Posted by: Rowena Winkler | June 13, 2013

Moving On: Reflections of Obtaining my Ph.D. and Becoming Dr. B

Alas, poor readers, I have once again fallen short in terms of the blogosphere. In my last post, I promised to post more frequently vs. my yearly stint, but once again life and school just got in the way once more. Add in the fact that I’ve been incredibly lazy and not in a blog-post writing mood, and you end up with a blog that has not been shown the love it definitely deserves.

With that said, I do think that my recent graduation from UMD merits a post, and I find myself on a rainy day in NJ with the Internet constantly going in and out a good opportunity to finally sit down and write something. And what better than to reflect and write about the past five years I’ve spent as a graduate student at the University of Maryland?

Despite what other grad students across the nation and even in my own Department would say, I must confess that I had a really positive experience at UMD and enjoyed my time there as a grad student. Of course, that doesn’t mean that every day in the past five years have been all happiness and roses, but looking back on it now I’d say overall it was a fun time and time that was well worth spending.

I came to UMD as a master’s student in 2008 thinking that I would get my degree and move on to work in the field and eventually create my own PR firm. Little did I know that within the next year I would be bit by the academic bug and find myself falling in love with teaching and research, which then prompted me to apply for the Ph.D. program.

Out of the five years spent there, I’d have to say that this last year was by far the hardest, and probably the worst (and maybe, rightfully so). In the fall, I took my comprehensive exams, which went ok, but not without it’s pitfalls and stressors (I wrote about some of my snafus in my other blog, Rowena’s Reverb). Simultaneously, I was applying for academic jobs, and once exams were over, I moved on to working on my dissertation.

Believe everything people tell you about writing dissertations. It does, indeed, consume your life. I found myself not being able to fall asleep because I was thinking about my data so much. You spend hours upon hours each week writing, rewriting, collecting data, analyzing the data, reanalyzing the data, writing some more, all while trying to make sense of it all and freaking out because you’re afraid you’re not making a single contribution to the academic community. It’s quite a daunting task and definitely a feat in and of itself.

For me, I was under additional pressure because I was aiming to graduate in three years’ time. At one point during the process, I distinctly remember calling my fiancé bawling because I was afraid that I wasn’t going to finish everything by the Graduate School deadline. Luckily, Michael is a very supportive fiancé and helped me regain the confidence I sorely needed to plough through and continue on. I’m a little sad to admit, however, that this year alone was spent with me in tears for much of the time, which I guess was my coping mechanism for dealing with the intense stress of writing and finishing up a dissertation. It got to the point where a running joke between my friends was when I was going to be crying again, haha.

And here is where we also enter in Ballroom at Maryland. Boy oh boy, if I didn’t have BAM I highly doubt that I would have had my sanity, let alone finish everything on time. My amazing friends in ballroom, and the dancing itself, were my constant stress relief all throughout the entire process. If I spent 8-10 hours writing, and my brain hurt, I would just go to ballroom practice and dance until I felt better. If I needed to take a dinner break from analyzing in-depth interviews, I would call up some peeps and we would spend hours upon hours laughing at the Silver Diner. Oh, and of course my fellow colleagues and good friends in the Department were amazing as well. They served as my rock during this process, and were always available to brainstorm ideas, or just listened as I bitched/vented/freaked out about something dissertation-related.

Fast-forward to April 17, my dissertation defense. I’d have to say at that point I was calm, collected, composed, and confident. A lot of my friends came to show their support, and Michael drove down from NJ for the event. I made a Prezi for my presentation that several folks were impressed with, which was pretty cool. I got some tough questions from the committee but overall I think I was able to stand my ground and demonstrate that I can be my own independent scholar. As one of my friends told me later, it seemed more to be a conversation about how I can better my research to make it publication-ready, versus my committee grilling me or making me feel stupid. It was a very positive experience and it ended on a good note, because I became Dr. Briones that afternoon. It was definitely a day that I will never forget, spent afterward with a lot of friends and some celebratory drinking. 😛

The actual graduation day was a blur, but in a good way. I was about to pass out in my newly purchased, overly expensive doctoral robes because it was a hot day, but I will not forget going up on that stage, hearing my students cheer for me, and seeing my advisor cry when she hooded me. My family, friends, and fiancé were all there to cheer me on, and my mom took so many pictures, it was adorable. I got my official diploma that day, and it felt great to see my actual doctorate in hand. I had done it, I was a doctor.

