Reflections and Projections

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2014 by dysherro under Careers, Student support, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , ,
PIC13636 Dec. Commencement

Congratulations Class of 2014!


Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

To wrap up this year’s blogs, I’d like to reflect upon my time at UNCG and make some projections about what is to come.  Needless to say, I have enjoyed my first year as a graduate student.  Most of my blogs are about the wonderful things that UNCG offers and how happy I am to be here.  But I’d like to take a moment to mention the budget cuts and all of the people that they’ve affected.  Just about everyone I’ve spoken to remembers the emails we’ve gotten, especially the scary ones that make it seem like there’s no money left.  I don’t know how much I can say without getting in trouble, but I think it’s a real shame that our state doesn’t value education the way it should.  I’ve met with a few staff members who have been forced to look for other jobs, and I get the sense that everyone at UNCG supports each other, whether we’re lucky enough to stay or need to apply for something else.  I don’t think any of the blame should fall on our university, and I know that everyone who’s been affected will move onto something even greater.  In a previous blog I mentioned how I’ve developed a “graduate school family,” and I think it’s become more and more true as the year’s gone.  Despite these budget cuts, everyone has continued to work and thrive and to keep on pushing, and I feel a tremendous sense of hope for all of us, regardless of these financial limitations.

All my life I’ve been around educators.  My mom was a second grade teacher; my dad taught biology; my uncle, gym; my aunt, preschool; and my grandfather, wood shop.  In high school I wanted to be a math teacher, and in college I changed my mind, hoping to become an English professor.  Somehow I second-guessed myself again, and now I’m studying to be a professor of creative writing.  While my goals have evolved throughout the years, I’ve always wanted to work in education, and I had the chance this past semester to teach my first class.  I served as a teaching intern for a course on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and while I had never read him before (nor did I understand Middle English), I loved standing up in front of a classroom and asking my students to think.  At first I was terrified: my legs were shaking and my voice sounded like Kermit the Frog—but there was something about the classroom atmosphere that made me realize we were all learning together.  I taught twice throughout the semester and loved it even more the second time, and if there’s one thing I hope for the future, it’s that there’s more room for aspiring teachers in the education system.

Being in a university has forced me to experience a lot of things that had terrified me before.  One was public speaking, which I’ve overcome thanks to the teaching internship.  Another was interviewing.  When I got this assistantship, I didn’t know how I’d be able to interview someone, and I sent requests via email to speak with the people we’d feature in Horizons.  I would have rather conducted the whole interview via email—yet when I sat down to talk with someone, I realized that most people actually like to discuss what they’ve been doing in school or outside in the community.  The people I’ve spoken with are passionate about what they’ve done, and for that reason, I am no longer afraid to sit down with strangers and ask them a few questions.  While I spent two years in “the real world” between college and grad school, I was never pushed outside of my comfort zone the way that I have in graduate school.

It goes without saying that I believe in the education system.  And I believe that the system will continue to thrive, no matter how many hurdles are thrown in its way.  As I approach this summer break, I’ve started to say my goodbyes to the people I’ve met throughout the year.  I wouldn’t trade any of the opportunities I’ve had, and I hope that those of you who read my blogs feel like I’ve said at least one thing of moderate intelligence.  I’ll be back again next year, so make sure you stop by this website and read some more.  I wish you all a great summer, and for those of you who are graduating or moving on to new positions, I know you’ll do well no matter where you go.  And for now, I bid you a temporary adieu.

PIC13547 CommencementPIC13380 Interlink Garden 023PIC13497 CHA Linda Brady 056PIC13094 Salvation SelectPIC13835 Minerva ApplesQuad LifeUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroPIC13193 Earth DayPIC13543 Counseling
Photography courtesy of University Photographers Chris English and David Wilson.

Editor’s note:  I want to personally thank Matt for his hard work on our GradSchoolBlog and Horizons.  He will return in the Fall and continue to cover items of interest to the UNCG community in this blog. Unfortunately budget cuts are affecting our funding for Horizons  (The Graduate School Newsletter).  We will only publish a Fall 2014 issue for the upcoming academic year.  

We hope you have enjoyed reading Matt’s blog posts and will stay tuned for his return in August.  Best wishes for a restorative summer to all our students and faculty!  

