Category Archives: Bryan College

The Retired Colonel In My Head

It is presentation day, I wake up and think. And presentation day means business clothing. 

For me, anyway. I know my classmates will probably show up in jeans–or shorts, depending on their fancy. But in college, I had a Politics and Government professor who drilled it in our heads: always dress nicely for presentations.

And so I do.

Yesterday in class one of my students referred to the president as “Trump.” 

“Ah,” I said. “What is one of the rules of our discussion group?”

Of course, no one remembered but it is this: always give elected officials their title. Even (especially) if you disagree with them. I learned that from my Poli Gov professor too.

The professor was a retired Army Colonel and many viewed his classes as an easy A. And I won’t lie, they were. Ask any of his students from my sophomore year and they will tell you in hushed, awed whispers about ‘that one guy who got a B.’ I suspect I will still remember his name when I turn 95. You had to really work for a B.

The Colonel did not like textbooks or finals. He emphasized group presentations and exhaustive note taking. (The note taking he called journaling and to be honest, you could probably fill it with “Col doesn’t read this Col doesn’t read this Col doesn’t read this” and still get that A.) 

Academically, then, he was not the most challenging teacher. But the older I get, the more I find myself relying on the things I learned in his class. What I thought were his personality quirks have become my mantra. Or at least the way I try and model my discussion groups. (Including encouraging students to bring food because what genius schedules class at noon?! I have yet to ban knitting, though.) I might not have learned about federalism in his class–but he did teach life skills. And how to dress sharp.

(Actually, he would frequently say that girls always dress sharp. It was the boys he needed to keep an eye on. He took this so seriously that whenever we had group projects and there one was girl and several boys–which happened frequently in our male dominated major–he would compliment the girl on ‘getting the guys to dress up.’ Regardless of how much she actually did!)

I realize this post and my use of past tense makes it sound like the professor died or something. To my knowledge he hasn’t. (Though he did finally take retirement.) But as I rummaged around for a business skirt to wear today, I was reminded once again of a professor I probably took too much for granted in my undergrad and yet who left a big impact on my life. 


Three Years

Three years ago today, I graduated from Bryan College with my bachelor’s degree. I then chose to take a gap year (er, two) before attending law school. In an alternative universe, I would have gone straight to law school. Instead of ending of my 1L year, this week would culminate in my graduation from legal education. That was the plan. 

I am so glad it did not happen that way. 

It strikes me as funny when I talk about the past two years. I murmur offhandedly, “Oh, I worked for a few years before coming to law school.” As if two of the most formative years of my life were just NBD…no big deal. 

I suppose in the big picture they might prove just that: a mere blip in time between college and my “real” career as a lawyer. 

But even if that is the case, I wouldn’t trade those years with AFP for anything. My work there developed so much of who I am and how I see myself. I can’t imagine who I would be if I went straight from my undergraduate to the pressure cooker that is law school. That vision holds no appeal for me.

From an academic standpoint, straight-from-undergraduate-me might have embraced law school better. Independence would mean little to her, so a life of student loans and borrowed rides to church would feel natural. I would still be a perfectionist with an angsty desire to go go go so I imagine I would have joined just as many clubs (if not more) and still jumped into an internship as soon as possible. From a practical standpoint, I doubt my legal career so far would look very different. 

Yet that isn’t quite true. I landed both my legal internships to date because of my connection with AFP. I’ve prioritized certain activities and de-emphasized others because I know the sort of people I want to be around. I’ve approached projects and people and ideas with the confidence of someone who has achieved something difficult, and failed multiple times while doing it. 

I am so much more me because I waited two years. Also, I owe a heck of a lot less loans because I paid off those undergraduate ones. 

It gives me hope for the next three years. I never saw myself here three years ago, and yet here I am. Who knows what will come next? The only thing I know for certain is that  whatever it is, I’ve been equipped and mentored and well prepared for it. And if I fail? I’ve got an amazing community that will cheer me on anyway.

(Plus, I can always peace back to the mountains of Idaho and live the rest of my life in chacos, right?) 


College v. Law School: Office Hours

Professors’ office hours confuse me. I think I used them wrong during my undergraduate. Either that or Bryan College had an exemplary open door policy. Office hours here at the law school baffle me somewhat. 

You see, during my senior year of high school I read an article that said graduate students should make sure to stop by and chat with their academic advisers on a regular basis. I figured if that held true for graduate students, it ought to hold doubly true for undergraduate ones. In college, I visited my academic adviser at least once a week. As long as his door was open, I marched in and struck up a conversation. Topics ranged from Starbucks ice cream to Biblical restitution to the state of Virginia politics. I went by myself; I dragged friends with me. It never occurred to me this was unusual. I built relationships with all my professors in a similar way, though perhaps not so specifically. Office hours, to my mind, meant an opportunity to get to know the professor outside of the classroom. 

Office hours here at the law school look somewhat different. You go in, ask your very classroom-specific question, and move on. You might fit some small talk in, but dropping by just to drop by is an alien and discouraged idea. 