Now I am taking a much-deserved break from the grad school madness of the past five years. I just returned from an amazing trip to France and Portugal with my parents (definitely planning on writing a post about that – stay tuned!) and I plan on taking the summer to spend much needed time with my friends and family before moving to Richmond in August, where I will start my position as an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Even though leaving UMD is bittersweet, I am happy and excited about moving on. I worked hard these past five years, but now I’m ready to use the fruits of my labor to become a successful teacher and scholar at an institution that seems to be opening so many doors for me. My new colleagues are wonderful people that I’m excited to be working alongside with, and the University is entering a stage of tremendous growth. I can’t wait to see what the next part of this journey has in store for me.

PhD

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Posted by: Rowena Winkler | January 2, 2013

Let’s Try This Again: A Year-Long Blogging Hiatus Comes to an End

Well folks, here I am again, back at Prismatic Perspectives after what has been almost a year-long hiatus. I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing my same sad, sorry excuses for being away for this long: I’m too busy with grad school, blah blah blah. But 2012 has ended and we are at the start of a new year. And with that, I’m hoping that I can post a little more frequently than I have in the past. My grad school tenure will be ending in just a few short months, so perhaps I can try to achieve better work-life balance to do things outside of school relatively soon.

I’ve decided to continue with my annual tradition of posting on my Reverb blog by responding to prompts reflecting on this past year. You are welcome to become acquainted to those posts here. But I thought I would return to my original blog as I also did in 2012 by looking back on my goals and seeing what I have been able to accomplish.

New Year Goals 2012

  1. Eat healthier/lose weight: ACCOMPLISHED? I was doing SO WELL at this point last year because of ballroom dancing. But alas, the grad school workload once again reared its ugly head, and I did not dance as nearly as much as I did last year. The fall semester started off strong in terms of cardio when I started doing Insanity, but that too died out by Halloween, when I quit the program with only a week and a half to go. I’m not very proud about that. And I was tracking what I ate at some point, but that too flew out of the picture. So let’s just say that I need to get back to the drawing board on this one.
  2. Win a ribbon at a ballroom competition: ACCOMPLISHED! Not with my usual competition partner, Edd, but in Rookie/Vet at BAM Jam I placed 5th in Cha Cha with my BAM Big, Derek! My ribbon hangs very proudly on my master’s degree. That’s how important that ribbon is to me, haha.
  3. Get published two more times (Bonus points if in JPRR): ACCOMPLISHED!! I didn’t get a solo-authored piece in JPRR, but I did manage to have a co-authored piece in there, plus 3 more publications, a book chapter, and 3 in press. It’s been a very productive year in that regard, I must say!
  4. Win the Rima Rudd Health Literacy Dissertation Fellowship: NOT ACCOMPLISHED. I did not win this fellowship, based on criteria that were simply impossible for me to meet by the designated deadline. But no worries – I’m doing just fine, I finished my dissertation data collection, I’ve purchased my HyperRESEARCH data analysis software, and I’m ready to knock this study out in time to graduate in May!
  5. Find time to cook more and eat out less: ACCOMPLISHED? The eating out everyday thang was what ultimately hurt the scale, and my wallet last year, so I wanted to rectify that. The fall semester started off well with eating home cooked meals with friends, but that kinda died out. Add in the fact that I hate cooking for myself, and you end up with a goal not really accomplished.

