Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Lessons on Storytelling

by Katie Sponseller

Director of Photography, Ian McAvoy, takes a moment to visualize for the film, At Papa’s.

This semester, I embarked on a huge journey.  Little did I know that the journey would be the most important semester of my graduate studies and within my education as a whole.  The journey, which is far from over, was to figure out story.  Not only what kind of stories I would like to tell while at Columbia but moving forward as well.  It involved figuring out where my stories come from, where others’ stories come from, and how we make decisions in order to share those stories.

Lessons on Storytelling

This semester, I embarked on a huge journey.  Little did I know that the journey would be the most important semester of my graduate studies and within my education as …

Cinema Art + Science - Creative Producing MFA Katie Sponseller, katie.sponseller@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

That’s a wrap!

by Chelsea Rowan

My credit card for my final film

Yesterday (Dec 11)  was the final day of classes for the Cinema Arts & Science, MFA first years. The day was marked with the screening of the Directors’ final films. What better way to mark the end of the semester than showcasing our work for the department faculty and our classmates to see? It was a long day, with about 6 hours worth of screenings and feedback, but extremely reassuring! Not to mention fun!

In this post, I’m going to recap some of the best times of the semester as a way to celebrate how far my class and I have come.

That’s a wrap!

Yesterday (Dec 11)  was the final day of classes for the Cinema Arts & Science, MFA first years. The day was marked with the screening of the Directors’ final films. …

Cinema Art + Science - Cinema Directing MFA Chelsea Rowan, chelsea.rowan@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Thanksgiving in St. Louis

by Parker Stockman

St. Louis Arch

Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday. Sure, I like getting a few days off and I like getting to see family, but it’s a day that we are supposed to give thanks for what we have (shouldn’t we do this every day?) and be gluttons. Really, that’s all it is. Usually there’s a good football game. Sometimes there is a good new movie at the theater. This year, I went to visit my family in St. Louis.

That’s right, St. Louis. Thanksgiving, 2014. In St. Louis.

Have you heard of Ferguson?

Thanksgiving in St. Louis

Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday. Sure, I like getting a few days off and I like getting to see family, but it’s a day that we are supposed to …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Parker Stockman, parker.stockman@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

‘Tis the Season to Apply

by Danielle Dwyer

Talking B1G Ten with Campus Insiders’ resident football analyst Doug Chapman. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

‘Tis the season to apply…

…because you never know unless you try.

What do you have to lose?

With Columbia College Chicago you have so many options to choose.

There’s no wrong decision when it’s where you want to be.

So take the step to “live what you love,” and be free.

Free from the wonder, the past life, the past job, the past choice that left you wanting more.

Free from the lack of experience or education that is holding you back from landing that first job and breaking into the industry.

Free from the debate of making a career change or the questions of whether this is the right choice and the right place.

Doing a college hoops segment with Campus Insiders’ resident basketball analyst Jordan Cornette. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

In my last blog I wrote about my one regret being I didn’t start this program sooner—and it’s true. This is the career I’ve always wanted to pursue and instead of letting those employer rejections get to me, I took their advice: I got more education at a place that provided me with the hands-on experience I was missing.

Since my last blog, I finished reading one of our professor’s, books—“Tell Them I Didn’t Cry: A Young Journalist’s Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq” by Jackie Spinner.

In her book she talked about a speech she gave to aspiring journalists at her alma mater. She said, “There is only one way to get where you want to go, and it really is quite simple. Start walking.”

Spinner said it, and I’m backing it up and repeating it to all of you who are on the fence, in the process of applying, or still debating about grad school.

Why not? What’s holding you back?

In so many of my blogs I shared the inner thoughts I had about leaving a career I had begun, my hometown, family and everything I had known behind to pursue my dream career.

It’s a tough decision, but deep down if you know it’s the right decision, then what are you waiting for?

I often get questions from prospective students about the application process—“What should I include for my writing samples?” “What should I say in my personal essay?” “Why did you choose Columbia?” “What have you gotten to experience?”

Calling Campus Insiders’ resident basketball analyst Jordan Cornette out on one of his Cinderella teams during our college hoops segment. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

Well, my response for the latter of the two has been thoroughly discussed in previous blogs, but as for the writing samples and the personal essay, I say this:

You’re writing samples can be anything that showcases your journalistic writing style—an article, a blog or a research paper. There is no right or wrong work to turn in as long as it’s yours and something that will give the faculty an idea of how you write.

Your personal essay, well, they want it to be just that—personal. They want your honesty in why you’re choosing this program, what is it about journalism that makes you want to pursue it as a career, where do you think you want to take your career and more. They want it to come from the heart and be true to your story. Give them a background for how you came to the decision to apply and where you want to go and how Columbia will help you get there.

