Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
Earlier this week Ansel Elkins, a recent graduate of UNCG’s MFA Writing Program, received one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States. The Yale Younger Poets Prize, which has been awarded to some of the greatest contemporary poets, including John Ashbery, Robert Hass, and Adrienne Rich, chose Elkins’s debut collection as the recipient of this year’s award. The collection entitled “Blue Yodel” was selected by judge Carl Phillips, who glowingly wrote of her work: “Razor-edged in their intelligence, southern gothic in their sensibility, these poems enter the strangenesses of others and return us to a world at once charged, changed, brutal, and luminous.” Elkins’s manuscript will be published by Yale University Press in 2015, and she’ll receive royalties based on the number of copies sold.
Since 1919, the Yale Younger Poets Prize has been awarded to American writers under forty years old who have not yet published a book of poetry. Past winners have gone on to become Poet Laureates of the United States and have won the Pulitzer Prize and McArthur Fellowships. Needless to say, Elkins finds herself in good company. Currently, she holds a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which has granted her the time and money to continue experimenting with her craft. Her work has also appeared in some of the most prestigious literary magazines across the world, including the Boston Review, AGNI, and Best.
Elkins is just another example of UNCG’s long list of successful alumni, and I am thrilled to be a part of the same program that helped jumpstart her career. If you are interested in reading some of her poetry, check out her pieces in Guernica and in The Boston Review, linked below. A native of Alabama, Elkins’s poems are inspired by the sights and sounds of southern life, and she strives to balance seemingly opposite themes, such as violence and familial love. I know that all of us at UNCG congratulate Elkins on her achievements, and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes next!
For her poem, “Blues for the Death of the Sun,” published in Guernica: http://www.guernicamag.com/poetry/elkins_3_15_12/
For “Reverse: A Lynching,” published in The Boston Review: http://www.bostonreview.net/poetry/ansel-elkins-reverse-a-lynching
Student Perspective post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
Does anyone else feel like the spring semester just started? I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but time seems to fly during the school year. It’s one of those strange phenomena, I guess. One day our classes start, and the next we’re making plans for spring break. I’ve noticed that in graduate school, professors tend to list every assignment on the first day, leaving us with a mountain of work that we somehow have to complete over the next four months. In January, I made a calendar to outline all of the assignments that should be finished by spring break. I was feeling pretty good about what I accomplished until I noticed that our break is only a week away. So now that I have to read two novels and write three stories in just eight days, I might need to adjust my goals.
Truth be told, I’m very excited for spring break. On Saturday March 8th, I’ll be flying from RDU to Boston, where I’ll spend the week with some college friends who I haven’t seen in months. Although there’s a fairly good chance I’ll have to survive yet another winter storm, I’m going to be in total relaxation mode and will even visit the New England beaches (while also wearing a hat and gloves). My sister, who lives beside Fenway Park, will be in Boston when I’m there and drumroll…she’s turning twenty-one on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve noticed that Boston gets a little crazier than most places on this holiday, and even though I’d love to supervise the city-wide shenanigans, our classes start up that morning. So while I won’t be there on her actual birthday, I’ll at least be able to give the “Please Be Responsible” pep talk just a couple days before.
As I researched UNCG spring break plans, I came across an awesome opportunity that the music department has been sponsoring since 2006. From March 7th to 16th, undergraduates and graduates who are majoring in music can spend five nights in Vienna and three nights in Prague while touring some of the world’s most famous musical sites. Dr. Nelson, a professor at UNCG, will lead the group on daily field trips—and the itinerary is extensive, from listening to world-class symphonies to exploring Mozart’s residence. Graduate students who attend can even receive three credit hours for the trip. So if you’re in the music program, this is how you should spend at least one of your spring breaks at UNCG.
In order to get a sense of how other grad students are spending their time-off, I took to the streets (aka the Graduate School building and my classes) and asked the increasingly creepy question: “So what are your plans for spring break?” Prasamsa Sharma, a first year master’s candidate in Public Health, will be flying to Florida, where she’ll kick back on the Miami beaches. And even though she has a lot of work, she told me, “I could really use a break”—and just like me, she plans on spending her time recharging.
Shaina and Chelsea Sumney, on the other hand, will remain on campus for cross country practice. The twins, who are both first years in Speech Pathology, will be competing on March 14th and 15th at the UNCW Seahawk Invitational. Recently, they both placed second in their respective races at the Dennis Craddock Invitational, and while they won’t be able to relax 24/7 like me, they’re looking forward to working with their team. Since they also competed for UNCG as undergraduates, this is their final year of collegiate eligibility. So if you’re in the Wilmington area, make sure to cheer them on!
