Kelly Huang '22 - Introduction

Hello there (General Kenobi), and welcome to my blog! My name is Kelly, and I am a senior at Amherst College. I am originally from warm (hot?) and sunny Arcadia, CA, which is a suburb of Los Angeles; unfortunately, I still struggle with temperatures under 65°F. I am a double major in Mathematics and Psychology, and I am currently working on my senior honors thesis in personality psychology. This is the first time I’ve ever had a blog, and I hope that you will join me as I navigate the world of blogging and talk about my past and current experiences at Amherst! 

On campus, I am...  Kelly Blog Intro Photo Magic Wings

  • a member of Amherst Christian Fellowship (ACF), the Christian community on campus
  • a former research assistant in the Child Learning and Development Lab (CLAD), a developmental psychology lab that studies how children learn about the world (specifically social interactions) around them 
  • an office assistant for the Conferences and Special Events (CASE) office, which is in charge of planning events such as Pindar Dinners, speaker events, schoolwide festivals, and Commencement 
  • the logistical coordinator of Terras Irradient (TI), a Five-College, co-ed, Christian a cappella group with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the Pioneer Valley through song

Outside of academics and extracurriculars, you can usually find me skating at Orr Rink, “Val sitting” in Valentine Dining Hall (my record is 9 hours), or singing and playing the guitar or piano in an Arms Music Center practice room. 

I’m really grateful for everything that Amherst has given me over the past three years, and I would love to answer any questions or offer advice about anything Amherst-related! You can reach me at khuang22@amherst.edu; seeing new emails in my inbox sparks joy and makes my heart happy, so please feel free to send me an email any time! 

 

Really Psyched: My Senior Thesis Process (So Far)

Psychology Department Entrance Today, I’m going to be talking about something that I’m super psyched about for (haha) my senior year: my senior honors thesis. I will be working with Professor Amy Demorest to write a personality psychology thesis about individual differences in emotional experiences (though I won’t state here what the individual differences I’m looking at are, in case anyone who will be doing my study in the fall is reading this). Scripts are ideas or expectations that people hold in their minds (consciously or unconsciously) about situations or emotions. For example, one script that someone might hold is: “When an intimate authority figure is dissatisfied, I behave well and am helpful because I am worried about getting in trouble.” 

General Information About Theses at Amherst
Here at Amherst, students are not required to write senior theses; however, about 40% of seniors still choose to do so. I personally chose to write a thesis because I wanted to work in depth on a project that I was really interested in and see it through from beginning to end. A thesis counts for three course credits; in the psychology department, that is usually one course in the fall semester and two courses in the spring semester. Since each student typically takes four courses per semester, a senior thesis writer would take three courses outside of their thesis their fall semester and two courses outside of their thesis during spring semester. Seniors who write senior theses are also eligible for Latin honors, which you can learn more about here.

Applying for a Thesis
Psychology Wing Study Space In the fall of junior year, the psychology department sends all junior psychology majors a document with a description of the honors program and of each faculty member’s research interests. Before the form deadline in mid-April, each interested student talks to professors whose research interests they find interesting and develop a shared understanding with each professor of what topic they would work on together. Some professors have specific projects that they want to see carried out, and some professors require students to have taken specific course prerequisites to write a thesis in a certain area (for example, Developmental Psychology or Abnormal Psychology).

If a student decides to write a thesis, they will fill out the form by ranking their top three choices of thesis advisors and writing a sentence describing each topic. The department encourages us to list three professors because each professor has limited space and might not be able to take all the people who list them first. After the form submission deadline and before preregistration, all of the psychology professors meet to decide which students will be accepted into the honors thesis program and to match interested students with advisors. In making its decisions, the psychology department uses the following criteria: background in the area, ability to work independently, appropriate writing skills, high level of motivation, perseverance. Often, it is advantageous and sometimes even necessary to have had a course with the professor whom one wants as a thesis advisor.

