When you look back at your time at UVM, what first comes to mind?
When I think of UVM a series of images comes to mind. The first is my first year floor mates and I sitting in the hall, hanging out and playing music. The second is the view of Lake Champlain from the Williams fire escape. Lastly, I envision the inside of Williams, where I had most of my classes, and that unique smell of books, wood and paint that is particular to that building.
What role did the Honors College play in your decision to come to UVM? To stay at UVM?
The Honors College was THE reason I ultimately chose UVM. I had felt overwhelmed at all of the other bigger schools I visited, but something about the atmosphere of the Honors College- the tight knit community and small school feel- put me at ease. I knew I wouldn't attend UVM if I wasn't accepted into the Honors College. I think that same tight knit community was what kept me at UVM. Even when I moved out of U-Heights, I still felt a connection to the people and experiences I had there.
How did you formulate a thesis topic? Who helped you most in that process?
My thesis topic was the product of a term paper I wrote for Professor Anthony Grudin's Methods and Theories class. While writing the original paper I kept getting swept away on tangents and engulfed by the material. That process, and the struggle to narrow my focus for the assignment, led Professor Grudin to suggest I use the topic as a thesis so I could examine all the tangents that had pulled at me while writing the term paper. Professor Grudin definitely helped me the most during the process, meeting with me frequently to discuss esoteric material and keeping me on track while still encouraging me to explore.
Did your semester abroad influence your thesis topic? If so, how?
My semester abroad did not influence my thesis topic, as I had already chosen the topic before departing. I had also already decided that I refused to do a thesis related to the Renaissance, so I devoted my time in Florence to learning as much Italian language and culture as possible. However, even though my semester abroad was unrelated to my thesis it was the best experience I had as an undergraduate. If you're thinking you might want to study abroad- do it! Just make sure you pick a program where you'll be likely to have the kind of experience you're looking for. I wanted to learn the language, so living in an Italian family home-stay was ideal for me, but might not be ideal for everyone.
What advice do you have for juniors/seniors about the thesis process?
If I could offer only one piece of advice it would be to JUST START WRITING. You can always go back and edit, rearrange, borrow, change or delete. You cannot conjure language and sentences out of thin air when the end of the year time crunch hits and you need to bring those last few ideas together on paper.
Has having completed a thesis contributed to getting a job? Getting into grad school?
Completing a thesis probably did contribute to my acceptance to grad school, which I now attend at SUNY Cortland. I can't be sure though, as my thesis was in Art History and I now study Recreation and Outdoor Education. One thing that is for sure though is that completing a thesis definitely prepared me to succeed in grad school. I am now currently doing a thesis project, and I feel very prepared and empowered to succeed because the process is familiar.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Graduating from UVM made me realize how important it is to pursue your passions as an undergraduate. Grad school is the time to get a technical education that prepares you for a particular career. If you don't know what you want to do for the rest of your life as an undergraduate, don't sweat it. Do what you love, love what you do, and that pursuit will lead you to the experiences you're craving.