Monday, October 26, 2009

Motivational Music Mix

Need motivational music? I certainly did while studying for comps. I decided to share my list and solicit for any other songs people listened to when they needed to get motivated. The motivation could be for anything...working out, studying, cleaning, etc.

Runaway – Love & Theft (how I really feel about the whole process)
Lose Yourself – Eminem (a old standby)
Tubthumbing – Chumbawamba (@KarenRussell suggestion)
Consider Me Gone – Reba McEntire
Everything’s Right – Matt Wertz
Save Me – Remy Zero (makes me think of Smallville & Superman)
Pretty the World – Matt Nathanson
Enter Sandman – Metallica (Hokie entrance song – get jumping!) - I'm in the stands jumping in front of the scoreboard...I rushed the field at the end of the game!
The Climb – Miley Cyrus (yes, I love this song)
All at Once – The Fray
Brighter Days – Jimmy Wayne (looking forward)
Sounds Like Life to Me – Darryl Worley (reality check)
I Wanna Do it All – Terri Clark (damn right!)
Barefoot & Crazy – Jack Ingram
Hold On – Jack Ingram
Songs About Rain – Gary Allan
Cowgirls Don’t Cry – Brooks & Dunn (not really a cowgirl, so I guess I’m ok)
Long Gone – Lady Antebellum
I Run to You – Lady Antebellum
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Red Light – David Nail
Laughed Until We Cried – Jason Aldean
Here Comes Goodbye – Rascal Flatts
It Happens – Sugarland
Joey – Sugarland
Come On Get Higher – Sugarland (live version…awesome)
Don’t Think I Don’t Think About it – Darius Rucker
Alright – Darius Rucker
Come On Get Higher – Matt Nathanson
Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas (after comps...)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Perspective on the life of a graduate student

I had started this blog post before comps but never finished it. However, I saw this post from LAF and decided it was time to complete it.

"Doctors spend a lot of time focused on the future…planning it, working toward it…but at some point you start to realize your life is happening now…not after med school, not after residency, right now. This is it, it’s here, blink and you’ll miss it."

I heard this quote while watching last season's Grey's Anatomy finale and it struck a chord with me. I thought that it described my life pretty well. Though I will never be responsible for actually doing brain surgery one day, I will be responsible for shaping the minds of our youth.

I've spent the past 4 years of my life in "fast-forward," taking classes, reading thousands of pages (no, not an exaggeration), writing papers for conferences, publications, doing revise & resubmits, teaching classes with one foot in the student door, and watching my life pass by. Every week I sit down on Sunday and schedule out my week into nice little segments...teaching 9:30-10:45, office hours 11-12, meeting 2-3, reading 5-8...and the sad part is that I have to remember to schedule in the fun stuff like football games and happy hours so I don't forget to relax. Not that I'm looking for any sympathy because I knew what I was getting into, but where did the past four years go?

I'm 27 years old, on the verge of becoming a PhD candidate (cross fingers & toes) and I often wonder, how did I get here? I live life day-to-day because it's less complicated, but I've lived over 1500 of those days in a blur. Of course there are days that shine through like presenting my first conference paper, seeing cities like Chicago, San Antonio, and Pittsburgh for the first time, graduating with my master's from Virginia Tech, seeing my name in an academic journal, meeting great students, cheering at football games, sailing in the Keys, and watching one of my great friends get married.

However, the past four years are not without its losses. My sacrifices include a relationship, a couple of friendships, my sanity at times, perspective on what's important, and time. I feel like I've lost a lot of time...time with friends, time with family, and time for my spiritual growth.

Don't fret, I've also gained...friends, colleagues, knowledge, a love for college football, and most importantly wisdom. The wisdom to realize I cannot do it all. The wisdom to know that you are only as good as the people in your life. The wisdom to see that I am lucky to be where I am and have my opportunities. The wisdom to know I am still learning (and will always be).