Denise Sherron
Enrolled Student Services
The Graduate School





Matt’s Summer Reading List

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by dysherro under Students, Uncategorized. Tags: ,
Matt Barrett

Matt “Bookworm” Barrett

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Now that the semester is officially winding down, I’ve started to compile a list of books that I want to read over the next few months.  Some of this list includes stories that I will re-read and others that have been recommended to me.  Throughout the semester, I’ve had to read at least one novel, one short story, and one nonfiction essay each week, and I feel like I’ve made a fairly good dent in the literary canon.  But some writers believe it’s better to know a few works intimately than to have skimmed every one.  It’s for this reason that I will re-read the following three novels/novellas, all of which I recommend to you:

  1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I mentioned it in a previous blog, but this will be the first book I read again.  The novel takes place over the course of one day, and Woolf ventures inside just about every character’s mind as they walk the streets of London.  The are no chapters—and in a way, the whole book feels like a three hundred page poem.
  2. The Pedersen Kid by William Gass – The first time I read this novella I thought: “If I ever write something this good, I’ll die a happy man.”  If you want a book that you can read in one sitting, this is it.  The plot spans the course of about twelve hours, yet the entire story is action-packed, complete with guns, whiskey, and a giant snowstorm.
  3. Noon Wine by Katherine Anne Porter – Another book to read in one sitting.  The story takes place in Texas at the end of the nineteenth century, where a farmer allows a mysterious man named Olaf to work his land.  Olaf plays the same song on his harmonica every day and rarely talks.  Then someone comes looking for Olaf and “stuff” gets real.

Now for the books I haven’t read:

  1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – I met Elizabeth Strout at the AWP Writer’s Conference in 2011, and I’m looking forward to this book for several reasons.  Not only did it win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but it’s set in coastal Maine, which my family and I visit every year.  Plus, it takes the form of thirteen interrelated short stories.  For my thesis, I will write a collection of short stories that follows a few interconnected characters in order to create one complete novel.  And who knows, maybe when I receive my diploma, they’ll also give me a Pulitzer.
  2. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner – I hadn’t read Faulkner until this semester when I was assigned As I Lay Dying.  I feel like I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to his writing, so I’ve chosen this book since it’s told via stream-of-consciousness, similar to the narration in Mrs. Dalloway.
  3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – I took a course on creative nonfiction this semester, and many critics consider this the original nonfiction novel.  It was also a huge commercial success, so it’ll be refreshing to see how people actually make money in this business.
  4. American Pastoral by Philip Roth – Another author I’ve barely read.  If I like this book, I’ll move onto Portnoy’s Complaint, which was featured on Time’s list of the 100 greatest novels since 1923.
  5. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – Now I’m starting to sound redundant but…I will read this book because I’ve never read anything by Wallace, and this is supposed to be his best.
  6. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – I read The Road, and for anyone who hasn’t, I recommend that one first.  I get the sense that McCarthy is fairly afraid of the world, and I’ve always enjoyed books from that mindset.
  7. And Last But Not Least: Anything by Franz Kafka – Some of my professors have referenced Kafka this semester, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read what he’s done.  By the end of this summer, I will have put an end to that.  I will read his good stuff, his bad stuff, even his elementary school essays.  And by next semester I’ll be the pre-eminent scholar on all things Franz.

I realize that not too much of this list is good for beach-reading, but I’m sure I’ll add some “lighter” books as the summer goes on.  For those of you who want a quick, enjoyable read that you don’t have to analyze, I recommend Elmore Leonard.  He’s one of my favorite authors—especially because of his spot-on dialogue—and when I dip my toes in the Atlantic, I’ll be sure to bring him with me.

Leading Through Service: Yuliana Rodriguez Receives a Gladys Strawn Bullard Award

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by dysherro under Awards and Honors, Community Engagement, Graduate Alumni, Leadership, Research, Scholarship, Student success, Student support, Students, Uncategorized. Tags: , , ,

 Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Yuliana and Dr. Helms


In the spring of 2013, Horizons published an article about Yuliana Rodriguez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Human Development and Family Studies program (HDFS).  The story detailed Yuliana’s  community engagement and praised her for her leadership.  As it turns out, the Horizons staff had made a prophetic choice.  Recently, Yuliana was recognized (once again) for her service and leadership, winning the 2014 Gladys Strawn Bullard Student Award which comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Every year, the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award is given to members of the UNCG community who demonstrate leadership that extends beyond the classroom in order to help those in need.  One of the reasons Yuliana was selected is her work with Latino students from various high schools in Siler City, Winston-Salem, Burlington, Greensboro, and the local area.  Throughout the year, she and her mentor, Dr. Heather Helms, have worked with 120 Latino families, offering information about UNCG and other universities, in order to push them toward a higher degree.  While she understands the obstacles that these students face—both social and economic—she does not dwell on the difficulties but “encourages them to follow their dreams.”

