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Meet Jared


Jared Silvia


Year: Spring 2011
Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH
Major: English (Creative Writing)

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Jared's E-Journal Archives:

May 12, 2010
April 22, 2010
March 22, 2010
February 12, 2010
December 21, 2009


Summer Reading List!

June 4, 2010

I’ll admit it.  I completely overloaded myself this past semester.  I took far too many classes.  Sixteen credit hours at Rollins while working full time pushed me right to the brink.  If it was just stress that it added to my brain, I could deal with that.  I have a feeling, though, that it affected my performance.  Why blog about that?  Warning story, mainly.  I’ve blogged a number of times about handling your classes responsibly, being wise about how you’re studying, etc.  I pushed it too far, though.  The load has to stay balanced on your back if you’re going to carry it the whole way.

But let’s not talk about that.  Let’s talk about something better.  It’s almost summer, and with my increase in time and less to do, I’ll be struggling to occupy my time.  I’ve already resolved to work on some music stuff (maybe I’ll finish those songs?), and I’ve got some projects that have been waiting for when I’d have time (cleaning all of the garbage out of my car?), but every summer I also make myself a SUMMER READING LIST OF DOOOOOOM.

Summer reading lists are great because they remind you that you’re not a kid anymore.  I used to dread summer reading lists when I was in grade school, but now that I’m populating the list with books I want to read, and now that reading isn’t a required activity, I find that I enjoy it a lot more.  Plus, you don’t want your brain to go all mushy during the summer.

I can’t make a post up here without saying something “tip-wise,” so here’s my quick tip (which you can hear more about in the video):  Take notes when you read.  Not while you’re reading (at least, I don’t), but after you’ve done some reading, take a few minutes to pull out a piece of paper and write down some thoughts.  It won’t take long, and you will absorb more if you decompress what you read onto a paper, putting it into your own words by way of a summary, and adding some notes on your first impressions of the section, or where things are going, or something interesting that struck you.

People don’t really write by hand as much as they used to, of course.  Don’t believe me?  Let me know how your arm feels after taking a final in a bluebook.  Ouch.  Still, I find that writing by hand helps me remember better.  Even with my notes taken in class, I tend to re-write the important parts.  Writing all the time requires good tools, of course, something else I discuss in the video (I collect fountain pens, and I use them constantly for note taking and writing).

Yeah, so, blah blah blah.  Everyone should make their own reading list, but here are a few suggestions from my own (possibly too ambitious) reading list:

What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg

Laura, a Rollins graduate, spoke last semester about this book.  I have, sadly, not had time to read it yet, but the excerpt she presented from it was rather beautiful, and I’m interested to read this text from a grad of our school.  She has been receiving some notable applause on this particular work.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I’ve never actually read this before, at least I don’t think I have.  I’ve seen a movie based on it, but this will be my first time reading it.  I’m sure I’ll appreciate the subtlety of the novel and will enjoy it immensely.  I like texts that present perplexing situations and characters.

A Distant Neighborhood by Jiro Taniguchi

I could argue with you that graphic novels are a legitimate literary field now and point to all of the schools examining them in a critical manner, but instead I’ll just admit that I’m a nerd.  Taniguchi, though, is part of a unique Japanese/French hybrid movement that combines Manga technique from Japan with Bande dessinée storytelling from France and forms a new style all together.  Anyway, this particular series looks really good, and I plan on giving it some of my time this summer.

Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin

I picked up a copy of Shoplifting at American Apparel a few months ago because I needed something to read that wasn’t terribly long, and what I found instead was a pretty fresh voice.  I know Lin has been around for a while, but I’m just now finding time to explore his books. Shoplifting was very personal, very “internal,” seemingly very honest, and explored a very unique point of view.  I’m hoping for more of the same from this particular book.  Honestly, though, if it’s just “good,” that would also be fine.

