Master Port Authority by afederoff

I know, that same old woe, Duquesne University students do not get to use their student IDs as bus passes while Pitt and CMU students experience that luxury. Over the years, I have seen students try to show their DU IDs to bus drivers, protests signed and the like, yet no action has been taken for reasons I am not educated on.

Though it is not free, I feel the Port Authority bus system in Pittsburgh is a must for students in the city. Because many of us do not have cars and though campus is beautiful, the bus system offers a great opportunity for students to get to know the city and take advantage of what Pittsburgh truly has to offer. However, a tricky question arises… how does it work?

No, I am not a master of the Port Authority bus system but I may be able to help clear a few things up.

  • The most basic thing to understand is the difference between Forbes and Fifth. These are both one-way streets; this much I am sure you know. However, here’s an easy way to know which street to pick up a bus on: if you’re going INto the city (a.k.a. downtown, a.k.a. Duquesne) you want to pick up a bus on Fifth because it has an ‘I’ in it for “in.” If you want to head OUT of town to Oakland, Squirrel Hill, the Waterfront etc. you want to pick it up on Forbes because it has an ‘O’ in it for “out.”
  • To get back to school from Oakland, the Waterfront or Squirrel Hill, the easiest thing to remember is the ones. Any 61 or 71 will drop you off at Fifth and Stevenson, with just a 3-minute trek up the hill to the residence area of campus. You can also pick up a 500, which will drop you off in the same location. I would steer clear of just hopping on a bus that reads “Downtown” because there is many areas it may drop you off, but if you are in desperate need of a bus it is usually a safe bet.
  • Try a transfer. Because, as Duquesne students, we do have to pay for the bus (just a small disadvantage in a universe of opportunities) this is a trick that many freshmen still haven’t figured out. Most bus trips cost $2.00 each way. However, you can get a transfer ($.75) and use this as a ticket for your return trip. While there is a time frame involved, in most cases a transfer gives you more than enough time for your trip.
  • If you are waiting for the bus at a popular stop, you may notice an orange sign under the usual blue “bus stop” sign. This is a great feature the city has for planning your ride. Simply text the name on the sign to the number 25252, and the system will return a text message with all the upcoming buses and departure times. This can be extremely useful for obvious reasons. If you’re feeling really ambitious, save the number and the name of the stop and you can wait for a bus without even leaving your room.

Remember, if you are traveling on a weekend, try the Loop Bus.

Good luck,


P.S. feel free to leave individual questions in comments.


Move In Day by afederoff
08.22.10, 6:10 pm
Filed under: AlyssaF, Bloggers, Class of 2013, Duquesne News | Tags: ,

Though it is my second year on campus, I once again got to experience move-in from a freshmen’s perspective. I was all ready for St. Ann’s move in day on Tuesday, nervous and excited, very much like last year. However, I already had my stuff unpacked and situated in my room on the first floor… let me explain. As I mentioned last semester, I have been granted the privilege to be a Resident Assistant (a.k.a. RA) for this upcoming school year.

So, after a week and a half of intensive training, move-in day was our big day. We all reported to the lobby about 11:00 A.M. in our matching maroon polos, exhausted yet excited. Our GA assigned jobs hourly for the entire day, quite intimidating. The jobs varied between checking people in, handing out room keys, and just “floating” around the building, looking for anyone who needed help. As I circulated the building, I popped my head into a room just to check in. When I introduced myself, I was welcomed warmly into the good-humored family by a jest, “Hey, it’s the sheriff.”

Though I was in no way insulted by this comment, it is the perfect opportunity to dispel such rumors. While part of being an RA does involve duty and enforcing dormitory rules, it is not nearly the only aspect of the job. Instead, RAs design bulletin boards, facilitate floor programs and truly care about the well being of their residents. Bulletin boards take a lot of time and effort, as well as planning. (It truly is a slap in the face when the letters are rearranged or ripped off totally.) Similarly, floor programs take a lot of effort and can be very rewarding. With topics ranging from faculty to service, they can offer a fun and fresh way to meet new people. So, my first floor social will be bracelet making and ice cream. However, this is just an example of the variety of activities you can do at floor programs.

Value your RA, they can be a great resource and supply of insight.