Throughout her research, Yuliana has noticed that a large portion of the 120 Latino families do not have parents with higher degrees.  Rather than simply encouraging the children to consider college, she has taken it upon herself to provide necessary information for parents to receive their GEDs or even continue working toward their baccalaureate degrees.  And she doesn’t just stop there.  “I tell them about graduate school, too,” she said.  Why?  Because she wants all of them to reach toward an even greater goal, regardless of how far away it may seem.

When Yuliana was two, she and her family moved from Guanajuato, Mexico to North Carolina. Along the way she celebrated her third birthday, and while the memories aren’t clear, her family’s move continues to shape the person she is today.  “Thinking about the courage it took for my parents to move is very powerful,” she said.  “I want something to flourish out of their sacrifices.”  Winning this award reinforces Yuliana’s decision to attend UNCG.  “It’s very rewarding to be at a school that values the work you do,” she said.  “Especially when you love to do it.”

But Yuliana isn’t ready to stop leaving her mark on UNCG.  Beginning next fall, she and a colleague, Sophia Angeles, are launching the Latino Graduate Student Coalition, in order to provide a space for those who want to share their struggles and research.  Yuliana, who also attended UNCG has an undergraduate, noticed a lack of Latino-based organizations at the graduate level and is working to change that.  “I’ve always identified as Mexican,” she said.  “But it’s so much stronger now.”  For her, the LGSC will be about embracing each other’s backgrounds and inspiring others to do the same.

Now that she is just one year from attaining her Ph.D. Yuliana plans to continue working in academia and community outreach programs.  She will be applying for professor positions at local schools, including Elon and Guilford, where the programs encourage community involvement and teaching more than research.  And when asked what she will do with the $1,000 award, she said it will help her continue to study and work toward her Ph.D.  As she reiterated, “I want to leave here knowing I made a difference.”


The Gladys Strawn Bullard Awards were established in 1981 as a gift to the university from Bern and Gladys Bullard. The awards were named for Mrs. Bullard, a 1939 graduate of Women’s College, and were created to recognize members of the UNCG faculty, staff, and student body for outstanding leadership and service to the university. The award recipients are individuals who have not only demonstrated these qualities, but have shown commendable initiative and perseverance in the process. In addition, their leadership has not only enabled them to get the job done, but inspired others to serve and lead.

The Real World

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014 by dysherro under Students, Uncategorized. Tags: ,

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Between now and the end of the school year, there are a few blogs I’d like to write. For instance, next week I will post about a student who has won a major award, and then I’ll wrap up the semester with some musings about the year, followed by my thoughts on the upcoming summer. But right now, I’m in a strange in-between period. It’s too early to write about the summer or finals, and I’ve already written a blog about coping with end-of-the-semester stress (which I’ve recently re-read in order to deal with my current end-of-the-semester stress). So as I found myself getting lost in the pages of Mrs. Dalloway, I wondered: what do graduate students care about? For those who don’t know, Mrs. Dalloway, is a stream-of-consciousness novel that reveals the thought-processes of roughly twenty characters over the course of a single day. And in a way, I think it changed my life. Ever since I read it (which was just a week ago), I haven’t been able to look at people without wondering what goes on in their minds. So to make a long story short, I’ve been thinking about what makes everyone at UNCG so different—and yet, at the same time, how we’ve all been brought together by the pursuit of graduate school. Therefore, I’ve been considering a question that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully answer: what defines a grad student?

Last week I interviewed a grad student for the upcoming edition of Horizons, and she told me something along the lines of: “I wish I had appreciated my time in undergrad more, because I hardly ever faced any real world challenges.” This particular student is in the process of starting a family and will also be moving to Chapel Hill in the fall. Once she told me this, I understood her dilemma. Even with all of the work we have, there’s a lot more to do than just school. I’ve often thought how nice it would be to always avoid the real world—and at times I’ve even told my colleagues, “At least we don’t have a 9 to 5.”

Real World Comic

But does that mean we’re not in the real world? At first I thought it did. Then I put a list together.

The list contained things that I didn’t have to do in undergrad but I do now. Here are some of the things I wrote: buy groceries, cook dinners, pay rent, commute, wash dishes, and take out the trash. In college, all I had to do was walk half a block up the street and my meals were waiting for me. But the list went on. For instance, I can no longer save a pile of dirty clothes for my trips back home. And I’m responsible for student fees. And today I even had to call a mechanic to arrange an oil change. To me, this sounds like the real world.

