Author Archives: Teresa Wolverton

Finding My Center

The student center is the core of most college campuses, a building overemphasized on the tour as the heart of the campus, with students flowing in and out constantly, pumping out activities and information to the entire community.  Yesterday, I started wondering what role Middlebury’s own student center serves… How many times a day am I in McCullough?  Who else is usually around?  What happens there?

McCullough lies at the center of campus, directly between many of my classes and my dormitory.  Last Wednesday I stopped by the mail center to look for letters or care packages (and got a paycheck too!).  I then immediately spent a part of that paycheck buying tickets to our spring concert, Wale (one of my suitemates is the chair of the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) Concerts Committee and was in charge of booking him) and tickets to Stopkiss, a play that my other suitemates are directing and starring in as part of their senior work, at the Middlebury Ticket Office.

On the way out, I glanced up at the Honor Code signatures on the wall.  Upon matriculation, every Middlebury student signs an agreement pledging to submit only original work with proper citations and to maintain integrity in all aspects of academic life.  I flashed back to the day we signed the pledge, when hundreds of freshmen squeezed into McCullough to meet with the deans and to assume responsibility of our college lives.  The pledge brings a unique atmosphere to Middlebury: tests are unproctored, and closed-note take-home exams are common.  As a result, students work for personal achievement rather than in direct competition with their peers.

Later on in the night, I returned for Trivia Night at Crossroads Café.  The Café is a student run business that serves healthy food options including Asian noodles, frozen yogurt, fresh fruit, coffees, and smoothies.  The Café’s stage hosts student musical performances, poetry readings, trivia nights, lectures, and community discussions on a regular basis.  I grabbed a table downstairs while my friends ran upstairs to the Grille to order food.  They returned a few minutes later with a Dr. Feelgood (a grilled cheese with chicken tenders inside) and a Heart Attack (fries smothered in cheese, bacon, chicken tenders, bbq sauce etc.) for the group to split.  The room quickly filled with about a hundred students hunched over in groups trying to identify a man (Nicolae Ceauşescu) from his photo.  A few hours later, as Trivia Night came to a close, I swung by MiddExpress (the on-campus convenience store in McCullough) to restock on tape and notebook paper before heading home with my suitemates.

As I reflect on the number of things I did in McCullough over the course of a single day, I’ve realized that I’ve been underestimating the Student Center all these years.  McCullough may not be the only center of student life on campus, but it is definitely an essential part of daily life for MiddKids.


Yesterday at 4:00 I rushed out of class to my room and quickly slipped on four layers of spandex, sweatpants, and waterproof gear, gathered up my hat and gloves and headed over to Adirondack Circle.  When I arrived at the small loop in the center of campus, a group of 20 was already waiting for me.  We piled into a few cars and drove off to a stretch of Otter Creek outside of Vergennes.  Once we got to the creek, we waded in past our knees, and *gently* (as I yelled repeatedly) placed our boat into the ice cold water.  I spent the next two hours crammed into a three foot by one foot nook, the coxswain’s seat.

I joined the Middlebury College Rowing Club (or Crew Team as it’s more commonly known) as a wide-eyed freshman on campus.  My friend, Christina, had already joined the team and the novice women were scouring campus for a coxswain.  “You’re loud!” she said to me, “and small-ish.  Do you have any interest in joining crew with me?”

From the moment I agreed, my life at Middlebury changed dramatically.  As an athlete, I spend 3-4 hours a day at practice on weekdays and 12-14 hours on weekends travelling and racing.  The demanding schedule has forced me to prioritize.  Be it a lecture series I want to attend, Trivia Night at the Grille, homework glaring up at me expectantly from my desk, a road trip with friends to the Ben and Jerry’s factory, or a meeting as social chair of the International Students Organization, I am constantly evaluating what I do (and don’t!) have time to squeeze in around crew.   The sport has also taught me to be relentlessly organized and helps me maintain focus and perspective in all aspects of college life.

Crew, too, has brought out a dedication and passion in me that I never realized I had.  Spending every other week of my college career waking up at 4:30 am for morning practice has never been easy, but it is surprisingly fulfilling and unbelievably rewarding; with every practice, our boats get faster and with every season, our hard work shows in the results.  I have also had the good fortune of watching shooting stars fly over Lake Dunmore while gliding across the water in the pitch black, and watching countless sunrises with the backdrop of the lake and mountains, each seemingly more beautiful than the last.