The Elephant Vanishes: Stories by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is another author with whom I’ve been somewhat enamored recently. His semi-surreal text A Wild Sheep Chase:  A Novel was my “between-semester” book back in December.  I really dug that book, so I picked this up in a random trip to Borders and have yet to read it.  Short-story collections are a double-edged sword in many ways.  On one hand, you can read one and put the book down, and pick your way through the book.  On the other, if one story is not compelling, there is a tendency to read one, put the book down, and … forget it.  I doubt that will be the case with this particular text, of course, as Murakami is a very compelling writer who understands how to hook into the audience and pull them along on the ride.

Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem

I really wanted to read Motherless Brooklyn, but this was the only one of Lethem’s books I could find on Bookmooch.com, a free book-trading website I was using for quite some time.  Cool site, but anyway, Amnesia Moon is essentially a post-apocalyptic text and is pretty odd and humorous, from what I hear.  I mainly heard about Lethem because of Motherless Brooklyn.  A friend suggested that book as he knew I was a big fan of noir novels (I’m a big Raymond Chandler fan).  I’ll still have to read that book.  But, this is where I start with Lethem.  The one I could get for free.  Ha.

What’s on your reading list for this summer?  Do you have one?  Even if it’s just a magazine you’ve been putting off looking at or a commitment to reading the Sunday paper, keeping yourself actively engaged in the world is a fantastic way to keep the “August dull” from happening when you get back to school.

Enjoy your summer, and stay literate.

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Unique Classes

May 12, 2010

Rollins has a number of neat classes that are rather “non-traditional.”  I experienced a few this semester, and in thinking back about them, I thought others might enjoy hearing about them, too.

First, the Florida Film Festival class is worth mentioning.  This class, which met for only two weekends during April, puts students at the festival — watching films, meeting directors and actors, and experiencing a very complete film-festival experience.  The Florida Film Festival, after all, is very noted in the Southeast, and people come from all over to experience it.  This year, the class saw more than 40 films (shorts and features individually accounted for) over the course of two weekends, and enjoyed long discussions between each film, considering many different aspects of acting, storytelling, cinematography, sound, and other things.  The Enzian theater, which is the primary location of the festival, and the Regal Theater in Winter Park are both nice facilities and are very close to the campus.  The actors and directors we met were almost universally very nice and willing to talk about their films.  I especially enjoyed meeting Seymour Cassel (below) after watching John Cassavetes’ film Faces, a prototype independent feature from the 1960s.

This is a very unique class not just at Rollins, but actually in the U.S.  There aren’t really any other universities offering a class focused on going to a film festival and watching lots of films, and writing about them.  Oh, and there was writing.  Not that anyone thought this in our class, but when people hear that this class is a two-weekend class and is still four credit hours, they are tempted to think, “Oh, that’ll be easy.”  We did lots of writing, though, for sure, and those days are 12-hour days, at least.  So, not easy, but definitely fun and worth checking into, especially for film lovers.

Another class worth experiencing at Rollins, especially for English majors, is the specs journal class.  Specs journal, for those not aware, is a literary magazine published yearly on the Rollins campus.  It has published international authors, has featured some really incredible writers and artists, and has an editorial board with some very prominent thinkers and professors.  Typically, the journal has been published by volunteer students (friends and former e-journalists Stephanie Rizzo and Leslie Capobianco wrote about it, I’m sure, and have worked on the journal themselves). But for the first time ever, the journal was assembled by students in the bounds of a class.  Since it was a class, each student had responsibilities he or she was required to attend to, of course, and this made the class a really challenging and rewarding experience.  We collected a massive list of submissions, sorted through them, read them thoroughly, made initial decisions as to which ones we wanted to retain for further examination, and eventually narrowed it down to the pieces that would go into the journal.  We spent time reading and writing about the work we got.  Some of us even went to AWP (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs) in Colorado.  For a writing minor, such as myself, this whole process was massively useful for figuring out how journals work.  I have a fairly large collection of rejections from literary journals, so knowing how they work, how they read, etc. was very useful.  It has certainly changed my approach to sending in my work.

This is a very important thing for Rollins to have, specs journal.  With the ongoing “Winter with the Writers” event (which also has a class that I plan on taking at some point soon), and an up-and-coming journal such as specs that has established a presence at AWP, Rollins becomes more and more noted as an important school in the literary community.  The more we are noted, the more likely great writers will come to our campus to visit and speak (more than already do, anyway, because quite a few have and will continue to).  It improves the school, in other words, especially where the English Department is concerned.