I guess the question now is...what will the next four years look like?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Teaching Tips

I was chatting with a good friend not too long ago about how I approach teaching. She was inquiring about how I straddle the line between being friendly, being seen as an authority, and establishing a beneficial, safe learning environment. In addition, she told me that I should consider writing a post giving some tips on what has worked for me, so here we go. I have had the opportunity to learn from some great teachers in my short educational career and I would have to credit them with teaching me how to teach.

I've been a teacher for just a few years, but I've had the opportunity to teach various courses (Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, PR Writing, PR Research), have worked on a few course designs, and got a teaching certificate during my master's. Though this does not mean I'm an expert by any stretch I have found several positive themes running through my teaching evaluations.

Here are just a few of the aspects of my teaching that have been successful for me:
1) Use inclusive language - when discussing the course, the work, lectures, etc as a whole, use inclusive language. It is not your class and they are not your students. Each of them is a part of what I describe as "our class" and "we" are learning.
2) Adapt to the class - this aspect can refer to an event going on in the news, on campus, a particular time of year (i.e. midterms), etc. Is there something distracting them? Are they upset? Let them talk about for a generally refocuses them for the rest of the class. This also works for concentrating on topics they are not understanding.
3) Ask them how life is going - I almost always start the class by asking how everyone is doing. I find out about what's going on with them. It can be anything from great news about an internship to someone announcing their engagement to their club sports team winning. I really care about them as individuals and this helps them realize that I want to know about them. I also share about what's going on in my life. For example, this past semester featured a good-natured hockey rivalry discussion. This is also a good time for them to announce events for their clubs & organizations.
4) Get a midterm assessment - this has been by far one of the best teaching techniques. Whether you do it formally or informally, it helps you to assess what's going well and what you might be able to change/adjust as you hit mid-semester. It also establishes that you care about how you are performing as a teacher and how the class is going for them. I've used an online survey with some similar questions to final evaluation as well as my own personal questions.

Do you have any tips to add?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2 Years Later

The pain has faded, but don't be fooled into thinking that it is gone. I was reminded of that as I walked to school on a cold April morning last week. The shiver that went up my spine was caused by more than the temperature. And even if I could suppress all of my feelings about it, the media instantly brings me back to those terrifying days with their gun control pitches and package pieces on the news magazine shows. It will probably be even more prevalent this year because it is the 10th anniversary of Columbine this week as well.

So where does that leave us...2 years later...another year older, wiser, better equipped? Well, in some ways. However, my heart still skips a beat when I hear a siren, especially when I'm on campus. I also have moments, like one last week, when the topic comes up unexpectedly and I'm not sure exactly how to handle it. But alas, those situations come less often now than they did before.

I still visit the memorial to pay my respects when I'm in Blacksburg and will continue to do so for many years to come. My eyes still fill with tears as I touch the Hokie stones and flash to that day. The maroon and orange still fill me with pride but also with a sense of longing.

Time does heal, but scares almost never fade. It's like a dull ache you feel at certain moments when the weather's changing. I feel the pain at times when I least expect it and even when I'm most prepared. However, this year is more hopeful than painful, so I look to future for guidance.

Like last year, I will highlight a few of my important events/achievements. Though they are far from the level of the first year, it's still important to recognize I'm lucky to be here and I still feel accomplished. Here's just a few:
- On track to finish my last classes ever
- Attended the historic Presidential Inauguration
- Visited a few new places: New Orleans, Pittsburgh, the Florida Keys, Chicago
- Presented a few more papers at conference
- Added 2 more classes to my teaching repertoire
- Watched two good friends get married

One of the greatest events of this year will be watching my twin sisters walk across the stage at their college graduation next month.

Thank you to all of you who've sent messages of support.

Here is information about how Virginia Tech is remembering:
We Remember site

Day of Remembrance

Also, a song I find therapeutic.

Forever Changed VT (Were All Hokies Today) - The Season

And a great representation of Hokie Spirit during those dark hours...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life Beyond the Hedges Panel Review

Wednesday I had the great pleasure to speak at Grady IABC's "Life Beyond the Hedges" career workshop. I was on the panel titled "Navigating the Job Market in a Struggling Economy." It was a great experience to discuss various strategies and techniques to use in your job search.

