The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My List

Today I have been inspired to write a list of things that I want to accomplish sometime in my life. This exercise really made me reflect on some of the things that I value in life and wish that I would do or would do better. Here is my list (most likely I will add to it) along with the inspiration for each item in no particular order.

  1. Run a 1/2 marathon (or even a full marathon): Inspired partially by my own rediscovery of a love of running and in others that I know that have done this monumental task.
  2. Volunteer for something I believe in: Having been so self-involved for the last few years in grad school, now I feel a need to give back somehow through some sort of consistent volunteer work. Not sure yet what this might be.
  3. Own an environmentally friendly vehicle: I already own a vehicle that gets over 20 MPG, but I would like to own a hybrid one day or a vehicle that runs on renewable fuel.
  4. Travel continental Europe: I've traveled in the UK and Ireland, but I would also like to travel the rest of Europe, hopefully visiting every country.
  5. Hike a trail (Superior, Appalachian): And here I mean 'real' hiking. Carrying all that you need on your back and being out there for days at a time. Inspired mostly by Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods.'
  6. Write a travel memoir: Again inspired by Bill Bryson's books and for a personal memento by myself to help me remember my travels.
  7. Read all of the histories of Middle Earth: Because I'm a big LOTR geek.
  8. Learn to tango: Inspired by my friend Lisa and her husband's tango at her wedding reception - HOT!
  9. Be in good physical condition when I'm 60: My grandparents all in all were or still are in good physical condition and are all in their 80's and healthy.
  10. Bo on a softball team: Just because I know I could never be on a baseball team. I love the sport!
  11. Experience the Boundary Waters: Lived in MN for a good deal of my life and never went there....bad Minnesotan!
  12. Learn a language well enough to carry on a conversation: Because Americans are known to not know other languages and I feel that it is a good thing to be able to do this. Plus it's cool!
  13. Travel to every continent at least once: Hey I have 3 out of the way just 4 (S. America, Asia, Antarctica, Africa) to go!
  14. Read many of the Great Works: Again this is the intellectual in me. I feel that this is a good exercise for the mind and the soul.
  15. Do an AIDS ride or a 3-day walk for cancer: These are personal accomplishments but nothing like those that the people who have these diseases must deal with every day!
  16. Watch less TV: Because I feel I watch too much!
  17. Play an instrument well again: I used to play something (french horn, piano) at least once everyday and I miss making music in my life.
  18. Take more initiative in my personal life: I tend to want others to make the first move and I feel that I am left behind because of that.
  19. Retire comfortably: Who doesn't
  20. Have fewer days that I 'throw away': in that I don't accomplish something or enjoy that day. Each day should be a gift to you and you should also give something back each day.
  21. Eat healthier: I do well now, but still have bad habits and some binge eating tendencies when depressed.
  22. Learn more American history: Because you can't understand the present and the decisions that you must make for the future without looking back!
  23. Become a parent: I was still a bit scared to write this one down, but I do know that one day I would like to be.
  24. Be a better sister: Me and Jessie are not terribly close but we have gotten closer over the past couple of years. I miss having her as a major part of my life and must do better on my end to foster this important relationship.
  25. Be an inspiration to someone: Because I have people who are responsible for where I am today because of their inspiration. I want to give someone else that same drive and determination to work hard for their dreams.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wow! I'm Done.

Well it's official...I am now Dr. Christopherson. I had my graduation ceremony last week Saturday. I was the second person through and as I was up on stage in front of some 3-4 thousand people, I completely blanked! I wish I had stopped to pay attention, but thankfully my husband taped the event. There was only one other time where I remember feeling like that and that was at my Church wedding. For most of the day, I just didn't quite feel right, like I wasn't sure who I was. But I guess that can be expected because this is a new phase in my life. I am done with being a student and will now guide other students in a field that I love.

I still find a bit weird and a little sad to know that I will be leaving UND soon. I will miss my friends be they students, classmates, staff, or faculty. I have really made a connection here and so many people have helped my journey.

Now my summer will mostly consist of prepping my classes for the Fall Semester. I will be experimenting with a different method of testing beyond just multiple choice and still try to incorporate more demonstrations and active work in the classroom. After having mostly large classes where the lecture format is king, I will now be teaching much smaller classes where I can incorporate these activities.

Additionally, I have research to conduct and to write up. I am hoping to write up at least 2 articles this summer to submit to journals. Additionally I have 2 research projects that are in the data analysis stage this summer.

But perhaps my biggest project is developing my own online study questions program using authorware. I have just some of this project completed. Now I need to figure some of the more 'advanced' aspects of the program. I'd like to have a test version ready sometime next academic year to do some pilot testing with some students (hopefully).

Friday, May 04, 2007

MPA experiences

This weekend I am attending the Midwestern Psychological Association yearly convention at the Palmer House in Chicago. This is my first large conference that I have attended for psychology. I had my poster session yesterday afternoon and it went as many others at smaller conferences go...stand by your poster and answer a few questions. But most of my time was actually spent visiting with my new colleagues at Morningside (3 of the 4 were there). Unfortunately my poster topic was not of intrinsic interest to many people.

Overall my impressions are good. I went to the morning poster session and found many interesting studies that mostly students had done. It is also fun to just talk about the research with these people. This afternoon there is a talk that I am planning on attending and the social psych poster session.

I think that it would be a great experience to be an advising professor for a student who is presenting here. What a great chance to see growth especially in an undergraduate! Posters are pretty low-threat because all that you really need to do is 1) give a brief summary or 2) answer some questions. But the best part that I like is that you will often also get some insight from people looking at your poster for new ideas.

Tomorrow is the last day and I plan to go to at least the morning poster session. This conference seems to be a pretty collegial least in the limited experiences that I have had so far.