Welcome Home, Class of 2023!

Around this time four years ago, I remained undecided about where I wanted to go to college. I had applied to multiple schools but still felt uncertain about what I wanted to do with my undergraduate education, how far I would want to live away from home, and what type of college felt “right” for me. The universal “College Decision Day,” May 1st, kept creeping closer, and I felt the pressure of the decision weighing down on me.

My parents could tell I was struggling with the choice, so one day after school, we drove out to Albany to drive through some of the colleges in the area to help me visualize what living there would be like. We visited UAlbany and the College of St. Rose, but neither felt right; it wasn’t even a feeling I could put my finger on about why they were wrong. It wasn’t until we pulled onto Siena’s campus that I found somewhere I thought could feel like home. As we got out of the car and walked around campus, it became a place where I could visualize myself spending four years, making friends, growing, and I sent in my deposit to Siena shortly after returning home from that trip.

Now, four years later, I’m shopping for a graduation dress, studying for my last final exams, and preparing to leave behind the place that I have come to call “home.” I’m getting ready to say all those hard goodbyes  to roommates, to friends I met during freshman orientation, to the faculty who have pushed me to achieve my academic best.  I used to think it sounded cliche when other people would refer to their college as a “home”; it took me time to see it that way, but now that I think of Siena as my home away from home, it makes it even harder to leave. I’m excited to embrace the next chapter of my life with open arms, but I will miss Siena and the meaningful relationships I have made here.

The best piece of advice I can give any incoming freshmen is to embrace every aspect of the college experience. I remember feeling everything in-between scared and excited when I showed up for move-in day back in 2015. Sometimes college won’t feel fun – it’s a lot of hard work and sometimes you’ll fail test or sleep through your alarm or miss an assignment. Sometimes you’ll get homesick; I got homesick even through my senior year. But these things happen; they’re parts of the college experience. With these not-so-positive experiences come great ones — you’ll meet other students that you quickly become friends with. You’ll get to celebrate at the end of the semester with SienaFest, enjoy sunny afternoons on the quad, and feel on top of the world when you ace the test you were sure you’d fail. You’ll foster great relationships with your professors and they will push you to your best. You’ll find a club that you love. And little by little, these small great moments will stack on top of each other until you start calling Siena “home” without even realizing it. 

As a graduating senior, I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to the Class of 2023 — welcome home! Siena is lucky to have you, and I hope you enjoy every moment of your four years here.

Siena Holds 6th Annual Hip-Hop Week

From Monday March 18th to Friday March 22nd, 2019, Siena celebrated its sixth annual Hip-Hop Week, a week-long celebration of the social and cultural impacts of the music genre. The week is coordinated by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center and Dr. Todd Snyder, associate professor of English, as well as the professor of a popular, upper-level writing class, “Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop.”

Hip-Hop Week kicked off on Monday with a visit from hip-hop pioneer, Biz Markie. Born Marcel Theo Hall but better known by his stage name, Markie has been working in the music industry for over thirty years and is well-known for his unique musical style, beatboxing skills, and DJ performances, as well as a brief dabbling in an acting career. When he took the stage in the Sarazen Student Union on Monday, he performed his hit single from 1989, “Just a Friend” and the audience sang loudly along to the familiar song. 

In Dr. Snyder’s introduction, he proudly shared that Siena is “the only college in the United States of America that has an annual Hip-Hop Week.” The event has become a staple not only in the Siena community but in the larger Capital Region, as Markie’s visit drew an impressive crowd of students, faculty, and community members. Dr. Snyder then lead a Q&A with Markie, asking about his initial interests in the hip-hop genre, as well as some of his personal influences with music. Markie was an engaging speaker, and his entertainer personality shown through in his responses; he would beatbox throughout his answers and crack jokes with the audience.

The events of the week also featured Hip-Hop Karaoke on Wednesday night, where students could win prizes by performing and dressing as their favorite artists, as well as a Hip-Hop Trivia Night on Thursday. This Friday March 22nd, Hip-Hop Week will conclude with “Expozé: Evolution of Hip-Hop” at 7:30pm, presented by Siena College’s Black & Latino Student Union. The event is a talent showcase that will feature a number of performances by Siena’s dance clubs. Tickets cost $3 for Siena students & faculty and $5 for outside guests, and all proceeds will be donated to the Coalition for Homeless Youth. 

Hip-Hop Week is sponsored by the Black & Latino Student Union, the Diversity Action Committee, Damietta-Cross Cultural Center, the English Department, Greyfriar Living Literature Series, Community Living, and Student Activities & Leadership Development.

