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Today was a very big and exciting day.  I am officially graduated from the University of Rochester.  I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics.  That sounds really impressive, right?

I was so happy to have my family here, and Daniel was amazing.

We arrived on campus shortly after 7:30am.  I escorted my brother, sister, and Daniel to the Eastman Quadrangle so that they could find seats.  Then I wandered over to Todd Union, since that is where the procession would line up before walking to the Eastman Quad.  It was rainy and cold all day.  And before you ask: No, there were no tents and they did not move it inside.  It did not get out of the 40s all day today, so I sat in the front row shivering while everyone gave their speeches.  I must admit, I really liked Class President JJ’s speech.  I thought it was funny and totally appropriate for the group to which he was speaking.

After the Commencement Ceremony, we had a solid two hours before my degree would be conferred to me in the departmental ceremony.  So I met my friends in Rush Rhees and we all took pictures together.  It was good to do this before everyone left to go to their department ceremonies.  I’m glad I got to see everyone one last time.

My family and I relaxed in Gleason Library, until 12:30pm when I had to leave for the Palestra to line up for the Biology department’s ceremony.   My aunt and uncle decided to attend this ceremony, but skipped this morning’s speeches.  Considering the weather, this was a very good decision.  They handed us sheets with a short message that each of us had to write and send in ahead of time, thanking our families, professors, friends, etc., along with information about our future plans.  The best response I heard was from a girl that said her future plans included “getting down to business to defeat the Huns”.  That’s a Mulan reference, in case you missed it.

After I got my degree, we headed back to the apartment, where there was cheese, grapes, crostinis, cookies, and champagne for a little snack before my family had to leave.  It was so great to see everybody.

It feels good to be done, but I’m going to miss it.  What a bittersweet time it is for all college graduates.  Congratulations to the Class of 2011.  I hope everyone has savored these last few moments of undergrad.



Graduation Preparation

Today was my last day in the Graduate Medical Education Office at the Medical Center.  What a strange feeling it is, leaving that place after two years.

Most of today has been filled with graduation preparation.  And it’s the little things that you don’t really think about, like getting a haircut and running to Wegman’s at 9pm to get cheese and baguettes for snacks after the ceremony on Sunday.  Also, I needed to buy a bottle of champagne.  My mother means well, but she bought a bottle of Cook’s, which is notoriously some of the cheapest and worst sparkling wine you can buy.  It’s what they served today at the Senior Toast.  (On a side note:  Thanks, U of R, for letting the champagne sit out in the sun, so that when we finally got around to the toast, it was all nice and warm for us.  Champagne is supposed to be served warm, right?)

Speaking of which, I got a little mention in the Senior Toast.  Sort of.  They threw in something about “And who could forget Bring Your Shovel to School Day”.  Some may remember that I created this Facebook event after the University sent out a e-letter right before a huge snowstorm informing people that they should take proper precaution when walking around campus, like bringing shovels, using handrails, etc.  The event went viral and got thousands of attendees in just a few hours.  It was nuts, but very cool.  The power of the internet…and Facebook.  We united over our bitterness towards the University for their poor sidewalk maintenance in the winter and their even worse habit of not canceling classes during dangerous weather.  Thanks Senior Class Council!

Setting up for Commencement

I definitely made these people uncomfortable with my photo-taking.

May is Riesling Month!

Yesterday was the Finger Lakes Wine Tour.  We departed from the University of Rochester shortly after 10am, with 6 buses in total.  My friends and I all boarded bus #5 and were introduced to Harry.  Harry is a junior, but I think he was actually supposed to act as our chaperone.  He was a nice guy.  Then we headed to Geneva, all the while listening to the Alpha Phi girls sing Disney songs and play “roadtrip games”.  When we arrived in Geneva on Seneca Lake, I thought we had arrived in the armpit of New York State.  It was a depressing place, possibly more depressing than Binghamton…or even Unadilla.  We turned down Avenue E, where we ate lunch at Club 86.  Now, apparently this club has existed since 1946.  And apparently they had not changed a thing since then.  The place was complete with booths that appeared to be upholstered in red velvet (although I did not touch them) and tacky chandeliers everywhere.  The food was okay, but not great.

My only image of Harry.