Ok, so I probably didn’t fare as well as I would have liked, but that’s what the new year is for. And with that, I hereby present:

New Year Goals 2013

  1. Track all of my meals, stay within calorie count: gonna use MyFitnessPal app to get this thing going. Also, I just found the Insanity Elite Nutrition Guide online so I’m going to try using this plan to keep me on track.
  2. Complete Insanity: I was so close, SO CLOSE last time that I’m more determined than ever to finish the damn thing. Got a new calendar and the videos ready – let’s DO THIS!
  3. Stop drinking soda: another weakness this past year. Soda is terrible for you, and I was drinking diet, which I’ve found is even worse. Let’s stop this bad habit now and nip it in the bud. Gonna start drinking green tea instead, which Alton Brown says you should drink everyday anyway in his Good Eats episode, “Live and Let Diet.” (BTW, it’s a really helpful episode, you should all totally watch it!)
  4. Cook more, eat out less: Let’s try this again shall we? I think the Insanity Nutrition Guide and Good Eats episode can be helpful in this regard in terms of meals and recipes. Plus, I just need to accept the fact that I’m still cooking only for one and get over it.
  5. Pay off my credit card debt: Once I stopped working at Macro to make extra income things kind of spiraled out of control. Hopefully we can rectify this situation once I start making a real person salary at my real person job come fall. It’s going to be nice to no longer have a lowly graduate student stipend to make ends meet, haha.

And there you have it. 2013 I’m ready!!

New Year Goals 2013

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Posted by: Rowena Winkler | January 12, 2012

Balancing the Scale: Trying to Prevent Weight Loss Obsession

I am currently in the process of trying to lose some weight.

It all started when I was noticing my clothes from days of undergrad at TCNJ were no longer fitting me as a graduate student. When I went on to play Wii Fit and the damn thing called me overweight for my size. When I was getting comments from my mother that I was getting heavy, which resulted in a huge fight and me sobbing in my bedroom.

What actually pushed me toward making changes, however, was when my doctor alerted me to my cholesterol getting high. Well, I already wrote a post about that, so I won’t reiterate all the details here, but basically that gave me the kick in the pants that I needed to start exercising and eating healthier. And so I did – I was going to the gym several times a week and trying to make healthier food choices.

And then, here is where we cue in…ballroom dancing. Not only did it help enhance my social life, but it was an amazing workout. Dancing 5-7 days a week for 2-3 hours a day can really do wonders for your body. Couple that with trying to eat healthier and you can find yourself toward a path of smaller pant sizes (which actually did happen, much to my amazement and happiness).

But alas, I have once again found myself in a terrible spiral of low self-esteem and self loathing. I have been home for winter break for the past 3 weeks and have fell out of the routine. I was eating terribly (thank you holiday foods of deliciousness, but fattiness), I was hardly exercising, and I was avoiding the scale at all costs. Let’s just say that I was panicking a little when the new, smaller sized pants I had just bought over Thanksgiving break were getting a little tight. Add that to the fact that I was the biggest sized bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding party at David’s Bridal and you get a lady who’s feeling a little down and depressed.

I think someone may have noticed my feelings of despair, because lo and behold, when I was randomly asked to go to Barnes & Noble with my sister and some friends I decided to buy Portia de Rossi’s book, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain. Wow. Talk about putting things into perspective. Portia was exactly my age when she collapsed on a movie set from the way her anorexia had taken a toll on her body. It was a difficult but inspirational read – I couldn’t believe the extremes Portia went through to achieve the 82 lbs. she so desperately thought she needed to be accepted by her mother and by Hollywood. I read the book in two nights, I simply could not put it down.

Ok so maybe I don’t have an eating disorder (I hate throwing up and I love food way too much to try to starve myself) but it did made me realize that maybe I shouldn’t be so hard about myself with this weight thing. Sure, I probably could spare to lose a few pounds, but I would never want to get obsessed over it to the point where I no longer enjoy life and food. I’m not saying that I’m now gonna go overboard and eat ice cream and french fries everyday, but maybe I should give myself a little more credit than I have been. I mean, in just 6 months I’ve already lost about 12 lbs., which my nutritionist says is a healthy rate. And pretty soon I’ll be back to ballroom dancing 5-7 days a week again, so that will be a great activity that will be good for my body (and my soul).

