I’m Done, and It’s Weird

I’m like, DONE done. Graduated. Gone. I own Penn State nothing. And it feels really weird. Because for five long years, I spent hours in studio and stressing about all the things I have to do.

Schreyer Medal Ceremony

Friday afternoon was the medal ceremony for the Schreyer Honors College. Before the ceremony was a reception held in Pegula Ice area. The food was sub-par. The ceremony itself was not too bad. For some reason, it was held in the BJC instead of a smaller venue. All the graduates were shuffled into a basketball gym off to the side of the main floor and given cards with numbers which we used to organize our selves in alphabetical order. That didn’t take too long, but we then had to wait for quite some time before the ceremony started. I found Nate (my buddy from club gymnastics) amongst the crowd we got a lovely pic together.

There were over 400 graduates. When they read our name, we walked across the stage, shook a bunch of hands (including president Barron), received our medal and went over to a medal tie-er who velcro-ed it around our necks. I got mine tied by one of my favorite professors which was really nice (even though he put it on backwards!). That was it. Minimal fanfare. It was nice. I am now officially the 3rd generation of my family to graduate with honors! Check out this photo!

Actual Graduation

The Arts and Architecture pre-graduation reception was way classier than Schreyer’s. There was quality food and a live band jazzing up the morning. Also, I actually knew everyone, which makes events like this much more enjoyable! We all socialized and took lots of pictures. Then, at 11:30, we started the procession from the under the water tower by Stuckeman to Eisenhower Auditorium. Some of the parents followed along.

The ceremony itself was pretty short. Only an hour or so. The dean of the college mentioned me in her her graduation speech! She talked about my adoption memorial and whatnot. I already knew about it but kept it a secret from my family as a surprise! Needless to say they were surprised! The LARCHies got to walk first. We just walked across the stage and shook more hands and walked off. I sorta thought we might get some fake piece of paper but nope. Oh well, it was still quite nice. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I started this blog! I’ve done so many cool things! I am happy to be done though.

After graduation, my family and Logs had a little get together. I’m so happy that so much of my family (on both sides) and friends came to see me walk across a stage! I appreciate and love all of you very much! ๐Ÿ™‚

In the evening, Log and I went out on the town. We went out with Ben to Cafe 210 on College Ave. Our friends joined us later on. We had a great time and I drank a whole alcohol! Not too bad!

So now I’m home. But not for long! Tomorrow, very early in the morning, my mom and I are jet setting off to China! That’s right! I’m going to visit my birth(?)city and do some sight seeing and eat all the noodles.

Oh, look! It’s me and my beautiful sister!

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What I Did Instead of Packing

This last week after classes were over has be great because I got to catch up with a lot of people I had promised we would hang out with. I also found time to take grad photos after a threat from my other who said show would drive up here and take them herself if I didn’t figure something out.

Saturday: LASS(T) Banquet

Saturday was the last LASS Banquet. LASS is the Landscape Architecture Student Society. We have a departmental banquet every year with awards and stuff and ok food. This year was no different! Except for the fact that I won stuff! First, Logan and I got this new award that they just started this year (we think they made it for us because we didn’t fit the bill for any other awards). It’s the Excellence in Leadership for Environmental Good. Also, a month or so ago, I was nominated for an ASLA Student Honor/Merit award. All the nominees had to give a presentation to a jury and they decided on who would get Honors or Merit. If you were wondering, Honors is better. Good thing that’s what I got!

Monday: Printing and Photoshoots

Our print accounts deactivated at noon on Monday. I had an extra piece of chipboard and I wanted to plot some stuff out before that happened, so Log and I headed up to campus to squeeze a few more things out of the Stuckeman Building before we left. I printed a poster that I made for my Memorial studio and laser cut some random stuff just because I could. After that, we headed over to Old Main to take some grad photos. It was supposed to be rainy and I was worried the weather wouldn’t hold out, but it did! Ben joined us in the Arboretum for more photos. We took them ourselves because why pay money when you already spend hundreds of dollars on fancy cameras and lenses.

Photo is of Me, Logan, and Ben (From left to right)

Tuesday: Chicken Parm and Pasta Party

I usually hang out with my LARCHies buddies, but I finally has some time to chill with some club gymnastics friends. We planned a pasta making get together at my tiny apartment.