If you’re interested in reading more about Markie’s visit, I covered his performance and keynote lecture in the 3/29 issue of The Promethean, which can be read here.

Making the Most Out of the Career Fair

The Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair is one of the biggest annual events of the spring semester, expecting over 125 employers to be in attendance. Regardless of your class year, it’s a valuable event to attend because it gives you an opportunity to spruce up your resume, dress professionally, and engage with prospective career interests.

The weeks leading up to the fair provide a lot of useful resources and information regarding how to best prepare yourself for the fair. Each year, Dress for Success Albany hosts an annual clothing sale open to students, faculty, and staff. The sale offers gently used business, professional clothing at a discounted price. It’s a great opportunity to buy discounted business pants, blazers, shirts, shoes, and purses. I have attended the Dress for Success sale since my freshman year at Siena and every year, I am able to find high quality business wear for less than retail price. The sale will be happening March 8th from 12-2pm (open to students, faculty, and staff only) and on March 9th 10am-2pm (open to the public) in Foy Hall. I would definitely recommend stopping by the sale to find some business clothing to wear to the Career Fair! 

The Carer Center is also sponsoring a Resume Critique Hour on Monday, March 11th from 12-2pm in Foy Hall Lobby. Students will be able to receive feedback on their resumes and connect with employers prior to the fair. Another great and entertaining event is the Dress for Success Fashion show, taking place on Wednesday, March 13th at 9pm in the SSU. The fashion show highlights what to wear and, more specifically, what not to wear in the professional world. If you’ve never been to the Career Fair and are nervous about what to expect, consider attending the “Make Yourself Stand Out at the Career Fair Employer Presentation” on Monday, March 18th from 12:30-1:30pm in the library, room L-26. This event will provide some helpful tips on professionalism and networking, as well as help alleviate any nerves about attending the fair.

The 2019 Career Fair is a great opportunity to network with employers, polish your resume, and practice professionalism. The best piece of advice I can give is to go into the fair with an open mind – don’t limit yourself to speak to employers only in your field. It can be nerve-wracking to approach people you’ve never spoken to before, especially in a professional setting, but part of entering the job market is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. No matter what class year or major you are, all students can find some sort of value in the event.

RSVP for the Carer Fair online at saintsconnect.edu! The 2019 Spring Career, Internship, and Graduate School Fair will be taking place on Tuesday March 19th from 3-6pm in the MAC.

MLK Keynote Tim Wise Visits Siena

This past Wednesday Jan. 30, 2019, author and activist Tim Wise delivered a lecture at Siena as the speaker of the 32nd Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change. This year’s lecture was held in the MAC to accommodate the large audience. I’m terrible with numbers, but there were easily over 200 students, faculty, and people from the local community at the event.

Wise had a very commanding presence as a speaker, constantly keeping the attention on him and using his humor to connect with the audience. He commented at the beginning of his presentation that he has been delivering speeches nationwide for almost thirty years, and his impressive rhetorical abilities shone through. 

Wise spoke on how King’s memory has ultimately been sanitized and stripped of “revolutionary content” in America’s historical memory, explaining that people only remember the parts of King’s philosophy that make them comfortable. “See, everybody will tell you that they marched with Dr. King,” Wise said. “If everybody who says that they marched with Dr. King had actually marched with Dr. King, we wouldn’t be having to have this conversation about racism in 2019.”

The MLK keynote centered on the idea of a dangerous historical memory. Wise tied this notion to the 2016 election, immigration conflicts, and police brutality, honing in on the idea that past history is constantly repeating itself due to America’s faulty historical memory. “We keep trying to reinvent the wheel instead of understanding that we’re fighting the same dragons,” Wise explained, “the same monsters we’ve always been fighting.” He concluded his lecture optimistically and answered an hour of audience questions.

I will be covering Wise’s visit in the 2/15 issue of The Promethean, so if you’re interested in more extensive coverage of his time on campus and lecture, be sure to check it out.

Using the Library as a Resource

I’ve worked at the library’s circulation desk for over three years now, and I’ve noticed that everyone uses the library differently, whether it be a place for group project meetings, hanging out with friends, checking out books, or for studying. I remember learning about how to use the library in my First Year Seminar class, but there are a lot of resources the library has to offer that many students don’t know about. 