So I want to thank Portia de Rossi for sharing her story, and for helping me to see that I don’t need to be super thin to be successful and loved. I’m still working on staying healthy and fit, which will be an ongoing process, but I know that I don’t need to go to any extremes. Portia’s story made me realize that in order to be healthy and happy, I have to love me first, even if it does come with a few extra pounds.

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Posted by: Rowena Winkler | January 4, 2012

Back into the Blogging Habit: My Goals for 2012

Happy New Year! I’m sorry that I haven’t shown this blog much love over the past 6 months. Of course I have the same ol’ excuses: my schedule has got me going non-stop with little time to write. But I’m hoping that 2012 will change that.

You will be happy to hear that I started blogging again with a vengeance. I participated in #Reverb11 and managed to answer prompts about 2011 for each day in December. Now of course I didn’t do this perfectly at first, but by the end of the month I was committed to posting everyday. You can read about my 2011 reflections at my Reverb blog here.

And speaking of reflections, I have looked back at my 2011 goals and in the general scheme of things I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished:

New Years Goals 2011

  1. Eat healthier/lose weight: ACCOMPLISHED! Thanks to Jane (my nutritionist), ballroom dancing, and overall trying to make better decisions, I’ve lost about 12 lbs. and am eating a lot healthier.
  2. Exercise more: I was going to the gym almost everyday. And then I found ballroom and it’s changed everything. Dancing 5-7 days a week is a fun activity that keeps the heart pumping.
  3. Increase my Twitter presence: This one is kind of a fail. Along with my lack of blogging, I had an extreme lack of tweeting in the past couple of months. I’m hoping this coming semester will be a little better in that regard.
  4. Get published in JPRR: This one is an epic fail. I submitted and was rejected. Maybe it was the backlash of accepting less, maybe I need to work on my writing – either way it didn’t happen.
  5. Get noticed in the field: Maybe? I’ve talked to a couple of folks at other schools. Hopefully by the time I participate in the job hub at AEJMC I’ll be a hot commodity…
  6. Make contacts in the professional PR field: This one is also an epic fail. Again no time to blog, tweet, or network. In the academic community I’m fine, but outside of that I’m toast.

Ok, so 2ish out of the 6 isn’t so bad! Here’s hoping that I have a better track record in 2012:

New Years Goals 2012

  1. Eat healthier/lose weight: I made great progress in the latter part of 2011, but I need to keep this momentum going into 2012!
  2. Win a ribbon at a ballroom competition: I need to practice, practice, practice my technique and everything my teachers have taught me if I want to achieve this goal. Now that Edd and I have a good thing going, we need to keep at it!
  3. Get published two more times (Bonus points if in JPRR): Well 2011 was a bust in this regard; I was unable to get accepted at JPRR. But I have a couple of things coming up that might be of publishable quality, so let’s see if I can rack at least 2 more before I go out on the job market!
  4. Pass comps with no revisions: I know for sure that I will pass, but I really would like to pass with no revisions. This means that I need to get my butt into high gear this coming summer when I start studying hard core.
  5. Get interviews places that work for me and Mike: This one is going to be a little harder to get accomplished, but for the sake of our relationship, I pray that this will work out. I guess we will see at AEJMC and the Fall semester on who will be hiring. Crossing my fingers it all falls into place.
  6. Find time to cook more and eat out less: This was going pretty well in the beginning of the semester, but once again, school and ballroom got in the way! I’m hoping that since I have a better schedule next semester it will be a lot easier to find time to cook. I also need to stop spending so much money eating out all the time. Not only is it taking a toll on my body, but on my wallet as well.

Well there you go – my goals for the new year. I’m excited for 2012 – I have a feeling that it’s going to be a pivotal one for me. Looking forward to seeing what happens!

What about you? What do you have planned for 2012? In other words, what are YOUR goals for this year?

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On May 31st, just back from my trip to Boston for an academic conference, I went to my doctor for a routine check-up. Usually this is a fairly painless process, but on this day, she had something she wanted to tell me.

“We got your blood work back…it looks like your cholesterol is getting high.”

Excuse me…what?