We finally left for the first winery.  Once we got closer to the lake, Geneva started to look a little nicer, especially in the area right around Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  The first winery we visited was White Springs Winery.  There were three people that were serving wine, but only the man seemed to fully understand why we were there…and that was to get drunk.  So while I was tasting every wine they offered (and some twice), other girls just went into the winery, bought a bottle of wine, sat down on the lawn overlooking the lake, and drank until we departed for the next winery.  This was how I knew it was going to be a fun trip.

Left to right: Hannah, Katie, Me, Lisa, Jenab, Courtney at White Springs.

The second winery was Fox Run in Penn Yan.  Arguably, they had the best wine I tasted all day, but I don’t really remember how good or bad the wine at the third and final winery was.  Fox Run let us taste out of actual glasses as opposed to plastic cups.  Of course, almost as soon as they began handing out these glasses, someone dropped one.  It was inevitable.  After we finished the tasting, Katie, Hannah, Courtney and I decided to split a bottle of Drink New York Riesling.  It was good, and we finished it before we left for the last winery.

Ryan at Fox Run.

The third and final winery was called the Anthony Road Wine Company.  This time we were served wine by a kindly old lady who also completely understood exactly why we were there.  So she was great.  I ended up buying a bottle of riesling that we had not sampled, but sounded pretty good.  And it was.  I sipped it out on the lawn, overlooking the lake.  Then Harry came out and announced that we were going to head back to campus.  He made a point to remind us to pee before we left, since we would not be stopping along the way, and there were no bathrooms on this school bus.  But, since it was a bus with mostly girls and we had all been drinking copious amounts of wine, we all had to pee again within 10 minutes of our departure from the winery.

Katie at Anthony Road Wine Company.

It was a long trip home, with more singing by the Alpha Phi girls (I joined in this time) and a whole lot of whining about full bladders.  Also, most of the people that surrounded me fell dead asleep.  I tried, but I just had to pee too badly.  I would have been okay, but we got stuck in rush hour traffic on 490 just outside of Rochester.  While stopped, I saw one of the guys from a bus in front of ours jump out, run over to some bushes, and pee for upwards of two minutes.  I then saw the SA President, Scott, jump off the bus and run after him.  I assume that Scott was the junior chaperone for that bus.

We continued to move slowly and infrequently on 490.  Two boys on our bus began to approach the back of the bus, where I was sitting.  One of them asked if we could briefly switch seats.  I didn’t want to move because I had to pee so badly.  So one of them stood behind our seat and peed into a cup.  I was drunk enough at the time that this did not bother me.  But then he poured out the window above Katie’s head, and that grossed me out a little.  This was all occurring as hell was breaking loose across the bus.  People were getting frustrated about traffic and the girls were starting to literally scream because they had to pee so badly.

But Amber, our bus driver, pulled through:  she got off 490 at Bushnell’s Basin and got us out of the traffic.  My bladder was ready to explode by the time we got to campus.  I ran to the ITS bathroom, but a line had already formed.  So I ran upstairs to Gleason and it was the same.  Finally, I ran to the bathroom in Rush Rhees and it was empty.  It was the best pee I have ever had.

It was a great day.  But it was not yet over.  Around 9pm I met up again with the people from the wine tour, along with some other seniors and we went to trivia night at The Old Toad.  We were not the worst team, but we were certainly not the best either.  But it was fun, even though we were all exhausted.

Jenab and Lisa were exhausted.

I hope the rest of Senior Week is that awesome.

It’s Friday, Friday

I’m a little bit jealous of Daniel.  He got to go see Thor today while I was stuck at work.  I suppose I shouldn’t be that jealous since this weekend kicks off SENIOR WEEK!

Here are some of the events that I plan to attend:

Saturday 5/7:  Senior Night Bar Crawl???

This is so convenient for me because all of the bars are around East and Alexander.  So just a few blocks away from my place of residence.  However, it is also Free Comic Book Day at the comic shop, followed by poker at Matt’s and Jessica’s house.  So I’m torn.

Monday 5/9:  Finger Lakes Wine Tour.

It’s what it sounds like.  They are going to provide buses to various wineries for 250 lucky members of the senior class.  Those 250 people will definintely be drunk upon their return to campus.

Monday 5/9:  Movie on The Quad: The Hangover.

I love this movie.  Everything about it was hilarious, but I knew the whole time that he was on the roof.

Tuesday 5/10:  Museum Tour.

I will be skipping the George Eastman House, but I do plan to visit the Strong Museum of Play one more time, as well as the MAG.

Tuesday 5/10:  Senior Night??? 

Still undecided.  It’s on a Tuesday and I have work the next day.

