University of Oregon

Day Sixty-Three

Caitlin H.

May 30, 2010 - 7:00 PM

The following takes place between 7:00pm and 8:00pm:


Sustainability. It seems like you hear that word everywhere these days. Even in Michigan.


My friend Rachel, who attends Cooley Law School in Michigan, has been showing me the greater sights of East Lansing while I'm out here in the east for a visit. Amidst our travels, I found myself describing to her and some other friends our new green ‘eco-friendly' graduation gowns. And by green, I mean ‘sustainable' AND stylish in color. I'll admit, I found the new tradition inspired, but odd. What good was the gown if all other universities wore traditional black? After being forced to purchase a graduation cap and gown, whom was I going to pass it on to? Could it actually be reused? Or was I just to take comfort knowing it would biodegrade more quickly. It isn't every day you see a college student in a green cap and gown.


Turns out you can see college graduates in green in Michigan too.


Michigan State is one of the top five campuses for sustainability. I have discovered a whole world of fun facts and interesting strategies for sustainable living!


-MSU uses the least electricity per square foot of Big Ten schools


-15 undergraduate majors have environmental focus


-Campus landfill waste decreased 1037 tons from the 2007-08 school year to the next


-A student organic farm grows produce for campus dining halls


-Campus dining halls buy produce from Michigan farms


And in 2010, started a new graduation tradition. This year was the university's first green commencement ceremony. Graduates donned caps and gowns made from recycled plastic bottles and accepted diplomas containing postconsumer content. Thirteen plastic bottles equaled one cap and gown. Some 58,000 plastic 20 ounce bottles were recycled to robe the spring 2010 graduating class, saving 16,500 yards of fabric. You have to admit, the green robes might be a little different, but that's pretty cool.


Little by little, I'm that much more convinced about being a Spartan, and convinced of these unusual, but sustainable graduation gowns.



Authors Note: This term I've decided to dissect my day one hour at a time to inform you about my college life. My own life set to the Fox Network's hit show "24." ...If only I were as sensational as Jack Bauer. In this ‘season' you can expect a thrilling and innovative drama complete with a few unforeseen plot twists.



Day Sixty-One

Caitlin H.

May 28, 2010 - 1:00 PM

Day Sixty-One

The following takes place between 1:00pm and 2:00pm:


Goodbye Oregon, HELLO MICHIGAN! For now anyway...


I'm taking an exciting visit to Michigan State University for Memorial Day weekend! I'm excited to finally see the campus and get a sense of the place. A friend of mine from my days at Western Washington University happens to be going to law school in Lansing, so I'll even get a chance to spend time with her! This is going to be a busy, but very important weekend. This could one day be my graduate school.


Advise for all you future college students out there: visit the campuses before you commit. Its one of the most important steps you will take when making a decision about what college is right for you.


My top 5 impressions from my MSU visit today.


5. MSU IS HUGE! I'm not exaggerating, I spent 3.5 hours looking around today and I STILL didn't see it all. This campus is 5,200-acres. It has 577 buildings. It has its own bus system to get students around campus. There are more than 200 programs of study. That is a lot to take in. This will be different from Oregon, but I think I'm willing to step into that challenge and explore a larger university.


4. Landscaping that feels like home. Campus is big but trees are everywhere. The Red Cedar River runs through campus. That makes it feel like a home away from home. In many ways I loved Oregon for its sheer beauty. It made it easy to be there and to imagine myself living there and being successful. I think its important to feel comfortable in the landscape and capable of feeling like you could call a university home for a while. MSU has that quality. Climbing ivy across old brick buildings, large trees, grassy quads, you get the idea - it's almost like a big Eugene.


3. am I going to fit in here? The sheer size of the school considered, one would imagine there would be people from all walks of life at MSU. So I was a little surprised when I heard only 20% of students are out of state. Diversity can mean so many things: race, religion, political ideas, socioeconomic status, etc. It really made me wonder if I would be able to find others from the west coast with similar ideas, or if I was wandering into a new world full of things from the east coast and Midwest I had never heard of. It's also exciting to think about being exposed to so many new things. However, even though 20% are out of state, I was excited to hear more than 80% enter MSU with scholarships either from the university or an outside contributor.


Tall brick building2. My timing stinks. There are 47,278 students at this campus. I saw maybe three or four. MSU is a semester school, so they're already out for the summer, and it is a holiday weekend. Campus wasn't exactly overflowing with collegiate life. It's hard to imagine what it might be like, but unfortunately, this was the time that worked best for me to visit. Second piece of advice for you future college students: if you can, schedule a visit where you get to see a normal day in campus life. Not a weekend, not in the summer, not during finals week. Just a regular old, run of the mill, standard work day. That's when you're going to REALLY see what the university is all about.


1. Is this a place I can see myself? That's a big question. I'm still working through it myself and there are a lot of factors to consider: education, environment, costs, location, (aka distance from home, friends, and family). All the usual things one would consider before planning a big move. Visiting MSU has been an essential part of my graduate degree planning process. I'm excited to keep thinking about it and talking about it. Looks like I might be on my way to becoming a Spartan!




Michigan Campus Springtime


Day Fifty-Six

Caitlin H.

May 23, 2010 - 6:00 PM

Day Fifty-Six

The following takes place between 6:00pm and 7:00pm:


Restless and incapable of focusing on my assignments, I wander out onto my apartment patio. I'm in need of a little fresh air to get the thoughts moving. I move a patio chair out from under the hanging fuchsia into the last remaining rays of sunlight hitting my balcony and take a moment to just relax.


There's something about being outside and enjoying the northwest that I realize I'm going to miss as I pursue grad school in Michigan. But something else elates me from within - a glimpse of my homegrown ‘urban garden.' It isn't much, my patio isn't exactly what I would call large, but it's been enough to sustain lettuce, peas, spinach, two tomato plants, strawberries and an abundance of flowers.


