When Honors Day comes around, I always wonder what I’m doing with my life.
When Honors Day came my freshman year, I treated it as a free day without classes, and I slept in, ate too much ice cream and didn’t attend a single presentation. Present Emily is very upset with Past Emily for her decision to do this.
Last year I overworked myself to make up for Past Emily’s mistakes: I attended every single session. By 5 p.m. I was absolutely exhausted and my head was swimming with facts, data, graphs and literature.
At last year’s Honors Day, I got up bright and early for my brother’s (Aaron Hollenberg ’13) presentation on the research on wolf spiders that he conducted over two years with Dr. Clark. I didn’t really understand what he got up to in Dow all those summers. I just knew that he was at Alma in the summer, I was in Indiana without him (and I didn’t have to share the bathroom), and it was nice when he came home for a free weekend.
At his presentation I learned exactly what he had been doing every summer for two years, and that was extensive research that I did not understand one bit of. He worked with wolf spiders and took readings about their mating rituals. There were lots of graphs, charts, numbers and data things that I didn’t understand.
As an English major, I tell myself that it’s okay that I don’t like numbers. Or understand them.
This year was no different; I went to a few science presentations and couldn’t make head nor tail of them. But they really made me think.
We have awesome students on this awesome campus doing awesome research projects with awesome professors.
But when I go to these presentations, I think, Gee, I could be doing all of these miraculous and marvelous things. But I’m sitting here watching someone else’s presentation and eating a cookie.
So next year, I’m undertaking a project that will, hopefully, be presented at Honors Day just in time for my senior year to be wrapping up.
I am undertaking… a senior thesis.
Since science and math make me want to hide in a broom cupboard and never come out, my thesis is not going to involve hours in an IPHS lab running tests on willing student subjects. There will be no graphs, there will be no numbers, no PowerPoint to show my data.
There will be a novel.
My eight-credit/two-semester senior thesis is going to be me writing a novel, overseen by Dr. Vivian.
Today I went to the Pine River Anthology reception, and Carrie Frame ’13 was presenting her senior thesis, a novella. The entire time that she was reading excerpts from it and showing us all the hard work that she put in to write it, I could only think about was what I would say next year when I presented a big, fat, hopefully finished, novel.
“Hi, I’m Emily. And um… this is my novel.”
Don’t worry, I’m not going to read the entire thing. I’d take up all five sessions, and nobody has time for that.
Realizing that I am undertaking a senior thesis and that eventually I’ll have a proud product that I can present makes me feel better with what I’m doing with my time here at Alma. I might not be doing groundbreaking research in the kidney functions of strange animals for the biology department, but I’m going to do end up doing something that will make me proud.
And hopefully, next year, instead of wondering what I’m doing with my life, I’ll actually be presenting what I’m doing with my life.
Alma’s Honors Day is one of the coolest thing that Alma does. I admire every single person that does an Honors Day presentation. Hopefully next year, I’ll be joining that crowd.