By Mona Malacane
To quote Abraham Lincoln (the subject of one my favorite blog interviews) it was four score and seven years ago that the blog began, with Nicky Lewis and Katie Birge at the helm. Actually, instead of 87 years, it’s been about 5, so I’m exaggerating a little.
In these five years, you have read stories ranging from the art of tea and beer to lucky purple socks to words of advice from the department guru Tamera. We have featured the achievements of grad students and faculty, introduced new faculty and staff, and pondered the ebb and flow of the building buzz. If someone were to visit the grad blog to learn more about our program they would see that we are a group of hard-working, creative, entrepreneurial, fun, eclectic, inquisitive, and close-knit group of people. To borrow Harmeet’s favorite words, we try to capture the texture and uniqueness of the people in our department to bring you the human side of things.
Why all the nostalgia? Following the tradition of past writers, I am writing my (second to) last post as a reflection on the past, a look forward to the future, and a thank you to the faithful blog readers. In my two year tenure as a blog writer, I have written quite a few posts that I hope you all have enjoyed. A lot of energy, work, and planning goes into these posts – writing them can be a struggle to balance the right amount of content and intrigue while still keeping things light. I can usually tell whether I’ve achieved this level of equilibrium or completely missed the mark from the email Harmeet sends on Sunday evenings after he has read and edited the posts.
Whether my post was on point or not, for me, the most rewarding aspect of writing for the blog has been the opportunity to talk to and learn from people that I may not otherwise have had the common ground to interact with*. In academia, it is far too easy to gradually entrench yourself in a specific topic area and collaborate with the same/similar people. Yes, you interact with others in classes, when socializing, gathering data, and in the grad lab, but the bulk of our work is often done in isolation. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to make the effort to meet new people. Even if I haven’t kept in contact with everyone I have interviewed over the past four semesters, I am grateful for weekly assignment that required me to step outside of my box and into someone else’s for 30 minutes to an hour for an interview. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and all of our readers.
Every blog writer has a different taste and style, and adds something unique to the blog. Nicky and Katie are the OG’s, the ground breakers who worked extremely hard and paved the way for the rest of us; Mike and Ken wrote beautiful, almost artful posts; Teresa and Edo kept you on your toes with really unique stories (and kept things afloat while Harmeet was on sabbatical). I’d like to think that Niki and I have added a touch of humor, although Edo has definitely cornered the market on puns and satire.
Stylistic eras notwithstanding, we have all served as kind of de facto historians for the department and the blog has become our chronicle. My chapter is closing but a new one will open next year. New beginnings are on the horizon and the blog will be there to document them.
*The Monday morning croissants and French press coffee are a close second though.