Dec 062012

This post goes out to all the Dartmouth students that are now home for the holidays with this year’s new Academic Calendar extending from Thanksgiving to New Years as well as to the brand new ’17s that are, as of today, part of our Dartmouth family! Congratulations! I am excited to meet the DC- area ’17s at the Dartmouth Club of DC Holiday Party coming up next week.

As I finish up my time at home in DC this fall quarter, I have realized how crazy fast the time has gone by. After having this “real life” job, I am ready to go back and enjoy my time as a student for a little while longer. Although I have learned so much more in these past ten weeks than I could have imagined I would, I also miss my friends, my sorority and my classes that didn’t start until ten and were only a few steps outside my door. Get ready ’17s, for a fantastic college experience, whether you are in Hanover or taking off-terms in cities all over the world, take advantage of all of it! We’re all waiting to see what you’ll do.

Also, say ‘Hi!’ on campus!


Aug 222012

Due to Dartmouth’s aspiration for a liberal arts education, the college requires all students to complete a set of distributive requirements before graduation. These requirements do not hinder students from taking the courses they want or force students to take a specific class they may not be interested in, but instead, the “distribs” (as students call them) allow students to branch out and encourage them to reach out of their comfort zone. The list of requirements that Dartmouth currently has is as follows: one Art; one Literature; one Systems of Thought, Meaning and Value; one International or comparative study; two Social analysis; one Quantitative or deductive science; two Natural or Physical sciences; and one Technology or applies science. In addition, students must take one laboratory class. The other side of the requirements is in terms of World Culture and requires one course in each of the following: Western culture, Non-western culture, and Culture and Identity. While this may seem like so many classes, many classes can fulfill both a subject and a culture distribution and many requirements can be fulfilled in surprising ways. For example, a music class can fulfill your technology requirement and nobody has to know how to draw or paint to get credit for the art distribution. Some of my favorite classes so far at Dartmouth have been classes I have selected to use to fulfill a distribution or just based on interest. Examples include Astronomy, Religion, Statistics, Multiracial Youth Development, Perception, Argentine Literature and more! As a Psychology major, the majority of my classes will end up in that department, but thanks to the distributive requirements I have been fortunate to get a taste of many other areas of study and learn bits and pieces of a variety of subjects.

Aug 162012

I promise I’ll keep this one short and sweet.

With the summer quarter almost over and finals beyond the horizon, the pace of Dartmouth life has been swift with great impact. Looking back, it surprises me just how much the classes here have engaged and taught me how to look at life from another perspective. Take astronomy: we learned everything from basic physics to supernovae to the big questions like: How big is the universe and how did life begin?

These big questions always throw me in for a loop. I take a step back and remember how amazing life is and how small the human race’s timeline is relative to the astronomical age of the universe. It seems to me that even if we had an iota of an impact on the universe, compared to the vast expanses of the galaxy and beyond, we still remain infinitesimally small. These humbling thoughts are both exciting and frightening to me at the same time. They further propel my belief that given the grand scheme of the universe, we should aim to make a dent on the universe in our lives.

Beyond this philosophizing about the universe, it’s interesting to witness just how much what you study influences your ideas and thought patterns. When I took accounting last winter quarter, I thought in a very rigorous, systematic way, always analyzing the smallest details and making sure each step of it was correct. When I took computer science, I sought to implement the optimized teachings and algorithms into my own life. And as an econ major, I realize that knowledge has increasing returns to scale.


Aug 072012

So I’m sitting here writing this blog post for you all from the Jones Media Center, a place I was not really acquainted with until this term. Not only is it my new super secret study nook, it has unbelievable resources and technology to help you with every class. The reason I found myself in here was because the other day I was doing research for my Economics Independent Study and needed to pull up large excel sheets at the same time as Stata for data sets– Jones could do it all. Also, it is conveniently located next to the Dartmouth Map Room, another new treasure of mine. Did you know they sometimes give away FREE MAPS? I think that’s super cool. I recently acquired some for my room decorations. Today, I’m in Jones writing a paper in response to a lecture by Todd Stern ’73, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, as part of my Leading Voices Government class. Leading Voices has given me the

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern ’73

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern ’73 at the Hop. Photo Courtesy the Dartmouth Flickr Photostream.

exclusive opportunity to meet speakers from all part of foreign policy and ask them questions about their careers, and about pressing matters like Global Health, Nuclear Profliferation, Womens’ Rights and now Climate Change. It’s been a unique experience that reminds me a lot of the Dickey Center’s Global Issues Scholars program that I was a part of during my Freshman Year.

Just when I though I was really knee-deep into my Dartmouth experience, I realize I’m still finding new things like it’s Freshman Fall.

Jul 262012

I’m sure you’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: sophomore summer is flying. So many things happening all at once, it’s all so surreal.

