Honorary Grad Students

By Mona Malacane

Although it feels like weeks have already gone by, spring break was only two weeks ago. I can hear your groans through my computer, “Yes Mona, we get it, due dates are quickly approaching and I didn’t get enough done over spring break …” But I promise I’m not bringing this up to compound your end of the semester anxiety! Actually, by the end of this post, hopefully you’ll feel a little bit better about the stress of grad school.

Over this spring break I went back home to Georgia to spend some time with my parents, who have always supported my grad school ambitions. These trips home are usually full of reflecting for me. Something about going back to where I grew up makes me aware of how much my life has changed and what more I want to accomplish. It probably also has something to do with re-explaining how much longer I’ll be in grad school beyond the 2.5 years I have already spent here. Nevertheless, trips home aren’t complete without at least one or two conversations with my parents about the past, present, and future.


My mom, sister, and dad at my college graduation. (Go Dawgs!)

One evening over the spring break as we were chatting over wine I could feel the conversation starting to head in the general direction of the “reflection talk.” My dad beat me to it and started sharing some of his thoughts about grad school. As I was listening to him, I slowly realized that, in many ways, my family has also been going through graduate school with me. I don’t mean just listening to me talk about my assignments or projects or classes or daily life, but sharing in my ups and downs and everything that we as grad students are responsible for.

I wish I could remember what exactly he said but given the spontaneous nature of the conversation (and the wine) it escapes me. On the other hand,  I’m kind of glad that I can’t remember what he said because if I recounted his thoughts they wouldn’t be in his words. So for authenticity’s sake, I asked him to write his thoughts about what grad school is like and how he thinks I have changed since starting grad school.  Here are his thoughts in his own words:

“From a distance, I feel the stress of her long nights, incessant deadlines, and brief phone calls when I offer to do something for her and I quickly sense she is busy and really doesn’t have the time to chit chat. I’m not as offended as I used to be because I better understand the constraints she works under. She owns all of it. With great determination. I read what she writes and it’s so academic and I listen to her research which is so structured. If you can’t prove it with research Mona doesn’t believe it. I don’t always agree with this, because everything isn’t always black and white, but I respect her dedication to proof and seeking answers in the result.

Your independence is accomplished. It’s no longer something you strive for – it is real, but we still love it when you ask us for recipe advice, what cut of meat to buy, and an occasional life lesson which we love to give.

Maybe not a grad school thing but a trait your mom gave you that once you see something and try it you want to own it and be the best. I wish you wouldn’t be such a perfectionist. It describes your quest for quality but can also drive you crazy when it is elusive. We love and respect the way you have matured.”

Me reading my dad's sweet email.

Me reading my dad’s sweet email.

My fellow grads have stories of their own to share about observations made by their “honorary grad students.” They offer perspectives into grad life in their own special ways.

Min Ji Kim’s father: “I, as her father, would say that the grad school is more like waiting for her marriage life because it is something in which she wants to find happiness but still doesn’t even know where it is. I would explain that my daughter is having a very hard time struggling to find her own way to reach her goal. It doesn’t really matter what she’s grabbed or what she’s missed so far, however. I do know she is doing her best now … She has changed a lot. A lot in positive and desirable ways as she is studying abroad by herself far away from home.”

Kelsey Prena’s grandmother: “Just yesterday my grandma asked me how many classes I still have to take until I can work on the floor (in reference to hospital work).”

Nicky Lewis’s Grandma Betty: “So, you’re getting your PhD in television?”

Teresa Lynch: [In terms of having a significant other in grad school] “Life events are dated in terms of semesters, vacation destinations are determined by conference locations, and deadlines come before dishes.”

Edo Steinberg: “I didn’t hear this directly, but a distant relative of mine who heard I research satire once asked, ‘so he’s getting a Ph.D. in making fun of people?’”

Jess Thompkins: “My parents don’t comment much … mostly because they don’t understand what I’m doing in grad school. A few weeks ago I mentioned to my father about the female video game character content analysis that I did with Teresa, Irene, and Niki. His comment ‘Aren’t those outfits based on the fashion industry?'”