I was matched with my top choice advisor, Professor Demorest; she has actually been my academic advisor since my first day at Amherst. When I declared the psychology major, I chose to keep her on as my psychology advisor, so she’s seen me go through a lot over the years. I knew that I wanted to work with her because: 1) I found her research interesting, 2) I felt very comfortable with her, and 3) I like her a lot as a person. As for my background in psychology courses, I didn’t take Personality Psychology, but I did take Research Methods and a personality psychology seminar called Psychological Assessment with Professor Demorest. I also met with and ranked Professor Kneeland, even though I had never taken a class with her before; however, I had taken Abnormal Psychology before, so I met the prerequisite for writing a thesis in clinical psychology.

Expectations and Timeline for Psychology Theses
Psychology Research Lab Area I am expected to meet with my thesis advisor weekly to discuss my project and my progress, and my thesis is supposed to be about 100 pages long in its entirety. During fall semester, I will be working on the introduction (a detailed review of the pertinent literature), which will be about 30-40 pages long and cite about 50-60 papers (so reading roughly 5-10 papers per week). I will also be submitting my study proposal for IRB approval and collecting data. During the January interterm, I will be analyzing my data and finalizing my Introduction. During the spring semester, I will be finishing the rest of my thesis, which includes the title page, author notes, table of contents, abstract, methods, results, discussion, references, tables and figures, and appendices. My full thesis is due two weeks before the last day of classes; the week after that, I’ll be doing an oral defense with a faculty committee that includes my thesis advisor and two other psychology professors. I will be able to make final revisions before I submit my final copy the following week. I will also present a poster of my thesis publicly on the last Friday of the semester.

Depending on the department and on the professor, some students are able to receive funding to start working on their theses on campus over the summer. I personally chose not to do so full-time during the summer because I wanted to work in Admissions, but I have begun the thesis process a bit this summer. I have been reading articles and meeting with my advisor to discuss those, and I have also been working with my advisor and the other thesis student in my lab to design our study and to apply for IRB approval. Moving forward, I plan to read a couple more articles and submit the IRB before classes start on August 30.

I know senior theses are a long way off for you guys, but I hope that this blog post was helpful in providing you guys with an idea of how they work here at Amhers for future reference! Thanks again for reading my blog, and I’ll see you for my next blog post :)

August 6, 2021

Amherst Eats Pt. 2

Welcome back to another post about food in the town of Amherst! Today, I’ll be highlighting a couple more of my favorite restaurants in town, as well as one of my favorite ice cream places in the area. 

Chicken Chow Fun Oriental Flavor Another one of my favorites is Oriental Flavor, a Chinese restaurant with traditional Chinese cuisine, including dim sum. I love Oriental Flavor because it reminds me of the food that I grew up eating back at home and because everything is so delicious; I would say that I have pretty high standards for Chinese food, and Oriental Flavor passes with flying colors. The staff here are also very friendly, and they constantly give great recommendations, give helpful answers to questions, and are very attentive to any adjustments we request. Oriental Flavor has large portion sizes at great prices (one main dish usually is enough for 2-3 meals for me), and it also has great lunch specials: you can get a main dish, your choice of soup, and rice all for less than $8. My favorite dishes here are the kung pao chicken, egg drop soup, chow fun (see picture), and pork buns! 

Classic Tokyo Ramen at Iya Next, I’m going to talk a bit about Iya Sushi and Noodle Kitchen, which is a Japanese restaurant that opened up in my sophomore year. Although Iya is a bit pricier than the other places I have featured in this series, I think that the food is worth it. Since I don’t eat seafood (blasphemous, I know), I stick to the Classic Tokyo Style Ramen (chashu pork, boiled egg, bean sprout, green onion, bamboo shoots, nori, roasted sesame seeds, pork broth) when I come here. Coming from Southern California, I have very high standards for ramen, and Iya is definitely above and beyond. The most important part of ramen, in my opinion, is the broth, and the broth here is amazingly rich and flavorful. The chashu pork and the egg are also saturated in the flavor of the broth; I really enjoyed my meal and will definitely continue coming!