Major Decisions and More by afederoff

After twenty-four full hours of totems, charisma (as in “deep truth revealed by cosmic order, recognized by social adherence”), and modernity, I thought I would officially commence the summer with one last blog as a freshman at Duquesne University. Finals sucked, I’m not going to lie. Luckily, I only had four finals (instead of the dreaded five) and I think I did well on all of them. My classes were awesome, my professors helpful, and my experience wonderful!

Let me tie up some odds and ends:

I think I’ve finally decided on a major… sort of. I entered Duquesne as a journalism major, enrolled in the Narratio learning community. Although I have decided to not pursue a career in the journalism field, I could not be happier with the path I took. Besides the obvious elements (such as making great friends, having awesome professors, and fun opportunities…like blogging!), I have found many of the classes I have taken this past year will be helpful in building my future curriculum. For example, Media and Society has been a great stepping-stone to future classes I will be taking. So, without further ado, I have decided to make my own major. The liberal arts college offers this incredible program in which a student literally makes a major of their own. With the help of my adviser, I decided this was the best path for me because of my future goals (to go to NYU and get a MSW/JD). If you have your heart set on Duquesne, but the liberal arts college does not have the exact major you are looking for, I would suggest looking into the program. In order to do this, I must compose my curriculum plan to our dean along with my reasoning for this course of study (major summer project). What do I plan on studying exactly? I like to call it a degree in feminism… it will be a unique combination of media studies, sociology, women studies, and conflict resolution.

That brings me to my next point: you’re never too new to get involved. Though countless advisors, interviewers, and peers have told me I am way ahead of the game, I think I am just trying to stay on the right path, following my passions. So, as my summer plans shape up, I will be working for an OB/GYN Monday through Thursday, and Fridays and Saturdays will be devoted to my internship, the first exciting leap into my career path. I briefly mentioned it before, but since it began in January, I have hardly had the time to blog about it. Anyway, I will be an intern for Ms. Courtney Martin, feminist activist and author. The Women’s Center Therapy Institute, in NYC, has asked to be the frontrunner for their international campaign against distorters of body image. The campaign, entitled Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body, is scheduled to occur in March of 2011 and I am ecstatic to announce that I have currently been working on the guest list!

In terms of getting involved on campus and in Pittsburgh, I would encourage new freshmen to step out of the comfort zone and just try everything. Organizations I have become heavily involved with are CONTACT Pittsburgh, Strong Women Strong Girls, the Liberal Art blog, and Residence Life, as well as Phi Eta Sigma (the freshmen honors fraternity) and Lambda Sigma (the sophomore honors fraternity). Becoming involved was one of the best decisions I have made all year. Sure, it took guts to attend all those initial meetings, but luckily I have them. J If you don’t, please, please take me up on this offer: email me, comment me, ask me questions etc. Being involved is key, especially as a Duquesne student!

Thinking back to high school, I still don’t enjoy being a freshman a.k.a. “fresh meat” and the like. But at Duquesne, faculty and peer leaders somehow manage to make it less scary then James Caldwell High School did. In fact, it’s not the kind of scary where you want to go home or eat lunch in the bathroom; it’s more like scary before a performance, a date, or a speech. Oh wait… I think the word for that is excitement.

Happy summer, see you all in August!


Busy as a Bee by afederoff
04.22.10, 8:10 am
Filed under: AlyssaF, Bloggers, Class of 2013 | Tags: ,

Ok, I know I’m a bad blogger… I haven’t written in two weeks! Show mercy: here’s why.

Since returning to Pittsburgh from Easter, I have been bombarded with work. In fact, even before that. My entire Easter Break was spent reading GenX Religion an (300 page) anecdotal analysis on Generation X and the religion they practice. Ok, so yeah, we were assigned books on the syllabus with hopes to end unit three with book reviews of several different views on religion. The assignment was twofold: part one was a three-page book report, incorporating how the book applied to the material through out the course. The second part was a fifty-minute presentation in which you educated the rest of the class on the book – obviously not the assignment to postpone. I also have been struggling with a film review on the Matrix and how it approaches religion and modernity. Oh right, and that’s just one class. Other classes have been going the same way, as I’m sure everyone can attest to.