I think that’s one of the great things about grad school. I’ve written a lot about how much I enjoy being a student again, but I don’t think I’ve ever touched on this. When I first went to college, my parents told me that I’ll probably learn just as much from living on my own as I do from my actual schoolwork. I think the same can be said about grad school. Earlier this week, I noticed that my refrigerator was empty—and then I remembered that there’s no dining hall up the street. I feel like this is a pretty insightful realization. All this time I’ve been living in the real world and I didn’t even know it.

It’s easy to forget, I think, because we’re attending classes on a university campus. Or at least it’s easy for me to forget. But if I look around, half of my colleagues are married and even a few of them have children. All of us live on our own and some still have their taxes to do. So it’s not just grad school that I enjoy but this whole being a “real person” thing. I’m not sure if everyone reading this will be able to connect to this idea as much as I have. It sounds like a pretty simple thing, to have to take out the trash and do laundry now and then. And maybe it’s because I’ve been reading too many books that analyze every little detail—but to me, this is a fairly big epiphany. Even now, as I look at my sink, I notice that all of my dishes are dirty. So if I’m ever going to live up to this self-proclaimed “real world” status, I guess I should clean them now.

An Environmentally-Conscious and Spring-like Blog

Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 by dysherro under Awards and Honors, Community Engagement, Events. Tags: , ,

Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Foust Spring

Bicycles in the Spring abound at UNCG

I’ve noticed a trend in my writing.  As a fiction candidate, my stories often include characters with dark interior lives, and there’s always a bad twist that happens along the way.  Plus, I’ve written a few blogs about the snow and ice and freezing rain, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how it’s still cold this week—but as of this very sentence, I’ve decided to put an end to this trend and write solely about the excitement of spring on a college campus.  And there were plenty of dark things I could have written about: for instance, the fact that I posted a blog about March Madness, and then proceeded to come in 21st place in a pool that involved 24 people, after the first two rounds.  But no, I will not dwell on that because it’s officially spring…and what better time could there possibly be? (Please note: you should ignore that in previous blogs I alluded to fall, Thanksgiving, and winter break as the best times of year).  So I’ll ask it again, what better time is there than the spring?

I was looking at the UNCG website and found an article with a picture of green leaves.  It was a sight for sore eyes, so I clicked on it, and discovered there will be several environmentally-themed lectures and events open to students and the public schedule April 2 – 3.  The events schedule is shown here:  According to the article “The Think Tank” Chautauqua will be an environmental awareness/action event focused on undergraduate higher education, with contributions from the arts and humanities and will include music, poetry, and science with several noted speakers.”  Although I cannot pronounce Chautauqua (nor do I have any idea how it’s supposed to sound), I feel like this event officially means it is spring.  And while it is focused on undergraduate education, I know a lot of us in the grad school are hoping to work in a university-setting, so these lectures could greatly benefit those who will be teaching undergraduates.  I love to see environmental awareness being instilled in a young generation, and if you want more information, you can find the article here:

Reading about these events brought back memories of Earth Day, which this year, will be on Tuesday, April 22nd.  I was wondering if UNCG would do anything for Earth Day, and after two seconds of Googling, I found out that our university has been certified as a “Tree Campus” for the fifth straight year.  The Tree Campus USA program is a way to honor schools for “promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.”  UNCG will hold an official presentation for this award on Earth Day, and I have suddenly become very proud of our university’s environmental record.  While this may be a bit of a tangent, Gettysburg College didn’t charge its students for paper, so every night in the library, I’d see hundreds of pages by the printer stations that students didn’t feel like claiming.  There was no incentive to print only what you needed and that produced a lot of waste.  So even though we have to pay for printing, I feel like we’re doing our part, giving a couple bucks now and then to keep a few extra trees alive.  So anyway, if you want more information on our Earth Day celebration, here it is:

If you haven’t been able to tell from my previous posts, I’m a big fan of and and any website with weather in it, and I am officially proclaiming that our last cold day is behind us.  The days are getting longer, the flowers are in bloom, and I refuse to think that winter will somehow sneak back up on us again.  It is springtime, and I am packing all of my winter clothes into a vault that cannot be opened until November.  So whether you’re ready or not, here comes the best part of the school year starting…..NOW.

March Madness!