Again, there is no right or wrong answer, but the committee wants your answer, not something cookie-cutter that sounds right. For me, I came from a job I did not see myself being in long-term and wanted to make a career change back to the career I always wanted. Maybe your undergrad experience wasn’t hands-on enough, you feel you have more room to grow or you want a city setting experience.

Whatever the reason, tell them that.

It’s been two years (nearly to the day) that I applied to Columbia, and now here I am, finished with the program.

I feel like it was just yesterday I was applying and asking the same questions you all are. I remember getting my materials together, reaching out to my references and picking the brain of the ambassador. And now here I am, at the end of my journey and looking towards the next chapter.

It’s a scary and nerve-racking experience at times, but like I said before, if it’s what you want to do, you have nothing to lose.

So what are you waiting for?

‘Tis the season to apply, so get on it.

Doing a college football segment on the B1G Ten with Campus Insiders’ resident football analyst Doug Chapman. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

‘Tis the Season to Apply

‘Tis the season to apply… …because you never know unless you try. What do you have to lose? With Columbia College Chicago you have so many options to choose. There’s …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Candidacy

by Jasmine Clark

My Candidacy Room (1)

Candidacy presentations happened this semester on a Wednesday and we found out the results Thursday during an individual meeting with the co-coordinators of the program, Paul D’Amato and Judy Natal. Traditionally, we present to all of the full time faculty. For my group it was different. There are 8 of us so we were split into 2 groups with 5 faculty members each: Group A – Judy Natal; Ross Sawyers; Jay Wolke; Greg Foster Rice and Kelli Connell; Group B – Paul D’Amato, Myra Greene, Bob Thall, Peter Fitzpatrick, and Dawoud Bey.

Candidacy

Candidacy presentations happened this semester on a Wednesday and we found out the results Thursday during an individual meeting with the co-coordinators of the program, Paul D’Amato and Judy Natal. Traditionally, …

Photography MFA Jasmine Clark, jasmine.clark@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Deadlines and D&D

by Jeni Crone

Motivational poster made my my sister Grace when she was in the 7th grade.

I’ve just gotten home from Cohort 22’s last night of Classroom Management with Beth Drake. Afterwards a few of us went out for a drink and some appetizers. I should’ve/could’ve rushed home to do more work, but it’s the end of the semester and I need time to decompress.  Last Tuesday I taught five Art I classes at Senn and have since barreled through Thanksgiving, and while the semester is almost over, I still have plenty of work to turn in. You can’t quite understand the workload or the time commitment of the MAT program until you’re in it. In job interviews in the past I’ve been asked that question about how I am at meeting deadlines. Before grad school I would tether myself to deadlines—pulling myself towards them on schedule because I am responsible, I work hard and I respect deadlines. I didn’t want anyone in my academic/professional life to see me in any other light. But, what I’ve learned since adopting teacher perspective is that sometimes I have to choose myself over meeting the deadline. Counseling services at colleges tend to be overbooked at the end of the fall semester because a lot of us are a little hard on ourselves. I’ve chosen to be healthy.

Deadlines and D&D

I’ve just gotten home from Cohort 22’s last night of Classroom Management with Beth Drake. Afterwards a few of us went out for a drink and some appetizers. I should’ve/could’ve …

Education - Visual Arts MAT Jeni Crone, jennifer.crone@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Finals Week Survival Guide

by Steph Jurusz

Friendsgiving in Chicago w Nonfiction and Poetry friends!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while that break was wonderful, we all knew what was waiting just around the corner. It’s hard to believe that it’s already here, but yes, finals week, the most anticipated and most dreaded week for many students, has arrived. What’s a grad student to do in order to survive and stay on track?

SLEEP

I know it might seem impossible, but you need sleep even in the midst of final projects, papers, and (if you’re teaching) grading. It’s totally reasonable to expect you won’t be sleeping as much, but don’t cut this essential out of your schedule. My tip: take naps where and when you can so you can recharge and give your mind a rest. Set an alarm for 30 minutes and don’t let yourself hit snooze!

 

EAT

This is something that I have been guilty of in the past, being too busy or too focused to get something to eat. Just like sleep, this is obviously crucial to remain living once finals week ends. It’s okay to chow down on some junk food (many of us could use some comfort food right about now, right?), but don’t forget to sneak in some more healthy stuff too (think fruit, nuts, maybe a salad) to keep running at peak performance.

Coffee and Donut and writing

CAFFEINE

Caffeine, a beautiful and cruel compound that can energize and awaken us or can send us teetering off the cliff of over-caffeination into the land of the non-productive. Too much coffee can also hurt your stomach, so be careful about how much you sip, or you might end up further distracting yourself from your work. My tip: Green tea contains some caffeine (not as much as coffee), but is a lot gentler on your stomach. Try switching off between tea and coffee so you don’t over do it.

Tea, Cookies, Translation

RELAX. TAKE A BREAK.

