Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your Guide to Grad School: Part 1

Considering graduate school? Now that I've survived an entire year and am well into the process of writing my thesis and applying to PhD programs, I thought it would be helpful to share my perspective.

1. When you're considering programs, make a list of what you're looking for: professors with certain interests, percentage of students who get funded, library size, etc.

2. Contact professors at every school you're applying to. If possible, visit every school. An in-person presence makes a big difference as far as seeing if you really like the place and could up your chances of getting money in the department.

3. Even if you did well in your field as an undergrad, consider reading the basic books of the field the summer before. That way it won't feel like a huge onslaught when you're dumped on with thirty thick theoretical books.

4. Talk to older grad students. My first year, I literally would have been clueless if I didn't follow the lead or ask questions of the second-year students. They were experts on what classes were good, getting summer positions, preparing a thesis committee, and choosing PhD programs.

5. Work as a TA. If you want to be in academia, you need to do this. Maybe working as a TA will clue you in that you DON'T want to teach, but if you're like me, it will confirm your career choice.

More grad school posts on the way...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Virginia Gubernatorial Race

News articles across the country are looking to the Virginia governor’s race.


In a state where its own residents (including me) are sick of the non-stop ads cluttering up television between the two candidates, this race is about more than who will be governor come January.

Political pundits predict that the outcome of this election will demonstrate where Americans in general stand. Democrats are certainly more subdued this year as opposed to last fall, when they were energized to the point of helping elect Barack Obama. Now, the Republicans are building momentum and in many polls Republican Bob McDonnell is far outleading Creigh Deeds.

Even though many might think Virginia’s recent blue-state status is propelling the Commonwealth towards a more left-leaning political base, that’s not necessarily true. The fact is that Virginia often has a governor of a different party than who is in charge in Washington, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see McDonnell take this race.

Negative ads can have effects on either side of the party line. Negative ads can charge up party faithfuls by making them think that the race is close and they need to get out and vote, or they can irritate the opposite party and get those people out to vote. The fact is, though, it’s an off year. People just don’t come out to vote for governor (and many other offices) when it’s not a presidential year. Maybe people are worn out from last year.

Regardless of the outcome, it is possible that Virginia could be showing the greater thoughts of the rest of the country: concerned with where the administration is taking things, delaying things, or not focusing on and use this to push for change in their own state.

But please, candidates, stop pretending you’re going to be generous with taxes. Virginia’s going to face tremendous financial problems without taxes. Would you rather be honest about the state and try to get elected that way or would you rather promise no new taxes and then break your promise? Wouldn’t that then make it easier for the opposite party to get elected the next time around? Politics is a tricky game.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Congrats Miss Roanoke Valley!

Congratulations to a good friend, Madison Van Duyne, who won the title of Miss Roanoke Valley Saturday night!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Maryland Renaissance Festival

I can't believe how busy things have been! I'm excited to say that my master's thesis research is well under way and currently waiting for approval for the testing of human subjects. I think the result next spring will be something I'm very proud of.

I'm knee deep in PhD applications and GRE flashcards, which is less than fun, but an important stepping stone to my future.

This weekend I spent up in Maryland with my boyfriend and his family visiting a boat show and the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I have to say, the festival blew my mind! I was expecting a few tents and some food vendors; the buildings were instead long-standing and half the size of the world's best amusement park, Cedar Point, near where I grew up. They had incredible shows- sword swallowers, jousting, tightrope walkers. Great food!

John wanted my hair to be braided by the professionals there and it was fantastic! Lots of compliments on it and so nice to have my hair off my face and neck in such a pretty way!

The Festival is open for two more weekends in Crownsville, MD and I highly recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Announcing an exciting community service project!

I'm happy to announce that a brainchild of mine is going forward as a community service project!

The VT Dress Drive will be collecting dresses from the Tech community, the local area around here, and girls across the state.

Do you have formalwear in your closet that you just can't use anymore? Want to donate it to a good cause?

Caitlin's Closet collects gently used gowns to donate them to girls who need them. The gowns give girls the opportunity to attend special formal events in high school. Everyone wants that chance to participate in these events without the high costs of purchasing expensive gowns!

While cleaning out my own pageant closet a few weeks ago, there were two gowns that just don't fit and I don't need anymore. I know I'm not the only one! If you are a titleholder in the Miss or Teen division in any pageant, please consider contributing to this great cause! I'll be happy to accept gowns though the mail if you contact me at vtdresses@gmail.com

This is a great opportunity to clean out your closet and help somebody else!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Exploring Virginia : Sinkland Farms

The finished products!

A small view of the pumpkin patch

This weekend I visited a very popular local attraction, Sinkland Farms. This farm has an ice cream parlor, petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, local craft vendors, a corn maze, and a huge pumpkin patch! We were successful in finding two great pumpkins to carve and had a great afternoon. The weather could not have been better.

Sinkland Farms is just outside of Christiansburg, Virginia and well worth your visit. The pumpkin festival happens every weekend until November 8th!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Congrats Anna Reis, Miss Portsmouth!

This weekend in Ohio, my friend Anna Reis won the title of Miss Portsmouth! Anna will be headed to Miss Ohio next June. I've been helping Anna prepare for pageants for over a year, and she is truly a sweet girl! She had only competed in one other Miss Ohio local this year, so I'm really proud of her!

Great job to my favorite Minnie Driver lookalike!