In a sense, I get why. Even my smallest law school class rivals the combined student numbers of the Politics and History department at Bryan College. If all of us wanted to drop by for a chat, the professors would have no time to do anything else. They aren’t my academic adviser. In the big picture, they churn out a lot of future lawyers, and I am just one more. I get it…

Yet it still throws me. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced Bryan College was unusual. The school set a policy that sought to value each student and each interaction with them. Whether they always succeeded is up for debate. However, being in an academic setting away from it, I am doubly grateful for it. Bryan College gave me quite a sense of entitlement! 

What does this mean for me here law school? If I want individualized attention, I will just need to put a little bit more effort in. I am sure it will be easier to find specific mentors once I have more direction. Until then, it is up to me to seek out the people who can help me find that direction and sit in those stale office hours until I get it! 


DEBT FREE!!

In August of 2015, I made my first student loan payment. Today I made my last. I AM DEBT FREE! 

I want to say a quick thank you to my parents for letting me move back home so I could save on rent, my sisters who have had to share a room with me, and the financial adviser who pissed me off by telling me I couldn’t possibly pay off the remainder of my loans in a year. You, sir, were a jerk, but thanks for the motivation. 

In all seriousness, though, I could not have paid these loans off as fast as I did without the support of my family. Thank you all for your help and sacrifice. ❤ 


Forgetting Tennessee 

Even when I was a student, returning to Dayton, TN surprised me.  I always forget how familiar I am with this place. I suppose I did live here for 4 years…but I forget. The result is like a half-forgotten dream that sharpens into memory the longer I am around. ‘This is the road the school is on…that is the insurance place that employed me during fall break that one time…there is the dollar store I shopped at…the Taco Bell I ate at after every pay day.’

However, it isn’t just Dayton. I feel this way visiting Chattanooga and Crossville too.  ‘There is the Japanese place I first had sushi…there is the turn to get to my first roommate’s parents’ house…this is the road where the police catch speeders.’

Weird memories because they come back to me so clearly here but fade when I leave. And of course things change too. Elizabeth and I swung by Delia’s (best Mexican in Dayton) tonight and discovered…they moved locations!


I experienced this as a student and yet once again I can’t help feeling like my college days are a strange, segmented thing that happened in a different world. Wisconsin seems so far away. Yet once I go home, won’t Tennessee once again feel equally distant? 


Being an Alumni

There is something strange and luxurious about returning to campus as an alumni. Being a senior was great, top dog and all. However, being a graduate means you are out of the rat race altogether and able to stroll around with a decided air of superiority. Veni, vidi, vici. You are  the conqueror and it is hard to avoid the feeling of ownership that comes with admiring your former domain. While all the current students run around with their head down because it is hell week and they have 3 essays, 4 finals, and an end of the year protect due, you can sit, admire, and in general luxuriate in a sense of irresponsibility. 

Maybe that is only for the first visit back. I don’t know; this was my first visit since I graduated a year and a half ago. I really did enjoy myself, though. The campus has been improved and the library is even more open and comfortable. It was great to see professors and staff members. When you graduate from a school as tiny as mine, returning makes you feel a bit like a celebrity. On the other hand, it also makes you feel somewhat forgettable when people give you blank faced smiles or walk right past you. 

Doesn’t matter, it is good to be an alumni. 


A Not-So-Secret Love: My Favorite Korean Dramas

It’s a not-so-secret fact that I love Korean dramas. Given the opportunity to watch an American TV show or a Korean drama, I will pick the Korean one almost every time. I like the storylines that wrap up in 16 or 20 episodes, the general lack of swearing and sex, the glimpse of another culture and the feel of a new language.  I like the strangely obsessive but endearing community that develops around the plots. Korean dramas open up another world within my world; they provide entertainment, yet also express an ethos beyond my familiar Western culture.

 Your favorite stories express something about you. I have predominantly focused on my favorite books.  However, the time has come to announce to the world (or at least my blog readers)….

I really, really like Korean dramas.

Here are my Favorite Dramas* (in descending order)**

Cyrano

9. Dating Agency: Cyrano
Episodes: 16
Plot: The Cyrano Agency provides dating advice and assistance for people with hopeless crushes. They feed lines, arrange meetings, and make true love happen. The leader of the group is a Realist. His latest hire, and the only female member, is a Romantic. Predictable conflict ensues!
I really enjoyed the 2010 movie Cyrano Agency and this drama functions as a “prequel.” Each episode follows a new couple helped by the agency.  In some ways, this show is entirely cheesy and the hero isn’t my favorite. However, the storyline kept me hooked and secondary characters made up for an awkward main couple.

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Monstar 2

8. Monstar
Episodes: 12
Plot: When a pop star gets suspended from his band for anger issues, he enrolls in school to change his image. While there he collects a group of musically gifted underdogs around him and together they challenge the school’s musical elites.
High school musicals are nothing unique, but Monstar’s beautiful soundtrack and realistic, psychological portrayal of bullying, abandonment, and hope stole my heart. A very talented group of actors make this comparatively brief drama worth the time.