Real Fruit Ice Cream Scoop at the Silos To end this series about food on a sweet note (haha), I will talk about one of my favorite foods: ice cream. The town of Hadley, which neighbors the town of Amherst, has more farm acreage than any other town in Massachusetts. One of the farms there is Maple Valley Creamery, which raises cows, sells fresh dairy products, and makes ice cream from fresh milk and cream. Maple Valley sells cartons of ice cream and caters for big groups, but they also sell fresh ice cream at their roadside ice cream stand, Scoop at the Silos. There are so many flavors to choose from, both dairy and nondairy, so there is sure to be something for everyone. I usually get strawberry, black raspberry, or Kailua fudge brownie, but on my most recent visit I decided to try their new real fruit ice cream that they debuted this summer. I chose to get a waffle cone with vanilla frozen yogurt and mixed berries, and it was SO GOOD (see picture to the right). I could really taste the fresh berries, and in combination with the fresh milk, it was absolutely glorious. Scoops at the Silos also does this cool thing where different names get free ice cream every day, so definitely make sure to follow them on Facebook or Instagram to make sure that you don’t miss your day! The last time our Admissions Intern team went, it was Brandon’s day for free ice cream, and he was extremely satisfied with his ice cream (see attached picture below). 

Scoop at the Silos Free Ice Cream

Thank you so much for following this series and my blog! I hope you enjoyed my features about my favorite food places in the area, and I hope that you’ll try them out if you come visit one day! 

July 30, 2021

Amherst Eats Pt. 1

Town of Amherst Sunset One question I often get on my tours is “How often do students go into town, and what is the vibe of the town like?” I would say that Amherst students go into town pretty often, since the town of Amherst neighbors our campus. As a result, it is very easy to take a quick walk into town to pick up necessities from CVS, to grab a meal with friends, or just to walk around a bit. Despite being in rural Western Massachusetts, the town of Amherst is quite lively. For one, we get to interact with Amherst locals, visitors, and other students from around the Five College Consortium as we walk around town. I also frequently run into professors in town; in the past two weeks, I’ve run into Professor Obert (my first year seminar professor), as well as Professor Benedetto (my multivariable calculus and linear algebra professor) while I was in town with friends. Additionally, people who work at the establishments in town are really welcoming and enthusiastic towards students. Overall, I love the vibe of the town overall because it is so friendly and comfortable, and it is a great place to meet people or to get away from campus for a while. 

Much of downtown Amherst consists of places to eat: restaurants with cuisines from all over the world, cafes that are great spots for studying, bakeries full of delicious pastries and cake, and more. This week and next week, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite food places in the Amherst area. 

Lunch Special at Miss Saigon One of my favorite restaurants in town is Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant with amazing pho, sandwiches, drinks, and more. With a large, multi page menu book, there are so many options to choose from, and it’s always fun to see the look of wonder on my friends’ faces when they look through the menu for the first time. The staff here are so caring and friendly, and they are always checking in to refill our waters and to see if we need anything. Additionally, Miss Saigon has large portion sizes for very low prices all across the board, but especially during lunch from Tuesdays to Saturdays: for $7.49, you can get either a combo with a main course, a vegetable roll, and a soup or a bowl of pho noodle soup. My absolute favorite dishes are the egg-noodle stir fry with chicken or the classic rice with beef, but everything I’ve ever tried here has been really good! 

Chicken Kabob Pocket Pita Pockets Next up is Pita Pockets, a Middle Eastern restaurant known for its falafel, gyros, pita sandwiches, and pita wraps. I hadn’t had very much Middle Eastern food before I came to college, and my mind and taste buds were absolutely blown freshman year when my friends brought me to Pita Pockets for the first time. I always get the chicken kabob pocket; the combination of the flavorful grilled chicken and the toppings (your choice of hot sauce, hummus, lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, pickles, turnips, and Tahini) just explodes in flavor as soon as you bite into the pocket. Like Miss Saigon, Pita Pockets gives large portions for low prices; as you can see in the attached picture, the pita pocket is enormous, and it only costs $8. And, of course, no feature about Pita Pockets would be complete without mentioning the amazing service and the generosity of the owner. He remembers his customers and truly treats them as family. Every time I go, he greets my friends and I enthusiastically and gives us falafel for free; he also remembers my order and asks me how I’ve been doing since the last time I visited. 