Nic Matthews: [What does it mean to have a S.O. who is a grad student?] “It means that nearly all conversations, such as where to crop an Instagram photo, eventually lead to a discussion on philosophy, relevant theories, and 4 study ideas. It means that I’m vicariously enrolled in 3 additional classes every semester having heard the reflections and insights gleaned from each reading. And it means that pushing dinner back a bit for work only becomes problematic once you pass 11pm … okay maybe 11:15pm.”

Antonina Semivolos: “My mom has been the most supportive person thus far … Even if we do not talk for too long, she always finds a way to entertain me, or to give me a wise and special advice (which I could never accept before, but am now receptive to because of the amount of intellectual angst I face every week). She entertains me with jokes about famous people and about what is going on in the world (I don’t own a TV), as well as reads my weekly horoscopes. She sees my working on a PhD as a way to synthesize the knowledge and experience I’ve collected thus far for my own benefit and that of people I will encounter in my life … I’m very proud of her because she’s made a few major sacrifices in order to emigrate with me to the US twenty years ago, and she is proud of me because I’ve been utilizing my time at the Indiana University, Bloomington in such a way as to obtain the highest caliber of contemporary knowledge. So, one of the main outcomes of my staying at the University has been our becoming closer as a family. It is the same with my older sister, even though I know she still secretly hopes I will someday become a medical malpractice lawyer in NYC.”


New Year, New Neighbors

By Mona Malacane

While we won’t be moving into Franklin Hall with all of our new Journalism and CMCL colleagues until Fall 2016, over the break we welcomed a few new faces to the third floor. New to the RTV building are Dr. Jessica Myrick, Assistant Professor, and Dr. Lesa Hatley Major, Associate Dean of the Media School. This week I sat down with Jessica Myrick to chat about her move over to Telecom.

Welcome to the land of never ending construction.

Welcome to the land of never ending construction.

Jessica’s new office is Room 335, on the west end of the hallway, which in my professional opinion* is a rather nice piece of real estate: close to the restrooms, stairs, copy room, and the perfect amount of non-assaulting natural light for her visitors. Though Jessica’s office is well-located inside the building, RTV’s location, which is further down the road than her former office in Ernie Pyle Hall, has presented new lunch hour challenges. Jessica explained, “I had gotten pretty used to being so close to the Union and Kirkwood so my food schedule is a little different now, but I’m a big fan of the Friends of the Art Bookstore and now I get my coffee from Angles instead of getting it from Sugar and Spice … I could go to the library but I was an undergrad here and [it] reminds me of … painful group projects.”

Jessica's Parks & Rec mug that I kind of fell in love with.

Jessica’s Parks & Rec mug that I kind of fell in love with.

But the move has also had its perks: “Everyone has been really friendly. Lots of people walked down the first week I was here and introduced themselves and yesterday I couldn’t get the copier to work and Mike McGregor helped me which was very nice. Everyone has just been really welcoming and open.” Telecom faculty have also been sharing their tips and tricks with Jessica, she explained, “Multiple people came to me and said, you know you don’t need to leave your door open and you can cover the little window, and then I really did notice that everyone had very unique, creative covers. So I’ve been debating ideas now and I’m near decision.”

Jessica is in the standing-desk club, along with Annie and Robby.

Jessica is in the standing-desk club, along with Annie and Robby.

Her time in Ernie Pyle isn’t completely over – Jessica is teaching one of her courses in Journalism this semester (J343: Broadcast News) and she also carpools with her husband, who is the studio manager over in Journalism. Funny enough, the back and forth from Ernie Pyle to RTV, and working in the RTV, aren’t new to Jessica, who completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees here at IU. After completing her master’s, she was on Journalism staff for two years before moving to Telecom to work at WTIU from 2009 to 2010. Thereafter Jessica went to the University of North Carolina for her doctoral studies, joined Journalism in Ernie Pyle Hall on graduation, and is now back to RTV.