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Heirs

7. Heirs
Episodes: 20

Plot: A young woman (“the heir to poverty”) follows her sister to the United States from Korea in hopes of a better life but finds herself worse off. During her time in the US, she meets a young man who is the heir to a large conglomeration and part of the top 1% of Korean society. The drama follows their romance and the “friendships, rivalries, and love lives” of the other heirs of Korea’s elite.
Some of my favorite actors (and actresses!) play main characters in this drama. It is hard to summarize because of the many intertwining subplots, but Heirs represents a recent development in K-dramas emphasizing character psychology. Watch it for the bromance, the ugly sweaters, or just plain Lee Min Ho. I think the drama lived up to the hubbub surrounding it.

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Sly and Single Again

6. Sly and Single Again
Episodes: 16

Plot: Three years after their divorce, a woman discovers her ex-husband has become the very successful CEO of his own company. She decides to seek revenge on him for leaving her penniless and in debt… by making him fall in love with her again.
This drama contrasts the miscommunication and pain that tear a marriage apart with the power of hope and forgiveness. Despite very difficult, deep themes, it manages to remain light hearted and fun. Yet it isn’t all comedy: the story portrays the very raw emotions that come from a divorce. Really well done (and having the ever attractive singer L play the secretary was not a bad move at all).

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Who Are You

5. Who Are You?
Episodes: 16

Plot: After waking from a coma, a detective discovers she can see ghosts. Reassigned to the Lost and Found Division, she seeks to solve the murders of the ghosts whose objects are in the office. At the same time she begins piecing together what happened to her and the detectives that died six years earlier.
Romance, mystery, horror, melodrama, fantasy… this drama has it all (including a very satisfying ending). A very well developed storyline and great acting make this worth the time, especially if when seeking a break from Rom-Com angst.

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Stars_Falling_From_the_Sky_Poster

4. Stars Falling From the Sky
Episodes: 20
Plot: When a self-absorbed, 25-year old woman finds herself the sole guardian of five, adopted younger siblings, her world flips upside down. With no money and no place to live, she takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for her long term crush and hides the kids in the basement. Her employer and his brother are womanizing bachelors with their own painful pasts.
I don’t know how to make that plot sound non-sketch, but this is one of my all-time favorite dramas. It has incredible character change for all the main characters. I love, love, love the sibling relationships. The drama is full of great themes like hard work, independence, and family bonds.  

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Master's Sun

3. Master’s Sun
Episodes: 17

Plot: Because of a near death accident, a woman can see ghosts and the they plague her until she solves their grievances. Because of this, she lives on the outskirts of society and barely sleeps. One day she meets a cold-hearted CEO whose touch makes the ghosts disappear. He seems like the perfect solution… but he wants nothing to do with the crazy lady.
I am not typically a horror fan. It took me several tries to get into the story; it starts out pretty scary. Once I began, though, I was hooked. The drama does an incredible job with character development and exploring psychological themes. It balances several subplots within one greater story. I love the costuming: the heroine’s dresses reflect her mental stability. However this drama isn’t only deep and artsy… it’s fun to watch too!

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Healer

2. Healer
Episodes: 20

Plot: Many years ago, five friends ran a pirate radio station. Then one event changed everything. Now, over twenty years later, two of the original five are dead. One is AWOL. One is a paraplegic. One is rich. It falls to a night courier, a famous journalist, and an online reporter to piece together the clues of their past and unveil the secret of what happened — a secret many are willing to kill for to keep hidden.
This drama is my latest favorite. It combines action, romance, and mystery. The flashbacks are really well done. Unlike some Korean dramas where stupid miscommunication or filler episodes slow down the plot, Healer did a great job keeping the characters intact and storyline moving. This main couple really stood out.

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Rooftop Prince

1. Rooftop Prince
Episodes: 20

Plot: When someone murders a crown-princess in the Joseon era (1700s), her husband and three of his retainers vow to find her killer. In the process they get sent 300 years in the future (modern day) where they find a woman who looks just like the murdered princess… only she has no idea who they are.
This drama contains history, romance, comedy, and mystery. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will give you feels. Though you have to battle through bad hair and occasionally slow episodes, the ending makes it worth it. While newer dramas may provide deeper characters, better graphics, and superior twists, Rooftop Prince offers a timeless storyline that is, at its essence, a classic. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it! 

So there you have it, some of my favorite storylines. It has been neat to watch Korean dramas improve over the past few years. If you don’t mind reading subtitles, I strongly recommend giving a drama a try. If you watch Korean dramas already, which ones are your favorite? Have you seen all the ones on my list?

Be prepared. Now that I have unleashed my interest in Korean pop culture, you will see more from me about it!

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*These are my current favorites, though I’m watching two right now that might make it on the list at a later date depending how they end (Arang and the Magistrate and Hyde, Jekyl and I)

**Technically, Boys Over Flowers could be on this list. It is the classic, starter K Drama. If you are going to begin anywhere, that is the one to go with. However, it isn’t one of my All Time Favorites and this list is all about me! Maybe someday I’ll make a list of Required Dramas and BOF can top the list.