Just about every student I spoke to wants to spend at least part of their spring break “chillin.” Brandon Haffner, for instance, will be heading to Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest music festival featuring some of today’s biggest artists. Brandon, who is a first year candidate in Fiction, will get to set aside the seemingly endless pile of books (which I, too, have to read), at least for a couple of days. It seems like that’s been the connecting strand in my interviews, the chance to reboot before entering the second half of the semester. Whether or not you hope to do the same, I’d like to wish you the happiest of vacations. Make sure to check back next week for another blog—if you don’t remember, my first blog of the semester was about needing to keep a better calendar, so if you’re confused why my spring break blog came more than a week before the actual event, it’s because I haven’t followed up with that plan.
Student Perspective post by: Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
While I’m tempted to write another snow day blog, I’d like to take this time to switch gears and mention a few specific events that will be taking place at UNCG throughout February. Most of you probably received the email about the upcoming Graduate School Workshops—but in case it’s been misplaced (you deleted it) or you’re unsure what to attend, I’m here to give you my thoughts.
I’m probably not the best person to listen to when it comes to these workshops. My goal at UNCG is to become a good story-teller, not to learn the best practices of structuring a thesis. But as I was looking through the list, I couldn’t help but think how the workshops are applicable to all of us, regardless of our discipline. For instance, on February 19th from 2 to 4 pm, the Graduate School is holding an event called “How to Develop a Business Plan.” And while I normally wouldn’t consider attending this type of workshop, I have developed a different perspective since enrolling at UNCG. Last semester, I took a course called Publishing and Entrepreneurship, and the final project was to come up with an idea that would help the publishing/bookstore industry. I had to create a business plan for my idea—and to say the least, I had a difficult time. So if you’re starting to think, “I’d like to write a business plan but don’t know what my business would be,” you can take the idea I came up with last semester. I now present you with a revolutionary idea that will benefit the publishing/bookstore industry: I’ve noticed that a lot of independent bookstores have a big open space for author readings/ book signings. So I asked myself, how could that space be best utilized to keep these stores in business? And I realized that just a few months ago, I attended a wine and painting course, where I went to Cary with a bottle of Merlot and learned how to paint a landscape using oils and a canvas. The class was packed and it was priced around $30 a person for a couple of hours—so I thought, why isn’t there a wine and writing class? An independent bookstore could hire a high school English teacher or Creative Writing professor to teach a class each week, from 7 to 9 pm, where people bring their own bottle of booze and get pointers on how to write a story. Anyway, I think this idea should be put into use, and since I’ll never do anything with it, I present this potential business to you, my faithful blog readers. And now that you have a reason to attend the Business Plan Writing workshop, I hope to see you there.
Another date you should mark on your calendars is February 26th. In 500 Forest, a “Communicating Beyond Your Discipline” workshop will be held from 3 to 4 pm. How does this apply to you? Well, since you’re currently enrolled in graduate school (and if you’re not, then that probably means you’re my parents), you are pursuing an advanced degree in a specific field. So now that you have gathered this incredible wealth of knowledge, how are you going to discuss your studies with those who come from different backgrounds? Perhaps this is a shameless plug, but the upcoming issue of Horizons will feature two current graduate students who have successfully communicated “beyond their discipline,” and won huge monetary awards for doing so. For instance, the Graduate School adopted the Three Minute Thesis Competition this year (which you will learn more about in Horizons), where students have to discuss their entire two years of master’s research in three minutes. The winner is awarded $1,000 and the main judging criteria is the ability to present your thesis in a way that everyone can understand. So if you’re interested in competing for $1,000 next year, you might want to attend this seminar.
These are just a couple of the upcoming workshops, but the whole list can be found here: http://workshops.uncg.edu/. Links for registering are also provided below. And in case you’re wondering, the business idea I presented earlier would be called BYO-Fiction or BYO-Poetry, depending on which type of writing class is being taught. Good luck. Now, go get rich!
How to Develop a Business Plan Webinar/Workshop
Wednesday, February 19, 2-4pm, Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering Auditorium – 2907 E. Lee Street
Mr. Joe Erba, lecturer/professor of practice at UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics, has served as a corporate entrepreneur for much of his business career, starting and leading new venture firms. He will lead an overview of coming up with an idea and how to design a business plan.
Ms. Kathy F. Elliott is the Vice President for Entrepreneurship at Greensboro Partnership, where she focuses on supporting entrepreneurs to secure mentoring and coaching as well as investment capital. She has been in the field of entrepreneurship and small business development for over 25 years and will discuss networking and connections to resources.
