Goucher College Graduation week: Rainy, exhausting, exciting

"Public Safety Officers prepare to escort guests through the rain as they arrive for the Goucher College Baccalaureate ceremony Thursday, May 19, 2011."

Alas, yet another post about rain.

It seems like rain has unintentionally been a theme for me over the past few months. This post is about a celebratory occasion, though, so it’s far less dreary than some of the other rain posts

It didn’t stop raining for the entire week leading up to graduation. In fact, it seemed like the rain fell hardest precisely at the times when family and friends arrived en masse for the various ceremonies and recognitions. But even with the constant downpours, the festive mood remained intact, and come graduation time, the rain had lifted. 

The week was jam packed, each day filled with one event or party after another. In fact, I was so exhausted by the end of the week that I nearly fell asleep during the graduation ceremony itself. 

I have the feeling I wasn’t the only one.

Congratulations and good luck to the Goucher College Class of 2011!

A Dulaney High School Softball Photo

"Dulaney High School softball pitcher Caitlin Battey '11 delivers against the Southwestern High School Sabers Monday, May 16, 2011."

I stopped by Dulaney High School last week to watch a friend pitch. I was only there for a bit, and just had my short lens with me, so this is what I snapped. 

Exciting, right?

Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: Academics

"Students read in the stacks of the library in Goucher College's Athenaeum Monday, October 12, 2009."

This will be my final “Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College” post. I’ll stop boring you. 

This photograph represents the countless hours and, particularly throughout my Junior and Senior year, regular all-nighters spent working in the library. It started with the Julia Rogers library and the infamous “Walk of Shame” – the long walk across campus at 3:30 in the morning in the cold winter rain after finalizing a twenty-page paper.

Halfway through the four years, the library moved to the Athenaeum, a much more convenient location. The workload increased however, and surviving on Snickers bars and Fritos from the vending machines in Julia Rogers changed to surviving on Caprese baguettes and Iced Athenaeum’s from Alice’s Restaraunt. 

Those nights, and the lack of sleep in general, are elements of College that I won’t miss, but hard work pays off. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in my Communications and Media Studies major and a minor in Spanish Language. I’m also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Chi Alpha Sigma academic and athletic honor societies. And, this year, I wrote a 76-page Senior honors thesis titled, “Sex, Censorship, and Student Journalism: What Two Newspaper Columns Reveal About the Student Press.”

What I will miss are the conversations and discussions that took place in classes, and I’m thankful to the professors who sparked my interest in so many different areas of study. It was always a joy listening to lectures about the changing landscape of journalism or the role of robots in science fiction films. 

Finally, Goucher is unique in that professors become mentors and then subsequently become friends. I doubt there’s many other places where your Research Methods professor beats you 7-0 in basketball or your Spanish professor asks you to play tennis or your Communications professor buys you Chinese food. In my opinion, the prospect of forming these types of relationships is among the finest that Goucher has to offer. 

Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: The Q

"The 2010-2011 Editorial Board of The Quindecim poses in their newsroom on Monday, May 2, 2011."

My reflections about my time at Goucher College are not complete without some closing thoughts on The Quindecim, the institution that gave me a sense of purpose on campus and defined me professionally and personally. 

After being voted Editor-In-Chief of the newspaper, I led an extensive revitalization of all aspects of the publication. These efforts transformed The Quindecim from an inconsistent and unprofessional newspaper to a reliable, recognizable, and revered institution on campus. You can read about what we set out to accomplish at the start of that process here

We did a huge service to the Goucher community, one that unfortunately has been taken for granted and has gone largely unrewarded. You’ll get a sense of what I mean if you read here

What I didn’t refer to much in those articles, though, is the impact The Q had on my life at Goucher, and subsequently, in the professional realm. I joined as a photographer at the start of my sophomore year, and despite quickly developed frustrations about the editorial leadership of the paper, I was shooting every day. I was now more than just a photography student in a class. I had deadlines to hit and events to cover. Knowing that my photographs would be seen by more than just one professor, I forced myself to do better work. 

I was named Photography Editor soon after, and because Goucher is such a tight-knit community, I donned a “the kid with the camera at every event imaginable” type persona. It was this visibility that led to countless photo opportunities for the Office of Communications, The Quarterly, The Sports Information desk, the Dance and Music departments, Goucher Hillel, and other various student clubs. My newspaper portfolio was also good enough to land me my Photography internship with the Baltimore Orioles. 

As I started reporting and writing more as well, my involvement grew and grew. Serving as Editor-In-Chief was the most grueling task of my college years, but was without a doubt also the most gratifying. I learned about ethics, tough decision making, working alongside others, organization, time management, attention to details, the risks of making mistakes, and recognition and lack of recognition for good work. These are lessons that reach far beyond a newsroom. 

I view joining The Q as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As silly as it seems, those first photography assignments about bed bugs and campus housing shortages remain just as important to me as any assignment for a more well-known publication. Without those assignments, I never would have gotten to The Baltimore Sun or The New York Times. Those first photographs ignited a passion that I hope will turn into a career, and for that, I love The Q.

Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: Travel

"A storm blows through the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina Monday, January 18, 2010."

Some of the best experiences Goucher College made possible for me were ones that happened thousands of miles away. Given Goucher’s international sensibility and study abroad requirement, I had many opportunities for travel, both nationally and internationally.

To fulfill my requirement, I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina in January 2010 for a four-week intensive Spanish language program. What a trip. Living with a wonderful host family during my stay there, I was immersed in Argentine culture and learned the value of living without some of the luxuries that are easy to take for granted back home. I also left with a group of close friends from around the United States.

In retrospect, I wish I had been able to go abroad for an entire semester. It would have been impossible to do without missing a tennis season, but had I stayed there for three or four months, I’m confident that I would have achieved fluency in Spanish. That still remains a goal of mine.

I also visited a good friend of mine in Germany, traveled to Poland and the Czech Republic, and participated in a Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel this past January.

Finally, tennis team Spring break training trips took me to Virginia, North Carolina, and California, and I had many shorter visits to other parts of the country throughout the past four years. 

There’s always lots of discussion about Goucher’s abroad requirements. There are certainly challenges to working around 1,400 plus students’ travel plans. In my view, though, this is one of the best things Goucher has going for it. 

Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: Living

"Sondheim Room 106, Goucher College, May 17, 2008"

"Dorothy Stimson Hall, Lewis Room 200, Goucher College, May 14, 2009"

"Dorothy Stimson Hall, Lewis Room 200, Goucher College, May 13, 2010."

"Welsh Hall, Apartment 337 Room F, Goucher College, May 15, 2011."

These pictures are downright boring, but I enjoy posting them as a record of my different living situations during my four years at Goucher College. 

My first year, I lived with a roommate in the Sondheim residency. It was by far the nicest room I had. In fact, it was arguably the nicest room on campus, complete with a full bathroom, air conditioning, and a spacious walk in closet.

I never meshed very well into the community of students living in Sondheim though, so I moved out the next year and was lucky enough to obtain a room for myself as a sophomore. I’m an independent person, so living alone doesn’t bother me at all, and Lewis 200 was my palace. I loved it so much that I booked it again for my junior year. 

There’s no air conditioning and the building that the room is in is absolutely cruddy, but that room was legendary and was home to some of my best college memories.

Finally, I lived with three of my closest friends in an on-campus apartment during my senior year. We had a blast, minus the mice that started keeping us company at the end of this year. 

Celebrating one year of ‘Billie with an I.E.’

"'Billie with an I.E.' was created on May 18, 2010, exactly one year ago today."

I’m proud to announce that today marks the one year anniversary of the creation of my multimedia blog, ‘Billie with an I.E!’

This blog is a product of my multimedia internship with The Baltimore Sun last summer. The first assignment to all interns like myself was to create a blog and maintain it throughout our time there.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop, and when my internship ended I was certain that I’d use the blog to build on what I had done at The Sun. I have no shame in admitting that this blog has become somewhat of an addiction. It’s become a part of me, and I treat it as work rather than a hobby. 

I originally intended to use ‘Billie with an I.E.’ as a means of reflecting upon my own work so that it improves every day, and I can say that that objective has remained well intact. The photographs, videos, slideshows, podcasts, and articles that I produce have improved substantially because of this blog. Writing about the work that I post has served as an enjoyable form of self-criticism for me. Posting regularly has become a device for displaying the successes in my day-to-day work, as well as for pointing out the improvements that could be made. 

I also love the sense of permanence that blogs carry. They provide the precious ability to instantly find work from long ago and see it with fresh eyes. It’s only been one year, so I still vividly remember most of the work I’ve posted, but I’m seduced by the prospect of looking back on those works five, fifteen, maybe fifty years from now and reading about how I viewed the world this year. 

Finally, as I graduate college and begin to enter the job market, it’s been a valuable tool in marketing myself and my work, and I truly believe the skills maintaining this blog has given me puts me at an advantage over other similar candidates.

This year, I published 120 posts, and by the end of today, ‘Billie with an I.E.’ will have reached 10,000 page views overall!

Thank you to both my regular readers as well as the occasional passers-by. I hope that a photograph here has brightened your day, or that a video taught you something you didn’t know, or that a post has sparked conversation.

If that’s happened at least once, I’m happy. 

Here’s to another year!

Reflections on Four Years at Goucher College: Tennis

“Members of the Goucher College Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams pose with their families during the annual Tennis Family Weekend October 11, 2009.”

I’m currently halfway through my last week as a student at Goucher College, so naturally there’s been lots of time for reflection on my time spent here.

I’m overwhelmed when I think of all the different aspects of life that I and so many other students here juggled at once. So, while it’s impossible to comment on everything that I did over the past four years, I’m going to try and make some sense out of it all by posting about the most influential parts of my Goucher experience.

This is the first post in a series of several that will appear throughout this week. I usually don’t get too personal in my posts, but I won’t be able to help it for these. They’ll also likely be longer than usual, so don’t feel that you have to read all of my “thank you’s” and memories. They serve mostly as a permanent record for myself to look back on.

Tennis.

