All Good Things Must Come to an End: Week 8

Hello Everyone!

When thinking about my past seven weeks as a McKearn Fellow, so many things come to mind. Not only have I had the opportunity to learn so much about research, leadership, and civic engagement, but I have also had the opportunity to figure out some things about myself. Every activity we did benefitted me and made me really think about what I am doing to make a difference in my community. Whether addressing my leadership difficulties, getting the chance to hear stories from alumni, or taking a nature break at Taft, I have taken so much out of it. I will definitely use the skills of how to prepare a project pitch and the etiquette training in the future. They were very useful things to learn, especially since most students don’t get that kind of prep. As a researcher I feel that I have become more thorough, and just more knowledgeable about how to do research in general. Things like citation style and paper format were always confusing to me before and I know feel much more confident about them now. I’ve thought a lot about what the most important thing that this program has offered me and it was difficult to limit it to just one thing. This program has done so much for me in so little time. It has ultimately given me the opportunity to pursue my passion and be respected for it. While I have had support from my parents and my faculty mentor about majoring in TV/Film production, being chosen as a part of a selective program has given me the greatest affirmation that what I’m doing is important and worthwhile, and ultimately that I can do it. As this program comes to a close, I have so many people to thank. I want to thank the McKearn staff for their support and great opportunities they have provided. I want to thank the McKearns for providing us students with the means for this fantastic summer experience. My faculty mentor, Randy Caspersen, has helped me so much so I have to give him a shout out too. In addition, thank you to the other McKearn Fellows, my family, and everyone else who has supported me this summer.

Thanks for reading,
Juliana

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Week 7 Update

Hello All!

As we get closer to turning in our final drafts of our papers and getting our presentations in order, I’ve had a lot to reflect on. The biggest issue I had over these past weeks has been stressing out over getting everything done for my project. Recently, I’ve had the chance to really hunker down and work so I’ve been feeling much more confident about how my final project will look. There will be a media/film component of my presentation that I was nervous about editing up until this past week. Having the chance to work on it has given me confidence that it will look  good when I complete it. My mentor has been extremely helpful in working on my editing of the film, writing interview questions, and finding important things to include in my paper. All of the program staff, especially Kim and Stephanie. have answered questions and given me great advice on what I could do with my project. The other McKearn Fellows have also had some great ideas and have been more than willing to look over my paper and brainstorm with me about my presentation. While my project has had a lot of different things that have been stressful, I am pretty proud of how everything has come together so far. I am happy I get to highlight a local organization through my research and show people the good that they do. I am a little nervous about the actual presentation. I am not always the biggest fan of public speaking, but I know after I practice a ton of times I’ll be fine. The biggest thing I have learned about myself as a researcher is that even though all research is different, there are so many overlapping aspects of all the different research that are interdisciplinary. I am getting pretty excited to see not only my own, but all of the other final projects too.

Until next time,
Juliana

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Accepting the Leadership Challenge

Hello!

Last week we had the opportunity to take part in a leadership workshop and talk about five key leadership practices. While reflecting on leadership skills I could improve on, I found that the leadership practice that is difficult for me is “Inspiring a Shared Vision”. I have a strong drive as a leader and can clearly see my vision, but at times have difficulties communicating my vision to those I am leading, While I have had some leadership experience already, over time I will better develop this skill to inspire a shared vision. I think it is something that, at least for me, must be developed and isn’t a skill that a leader has mastered from the start. Some ways that I have learned to improve my ability to inspire a shared vision are using different auditory and visual methods to express my vision and also appealing to the common purpose and goals of my group members to get them invested in my vision. Working with my peers, mentors, and through workshops, I have had the chance to talk about how to develop my leadership skills. The different facets of the McKearn Summer Fellows Program have given me the chance to assess my leadership abilities and work toward improvement.