Extended hours & 24-hour computer lab

During finals, the library extends its hours to give students additional study time. Starting on Sunday December 2nd, the library will be open until 2am Sunday through Thursday, and open until 11pm Friday and Saturday. If the 2am closing time is still too early, however, the library’s computer lab is open 24 hours, giving students a quiet, productive space to study in the late hours of the night. The lab is accessible to all students by swiping in with your Saint Card. The computer lab also has printers and computers available for student use.

Standish Café

The library opened the café last year due to student demand. It’s a small coffee and snack bar by the study rooms on the main floor. Instead of having to walk to the dining hall or Casey’s, especially when it’s cold out, students can purchase pastries, snacks, and drinks from the café. There is also a Starbucks machine that dispenses coffee, hot chocolate, or chai tea, so you can get your caffeine fix without having to disrupt your studying.

Reference librarians 

The reference librarians are another useful resource in the library. They work at the reference desk on the main floor of the library and are available to assist students in the research process, especially with finding sources both inside and outside of the library. The library itself offers a wide variety of materials, from books to DVDS to current magazines and newspapers. It also provides extended services like ConnectNY and Interlibrary Loan (ILL), which allow students to check out books or request articles from other college libraries and have them delivered to Siena’s circulation desk or made available electronically. The library itself has over 150 online databases available for student use. These sources are especially useful in writing research papers because students are able to search for reputable, peer-reviewed sources that can be used in academic writing. For help on using these databases, ask any student worker at the circulation desk or a reference librarian.

The Writing Center

Writing research papers adds to the stress of finals. Luckily, the library has a student-run Writing Center, located on the lower level of the library. At the Writing Center, student workers help writers enhance their work in terms of style, cohesiveness, and organization. If citations like MLA, APA, or Chicago are something you struggle with, the Writing Center is also able to help students craft citations. Make an appointment at the Writing Center here.

Reserve a study room

The library definitely gets busier as the semester draws to a close, which is why the library offers study rooms available for reservation. There are nine study group rooms available for bookings on both the main and second floors, which can be done through the library’s website here. The rooms come with a whiteboard, table, and chairs to accommodate groups. Whiteboard markers and erasers can also be checked out with your Saint Card at the circ desk.

Finals are a crazy time of year, but the library is a great resource, so use it! With assistance from librarians, databases, and the Writing Center, students are able to hand in their best possible papers, presentations, and final exams at the end of the semester. Good luck studying, and ace those finals!

5,000 Miles, 10 Countries, 3 Months

When Saul Flores was a junior in college, he walked 5,328 miles from Quito, Ecuador to the United States. He traveled through 10 countries and took over 20,000 photos in an effort to capture the danger of an immigrant’s journey north. His project, “The Walk of Immigrants,” made national news, and Flores has been featured on NPR, TEDx, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Flores was invited as the Keynote Speaker for Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week and spoke in the Sarazen Student Union on Wednesday Nov. 14, 2018.

A map showing Flores’ journey

During his lecture, “Fleeing Home: Immigration and the Cost of Poverty,” Flores shared personal anecdotes from his experience as a first generation Mexican-American. He explained how both his parents were immigrants: “My mom left because she was escaping poverty and my father left because he was escaping a civil war.” Flores talked about his parents’ experiences working and struggling to provide for their family in New York City. “Being an immigrant in America is very hard,” he said. “It’s been a very turbulent time for a lot of people across the country, and I keep going back to my childhood.” Flores then shared a particularly moving story in which he and his sister witnessed his mother, who worked as a housekeeper on the Upper West Side, scrubbing floors for a living for the first time. “We had never seen my mom scrub the floors before,” Flores said. “My guardian angel, my protector, was on her knees scrubbing floors.”

Photo courtesy of the Franciscan Center for Service & Advocacy

Flores was inspired to take his 5,328-mile trek by a service trip to his mother’s hometown in Mexico. While visiting his grandmother in Mexico, he went to the tiny cinderblock schoolhouse that had been constructed in the 1970s to provide an education to the children of the community. When Flores and his friends went inside the schoolhouse, 124 children began singing the Mexican national anthem to them. “It was so beautiful because they were introducing us into their home,” Flores said. He started noticing the poor conditions of the building, like the crumbling walls, flickering light bulbs, and splintering desks. Flores’ grandmother explained to him that this would have been the school he would have gone to if his mother had not immigrated to the United States. This trip was the catalyst for Flores’ journey, especially once he was told the schoolhouse was doomed to close. In his travels, he took over 20,000 photos, which he sold and donated the proceeds to the schoolhouse’s repairs. Flores shared stories of his 3 month-long journey, with one particularly harrowing experience in the Darién Gap, a passage of swampland between Panama and Colombia. Flores spoke on the positive impact of his journey, explaining that it sparked a national conversation on immigration.