Strawberry Jasmine Tea Limered Teahouse Finally, the town of Amherst surprisingly has THREE boba places, even though it is a relatively small town. There is ongoing debate about which boba place (Möge Tee, Vivi Bubble Tea, or Limered Teahouse) is the best; I think I might be one of the few who doesn’t have a super strong opinion on this. I like the simplicity and many different types of teas that Limered offers; some of my favorites include the strawberry jasmine tea (see picture), oolong milk tea, and the assam milk tea. Vivi and Moge carry more of the “trendy” drinks that are popular these days, for example brown sugar milk (Vivi) and cheese foam (Moge); my favorite Vivi drink is the strawberry Yakult with boba, and my favorite Moge drink is the DaHongPao bubble tea (a type of oolong tea). I like Vivi’s and Moge’s boba pearls better than I like Limered’s, and it’s nice to have more and fancier drink options at Vivi and Moge, but I like Limered’s tea better. My final verdict: as usual, I can’t really pick a favorite! Perhaps you will have to come visit Amherst to help me resolve this debate :)

That’s all for this week! Stay tuned for next week’s post to learn about more great food places in town!

July 23, 2021

Why I Chose Amherst

Memorial Hill View After huffing and puffing up the legendary 77-step staircase, I always end my tours at Memorial Hill by talking about my favorite part about Amherst and, connected to that, why I chose Amherst. I sometimes feel a bit cheesy proclaiming that I chose Amherst because of the professors and the people and that that is still my favorite part of Amherst, but it really is true. To explain that a bit more, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane.

During my senior year of high school, I applied to 25 colleges (pro tip: don’t do that because it will ruin your senior year!). These schools were located all across the country, from less than 20 miles away from my home in Southern California to the Midwest to various states all along the East Coast. Although they differed in size, most of them were medium to large research universities; in fact, Amherst was one of only five small liberal arts colleges that I applied to. To be completely honest, Amherst wasn’t super high on my list of colleges, and I applied mostly at the urging of my mother, who had really liked Amherst when we visited. When I received my acceptance letter, I was very shocked but still unsure of whether or not I wanted to attend Amherst. My mother, on the other hand, was ecstatic and immediately arranged for us to attend the Admitted Students Open House, which is what changed everything for me. 

Kelly's High School Graduation I arrived on a cold April morning. As we were climbing the hill from the Admissions building to Johnson Chapel, I remember my face being miserably frozen by a chilly 31-degree wind and thinking, “Yeah, definitely not coming here.” However, the classes that I visited really warmed me up to Amherst: Intermediate Calculus with Professor Danielle Benedetto (who just won a teaching prize recently!) and Elementary French with Professor Raina Uhden. Each of these professors had so much passion for the material that they were teaching that it made me excited and made me want to learn about that topic (it is quite an accomplishment to make me excited about Taylor series!). Considering that I spent much of high school going through the motions and completing assignments for grades rather than learning for enjoyment, it was quite a big deal for me to want to engage with the material, and I knew that I wanted to spend my college years in such an environment. After class, each of the professors took time to introduce themselves, the department, and Amherst to me, and they told me that I was free to email them any time with any questions. In the French class I visited (which only had seven total students in it), Professor Uhden even gave me a worksheet and a pen and allowed me to join one of the groups. The two people shared their textbooks with me and caught me up on what we were doing without me even asking, and they even turned to me and waited for me to answer a question when it was my turn to do so on the worksheet. That made me feel very included and welcomed; the fact that they treated a small high school senior who was just visiting for a day like an equal really struck me. After class, someone who wasn’t even in my group came up to me, introduced himself, asked if I had any questions or needed any help finding where to go, gave me advice on choosing a college, and talked a bit about his process of choosing Amherst. If you’ve ever seen college students after their classes end, you will know that they run out of the classroom like the world is ending, so the fact that he took time to help me out really touched me because I’m sure he had many other things to do in his day. 

