Summer Update! by x3erica1037

Hope everyone’s having an amazing summer so far!  These hot days have been flying by and it’s already July so I figured it was about time for a quick post now that there’s an entire new class of Duquesne freshmen and transfer students.

If you’re new to the blog, you should know that my name is Erica, I’m an upcoming sophomore in the McAnulty College, and I write for this blog to share my experiences at Duquesne with anyone whose interested.  Right now I’m just offering a chance to get questions answered or clear up any confusions about McAnulty, Duquesne, move-in…pretty much anything Duquesne related.  If I don’t know the answer off-hand I’ll do everything I can to figure it out so everyone has as smooth of a transition as possible. Get ready everyone, because you’re gonna love the Bluff! 🙂

Please feel free to submit any questions or comments to this post and hopefully I’ll be able to get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.  So ask away!



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!


College Preview Day by x3erica1037

This past Saturday was the college preview day for the incoming Class of 2014.  It was an afternoon packed with a lot of information about the college, life as a student here, and preparations for enrollment.  Students were able to learn more about the learning communities, (Check out Alyssa’s post explaining each community if you’re still confused) talk with students and professors from each community, take a tour of campus, and connect with various departments like Residence Life and Financial Aid.

I was happy to volunteer for the afternoon when Dr. Stoddard requested my attendance, and I actually ended up having a pretty fun time.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into until arrived, but I was able to represent my learning community, Narratio (THE best community at the college) and also give a tour to a few potential freshmen and their families.  I then set myself up at a table in college hall to give further insight on my service project and community goals to anyone who passed by.  It was pretty strange when I realized it had already been a year since I attended the event with my own class, and now I’m on the other side of the fence.  Instead of trying to digest tons of new information, I was the one sharing my newly acquired Duquesne “expertise” with this year’s group of students.

I hope everyone who attended the event feels a little better about McAnulty as a part of their college decision-making process, but if there are still any unanswered questions or issues that aren’t quite clear yet, please feel free to ask anything in the comment box for this post and I would be happy to help!

*We also announced that we’re looking for a new freshman blogger to join us next year, so anyone who’s interested should fill out a quick application by taking a look at some of our older posts then sending us a sample post of around 350-500 words along with a short biography of yourself. Send all applications with “Blogger Application” in the subject line.

Good luck with your decision everyone!


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,


How About Some Variety by afederoff

As a freshman at Duquesne, my course load is still somewhat generic. Given, I am not taking at accounting or intensive science classes, but I still have found I am learning about a broad range of topics. I have been told that as I get deeper into my (unknown) major, classes will be more specific, but for now, I am still covering many requirements by taking liberal arts cores.

Considering this, I just figured I would share a little about my course load this semester. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I have the same, early morning schedule. At 8, I have my literature core, Imaginative Literature. The particular sect I chose to take has a subtitle of sorts: The Quest for Self. With a reading curriculum covering The Catcher in the Rye and The Crying of Lot 49, we have a lot of interesting discussions. I would certainly recommend this class to others. Shortly after, at 9, I have Sociology of Religion. Although this is not my favorite class, I feel that I am learning valuable things in this course. I find it rather challenging because it involves a lot of long, scholarly readings and most of the students are upperclassmen, but so far I have been able to hold my own. My third and final class of the day, statistics, is over by 11. Still, I manage to feel worn out when we are dismissed. Statistics, which will fulfill my math requirement, is going well so far. Although I do grasp the concepts, for all non-math minds, my professor makes statistics easy to follow and understand. At first, I was afraid to fulfill this requirement; college math was threatening. However, I am finding that with careful explanations and a dedicated professor, even math can make sense.

I consider my Tuesdays and Thursdays easier than other weekdays because I only have two classes on those days. At 9:25, I have Understanding Art with my learning community. It is refreshing to see familiar faces, especially so early in the morning. Although I only have one class with them this semester, I still find my fellow classmates a helpful resource. Later that day, I have a class entitled Social Problems. I would have to say this is my favorite class; we attempt to analyze and understand social problems such as poverty and discrimination.

In all, I am happy with my schedule this semester. Hopefully, I can manage to achieve as high as I did last semester!


Narratio Learning Community by afederoff
01.26.10, 3:47 pm
Filed under: AlyssaF, Bloggers, Class of 2013 | Tags: , ,

As I blogged about last semester, my learning community is Narratio. With the caption, “telling, relating, narrative, story,” our service project, in broad terms, is to create a story about our community. My membership in this community landed me on the fourth floor of St. Ann Hall West with my fellow female Narratio-ians: those who would hope to major in Journalism, Production, and Multimedia Arts etc. We could catch a glimpse of our male counterparts across the window on the East side of the building.

