A Quarter Of A Century Of Everything

I’ve been 25 for a month, and it’s already been a whirlwind of a year. But then again, so was 24. Here’s looking back at the last year…

24 was big.

24 was hastily, thoughtfully, drunkenly, soberly questioning every aspect of my life. It was finally fitting into the mold I’d spent years creating, just to want a new one. It was deciding what I want. It was deciding I don’t know what I want.

24 was learning how lonely it is being the linchpin when the wheel is suddenly missing. It watching childhood best friends fall in love, move away, and follow dreams. It was seeing old friends in a new light, letting the memories of our childhoods fade into the background. It was accepting not all friendships will survive. And cherishing the ones that do.

24 was walking hand-in-hand under city lights one night, and jumping into someone else’s arms under a Carolina starlit sky the next. It was hugs that needed to happen so badly they left behind a sense of emptiness. It was countless hellos, and a few too many goodbyes. It was polaroid pictures scattered on a table filled with drinks. It was laughing to the point of no control.

24 was sitting cross-legged on the floor of a boat, watching fireworks. It was not knowing if I was 4 or 24, my feet in the sand. It was peeling skin, and the satisfaction of knowing the sunburn was worth the memories. It was watching beloved bars turn into clichés. It was running into old faces and hoping to not be a cliché.

24 was the soundtrack of southern summer days fitting autumn city nights perfectly. It was falling asleep to beautiful sentences, and turning pages until I found myself dreaming of other worlds. 24 was wearing the same strappy, wedge heels through the city until the city finally won. It was buying another pair to get the last word next year. It was housewarming parties that lasted six hours longer than planned. It was dancing recklessly at concerts in a basement, while everyone pretended to see the open sky.

24 was Wednesday night family dinners — people talking over people, too many voices and plates. It was that feeling of love, luck, and gratitude that only happens with family, even makeshift ones.

24 was finding my voice, and taking on new challenges. It was seeing myself as an adult without running away. It was moving 40 boxes to a new part of town. It was claiming 1,000 square feet of NYC for my own without pretending. At 24, I settled under the NYC skyline — no longer feeling an imposter, but no longer feeling the same immense gratitude either. It was finding comfort.

Here’s to everything 25 is going to be.

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A bride, a groom, & a lot of memories

The people who met me in middle school or earlier are shocked I live in NYC, work at a women’s publication, and will gladly share my opinion about most anything. The people whom I met after the age of 13 — well, they probably wish I would just shut up at least once a week. A large part of this change is because of one of my dearest friends — Chris Octetree.

As a child I talked to my parents and sister non-stop. I knew that they cared about what I had to say, or at least that they had to pretend to. I didn’t feel like I mattered outside of my small circle: I rarely spoke up, I doubted myself even when I knew the answers, and I wouldn’t share my opinion unless I knew you wouldn’t fight me on it. The truth? I was scared of so much, and really didn’t know how things were going to turn out. Then, during 8th grade, right when everything in life feels like a superlative, I met “my brothers.”

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They were all members or advisors for Finley’s Leaders’ Club, which I joined that year. They listened. They cared. They wanted to know my opinions. They showed me how to be a leader, and how to be a friend. They taught me everything was going to be alright. Hell, over the course of the last 10 years, they’ve probably taught me more than anyone besides my parents. Simply put: they shaped me into the woman I am today.

Chris O was one of those “brothers.” He was an adviser of Leaders’ Club, so in many ways it was his job to listen. But, he also challenged me. He didn’t belittle my questions or my thoughts, and when you are a teenage girl, that means everything. He saw me as the adult I would be, long before I saw it in myself. He became one of my very best friends. And, he was always the first person I went to when I needed to hear someone say, “everything is going to be alright.”

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In some ways he will always be connected to my youth. He will always be the person that wrote to me (even though he hated it) my freshman year because I needed someone to talk to. He will always be the man that spoke the truth when i was dating a complete asshole in college. He will always be one of the first people who told me that my writing was powerful, to encourage my dreams. And, he will always be the person who protected me and defended me during the trials of my teenage years, which at the time seemed like the end of the world. But, luckily as we’ve grown up, our friendship has grown with us.