“It’s not at the point where you need to be scared or alarmed, but it’s made a pretty big jump…”

Ruh roh.

Now in terms of my eating and exercising habits, I am afraid to say that at that point, I was not the healthiest person. I typically ate whatever I wanted without giving the ingredients any second thought, and I used to go to the gym regularly – until graduate school life came in and brought that routine to a screeching halt.

But now? It looks like my cholesterol numbers are telling me that I need to do otherwise.

So what did I do?

I made an appointment with the UMD nutritionist, who gave me some great tips on how to lower my cholesterol:

  1. Increase Fiber Intake. Which means, eat more fruits and veggies, and whole grains. My nutritionist says I should aim for two fruits and three veggies a day.
  2. Decrease Saturated Fat Intake. No red meat, high fat dairy products, butter/margarine, fried foods and commercial snack foods.
  3. Increase Consumption of Fish. Things like salmon, tuna, haddock, mackerel, sea trout and herring. Best grilled, not fried.
  4. Choose Monosaturated Oils. Such as canola and olive oil. No peanut oil for me, as I’m allergic. But this includes vinaigrette dressings as well – creamy ones are a no no!
  5. Exercise as Often as Possible. Suggested for 30 minutes of elevated heart rate, 4-5 times per week.
  6. Drink 8-8 oz Glasses of Water Per Day.

So how am I faring so far? Well I took the nutritionist’s advice into consideration and bought The Healthy College Cookbook, for those students who are short on time and cash (which I am!). I’ve been cooking more and eating out less, which is a huge feat for me in itself (and also better for my wallet).

I’ve downloaded the Lose It! app on my iPhone, which helps me keep track of my calorie intake, weight loss, and exercising. And speaking of exercising, I did my first ever race on June 11th  – Warrior Dash, which was an awesome 3.5 mi. run filled with crazy obstacles (such as jumping over fire and crawling under barbed wire in the mud!). I’ve also signed up for summer session at the UMD gym, where I can take fitness classes or just work out on my own time.

So at week three, I must say that in spite of the occasional slip up (though I’ve only eaten at McDonalds once so far!) I’ve been doing fairly well. My hope is that I can get into some sort of good routine so that by the time my life gets crazy with school in the Fall I can maintain my good eating and exercising habits. We’ll see how it goes.

But what about you? Have you taken any steps toward being healthy this summer? In other words, what are you doing to stay fit?

Take one look around and you will know instantly that it’s summer: people posting beach photos on Facebook, the unbearable heat starting to get to you, reading for classes is finally on hold and you can delve into that book you’ve been putting on hold for months. You are finding yourself to be less stressed out because you are no longer in the hectic schedule handed to you during the academic year.

…or are you?

Being in academia, people might find me to be lucky because I have a summer vacation and do not have to work full time for a solid three months. Unlike my friends and colleagues out in the corporate world, I do not get paid vacation time as I have the summer months to relax and unwind.

This, my friends, is merely an illusion.

Since school officially ended with commencement back on May 20th, I have yet to relax for my “summer vacation.” No, the first few weeks of summer I have spent at various Starbucks – prepping classes, playing catch up on work, revising papers and submitting them to academic journals, and then making trips to academic conferences where I have to network with the greatest in order to get my name and research out there.

An article posted on CNN made me think about this further: Americans just hate to take vacations. In our constantly “on-the-go” culture, even when we take a few days to get away we are still checking our emails on our BlackBerrys. And even when I try to take my mind away from the work that is waiting for me at home, and actually do something fun, I still find myself thinking: Dear God, what else is on my to-do list for this week?

It’s a tough situation to be in. On the one hand, I love being productive and busy – I like getting work done, I like getting results, and I take pride in being on top of things. But on the other hand, as was relayed in a previous post, I need to continuously strive for that work/life balance, otherwise I will find myself totally burnt out and hating life in a hurry.

This is especially important in the summer! For goodness sake, it’s summer! I need to take a couple of days to go to the beach without feeling guilty. I need to put the academic article down and pick up a book to read for pleasure. The worst case scenario is that I will be a little behind with my crazy schedule, but in all honesty the deadlines aren’t hard and fast and I’m already ahead by working in the summer anyway.

