Hey, I'm Alexandra White.
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May 08, 2011

Senior Portfolios

It’s amazing to think that in one year, I’ll be graduating. I can’t believe I’ve already been at Michigan State for three years, and all of the things I’ve experienced. Last week, I watched (some of) the Professional Writing seniors present their final portfolios, which they will put on their resumes to show the awesome work they’ve created. There are so many blog entries, graphic designs, websites, and various other pieces demonstrating how well PW has prepared them for the real world. I’m in awe. I’ll miss them every day that they’re gone, and hope that we will work together again soon.

Some of the best portfolios come from my friends:

Laurel Sutherland is searching for a job in communications/pr/graphic design. She had PW as a secondary major, with her primary major as the Residential College of Arts and Humanities (RCAH). We were interns together at WRAC in the fall of 2010.

Hannah Ettema is looking for a job in communications management, with travel and nature as her interests.

Joel Heckaman has had copious experiences with project management, organizing several events with local music. He was the head honcho for Jamming for Japan.

Devon Barrett is currently writing a romance novel and will be heading to the Denver Publishing Institute in July. She also actively maintains a blog.

There are so many more fantastic seniors. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give a link to a list of portfolios soon.

April 28, 2011

Work in the WC

I work in the Michigan State Writing Center for about 13 hours every week. In this time, I generally see about 8 or 9 different clients (in earlier weeks I see fewer, during finals week I can see upwards of 15). I enjoy working with students from so many different backgrounds, and helping them achieve better writing skills.

At the Writing Center, our goal is not to improve a single paper; it’s to improve the writing skills of our clients, who therefore improve their own papers.

Today, I met with a girl about a research paper on problems with prison release in the US. She was very insightful. Although the paper was not yet complete, she explained about the difficulties of bringing ex-prisoners back into the world and re-emerging them back into society. Some states have created programs to try and help this re-emergence, such as half way houses. Others just impose stringent laws that prohibit prisoners from participating in jobs that require licensing and make it difficult for them to receive housing. It’s no wonder that felons without a strong support system outside of prison sometimes re-offend, and go back to a place of free housing on tax payer dime.

She explained two of her own ideas to help solve this problem, with an educated and well supported documentation. I talked about transitioning between paragraphs and making sure that all of her cited evidence is supported by her own ideas. In the end, the consultation took less than 40 minutes, a rarity for hour long consultations. She made notes as we continued through her paper that marked where she should improve her transitions. It was like watching a writer evolve over years of school training.

As she got up to leave, she said, “Thank you so much. I felt like last time I came here, my problems were fixed but not explained. This was much more helpful.”

I’m glad to know that even though she came in with a paper with well thought out ideas and structure, I still could help her become a better writer.

April 18, 2011

Jamming for Japan

On Saturday, April 16th, the day finally came: International Record Store Day. This was no ordinary IRSD, as this year I co-developed an event with East Lansing’s The Record Lounge for live music and tsunami relief for Japanese victims called Jamming for Japan. I created the graphic design elements for the event including posters, flyers, and t-shirts. It ate up all of my spare time since early March, when Joel Heckamen (the Creative Director at the Record Lounge, and fellow MSU PW undergraduate) asked me to get involved. It all culminated down to one day of music and donations.

We worked hard to get access to three different locations in East Lansing. Everything seemed to be falling in to place, when the one uncontrollable element decided it did not wish to cooperate. The weather was atrocious, and we were forced to relocate to just one of the original locations and The Record Lounge. However, rain could not keep down the spirits of the musicians or the generous people of East Lansing. We raised over $300 for the American Red Cross’s fund.

It was an incredible experience to work with Joel Heckamen and another PW student, Dan Nufer, in order to make such a major event happen. We received publicity in the Lansing State Journal, Lansing NOISE, and other local publications, as well as time on the student radio, The Impact. It seemed everyone really wanted to help the cause. We greatly appreciate all of the support and sponsorship from the community.

I hope that this only sheds good light on my next graphic design project with The Record Lounge, the 4th annual Middle of the Mitten in January of 2012.

April 10, 2011

“Alone Together”

I was reading a New York Times article, “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall,” and it really made me think about the effect social media has on our (social) lives. FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is something I often suffer with upon going online. I may be perfectly content sitting and watching a movie, relaxing. Then I check my twitter feed and see that four of my friends are out at the bar, having a blast. I always want to join.

This is something I have been struggling with for many years. I used to hate it when my friends would make plans and not invite me. It was one thing if just two friends were hanging out together, but it’s entirely different when it’s a big group. I always want to be a part of it, if only to remember that they like me. It seems childish but we all seek that approval. Social media has really impacted they way and think I feel about this issue. Going online reminds you that you’re online and not out, living life.

There are some opposing views. For example, with smart phones (and it’s 2011, so more and more people are being forced by providers to acquire such phones) we can be connected at any point in time. This means, we’re not necessarily sitting at home alone and reading about our friends’ fun time. We could be out having our own fun. However, there is still a natural emotional pull to be doing what your other friends are doing. You want to be where they are.

So, does this mean that we leave social media? Is it affecting our lives so much that it causes depression, leaving us unable to function? I say, “Nay!” It is our job to find a balance and accept that people can not revolve around our own lives. On the other hand, it would be an agreeable statement to say that social media does lead to depression. It does lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness. Growing up is hard, and it’s made harder by our ever growing number of connections. Our minds are overwhelmed. We can only process so much.

In the end, now that we’re so connected, it may be next to impossible to disconnect yourself. Yes, you can delete your Facebook and Twitter. In theory, you would never have to worry about it. However, more and more invitations go out on Facebook. You may crave the knowledge that comes with living your life online.

Good luck with your decision making.

March 27, 2011

Lansing Give Camp

This weekend was the third annual Lansing Give Camp, a weekend long event where web developers, designers, and database ninjas donate their time to create programs/software/webpages for non-profits. It officially began at 5PM on Friday and ended at 5PM on Sunday afternoon, where we gathered in the basement of Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. I met my team: Amelia Marschall from Gravity Works Design, Daniel Hogan of Ginger and the Geek, and Kathleen Kiester to help re-design the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (Mid-MEAC) webpage.

The old webpage is still hosted on the domain as of today, but you can also check out our re-design here. I created the favicon, the tri-county Michigan iconography, the Facebook landing page, Twitter background, and did content editing across the site. Overall, we didn’t have as much work as I had expected. I initially brought a bag with clothes to stay the weekend, but we finished relatively early each night.

The experience was incredible. I was surrounded by some of the most talented designers/coders in the Lansing area all working non-stop to create incredible projects. In addition, I learned a lot about the awesome non-profits in the area and the work that they do. For example, 401 Change was an idea not previously backed by any online presence. With every good action you do, others will do good. These good deeds will help change the world. 401 Change was designed to track those good deeds and show the good that people are doing all around the world. It’s amazing the ideas that people have and their desire to change the way we think about our lives. Non-Profit work is some of the most difficult and most rewarding work that one could take part in. I’m glad I got to be a part of it for at least one weekend.

So many companies sponsored our meals, donated prizes, and helped make this possible. Other Give Camps exist across the country, something I find thrilling. I plan on continuing to participate in Give Camps, if not in Lansing, then other places around the United States. Nothing feels better than knowing at the end of the day, you made a difference.

You were the change that the world needed to see.