Leaving the Nest by Stephanie Schoppe, Graduating Senior

Stephanie Schoppe, Communication Studies major, will graduate from TCNJ at the end of this Fall semester. We thank Stephanie for sharing advice, her experiences, and her study abroad trip to South Africa with us! Please read her farewell post for The School of the Arts & Communication blog. Congratulations to Stephanie and all TCNJ students graduating this December!

“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This is a quote that my generation is very familiar with. It invokes a feeling that, even when you leave a place that holds so many memories for you, when you come back it feels like you never left. Leaving that place may be a little bit scary, of course. But while you’re gone, it’ll be there, filled with people ready to hug you and say, “Welcome back.”

This feeling is all too real for me at the moment. This is my final semester as a TCNJ student. I didn’t feel the despair and dread that comes with the registration period. I won’t be here to experience coming back from winter break in January and catching up on how everyone’s break was. Next semester someone else will be living in my room at my house. These things and more, whether I like it or not, are happening, and they’re happening faster than I really want them too.

I’m currently in the process of applying to grad schools. Whenever I work on my applications, I’m taken back to four years ago when I was applying to undergrad schools. The process was so exciting then. “I get to go to college and meet people from all over the state and I get to experience the typical college life and I’ll be away from my parents and it’ll be great!” And it was. It absolutely was. Fast-forward to today, and I still feel that way about applying to grad schools. Only now it’s a teensy bit bittersweet.

These four and a half years, I’ve done things I never thought I’d get to do. I got to act in plays. I got to sit front row to see some of my favorite comedians perform. I got to study in another country not once but twice; I’m going to London in January, which I’ve neglected to mention in my posts until now (sorry). I got to sing with people from Japan. I made a difference in the world just by baking really cool-looking cupcakes. And I got to witness the initial outrage over our now beloved, shiny, and colorful balls.

Do I have advice for my friends who are graduating in May? I do. Don’t worry about it. I have to tell myself that at least once every single day. The more you panic about getting a good grade on the GREs or the LSATs or getting a job right out of school, the more you’ll stress and burn yourself out, and trust me, you don’t want to do that. Don’t overstress yourself so much that you forget to enjoy your final semester as a TCNJ Lion. Go to the C-Store, buy a lot of ice cream, and watch a bad movie with your friends. Listen to your iPod and take a walk by the lakes. Then go sit by the lakes and just be in that moment. Do something as simple as taking a nice, two-hour nap one day. You’ve worked so hard the last four years, and you deserve to enjoy every moment before you leave here.

To the freshmen coming up on completing their first semester of college, you don’t need to have anything figured out now. I’ve heard some of my friends who are freshmen worry about graduating in four years and about what they want to do with your life. It’s okay to not have that figured out now. If you worry about what’s after college, you won’t enjoy what’s going on in college now. Explore a little. Join a club you’d never think to join. Take classes in a variety of departments if you can. Don’t spend all your time worrying about what to do after graduation. You’ve got four years to do that. Also, not graduating on time isn’t as bad as it sounds. Speaking from personal experience, it’s really, totally fine.

To conclude my final blog post as a TCNJ student, TCNJ has been my second home for 4 1/2 years. It feels weird to leave; you’re not supposed to leave your home, right? Some of my best friends are here, and will still be here when I leave. I’m not ready to leave now, and I probably won’t be ready to leave in December. But I know if I need to, I can always come back to TCNJ, where there will be students and professors here ready to welcome me home.


Blogging the Brown Bag Series: Round Two by Katharine Callahan

Katharine Callahan, freshman Communication Studies major, reports on the variety of this semester’s Brown Bag Series. Find out more about these special guest presentations, and be sure to catch the last two of the semester in the Mayo Concert Hall, Friday, Nov. 15 and 22, 11:30am to 12:20pm! Bring your lunch and relax!

Dr. Lucas Blair, Little Bird Games

Dr. Lucas Blair, Little Bird Games

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the brown bag on October eleventh, Little Bird Games, which was presented by Dr. Lucas Blair, as I had a schedule conflict with an event I had to attend. However, if you would like to learn more about Dr. Blair’s company, Little Bird Games, which specializes in making educational and therapeutic video, board, and card games, I have attached a link to the company’s website here.