Wednesday: Last Practice

It was my last practice ever. Kinda sad. But it’s ok! Here’s a cute pic of Sierra, Alex, and I that we recreated from Sophomore year.

This is us now:

This is us at the end of Sophomore year

 

Thursday: Waffles, Arboretum Walk, and Trivia Night

In the morning, me and some LARCHie friends went to the Waffle Shop. Logan decided to go fishing so Ben and I took a photography walk around the arboretum. We found lots of plants peeking out the ground. Including trilliums! (One of my fave plants).

In the evening, we went to Zeno’s for trivia night. Alex and Ashley came too! The speed round for trivia was identifying 10 different leaf silhouettes and we all got real excited. After trivia, we went to Champs to play pool. It was loud and dark and very crowded. After a while, we finally snagged a pool table. I’m pretty bad at pool but it’s still fun. We also taught Ashley how to play.

Friday (Today): Graduating with Honors

Today is the Schreyer Honors College graduation which is for some reason being held at the Bryce Jordan Center despite a fairly small number of graduates. This morning, I got my final grades in and learned that I got bumped up from Cumme Laude to Magna Cumme Laude! Even though it’s not going to change in the program, I still got to exchange my white cord for a blue one!

P.S. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out my honors thesis website! www.zroanehopkins.wixisite.com/lawngonenative

I should probably start packing soon.

There is No “I” in CoLab

My semester long studio project was not done all by myself. I took the collaborative studio (also known as CoLab) where I worked with a team of seven to design a campus for the sustainability institute at Penn State. On our team was an architect, 4 architectural engineers (each specializing in a different discipline: Mechanical, structural, lighting and electrical, and construction management), and two landscape architects. I was lucky, because I got a pretty awesome team. We called ourselves 4SIGHT. Don’t ask why. Each team had a “pod” – a special area designated mostly for our use. Our pod was in the Immersive Environments Lab (or something) which is basically a very dark, windowless, black room. Here we are chilling in our pod, late in the semester. We made quite a mess of the space.

 

It’s been a long and tiring semester. Working on a team is cool but also kind of difficult. I got called “landscaper” a bunch in the beginning. It was difficult to coordinate times to meet outside of class. There were also things that are typical of most studios like unclear objectives and general confusion during desk crits. The site we had is a short bus ride from campus where the existing MorningStar solar home is located. It’s in pretty bad shape though. Logan and I took a walk around it and found a lot of trash, invasive species, and ticks. I’ve looked the solar home up so many times that it’s the first thing that appears when I type “m.”

Here is the existing site from google maps. Our site boundary is outlined in red.

Our final design focuses on connecting people to food through design. We used the idea of a “farm-to-table” dining experience for a large part of our programming. We also have an education building and more passively-programmed areas like a pollinator garden, event lawn, green houses, and an outdoor amphitheater. Here is our final plan (courtesy of me ๐Ÿ™‚

Late Nights

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I am not an all-nighter studio work kind of person. I get my stuff done and leave. But not this time. The last week before presentations was a rough one. I was in studio until at least 11 every night and when it was really coming down to the wire, we had some 2:00 AM nights. I know it’s not as bad as some people have it (there is a crew who routinely stays in studio until 1 or 2 AM) but I was still tired. After finishing our presentation on the night before the big day, we had to run through it a couple times and that doesn’t really go over well when we are all tired and hungry. We ordered pizza and that helped. But eventually, we all were tapped out and it was time to rest.

Final Presentation Day

Our group was dead last. Each group had 40 minutes to present in front of a panel of critiquers and 20 minutes for questions and comments. After everyone presented, the panel picked the “best” presentation from made up criteria that they decided on. The winner got a small piece of paper (Some call it a certificate) and they had to present again for 20 minutes. So you can imagine that this wasn’t much of an incentive to win. And, we didn’t even know about the piece of paper. We wanted a good grade but we didn’t really want to win. I thought it was going to be a long and terribly drawn-out day of presentations but it wasn’t too bad. It helped that they provided us lunch. We practiced one last time after lunch but everyone still seemed pretty nervous.

The good new is, our presentation went pretty well! Surprisingly well! I’m very proud to have such a great group for my last final presentation ever! Also, we didn’t win! We lost out on a certificate but it was worth not presenting again. Here is the whole gang, relieved to be done with presentations.