Until next time,
Juliana

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Loredo Taft and Week 5 as a McKearn Fellow

Hello There,

I’ll admit it’s been awhile (or at least felt like it has) since I last wrote because we’ve been so busy with the different opportunities the McKearn program has been providing. This past weekend we were able to go camping at the Loredo Taft campus in Oregon, IL. At Taft we talked a lot about leadership as well as civility and collegiality. One such event that really impacted me in relation to these themes was working with other people to help me develop and practice my project pitch. Everyone who gave comments in my group were constructive and helpful, which was really awesome. I have learned that leadership has the important component of working with others and using their criticisms to produce the best possible outcome. Working in a group can be difficult sometimes as a leader, because the leader will just want to take charge of the situation or may have a hard time incorporating others’ viewpoints into the task. However, being a leader in a group should mean not taking charge, but instead encouraging everyone to be involved in what the group is doing. Engagement is important to group dynamics and giving everyone an equal shot at voicing their opinion makes them much more likely to be engaged in what the group is doing. I feel that as I leader I get so invested in getting a project done that I sometimes forget to include everyone in the group, which is something I need to work on. All of the other McKearn Fellows, as well as the other research students on the trip, made the Taft retreat an enjoyable experience. Whether working in groups, hanging out by the fire, or watching movies, we all found ways to make the weekend exciting and learn a little something too.

Until next time,
Juliana

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Starting Out Week 4 as a McKearn Fellow

Hello Again!

We recently turned in our annotated bibliographies for our research project. When putting these bibliographies together, one key thing to look at was the credibility of the source. Working as an associate producer on a documentary about children with disabilities in theater gives me many opportunities to use a variety of sources. Deciding which ones are actually useable is essential. While I used an assortment of sources, (such as journal articles, dissertations, and many others) one source that will be integral to the writing of my final paper will be the website of The Penguin Project. The Penguin Project is the focus of the documentary since it is the organization that gives these youth with disabilities the opportunity to perform. The website offers valuable information about the origin of The Penguin Project, its goals, and its impact on the community. While this source does not offer a lot of data about children with disabilities or a formal description of the impact of theater on the children involved in The Penguin Project, it does offer a lot of very specific information about the organization itself. While the website was created in 2009, it appears to be updated rather frequently and has updated information about shows and cast members, which will help me when talking about the types of youth that get involved in this organization. I am excited to see the final product of the film, as well as what else I can find during my research.

Until next time,
Juliana

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Week Three of the McKearn Program

For me, ethics are the values that guide a person to believe or act a certain way.  In other words, ethics are the concepts that drive who we are and what we do. In my field, as in many fields, ethics determine how I interact with those I am working with. I try my best to make people comfortable and I also don’t want to lie to them or exploit them to get information that I want. I want people to open up, but at the same time I don’t want to use unethical means to get to that point. Ethics is about being able to be happy with the work you are doing at the end of the day. As someone working on documentaries, there can be a variety of ethical concerns that come up. Things such as how to frame questions, what questions to ask, and what content to edit out of an interview are all important things to think of. During this program I’d like to be honest with the people I interview. In doing so I want to portray the individuals we talk with in an honest way. I want to tell their stories. I have been checking with my mentor to make sure my questions are appropriate. In the future I will check with my peers or any mentors I have to make sure my questions stick to the goals of the project and are also ethical. I believe ethics in the documentary world mean a lot and I am constantly striving to be ethical in these decisions I make.

Until next time,
Juliana

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Starting off week two of the McKearn Program

Hello again!

If you’re reading this thanks for sticking around for my second installment. We recently had the opportunity to attend etiquette training. Going into the training I was a little nervous and apprehensive. I felt like I was pretty knowledgeable about proper business etiquette before, but after the training I realized that there was a lot I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware that there are so many rules when it comes to dining properly, which I think is why the dining aspect made me so uncomfortable at first. It was kind of stressful to have all of the dining rules thrown at me at once, but I think I figured it out by the end of the meal. I felt most at ease talking about attire. I have a pretty good understanding of business attire, but I did learn a few new things in that area too. The fact that we all (the students) did not know exactly what we were doing made me feel a lot better. The alumni at the event were great and actually made me feel much better about my lack of etiquette knowledge by being understanding and helpful. It seemed they knew most of the dining rules, but they learned something new as well.

I really appreciate everyone who put this opportunity together. Etiquette is such a simple thing that so many people, including myself, aren’t completely aware of. I feel like I have learned many things from the training that I can apply to my professional life. In the future I will pay more attention to how I eat and especially what I wear when I meet for interviews or other business events. I think I will look more put together and polished because of the skills we went over. Another thing that this has taught me about is leadership. To be respected as a leader in a business setting it is important to dress, and dine, the part. This etiquette training was a very useful and pleasurable experience. I am excited to see what other things are planned for us!

Until next time,
Juliana

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