Even though I’ve been at Amherst for three years now, my favorite part of Amherst remains the professors and the people. For example, I had a professor my sophomore year who emailed me after class to check in one day after seeing that I looked upset. He offered to meet with me individually that week to talk about what was going on, saying that it didn’t even have to be about class. I took him up on that offer, and I was very grateful that he took time out of his busy schedule to help me as a person and not just as a student. Last semester, I was struggling a lot with the material for one of my courses. I reached out to my professor after I did poorly on my first exam, and he ended up setting up a 30-minute meeting with me individually every Friday morning for the rest of the semester. When I’ve had struggles in my personal life, professors have been willing to work with me to ensure that academics don’t add any extra stress to the situation, for example by being flexible with deadlines and assignments and by offering their support. Outside of times of struggle, professors are equally as supportive and caring, especially in office hours. Professors here love spending time with their students in office hours, and many of us will visit office hours just to hang out with professors even if we don’t have questions. Often, professors will ask us about ourselves and about how we’re doing after they answer our questions, and I’ve found that they remember these conversations and will follow up on them later on. Overall, professors at Amherst care so much about their students; one thing to remember is that all of the professors are qualified to teach at a bigger university, but they choose to be here at Amherst because they enjoy teaching and getting to know undergraduate students. 

Paint and Sip with Jackie and Brandon! And of course, the people at Amherst are great too -  everyone here is always so warm, supportive, and welcoming. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I hadn’t been on campus since March 2020 before I came back this summer, and I was nervous that I wasn’t going to have anyone to talk to. However, plenty of people whom I’ve just met this summer through friends have now become some of my closest friends. Even though they didn’t know me very well at first, they always included me in their plans, for example inviting me to grab meals or to join them in whatever activity they were doing. I am so grateful for their kindness, and I look forward to getting to know everyone even better and meeting even more new people this coming school year!

I am really glad that I chose Amherst three years ago, and I have no regrets about my decision, despite the weather. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t think I would have been as happy anywhere else. Thank you to those who have read up to this point, and I hope that this blog post has been helpful! 

July 16, 2021

Day in My Life As a Visitor Relations Intern

Ford Hall Greenways 8:15am: Good morning!

Location: Greenway Dormitory Complexes

Good morning, and welcome back to my blog! Today, I’ll be blogging throughout the day to give you guys an idea of what it’s like to be an Admissions Visitor Relations intern on campus in the summer. The weather app says that it will be 84 degrees today, with rain in the morning and a high chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, though it looks quite nice outside right now. I’ll keep you guys updated on how things proceed; our tours and information sessions will be cancelled if there is lightning.

Breakfast at Val 8:45am: Breakfast

Location: Valentine Dining Hall

Before I head to work, I usually stop by our only and best dining hall, Valentine Dining Hall (aka Val). Even though we only have one dining hall, Val has a lot of variety, and I can always find something to eat there. This morning, Val has cage-fried eggs, bacon, French toast, red grapes, and chocolate muffins, along with the usual yogurt bar, cereal options, bread and bagels, fruit, and beverages. I also have a cup of my favorite citrus peach juice from one of the juice machines in the back of Val. 

Morning Check In 9:00am: Morning check-in

Location: Zoom

Every morning, all of the Admissions Summer Interns and our supervisors meet over Zoom to go over the schedule for the day, bring up any questions or concerns, and go over any updates or reminders.

Reception with Jess and Leland 9:30am: Reception

Location: Garman House

My first work task today is reception in the tent in front of Garman House, which is where our tours are based out of this summer since there is more outdoor space for visitors to wait. Working at reception includes tasks like checking visitors in for tours, answering questions, directing visitors to the waiting area, and letting them into the buildings to use the bathroom. 

We have a tour/information session from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 4pm every single weekday. We are currently capped at 75 registrants per session, but we are increasing capacity to 110 registrants per session this coming week. There are usually between four and five tour groups that go out for each time slot, with each group accommodating up to 25 people starting next week. Sign up for a visit here, and check us out on Instagram at meetamherst

Working on my blog! 11:00am: Office project time

Location: Science Center

I have office project time for the next two hours, so I decided to move to the Science Center to get some work done. I typically spend office project time working on my blog (that’s what I’m doing right now!), compiling information for the Slate database, and brainstorming for my assigned office project (assisting with fall virtual programming for prospective students — more on that later!); some other office projects that my fellow interns are working on include managing our Instagram page, updating the tour guide manual, and adding tags to past blogs. 