And, this weekend I got to watch him get married. It was weird at first. I walked into Cafe Luna (their gorgeous wedding venue), and he walked over to hug me. In that minute I was 16, and he was telling me everything was going to be alright. In the next moment, I saw a room filled of the adult faces of my most favorite people, my childhood friends. I saw some of my “brothers” sitting next to their wives, some playing with their children, and some just sitting quietly during a whole ceremony (which would have never happened 10 years ago). Most importantly, I saw one of the men I love most in the world smile, so excited to get married, and so in love with the beautiful woman walking down the aisle toward him. And, at least for the day, I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was going to be alright. I knew it was.

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Photo by Philip Herndon.

Photo by Philip Herndon.

Photo by Philip Herndon.

 

 

Skype’s Rosenberg discusses telecom revolution

“We are in the middle of an incredible revolution of how technology works as a whole. Voice Over IP has already transformed communication, and we have just begun,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, chief technologist for Skype, during an April 16 lecture at Elon University titled “The Invisible Revolution: Remaking Telecoms in the Image of the Internet.”

Jonathan Rosenberg, chief technologist for Skype, spoke in Whitley Auditorium on April 16. Photo by Dan Anderson of Elon University.

Rosenberg is responsible for the overall architecture and technology strategy at Skype Technologies S.A., which is now a division of Microsoft. He was awarded the Pulver VoN Pioneer award in 2000 for his contributions to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry.

“The revolution is about a change that has been happening in our industry of telecommunications,” Rosenberg said, “a change that has brought an enormous transformation to our industry. This change is what I call the Invisible Revolution. It will be a transformation that is continuing for the next 10 years.”

Skype now is responsible for 25 percent of all international calls from any platform, and about 12 percent of international calls via Skype now include video, Rosenberg said.

“Holy cow, this is a market that didn’t exist, and now 12.5 percent of international

Photo by Dan Anderson, Elon University

calls include video,” Rosenberg said. “This technology just didn’t even exist.”

The history of telecommunications

This increase in video international calls is especially remarkable when compared to the history of telecommunications, Rosenberg said.

Changing the phone network from analog to digital took decades. And even today, relics of telecommunications can be still be found in people’s homes—in their land line phones.

In the 1990s when the Internet came along it changed telecommunications. The differences between the Internet and telecommunications have caused some challenges.

“This is a dramatically different technology from how the telecommunications network works,” Rosenberg said. “The phone quality was built from the ground up to guarantee that quality call. The Internet does not make that guarantee. The Internet drops information all the time. The Internet is what we call a best effort quality.”

If someone is trying to talk from New York to Florida, we have to make the sure the information flows basically in a straight line to Florida.

“The problem is that these things are really expensive. The Internet does things differently,” Rosenberg said. “The Internet doesn’t know how to set up a call, just how to ship information from point A to point B.”

A solution was found for this problem around the idea to dramatically reduce the price by going from expensive hardware to cheap software. The software is on a server, and then the computers are connected directly to each other for the audio, to make the quality of the phone calls better and cheaper.

The quality of the audio is the most important factor when it comes to calls over the phone or the Internet, Rosenberg said.

While the telecommunications network was designed to carry phone calls well, there are two fundamental flaws that have made it difficult: human brains are sensitive to a delay in conversation and quality really matters.

“Users have to really mentally struggle to listen when the quality is bad, it causes fatigue, and they would rather hang up or get on a plane and have a face to face conversation,” Rosenberg said. “Users have an expectation, a need, for high quality communications.”

The changing business atmosphere

With the transformation to IP and Voice Over IP, companies such as Cisco and Microsoft, companies that didn’t exist in the telecommunications field, were able to get a hold on the industry.

Other companies that grew due to Voice Over IP were application service providers such as Skype.

