Chapter 12: A Year’s Worth of Reflections
[Editor’s Note: Jeremy Johnson ’12 and Katlyn Lee ’12 are writing monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their own post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]
Well, here we are. This is now the twelfth and final installment of the alumni blogs I’ve written. As per normal, I plan to reflect on the past month, but I wish to spend a bit of time reflecting on the past year. I certainly think it’s a good moment to do that.
Just over a year ago, I had the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the class of 2012 at our commencement ceremony. It’s kind of hard to believe that was a year ago already. I remember the events of that weekend quite vividly. I remember packing up to leave the senior apartments, only to move a couple blocks away to spend the summer living with Professor Adam Jacobi, my former supervisor at the National Forensic League, a mentor of mine, and a friend.
All together I spent three summers in Ripon. In the first summer, I did research with the McNair Scholars Program. In the second summer, I did research with Professor Henrik Schatzinger and worked at the National Forensic League. Last year, I worked at the NFL almost full-time. Each summer there was fantastic. I spent much of my free time during my summers in Ripon playing soccer, board games, and video games. They were some of the best times in my life, spent with wonderful friends in a surprisingly wonderful little town.
After traveling to Florida for the Florida Forensic Institute last summer, I packed my things and made my way to State College, Pennyslvania. I picked up a passenger on the way, of course. Over the course of this year I haven’t talked too much about my relationship with Emily, but it has been fantastic to share the first part of my graduate school journey with her. I’m incredibly happy for her, as she will be starting work on a PhD in Classics at the University of Minnesota next year. I sincerely hope her graduate school journey is as fruitful as mine has been thus far.
I’ve had to adjust to a different way of life in grad school. Granted, it almost had to be different, given that Ripon was a residential campus and grad students… well, they’re not residential types, generally. I’ve really enjoyed the experience, though. We live in a cozy little neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It’s really quiet and very pretty. Our house is nice, albeit a little small for three people. I’ve enjoyed everything from home cooking to having a garage. I suppose I’ve also enjoyed having a decent car to park in that garage as well!
On an academic level, this year has been wonderful. I’ve felt entirely prepared for grad school (thanks in large part to the guidance of all of my professors at Ripon, but particularly Jody Roy, Steve Martin, Deano Pape, and Henrik Schatzinger). Still, I’ve felt challenged enough, especially as my classes are with both Master’s and PhD students. I’ve never felt behind or inadequate. I’ve always felt at home in the intellectual atmosphere here at Penn State. What’s more, over the course of the year, I’ve started to feel a little more comfortable with our department. I study things others in the department do not, including the faculty. Everyone is supportive and helpful with my research, studying the rhetoric of things like video games, virtual identities, and open access journals. I’ve come to realize that even though people don’t share the “geek language” with me, the faculty and students here are incredible and always able to provide excellent feedback on my work.
I just finished the first draft of my Master’s Thesis Prospectus last week. Basically, it’s the proposal for my thesis, a 100+ page document. In it I will be studying the impact of online identities on offline identities, including things like a politician being attacked for her World of Warcraft character. I’m really excited about working on this thesis in the next year or so. I also recently received confirmation that I’ll be attending the National Communication Association Convention for the third straight year. This time, I will be presenting two papers, participating on a panel, and facilitating a panel.
I’ve also been teaching a public speaking class in the first summer session here. The class has been great so far. I’ve run into some tough moments, as can always be expected, but in general, I’m enjoying teaching immensely. It’s absolutely a learning process, and I’m learning a lot. I hope my future teaching endeavors will be as rewarding as this one has been. The rest of my summer will be filled with a trip to Wisconsin for a wedding, a trip to Fort Lauderdale for the Florida Forensic Institute, and hopefully a lot of fun to accompany the work I need to do in the next few months.
Folks, it’s been a fun ride. I hope that you’ve enjoyed getting some insight into the life of a recent Ripon graduate. The past year has really been an incredible time in my life. So far, I absolutely love graduate school. I hope that will continue for the duration of the next five or six years I’ll spend working toward my PhD. In the meantime, I suppose it’s time to pass off the baton to the next blogger. I hope you enjoy following his or her post-Ripon journey. Should you ever like to contact me, I welcome you to drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
Jeremy D. Johnson ’12