Author Archives: Casey Mahoney

MiddDigs: Where to live?

First-years, sophomore and juniors are in the thick of room draw for next year. Given the random assignment of numbers, everyone hopes they’ll get the magic number one (or at least one of the top 20 or 30 shots at their dream housing), since some housing arrangements are definitely better than others, but it’s hard to get truly bad housing.

With 98% of the student body living on campus, the Res Life staff and Housing administrators have a big responsibility managing first-year housing (how do you assign people to live together who’ve never met?), special interest houses (9 languages, environment, substance-free, queer studies, to name a few), group interest blocks, social houses, and then just regular draw for singles through quads.

I was never blessed with a super great number to have my top choices, but I’ve ultimately been happy with where I’ve been on campus each semester. Here are some of my favorites (dream houses and past digs included):

  • Battell! Small rooms that squeeze two people into each = hanging out in the hall and lounges. As the biggest first-year dorm, I was happy to be assigned there my first semester and to have worn my B2S badge ever since (the lingo goes Battell – floor # – North/Center/South, i.e. B1C, B2N, etc. Note: B3C is usually referred to as “the Nunnery,” given it’s being an all-women floor). Photo above, left.
  • Gifford. Suites and pretty good singles, but underrated for its great lounges (each have balconies with spiral staircases), study rooms, convenient lecture hall, a small movie theater, and the Gamut Room (student run restaurant, performance venue, and meeting space; picture right).
  • Russian House. “Russkii dom” is one of the cute little houses that dot the Middlebury campus: full kitchen, living room, dining room, 2 bath, and rooms for 5. To get this one, you’ll have to be able to keep the language pledge (i.e. only speak Russian inside), but there are plenty other houses (interest houses and not) you can get.
  • And last but not least…

Kidding. That’s the organic garden shed.

Back to 101: Why intros are great

Well, the official course number is actually ECON 155, Introductory Microeconomics. Regardless of what the course number is, I’m the only senior in a class of what is surely over 75% first-years. I need the class to fill a grad school requirement, and plus, I’m interested in it, too.

Apart from generally feeling like a bit of a grandpa in such a sea of  youth (even though I’m sure at least someone in the class is older than me in age), the first two weeks of class have been a fun reminder for me of how exciting–academically and socially–being a first-year is.

As I start the second semester of my thesis and my eighth semester of college (ahh!), I’ve already identified this as the class that will keep me engaged and motivated until the very end. Here’s why:

New people! Halfway through our lectures when we break off into pairs or small groups to work on practice problem sets, most people are already sitting with friends nearby and thus divide themselves easily. Even though I, two weeks ago, didn’t know but one person in the class, I’ve now re-acclimated to that outgoing spunk and interest in meeting new people that I remember having, too, as a first-year, and I’ve made a few new friends and study-buddies for when midterm exams roll around (so soon!). It’s been a good checkpoint for me in making sure that I stay open to new people and friends, even if I am a senior heading out in just a few short months.

New subjects! Economics, even more than its other social science sister subjects, holds a lot of explanatory power about the world. Since it’s an introductory-level class, ECON 155 is the first venture into the discipline for many students. Each class period, Prof. Jessica Holmes (a truly great teacher–and I run into her at the pool sometimes, too!) leads us through a lot of “Aha!” moments and does a great job of helping the class connect basic theory with how the world works. Students’ intellectual excitement is tangible, as many already foresee their futures in business, and others, like me, plan to use econ in the international policy sphere.

Learning moments. Not to say that I’m categorically smarter than first-years, but, fact of the matter is, I do have all but one credit that I need in order to claim a B.A. from Middlebury, and for, say, the new Febs in the class, they’re just getting started. Collaborating on problem sets with underclassmen, I get to contribute the critical thinking and communication skills I’ve been working on these four years, and my younger study partners contribute their perspectives and curiosities that help everyone learn more.

So, although at times, I might feel antiquated, grandfather-y, and generally out of the hip-and-new-up-and-coming-pop-culture loop in my last-semester 101 (who’s this Justin Bieber character..?), being relatively old doesn’t mean I still can’t do some of the academic heavy lifting. Just ask this dude:

Man lifting weights

The integrated MIIS masters degree, and thoughts on applications

The Middlebury-Monterey integrated degree program now allows students to get a B.A./B.S. from Middlebury and a masters degree from MIIS in just five years. (There’s a list of the program foci here.) Pretty exciting, huh? I think so!

The brief history. As of July 1, the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) became, quote, “the official graduate school of Middlebury College.” This doesn’t make Middlebury a big “research university” where attention to undergraduate students is replaced by graduate research and classes being taught by TA’s. That’s not the case at all.