Red & Black article

A few tips from the panelists:
-> Match your skills to the employer & position
-> Develop your brand & portray it
-> Work your networks
-> An interview is two-sided, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
-> Don't forget about the phone. E-mail is great, but it helps to follow up on the telephone.
-> Be persistent

Additional Resources for your job search:

4 Skills New Professionals Should Have
Managing Your Online Reputation
Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job
Great Example of a Digital Portfolio

Friday, February 6, 2009


Heading to SoCon09 tomorrow at Kennesaw State University...looking forward to the discussion, but not looking forward to getting up early.

Follow me on Twitter:

So that's not going to happen...this week's scratchy throat & earache is now (what I believe to be) full-blown strep & a host of other symptoms. It would be irresponsible to expose everyone to all that. Back to bed...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Inauguration Video

Here is the three-part series of videos on YouTube of the recap of my adventure in video and pictures. It's a little long, but I think it's worth it :)

Link to my channel if you prefer:

One moment in history - Final Recap of My Adventure

I’ve been struggling to think about how to describe my experience at the inauguration. I’ve gone through the pictures and videos trying to piece together a description that would accurately encapsulate what I experienced on my adventure, but I’ve come up lacking. Not that there isn’t tons to describe, but the palpable energy and emotion I felt is truly indescribable. However, fueled by my desire to inspire those who watched my journey from afar, I wanted to attempt to explain.
As far back as I can remember I have been thoroughly passionate about the topics of history, government, and politics. It began in earnest when I was in the fourth grade and had a teacher named Mr. Heggan who taught us about American History and Government. With every new topic, my interest was piqued, desiring to learn more and more about how our country was built and how it worked. Then when I was in junior high school, I had a teacher named Mr. Dorsey who fueled my passion even further by enlightening me about the global perspective and how the United States fit within the world network.
I also remember my first trip to DC in the eighth grade. While other kids were goofing off, I was in awe of the American History museum and couldn’t get enough of the monuments. As we walked past all of the buildings, I was in my own world.
When I was in college, I participated in a program at Georgetown University called the Institute for Political Journalism. I took courses at the university, worked at Radio America (conservative talk radio station), and was able to immerse myself in the culture of Washington, D.C. I often joke that DC is my Hollywood because seeing a politician or other political figure is more invigorating to me than perhaps running into Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. That time I lived in DC cemented what I already knew in my heart.
Fast forward several years…
Standing there on the National Mall, with 2 million of my closest friends was invigorating. It was as if we were all one big group of family and friends getting together to celebrate a birthday or bar mitzvah or wedding. Yes it was cold, but we sang and danced along with the performances on the jumbotrons broadcasting Sunday’s concert. Yes, there were millions of people. For those that watched on television, think of those images and multiply it by 10…that was what it was like in person. Watching flags flying, people waving, and hearing the cheers and laughter…priceless.
However, it was not about the cold or the security or the waiting in line. It was about the people, the emotion, and, I’ll borrow the popular term from the campaign, it was about hope. In a time when all seems lost, we came together to celebrate. To celebrate? What do we have to celebrate? We have our pride, our diversity, and our hope.
The one theme running through the whole time I was in DC was the feeling of hope, pride, and joy at the prospect of starting anew. It wasn’t about politics or the economy or even race, the inauguration about getting back to knowing who we are as Americans. The trip was a whirlwind, full of emotion and excitement. The pictures and videos can only reflect a fraction of that. Truthfully, I didn’t need to take any pictures or video for me because I believe I will remember that day for the rest of my life.
As I watched the sun set on that day, I stood looking at the monuments that dot the cityscape of this historic and powerful town. I paused to soak in the atmosphere of the marching bands playing a few blocks away, the cheers and laughing, and the smiles on the faces of those who passed. I wonder how I will remember this day five, 10, even 50 years from now, but in that moment I was proud and inspired, not politically, but personally. That day meant so much to so many people that they rearranged their lives, stood in the cold for hours, waited for everything, just to get a glimpse.
I am thankful that I had the chance to share in that experience and I hope that I can live up that ideal we were all there celebrating…being proud to be an American.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Week Later