But what about you? Are you finding yourself in a similar predicament? In other words, do you struggle in the summer to find a balance between work and relaxation?

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Oh, my friends out in the online space, my deepest and sincerest apologies for not updating in almost FIVE MONTHS. This is definitely unacceptable for any blogger, let alone one who just started blogging a little over a year ago.

Even though I have been terrible at updating this blog, I must assure you that I have been very productive and busy, as you all can imagine.

The reason why I have even found time to write this post is because the 2010-2011 academic year has just ended last week. I completed my coursework, submitted my students’ grades, and watched several of my friends and students graduate at commencement.

And now here I am, visiting home in NJ, and gearing up for what will hopefully be a relaxing, yet productive, summer.

Even though I stayed at the same University, this marks the end of my first year as a Ph.D. student, and so I thought it would be fitting to reflect back on what I have gathered and learned from this past academic year. So here we go:

  • Even seniors need help being good writers. As was relayed in a previous post, I taught COMM352, a new media and PR course at UMD. Even though this class was all graduating seniors, I was simply amazed (and at times even appalled) at the lack of good writing skills some of these students had. These students are graduating and moving on to the real world, and yet there were spelling and grammar mistakes that would be unacceptable in a work environment. And so, I learned my greatest lesson here: that even graduating seniors need a tip or two about how to be a better writer.
  • Avoid overscheduling and long days at ALL COSTS. I hated Tuesdays this semester. I would teach at 8 AM, get lunch and do work in the office, go to class from 3:30-6:30, and then head over to the School of Public Health for a stats class from 7:00-9:45. It royally sucked. And if I can do anything about it, I don’t ever want to have a schedule that rough ever again.
  • Not every student is going to “get it” the first time around. I learned that just because I love social media, doesn’t mean that all my students will too. I also learned that just because I’m familiar with social media, doesn’t mean that my students have any idea what these tools are and how to effectively use them.
  • Make time for the things you are passionate about. I started taking singing lessons last semester and it was awesome. I am still actively involved in UMD’s V-Day productions – I served as director of The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer and absolutely loved it. Even though I am so busy at school, I know that I must continue doing these things to keep me sane. This summer, I’m hoping to audition for a community theatre production. It’s important to me to continue doing things that I feel strongly about and that make me happy.
  • Keep the momentum going. Keep writing, submitting, and publishing. When I’m in the zone, I am in the zone. And I know that I can’t stop if I’m in that place. Of course, I should take some time off this summer. But I know that if I want to be the successful academic that I’m striving to be, I need to continue working hard, writing, submitting manuscripts, and getting articles published. I have several things in the queue and that makes me happy. What will make me happier is if I can keep it up and keep cranking things out!
  • Always make time to mentor students. One of the reasons why I want to be a professor is to pay it forward for those mentors who have helped me get to where I am today. And I can never forget that. There’s nothing that makes me happier than helping a student achieve something they are working toward. It’s important to me to be available and accessible to students when they need me the most.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and socialize. Even though I would consider myself a very social person, this has always been so hard for me to keep up with. I’m such a workaholic that sometimes I forget to just take a break, relax, and spend time with the people I care about. At the end of the day, it really is those moments that I’ll remember the most. So why not make more of those fun memories?
  • Demonstrate that you are a hard worker and strong researcher. Always put your best foot forward. I’ve discovered that if I make myself known in my department that I’m a hard worker and strong researcher, more opportunities will arise where I can demonstrate my skills as such. The best way I can do this is to surround myself with good faculty members that will guide me through my studies so that I can come out as a stronger academic.
  • Use guest speakers in your classes. As evidenced by colleagues such as Jason Mollica, having guest speakers to Skype in and talk to my classes was a great way to show my students how PR can be utilized in the “real world.” Jason did an amazing job talking to my students about internal communication and social media, and I’m sure that my students appreciated the insight he shared. I know I certainly did, and I hope that I can have more guest speakers like Jason in the future!
  • Find good teams to work with. I was lucky to have worked with some awesome colleagues who stick to deadlines and work hard to get the job done. Good team members can be hard to find, so I’ve learned that once you find people you can work well with, definitely continue the relationship and stick with it.
  • You’re not going to be good at everything. My downfall this semester? Statistics. Even though I ended up with a decent grade in the class I’ve realized that doing quantitative method is going to take a little bit longer to feel comfortable with. But that’s okay. As long as I’m trying hard and learning, it doesn’t matter if I’m not the top student in the class with a perfect 4.0. As a grade monger at heart, this can be hard to swallow, but I simply just need to accept it.

