Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The End of the Beginning.

School is over for the semester. I got an A in my class. We had a party Monday night at my professor's house to celebrate her final graduate class (she is retiring and stepping down as director of the department). I cried and asked her to have dinner with me, and she was happy to accept. It's nice to have a mentor, even if she won't be wandering the halls of the department anymore.

There's a lot up in the air at USF with budget cuts and graduate student funding loss and potential department dissolution. I am not sure what will happen, or if I will even return to school in the fall. But it's been a great ride, and it's changed me in the most positive and wonderful ways. I see now that we can be reborn as often as we want to be. We just have to do the work to grow up all over again and again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tooting my own horn.

I got my official GRE scores in the mail yesterday (which included my not-yet-revealed analytical writing scores). The writing score was the only thing I didn't know, so as I tore into the envelope I thought about all I'd read...the writing pieces are scored by three official readers (mostly college professors) and graded by the half point between 0 and 6. You are given the mean score of the three scores and it is rounded to the nearest .5 point. The average writing score for the GRE population is 4.1. Anything above a 5 is hard to get. I got a 5.5. I was astounded and delighted. The official ETS testing site (people that administer the test) says:

Score Levels 6 and 5.5
Sustains insightful, in-depth analysis of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically compelling reasons and/or highly persuasive examples; is well focused and well organized; skillfully uses sentence variety and precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively; demonstrates superior facility with sentence structure and language usage but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.

As I said to my mother after I gleefully revealed my score to her last night, "if I'd known I could do this well on the GRE I would have gone to Grad school for something really hard years ago." Ha.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vegan Vacationing

I got back from a fun-filled weekend in New Orleans late last night. While we were there for the star-studded 10th Anniversary performance of the Vagina Monologues at the SuperDome, it also happened to be the pretty famous French Quarter Jazz Festival.

Driving into New Orleans past neighborhoods abandoned and still in utter disrepair from Katrina is heart wrenching. Pulling into the French Quarter and see bustling streets and open businesses is heart warming. I hadn't been to New Orleans in ten years and I feared the damage from Katrina would act as a dark cloud over the trip, though quite the contrary it made me appreciate the resiliency of such an amazing city and the warrior-spirit of its people.

I got to eat west African food, go on a Haunted History tour, trek from one end of New Orleans to the other and back again, walk along the Mississippi, tour a historic above-ground cemetary, listen to some amazing activists talk about the work they do interntionally to help women who are victims of violence, see an awe-inspiring cast perform an incredibly moving version of the Vagina Monologues, and take some great pictures along the way.

I left New Orleans thinking, "I could live here." The city was as vibrant and inspiring as I found it all those years ago. That does not overshadow the many devastating and real problems going on right outside of the tiny area where the tourists flock. Problems that inspire me to do continue down the path I'm on, to help women and promote human rights. Perhaps one day I'll even do it in New Orleans.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Grrr! The GRE.

So, I took the dang test yesterday after 48-hours of straight studying. It went like this:

Metal detector, pat down, put your things in a locker, swear yourself in, sign in blood, show two photo IDs (most of that is true) and then get led into a dismall little room and into your very own cube.

Present your perspective on an issue - 45 minutes of timed writing.
Discuss the presented argument (how reasonable and sound it is) - 45 minutes of timed writing.
Qualitative exam - 30 questions in 45 minutes
Verbal exam - 30 questions in 30 minutes
Random section (can be anything, may or may NOT be experimental and ungraded - you don't know so you have to treat it as real) - Qualitative (OF COURSE!) 30 more math questions.

Both times I did not finish all 30 qualitative questions in time. The first time it happened I started to freak out. Second time, I was so over it.

At the end of this three hour plus journey the computer says, "Would you like to see your scores?" Which actually means, "Would you like to report these scores to the schools you are applying to?" Which actually means, this is going on your PERMANENT RECORD.

So...drum roll...I got a 1280 (perfect split, 640 on each). I am rounding up to a 1300 to sound really smart:) I am very pleased. Prior to 2001 those scores would have gotten me into Mensa. Now they just get me into grad school, and that is just fine with me!
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