Instead, Middlebury students now have the resources of a well-established and distinguished graduate schools increasingly available to them. For instance, here on our home Vermont campus, a lecture series featuring speakers from MIIS has been planned. On October 14, Pushpa Iyer, an Indian conflict-resolution-activist-turned-professor, gave her lecture in the first installment of the series entitled “Hate, Harmony and Homo sapiens: Zones of Peace (ZoP) amidst War,” and then was available in the Career Services Office to speak with students about futures in conflict resolution work.

What it means for me. As a Russian major and political science minor, the M.A. in International Policy Studies seems perfect for how I want to connect my undergraduate degree to my career goals. Though going “right back” to school after college was never a specific goal of mine, I find myself preparing and submitting an application to do so (and I couldn’t be more excited about it!).

I’m also reminded of what I was doing four years ago: the same thing with college apps. But, I feel like I have a pretty good amount of perspective on it now: four years after graduating high school, a few failed and successful internship applications later, and after a few more months working in the Admissions office, I bring you (drumroll…) “Three insights on applications.”

  1. “Where” you go may be important, but “what” you do is more so. By getting in, or not, to MIIS, I realize it’s totally up to me, and only me, to make my learning worthwhile once I get there if I really want a career in international policy later on.
  2. Preparing applications has a learning curve. It’s not just about how efficient I think I’ve become about editing a resume or filling in boxes on forms. In asking myself, “Why am I applying here? What do I want out of this school or job?” I’ve had to really sort out and define goals – which is super helpful in life.
  3. It’s not all in my hands only. Once I click the final “submit” or “send,” that’s about all I can really do. Admissions counselors and job application reviewers do their jobs for a living – they’re professionals, and they’re the ones who, if my application is the best it can be, are best able to figure out whether or not that opportunity is the best for me.

How many MiddKids does it take to sing a song?

If you’re counting by a cappella groups, 8. With anywhere from about ten to fifteen members in each group, that’s a lot of people singing on campus (not to mention the College Choir, Community Choir, music department ensembles, student bands, individual performers…).

A cappella has a visible and really varied presence on campus: with two all-guys groups (Stuck In the Middle and the Dissipated Eight), two all-girls groups (Mischords and Paradiddles), two co-ed groups (Mamajamas and Bobolinks), a renaissance group (Mountain Ayres), and a Christian group (People Get Ready), it’s hard to miss the small huddles of people around campus who are able to spontaneously burst into song. For instance:

The best (and maybe surprising) part about it, is that each group has a truly unique flavor of sound and jive of its own in comparison with other Midd groups.

That said, we like to mix ourselves up and collaborate sometimes, too. Last Friday, my group, Stuck In the Middle (SIM), and the Mischords (shout out to Senior Fellow Cloe!), performed together at a Middlebury alumni event in Greenwich, Conn. at the Belle Haven Yacht Club. Both groups had great sets, which we concluded with the SIM-Mischord choir’s rendition of the Middlebury Alma Mater, “Walls of Ivy.”

It’s amazing to see (let alone do, as music director) the work that goes into planning and executing music tours of any sort. Apart from hours of rehearsing, logistics like finding gigs, negotiating pay, reserving vans, getting group members’ schedules to work together, finding food, finding lodging, and getting people dressed and to the venue on time all take a lot of preparation.

Having acted as a member, the social director, (advertising, outreach, performance, etc.) and now acting as music director, a cappella has been a time-consuming, but totally worthwhile and rewarding activity: getting to sing and be creative with a group of great guys for four years is priceless.

Though Midd’s a cap groups might have yet to make it to the “big-leagues” (see YouTube video below) — not to belittle my group’s own music video, Middlebury-related musicians like Dispatch and and most recently, Ezra Axelrod ’07, have made more than just ripples in the music industry.

This year’s Fellows are: IN!

If you have visited the Admissions Office since September, you may have seen some of the thirteen new faces that have appeared on the scene – the 2010-2011 Senior Admissions Fellows are in! Check out the just-added profiles for Alhaji Jalloh, Becky Harper, Ben WeitzBen Wessel, myself (Casey Mahoney), Cloe Shasha, Coco Liu, Graham Egan, JJ Janikis, Megan Nesbeth, Melissa Segil, and Vince Blais.

What are we doing here?

So far this semester, we have been settling into the routines of helping with information sessions, working on office projects, putting together the fellows website, preparing for the Discover Middlebury program, and even squeezing in time for a BBQ on a Sunday afternoon not too long ago (snapshot above!).

In the grand scheme of things, though, what are we doing here? Like we’ve written on our senior fellows page on the admissions website: Continue reading