Jeffry Cudlin, Imposters, Interlocutors, and Dilettantes

Jeffry Cudlin, “Imposters, Interlocutors, and Dilettantes”

Finishing up the Brown Bags for the month of October was Jeffry Cudlin with his presentation entitled, Imposters, Interlocutors, and Dilettantes.  Mr. Cudlin is an art curator, art critic, and artist himself. He has written art critiques for the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and Sculpture Magazine, and worked previously as a curator for the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia. Mr. Cudlin is the first artist we have had present at TCNJ’s Brown Bag Series, and you can view his artwork and read about his process on his website. Mr. Cudlin’s work as an artist relies heavily on collaboration from other trusted artists, and generally takes the form of a parody that takes an awkward turn; especially in his works such as “The Request.”

TCNJ Wind Ensemble performing Dr. Stephen Gorbos's "Bounce"

TCNJ Wind Ensemble performing Dr. Stephen Gorbos’s “Bounce”

Another significant work discussed during TCNJ’s Brown Bag Series was Dr. Stephen Gorbos’s “Bounce,” a traditional string-instrumental piece selected by two separate New York City orchestras to be preformed. In his presentation entitled Inside a Composer’s Studio: The Process of Revising a Piece, Dr. Gorbos explains that a traditional string ensemble has a homogeneous sound, while wind ensembles have a heterogeneous sound; for that reason, Dr. Gorbos decided to adapt his work to be played by a wind ensemble. Dr. Gorbos stated that wind ensembles are “a newly emerging orchestral style,” and he transformed his work with the help of TCNJ’s very own Professor David Vickerman. Professor Vickerman led the TCNJ Wind Ensemble in performing excerpts of Gorbos’s wind ensemble-adapted piece “Bounce” while Gorbos outlined the reconstructive process of adapting a string ensemble to a wind ensemble. The entire piece was performed later that night by the TCNJ Wind Ensemble for an audience in the Kendall Main Stage Theatre.

Geandy Pavón, Flying Che, oil on canvas

Geandy Pavón, Flying Che, oil on canvas

The next Brown Bag presentation was given by Geandy Pavón, and was entitled, Vanitas: The Political Still Life.  Pavón was born on the eastern half of the island of Cuba, and began his work as an artist very early in life. After he and his art troupe were expelled from every art university on the island, they took their controversial work to the streets of Cuba. When Pavón came to the United States, it was because Amnesty International granted him a visa on account of his artwork. Pavón focused mainly on his hyper-realistic oil on canvas paintings in his collection called “Wrinkled,” in which Pavón uses the symbolism of his art as a political statement. His collection “Vanitas” is reminiscent of the vanitas style artwork of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that uses skulls to symbolize the shortness of life.

Next week’s Brown Bag on Friday, November 15, This Trenton Life: Screening and Discussion, will be given by Dr. Susan Ryan, TCNJ Associate Professor of Communication Studies who collaborated with TCNJ students on this short documentary. The final Brown Bag on Friday, November 22, Constructing the Past and Shaping the Present in Appalachia Through Dance, will be presented by professors of dance from Radford Univeristy. For more information, please visit www.tcnj.edu/bbs.

Blogging the Brown Bag Series: Round One by Katharine Callahan, Freshman Communication Studies Major

Please welcome one of our new student bloggers for the TCNJ School of the Arts & Communication blog, Katharine Callahan! She’s been busy attending the Brown Bag Series lectures and presentations. Read what Katharine has to say about the first four Fall 2013 Brown Bags!

My name is Katharine Callahan, I am a freshman this year at TCNJ, and am majoring in Communication Studies. My track is public and mass communications, with a minor in International Studies and Marketing. I work in Ewing and Trenton during the week between classes, and come spring semester hopefully I won’t have to work at so I can join some of the clubs on campus!

The presenters this fall semester for TCNJ’s Brown Bag Series are not just TCNJ Alumni who landed a job early after graduating, semi-professionals who got a lucky break in their endeavors, or unenthusiastic individuals repeating monotone lines they have used a dozen different times in presentations just like this. No, the Brown Bags thus far have only showed hard working individuals, regardless of if they are TCNJ alumni or not, who have worked and struggled to achieve the success they have today, and continue to work and struggle because of their enthusiasm for the arts.

Cheese Sandwich Days

Christy Ney, Asst. Stage Manager, “Wicked”

Christy Ney, TCNJ Alumni and Assistant Stage Manager of the Broadway Musical Wicked, presented the first Brown Bag, “A Life in the Wings,” and introduced the concept of “Cheese Sandwich Days,” days when you can’t afford to pay for your rent, your bills, or for your groceries, so you resort to eating bread and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Christy was a communication studies major at TCNJ with a minor in theater (which is no longer offered at TCNJ), she opted to study the television and film production track during her time here, and was an active part of TCNJ’s Theater club and the TSC (Trenton State College) Update, which you might know now as Lions TV. Besides keeping up with school and extracurriculars her senior year, Christy also had an externship (essentially job shadowing at a company or corporation) in NYC working for Disney Theatrical on their Broadway production of The Lion King, which led to her receiving a job on the production of the play only ten days after graduation.