“I used to be a reporter/producer for WTIU News. So I’ve had a lot of déjà vu moments … I’ve started walking down towards the newsroom and I’m like, oh no wait, gotta go upstairs! … So it’s sort of like coming back to a familiar place … I’m following the same pattern of Ernie Pyle Hall,

A dream office for Jessica would include floor to cieling bookshelves (for a much more extensive book collection), space for a yoga mat, and a deluxe dog bed, some more good fake plants, definitely a window

A dream office for Jessica would include floor to cieling bookshelves (for a much more extensive book collection), space for a yoga mat, and a deluxe dog bed, some more good fake plants, definitely a window

RTV, Ernie Pyle Hall again, RTV again.”

It’s a familiar feeling for her and perhaps one that we will all start experiencing in the future. Jessica summed this point up nicely saying, “I feel like maybe this semester is symbolic of the media school as a whole. Learning different spaces, different routines, different cultures, just sort of in a state of transition – we technically are the media school, but not yet.”


**By “professional” I mean I have watched an embarrassing amount of HGTV real estate/remodeling shows.

Resolutions, Superstitions and Traditions: How We Marked the New Year

By: Niki Fritz

When I was living in Chicago, New Year’s Eve was always one gigantic party-favor-filled, EDM-deafening, cab-less, soul-crushing mess of a night. Not that that was always my experience. There were a few New Year’s Eves I just refused to leave my house or my yoga pants and made my friends come to me. But in general, the city seemed to have this desperate need to do New Year’s Eve “right;” which often meant overpriced bar packages, impractical short clothing choices for January in the Midwest, and lots and lots of promises to “makes this the best year ever!”

While I understand that being 20-something in Chicago is not the universal experience of NYE, it does seem that most people – even if it isn’t twerking at a club at midnight – somehow mark the passing of another year, we all recognize the significance of the passing of time.

First there are the superstitions. My best friend is Ukrainian and her mother had a whole host of superstitions. Before NYE she always made sure that our NYE outfits had the correct color that coordinated with whatever was the color of the upcoming year. She said it brought luck. Interestingly in our department there are a few people whose families have their own superstitions about the new year.

Kelsey Prena’s great grandmother Nan believed you had to hold money in your hand at the turn of the year to be prosperous for the next year. “My mom used to give my siblings and me a couple dollars to hold and would say ‘see, it’s already prosperous for you.’ Lately we’ve been celebrating apart, but we text each other to make sure that we have money ready for the count down,” Kelsey says. Jessica Hand’s family brings prosperity in a similar fashion, tucking dollar bills into a pair of socks for NYE. Glenna Read’s family combines superstitions with traditions. Each New Year her family eats collard greens and black beans (which are supposed to be good luck) with a few extra coins thrown in the food to bring prosperity.

Others have built individual family traditions into their welcoming of the New Year. image001All year long a little bird sits on a piece of paper on Annie Lang’s mantle. Then on New Year’s Eve, the piece of paper comes out and there lies a list of all the New Year’s from Kiev to New York. Annie explains that when she and her husband were younger they started their celebration at 7 pm, welcoming in the London New Year; but, Annie explains, as they have gotten older they rarely make it to the New Year in EST, so they began starting their festivities earlier at 5 pm welcoming in the New Year in Jerusalem and Kiev.


Of course, in addition to all the superstitions and traditions there are always the resolutions. Although many write off resolutions as goals that will be forgotten by Spring, others take the time to try to break a bad habit. Ashley Kraus is attempting to give up artificial sweeteners in her life, which means no more of her beloved coke zeros. Amusingly, Edo Steinberg is trying to limit his coke intake meaning he’s opting for coke zeros. Clearly we all have our own battles to fight.

Personally I’m really into goal making and breaking all year, so for me New Year’s is just one of the many, many times throughout the year I take stock and evaluate what I want to accomplish in the next year (other times being my birthday, the first day of the fall semester and of course flag day). But I do like to dedicate one word each year that I can come back to throughout the year, one word that becomes my focal point for the year to come, or to put it in yogi term’s, a kind mental drishti. This year my word is strength, something I hope to take to my yoga practice as well as something I can translate into mental strength to finish my darn thesis. Although I know on a practical level that there is nothing magical or special about the minutes in between 11:59 pm and 12:00 am on January 1st, the time, the celebration, the traditions, the resolutions, all are meaningful.