So that’s my list. For others who have just finished up their semester, what about you? In other words, what were some of your key takeaways and lessons learned from this past academic year?

Posted by: Rowena Winkler | January 27, 2011

Revertigo: Something Embraced, or Avoided?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to National Mechanics over in Philly with a couple of my friends to grab some drinks and hang out.

During our conversations, one of my longtime friends, Ginene, brought up a concept that I found to be quite interesting – the concept of revertigo.

What is revertigo you ask? Well, according to Urban Dictionary, the term was coined on an episode of How I Met Your Mother and is defined as this: “When you see people from your past, you start acting like you did when you used to spend time with them. (i.e. you start acting like a 14-year-old when you unexpectedly run into your freshman year boyfriend at the grocery store)”

The first thing that came to my mind is “do I do that?”

When I was in NJ for winter break I saw a lot of old friends from grade school and high school, and we definitely reminisced about days past, but I probably wouldn’t say that we acted the way we did 10 years ago. However, I do find that I can act sillier with those friends, and say things that probably wouldn’t be appropriate for my colleagues at work.

The idea of revertigo came back to me just this past weekend when I went to go see my boyfriend’s band, War Plan Red, play at a local bar in Long Branch, NJ. The headliners for the evening were a group of older guys coming together after 15 years for a reunion show. Now I thought to myself, this must be revertigo at its finest – a group of grown, older men rocking out and acting like they would if they were in their 20s. At first it was a little disturbing, but after giving it some thought I realized that it wasn’t so bad after all.

As we get older, we sometimes forget what it’s like to be young, carefree, and not having to worry about every single little thing. What’s so wrong about surrounding yourself with people who for at least a brief moment can give you a burst of energy and make you feel like you did so many years ago?

Now I’m not saying revertigo is the way to go in every situation. It can get annoying if you squeal like a 12-year-old every time you go out with your childhood friends. But if it means that we can reduce our stress for just a couple of hours and have some fun, maybe more of us should reach out to old friends and give it a shot.

But that’s just my two cents, what do you think? In other words, is revertigo something to be embraced, or avoided?


This weekend, I will be singing at the wedding of two of my closest friends I made at UMD. Next weekend, I will be attending a wedding for a close family friend I’ve known for most of my life.

Three people from high school have gotten engaged in this past month alone, including one of my best friends (she has asked me to be a bridesmaid, which I’m very excited about!).

Now do you see why I’ve caught the “wedding fever” and am itching so badly to get engaged?

This isn’t a totally unrealistic goal. I’ve been with my boyfriend for over 4.5 years (it will be 5 years this coming June) and we have talked about marriage numerous times. We’re pretty much set with the fact that we will be together forever. So why hasn’t the question been popped and the ring placed on my finger?

Well there actually are a couple of reasons, which I am well aware of:

1.     We live in different states. I am currently in Maryland and he is still at home in New Jersey. Which might prove to be a problem if you are planning a wedding.

2.     I am still in school. Having just started my doctorate program, I have at least another 2.5 years ahead of me (I am dead set on finishing in 3 years!) so it might prove hard to plan a wedding when you are trying to get your doctorate.

3.     We have no money. I understand that according to tradition the bride’s parents are supposed to pay for the wedding, but I just can’t see myself asking them for an exorbitant amount of money that I know they don’t have. Add in the fact that I’m still on a graduate stipend and he just started a new job position and you get a young couple who is in no way ready to start paying for a wedding.