Lunch at Val 1:00pm: Lunch

Location: Valentine Dining Hall

Lunch time! Today’s main entree is a maple ham and smoked gouda sandwich; other available foods include smoked gouda and maple tofu grilled cheese sandwiches, roasted potatoes and other vegetables, grilled chicken, and the usual salad and dessert bars. As you can see, I also have a side salad with tortellini, Lays’ BBQ chips, and Silk Chocolate Soy Milk. Val makes it easy to create well-balanced meals! 

 

Getting Ready for Tour! 2:00pm: Tour 

Location: Amherst College 

Since there’s no thunder or lightning, I get to lead my tour, as originally scheduled. It’s warm, and there’s only a slight bit of drizzle. Looking forward to meeting some new people and sharing about my Amherst experience with them! 

 

 

Fall VR Planning Meeting 3:00pm: Fall VR Schedule Planning

Location: Zoom

Now it’s time for a meeting for my office project; there are four interns and one admissions dean working on virtual programming for prospective students in the fall. Right now, we are looking at the topics, registration numbers, and attendance numbers from the spring theme sessions and brainstorming ideas for new sessions and ways to improve on the spring sessions. Some of the spring sessions covered topics such as FLI, STEM, residential life, and first-year experience. If you have any ideas for fall sessions we could include, please let me know! 

End of the Day Check-In 3:30pm: End of day check in

Location: Zoom

On most days, we also all meet as a group at the end of the day to go over what happened that day, discuss areas of improvement, and go over reminders for the next few days.

 

 

Dinner at Val 6:00pm: Dinner/Love Letter

Location: Valentine Dining Hall/Moore Residence Hall

After work, I watched soccer with some friends and waited out the storm before heading to Val for dinner. Today’s main entree is grilled tequila lime chicken, green rice with cilantro, and buttermilk jalapeno slaw. During dinner, my friends and I like to play a card game called Love Letter, which is easy to learn and fun to play. Dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day because I get to see more of my friends and hear about all that they’ve done that day.

NBA Finals Game 1 9:00pm: Suns vs. Bucks Game 1

Location: Moore Residence Hall

Several of my friends and I are pretty big basketball fans, so of course we couldn’t miss the first game of the NBA finals. I personally am a huge Lakers fan (I am from SoCal, after all), so I don’t have that much stake in this series since the Lakers are no longer in the playoffs, but I’m always down to watch some good basketball. 

1:00am: Good night!

Location: Greenway Dormitories Complex 

After heading back to my own dorm and having a snack of fresh strawberries, I got ready for bed and went to sleep to prepare for the next busy day. Thank you so much for following along with my day, and see you next week! 

July 9, 2021

Putting the “Special” in Special Events

Hello again! This week, I want to highlight one of my favorite offices on campus: the Conferences and Special Events (CASE) office, which is a subset of the Office of Communications. CASE is responsible for major College events such as Convocation and Commencement, events featuring high-profile speakers (e.g., the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Tara Westover, LitFest, conversation series), symposiums (e.g., Fink Bioscience Symposium), seasonal festivals (Fall Fest, Winter Fest, City Streets), and summer programs

Summer Programs Assistants 2019 I first became involved with the CASE office in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years as a Summer Programs Assistant, during which I worked with 40+ programs that took place on Amherst’s campus. I transitioned to working as an office assistant in the fall of my sophomore year, as part of the work-study portion of my financial aid award. Depending on the semester, I work between five and seven hours per week in the office; I often choose to work two to three hours outside of that when possible for evening and weekend events such as schoolwide festivals, Pindar dinners, and speaker events. I really enjoy working with CASE because: 1) the CASE office staff (Austin, Christina, Paula, and Victoria) are the best, 2) I love learning about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into each event, and 3) I get to work on a large variety of tasks, so no two days are the same. Some days, I complete online tasks at my desk at the front of the office, for example entering registration and attendance data for speaker events and Pindar dinners (see example dinner setup below), posting Amherst College events on external calendars, or researching products or food vendors; for instance, one of my tasks was to specifically research local restaurants with female owners to use as vendors for an event leading up to Justice Ginsburg’s visit. On other days, I am dashing all over the place, sometimes picking up and dropping off materials at different campus departments (e.g., Campus Print and Mail, Communications, Student Affairs), other times putting up event posters in town, or even counting the number of parking spaces on campus (true story). Sometimes, I am in the office building completing a variety of tasks, such as organizing flags, generating an inventory of all the event signs and lawn signs in the basement of the building, making paper snowflakes, or looking through the basement of the CASE office or Alumni House for festival and dinner decorations. Working at the CASE office is never a boring affair, and I am always excited each time I go to work. 