Throughout his lecture and into the Q&A, Flores emphasized the importance of international travel, the influence of passion, and the power of grit and perseverance. Keep an eye out for more extensive coverage of this event in my article in the 11/30 issue of The Promethean! If you’re interested in learning more about Saul’s experience, check out his social media pages at @sweetlikesaul.

Thinking About Grad School?

With registration in full swing, students are encouraged to think about their plans after graduation. One option many students consider is attending graduate school to get a Master’s degree and sometimes continue on to get their PhD. Continuing your education post-undergrad is a big decision, and it’s important to know all the factors that weigh into this choice. On Wed. Nov. 7, the English Department hosted a Grad School Panel where Drs. Snyder, Spain-Savage, and Dearing shared their own graduate school experiences and gave advice to prospective students. They primarily talked about their experience in grad school for English, but the advice they shared can largely be applied to any grad school program. Dr. Snyder explained the panel intended to “demystify” the process of applying to graduate school.

Dr. Spain-Savage talked about the importance of deadlines in graduate school, emphasizing that it is nothing like the undergraduate workload. In grad school, you impose your own deadlines, she explained, which is one of the reasons why not all graduates complete a dissertation. Unlike the strict schedules of undergrad, graduate school grants you the freedom to set your own deadlines, which can be troubling to students who struggle with time management or self-motivation. Dr. Spain-Savage also commented on the importance of finding a program that fosters and supports your area of specialization. Dr. Snyder shared his personal experience with grad school. He said, “You never feel smarter than when you’re in grad school.” Dr. Snyder emphasized the importance of doing research in the grad school search to find out where the funding is, showing that it is possible to get your Master’s and even your PhD and not have to pay for it. Dr. Dearing, fresh out of grad school last May, discussed the importance of knowing what to expect when continuing your education. She emphasized that graduate school is “not undergrad part two,” but schooling at another level. The panelists then shared their advice on applying for and attending graduate school. Another important part of applying for grad school is the application itself. Applicants usually need a certain number of letters of recommendation. Dr. Snyder emphasized the importance of asking your professors early for these letters and providing them with information to help write your letter of recommendation, like a resume, a personal statement, and a writing sample. Similarly, letters of recommendation should show different sides of you and your personality to reflect how you will fit into a particular program. Talking to current grad students is a great way to fully understand the experience. Because they are currently enrolled in programs, they will be honest and realistic about what grad school is really like. Similarly, ask graduate students what they’re doing once they graduate to get an idea of available jobs and realistic goals to set. Another helpful tip is to reach out to the department of a graduate school you’re interested in and ask to be put in contact with a graduate student.

One big concern for undergrads looking towards grad school is the debt. After finishing undergrad, most students have to begin working off their debt from student loans. All three panelists emphasized the importance of finding programs that will help fund you or at least help you pay for the process.  The takeaway? Research, research, research before applying to a program. Research can find you funding to help pay for your education and place you in an academic environment you thrive in. “You have to stay true to what you love,” Dr. Spain-Savage said. Graduate school can be a great opportunity for undergrad students to reach their potential and find themselves in the process. The panelists emphasized to not be afraid to go somewhere new, especially when you’re young. “It’s fun to live somewhere you’re not staying,” Dr. Snyder said.

Grad school is a big decision with many deciding factors and it is not for everyone. It is important to be well-informed about the goals, challenges, and benefits of attending graduate school. If grad school is something you’re considering or even just starting to think about, reach out to your professors, especially those working in your field of interest. They are great resources and are almost always willing to share their own education experience with students. Your academic advisor is also a great resource if you have questions about graduate school. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, reach out, and research the process!

Greyfriar Writer-In-Residence Rachel Hall!

 

Last Wednesday, the Greyfriar Living Literature Series hosted Rachel Hall, an award winning author of the story collection Heirlooms. I attended her Craft Talk which was held during free period. Rachel Hall teaches at SUNY Geneseo.

The topic for her Craft Talk was “The Rite Stuff: Using Ritual, Repetition and Return to Shape Stories.” She discussed how ritual is and can be an important part in shaping a story.

After the Craft Talk I sat down with Rachel and asked her two questions I had, the first question I asked was, “When did you realize you wanted to write for a living?”

Like many writers, Rachel explained that it all started in a creative writing course she took in college. She noted that, “I ended up taking this fiction writing class because my roommate signed up and I just fell in love.” I also asked her what college she went to. She went to Knox College which is a small Liberal arts college in Galesburg, IL. She explained that being at Siena that day reminded her a lot of her time in college.