Of course, no classes are ever without their odd patches, but I must say I enjoyed this semester’s classes so thoroughly that it is difficult to remember anything I didn’t like about them.  Look into these classes for next spring!

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April 22, 2010

With the city of Winter Park being a fairly well known two-wheel-friendly place, it is not terribly surprising that many students choose to employ a scooter or motorcycle as their primary or secondary mode of transportation to and around campus. Take a cruise down Park Avenue some day and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about: motorcycles and scooters of all varieties. Off the top of my head, I know that there are at least four scooter dealers within a few miles of the Rollins campus. There may be more.

Before I entertain this subject any further, I want to make one thing perfectly clear regarding my opinion about two-wheeled vehicles and the like: They are not as safe as driving a car — especially in Florida, where frequent strange changes in the weather can sometimes be a problem. But, on the other hand, if you’re smart about how you ride and when, they actually can be a good transportation option. Oh, and they’re cheaper than a car — and more fun. Personally, I ride a Vespa frequently in the area, though I do live a few miles from campus.

The special parking for motorcycles at Rollins really makes them attractive. On a typical class evening, for me, parking is sometimes a challenge. Sure, there are almost ALWAYS plenty of open spots in the parking garage across the street from the school, but that walk can be a few minutes. On a night when you’re running behind, the temptation to jaywalk is, well, there anyway. Fairbanks is not a street you want to jaywalk on (I mean, really, no street is, but especially not Fairbanks). So, where is the motorcycle/scooter parking on campus?

1. Next to Bush Science Center, in the parking area adjacent to the Warren Administration Building (pictured). This is prime parking on campus, and although you’re unlikely to score one of the spots around the Warren Administration Building in your car (there’s a very small window in which they are open, considering that they are Faculty/Staff spots during the day and are snapped up rather quickly by night students), sliding into one of the convenient motorcycle spots puts you pretty much dead center on campus.

2. Next to Facilities & Services (where Campus Security is), in the McKean parking lot (pictured). For anyone who lives in fear of their prized bike being tampered with, this is a good option. After all, who would mess with a vehicle parked a breath away from the Security Office? These spots are a little weird as they’re on an incline, but if you’ve got those quick U-Turn skills down, there should be no problem slotting in. This parking lot is just a quick walk down the sidewalk to the Cornell Campus Center, and offers quick access to much of the campus (and the art museum if you’re just cruising in to check out an exhibit).

3. The tiny spot adjacent to the walking bridge crossing Holt Avenue next to Carnegie Hall (pictured). This is not an “official” parking spot, of course, but one that people seem to use consistently for scooter and motorcycle parking. You could use it, too. Probably. I mean, I frequently see three or four bikes crammed into this spot.

And, hey, if you’re bored on a Thursday evening (if you don’t have class), there’s a group of scooter enthusiasts who do a weekly ride from Stardust Video (very close to campus) at 7 p.m. That could be fun.

There are, as I mentioned, a number of scooter dealers near campus. If that’s an interest, it’s probably worth stopping by one and checking out a scooter. Bear in mind that in Florida you need to have a driver’s license to operate a motorcycle or scooter 49cc or below, and a Motorcycle-Also certification on your license to operate any scooter or motorcycle over 49cc.

Safe riding!

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Mighty Olin Library

March 22, 2010

Libraries have a way of hitting you with circulation statistics, volumes, archives, and, most of the time, this information is of very little use to the average student looking for a book that will give him or her the information needed for a research paper.

What does it FEEL like to use the Olin Library?  What does the average student get out of this place?  Is it a place that inspires great academic success?