Even for those to mock resolutions, who refuse to celebrate NYE, who believe January 1st is just another day, there is still significance in the New Year, if nothing else because we give it significance. We say that at this moment the year is changing, at this moment one thing is done and another is beginning, at this moment the year is new. And while it may be just an arbitrary number that we assign, the marking of time reminds us all that no matter what the constant is change. And I, for one, am going to use change to make something positive and new, even if by 2016 the change of today is a long forgotten moment.

Ah, Grad School …

By Mona Malacane

For the first post of Spring semester, I feel the need to reflect. Perhaps it’s because it’s the beginning of another semester… Maybe it is because I’ve had to re-explain (for the 1000th time) my lengthy career path to all of my friends at home over break … Or maybe it’s because I’m rounding the corner on my sixth semester of graduate school. Regardless of the prompt, it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come because it’s way too easy to forget. However, this is not my personal diary blog and I’m sure it would become rather boring to read my musings about how I’ve grown over these years. So instead I thought I’d write a list of general things that change from year one to year three in this big game of hurry up and wait that we call graduate school.


The emotions when reading the acceptance letter go something like, shock –> doubt/denial–> disbelieving excitement that you are actually going to grad school.

getting into grad school

That first semester is all …

enthusiasm 1

And then by the third year, it’s kinda more like …

getting into grad school 2

And you kind of have to do some of this … because trying to do everything is just not possible.

enthusiasm 2

And T 501 does a number on your confidence for a while.

501 use 1

But don’t worry, it will eventually click! (One year later.)

501 2

Statistics are kind of the same way. They start out feeling like this at times:

statistics 1

And then you learn how to cut through a lot of the gobbledegook to take away what you will actually need to do research.


You stay close to friends who aren’t in academia because they (and weekly grocery trips) kind of become your only connection to the real world. When those friends start asking about why you don’t come home as often or when you have free time next to hang out, you sarcastically reply …

free time 2

But after a while, what is free time? You should know that there is always something that you can be doing.

free timeAnd you experience these moments a minimum of twice per semester.

first semester of phdAnd the delay of gratification …

delay of gratification

… starts to drive you a little insane.

get used to disapointment

But the memory and thought of success is what keeps you pushing through.

end of the semester

As does the reason for why you went to graduate school in the first place: because you have a thirst for knowledge and learning!

nerd life




Brain Break for Finals Week!

By: Niki Fritz

For finals week, the blog team thought everyone could use a bit of a fun brain break in the form of a facial/head hair matching game. This week we bring you: Match That Hair! Check out the sketches below and try to guess which faculty member or grad student’s hair is represented. Click on the image to find out which person that hair belongs to or go below to the gallery and scroll over the image for the owner to be revealed. As a sidenote, all sketches were done in paint by a blog team member who clearly has limited artistic ability so be kind in any critiques! Now let the game begin!





krahnke garrett




Productive Procrastination

By Mona Malacane

We all do it. I don’t believe you for a second if you say that you don’t. We know we shouldn’t and we hate ourselves every time we do … but we do it anyways. Sometimes it isn’t even intentional! But let’s be honest, most of the time it is. Procrastination. It can be deadly when used incorrectly, but fear not everyone! I have come up with a list of ways to productively procrastinate (oxymoron much?). So if you must dawdle, try one of these tasks instead of Pinterest, Facebook, or some other addictive internet site.


My number one go-to procrastination break is cleaning. Like everything.


Follow that lit-review rabbit hole in Google Scholar. You know you’ve clicked next page even though the articles on page 6 have nothing to do with your original search … But maybe the next page will!

just one more

When was the last time you updated your CV? Or your LinkedIn? Better add that lecture you gave in Spring 2013 before you forget …


Organize … everything. Which, if you’re wondering, is very different from cleaning.

Yes, it can be extremely addicting.