The next question I asked her was, “Is there a ritual you witnessed that kickstarted your fascination with ritual that made you want to write about them?”

Rachel says that the ritual that made her interested in the idea was when her and her mother and brother went to this ceremony for her deceased grandfather. They were in a cemetery in France and they placed a stone on his grave as an act of remembrance. She learned this Jewish ritual while she was there and it stuck with her. It was after this, that she became fascinated with how rituals can shape stories and how important they can be in telling stories.

Thank you so much to Rachel for coming to Siena! Check out a few of the pictures above of the amazing event!

 

 

 

2017 Clare Center Lecture

Last Thursday, October 5th, was the 2017 Clare Center Lecture. The lecture is hosted annually with a different topic and speaker. This year the Clare Center was able to get Sister Ilia Delio to come to campus. Sr. Delio is a Franciscan sister and is based in Washington D.C.. She is also currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.

Ilia’s lecture was entitled, “Being at Home in the Universe: Lessons from Saint Francis.” She began her presentation with some introduction on global warming and the major problem this is and has been for some time. While Ilia was giving us an overview of some of the things that are happening that are destroying our planet she explained “this is not news.” She knows that we know that these problems have been present for some time now and while some things are being done to reverse the damage, a lot of people are simply ignoring the problems.

Ilia believes that climate change is a “religious problem.” By this she means that we must think of the earth as a sacred space just as we would consider a church to be a sacred space. She stated during her lecture that, “we must rethink and refeel our nature and our destiny in order to remedy the problems.” She suggested thinking about life as an encyclopedia. In this context, human beings belong in volume 30 in the encyclopedia of life, but not only are we in volume 30, but we are also on the last page and in the last sentence of that volume. By explaining human beings’ place in life, she was trying to show how little we matter in the large scheme of things.

Towards the end of her lecture she brought St. Francis into the mix. She explained how we still have time to change our mindsets just as St. Francis did with the leper. As most of us know, St. Francis despised the leper but once he came to know himself as a creature of God, he was able to embrace the leper and love again. In this context, Sr. Illia believes we as people can also change our mindsets and begin to love our earth again and save it from our destruction of it.

Ilia ended her lecture on this note: “We are part of something larger than ourselves.” This was very inspiring and left me and the audience with some words of wisdom to take with us.

What I love about the department we have at Siena is that they always are inclusive of all beliefs and ideas. Even if you’re not a religious person, I highly recommend you attend another lecture put on by the Religious Studies department.

Constitution Day

Hey guys!

This past Tuesday we had a really awesome event on campus! This event was Constitution Day, an event that is hosted annually. The theme of this Constitution Day was New York State’s 2017 Referendum regarding the Constitutional Convention. If you aren’t aware of what this means, let me explain it a bit:

According to Section 2 of Article XIX of the state constitution, every twenty years there has to be a ballot question asking if there should be a convention to revise the constitution. If the voters vote for it, a convention is held, if they do not vote for it, nothing is held.

The speakers who debated this issue of whether or not to hold a convention were Gerald Benjamin and Jerry Kremer. Gerald is for holding a convention whereas Jerry is opposed to it.

Gerald believes that the constitution was born out of the concept of popular sovereignty. This means that government is created and subject to the people that it serves. Under these pretenses, Gerald believes that not only do the people of the state of New York have the right to a constitutional convention but that they should because that is why the constitution was created.

He understands that it is difficult that the proposal is on the back of the ballot and that people don’t like to vote on propositions, but he believes it is important that there is some democratic accountability.

On the flip side, Jerry Kremer believes that having a convention is too costly and unnecessary. He explains that anywhere from 75-100 million dollars would be spent on a referendum. He also believes that if the voters voted on having a convention,  he fears that a lot of important things that are in the constitution would possibly get taken out.

Another thing that frustrated Jerry was the fact that people who are pro-referendum have had twenty years to fight for voting yes on having one but have only recently been advocating the idea. Now that there is 45 days until the vote he feels as if people want a referendum just to have one, not because they actually have changes in mind.

All in all, the debate was very interesting and it opened my eyes to something I didn’t even know about. I think it’s important to attend events on campus that don’t necessarily interest you right off the bat because you may find out that after going to the event that it is actually interesting after all!

Follow the School of Liberal Arts on Twitter, Instagram, and like us on Facebook to stay updated on events on campus that are going on!