Winter White Pindar

Mammoth Bowtie for Fall Festival One of my favorite projects was making the bowtie for the inflatable mammoth for Fall Fest 2019. This was one of the instances in which I walked into the office for work, was promptly asked, “Do you want to do an art project today?,” and received some cardboard, a ruler, and an X-Acto knife to freely design a bowtie with. I created the structure of the bowtie (see picture on the right), and the rest of the office finished it up with fabric and filling for the final product. I also enjoy working at Pindar dinners, which are formal, five-course dinners throughout the school year that students get invited to. Seating is assigned intentionally so that people get to meet others that they would not have met otherwise. As event support staff, I assist with setup and coat check before the dinner, fill in at any table that has an empty seat from no-shows, and help clean up after the dinner. I really enjoy dressing up for Pindar dinners, eating great food, and seeing different tables of people bond and exchange contact information at the end of the dinner. My favorite speaker event that I had the opportunity to work at as an usher is definitely the Tara Westover and Anthony Jack event. I not only got to attend the entire event, but I also got the opportunity to speak to them, get my copies of Educated and The Privileged Poor signed, and take a picture with them (see my starstruck expression below).

Meeting Tara Westover and Anthony Jack

I’m so grateful to be able to have these opportunities, thanks to CASE and to Amherst, and I definitely recommend that you take advantage of all that your college has to offer, no matter where you end up. Thanks again for reading, and see you next week!

July 2, 2021

Something that Never Falls Flat: Music at Amherst

Welcome back to my blog! This week, we officially started in-person tours for the summer, which are actually Amherst's first in-person tours since March 2020 (feel free to register for either an in-person campus visit or a virtual campus visit here). It was really nice to see so many excited visitors, and I look forward to meeting new people the rest of the summer and to hopefully meeting some of you guys!

Arms Music Center The first stop on my tours is always Arms Music Center, home to the Department of Music and one of my favorite places on campus. Here at Amherst, students do not need to be Music majors to take advantage of all that the Music department has to offer, including private lessons (cost covered by Amherst if you’re on financial aid), access to the 11 practice rooms (each with a Steinway piano!), and numerous performance groups (for example, Amherst Symphony Orchestra, Jazz @ Amherst, and Amherst College Choral Society). Outside of the Music department, we also have six student-run a capella groups: the DQ (coed, secular), Zumbyes (tenors/basses), Sabrinas (sopranos/altos), Bluestockings (sopranos/altos), Route 9 (tenors/basses), and Terras Irradient (coed, non-secular). In fact, Amherst likes to call itself “The Singing College” since roughly a fifth of the student population sings. On a larger scale, more than 50% of students will be involved with music either academically or extracurricularly over their time at Amherst. For example, I have taken classes and private lessons in the Music department (courtesy of the open curriculum!), frequented the practice rooms, and played in the orchestra in my time here so far, even though I am not a Music major.

I am also the logistical coordinator of the Terras Irradient a capella group; check us out here! Terras Irradient (TI) is a Five-College, co-ed, Christian a cappella group with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the Pioneer Valley through song. I first joined in the fall of my sophomore year because I wanted to be part of a tight knit community that had a similar goal as me: to glorify God with our voices. For TI’s initial audition, I sang a verse and a chorus of a song, completed a range test and melody recall exercises, and answered some questions about myself. After initial auditions, the group decides which auditionees to bring back for callbacks, the next step of the audition process. During callbacks, I got to spend some time getting to know the other members of the group, learn an excerpt of a song, and perform the excerpt with the rest of the group. 