To register to attend either in person or online via webinar, complete the registration form.
Communicating Beyond Your Discipline
Wednesday, February 26, 3:00-4:00 pm, 500 Forest
For those who have registered for the Graduate Research & Creativity Expo. Discussion and hands-on practice in engaging audiences outside your field in understanding your work.
Graduate Student Association Research Talk: Qualitative Research
Thursday, February 27, 4:30-5:30 pm, EUC Kirkland Room
The GSA has brought together a cross-disciplinary panel of faculty to discuss qualitative research.
The Slippery Slope Series: Questionable Research Practices
Friday, February 28, 12 noon – 1:15 pm (light refreshments available); MHRA 2711
Dr. Kelly Wester, associate professor in Counseling and Educational Development, and Dr. Laurie Wideman, associate professor in Kinesiology, will lead the discussion. Register to attend at http://workshops.uncg.edu. For more info, contact Melissa Beck at email@example.com.
Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
Photography by Denise Sherron
Graduate School Staff
I have to admit, I’m beginning to feel like a psychic. At the start of my last blog, I mentioned how I’ve been told to never discuss the weather—but I brought it up anyway, and voila, a southern snow storm sweeps across the region and shuts down our school for nearly forty-eight hours. I can’t say that I am totally to thank (or to blame) for the snow, but I have to admit, it was a pretty nice coincidence. On Wednesday, I drove through downtown Chapel Hill and felt like I was in New England. Since I doubt we will have too many more snow days during the next year-and-a-half that I am here, I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the most memorable snowstorms in my twenty-four years of existence.
If you don’t already know, I’m pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing here at UNCG. While I can’t pinpoint an exact time I decided to pursue a writing career, I often think of an essay that I wrote in elementary school. The essay was about a snowstorm in Bar Harbor, Maine, and it described one of the most exciting experiences of my life at the time. I was nine, and my family and I drove up to Bar Harbor like we always did, the day after Christmas. And as we were sitting in our motel room, it started to snow. There were a couple inches on the ground by the time we wanted dinner—so we decided to walk, and on the way, my dad ran out into the middle of an empty street and made snow angels. My sister and I screamed, like it was the funniest thing we’d ever seen. And after dinner, with about six inches on the ground, we made snow balls and forts, and, in the middle of Bar Harbor (a town which hosts 3 million tourists during the summer months), my family and I had a snowball fight. When I reflected on this night in my essay, I described it as “magical.” And after getting a positive response from my teacher, I wanted to write about all of the magical moments in my life. A majority of my fiction ever since has included some kind of snowy landscape.
In high school, there were two years in a row when snowstorms forced CB West (my alma mater) to close on December 5th. Normally Pennsylvania doesn’t get snow that early, but both years, the storms accumulated over a foot. There was a dam across the street from my house, and whenever a gust of wind blew through, the snow shifted to one side of the hill, making certain parts feel several feet deep. After sledding for hours, my neighborhood friends and I built tunnels in the dam and watched the snow continue to fall. I can still picture it perfectly—the frozen reservoir and my friends all bundled up in their winter gear and, of course, the thoughts of hot chocolate that awaited us at home. I never went skiing as a kid, but sledding at the reservoir was the next best thing. From November through March, I checked weather.com every week for potential snowstorms, dreaming of the days when we could pull our sleds across the street.
I forgot how much I loved snow days until this week. As a commuter student, I appreciate that UNCG took precautions during the storms—the roads were slick and there was no need to risk driving. On our day off, I played disc golf in the woods of Chapel Hill while children pulled their sleds to the nearest hill. I was reminded of my own childhood, and I had to pinch myself, just to know I was still in North Carolina. I didn’t expect this kind of week, but I’m happy it happened—not only for a day away from school, but for the chance to feel like a kid again.
Post and photograph by Denise Sherron, The Graduate School, Enrolled Student Services
For those considering a return to the classroom, the VISIONS program at UNCG is unique, giving easy access to an incredible variety of graduate courses. Here, you can boost your career, get ready for grad school, or just learn and explore. UNCG’s VISIONS program is designed to provide qualified individuals with the opportunity to enroll in graduate-level courses without having to apply and be admitted to a specific degree program. As a non-degree seeking or visiting student, you can explore a program or two, build personal confidence and academic skills, and refine your personal or professional interests, or renewal of teacher licensure. Credits earned at UNCG through VISIONS are recorded in the University Registrar’s Office on an official transcript.