Skype was founded in 2003 by a couple of guys and by 2011 was sold for $8.5 billion. Today there are 40 million users online now at any given time and 200 million connected users per month, Rosenberg said.

“There has been these dramatic transformations across the industry as a result of VoIP,” Rosenberg said. “But the biggest transformation came with the iPhone. Apple has literally revolutionized the mobile telecommunications ecosystem with the creation of the iPhone.”

This led to a second fundamental change in the ability to distribute software to the mobile phone, Rosenberg said. With the app store, software can very easily be distributed to mobile phones. The third fundamental change has been the importance of the brand. The user’s relationship is with the brand, not the mobile operator.

This benefited application service providers such as Skype because it finally made the smart phone a viable place for voice over IP to happen.

Rosenberg also held a question and answer session with students enrolled in upper level journalism classes earlier in the day. He discussed the Skype business model compared to competitors and the recent transformations in technology.

“Skype is a personal product that allows people to connect with their family and friends,” Rosenberg said. “People care about it, and it is great to see how Voice Over IP has been able to change people’s lives.”

Rosenberg received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University and lives in Freehold, N.J., with his wife and two children.

His lecture was sponsored by Elon’s Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Original article can be found: http://www.elon.edu/e-net/Note.aspx?id=959522

My very last luminaries…

I loved Elon University from the moment I first went for to apply for the Fellows program my senior year of high school. That visit helped me fall in love with the community, the campus and the little touches that are ‘onlyatElon’ (shameless plug for a twitter handle that I very much like).

However, I am pretty sure it was in December after my first semester that I realized I was in that kind of love that words doesn’t describe, that love that will always be a part of you with Elon University. Why exactly did this happen? Because I experienced my first Luminaries at Elon University. It is the most amazing moment. I love how people from the Elon University and the Town of Elon come together as one community and drink hot chocolate and apple cider, listen to carolers, ride around in a train driven by Santa Claus and sit in awe at the one moment where campus all lights up. It is beautiful.

I have some friends who can’t imagine why a group of college students would want to take a picture with Santa Claus and see a college campus glowing with holiday lights. But they just have not experienced that moment where the little things are more important than the tests and the homework and everything else. I was so sad when I missed it during my semester in London, but for the three of the last four years it was what started the holiday season for me.

This year I got to spend it with many of my favorite people in the world, which was amazing. Well, as long as I did not think about the fact it was my last one…

Toddler to T.A.: professor teaches through generations

President emeritus Earl Danieley saw his current Elon 101 T.A. grow up through photography. Each December, he re

Dr. Danieley has known sophomore Jessica Harris, his T.A., since she was a child. He taught chemistry to her father, Kelly Harris, and remained in touch with him after graduating Elon. Photo by Brian Allenby.

ached into his mailbox and pulled out a Christmas card from Kelly Harris, one of his former students, containing photos of his two children Jessica and Wade Harris.

“Dr. Kelly Harris always sent me pictures of Jessica and Wade and told me about how his children were doing as they were growing up,” Danieley said. “He also told me when she first decided she was coming to Elon.”

Jessica visited Elon a few times before deciding to attend the school. She first met Danieley during the dedication of McMichael Science Building in 1998.

“I had heard about Danieley a lot growing up,” Jessica said. “My dad basically considers him his second dad. He taught him more than just chemistry. But I don’t think I got to put a face to the name until I was seven years old.”

A couple years later, when Jessica was trying to decide between Elon and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she met with Danieley for a meal in 1889 Grill Room.

“He was able to tell me the whole history of Elon,” Jessica said. “He introduced me to faculty and students, but it was just so obvious that he really loved Elon.”

She did not make her decision until May, at the very last moment. Soon after she received her schedule, and found out she was in Danieley’s Elon 101 class.

“When I next saw Dr. Kelly, he asked me if I set that up,” Danieley said. “I responded, ‘You don’t think I would do that, do you?’ He responded that he did think I would do that.”

Kelly was correct. Danieley had indeed requested for Jessica to be in his class once he learned that she was enrolling at Elon. He also welcomed her to the campus as soon as she arrived.