Nationals 2019-Daytona Beach, FL

So I finally have time to catch up on my blog posts because, guess what?! I am done with college!!!!! Classes, that is. Thursday was my last ever studio and I just turned in the last assignment for it!

This post will be about my last ever Nationals. Held in Daytona Beach, Florida from April 10th to the 14th.

Day 1: We Made It

We arrived on a sunny afternoon. It was humid. We’d driven four hours to the airport in DC, flown for two hours or so, and drove (thanks to my parents) an hour and a half to our hotel. It was a lot of travelling, but luckily, the girls didn’t compete until 5:00 PM the next day. We took a rest in the room, then went out to find food. None of this is very exciting, so I will skip to the next day.

Day 2: Prelims

The boys competed atย  8 AM so even though we didn’t compete until 5 PM, I was still up to watch them compete. I always enjoy watching the men’s competition, even though I have almost no idea what is going on. I guess that’s how everyone else feels when I compete. After the competition was over, I hung out with my parents for a bit. We took a walk along the “boardwalk” which was actually concrete. (I have a few beefs with the layout of this town but I will not get into them now). Anyway, we walked to the end of this pier and watched the fishermen reel in their catch. I looked over and saw what I’m pretty sure was a shark! Very exciting, although I probably shouldn’t have yelled “shark.” Some guy said it sounded like a Dogfish shark.

 

After seeing the shark, it was time to get ready for the meet. I drank a v8, ate a banana, and put on my lucky banana socks. I’ve been wearing these socks since middle school. They are riddled with holes, some of which I tried to sew up. I was pretty darn nervous considering I had only been practicing for one semester since I was in Germany for the fall and didn’t know if I was back in good enough shape to do all the things. Also, I was worried that I wouldn’t make it to finals and this preliminary meet would be the last meet of my life. But I tried very hard not to think about that. Good thing it went well. I made all my routines and finished with the top all around for my session. Not too shabby! The rest of the team did ok, but I don’t think we had very high hopes for making it to finals. In the evening, we ate BBQ with a few fiends and parents. Then, Ashley and I walked on the beach and played ukulele.

Day 3: Walking in the Woods

My parents are literally the best. They have attended almost all except two or three meets of my whole college career. I hung out with them for most of our day off.

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We drove a little ways to a state park where we saw a very old live oak (500 years old!). Then walked around and enjoyed the plants and the lizards.

At 10 PM we had a group meeting because somehow A team made it to finals and we had to decide on lineups. This isย  always a stressful and emotional process. In prelims, we can put eight girls up on an event, but in finals, only five girls compete so we have to cut two girls from each event. This means, we have to decide if we want to plan our lineups so that we have the best chance of winning or if we want everyone to compete what they want. As you can imagine, these two things don’t always align and we end up with unhappy people. So that took a while. Eventually, everything got (mostly) figured out and we all went to bed. Oh also, I had personally qualified to finals for bars, beam, floor, and all-around.

Day 4: Finals and Banquet

Finals is always exciting because there are so many of us and everyone is hyped up and it’s just a fun time. We marched in and stood there as they announced all of the different colleges and universities. It took quite a while. Then, as with every sporting event, it was time for the national anthem. But this was no ordinary national anthem. It was the national anthem played live on the harmonica. Definitely the best national anthem I’ve ever heard in my many years of competing. Before competition started, we were set to break a world record for the most back tucks done at one time. It took a while to get everything organized but in the end, we had like 500 people do it. Pretty exciting! Finally, it was time to compete.

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I had a solid meet, but nothing super spectacular. I made a little mistake on bars which I am still quite upset about since it was my last bar routine ever. On top of that, my scores seemed lower. At least, all my scores were at least three points lower than in prelims. We started on bars and finished on vault. On vault, a gymnast gets two chances. I absolutely hate vault and am pretty well-known for only ever doing one vault. “One and done” is my motto. But unfortunately for me, my first vault was absolutely terrible. Not wanting 20 years of gymnastics to end with the ugliest vault of all time, I had to do another. It was much better! But just like that, it was over. I got a big hug from my parents which made me tear up just a little. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to (as is often the case) but I hit all my routines.