Peruse our graduate programs here: http://grs.uncg.edu/programs/ UNCG also offers many online courses that can lead to a Master’s degree or a Graduate Certificate, you can explore those here: http://online.uncg.edu/programs_GRADUATE.php For detailed information on the VISIONS program and the enrollment process, visit The Graduate School online at http://grs.uncg.edu/visions/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 336-334-5596.
The time to start is now! The Spring 2014 VISIONS application deadline is Janaury 10, 2014. The application fee is only $25, and no GRE is required.
Visions Eligibility: To be eligible to enroll, you must:
- Have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited College or University.
- Not be currently enrolled as a degree student at UNCG.
- Do not have an application for admission to The Graduate School under review for the same semester.
- Check with the department of interest (e.g., Art, Business Administration) and meet special requirements that may exist for that department.
Advising: Students considering later enrollment in a degree program are strongly encouraged to contact their department to determine which Visions class will count toward your degree.
- No courses below the 500-level will count toward a graduate degree.
- A maximum of 9 hours in courses numbered 749 and below may be taken through Visions and applied to a graduate degree or 3 hours for a certificate.
- There are restrictions on which classes are available to Visions students. Contact the department of interest for more information.
- See more at: http://gradschoolblog.uncg.edu/apply-for-fall-2013-visions-courses-through-august-16/#sthash.hmXy0Sgh.dpuf
Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
While it may sound surprising, I don’t always know what to write about in my weekly blogs—with so many events around campus, it’s often difficult to come up with one concrete idea. But I think it’s safe to say that this week, I should write about finals. I’ve seen all of your faces. And the panic is palpable. On Monday, I walked through the Jackson Library and could barely move. It felt like grand central station around the printing stations, and it took me five—no, not five, ten, no, not ten, fifteen—minutes to find a computer in the super lab. We’re all figuring out how to survive this week, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. So all of these thoughts are for you.
If you try to access my blogs from http://www.uncg.edu/ you have to click on the Current Students link, followed by The Graduate School and then look near the bottom of the page. But this blog isn’t just for grad students. If you’re an undergraduate—which may be zero of you, or one—I know what you’re going through, from personal experience. Finals week has always been the most stressful time of year. I like to think of it as an underwater breath-holding competition: just as your mind starts playing tricks on you and you think you’ll die if you hold out any longer, you suddenly get to emerge and take a big breath of fresh air. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but it seemed appropriate in my head. At the end of our finals, there’s a long winter break awaiting us. Essentially, that’s what’s getting me through this week: the fact that graduate school makes me feel (in certain ways) like an undergrad again.
After graduating from Gettysburg College, I worked two jobs that gave me one week off per year. In my interviews for both jobs, I asked how much vacation time I would receive—and while I didn’t get the answer I wanted, I had to take the jobs anyway. I sacrificed my vacation time for the possibility of getting a bi-monthly paycheck; and while my bank account was happy, the amount of time I got to spend with my family became limited. It’s for this reason that I don’t mind final weeks: at the end of it, we all get to go home.
But this doesn’t mean I’m ready to leave UNCG. Even as I write this, it’s strange to think I’ll be so far from campus, especially for an entire month. For me, home is just outside of Philadelphia, which means I’ll be approximately 475 miles from the Moore Humanities and Research Administration building (according to Google maps, if you take I-495 around DC). The MHRA is where all of my classes are held and has become my graduate school home throughout the semester. While I’m excited that finals will soon be over, I understand that I’m now a quarter of my way through graduate school. If time continues to go by this quickly, I might be graduating next week.
As I approach my finals, I truly appreciate the moments that await us. Since we’re recently off of Thanksgiving break, the idea of being home is fresh in my mind. For instance, the day after Thanksgiving, my sister had me set up the VHS player in order to watch Home Alone 2. The top of the VHS was caked in dust, and I’m fairly certain it was made in the eighteenth century. While it took me over an hour to figure out how a VHS player can be utilized in 2013, I eventually got it work, and Macaulay Culkin immediately reminded my sister and me of our childhood. As I approach this finals week, I think of moments like these, when I’m able to sit by the fire with my family and watch corny movies.
While UNCG may not advertise our vacation time on its website, it’s nice to think of the upcoming breaks as something we’re working toward. I know that once finals are over, I will start planning out next semester. Perhaps that’s what this crazy week really offers: an appreciation of what comes next. Although I still have a few more nights of hard work ahead of me, I keep reminding myself of why I’m here and of the rewards that soon await me. I feel like I’ve written all of my blogs as if I’m trying to become a motivational speaker, so I guess I won’t stop now. If you think like me and imagine finals week as one long underwater breath-holding competition, just keep pushing yourself a little bit more. Pretty soon we’ll all be able to take that one big sigh of relief.