Wednesday 5/11:  Senior Picnic.

Free lunch!

Friday 5/13:  Slide Show and Commencement Rehearsal.

Well, I mean…this is mandatory, so I can’t miss it, right?

Friday 5/13:  Rush Rhees Tower Tours.

In my 5 years at the University, I have never been to the top.  This is truly my last opportunity, and I don’t want to miss it.

Saturday 5/14:  Lilac Festival.

This is another event that I have somehow avoided for the past 5 years (although not purposefully).  I’m excited to take my family the festival, I think they will enjoy themselves.

Saturday 5/14:  Family Night Dessert Reception.

I might have to drag them to this one, since it might be past their bedtime.  I’m not being sarcastic.

Sunday 5/15:  The 161st College Commencement Ceremony.

I can’t wait!  We so excited!

This was taken last night. The Bradford Pear trees are in bloom, beautiful, and stinky.

My Last Undergraduate Classes

Yesterday was the last day of classes for the semester.  It was also my last day of undergraduate classes ever.  On Tuesday, when I walked out of my last Sociolinguistics of ASL class, I followed my usual route through the tunnels from the Meliora Building to the library.  I walked up the stairs from the tunnels, and this bizarre feeling washed over me.  It was the realization that it was the last time I would be walking through that tunnel to my next class.

My next class was low-key.  But when I saw Guillaume, I just knew it wouldn’t be the last I saw of him.  And it wasn’t; yesterday I had a meeting with Ted Supalla and Guillaume was in his office…watching the last video I’d sent to him, “One Fine Day”.  Some of you may have heard of the story about a fox who stole a woman’s milk, so she cut off his tail until he gave her milk back.  That was our final assignment for the ASL Literature class with him.  I will probably see him around, because I’ve learned that he is one teacher that you just can’t escape.

Normally, on the last day of classes, I would have some big exam in a biology or physics class…but yesterday we just had a review in Ted’s class.  And that was it.  Nothing.  It was just over, and I walked out.  I have no finals for which I will need to return to campus.  My time spent in those classrooms is truly over.

I feel sad, but excited about the future.  I’m leaving behind this great place, where I have met so many amazing people, and I hope that new adventures will bring me as much happiness as my time at the University of Rochester has brought me.  Despite all of the school’s flaws (and every school has flaws), I wouldn’t be who I am today without the UR.

Rush Rhees and The Eastman Quad.

Who voted for the president?

Since I began my Take 5 year, I was moved from the Class of 2010 to the Class of 2011.  So, naturally, I’ve received all of the e-mails from the 2011 Class President.  This would be really awesome, except that his closing remark is always the worst part of my day.

Take the most recent e-mail he sent, on March 21.  It was to remind us of the upcoming Senior Night on Thursday at ONE.  It was also to inform us of the graduation fair taking place at the University of Rochester’s bookstore on Friday.  This is all good information to know and I’m thrilled that I have President JJ to remind me of these things.

But I get pretty annoyed when he ends with things like this:

Lady Gaga for Graduation Speaker,

I’ve decided to feature the Top 10 most annoying closing remarks from JJ.  And these are just from spring semester so far.

10.  See ya Thursday wearing green,
PS: 9 weeks till graduation. FML

I love his constant reminders that graduation is rapidly approaching, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

9.  With Patron on the rocks,

8.  Find me tonight for ‘tron shots. We’re gunna party like it’s my birthday…cause it’s about to be!
See ya tonight,

The guy obviously loves his Patron.

7.  Flow colder than February with extraordinary swag,

I’m going to be honest:  I have no idea what this means.

6.  Runnin’ this town just like a club,

No we’re not, and neither is he.

5.  We pop Champagne ’cause we got that dough,

I’m assuming this is a lyric from some crap-hop song that was hot for 2 seconds.  Because, I assure you, we do not “got that dough” for Champagne.  Maybe I’ve been missing out on some seriously awesome senior events, but I have yet to see any Champagne.

4.  Lady Gaga for Graduation Speaker,

No.  What would she have to say?

3.  Seniors 2011: Hawt, Popular, & Rich since Orientation 2007

I don’t even think he actually knows how to spell “hot” without and a-w.  On his facebook page, under Employers he lists “Life!: Being Hawt & Popular”.  That’s not even funny.  But he tries; oh, how he tries.