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The banquet went about as well as every other time I guess. Most everyone (except Ashley and I) showed up late and clearly, um… without all their faculties. Unlike all the other years which had buffet-style service, this year they brought the food to you. Salads, bread, and desserts were already on the tables when we arrived which was nice. But it took a while for dinner to show up. My buddy Nate – talented gymnast and all-around nice dude – went around to all the tables taking their desserts while we waited for the main course. Finally, dinner came out. A little later than it probably should have, awards started. It was a long process. Longer than any other year because they added what is called the “community” division which is the new division that the alumni compete in so they are not competing with current students. As awards dragged on, the crowd thinned dramatically. Our people had to leave for one reason or another (you can speculate as to what those reasons were). And, of course, the divisions that I and my friends competed in were last. Our men’s team snagged a few individual awards which was exciting. I knew my scores were not good enough to place on the events but could still have a shot at all-around. At the end of a three-hour awards ceremony, I got called for 6th place in the all-around! I ran up and accepted my award and walked off and back to our seat. Level 9 team was next and we were pretty convinced that we weren’t placing. But, oh! PLOT TWIST. They called our name! There were a few of us left to accept the award. We were screaming and laughing at the hilarious situation.

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After a crazy and drawn-out night, it was all over. I’m so very happy that my gymnastics career of 20 years ended with a bang.

 

Thanks Gymnastics

I’d just like to thank all the people who helped and supported me along the way. You guys are all amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ Gymnastics has been a large part of my identity for a great deal of my life and it’s weird that it’s over. Thanks to my many coaches who were incredibly patient (most of the time) and never gave up on me. Thanks to my parents and my poor sister for driving me to practice and coming to all my meets, even the boring ones when every gymnast did the exact same routine. Thanks to all my friends at Penn State club gym for general awesomeness and making me want to go to practice every day.

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Spring Break in Savannah

[Written I think two weeks ago]

Spring break is now over and the clocks have already jumped ahead. I’m currently sitting in the Intramural Building, chilling out while Logan and Ben play what I’m sure is a rousing game of racket ball. Before that, we attempted some of the climbs on the bouldering wall but were met with minimal success. Very fit people in leggings and sneakers and tank tops keep walking by and making me feel super lazy as I sit on my laptop. It’s ok. I have practice tonight.

Over spring break, I traveled down to Savannah to look at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) accompanied by my best buddy Log. I got the rejection letter from RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design) a few days before but its just as well because it’s much easier for me to make a decision. And guess what. Savannah and SCAD are both wonderful! That means that YES! I am going to grad school for industrial design! I cannot wait!

Logan and I flew in on Sunday and got to stay with my aunt in her super cool and old house. It poured all evening. We tried to go to the Crystal Beer Parlor, apparently a local food favorite, but even in the rain it was an hour wait. So we got tacos.

The next morning, Log and I walked around the historic district. I took some pics with my new lens. We ate breakfast at Clary’s which was delicious! Then walked over to the SCAD Admissions office where the tour started. The inside of this building is SWANKY. There is funky decor and bright colors. I got a cool lanyard. Here is a picture of the room we started in. Logan kept saying the tables were “substantial”.

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So I’ve been on a lot of tours and let me tell you, the SCAD tour was easily the best organized and most helpful one I’ve ever been on. The campus itself is spread across the city in 80 or so different buildings, most of which have been historic and renovated. So instead of the usual walking backward tour guide, we went on a shuttle. We got to see the fibers building, the animation building, and the industrial design building.

Then we walked around town. I love all the trees.

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In the evening, Logan and I went to the Crystal Beer Parlor. I got shrimp and grits and it was so delicious but it has milk in it and my belly was not too happy. It was worth it.

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I am so so so excited to be going to grad school! And, that means I get to keep my blog for longer! Yay!

 

 

Too Much Snow

Hi! It’s been snowing a lot. Too much. But it’s not just snow. It’s cold. And Icy. And Penn State got cold feet (haha) and went and cancelled class. Again. And Again. And Again. I’m not a fan because it keeps happening on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That’s when studio happens and it’s been stressful to pull a presentation together for our project concepts when we don’t get any time to review with the professors. Our presentation is tomorrow and it’s going to be a lot of improv.