So really, what is the big rush? A family member told me that I need to stop living my life based on everyone else’s schedule. Do I really want to get married just because I’m feeling left out? Do I need to hop on the engagement wagon just because it seems like everyone else is there at the moment?

Reflecting on it now it really does seem a little silly. If I know that Mike and I are meant to be together – and believe me, I’m pretty damn sure – then why do I need a ring on my finger to validate that notion? Instead of pressuring the poor guy to propose, I should relish in the fact that I’m with a man who loves me no matter what – which is more than what a lot of people have right now.

So what can I do to reduce this fever? In other words, how can I just be happy with being together?

Note: I got the image for this post from a webpage with some tips on when is it the right time to get engaged…

Posted by: Rowena Winkler | January 3, 2011

Reaching Those New Years Goals: A Reflection Back on 2010

Can you believe that it is 2011 already?! Where the heck did the time go?!

Every year before the new year, I write down a list of goals that I want to accomplish. It helps keep me motivated and on track for what I hope will be a very productive and successful year.

Though there has definitely been some epic #fails (like cooking actual meals and keeping up with an exercise regimen) I must say that 2010 has been a very good year. Here are some of the goals I set for myself, taken verbatim from my list, with some commentary on how I accomplished them:

Win the Outstanding M.A. (Ehrensberger) Award: Dr. Aldoory asked me to apply last year for this award, but I think I have definitely proven myself to my fellow colleagues and faculty the past two years and have a good chance at getting this award. I want to finish off my M.A. with a bang!

ACCOMPLISHED!! My friends in the department claim that it was a no-brainer, but I was still happy to be awarded with this honor.

Complete my M.A. with a perfect 4.0 GPA: It was definitely close with that A- from Steiner, but I think if I rock out my final two courses at UMD next semester, I can complete my master’s degree with a perfect GPA, which would be awesome. I know, I know, “B’s get Ph.Ds” but I am definitely still that grade monger at heart.

ACCOMPLISHED!! Let’s see if we can maintain that into my Ph.D. program…

Get top paper at a conference: So I think I can definitely get into conferences, now I want to push myself even harder and strive to achieve a top paper award (preferably with a cash prize!). This will look bangin’ on my CV and will be a great selling point when I am on the job market in a few years.

ACCOMPLISHED!! In November 2010 I won the Betsy Plank Top Graduate Student Research Paper Award at the PRSA International Conference. A mere few weeks later, I won the Best Masters Thesis Award from the Institute for Public Relations.

Get published in a decent journal (extra pointage for sole authored publication): Well I managed to make my goal of getting published before my M.A., but I would like to someday get published in a higher tiered journal, like JPRR and JACR. That would be nice.

ACCOMPLISHED (somewhat)!! I have yet to be published in JPRR (The Journal of Public Relations Research), but I was just published in a short commentary piece for PRism, an International online journal, and will be published in PR Review very soon. So that’s a good start.

So all in all I must say that it has been a really good year. Now looking forward to 2011, here are some goals that have been ongoing:

  1. Increase my Twitter presence: This involves actually being engaging, getting into conversations, participating in more chats, and commenting in the blogosphere. The more I make myself known, the bigger my network is going to be. DEADLINE: May 2012
  2. Get published in JPRR: I am taking Crisis Comm in the spring, and I already told Brooke that I want the paper I write for that class to be JPRR quality. It would be awesome if I could get a least one sole authored piece in JPRR before I graduate. DEADLINE: December 2013
  3. Get noticed in the field: I think my karaoke performance at AEJMC started turning some heads in my direction in terms of the PR academic community. I need to continue networking, writing, and working hard in order to have some sort of credibility by the time I complete my Ph.D. DEADLINE: May 2014
  4. Make contacts in the professional PR field: I get all these e-mails for PRSA and WWPR and because I’m so busy I never have any time to actual go to these events! I really should! Especially thinking long-term when I need contacts for interviews and dissertations. DEADLINE: May 2014

Now what about you? What goals have you accomplished in 2010 that you are most proud of? In other words, have you reached your new years goals?

[PHOTO CREDIT]

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