First off, statistics aside, the Olin Library at Rollins College is a very impressive place.  From the outside, it is a prominent building on campus, but on the inside, it is even more impressive.  The building consists of three main floors (four if you count the tower, which I tend to since there is unfettered access to it during the library’s operating hours), and is jampacked with features useful to anyone who might need the typical features of a library.  There is good access to Wifi throughout, so multifaceted study sessions are a definite yes.  There are student-accessible group study rooms on multiple floors; there are many general study areas (in both quiet and non-quiet zones), and there are computers connected to printers (which I have used on many occasions, especially when I needed to print out an assignment for class).  For the interested, on the lowest floor there is a collection related to Rollins, a very complete collection of periodicals in a few different languages, and an extensive archive.  There is a great collection of reference texts and a helpful, friendly staff available to answer questions.

There is a coffee shop (it’s actually a coffee cart with an adjacent drink cooler, but it’s about the same thing) in the main lobby area.  Food is allowed in the main-floor area, so it isn’t unusual to see students studying while munching on food boxed up in the cafeteria, or takeout from one of the local businesses that deliver to the campus (The Pita Pit and Dominos are popular options, especially since Dominos takes R-Cards for payment).

There is a 24-hour study area on one wing, which is phenomenally useful.  During finals last semester, for instance, I crowded in there with a group of classmates, and we cranked on our final exam notes until past midnight.  There are computer labs and TVs — some of which are playing news and the like, others of which are available for student use, especially those in the study rooms.  There is a good collection of VHS and DVD films, many of which are tailored toward educational purposes, and some of which aren’t.  While I was shooting photos for this blog, for instance, I borrowed Who Killed the Electric Car? and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.  There are a number of good films in there which I will be cycling through, when I have the time.  Honestly, though there are tons of classic films in there and nothing like the selection at a video store, for those on a budget (me, me, me), borrowing a film from the library can be an economical evening’s entertainment.  Generally, if I were to watch all of the films available in there, I’m sure I’d be a more well-rounded person for the experience, anyway.  Ingmar Bergman collection, anyone?

Of course, there are also books.  I couldn’t really find a place to begin in discussing the books, but I found the special collections to be of note.  There is a dedicated science-fiction collection, which, despite being a favorite genre of mine, is a good example of the approach the library staff has taken to creating this place.  Pertinent and useful.

One thing people always note about Olin is the extended study areas on the third floor.  There’s the “pillow room” (a room with very casual seating designed as a quiet, comfortable reading space), and the tower reading room above, which very literally occupies the library’s tower.  This space is especially great.  It overlooks the whole campus, including the lake, and is actually quite a nice place to spend an afternoon reading.

Most students use the library, of course.  It’s useful for research, yes, but maybe more important for group study.  Groups of students routinely gather around tables to unravel notes from weeks previous to prepare for a midterm or final, or even to discuss approaches to research papers.  There is so much space, and so many useful areas that, with a little pre-planning, no group I have ever been a part of has gone wanting for space.  Personally, I like to hide in the farthest corner of one of the floors, put my headphones on, and crank out those last few pages of a paper.  It’s a little ritual of mine around term paper and finals time. I try to spend at least a few hours each day over at Olin because I get work done there that I just can’t get done at home or, really, anywhere else.  The environment of Olin seems to be conducive to whatever work you need to get done.  It’s got that “vibe” about it.

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Lighting the Way

February 12, 2010

I’ve been thinking about the new group of students who will begin the college-search process soon.

As many of you prepare for your admission applications to various schools, one of which is almost certainly Rollins if you’re currently reading this, you’re likely thinking down the line to your future career, and fondly picturing your headlong charge toward it.

And that, I hate to tell you, is a really dangerous way to plan things.

As you probably gathered from the posts you’ve read from me (if you’ve read any others), I’m not “college-aged” in the traditional sense, and am, in fact, in my late 20s (soon-to-be early 30s).  So, if I may borrow a phrase that once was ominously delivered to me, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

So, buckaroo, let me share with you a huge, dangerous secret:  No single set of skills will ever, ever, ever prepare you for a job.  No lie there.  Ask anyone who has worked, ever, and they will confirm that this is a fact.

So, why go to college?  Since we can’t hit a moving target anyway, what’s the point of all this work we’re going through?