In two days we will travel as a team to Lake Lanier, Georgia for our Spring Training.  In Georgia, we live in a small neighborhood of houseboats and practice 3 times a day.  Our first race of the season is on Atlanta’s Olympic racecourse at the Clemson Sprints, a nice opportunity to compete with teams we rarely get to see.  Before we know it, we’ll be racing our way through the rest of our spring season.

I can’t wait to be spending time with my team, to be doing what I’m passionate about, and to be racing again.  At the starting line of each race, I repeat a quote from Coach Noel Wanner to my boat, “Smile at the start because racing is the best thing there is.”  With a collective deep breath from my eight rowers, we’re off.

Libin’ It Up

Hello everyone!  I’m excited to be back blogging after a J-Term hiatus.

Now that our final semester is in full swing with reading assignments, papers, and group projects I find myself back in the habit of spending ridiculously long hours in the library.  This may sound a little nerdy, but I learned quickly after arriving at Middlebury, that the library is not at all a bad place to be!

Middlebury’s Davis Family Library is so much more than your run of the mill, dreary building filled with stack s upon stacks of books.  Yes, it does look a bit like a spaceship from the outside, but everyone knows it’s what’s on the inside that counts!  Here are a few of the library’s best features:

1)      Moving bookshelves – ok maybe you’ve all seen them before, but when I walked in a bewildered freshman from Mississippi, I was in awe at the electronic moving stacks.  Now I’m realizing just how practical they are.  The library’s extensive book collection has the perfect balance of obscure specialized books and all the classics and thanks to the moving bookshelves, we even have room for more!

2)      Abundant group study rooms – so you don’t have to feel bad chatting in the library…

3)      Mac lab – filled with dozens of high tech Mac computers and printers, this is the perfect place to get digital media projects done, or procrastinate with PhotoBooth.

4)      Wilson Café – located at the front of the library and open daily, the Wilson Café is the perfect study break.  Grab a delicious Chai Tea Latte to go and bring it back to your carrel or settle in the comfy booths to enjoy a late night snack.

5)      Comfy Chairs – the library is home to dozens of comfy blue recliners perfect for relaxing while you work your way through reading.  The chairs on the second floor at the east side of the library are my personal favorite, as they provide a view out over the entire town of Middlebury and to the mountains beyond – particularly impressive when fall foliage is at its peak!  While the comfy chairs are a great place to spend a lazy Sunday, they can be a bit dangerous… students do tend to fall asleep there after a long stretch of studying.

6)       Endless Carrels – for those seeking a more formal study space, the main library is also filled with carrels for thesis writers and those who don’t have time to snooze.  These carrels come with no distractions and are ideal for working to make a deadline.  Carrels are located in the basement (the quietest level, for sure), main floor, second floor, and the more secluded first and second floor mezzanines.

7)      WARMTH – I didn’t realize until I looked out of the window from my carrel this weekend and saw snow flurries blustering past, but the library is one of the warmest places on campus.  The weather outside may be frightful, but the library is so delightful!

Still libin’ it up through my last semester   –   Teresa

But you’re American…

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’m sitting at my Senior Fellow desk, as always, nervously watching the hours pass as the Cultural Show put on by Middlebury’s International Students Organization (ISO) approaches.  The event is often touted as the best show of the year, and as the emcee for this year’s show, I’m beginning to feel the pressure.

I am currently in charge of ISO’s social events as a member of the Executive Board.  And being the outgoing person I am, was volunteered to host the organization’s biggest shindig of the year.  After several late nights spent writing scripts and sitting through dress and tech rehearsals, the day has finally arrived.  Tonight, I get to help showcase one of Middlebury’s best attributes – internationalism!

I know, I know, I’m not an international student.  But it’s all about countries from all over the world coming together to share their culture.  To me, it’s important for Middlebury and American culture to be incorporated, too.  I’ve grown up in America, but surrounded by people from around the world.  When I was little, my best friend was my Korean downstairs neighbor.  In high school, I was surrounded by students from Germany, Korea, China, and Taiwan at my rural Alabama boarding school.  And at Middlebury, it would be impossible to list the countries my friends come from.  When I went abroad, my best friends in Paris were Middlebury students from Peru, Malaysia, Canada, and the Philippines.  Then I moved on to China in the Spring and spent my summer living and working with Romanians in Bucharest.  Now, at Middlebury, I’ve found my international niche.