When Jessica arrived at her dorm and started unpacking, Danieley was waiting for the Harris family at one of the registration tables by her dormitory. Later that afternoon, he saw the Harris’ again, when he met all of the parents and students in his Elon 101.

“Teaching Elon 101 almost always leads to meaningful relationships,” Danieley said. “Not only do I get to know the students but I also get to know the families of the students. When the students in my Elon 101 tell me that they are involved in an organization, I make sure to go see them. Most recently, baseball is now on my ticket too.”

After Jessica’s Elon 101 class ended, she wrote Danieley a note asking how to apply to be an Elon 101 T.A.

“I opened the letter and chuckled to myself. Then I responded that she just had applied and that she got the job,” Danieley said.

Each section of the class is taught differently because of the many professors who teach Elon 101. There are some unique attributes to Danieley’s version of the class. He takes the students on a tour of campus, where he includes all of Elon’s history. He also invited his class to his home for hotdogs and the last class is held during brunch at Colonnades to talk about what should be added to the syllabus next year.

This is Danieley’s fifth year teaching Elon 101.

“Having Jessica as my T.A. has been a joy. She is this wonderful girl who I have gotten to see grow up, and it’s great that our relationship really got to go full circle,” Danieley said. “I enjoy learning about my students. Especially now that Verona is gone, they are the people who help me fill my life with love and joy.”

New Gap Semester program combines Elon’s strengths to create new opportunities for students

Next fall when most of the class of 2016 is moving into new dorm rooms, about 15 students will be working on leadership in Wyoming, traveling cross country while stopping for service projects and exploring Costa Rica. Elon University has created a new gap semester program that will start in the fall of 2012 encompassing all of these experiences.

“The gap semester program started because part of the strategic plan is to develop innovative pathways for you to start when you enroll or as you end your time at Elon,” said Brian O’Shea, assistant to the vice president for Student Life and dean of students.

The administration looked at many different existing gap semester programs before deciding to create their own.

“We realized that we had a lot of different ideas that were not being implemented in any current program,” O’Shea said. “I started looking at a potential budget and schedule for the program. This past year, I spent a lot of time developing the program and chairing a search committee for a program coordinator.”

The participating students will not arrive to Elon’s campus for orientation week like the rest of the campus, but will complete most of their orientation in the spring of their senior year of high school, according to Katie Hight, director of new student programs.

“They will all be in the same orientation group in the spring and talk about a lot of the stuff that is discussed during the normal fall orientation,” Hight said. ‘There will also be a brief orientation with staff at the beginning of the gap program.”

The first three weeks of the program will be conducted at the National Outdoor Leadership School during the end of August. During this stage, participants will hike, camp and develop leadership skills.

“The next part of the program is completely run through Elon,” O’Shea said. “The students will spend four weeks of service. They will start in Wyoming and travel cross-country, ending in North Carolina. There will be four service opportunities, each lasting about a week.”

Each week the students will spend time in a different locale involved in a different service project. The participants will also get to visit tourist attractions and learn about the different locations they are in.

The last leg of the trip is spending six weeks at the Elon Centre in Costa Rica.

“They will be doing a lot of the same things that the students who spend a winter term in Costa Rica do,” O’Shea said. “They will have a Spanish class, a cultural class and probably site seeing.”

Currently, any students who are entering Elon as part of a Fellows program cannot participate because the Fellows programs are cohort programs that require attendance in the fall.

“We think this program is something that is very innovative,” O’Shea said. “We think this program will make students more resilient, more resilient than they would have been if they arrived to campus in August. I like to call it the best of Elon, the three things we do best—study abroad, service work and leadership—combined into one.”

Happy Birthday

Last week I turned 21; I was at The Pendulum retreat when I turned 21, so I celebrated this weekend with a few friends. The theme of the party was “when I grow up.” Everyone came dressed up as what they thought they wanted to be when they grew up back when they were 5-years-old. What better way to celebrate celebrating the last birthday you want to celebrate, then going back in time?