Just to re-cap, I completed three classes last semester with these students: Media and Society, our community director Dr. Sora, which turned out to largely be a history class, Thinking and Writing, a core writing class, and Biblical and Historical Prospectives. Although none of these students are my absolute best friend, I found many benefits in local study partners and we developed a sense of solidarity.

This semester, I live on the fifth floor, apart from my learning community, and I am unsure about my future in the Journalism profession. Still, I am a proud member of the Narratio community and I am enrolled in our community class, Understanding Art, with the same students. However, I recently discovered we have encountered a few setbacks. Our community project was to produce a magazine that would be distributed to the elderly folks at the senior center in the Southside. Our class was split up, much like a production company would be, and we had individual tasks that needed to be completed. As an assigned writer, my job needed to be completed first. And that, I assure, it was. Yet, apparently, somewhere along the line, tasks were not fulfilled, and our production has not yet been published. This made it difficult for us to write our final paper in Thinking and Writing – so we didn’t write it. Last week, in Understanding Art, our professor suggested we reference our papers to complete an assignment. Unfortunately, this was impossible. She was shocked to find out about the events that occurred, and is getting the project back on track.

To be honest, even though our learning community service project did not go as smoothly as planned, the bumps in the road served the biggest service possible; I am almost positive I do not want to be a journalist one day. Had it not been for this real world experience, I would not have realized how much dependence I would have on other sectors, or my personal distaste for this. I would have continued in my major, and one day, ended up very unhappy.

On the first day of my Media class, Dr. Sora said he had two goals for the semester: to either persuade us of futures in journalisms, or to prove it was not our calling or ultimate profession. I think he just may have succeeded.


10 Simple Ways to Have a Better Day by afederoff
12.09.09, 11:13 am
Filed under: AlyssaF, Bloggers, Class of 2013 | Tags: ,

This article will appear in Narratio’s  publication for the senior citizens. Enjoy! Alyssa

10 Simple Ways to Have a Better Day

Sometimes not even the sun can clear up the clouds hanging overhead. Unfortunately, gloomier days are bound to happen; they pave the way for smiles and sunshine. Yet when that raincloud cannot be shed, it can be difficult to remember that there is something beautiful hiding behind every corner. Days like that may require a little extra effort, but these ten tips can help make every day, especially rough days, a little bit better.

  1. Pick a phrase of the day, and force yourself to incorporate it into conversation. Phrases can range from “when in Rome” to “an apple a day”. Thoughts of this phrase loom in the back of the mind, and when the chance to insert it appears, a strange sense of accomplishment is overwhelming. This is such a fun and easy way to keep the mind gears turning all day, every day.
  2. Write down the one new thing you learn everyday in a journal. Although sometimes this may be a challenge, learning is daily. At the end of the year, open the journal and recognize all the knowledge that has been acquired through out the calendar year. This really illustrates that no matter the year of birth, knowledge is endless, and life is full of unknowns just waiting to be discovered.
  3. Look at the sky. Every day is different, but there is beauty every single day. Whether it is finding the moon in the middle of the day, or deciphering shapes inside the clouds, the sky is a great resource to induce wonder.
  4. Read a comic. This activity may take less than a minute, but it can set the tone for a great day. Comics, although sometimes silly, can highlight the simplicity and humor in everyday life. Although life is a serious matter, it is important to remember not to take anything, including yourself, too seriously.
  5. Listen to soothing music, especially upon awaking. Before you begin your morning routine of brushing your teeth or preparing breakfast, switch on a relaxing radio station, to gently ease you into the day. By beginning slowly, and without much stress, each day will flow.
  6. Say thank you. The important aspect of saying thank you is the recognition that it requires. Making a conscious effort to acknowledge favors forces you to see the kindness in people. Although many occurrences indicate that the world is becoming more violent, this simple activity encourages the opposite.
  7. Check the weather. Any kind of weather can be lovely, if you’re prepared for it. Sure, rain is a pain if you’re wearing the wrong shoes, and the sun is too hot if you’re wearing a sweater, but preparation can change all of that. If you have the tools (i.e. rain boots), any kind of weather can be fun! Abolish the woes of inclimate weather, and check the weather everyday.
  8. Have a good breakfast. Sure, statistics show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. However, explore breakfast choices that you enjoy.
  9. Help someone. There are many ways to help someone, and some of them take very little effort. Whether it be something big, like volunteer time with a nonprofit organization, or just simply holding the door for someone, helping others is a great to get a little bit more out of each day. Plus, a tiny act of random kindness may mean a lot for the person on the other end.
  10. Smile. It truly is a contagious activity. On days that are dragging on, a smile may be all someone needs to make it through. Pass on a smile, and it will be returned to you at some point through out the day.

Although sometimes it feels like the roof is indefinitely leaking, these ten simple behaviors can brighten any day.