On the one hand, gardening keeps me sane. I'll admit I have a healthy appetite for the home gardening section of any store, and enough houseplants for two apartments instead of one. But there is also something to be said for homegrown, local, quality foods. So often I hear the struggles of families who can't afford quality produce because the bad stuff is cheaper and easier. Aside from a few hot days were the plants required watering, I've almost been able to let my plants sit untouched from the time of planting. It requires some labor, but my efforts are minimal compared to the effort I would expend traveling to the grocery store to purchase salad fixins' as often as I've been able to harvest them.


At any rate, it's a thought worth pondering.


Here I've turned essentially unproductive land (an apartment deck) into productive farm space. It isn't enough to live on, but it supplements my diet well. It makes me wonder what might be possible if more people could transform such spaces.


It also got me thinking about the University of Oregon's Urban Farm.I never managed to fit the class into my schedule, but I know a few people who have. Most seemed to really enjoy the course and become more aware and involved in community agriculture projects. I wonder if there is something I can do to promote this idea of using apartment space for small-scale family farming...



Authors Note: This term I've decided to dissect my day one hour at a time to inform you about my college life. My own life set to the Fox Network's hit show "24." ...If only I were as sensational as Jack Bauer. In this ‘season' you can expect a thrilling and innovative drama complete with a few unforeseen plot twists.




Day Fifty-Five

Caitlin H.

May 22, 2010 - 7:00 PM

The following takes place between 7:00pm and 8:00pm:


Let's take a quick moment to review life by the numbers:


23 days until Commencement


22 days until Phi Beta Kappa induction


17 days until Urban Geography Final


5 days until I leave to visit Michigan State University


17 days left in Eugene with college friends


It almost seems surreal to put it in those terms, but the end really is near. So, in spite of everything else going on in my life, it was time for a party.


Not to brag but, my homemade tacos have become something of a legend in my few years at Oregon. Taco nights are always popular events amongst friends - if I had to place a wager the free food, good company, and fun games might have something to do with it. And so, like so many other things, there needed to be one more before my time was up in Eugene.


Now, my friends and I all have something in common. We didn't just become friends out of nowhere, but we're all a little bit different too. Present for the final taco night were one human physiology major, two geography majors, one history, one planning, public policy, and management, two environmental studies, one political science, one sociology, one journalism and one business major. And somehow out of that we ended up singing songs through American Sign Language, one of the most competitive games of Cranium possibly ever, and some lighthearted, thoughtful conversation. If there is one thing I have to appreciate about my time at the UO, it has to be the diversity of my friends and experiences.


Thinking about where we are all going next, (Michigan, Massachusetts, and Louisiana to name a few destinations), I'm reminded of how broad our passions in life reach, even amongst this small gathering of friends. And I am also therefore reminded, how much this depth has meant to me as a student, and challenged me in new and exciting ways.


I'm going to miss my friends when I leave Eugene, and I'll miss nights like Taco Night, but I'm also excited for the different directions we are all headed, and the new adventures in store for us.

Day Forty-Nine

Caitlin H.

May 16, 2010 - 10:00 AM

Day Forty-Nine

I finally had my first "real" college all-nighter. No sleep. No power-naps. During the academic term. Not for fun-sies during finals week when I'm already done. A genuine college all-nighter. Be proud. You might be thinking of a fun night out with friends that was so fantastic it just never ended, or a crazy homework project I was rushing to meet a deadline, or some of you maybe even a drunken college stereotype kind of night. You'd all be wrong.


Cancer never sleeps. So last night, neither did I.


This year I participated in the 3rd annual Relay for Life, and let me tell you - It was a POWERFUL experience. I'm very proud of my team "In Memory of Sheryl Verbeck."


Relay for Life is the most successful not-for-profit fundraiser in the world. I think cancer impacts all of us differently, but I dare say no one out there remains untouched by cancer. Odds are you or someone you know has had to hear those dreadful words, "you have cancer." I think I've found a new passion for trying to change that.


As humbling of an experience as Relay was, it can only be described as fun. We had dodgeball games, frozen tee-shirt contests, and laps where we collected scrabble letters to try and create the highest scoring word within our team. We even had a 6am rooster crowing contest. It was a chance to get to know your friends better, make new friends, and reunite with old acquaintances. It brought together the spirit of team. It brought together the spirit of hope. It gave us all the opportunity to celebrate, and perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to remember.


15 hours of Relay is a lot to try and reduce to a simple conversation. Even now I'm struggling to understand how I can best share my experience with others. At first the music and the laughter comes to mind, but it rests in sharp contrast with the silent times of remembrance, or the stories of others and why they Relay. The stories of cancer survivors gave me much to think about during those 15 hours, and equally did the stories of the ones we lost. I danced at Relay, I felt tears welling in my eyes at Relay, I felt hope, I felt exhaustion.


Relay for LifeWhen the Survivor lap started the event, I wasn't sure what the next 15 hours were going to be like. As all Relay-ers fell in line behind the Survivors, I felt the power behind this kind of event. And I'll always remember the feeling as we took our final team lap singing "Stand By Me." I'll never forget the rush of emotion during the Luminaria Ceremony at 2am where we turned off the lights and lit candles along the track, illuminating bags with mixed messages of hope, encouragement, and remembrance. And of course, I'll never forget the feeling of accomplishment as the 15 hours finally came to an end.


The UO Relay for Life has currently raised over $37,000 in total fundraising dollars for the American Cancer Society. While the Relay event is now over, we can still fundraise until August 31st, and our campus goal is to reach $40,000 by that time. Relay for Life was a phenomenal college experience, but I'm convinced now more than ever, it doesn't have to end here.



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