First, I wake up to an invigorating all-marching band playing on the Green. I peek past my window curtains and see everything from a communal to a caterpillar-costumed puppeter. Ah yes, glorious Dartmouth life: people are celebrating HOPfest, a two-day festival of the Hopkin Center’s 50th anniversary. The grass on the lovely Dartmouth Green has never looked greener.

Because today I feel more alive than I’ve ever been. With all the ’14s on campus, the spirit of Dartmouth’s tight-knit community appears stronger to me than ever. On top of that, I love the Dartmouth classes I’m taking, in particular Econ 20: Econometrics. It is a class that so brilliantly deconstructs indeterminate systems into quantifiable ones (think economics and statistics marrying each other in a wonderful thought-provoking union). The great ambiance in the background doesn’t hurt, either.

What a great day — and it still hasn’t hit me that we’re already halfway through sophomore summer! Ready to go, I notice that this week is summer recruiting interviews week! Every summer, top firms come to Dartmouth to recruit students for the summer. And my spidey senses are tingling…

Today, I’m coordinating key developments in my startup, Memeja, which won $16,500 in seed funding from the Dartmouth Entrepreneurship competition. Key decisions today: my team and I are building rough prototypes to release to test the market and iterate upon. It’s interesting to witness first-hand just how much a Dartmouth education has helped me. Econ 26, the financial institutions and markets class (with awesome Professor Kohn), has prepared me to understand venture deals and capital markets more thoroughly. Social psychology taught me how to be a decisive team player. And astronomy, of course, reminds me how insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things (a very humbling insight).

Ah, yes, sophomore summer, how I love thee. I’m trying my best to savor the experience moment-by-moment and remind myself just how lucky we all are to be on campus!

Apr 272012

Lisa Baldez is an Associate Professor of Government and LALACS

Last Thursday the temperature hit 70 degrees so I decided to hold class outside. The class is Gender Politics in Latin America, a class jointly offered by the departments of Government, Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. We focus on the historical dynamics that have given rise to powerful women’s movements, surprising changes in public policy, a high percentage of women in legislative office, and several female presidents in the region. Last Thursday the 18 of us sat on the lawn outside Baker-Berry Library to discuss Rita Arditti’s Searching for Life, a book about the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an Argentine human rights organization. The Grandmothers mobilized to find their relatives who had “disappeared” at the hands of the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976-1982. The Grandmothers work specifically to find children who were born to pregnant women in concentration camps and illegally adopted by families that supported the military regime. This is an intense and emotionally difficult topic to talk about, but also a hopeful one because the Grandmothers have located 87 of the estimated 500 children identified as missing. Being outside allowed everyone to relax and speak openly and honestly about their responses to the text. It was a sublime class.

Apr 172012

Kathy Cottingham is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth.

Dear Class of 2016:

Welcome to Dartmouth!  I hope you give us a close look!

I do research and teach ecology and biostatistics in the Department of Biological Sciences, which is housed within the wonderful new Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center.  One of the many reasons I like Dartmouth is that I am able to meld my research and teaching in new, exciting, and fun ways.  This is especially true during summer quarter, which is the busy “field” season for most ecologists – we work very hard to collect lots of data and samples during the all-too-short New Hampshire summers.

Last August, I brought the 12 students enrolled in Methods in Ecology to Lake Sunapee, one of my primary study sites.  The students learned about aquatic ecology firsthand while helping our research team to sample the sediments (the muck at the bottom of the lake) at six sites around one cove.  We had great weather and it was a win-win outing – that level of sampling would have taken our research team weeks, but instead took just two afternoons, and I think the students had a lot of fun helping out!

In addition to classroom involvement in research projects, Dartmouth offers undergraduate students numerous opportunities to conduct independent research. For example, the Honors thesis of alumna Cayelan Carey ’06 helped launch our project on nuisance cyanobacteria in Lake Sunapee and other low-nutrient lakes across northern New England.

If you’re looking for an institution where you can take classes with faculty doing cutting-edge research – and then work side-by-side on research projects with those same faculty members, Dartmouth might be the right place for you.

Hope to see you in the fall!

Mar 292012

Hey guys! First of all CONGRATULATIONS on getting into Dartmouth. Here’s a link to my post to the early decision sixteens. Much of this applies to all of you as well.

Over the next few weeks you guys will be making one of the most important decisions of your life. Many of you might have excellent offers from other colleges as well and are closely looking at every aspect of every college to make sure you make the right decision. I was in the same position exactly a year ago. Today, while writing this post, I am filled with immense happiness and pride for choosing Dartmouth which ended up being the perfect choice for me. Although it’s probably true that Dartmouth may not be for everybody, but trust me, Dartmouth’s versatility and welcoming nature ensures that most people will have the best time of their life at this institution!