Consider a situation, if you will, for a moment.  In one job I’ve had in the past few years of my career, I found myself called upon to do the following things:

1.  Public speaking
2.  Have a functional, complete understanding of math
3.  Be an observer of human psyche
4.  Be a creative writer
5.  Be a good writing editor
6.  Be a leader
7.  Be a reliable follower
8.  Understand, thoroughly, a technical skill set involving at least 5 different types of media
9.  Correlate, correctly, the creative application of technical skills and give specific examples
10.  Be a student
11.  Be a teacher
12.  Be an arbitrator
13.  Be a developer
14.  Be a critical thinker
15.  Be a liaison

There is no single degree program anywhere that will prepare you adequately for everything you will encounter at work, and what you will encounter will place demands on you unheard of by anyone you might ask.  How you prepare for this situation is by loving your studies.

Loving your studies means, to me, that you spend the extra time reading assignments, going further, relating things you’re learning to things you’ve already learned.  The assignments are there to be completed, sure, but they’re just a rough guide, a “starting point” if you will.  Your thirst for knowledge drives you onward to more information, the likes of which keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning.

In that sense, when you’re confronted with that bizarre situation that you’ve never considered how to handle before, your agile mind will either go to an example you culled from your hours of study, or will be flexible enough to handle whatever you encounter.  You must give your mind exercise, though, for it to be agile.

Is it fair to demand this of students when they are already so taxed with their work?  No.  In fact, I would never demand it of anyone, nor would any educator.  I do, though, demand it of myself, because I know that I will almost certainly encounter, daily, something that requires the flexibility of mind that has become an asset.

Rollins provides a staggering number of opportunities to get involved with brain-flexing activities — whether in the theory group that meets on campus, or the massively well-appointed library, or the many exhibits and speakers that visit the school and art museum.  There are massive resources on this campus to develop your WHOLE person (not just your English person, or your Environmental Studies person, or your International Business person).

Is developing the whole person really all that important?  If none of my other reasons are compelling, consider a career point of view.  What do you imagine that people of your field of study get together and talk about when they’re not at work?  I can almost guarantee that the topics do not remain locked on just that field of study.  Developing your whole person is essential because you’ve still got a whole life to lead after college, not just a work life.

On some personal notes, my classes this semester are filled with lots of reading (not surprising), but the buildings where many English Department classes happen has become a bit of a comforting sight.  As we pore over submissions to the Specs Journal, the journal staff meets in Woolsen House.  Its wood paneling and leather furnishings certainly distinguish it amongst classrooms.  Our discussions in there are typically fairly informal (when possible), a mood I think that is fostered by the environment.

The entire campus takes on a different feeling at night.  Everything feels a little closer.  I’m fascinated, personally, with the lanterns that adorn the outside corridor of Orlando Hall.  They have lit my way into and out of the buildings surrounding the area many times.

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Tightwire and Some Thoughts

January 15, 2010

An actual day from last semester, for me:

6:45 a.m. – Wake up, clean up, eat breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Leave for work, fight traffic on a drive that is less than 10 miles, but takes 25 minutes
8:30 a.m. – Work.  Emails, prepare pertinent materials, .5 mile walk to other buildings.
1:00 p.m. – Lunch.  Did I remember to bring anything from home?  No?  Darn.  Where to eat around here that isn’t slathered in grease?
4:00 p.m. – Midafternoon tea.  Absolutely tired.
5:30 p.m. – Work over, drive to school through more traffic.
6:00 p.m. – Park in garage, walk over to eat something on campus, study, last-minute reviewing.
6:45 p.m. – Class starts.  I have officially been up and at it for 12 hours.
8:15 p.m. (or so) – Break.  Grab a quick breath of fresh air.
9:15 p.m. – Class is over. Walk to library for study group.
9:30 p.m. – Study group starts.  Work through some review sheets, talk about chapter specifics, talk about what we each expect on the coming exam.
11:30 p.m. – Study group ends (before midnight this time, excellent), walk back to car to drive home.
12:00 a.m. – Home finally.  Cats, dog, and wife are already asleep.  Hungry again.  Make some quick food, think about making something else for lunch tomorrow, but don’t really have the attention span left for even PB&J.
12:30 a.m. – Fall asleep on couch watching a movie … didn’t want to go to bed right after eating.
2:27 a.m. – Wake up on couch, go to bed.
6:45 a.m. – Wake up, clean up, eat breakfast.