Christy worked with The Lion King for four years before she decided to leave and began working with Wicked; a dream job that she landed because of both her experience and connections in the field. Christy stressed that networking is not only essential to her job as Asst. Stage Manager, where she is the center point of communication during the show during every performance, but also to the field of communications. She has started her own company called “Broadway Basics” to teach upcoming individuals the fundamentals of working and networking on Broadway. “Learn as many names as you can,” Christy says, “because you never know when knowing a name will come in handy.”

Dean John Laughton, Joan Myers Brown, Risa Kaplowitz, and Karen Calloway-Williams

Dean John Laughton, Ms. Joan Myers Brown, Ms. Risa Gary Kaplowitz, and Ms. Karen Calloway Williams

One name worth knowing in the arts field is Joan Meyers Brown, founder and Executive Artistic Director of PHILANDANCO, the world-renowned Philadelphia based African American dance company. Ms. Brown, Karen Calloway Williams, who was the first African American tap dancer to appear in Riverdance, Risa Gary Kaplowitz, a predominant figure in the ballet world, and our very own Dean of the School of the Arts and Communication, Dr. John Laughton, were all a part of TCNJ’s second Brown Bag event, “By Way of the Funk.” The premise of their conversation was of the bias many African Americans face in the world of dance, especially ballet. Ms. Brown told of how when she was growing up, during segregation in the 1960s, she was the only African American girl in her ballet class, and how difficult it was to become a professional in her field because of her race. This is why, in 1970, she founded the Philadelphia Dance Company known as PHILANDANCO, a dance company that tries to equalize the representation African Americans have in the dance community. Karen Williams explained the prejudices she faced, and still continues to face, in her successful career as a tap dancer. Risa Kaplowitz, who herself is not African American, explained the lack of African American dancers she sees in professional ballet, noting that Misty Copeland is one of very, very few African Americans to “make it” in ballet. The conclusion of their lecture examined segregation in the past to bias in dance now, with Dean Laughton referencing a conversation he once had with Rosa Parks, and the audience applauding Ms. Brown’s winning of the National Medal of the Arts from the President in 2012.

Filmmaker Luis Salas, Dr. Susan Ryan, and Professor Lorna Johnson-Frizell

Filmmaker Luis Salas, Dr. Susan Ryan, and Professor Lorna Johnson-Frizell

Luis Salas, a 2002 alumni of TCNJ, spoke of his latest work, a  “mockumentary” entitled Dead Man Working, about the dead rising as a cheap workforce that results in a loss of jobs for the living. Salas says that the inspiration for his work came from the zombie pop culture craze in 2008 along with the year’s economic downfall in the United States. Prior to Dead Man Working, Salas had worked on documentaries such as 2006’s Far From the Island, which focused on Cuban Immigrants to the United States. Salas says that he got his start in film by doing a lot of unpaid work, and at one point helped to film in the adult film industry, where Salas says many filmmakers begin their work but try to hide it because they do not want to be known for that kind of work. However, Salas leaves us with the understanding that where you begin your work does not define your future work, and states that getting your foot in the door is the most important factor in beginning a career in film.

Dr. Benjamin Gross gave the fourth Brown Bag lecture, and went in to detail about David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC and main proponent of RCA Laboratories’ success as the “center of America’s consumer electronic industry.” Sarnoff only attended school until eighth grade, when he then moved to the United States and worked full-time to help support his family. RCA Labs, located in Princeton, was created in 1919, and it is because of RCA labs that we today have such inventions as the color television, liquid crystal displays, and semiconductor devices. However, none of this would have been possible without David Sarnoff, who believed in investing immensely in the lab’s research development department. Dr. Gross ended his lecture with a quote from Sarnoff that describes the pursuit of knowledge many TCNJ students embody, “There is no security in standing still. Those who rest on the rock of stabilization sooner or later find that that rock becomes their tombstone. There is no security for the future in the mere knowledge of today. There is hope and opportunity in what we can learn tomorrow.”

TCNJ Sarnoff Collection, Roscoe West Hall, 2nd Floor

TCNJ Sarnoff Collection, Roscoe West Hall, 2nd Floor

Stephanie Schoppe Returns from South Africa!