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2014 by dysherro under athletics, Community Engagement, Economic Development, Events, Uncategorized. Tags: , ,

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

March Madness: Have You Handed in Your Bracket Yet?

This is my first year enrolled at a Division I school, and even though UNCG isn’t in the NCAA tournament, I feel like I have a far greater connection to March Madness than ever before.  My mind has been consumed by basketball lately, so I’d like to take some time to philosophize about a sport that—by its very name—should drive us all “mad” between now and early April.  And in case you haven’t heard, the tournament starts today.

One of the reasons I’ve been consumed by basketball is that my alma mater, Gettysburg College, has been making news in the sports world.  This is pretty rare for Gettysburg—other than Eddie Plank, a Hall of Fame pitcher from 1901 to 1917, the school has hardly produced noteworthy athletes.  But earlier this month, a movie entitled 1000 to 1 was released on DVD, detailing one of the Bullets basketball players who suffered a stroke in his freshman year and was unable to rejoin the team until he was just months from graduating. The student, Cory Weissman, scored one point in his only game with Gettysburg, and from what I’ve heard the movie is a real gut-wrencher.  Cory graduated in 2012, a year after me, and if you’re trying to get into the basketball spirit this month, start by watching this movie.  You can download it on iTunes, and if you want to know how I’ll be spending my Saturday night, that’s how.

In one of my last few blogs, I mentioned that I’d be shipping up to Boston for spring break, and that’s exactly what I did.  So last Friday night I went to a bar with some college friends and the ACC tournament came on TV.  For those of you who don’t know, the ACC tournament was played in the Greensboro Coliseum, and I made a pretty big scene when the word “Greensboro” showed up on the baseline.  I touched the screen, explaining to strangers that I’m enrolled at UNCG, “which isn’t too far from the coliseum,” and unsurprisingly, no one really cared.  But I cared, so I’m happy I did it, and even though this isn’t much of a story, it made me feel good that our town was represented on a little TV in Boston.

Unfortunately for UNCG, the men’s team was knocked out of the Southern Conference Tournament in a close game to The Citadel.  A few days later, Wofford went on to beat Western Carolina in the championship, and now they have the honors of representing our conference in the tournament.  In case you’re interested, they will be playing Michigan (a #2 seed).  Normally I’d root against our rivals, but it’s hard not to cheer for the underdog.  A few sports “experts” are even saying that this game could be a major upset, so whether you’re rooting for Wofford or not, make sure you tune in to see our conference represented.

Even without UNCG in the tournament, I hope you all find a reason to get caught up in the madness.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be watching basketball religiously, so if there are any loved-ones who are reading this blog, don’t be alarmed if I suddenly become incommunicado.  Other than UNCG (and my Gettysburg Bullets), the team I always root for is the Tar Heels, and while they’re only a six-seed, Barack Obama picked them to make it through the Sweet Sixteen.  Needless to say, I feel pretty good about that.  Plus our coach, Wes Miller, played point guard for UNC until 2007.  So basically, what I’m asking is: how could you not root for them?  And if any of you are Duke fans, I apologize.

Wes Miller UNC Player

Wes Miller playing for UNC.


Coach Miller maintains intensity on the floor for UNCG.

In a perfect world, I would have tied this blog back to our academic pursuits, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it at this point.  Therefore, I’ll leave you with my jumbled thoughts on basketball, and a reminder that if you haven’t turned in your brackets yet, you better do it now.

UNCG Alum Wins the Oldest Annual Literary Prize in the US

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by dysherro under Awards and Honors, Careers, Graduate Alumni. Tags: , , ,

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:

For “Reverse: A Lynching,” published in The Boston Review:

Spring Break: So What Are Your Plans?

Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 2014 by dysherro under athletics, Events, Student success, Student support, Students, Uncategorized. Tags: , ,

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.

Photo of Sumney sisters during raceShaina 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.

Workshops for Graduate Students

Posted on Monday, February 17th, 2014 by dysherro under Economic Development, Events, Professional development, Research, Student success, Student support, Students. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Student Perspective post by: Matt Barrett
Matt BarrettGraduate 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:  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.

Register here:

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.

Register here:

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 For more info, contact Melissa Beck at

Reflections on a Snow Day

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014 by dysherro under Students, Uncategorized. Tags: ,

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Photography by Denise Sherron
Graduate School Staff

Library snow 021

Jackson Library on a snowy day.

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 every week for potential snowstorms, dreaming of the days when we could pull our sleds across the street.

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Minerva on a wintry day.

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.