Everyone knows that going to school is a huge exercise in balance, but this issue is compounded when you’re a “grownup” (I use this term facetiously, in my case) and have a full-time “grownup job.”  For the working professional, a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule are difficult enough to maintain without looming deadlines for papers, projects, and exams.  So, how is it possible to actually do this whole school thing?  In my own life it has been a challenge, and has, at times, appeared to be an insurmountable task.  Somehow, though, it remains possible.  Here are some thoughts on “achieving” an education.

“Why are you doing this?  Are you crazy?”

It is truly no secret that school takes up a significant amount of time in your life.  If you’re as busy as I am normally, questions will arise about your sanity when you enroll in school full-time, frequently with a slow, protracted exhale, and a “good luck with that.”  If you’re pursuing a degree, it doesn’t hurt to sit down for a few minutes and ponder why exactly you’re doing so.  That reason is important and will need to be able to justify the sacrifices you’re inevitably going to have to make to successfully pursue an education.  Whatever your reasons for doing this school thing, there has to be an understanding within yourself that some things in your life are going to have to take a back seat temporarily.  Is your reason or goal important enough to merit your full attention?  If so, that drive to accomplish this goal you have in mind will help to sustain you.  If you’ve got a strong desire, a clear picture of what you want, a direction you’re going in, how can attending school not be worth the effort?

A New Sort of Budget

We all know about budgeting our finances, but it is equally important to budget your time.  You’re probably only going to end up being in class three nights a week in the Evening program at Rollins (if you’re going full-time).  In those evenings when you’re not in class, capitalize on that time to benefit your school experience.  If you’re like me, when you’re not doing school, you probably have large chunks of your evenings that are carved out as somewhat “wasted.”  Big TV fan?  Pick one or two shows and limit yourself to those, or DVR your favorites and watch them when you know you have time.  Have a hobby?  Take some time off from it, or give yourself a very limited schedule for time you can devote to it.  Love reading?  Give that reading time over to your textbooks and class materials; it’ll be rewarding.  Go out with friends a lot?  Limit yourself to once a week; they’ll understand that you’re pursuing an important goal.  You’ll almost certainly be surprised at how much time this clears up in your schedule for completing your homework, doing your readings, preparing projects, and studying for exams.  Combine that with an eager attitude that doesn’t let you wait to start on projects, and you’ll almost certainly feel that you’re solidly on the ball.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Of course, if you don’t feel well, focusing on school can be ridiculously hard without even considering any other obligations you have in your life.  With that in mind, the simple things like eating healthy foods, doing a bit of exercise, and getting the right amount of sleep (especially when you’re studying for an exam, no kidding) are essential to your overall well-being.  Do not overlook your personal physical necessities or they will come back to haunt you … quickly.

Surround Yourself

If you surround yourself with good folks at school, you’ll find that being on top of your work comes much easier.  If everyone around you is driven, you’ll be more driven.  It really is that simple.  On the other hand, if you study with people who are just working toward “passing” or who have no purpose to what they are doing, you’ll find that motivation comes with difficulty.  Personally, I’ve found that nearly every student I’ve encountered on a classmate basis at Rollins has been driven to succeed, and from what I understand, that is pretty much consistent throughout the Evening program.

The Family

It can be difficult to explain your scheduling needs to your family, of course, but if you are clear in stating your goals for this process, and make sure to set aside time for family responsibilities in the evenings when you’re not in class, you’ll help them to know that they’re still a major part of your daily life.  The trick here is to remember that after you’re done with your education, you theoretically want these people you live with to still be there. So come to a working understanding with them as early as possible.  They’ll respect you for your drive, probably, and if you let them know that you need and appreciate their support, you’re likely to find them to be very understanding.

It’s Not Forever

And, in the end, there is an end.  You’re not going to be in school forever.  If you can keep that in mind, that all of this rush, stress, push, and limitation is temporary, it won’t seem so bad.  And maybe you’ll remember to stop and enjoy the good times … because this whole school thing is actually a lot of fun.