Stephanie Schoppe, a fifth-year senior majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Music, recently returned from her summer study abroad internship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. We are glad to welcome Stephanie back to TCNJ! Read all about Stephanie’s experiences–from bungee jumping to visiting South African schools to getting up-close with elephants–in her first blog post of the fall 2013 semester!

“It was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now.” – Gandhi

Hi there, everyone! Welcome back! Or welcome, if you’re new here! For those of you that are new to TCNJ, or if this is your first time reading the TCNJ School of the Arts and Communication blog, let me introduce myself. I’m Steph, and I’m a fifth-year senior (sometimes affectionately nicknamed “super senior”) Communication Studies major and Music minor. This is my second year writing for this blog and I’m so excited about this post especially.

TCNJ South Africa Crew at Sani Pass in the Drakensberg Mountains

TCNJ South Africa Crew at Sani Pass in the Drakensberg Mountains

In a post I did last semester I talked about being accepted for an internship in South Africa, and how I didn’t think I’d be able to do something like that with the struggles I’ve had academically in my earlier years here. Well this past month I did go to South Africa! I and eight other students, along with Communication Studies professor Dr. John Pollock, spent three weeks in Durban, South Africa. We were there to learn about the idea of “entertainment education” and how it can be used to educate people in South Africa about HIV/AIDS.  We watched various TV shows and commercials that have been very successful in persuading people to make healthy lifestyle choices (I highly recommend checking them out – one was a soap opera called Intersexions and another was an ad campaign called Scrutinize). We also got the opportunity to speak to some of the leading professors in the health communication field at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), as well as interact with Communication Studies students at the university.

Rachel (back) and Jabulani (front). Jabulani means "rejoice" in Zulu. We got to touch and feed them!

Rachel (back) and Jabulani (front). Jabulani means “rejoice” in Zulu. We got to touch and feed them!

But it wasn’t all just research and learning! We got to do some awesome and fun stuff, too! Some of us bungee jumped off of Moses Mabhida Stadium (where the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup was held), took surfing lessons, went shark diving, and rode the longest zip line in South Africa. One of the highlights of our trip was spending two nights at Bayete Zulu, a resort on the Hluhluwe (that’s pronounced shoo-shlew-eh) game reserve, where we went on four safaris and saw lions, rhinos, giraffes, warthogs, and so many more amazing and wild animals. While also at Hluhluwe, we got to touch and feed not one, but three elephants!

TCNJ South Africa Crew with students from Ekwazini Secondary School

TCNJ South Africa Crew with students from Ekwazini Secondary School

While Hluhluwe was indeed a highlight of the trip, the one moment that we realized “this is why we’re here and this is why we do what we do” came during the last week of the trip when we visited two secondary schools in Durban. We visited these schools with DramAIDe, an organization that uses the arts to educate youth about issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. The first school we went to, Ekwazini Secondary School, will probably be a day I won’t ever forget. To see a room of 8th and 9th graders speak so knowledgeably about what to do when facing gender-based violence at school and at home, to see their faces light up and to hear how grateful they were that we visited them, to not be able to leave the room because they all wanted to hug us and take pictures with us – I wish there was a stronger word for “inspiring”.

Going to South Africa was truly an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. It’s one that I’ll remember forever, because it’ll be really hard to forget since on our last day there I got a tattoo on my arm and I’m pretty sure those are permanent. And if you liked what you heard, if you want to experience something like this, you can! The trip will be happening again in summer 2014. Keep your eyes peeled for info from the Center for Global Engagement or from the Department of Communication Studies! There will be a study abroad fair on Wednesday, September 11th from 11:00am-2:00pm on Alumni Grove (between Eickhoff Hall and the Library) and we’ll be there! Until then, enjoy some photos from my trip and be jealous. And again, welcome back and good luck this year!

View of Durban, South Africa from the beach

View of Durban, South Africa from the beach

Stephanie Schoppe: “Take a chance and apply to study abroad!”

Communication Studies Major Stephanie Schoppe is packing her bags and heading to South Africa this summer! Find out more about her health communication internship, “entertainment education,” and why YOU should take the opportunity to apply to study abroad, too!

South-Africa-PC-University-of-Natal-main-campus-pan-681University of KwaZulu-Natal Campus, South Africa

I never really gave the idea of studying abroad a chance until about halfway through my junior year. I was pretty serious about it until I abandoned the idea when I realized going abroad for a semester would mean I would have to stay an extra year at TCNJ (I still have to stay an extra semester any way, but that was unavoidable). I had decided on not studying abroad until earlier this school year.