Terras Irradient Family Weekend Performance 2019 TI has two two-hour rehearsals and one one-hour prayer meeting each week to prepare for our performances each semester. Some of the performances we do each year include the Family Weekend showcase (see picture on the left) and our annual Winter/Christmas concert during fall semester, and an event called Break It Down Boston (BIDB), Easter dinner, and our annual senior concert during the spring semester. As the logistical coordinator, some of my responsibilities include coordinating auditions and concert logistics, creating overall semester plans, and overseeing selection of the theme verse and related songs for each concert; you can read more about this process here. Although this role is often difficult and stressful, it is 100% worth it at the end of the day to see the amazing things that God is doing through us and to see the joy and inspiration that our music and performances bring to others. I’m very excited to see what the new school year brings and to (hopefully) be able to sing together in-person soon! 

That’s all for me this week! As usual, feel free to contact me with any questions or anything at any time! 

Summer Bucket List Update #1

  • Give an in-person campus tour

On Tuesday morning, I got to give my first in-person campus tour! I was extremely nervous beforehand (and I still get nervous before each of my tours!), but I think it went pretty well for my first tour. I’m looking forward to meeting more people this summer! 

  • Go stargazing
  • Watch a sunrise or a sunset from a place with a nice view
  • Visit the Amherst Farmers’ Market
  • Go fruit picking (strawberry, blueberry, peach, and/or raspberry)

Freshly Picked Strawberries This past Sunday, I went strawberry picking at Red Fire Farm with some of my friends. Although it was quite hot outside, we all still had a great time trying the different strawberry varieties and filling our cartons with red, juicy berries (see picture); I personally thought that the Jewel variety tasted the best. I had never picked my own strawberries before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they smelled (both in the field and in my fridge in the following days) and how juicy they were. Tip for picking strawberries: look for the ones at the bottom because they tend to be juicier and bigger! 

Strawberry Picking with Friends!

June 25, 2021

Guess Who’s Back...Back Again

Hello everyone, and welcome to my first official blog post! I’m so excited to be sharing both my past and current Amherst experiences with you guys over the next few months. However, before I fully dive in, I thought that I’d reflect a bit and provide some context about where I’m coming from to get everyone all caught up.

Science Center at Sunset I’m currently a rising senior, but I haven’t been back on campus since the spring of my sophomore year (aka, March 2020), as I spent my entire junior year learning remotely from my home in Southern California. In fact, at this point in time, I’ve spent almost an equal amount of time learning remotely as I have in-person. This entire situation feels kind of strange; I feel like I’ve just been floating in a timeless vacuum since March 2020, and I still feel like a sophomore. The strangeness of being back on campus is compounded by how everything on campus looks basically the same as it did before the pandemic (with the exception of the tents and tables outside, and masks of course), but almost all of the faces I see on campus are now unfamiliar because the summer population of Amherst College largely consists of first-years and sophomores. Thus, for me, campus feels familiar, yet unfamiliar, at the same time. It’s definitely taking some getting used to, but I’m getting there! 

I also want to talk a little bit about my social adjustment. I have had few in-person interactions with anyone outside of my family in the past year, so coming back and interacting with so many different people all the time is definitely quite overwhelming. Luckily, this is Amherst, and everyone here is always so warm, supportive, and welcoming, from the people I haven’t seen since March 2020 to those I just met last week. At first, I was worried that I was going to feel socially excluded because I hadn’t shared the same in-person, on-campus experiences that everyone else had had this past year, but it turns out my worries were for naught. I am so grateful that so many people have made sure that I’ve felt included through inviting me to grab meals or hang out with them, introducing me to their friends, patiently filling me in on what I missed, and more.

 
Pratt Field at Sunset This summer, my goal is to explore the Amherst area and take advantage of the remaining time I have here. Due to the pandemic, I’ve become much more grateful for everything I have, knowing that anything can be taken away at any moment. When I look back at my college years, I hope that I can smile back fondly at the experiences I had and the memories I made, knowing that I did everything I could. Thus, I’ve created a summer bucket list (attached below). Throughout this summer, I will provide a picture and write a little bit about each item I complete. Thank you for reading, and I hope you continue to follow along this summer! 

Summer 2021 Bucket List:

June 18, 2021