In truth, I’m not quite sure how to answer this question, though I’ve started and stopped many times. On the surface, it seems so simple, innocent even, but to me it’s just as daunting as all of the other tasks I’ve yet to complete before the semester ends. I’ve often heard people say that “talking about it” – whatever “it” is – is supposed to help, but my anxiety ridden body thinks otherwise. At the risk of sounding negative, the truth is that I don’t want to talk about it, let alone think about that long list— I just want it to be done.
Instead, I think I should talk about some of the things that I’m really excited to start working on this summer, and that includes investing some long overdue time in myself, serving the English department and my fellow graduate students as EGO co-president, and really just figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Treat yo’ self
In this day and age, I don’t think anyone really spends enough time on themselves, least of all graduate students. Balancing work, class, homework, and scholarship can seem impossible, but I’ve discovered that finding an hour for myself can make things just a little bit easier and much more productive. Everyone needs a moment to reset their brain and re-energize. For me, it’s watching an episode of Vampire Diaries, reading a chapter or two of something “fun” (like Vampire Diaries) or updating my Spotify playlist…with music from the Vampire Diaries. Anyway, you get the point.
I want to preface this by thanking current co-presidents Michael Baumann and Ashanka Kumari for all of the amazing work they have done this and last year. The EGO board is currently a small group, so Ashanka and Michael have often had to step up and serve beyond their official leadership capacities to ensure the success of the organization— I can only hope that as co-presidents next year, Reid Elsea and I will be able to demonstrate equal levels of dedication, efficiency, and teamwork. But until then, I’ve got some things to think about.
As this semester and my first year as a graduate student draw to a close, I feel more passionate than ever about this position. I have been very active in EGO for the past year and this has allowed me to be able to reflect on both its weaknesses and strengths. I have come up with some primary goals for next year, which include increasing MA-student participation and inclusion in department affairs, increasing overall graduate student engagement in EGO, and using graduate student feedback on EGO’s direction and purpose to reconsider how the organization can better serve its academic community. I know this is all easier said than done, so hopefully I can work with Reid to get some plans in place over the summer. Fingers crossed!
Throughout this past year, I have swayed back and forth between deciding to pursue a PhD and entering the workforce. While I still haven’t figured out exactly which of these I will be doing after next year, I know I want to work in Communications or Public Relations, so I would like to spend this summer exploring my options. I have nearly 3 years of professional experience in these realms from internships I held in Chicago, but I would love the additional guidance that can be provided by experts in these fields. I am especially interested in learning more about the applications of media (including social media) in business, since this technology is constantly evolving. And thanks to the University of Louisville’s Celebration of Student Writing, I’ve got a ton of great books on professional and technical writing and digital and new media to study up on this summer. There’s nothing like some light poolside reading, after all!
So, what am I working on?
Well, everything and nothing. It seems confusing, I know, but what I mean by this is that there is a ton of things I am doing – final papers, meetings, extra curriculars – and of course plenty that I would rather be doing – cooking and baking, reading, writing what I actually want to write about, and not thinking about all that is still left to do.
I suppose this is a typical description for any graduate student’s end-of-the-semester experience, so hopefully you can find comfort in knowing that I’m right there with you. I too am counting down to summer with that High School Musical 2 scene playing in my head. And we’re almost there.
Rachel Knowles graduated with a B.A. in English and minor in Communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a first-year English M.A. student at the University of Louisville, she is studying rhetoric and composition while tutoring at the Writing Center. Her academic interests include the intersections of digital and new media, technical and professional writing, and communications.