So the major question is why should you choose Dartmouth? You’ll probably find thousands of answers to that question. I’ll just add some of my own experiences to that list.

One major thing you’ll always hear about Dartmouth is the focus on undergraduate studies. Trust me that is NO joke! All classes are taught by professors. They also have additional office hours when you can ask them for help or just have a nice chat with them. To see world class professors working extremely hard for you is truly inspirational and you can find that at Dartmouth! This is one of the biggest and most important reasons i’m completely in love with Dartmouth!

Next is the versatility. This is something I’ve talked about in my previous posts. Dartmouth has something for everybody. You meet loads of different kinds of people and all of them have made their place in this wonderful institute. For example, coming from Pakistan my favorite sport has always been Cricket. Coming to the US, I assumed that I probably will not get to play cricket during my time here. However I was in for an amazing surprise when I found out that Dartmouth actually had a cricket club. I get to play cricket every single week here. Many people have had similar experiences with their passions. Sometimes when there actually isn’t an official organization for you, then you can easily create one. Best thing is that you will almost always get both funding from Dartmouth as well as support from peers, administration as well as professors. It’s magnificent!

I’m sure that many of you will already have heard of the amazing study abroad opportunities, the flexible schedule, amazing internships, world class resources, and the millions of other things Dartmouth has to offer. All of these together make Dartmouth a really magical institute. However something that struck me the most was the amount of love students have for this college. People are actually passionate about making it a better place and almost everyone wholeheartedly believes in the greatness of this institution. I’ve also talked about a magical feeling associated with being here in some of my previous posts. The best thing about this feeling is that it keeps increasing over time. As I said, each week brings something new, presents a new challenge, and gives us the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and emotionally.

Overall, I’d just like to say that you guys are a really lucky bunch. Think about your college choices carefully, but speaking from experience I HIGHLY recommend Dartmouth! I am super excited to see you all on campus and I can’t wait to see all of you soon! Make the most of your last few pre-college months!

Feb 272012

Hairspray Stage Performance

Yesterday, I went to see the finale of Hairspray, the Theatre Department’s winter production.  I hadn’t heard of the play before, but I can now say I love it.  The cast was simply stunning, and they had such a bubbly energy even after two hours of jumping, hopping, dancing, and singing, and so much practice leading up to their final performance.  Personally, I find it amazing that people can be so talented at singing, dancing and acting all at the same time, especially since I find each one in itself such a challenge.  It was great to see that students of all years, even freshman, were featured so prominently in the show.  If I had any talent at all, I would definitely audition because it seems like the cast had such a great time working together.  My friends and I were all in a euphoric state after experiencing such a heartwarming story.

After the show, I went back to my dorm to work on my math paper.  I’m currently taking Math 17, a topics course called Math Beyond Calculus, which focuses on number theory and its applications in cryptography this year.  The professor does an amazing job tying together many areas of math into a coherent course in an interesting field while giving us a taste of what math is like after the calculus sequence.  In the final week, all the students in the class have to study something not directly covered in class.  Not only is it a chance to explore anything that interests us outside the curriculum, but it also exposes us to mathematical texts and papers, encouraging us to piece together an understanding the way mathematicians and scientists do when they learn about new topics.  We are soon going to start giving presentations to the class, which trains us in conveying difficult mathematical concepts clearly and succinctly, a skill that will definitely come in handy in the future.  I had never taken a math class quite like this before, and I love it.  I’m so glad that Dartmouth has classes like this, and I plan to seek them out in future terms as well.  I’ve been rubbing Warney Bently’s nose every time I pass through the Hop – hopefully that will give me good luck for my presentation.

Feb 202012

Wow, I have been truly terrible at keeping up with blogging regularly! It’s crazy how quickly time flies. I wrote a blog post within the first week of school, then I blinked before writing my second and it’s week eight!

Dartmouth terms are so short. 10 weeks and then you’re done. Another term. I was looking through my many, many emails and I saw an application for Dimensions and thought ‘surely, it can’t be already!’. It’s crazy that nearly a year has passed since I found out I got into Dartmouth. I’m wishing you all the best of luck on your applications!

This term, I have done quite a bit – I’ve been in a play, joined another organisation and been part of Language in Motion (a Tucker Foundation program). It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of activities there are here and how little time there is to do all of them. I recently discovered it’s very easy to start to feel down about this. It’s so easy to begin to think you aren’t doing enough, or you aren’t achieving as much as everyone else. I was reminded this weekend that this isn’t true at all! I guess this is my first bit of fresher’s advice for when you all get here. As silly and simple as it sounds: don’t get overwhelmed. It’s so easy to forget how important it is to take a step back every now and then, to remind yourself it’s okay to not be busy every second of every day.

Dartmouth is an experience, and I have to live it. Not just witness it.