!

3. The Veterans' Place - Northfield, Vt.

Just before Veterans Day, we had pitches due in Defender class, which is when we come up with story ideas for the next issue. Since almost 25 percent of the homeless population in the U.S. are veterans, I thought it would be good to shed some light on the homeless veterans in Vermont. I spent some time at a house for homeless vets in Northfield, right down the road from Norwich University. It was awesome to be able to really understand the issue of homelessness from a different perspective and to be able to share some of the guys' amazing stories. 



Click here to see the final story!

Now that finals are all done and I'm back in snowy Canastota, I'm already missing my friends and routine from St. Mike's. While I'm enjoying the comforts of home, I'm sure that soon I'll be eager to go back and start the spring semester. 

Until next time,
Love, laugh, and photograph!

-Jessica

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

{ Fall in Vermont! }

Hi, everyone!

So it's almost the end of October! How crazy is that?! I've been keeping super busy with Defender stories, photos, projects, and research for all of my classes, but fall has been absolutely beautiful in Vermont. I'm obsessed with the colors and smells of this place in October because they're just so wonderful. You really can't find them any place else, either.

Caramel apples from Lake Champlain Chocolates. They looked so good!
Here's a shot from a cemetery in Northfield, Vt., about 50 minutes away.

And here's a sidewalk on the St. Mike's campus.
Gourds!
This past weekend was our fall break, which means we had a four day weekend.

I wasn't able to go home, but my family made the five hour trip from New York and came up for a visit! Even though it was only for a day, I was so excited.

First we went to Sam Mazza's, a corn maze and farm about ten minutes from campus. They had a CSI themed corn maze where you had to find clues about a crime and solve the puzzle. My little sisters loved being little investigators. I think the maze was 3 miles long altogether.

Then we headed to Burlington for lunch and ate at one of my favorite restaurants: Boloco! I always get the buffalo wrap, but with fajita veggies instead of chicken. Mmmmm.

After lunch, we walked down to the waterfront. It was kind of a cold day, but my family loved the view of Lake Champlain and walking out on the dock by the Echo Center.
Cute little cupcakes at the bakery in Sam Mazza's.
And of course, here's us in the corn maze! (My twin sister Molly missed out, so I felt bad and put this together for her.)

Emily and Katie on the dock

Me and Frank!
I'm so glad my family was able to come and enjoy beautiful Vermont with me. I get to see it every day, but they aren't quite so lucky. And now there are only about four more weeks until Thanksgiving break, which will be the first time I've been home since I moved back here in August. I'm really excited, but still trying to enjoy my time here and all of the great experiences I'm lucky enough to have.

Until next time,
Love, laugh, and photograph!

-Jessica