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! 🙂

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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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 🙂

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.

The Only Day the Earth Matters

Final Presentations in Baltimore, Maryland

My final presentation for my Baltimore project happened a few weeks ago. We got up 6:00 AM and drove down in a university-owned creeper van. I slept. We all slept. Because 6 AM is very early for the average college student.

Around 10:00 AM we arrived at the Parks and People Foundation campus and set up our projects in an old, stone house that the foundation refurbished. Our boards were massive and we had to get pretty creative to fit all nine of our projects in the room. Mine wasn’t even in the room but put over some bay windows in a side area. They gave us some sticky dots to use for our posters but we were skeptical they would stay up. In the background, The Big Labowski was playing on the mini projector one of our professors was trying to set up. We finished hanging our stuff and sat around for a bit and talked about nothing. Then we left for lunch at this place called R House which is an “adult food court”. Its pretty good. I recommend it. On the drive over, we bet on how many poster would be down by the time we got back.

2018-04-20 11.20.23Lunch passed and we drove back to the stone house. Our presentations started at 2:00. At 2:30, people started trickling in and we were well on our way by 3:00. Instead of doing a live presentation, we played our recorded power points and stood up at the front awkwardly. I had recorded my power point at my apartment and my chirping birds were pretty noticeable in the background. Oh well. After our presentation ended the audience asked us questions. There were some people from Johnston Square, some Penn State alumni, and a few who work at firms in Baltimore. I am very happy to say that my design was quite well received. The community members seemed very excited about my ideas and my concept which made me very happy. 🙂

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After presentations, we went to an Oriels baseball game. We all wanted to go home, but our professor was so excited about it (and he already bought tickets for us. Don’t worry we paid him back.). Anyway, I had never been in a major league stadium and I gotta say it was pretty cool. It’s like a little town. Our seats looked over right field so it was hard to see what was happening. I don’t think any of us were invested in the game but we had a good time. At one point, I came back from the bathroom and some of my friends were watching something very intently. They said a couple a few rows down had been fighting. The girl stormed off at one point but had now returned, looking irritated and huffy. In the end they made up, and the guy’s arm returned around the girl’s shoulders. It wasn’t super warm but it got colder as the sun set. I shivered a lot because I didn’t dress warm enough. The Oriels won and we went home.

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Earth Day at the Residence

On Monday, I got to talk about my rain gardens for the Earth Day celebration at the Governor’s Residence. It was fun to see the Residence staff and my old supervisor. I got to do it because DCNR was invited to set up different stations around the grounds to talk about plants and other earth day things. There were some local area schools in attendance. Including my old elementary school, Londonderry! I got to see some of my old teachers and a few of the current students. They told me I was “like a million years old”. Thanks guys.

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LABASH 2018 at Penn State

I finally have the time to write some new blog posts! Woo! The end of the semester is quickly approaching! Tomorrow is my final presentation for my studio in Baltimore which is very exciting! Not so exciting? We have to leave at 6 AM (That is early for college students). I guess that’s not as bad as waking up at 3:30 AM to board the plane back to Pittsburgh (But you’ll hear about that in a later post). There are going to be many posts coming your way, but let’s start where I think I left off.

LABASH 2018

Wow! What an insane weekend. And tiring. very tiring. It was basically two full days of presentations and workshops by professionals in our field. And boy did we score some professional professionals. In terms of notoriety, we had a lot. Gina Ford, Susannah Drake, Ken Smith, David Rubin, Claudia West. Lots of important people. And its so strange that they are all here in not-that-exciting-compared-to-the-fancy-cities-they-work-in State College, Pennsylvania. I’m not going lie, part of me wondered what kind of incentives they had to come here. But regardless, it was exciting. The opening ceremony was at the State Theatre and I got to see my logo displayed on the big screen which was supremely cool.

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I also got to design the pin! (remember that?) it looks like this:

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So Logan decided to make a giant wooden seal of my design to display all weekend:

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He is quite a character!

He also helped make this awesome palette wall:

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I couldn’t resist a handstand

The weekend consisted of listening to lectures and running around looking busy and getting shooed away by people more important than I haha.

also notice how all the volunteers had bright green shirts. We were referred to as the green shirts all weekend which then got truncated to ‘the shirts’.

After that was over I finally had time to relax right?

WRONG. (See next blog post)

Its About to Get All Stressful Up In Here

I wanted to post this before I had zero time. LABASH is coming up THIS WEEKEND!!! Very excited! (If you don’t know what that is, it’s a student-run networking event for landscape architecture professionals and students with lots of speakers and free stuff). Except for the whole having to talk with other people and “network” part. At least I will get a sticker with my logo on it haha! Yeah…

Here is the pin that I designed!