From Michael Castengera (

SO, HOW MANY WATCHED: As we noted in last week’s MfM, we may never know how many people watched the inauguration. According to Nielsen Media Research, an estimated 37.8 Million Americans watched the event across the 14 broadcast and cable networks airing the coverage throughout the day. Nielsen should release the Live +7 viewing shortly. Regardless, that puts it just behind the Ronald Regan inauguration viewing in 1981 (which, if I read the numbers right, was about 41 Million). Of course that doesn’t take into account online viewing. Nielsen Online reports that visits to Current Events and Global News sites jumped significantly on Election Day, and based on my addition of just the top ten sites, that puts another 48.5 Million unique visitors into the mix. The top three sites were CNN (11 Million), MSNBC (10M) and Yahoo News (9M). After that it drops dramatically to the number four spot with Fox (4M). Further add into the mix viewing on YouTube where CSpan’s video of the inauguration and address drew 3.2 Million views and CNN’s coverage another half million. And that’s to say nothing about the record 2 Million people who actually turned out in person.

INAUGURATION SIDE NOTES: Five of the top ten videos viewed on inauguration day were directly related to the events of that day. No surprise there, but a little surprising is that his actual inauguration address came in at seventh place. The most linked-to video on inauguration day? Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream. Two of the other popular videos that day were The Presidential Pledge produced by celebrities Ashton Kucher and Demi Moore on MySpace; and on YouTube, it’s’s Yes, We Can which has had more than 16 Million views. An oddity in the mix – even with all the political hoopla of the day, the third most linked-to video was the YouTube Street Fighter video game. The biggest beneficiaries of the Election Day coverage were the digital networks of ABC and CBS which nearly doubled their unique audience on that day. And despite all the furor surrounding the dominance of Google and the decline of Yahoo, the actual Yahoo News website drew five times the unique audience (9 Million) of Google News (1.8M).

Monday, January 19, 2009

What does the inauguration mean to you?

I asked this question to many people today. Here are just a few responses:

Inauguration Reconnaissance

It has been quite an adventure thus far. I started out the day a little later than I wanted to, but I got to DC before 11 a.m. Today was spent doing some scouting for the trip tomorrow. I also met some great people from all over the country and the world who were enjoying DC. There were several moments during the day where I got caught up in the emotion, conversation, or event going on around me.

Here are some of my pictures from today:

Me at the Capitol

Newseum (I didn't get inside, but I did check out the building)

Presidential Viewing Stand

Capitol all decked out for the ceremony

View from The Mall

Inauguration Update

Mobile post sent by kenglish7 using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Inauguration Update

Mobile post sent by kenglish7 using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inauguration Adventure

Well, I've decided to set out on an adventure to the Presidential Inauguration. I spent weeks e-mailing various organizations and government officials to get tickets...only to be thwarted at every turn. I actually thought I had a ticket from a friend just this week, but it turned out to be only an invitation sent to millions. After all that I was disheartened and had decided not to go. However, a great friend asked me whether I would look back in five years and regret not going...and well, I think I would.

With that said, I'm heading out on the journey tomorrow (Saturday) for over 600 mile trek to Washington, D.C. I'm breaking up the trip up into two legs. First I will drive to Blacksburg on Saturday and then continue the trip in Maryland on Sunday. I'll be staying with my wonderful aunt and uncle in Rockville and hopefully meeting up with some friends while I'm in town. The trip back is going to be more interesting because I'm going to do it all in one 10-hour trip. It's been awhile since I drove that length on my own, but it should be a fun adventure.

I will be tweeting ( and uttering ( updates throughout the day, snapping photos, and shooting video with a FlipCam & DVD camcorder. Because I can't bring my laptop with me to the mall, the longer versions of my coverage will have to wait until after the inauguration and I'm back in Rockville. Hopefully, I'll have a good report up no later than Wednesday morning.

Photos - Flickr Set
Video - Inauguration Station

Here's the Google Map of my trip:

View Larger Map