This seems counter-intuitive or even impossible right? But it’s necessary for a bit of mental stability during this stressful time. Optometrists suggest that for every twenty minutes of computer work you should look for twenty seconds at an object at least twenty feet away. They call this the “20-20-20 rule” to prevent eyestrain. In addition to resting your eyes, it’s important if you’re sitting down for a long period of time to get moving! I try getting up every hour or so to walk around my apartment, stretch, pet my cats, etc. Just be careful not to get distracted and not go back to your work!

TO DO or DIE list

PLAN YOUR TIME

I am one of those people who makes “to do” lists, and I find that as I have more and more stuff to get done, this is the easiest way for me to stay on top of stuff. I break it into “TO DO:TODAY” and other categories such as “tomorrow” or “by the weekend.”

HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

While having a break is a lot to look forward to, I find that taking moments to think about and plan all of the exciting things I plan on doing during break helps me push through a little bit harder to get everything done. In less than two weeks I will be on a plane to the warm and wonderful world of Florida!

 

What are your best tips and tricks for getting through these stressful last weeks of the semester?

Finals Week Survival Guide

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while that break was wonderful, we all knew what was waiting just around the corner. It’s hard to believe that it’s already here, but …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Steph Jurusz, stephanie.jurusz@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

I survived this semester

by Kaity Sinke

Thankful, courtesy of "http://www.konnectafrica.net/"

Thankful, courtesy of “http://www.konnectafrica.net/”

I am feeling so incredibly THANKFUL these days. So many big projects have been underway this semester, and I have to say at times I couldn’t quite tell if I was swimming or sinking along the way. Looking back, I now realize how wonderfully everything truly came together. However, I have to admit that this was the most difficult semester I have experienced yet. With this in mind, I am feeling determined to see the bright side of how this semester really panned out, reflecting back on what I am grateful for.

I survived this semester

I am feeling so incredibly THANKFUL these days. So many big projects have been underway this semester, and I have to say at times I couldn’t quite tell if I …

Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling MA Kaity Sinke, kaitysinke@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Pro-Tips for Graduate Applications

by Joshua C. Robinson

An application for the city as well as a school. Photo: Joshua. C. Robinson Nov. 2014

An application for the city as well as a school.
Photo: Joshua. C. Robinson
Nov. 2014

Applying to grad school should be the easiest part of the grad school process, not the hardest.

Leading up to application deadline on January 15, you may be looking at your experiences and wondering how you measure up to the rest of the applicant pool. Here’s a few tips on applying to the Master’s of Arts Management program that I took to heart when I was applying. I’m not going to say that these tips will result in admission, because I can’t promise that.* But these are things that I did that worked well for me, and some basic steps to make the application process much smoother.

Pro-Tips for Graduate Applications

Applying to grad school should be the easiest part of the grad school process, not the hardest. Leading up to application deadline on January 15, you may be looking at …

Business & Entrepreneurship MAM Joshua C. Robinson, JoshuaCDRobinson@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Collaboration Between Departments

by Logan Stahley

John Hagley working on OBELISK

Over the last year, the Music Composition for the Screen, MFA program has been collaborating with more and more departments on student films, video games, and animated shorts. Thanks to our incredible professors Kubilay Uner and Andrew Edwards, we have seen many more opportunities arise for collaborating with other Columbia students. We can bring in these projects as our homework, and get feedback from the professor and fellow classmates. So far this semester, as a class we have had a meet and greet with the MFA directors and producers, and started scoring roughly a dozen animated shorts and around eight video games. Networking with these students is really invaluable for our careers.

The animation department looked to our program to provide original scores for about ten senior projects (created by one senior animator), as well as two group projects known as Animation Production Studio (APS). These two classes meet for an entire year, from early storyboards to the screening during Manifest in May. It is a great opportunity for us to work with a large team (about 20 students), and to get started early on in the process. I am currently working on one of these group projects and attended one of the classes. It was a very interesting look behind the scenes of how an animated film is made, and gave me a better idea of the feel of the film. I look forward to working with this very talented group next semester!

If you would like to attend, there is a Animation Program Screening on 8pm December 11th, at the Film Row Cinema featuring:

Film Row Cinema

“Bad Magic” music by Sean Pack (2014 Graduate)
“A Spider Story” music by Sara Broshofske (Class of 2015)
Various in progress animated shorts – music by many of us in the Class of 2015!

We also had the opportunity to work with the video game department on a variety of games that were demoed at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair on November 22nd. It was a fun experience to see random people demo the games and to see their reaction. Many of these games we will continue to work on over the winter break and into next semester. The fair even had a yoyo contest, giant walking dinosaur, lots of Settlers of Catan!

Catan… Rug

Collaboration Between Departments

Over the last year, the Music Composition for the Screen, MFA program has been collaborating with more and more departments on student films, video games, and animated shorts. Thanks to …

Music Composition for the Screen MFA Logan Stahley, unhello@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605