That year encouraged me to become more involved in the international scene at Middlebury, so I applied for a spot on ISO’s exec board.  And here I am!  The ISO show is only hours away, and I have the honor of being one of the main faces of the organization.  The evening’s two shows will be followed by an after party in the on-campus dance club “The Bunker” (an intimidating concrete basement venue known for ragers and techno beats).  By 2 am, I may be all international-ed out for the day.  But the work with ISO continues.

Thanksgiving break is fast approaching, and I’ve been collaborating with the student-run Crossroads Café to plan a home-style Thanksgiving Dinner for the students who have decided to stay on campus.  Dinner will be followed by pie, tea, coffee, and a screening of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, as well as a poker tournament.  I’ll also be grocery shopping and hosting more casual group dinners for the ISO throughout the break to make sure people survive off of more than Ramen noodles and Easy Mac (although they’re both delicious) while the dining halls are closed.  The remainder of break will probably be devoted to catching up on movies, work, and hanging out with friends who have decided to stay on campus.  I’m looking forward to a few days of calm and solitude and to celebrating the holidays with my very international Middlebury family!

Registration Final Round

This morning I, along with the rest of the class of 2012, woke up at 6:50 am for the last time. We turned on our lamps, pulled out the list of CRN numbers we scrawled on papers the night before, and logged on to bannerweb. Then, we counted the seconds down to 7:00. At 6:59:59, students clicked across campus and began copying in codes as quickly as possible, vying for spots in our first-choice classes.

Now, this may all seem a bit dramatic. As seniors, we get first pick at registration and are very likely to get exactly the classes we want. But we go through the routine nonetheless, cherishing our final round of registration. The courses we signed up for today will be our last at Middlebury College.

With Middlebury’s impressively large course catalog, it has been a chore to find the right balance between finishing out all our requirements and making sure we squeeze in the random classes we always wanted to take but didn’t have time to… Actually, I can’t lie, I tried to register for an overload (5 courses) because I had so much trouble narrowing down my interests. Unfortunately, banner only let me sign up for 4, which is probably prudent in the end. Realistically there is no way I could balance 5 classes, job applications, Crew’s spring season, other extra-curricular commitments and still find time to see my friends (my top priority for second semester of senior year!).

I ended up registered for Political Islam with the absolutely incredibly Quinn Mecham, The Japanese Economy (a little out of my comfort zone…), Advanced Arabic, and Arabic Linguistics. We’ll see if I make it into my 5th choice, Chinese Readings in Politics and Business. It’s saddening to have my schedule set for the rest of my college career, but also invigorating to be looking forward to a whole new set of classes and my final semester at Midd!

I’d encourage any perspective students to look through the online course catalog online and try to create your ideal semester at Middlebury. Chances are, you’d inevitably encounter some scheduling conflicts (as I did this semester) and have to alter your plans accordingly, but I guarantee you could easily find something else you’d love to take!

200 Days

I take great pride in being the first Senior Fellow to write about our impending graduation.  Tomorrow night is the seniors’ 200 Days party.  It’s a senior-only event beginning the official countdown to graduation and sets the stage for our 100 and 30 Days parties, a prelude to the year’s culmination: Senior Week and Graduation in May.  With flowing food and drink (for the over 21 crowd, of course) and Ben Schiffer ’10.5 dj-ing for the shindig, McCullough Social Space won’t know what hit it.  This “2012 End of the World Theme” is just what we’ve been waiting for to release the stress of senior year.

For this one night, we can be sure no one will ask “So what are your plans for graduation?” “Have you found a job yet?” “Did you also get that 3rd round interview with JP Morgan?”  No, tonight is all about us and enjoying the company of our incredible classmates.  Gone are the days of wading through stacks of thesis books in our gorgeous mezzanine library carrels.  Senioritis has set in.

200 Days is giving me a lot of perspective as I head into the final haul.  Getting A’s on midterms and writing dissertations on Romania’s economy hardly seem important anymore in the grand scheme of things.  The focus is shifting away from school, but not, as you might expect to the job search.  All that seems to matter anymore is savoring the final 200 days we have with the incredible class of 2012 that we’ve lived and learned with for the past four years.  This message was reaffirmed at our Senior Class Dinner last week when an alum gave us parting words of wisdom: enjoy senior year.  No need to say that twice.  The other seniors and I heard that loud and clear.  This weekend welcomes a new total abandon.  The real world is fast approaching (and no, I’m not alluding to Frank Sweeny).  So here’s to finishing those first 15 pages of thesis, to the last football game of the season, to the dance parties waiting to happen, to 200 Days, and to the amazing experiences we’ll be having in the years to come.  To the Middlebury class of 2012!