Next Wednesday, we are leaving for TEXAS where NAIGC nationals (AKA club gymnastics nationals) will be held this year! Also exciting: LOGAN is coming with me under the guise that he wants to visit with a landscape architecture firm (MESA design group) that is about an hour from where the meet is being held.

 

I’m Famous

Just kidding! But I did get interviewed about my honors thesis project on planting lawns with native plants on reduce all the harmful effects of lawns like gas consumed from mowing, water waste, fertilizer waste, and water pollution. Here is the article if you’re interested!

http://news.psu.edu/story/512275/2018/03/26/impact/landscape-architecture-student-looking-revitalize-modern-backyard

 

Spring Has Sprung (But Not Really)

Here are some nice pictures I took with my cool new lens on Saturday:

And here are some pictures I took on the way to school today:

WHY is there snow outside?!?!

Hire Me Please

Baltimore Site Visit

On February 1st, my studio went on a site visit to the Johnston Square neighborhood in Baltimore. We talked with the Parks & People foundation and residents about the area and design opportunities. It was awesome to listen to how passionate residence are about the neighborhood and I am super excited to design something that they might be able to use! After our meeting, we walked around the neighborhood. Here are some pics:

Career Fair

Two weeks ago was the Stuckeman School Career Fair. AKA the Most stressful, social-anxiety causing situation of my ’emerging professional’ life. At least they talk to me now that I’m a 4th year and not a 1st year. Anyway, it’s basically a bunch of important professionals standing around studio next to informational posters waiting for us to come up and ask about their firm. I really am not a fan of initiating conversations so I would just walk slowly by until one of the people asked me what my major was. It worked out pretty well.

JMU Meet

It’s meet season! Right after career fair, I got the late car down to JMU for the first gymnastics meet of the year. It was a decent meet, nothing too exciting. But I felt it warranted a mention on the ol’ blog. I did get to do my new floor routine which was very fun!

Birds Everywhere

I took my birds out of their cage! I can’t tell if they really liked flying around my apartment but they pooped on a minimal amount of stuff and I got some cute pics!

Staying Busy, Making Cheese

Being Cheesey

I am taking this really cool food science class called “Food Facts and Fads” and our first assignment was to make cheese! Yes! You heard me! CHEESE. A simple cheese that involved adding acid to boiling milk to make the milk coagulate. This came at a perfect time since my milk was about to expire. Anyway, It was super cool (although it didn’t taste fantastic). I have documented the process for your enjoyment (and because I had to for the grade).

And TA DA!!! My plated cheese 🙂

 

Studio Things

This semester, I am taking the Baltimore Ecosystem Study studio which looks at a neighborhood in the Baltimore area that has potential for ecological designs. Baltimore is a “shrinking city” which basically means people are moving out of it and leaving lots of vacant lots (Detroit is another city like this). These vacant lots and buildings have the potential to be turned into so pretty cool community spaces like urban farms, parks, and restoration projects. Right now, we are in the inventory and analysis phase where we look at what’s there and how that might influence our designs.

I looked at environmental educational awareness and green economy for Baltimore and Johnston Square (which is our neighborhood of focus). We got to make lots of maps in GIS. For our presentations, we had to make a 10 minute power point. But it wasn’t just a power point… nO. we had to RECORD our voices and then listen to them IN CLASS. In mine, you could hear my birds in the background. (Don’t worry though, I fixed that). The presentations are to be sent out to people in Baltimore that have taken an interest in the Johnston Square area in terms of renovating areas of the neighborhood. It ought to be interesting.

LABASH

As you may or may not know, I am helping out with graphic things for a big annual student-run landscape architecture conference/networking event being held at the one and only Pennsylvania State University! Things are heading up in the communications committee. There was recently a competition to design an advertisement that will be printed in Landscape Architecture Magazine which is like the official magazine for landscape architects. Very exciting! I was chosen as a finalist with another dude and we basically smushed our two designs together to create one fancy Ad!

Here is my design:

And here is the final design:

 

Pretty Spiffy!

Getting Paid to Judge People

Yes! I am a undergrad teaching assistant for the 3rd year planting design studio! It has been an interesting experience so far, as most people do not actively seek my opinion on things. They had a deadline last night so I figured I should stop by and make sure no one was crying haha. Just kidding that doesn’t happen until the end of the semester! Anyway, they seemed appreciative of my being there which was nice!

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day!