Tis the season to be stressed and contemplating a career in flipping burgers or manning coffee shops. Most of us have at least one class that looms over us like the angel of death. It’s that one class that we’re convinced will destroy our GPAs and thus our future. That class stares at us like a hungry lion that wants nothing more than to drag us back to their den from which we will never see the light of day or a decent paycheck. Or at least that’s what the world is telling us to think. The fact of the matter... 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... Read More
Memory's a funny thing. It’s entirely subjective, prone to corruption, and infamous for these failings, yet we depend upon it for, well, everything. Everyone’s had that quarrel with their parents or friend where one party says that Doug leaned on the big red button while the other party says that Maxwell clipped the wrong wire. Either way, things went *boom* and all that’s left is the results and finding who to blame. I mean, look at some of the students here on a Saturday morning! I heard someone say that... Read More
You know how some people just seem to be born leaders? They always make the right call, people follow them without question, and when things get hot they keep their cool.

I’ve been around a few of them. I’m sure most of us have. And to be totally honest, I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be accepted and looked up to and, more than anything, I wanted to be right. Well, I got the accepted part and some amount of respect, but there came a point when every decision I made was the wrong one. If I chose... Read More
Kate, Since later today I’ll be attending a networking event, I figure it's an appropriate enough topic for this letter. Let’s be honest here, networking is wildly intimidating and downright hard. You, a lowly undergraduate, are expected to make connections with professionals living out your dream career. Framed that way, yeah, it seems nearly impossible. But it doesn't have to be. In my time at UMass I’ve found that this school does an incredible job of providing ample networking opportunities to its students.... Read More
If you haven’t noticed, my father’s kind of a history geek. Must be where I get it from. Anyhow, we were talking about how much of a circus this presidential election is and he mentioned a concept that a man named Joseph Goebbels came up with in the ‘30s.

Pretty much the idea is that if you lie copiously and vary the lies every time, then the fact-checkers can’t keep up.

Something we might’ve noticed from climate change deniers and rumors about My Chemical Romance getting back together is... Read More
Kate, Now that it really feels like fall out, I can’t help but think back to where I was a year ago. I can’t even begin to describe how much I miss Cork and studying abroad. It was such an amazing experience and I am really excited for you to get a taste of it this summer while studying in Spain. I’m also really excited to go visit you. I heard you ran into Dan at the International Programs Office? That boy knows the ins and outs of studying abroad with UMass (he spent a year in Paris and a summer at Oxford)—take... Read More
One of the things that my father has drilled into my head is that life is pretty bland without two things: Curiosity and bravery.

Of course, he doesn’t say it that way for fear of sounding corny like me, but that’s the gist of it. However, he always seems to emphasize the curiosity, whether he realizes it or not.

He’s even ended one of his letters with “Be well.  Be interested.  Be open to wonder.  Be wildered.”

Quirkiness aside, he’s made it clear to me that without... 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... 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)... Read More

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