I took two health communications courses last fall: Health Communications Campaigns and Health Communications. I had heard good things about these two courses from people that were in some of my classes in the spring 2012 semester. I ended up loving those classes, and they’re probably two of the best classes I’ve taken here at TCNJ. The first few weeks of the semester, Dr. Pollock, who used to be head of the communications department, came to both these classes numerous times to tell us about a study abroad opportunity that had to do with the health communications field. He said he would be bringing students to Durban, South Africa, where we would be creating different programs to educate the South African people about HIV/AIDS using the idea of “education entertainment”. We watched this South African soap opera called “Intersexions” and did multiple focus groups about the show and discussed what we liked and didn’t like about it. The urge to study abroad came back and I emailed Dr. Pollock telling him I was interested.

When the time came to hand in the application, I again almost didn’t do it. I had applied for another internship which would’ve sent me to Ohio for ten weeks, and at the time I thought I had that in the bag; I didn’t want to get accepted to both and then have to choose. But I did it anyway. Also, because my overall GPA isn’t as good as it can be, I thought that would hurt my chances too. I handed in the application around noon on a Thursday. I went to check my phone at the end of my 2:00 class and saw an email from the Center for Global Engagement. I thought, “Oh, this is just an email letting me know that they got my application and I’ll probably know within a week or so.” The email said I was accepted into the program, a mere two hours after I sent it in.

It still feels pretty unreal to me. This’ll be the first time I’ll be out of the country. But I’m excited. I never thought I’d be able to do this. I thought time and my GPA would have been an issue. So, if you’re thinking of studying abroad but you don’t think you’re eligible to, go ahead and do it anyway! You never know what might happen! Many of my friends have studied abroad in places like Spain, London, and Rome, and they seem to have had wonderful experiences. Take a chance and apply to study abroad! I believe the South Africa trip led by Dr. Pollock is actually still taking some more people. Here’s the link to see what the trip’s all about: http://cge.pages.tcnj.edu/programs/faculty-led-programs/tcnj-south-africa-summer-2013/

Brown Bag Series–Don’t Forget to Bring Your Lunch!

Every semester, The School of the Arts and Communication hosts various guest speakers through the “Brown Bag Series.” All guest presentations take place in The Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall in the Music Building on Fridays from 11:30AM – 12:20PM, a time when students have a break in their schedules for lunch. All lectures and discussions are free and open to the public, and all attendees are encouraged to bring their lunches and relax—the only time food and drinks are allowed in the concert hall! Guest presenters are selected by the Departments of Art and Art History, Communication Studies, Interactive Multimedia, or Music, or The Center for the Arts. This allows for a diverse range of topics to be presented.BrownBagThis past Fall 2012 semester featured a variety of interesting guest presentations and panel discussions. Professor Bruce Rigby, who will retire at the end of this semester after 40 years of teaching at TCNJ, presented on his own personal journey through the arts. Professor Rigby showed and explained a number of his past and present works in conjunction with the opening of his exhibition Bruce Rigby: Recent Works that was featured in The College Art Gallery. Two new Art and Art History faculty, Professors Amze Emmons and Gregory Theilker, also discussed their experiences in their presentation entitled Art in the Real World.In conjunction with the The Arts in Contemporary India Symposium presented by The Center for the Arts, guest performer and top Indian percussionist and tabla player Abhijit Banerjee explored the topic of classical India music. In addition, R. Luke DuBois, a composer, artist, and performer who explores the temporal, verbal, and visual structures of cultural and personal ephemera, presented on his recent projects with interactive multimedia. DuBois presented on his exploration of different aspects related to online dating websites, the effects of accelerating the speed of video and audio recordings, and his presidential campaign project for the 2008 election that featured the verbal highlights of past presidents’ inaugural speeches._MG_1360editThe Brown Bag Series is an excellent way for students to discover more information relating to their own personal interests without having to travel off-campus. The range of topics explored through the series is extremely broad and appeals to students of all majors and disciplines. This series allows for professors, alumni, current students, as well as experts outside of the TCNJ community to present on various topics and research. In addition, the projection equipment and other technology available in the Mayo Concert Hall allows for presenters to integrate video clips, PowerPoint presentations, and other digital media into their lectures. Next semester’s Brown Bag presentations include a screening of a student-faculty collaboration video, excerpts of “Don Pasquale” and “Faust” presented by Boheme Opera NJ, and a presentation on music and insects by Professor Rosalind Erwin and Mr. Nathan Erwin, manager of the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. More information about the dates and guest speakers for upcoming Brown Bag presentations can be found here. Be sure to check out these unique presentations and discussions—and don’t forget to bring your lunch!