I came into Goucher a slick middle-infielder who had never played tennis as part of a team. I grew up on baseball and learned the many valuable lessons the game carries with it. Tennis was always an off-season activity I did to stay in shape, and up until several weeks prior to being accepted into Goucher, had no real intentions to continue playing at the college level.

I’m thankful that Goucher Athletics gave me the opportunity to do so. What started as a hobby quickly grew into a passion that brought me to tears as I walked off the court after my final match at Stevenson University several weeks ago. 

I’m a competitive person by nature, so overall, I was disappointed with our play during my four years. As a team, we didn’t have one winning season, and as an individual, my record was far below .500. 

It was incredibly frustrating at times, but in retrospect, wins and losses aren’t what I’ll take away from Goucher Tennis. What matters most is the irreplaceable leadership, friendship, and pride that builds within the program every year. 

What leaves the strongest impression on me is the sheer number of hours participating at the NCAA level requires. It’s not just playing matches. It’s practicing, team meetings, fundraising, and traveling. It’s your afternoons, your sunrises, your late nights, your weekends, your Spring breaks, and your Summer vacations. Almost every day revolves around the hours alotted for tennis. It’s taught me about commitment, time management, and persistence, lessons that carry far beyond any tennis court.

Mentally, tennis is a tough game, and it just about always left me absolutely baffled. Baseball just seemed much simpler to me for reasons I can’t explain. But despite the losses, I had fun playing and I enjoyed the battle, and I’ll never lose sight of that. Goucher Tennis has given me irreplaceable memories and laughs. I’ll miss the shirtless practices on the first days of spring. I’ll miss the 6 a.m. team lifting, the 9 p.m. hit sessions, the pre-game speeches, the post-game speeches, the closet-sized locker room, the Goucher Football T-Shirt sales, the laser tag in Virginia Beach, the team dinners at the Steamy’s BBQ’s of the world, the bus rides home, and the sweet sound of the Victory Bell. 

There are too many people to thank, but there are several that simply can’t go unrecognized. 

Thank you to Geoff Miller, Director of Athletics at Goucher, for your dedication and enthusiasm in making athletics as vibrant a part of the Goucher community as it is, and for your personal guidance, particularly during my Senior year. 

To Michael Vann, Head Coach of Goucher Men’s Tennis, thank you for finding the talent in me, for allowing me the opportunity to play tennis, for your coaching and mentorship, and for your friendship.

To Sally Baum, Head Coach of Goucher Women’s Tennis, thank you for your extensive wisdom and for always bringing the Men’s and Women’s teams closer together. 

Thank you to Doug Mangi, Mike Simon, Chris Covey, Henning Jakob, and Michael Brooks, the Team Captains I played under, for being the guys I look up to. The impressions you’ve left on me are too big to put into words. 

To Steve Baum and Dave Hemelt, my co-captains and “bros,” thank you for four years of friendship and many more to come. We’ll talk about it. 

We Goucher Tennis people always refer to ourselves as “family,” so I posted this photograph that I took on self-timer two fall seasons ago rather than any action shot I have.

It’s full of family, mentors, leaders, and friends. That’s Goucher Tennis at its finest. 

A trip to Gunpowder Falls

"Water rushes through a creek leading to the Gunpowder River in Bel Air, Maryland Sunday, May 15, 2011."

The forecast is calling for rain every day this week, so some friends and I decided to take advantage of the sunny weather yesterday and venture to Gunpowder Falls park about twenty minutes north of Goucher. It was a nice way to begin the Senior Week festivities leading up to graduation this coming Friday. 

We didn’t find the exact spot that we were looking for, but we stopped here and had a picnic. Of course, I ate quickly and then spent far too much climbing slippery rocks and making long exposures of the water. 

I was happy with this one. It’s a good one to add to my portfolio, which I published yesterday!

Issue 14 – The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College

"The Quindecim, The Independent Student Newspaper of Goucher College - Issue 14 - May 9, 2011 - Front Page"

On top of final exams, papers, and projects, we published our fourteenth and final issue of The Quindecim yesterday. In fact, it was a 24 page issue, our largest of the year. 

It was easily the most strenuous round of layout and production that we’ve ever had. Those layout nights are awful and wonderful at the same time. The only thing running through your head at 3 a.m. is how much you hate being there, yet when you think back on it several days after, you can’t help but smile. Here is a podcast I recorded and produced as my final project for the Writing for New Media class I’m enrolled in. It gives a sense of what those layout nights in the office are like. Take a listen:

We made several mistakes this issue, some of them major and some of them not. People were quick to point them out, which they should be when they see mistakes in their student newspaper. We’re all students though, each passionate about something different, and there’s a way to point out those mistakes in a way that’s considerate and constructive.

And I won’t let those comments leave a sour taste to the end of an incredible year. It’s imperative to note where The Quindecim was last year: lying in the dust. Without a doubt, there’s still mistakes, and there’s still much to improve upon, but look at all it’s become in just a year.

As you hear in the podcast, what’s most important is the lessons learned, friendships formed, and memories made. Be sure to check back for more closing remarks on The Quindecim to come shortly.