TGI…Daylight Savings

In the infamous words of Rebecca Black “It’s Friday.”  And, yes, we so excited.  I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “Thank Goodness It’s Friday!”

… until I looked down at my planner.

My day looked a little something like this: class, MIDTERM, class, work – booked solid from 9 to 4.  An incessant stream of classes, tests, and homework keep me busy during the week.  But what I’ve come to realize during my time at Middlebury is that my schedule does not let up even if my workload does.   I survived my International Finance midterm this morning, but now I’m faced with something much more daunting: the weekend.

Tonight I’ll be running a few errands in town, then I’m off to a potluck dinner hosted by a group of friends in their fabulously homey Voter suite (complete with spiral staircase).  The potluck is followed by an event my friend planned, which gathers students from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to share their stories and experiences.  Around 9:30, I’ll head over to a reunion of sorts with friends who studied abroad with me in China last spring and spend the night reminiscing about 珍珠奶茶 and Beijing’s hutongs.

Saturday doesn’t get any easier.  My day starts at 9 am, and between moving boats with the crew team, tailgating the final home football game of the season, supporting friends in the annual Global Rhythms talent show sponsored by Wonnacott Commons, and late night movies, I don’t expect to have much free time.  Sunday brings its own woes with 15 pages of my “mini-thesis” on Roma political mobilization due next week, an Arabic essay, and the regular load of homework for my other classes.

So instead of “Thank Goodness It’s Friday”, this week I’m thanking goodness for November 6th and the extra hour of sleep, studying, or partying with friends.  However I choose to spend my hour, I know it will make a huge difference!  If only we got an extra hour every week…

Size Matters

We’ve all heard it before: size matters – especially when it comes to your college search.  Middlebury markets itself as a small liberal arts and sciences college, but that can leave you wondering “just how small is small?”.  Great question!

I can say with the utmost confidence that 2400 is not the perfect size college for everyone.  However, if you’re thinking about coming to Middlebury, chances are you already know how many students we have and you’re already taking that into consideration.  Even as a Senior, though, I am just now beginning to understand the real size of Middlebury.

First, let’s talk class size.  You know they’re small.  In my experience, they’re usually around 15 people.  This semester, my classes range in size from 6 to 30 students.  This means it’s basically impossible to hide from a professor at Middlebury if you haven’t done  your readings, but it also means that all your professors will know more about you than just your name.  They can recognize your handwriting when you forget to write you name at the top of your homework, know what sports you play, and more often than not will invite the whole class over for dinner at their house sometime during the semester.  The opportunities for discussion are endless, and the small environment makes it a lot easier to talk to your other classmates about homework, philosophies and theories, or what they’ll be up to over the weekend.

Next up, and in my opinion a little harder to gauge, is the size of the student body as a whole.  I worried when I chose to come to Middlebury, that in such a small school I would get tired of seeing the same faces over and over again.  Before going abroad, a lot of my friends complained that Middlebury was too small, too intimate, and that they were ready for a change of scene.  Having just returned from Paris and Beijing, two of the biggest cities in the world, I can tell you that it has been great returning to the quaint setting where I know I’m more than a dot in a blurred and bustling crowd.

But there’s more to it than being happy in a small school.  While I was abroad, I met MiddKids that I never even knew went to Middlebury, let alone took the same language as me and were in my year.  I was also lucky to be overseas with several of my best friends from Middlebury and got to know them even better in a new context.  Coming back from abroad, I’ve continued to meet my new friends’ friends, the kids sitting next to me in my first class in the Religion department, and suitemates of friends I’d known for years.

Frankly, I am shocked at the number of people I didn’t know at Middlebury – about half of my fellow Senior Admissions Fellows included!  Of course, part of it is that many of my old friends graduated and new students arrived while I was abroad, but I’m realizing more and more that while I recognize most of the faces I see on the sidewalks around campus, there are tons of incredible people that I still haven’t had the chance to meet (oh senior moments!).  To me, this is the perfect mix: I feel comfortable with the friends I’ve known for four, or even just one, year(s), but I’m also able to meet new people on a regular basis.  Some kids come from high schools with more students than Middlebury, others from intimate classes of 40, but either way, MiddKids seem content with the balance of familiar and unfamiliar faces here.  Size matters, so definitely think about it, but remember that 2400 incredible people is a lot to squeeze into just four years!

Now it’s time to make the most of my final semesters and spend quality time with friends new and old.