Yesterday, I visited Roosevelt Elementary for Strong Women Strong Girls for the last time this semester. Unfortunately, our programming there only encompasses fifth graders, who leave the school for middle school this summer. So it was goodbye. However, seeing their progress was incredible. For example, seating was always an issue for us, so we would lay out name cards every week in a random order. Yesterday, though, we let them sit where they wanted, and to our surprise, there were no issues and the split themselves up evenly at the tables. Although I will miss them, I am very excited to meet a new set of girls next fall.

As I run off to class, the computer lab, the library, class, the ice cream sale, and back to the library, the best thing I can offer is a little ice cream – Strong Women Strong Girls will have an ice cream stand on the third floor of the union: for one dollar, you get a scoop and a topping. Additional scoops and toppings are twenty-five cents. It’s a great deal, a great study break, and a great cause.

Hope to see you there,


Freshmen Involvement Update: Overload by afederoff

I happen to know for a fact that my RA is on duty on Tuesday nights. (Yet, this is to be expected after doing rounds with her.) So, last Tuesday, right before Easter Break, I had a bunch of floor mates over to hang out before we all headed to our respective homes. When Hailey, my RA, knocked on the door to do her post freshmen involvement forms, I was surprised by what I heard.

As she went around the room asking each of my friends what they had become involved with, I was impressed by how these girls manage their time. Every person in the room had become involved with any programs, clubs, or sororities Duquesne has offered. As time goes on, I am finding this is not uncommon for the Duquesne University student. Many organizations are very welcoming to freshmen, and our students seem to want to be involved.

However, as I listed all the things I have planned for next year, I became increasingly overwhelmed. Here is the list I spewed out to Hailey:

Strong Women Strong Girls: I’m sure everyone knows my now I am a mentor for Strong Women Strong Girls and I love it! This is an awesome organization to be a part of, especially if you plan on going into education, gender studies, or PR. The sense of community established among Duquesne mentors is welcoming, but because the organization is in many cities, the feeling of being part of a tri-city volunteer organization is very powerful.

Resident Assistant: I was accepted to be a resident assistant. Of course, there are many benefits to this job, but I hear it is very time consuming. Nonetheless, I am very excited for all aspects of the job. In fact, I find out where I will be living next year tonight.

Phi Eta Sigma: This is a freshmen honors society. I think about 250 freshmen students are members. Commitments include bi-weekly meetings.

Lambda Sigma: This is a sophomore honors society. Only 50 students are accepted into this fraternity, which fosters leadership, scholarship, fellowship and the spirit of service. I am very excited to be a member of this organization. Requirements are weekly meetings and 13 hours of community service a semester.

CONTACT Pittsburgh: Contact is an incredible organization: it is a 24-hour crisis hotline. After many hours of training (50+!), I am now a volunteer. This is not a very big time commitment (after training, that is) but it is a cause that I wholeheartedly support. It very rewarding work, and while challenging at times, I am very happy to be involved.

Gwen’s Girls: Gwen’s Girl is a group home for girls ages 8 to 18 who are underprivileged. There are many different opportunities to get involved in this organization – I had planned on tutoring after school and peer mentoring. The only downfall to volunteering at Gwen’s Girls is the location: it is difficult and dangerous to get to without a car.

Internship: I have mentioned before I will be working for Courtney E. Martin, author and activist, through out the next year. We are working on an international campaign against the distortion of body image, the thing I am most passionate about! This is a great opportunity and I am hoping it will provide an irreplaceable learning experience and also open future doors. I would highly advice anyone and everyone to look for an internship

…And of course, blogging!

With such a long list, it is hard to believe in August, I entered the Duquesne community, completely uninvolved and a little lost. Therefore, if anyone is interested or unsure about in getting involved, whether it is in any of these organizations or other organizations on campus, please, please feel free to talk to me. Also, any questions on time management… I’m your girl!


Don’t Be Afraid of the Learning Communities!!!! by afederoff

Just about this time last year, I was attempting to choose a learning community for my freshmen year. I know I was a little unsure of how much weight this held, how it would mold my year, and how to decide. Let me try to remedy that:

First and foremost, let me say that Duquesne’s Liberal Arts learning communities are awesome! They all really help integrate students into the Duquesne community instead a blunt transition. For this reason, you are “safe” picking any learning community offered. Basically, being a member of this community entails a couple things – you will have four core classes with these students (three first semester and one second), you will work on a service project with them through out these semesters, and you will live on the same floor as these people. Each community features different classes and a unique service project. These range from organizing organ/blood donation to publishing a book for senior citizens of Pittsburgh.