Anyway, here’s what’s been happening in my life despite the snow.

My Last Home Meet

Sad but true. Two weeks ago was my last home meet ever. It went pretty well! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures so I must rely on my parents.

Getting Better at Pottery

Since my first 5-hour cylinder, I am happy to say my production time has decreased dramatically. I can now throw a small cup in 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the day. It’s not amazing, but its better than a pile of wet clay and broken dreams.

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Career Day

Graduate school is a huge turn-off for potential employers. I didn’t really tell anyone but some of them asked and even if you tell them you aren’t sure, they don’t feel the need to talk with you much more. So that’s fun. But really it doesn’t matter because I’m probably going to grad school. That’s what feels right in my tummy anyway and that’s usually a good sign for someone who is constantly stressed over indecision.

Community Meeting

Last week was our first community meeting about the Musser Gap property. Did I tell you about that class? It’s a seminar where we are learning about community engagement through this parcel of land that is owned by Penn State and the university wants us to figure out what the public wants to do with the land so we can come up with a very preliminary plan. It’s been a great experience. Our community meeting last week was all about listening to the people and their concerns and ideas for the property. We had six tables set up with different themes and two of us stood at each table and led a sort of facilitated discussion. It was really cool to see how much of an impact just listening and writing down ideas made on people. I was at the Biodiversity/Habitat table with my buddy Ben (he went to Iceland with Logan and I). It was also interesting to hear what kinds of stuff people had to say.

Other than that, not much has happened. Although I guess that’s a lot of stuff that has happened. I’ve been working hard on my thesis which is about making it easier for homeowners to replace their lawns with native plants. I’ve been slowly working on it for the past year and a half but now that deadline are closer in sight, I have to speed things up a bit. When I’m done, I’ll share it with all you lovely people because lawns are the worst and plants are the best. I miss scootering. It’s been so snowy and icy that I can’t really scoot so I have to walk everywhere. This is unfortunate because I walk very slowly so I have to leave earlier than I would if I had to scooter. This mostly applies to my 8 AM pottery class. I love the class but the 8 AM is just a little hard to get out of bed for. I know, I should go to bed later. But I don’t want to.

It’s Cold and Pottery is Hard

Hi! So I’ve been back for… three weeks? Nope. Four. And things have been going pretty good. Except the university keeps cancelling school on some very important days in studio and I’m not too happy about it. My studio this year (which I think I told you was a collaborative studio with architects and architectural engineers). We were supposed to have this “charette” last week where we talked to a bunch of different important people about our site to help inform our research for the design. But then it got cancelled. And then it got cancelled again. Also, I am taking a seminar looking at a parcel of land in Musser Gap which is owned by the university and we were going to have a community meeting to learn more about what the public thing about the land and that also got cancelled. The stupid cold is ruining everything.

Practice was not immune to the school cancellation either. We had two practices cancelled right before our first meet at Temple so the stress was high and most of us had not actually practiced our routines so we were all quite surprised when we didn’t fall all over the place. I actually think A-Team placed first but we had to leave before awards because the meet was on Sunday night and I had a Monday 8 AM which is pottery.

Also. I’m so bad at pottery. Actually, I’m ok at sculpture. Here was our first project, a shoe made out of clay.

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Pretty good right?

But now we have moved on to wheel throwing which I know is “harder than it looks” but its really so freaking difficult. Our first assignment is to make a six-inch cylinder. Nothing fancy. just a cylindrical with a hole. And I can’t seem to do it. It’s been two three-hour classes plus outside time and it’s going so poorly. Six inches never seemed so un-achievable. Ug. I have to go in tomorrow to do it. Hopefully I’ll be done before the sun sets.

Good news though. Very good news! Some time ago, I applied for the MA in Industrial Design program at the Savannah College of Art and Design and I found out last week that I was ACCEPTED!!!!! YAY! WOOO! I still have to wait unit March for RISD though. And I don’t even know what I’m going to do. But it’s still quite exciting!

So it’s been a bit since this happened but the first snow day we had at school, Logan and I went with some friends to our friend Mike’s house to make pasta and sled. We led a little pasta making demonstartion from the stuff that we learned in Rome during our semester abroad in Germany. (That’s a different blog. If you wanna read about it click HERE)

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