Yes, it can be extremely addicting.

Bake! But something easy, quick, and to share so you don’t feel like it’s a complete waste of time because others will be indulging as well.

Bonus points if you can get a friend to join you.

Bonus points if you can get a friend to join you.

One word: sporcle.

It's addictive.

It’s addictive.

Online shopping. Because that Christmas list isn’t going to buy itself and who wants to “waste time” going to the mall?

Still counts because you're working out your fingers.

Still counts because you’re working out your fingers.

Keep searching for other classes to take next semester. Because the perfect amount of workload is out there … If you search hard enough.


What’s Not to Love About Winter?

By Mona Malacane

Ok, ok, I know that there are quite a few things that make winter a rather … difficult time of year. We all remember the horrendous potholes, the -40 degree three days long nightmare, and that time it snowed in March. And yes, it is less than enjoyable when any bit of exposed skin goes numb within 2 minutes while walking to class and that shaded sidewalks become slippery (and embarrassing) death traps. I will even concede that having to put on ten pounds of clothing just to let my dog out multiple times a day gets pretty tiring quickly.

Sidewalk of death

Sidewalk of death.

But how about starting this season on a more positive (and jingly) note and thinking about all of the wonderful things that make winter special! For example, I greatly enjoy sweaters and any/all occasions to don knitwear. Other things I like about winter include: tacky sweater parties, drinking hot apple cider (oftentimes with a dash of whiskey) without breaking out into a sweat, knitting/crocheting scarves, condensation that makes us look like fire breathing dragons, seeing my dog hop around in the snow, and heated blankets (they change your life, I swear).

Homemade tacky sweaters

Homemade tacky sweaters

Now you’re thinking, “Ok those things are nice and all Mona, but I’m still not sold on this whole ‘winter can be a great time of year thing.’” Well here is a list that may induce some warmer winter feelings, courtesy of some of my fellow forward-thing graduate students.

Christmas movies and fattening foods.”– Ashley Kraus

 “The spontaneous snowball fights.”– Keith Orgain

I hate winter. Ice skating, skiing, sledding, and the holiday season make it tolerable. Having to practice discus throwing indoors makes it worse.” – Kelsey Prena, See exhibit A:

 “Justified hibernation. Often in virtual worlds.”– Ryland Sherman

It never gets cold here or snows.” – Mark Bell (Denial is not just a river in Egypt Mark … I should know.)

 “My favorite thing is yelling SNOW-POCALYPSE while playing four days worth of DC heroes and cards with snowed-in friends.”– Dustin Ritchea

I love spontaneous snow angles in Dunn Meadow. Also hot cocoa. Also hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps because I’m an old man.”– Niki Fritz

Photo courtesy of Niki Fritz

Photo courtesy of Niki Fritz.

Getting snowed-in in Manhattan.” – Daphna Yeshua-Katz

I’ll second Dustin Ritchea and Ryland Sherman ‘s comments about thoroughly enjoying being trapped in virtual worlds (Skyrim!) and other gaming with snowed-in friends!” – Stevie Stewart

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A post shared by Stevox (@bluestevox) on

– This gem of a video from Stephen Myers

Hot pots and holiday spirit!”– Yijie Wu

Hot chocolate, sledding, Christmas, and being snowed in with friends.” – Whitney Eklof

Hunting. Sitting in an ice fishing shack while enjoying Snow Shoe Grog. Listening to southerners complain about the weather.” – Gabe Persons

I know I don’t get to vote anymore … but snowmen!!!” – Rachel Bailey

My favorite thing is Seasonal Affective Disorder.” – Josh Sites

Hiking in the snow!” – Glenna Read

The eerie quiet a heavy snow storm causes.” – Nic Matthews

Fire crackers! It’s a Chinese tradition to set off firecrackers to celebrate new year and to scare off the evils. So … it’s always associated with the image of winter for me. Plus, I love the sound firecrackers make!” – Xiaodan Hu

One of my favorite things about winter is walking around on campus when it’s snowed!” – Teresa Lynch


Photo courtesy of Teresa Lynch.