There are several ways you can choose your learning community.

  • By Location: Each community lives on a specific floor in a specific building. I know there are many rumors about the two buildings, Martin’s and Ann’s, and some students pick their learning community based on these locations. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS because it is not guaranteed the community will reside in the same location.
  • By Professor/Director: If you have met a compelling professor featured in a specific learning community, you may be interested in joining that community. Before picking this community, however, speak with the professor about the community: they will have a lot of great insight to offer you!
  • By Curriculum: While I would not solely choose your learning community based on curriculum, it is important to look at the classes each community requires: in reality, this is where a large amount of your time will be spent. I would encourage you to venture out of your comfort zone if there is a class you have never taken or do not fully understand, but if one class appears totally boring to you, that is something to consider.
  • By Goal: Each learning community features several nouns and a catchphrase summarizing what will be achieved in this community. For example, as a member of Narratio, my phrase is “Create a story about your community”. This is what appealed to me, and as I continued to read about the courses and Dr. Sora on, I realized this was the right community for me.
  • By Others: I know that some people are afraid of not knowing anyone in their learning community and band together with friends or acquaintances in order to prevent this. I would highly advise against this – first, there is no need to worry about being alone; chances are most people will be in the same place as you. Second, the curriculum and service project will take up a majority of your time. If you are not particularly interested in these requirements, the learning community experience will not be as fun and beneficial!

Here is a quick synopsis of each learning community (you can find more information here:

reckoning, reason, judgment, method

Improve your analytical thinking skills.

Director: Dr. Michael Irwin, Department of Sociology

people, crowd, multitude

Explore the dynamics of cultures and societies, masses and movements.

Director: Dr. Charles Hanna

parts, roles, characters, personalities

Consider how individuals and groups shape one another.

Director: Dr. Leswin Laubscher, Department of Psychology

circle, the world, the earth

Study other lands, cultures, and states.

Director: Dr. Mark Frisch, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

telling relating, narrative, story

Create a story about your community.

Director: Dr. Joseph Sora, Department of Journalism and Multimedia Arts

letters, literature

Explore literature and society.

Director: Dr. Stuart Kurland, Department of English

trial, legal investigation, judgment, decision

Search for truth and justice through evidence in the public sphere.

Director: Dr. Ronald Arnett, Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies

trust, confidence, belief, faith

Challenge and strengthen your most important beliefs.

Director: Dr. Jotham Parsons, Department of History

trust, confidence, belief, faith

Challenge and strengthen your most important beliefs.

Director: Dr. Jotham Parsons, Department of History

state, citizenship, city-state

Prepare to make a difference in community and governance.

Director: Dr. Tsekani Browne, Department of History

Good luck,


Looking to Next Semester Already? by afederoff
03.22.10, 3:10 pm
Filed under: AlyssaF, Bloggers, Class of 2013 | Tags: , , ,

In high school, our schedules were basically made for us. Oh sure, we were able to choose an elective… sort of. At my school, it was “pick a fine art elective” which consisted of drawing, ceramics or the musical arts of chorus, orchestra or band. We also were required to take a “hands-on elective” and I somehow ended up with Woodshop. I was the only girl in the class, and of course, just the year before someone apparently got their finger flown completely across the room by the band saw. And while, of course there are requirements to achieve a liberal arts degree, but I’m pretty sure none of them involve flying extremities.

First semester of freshmen year, I found that my schedule was already made for me. I’m still not really sure how this happened, but it seemed to be geared toward my interests and I had no complaints. Second semester, I quickly made my schedule with my advisor, much like I did in high school. We sat down together and looked through the course catalog until I devised a schedule that was fitting to my needs.

This semester, I am more independent. As a sophomore, I just submitted a tentative course schedule to my advisor online. I picked out all of the classes myself, and made a morning friendly schedule. Hopefully, I did a good job and I get the ok to register for them!