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Rollins Sports?

December 21, 2009

How odd for the English major to be talking about sports right off the bat with his second blog. Still, I can’t deny the love.

As the leaves cascade down from trees (some of them anyway; this is Florida, after all), so many people huddle around the lovely wood-burning hearth (a video of which is conveniently available on DVD for $2 at Walgreens) to tune in to their favorite college sports team. Across the gridiron they charge bravely forward. It’s a time for wearing your team colors, gathering with your friends and classmates, and getting out there to support your alma mater’s league conquests.

The fact is, so many colleges are evaluated and “legitimized” in some sense by the presence of a notable football team. So we hear about the Gators, and the Seminoles, and all the other Florida football giants, and somehow this tends to lend an air of notoriety to those schools. And I’m not saying they are bad schools or anything … but … what about at Rollins? Where’s the football? And what’s this “Tar” I keep hearing about?

We play a different kind of football at Rollins, and if you’ll pardon me saying so, it’s the kind the rest of the world is playing. This makes a lot of sense from a school that is “educating students for global citizenship and responsible leadership,” I think. The Tars men and women soccer teams put on one heck of a show for the fans this year, and both teams set out to push into the NCAA Division II tournament. And, at the end of the season, the Men had set a program record for themselves with a 16-win season, and found themselves crowned Sunshine State Conference Champs (technically, co-crowned alongside the University of Tampa, who had an identical amount of points in the league). As for the women, they were crowned as the SSC Women’s Soccer Tournament Champions, a first ever for the women’s soccer program at Rollins.

Fans of the Tars then got the opportunity to watch NCAA tournament matches from the stands of the Barker Family Stadium at the Cahall-Sandspur Field, Rollins’ beautiful soccer facility located right on campus. Though both the men and women ultimately met defeat in the tournament, the excitement of being out with the rest of the Tars fans during tournament games rose to levels of intensity that almost reminded me of the English Premier League matches I’ve attended. There truly were some glorious moments.

As for the term “Tar,” a Tar is a sailor. There’s a lovely story about a small naval vessel full of sailors being stationed on Lake Virginia, adjacent to the college during World War I, when so many men were off at war. The “Tar” became the de facto, then official symbol of the school sometime after that, but I’ll let you read up on that on your own. The most important part of the name is we’re the only ones who have it. How many “Cougars” are out there? How many “Hornets,” or “Lions,” or even “Mariners” play various sports, both professional and college-level? There is only one school with Tommy Tar as their mascot. Rollins.

The fact is Rollins has a refined culture of sports on campus. There are tons of sports actively running on campus year-round, and not just the regular stuff. There is rowing, lacrosse, sailing, waterskiing, and golf, these in addition to the usual sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball, cross country, tennis, soccer, and swimming. The teams are competitive. There is support for the teams in the student body in general, and with the First Mates supporters group. The facilities are phenomenal, and I don’t mean just the aforementioned Cahall-Sandspur field. The Harold and Ted Alfond Sports Center (on campus) and the Alfond Stadium (down the street) are awesome as well.  The Rollins Outdoor Club (known as ROC) even has its own residence hall. And then there are the intramural sports. My point is, no Rollins student ever goes wanting for athletic activity, either as a fan, or as a participant.

You’ll notice a theme with my blog posts, probably. Opportunity. There are so many opportunities at Rollins, and they’re of the sort that you may not find as easily on some of those larger campuses I mentioned earlier.  Go Tars!

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Rollins — When You Least Expect It

September 9, 2009

I didn’t realize I was going to attend Rollins four months ago.

I applied to the Hamilton Holt program in 2006 and was accepted, but after months of thinking about attending I decided to start that leg of my education at a community college. It was less expensive (an important factor for me at that point), and Rollins would be there, I figured, for the final two years of my undergraduate education. It had been there since 1885, after all.