2.  I love college,
Mad props to our class social chairs, along with the rest of our class council,  for making the first two senior nights of the semester some great times! Our bar nights have been incredibly successful with huge turn outs and we encourage even more seniors to come out and join the fun.

Did he just say “mad props”?  Really?  I thought you only said that sort of thing if you were consciously trying to sound like a moron.

My favorite was this one:

1.  ‎96 days to find a job,
PS: Spring Break 2011 is 3.5 weeks away…here’s the UR Gym Schedule:
…Mon-Thurs: 6:30AM-11PM
Fri: 6:30AM-8PM
Sat: 8AM-8PM
Sun: 8AM-11PM

I’m actually insulted.
I don’t know who decided the most obnoxious member of the class of 2011 should be their president, but I’m really disliking everyone that voted for this guy.  I don’t really mean to rip on J.J. so badly.  It’s just that Rochester was recently plunged back into the middle of winter.  This has made a lot of us very unhappy.

This was taken this afternoon, around 5pm.

It had been snowing since this morning, when I woke up.  So despite the fact that it was March 23 and spring has (theoretically) started, we had a sizable storm today.

10 Things I’m Getting Excited About (Spring Edition)

Spring is coming…eventually.  Here are a few things that I’m looking forward to doing here in Rochester as soon as the weather allows for them.

10.  Taking a stroll around Lake Ontario.

Okay, not all the way around it, but we live less than 10 minutes away, and it’s the closest thing to the ocean we have in Rochester.  Although I would never go swimming in it and it’s not nearly as exciting or fun as the ocean, it is still a gigantic body of water that is practically sitting in our backyard, and there are lots of trails nearby that are great for walking.

9.  Bike riding through Genesee Valley Park.

This year Daniel and I are lacking bikes, but that won’t stop us from walking along the river.  I can’t wait to see all of the wildlife that comes out when it starts to get warm.

8.  Visiting High Falls on a warm day.

I’m sure that you’re noticing a theme.  As soon as it gets warm, the goal is to be outside as much as possible.  I believe this is true for all Rochesterians.  High Falls is a great place to visit because of its bizarre location, right in the middle of downtown Rochester.  I think it is one of those things that you definitely must seek out, because you will only find the falls after ducking down various side streets downtown.  They are not obvious until you are standing in front of them.  I love taking people there for the first time, because they are always surprised.

7.  Exploring the Public Market.

The Public Market is pretty famous around here.  It’s huge, and when the weather is warm it’s practically a weekly festival.  I’m looking forward to purchasing fresh, inexpensive, locally grown fruits and veggies.  But the Public Market has so much more than your typical farmer’s markets.  They have everything you could imagine, and house various vendors where you can grab a quick meal or a cup of coffee.

6.  Strolling around the Park Avenue neighborhood.

I have forgotten what the big, beautiful houses around here look like in the sunshine.  I’m so excited about taking nightly strolls with Daniel and enjoying the warmth (if it ever comes).  Eventually the restaurants will open up onto the sidewalks and we can walk past people dining and smell the delicious aromas of the various restaurants in the neighborhood.  This brings me to number 5.

5.  Eating a gyro on the patio at Sinbad’s on Park Ave.

This is one of Daniel’s and my favorite places to go for a date night.  The food is delicious, but inexpensive, and the service is always good.

4.  Having a few (too many) drinks and one last “Hurrah!” on Dandelion Day.

D. Day.  A true University of Rochester tradition.  I have so many fond memories of previous D. Days, and I’m sad that this will be my last.  So I have to make it count.

3.  Attending the Lilac Festival.

I have never been able to attend the Lilac Festival, but this year I am making it a priority, especially since my family will be in town for my graduation.  They boast over 1200 varieties of lilacs, as well as live performances, art, and food.

2.  Having a picnic in Mendon Ponds Park.

Daniel and I love to pack sandwiches and snacks and go for a hike in Mendon Ponds Park.  Although for a couple of years we had searched, last spring we finally found the Devil’s Bathtub.  It is actually a kettle hole, which, according to Wikipedia, is formed by retreating glaciers.  In addition to interesting landforms, they have a large variety of wildlife throughout the park.  (My least favorite are the snakes.)

1.  My college graduation.

It’s approaching really quickly which is both scary and exciting.  I will officially have my degree in molecular genetics.  All of my hard work will have finally paid off.  But, it will also mean that I will have to say goodbye to this place, to which I have become very attached in the past 5 years.  Also, I will certainly miss my friends.

Rush Rhees