• So … Class selection … For those of you who have not undergone this before, you will soon discover that this is perhaps the most stressful time of the year, vying for first with finals. On the bright side, you can take a good week to prepare, and then class selection lasts for all of five minutes. On the downside, classes fill up fast, every course you need seems to be scheduled for the same time, SPIRE doesn’t want to process your request, professors aren’t answering your requests for overrides, the one class you need to graduate got cancelled ... Okay. Take a breath... Read More
  • Kate, It’s my last day of undergraduate classes and I’m just as terrified as I was on the first one. I guess that while a whole lot of things have changed, not everything has. A little over four years ago I didn't want to go to UMass at all. It was too big and rural and full of concrete. I look back at high school me and shake my head at the girl who thought she knew exactly what she wanted. Coming to UMass and being a part of CHC has been the best decision I’ve made thus far. I truly believe this school has helped me to become a better person. I think UMass has that... Read More
  • Kate, I went back to the very first Letters to Kate I wrote. It was exactly two years ago Saturday. You, Christine, Beth and I all look like such babies in the picture I included. The dorky tree I added at the bottom? It's all set up in my apartment again, this time off campus. It’s funny I feel ready to write my last letter to you, but not my second to last one. Like I’ve been saying all semester, the end sort of sneaks up on you. With less than 6 days of classes left in my undergraduate career I think it’s time to dole out my last bit of advice on them. I took over 30... Read More
  • Kate, I struggled to write my letter this week. Right now, I feel all out of advice. In fact, I feel like I could use all the advice. Senior year, what a terrifying time. When I tried to think about topics I’ve yet to cover, I realized I’ve only ever complained about my thesis. Not discussed it. Maybe this will help you get started when the time comes or stop someone from spiraling into a panic like I did. Then again, I think panic is part of the process. My thesis story starts second semester last year, when I realized I was graduating early and wasn’t sure if I even... Read More
  • I wanted to write this column as a guidebook in reverse - all the things I wish I had known going into a thesis. I expect I’ll be doing something like this again, and I wanted a way to remind myself of the trials and tribulations of a project of this magnitude. I’m proud of myself for being able to do this honors thesis/project, and I’m grateful for the people who helped me along the way. I feel like it took a village to bring this thesis together – librarians, archivists, professors, friends, and family all guided me in some shape or form. Here’s what I’ve learned in... Read More
  • I’m psyched about participating the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference - it’s really the best opportunity on campus to get out and share your work. And I love making (scripted) public presentations, so this was an event I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Honestly, the best advice I can give re: oral presentations is from McSweeney’s “The Snake-Fighting Portion of Your Thesis Defense.” TL;DR: Everyone fights the snake. Not everyone’s snake is the same. The best way to prepare for the snake fight is to write a great thesis. Not so helpful? (Okay, no... Read More
  • As I listen to  The West Wing Weekly while working on my thesis, I've been toying with Jed Bartlet’s favorite question: what’s next? Since spring break, I’ve been spending basically every waking moment either working or thinking about this monster of a paper I’ve almost completed. And while I still have a few weeks to go, I'm almost sad to finish it. I mean, I'm excited to move onto other projects, but this one has meant a lot to me. I’m told the official handing-in process (AKA putting your manuscript in a box) isn’t a satisfying conclusion. It sort of just...ends.   The... Read More
  • So now that you've learned about the topic of my research, you're probably wondering: where did I find all this information? (At least, that's the question that keeps appearing in my committee's comments - SOURCE???)   Thanks to my previous experience, I had a good idea of the depositories and archives to visit for the materials I needed. I started my research by looking through the records of the Ladies' Branch of the Port Society on loan to the New Bedford Whaling Museum - lots of meeting minutes, scrapbooks, and newspaper articles documenting the group's existence. I... Read More
  • So I was able to send off the first draft of my thesis to my Committee Chair, and we've slowly been working our way through each chapter. It's daunting to sit in a room with a really smart person in your field and have them give you constructive criticism. It's intimidating and scary, and that's amplified when you look at all the changes you have to make.    First drafts are supposed to have mistakes, and I have a lot of them. When you're writing, it's hard to see the thesis as one, complete idea - there are lots of discrete parts to it. How do these chapters fit together... Read More
  • Kate, So you got into the Honors College – remember when you said you wanted to walk down an entirely different path than me? Just kidding, nursing is an entire world apart from political science and legal studies. Besides, I can’t blame you for wanting a chance at the beautiful honors dorms and to write a thesis. In all honesty, I’m very excited for you and very proud. Once again, you’ve done good kid.   What’s next? You’ve already texted me this morning asking where the CHC Events Hall is, so I’m guessing you have an information/orientation meeting of sorts coming up?... Read More

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