I did really well at my community college, a situation I didn’t necessarily anticipate. I maintained a very high GPA, was named to the President’s list each semester I was eligible, was nominated to the All-Florida academic team, received an award for my fiction writing, got involved with community-service organizations, wrote for publications, and forged great relationships with a number of professors. Soon, at the behest of these professors, I found myself applying to schools all over the country, including some of those highly regarded ones on the East Coast, where I would be able to study in programs that had educated so many well-known household names. I was interviewed as one of the finalist applicants to Yale’s Eli Whitney Students Program (though I was ultimately not accepted), and was admitted to a number of programs, not the least of which was Columbia University’s General Studies program, the one I decided to attend.

Ready to head to New York for the fall semester, I began plans to sell my home over the summer, pack my stuff, quit my job, and console my cats. Of course, as any follower of economic happenings (or general news) will know, the summer of 2009 was not exactly the ideal time to sell a home or make a big move. Likewise, the job hunt for open positions in Manhattan proved an insurmountable task for my wife and me, while rumors abounded of even graduate-degree holders flocking to apply to open janitorial positions and whatever else was available there.

Suffice it to say, I count myself as one of those people who could not afford to go to his or her intended school this fall. So many of us found ourselves accepted, encouraged, but ultimately fiscally unable. In so many ways, the rise in the number of students who found themselves in this exact situation is a reversal of the grand American Dream as it relates to education. A sobering realization for me was that, despite heroic efforts to become a viable candidate for the Ivy League, one might find himself simply unable to go after being accepted.

It was here, at one of the lowest points I have ever reached in my time on this planet, that Rollins re-entered the picture. I had never forgotten about the school. After all, my wife graduated from Rollins in 2000, and continued to wear her Tars Crew jacket on mornings when she headed out to the lake, oar in hand. Amidst the crisis of overturning my well-laid plans, I remained determined to continue my education. I again completed my application to Rollins’ Hamilton Holt program, and was again accepted.

Sorting out my feelings on this turn of events has been no simple task. Certainly I was feeling let down by the sense of helplessness at my inability to attend schools with such huge names and pedigrees. On the other hand, though, during the 2009 Hamilton Holt convocation, it was announced to those in attendance that U.S. News and World Report was again rating Rollins College as the top master’s-degree-granting institution in the Southeast. That warmed my heart, I must admit.

Then this semester’s classes began. It turned out that I really liked my classes. I mean, I really, really liked my classes. The professors were engaging, and the assignments were full and challenging, which was precisely what I wanted. Finally, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, I attended my first Rollins home soccer match (I’m a big soccer fan), and watched the Tars slam home a 7-0 victory against Carthage College. I stood. I cheered. I smiled. It was a good feeling.

Walking out of the stadium, I saw a fellow Rollins student walking toward Holt Avenue, wearing a Yale sweatshirt, possibly bought in the same shop near the campus where I bought my own shirt on the occasion of my interview in New Haven. Smiling, I walked up to him.

“Did you get rejected, too?”

“Yeah,” he said, frowning.

“That was pretty rough, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, man.”

“But we’re here now.”

We bumped fists, sharing a camaraderie that very few others might be able to comprehend.

Yes, we’re here now, and I, for one, am actually very enthusiastic about this fact. Rollins is a beautiful, charming place, and I am planning on fully capitalizing on the small-campus atmosphere, small class sizes, personal attention from the faculty and staff in nearly every aspect of the education process, easy access to exciting extracurricular opportunities, and heritage of academic excellence. There is no guarantee I would have gotten all of that in my undergraduate studies at any other school. In fact, there is a decent chance I would not have. So, although I didn’t realize I was going to attend Rollins four months ago – and have experienced significant turmoil in the meantime – I am really excited to be here.

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Read more about... Jared:

Jared, a recent transfer to Rollins, is dedicated to lifelong learning. In this particular phase of his formal education, he is honing his writing skills as he aims his efforts at admission into a Creative Writing MFA program. Jared has been published in a literary anthology (Nota Bene), and in a local literary journal (Mosaic). Having grown up in Ohio (amongst other places), he loves the distinctive Spanish Mediterranean architectural style of the Rollins campus. Jared has written for Rollins' paper, The Sandspur, and has also become a big fan of Tars soccer.

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