Lessons from the “Too Cool for School” Event: Infinite Opportunites Available at RMU

All too often, students fall into a habit of simply enrolling in classes, completing their checksheets, and working towards graduation. The recent “Too Cool for School” seminar, hosted by the RMU Honors Program, CITADEL, and the Vet Center, challenged students to step outside of their regular routines and comfort zones to take advantage of the many opportunities presented to them at Robert Morris University.

The event consisted of a panel of accomplished students who have truly taken their education  at RMU a step further, pursuing internships, taking advantage of study abroad opportunities, engaging in networking events, and exploring other proactive paths. Each student on the panel brought a new, unique perspective to the table, all agreeing on one main point; Your education is completely what you make of it. Essentially, you get out of it, what you put into it.

After listening to the panelists’ advice and tips on how to make the most of your collegiate career, a small resource fair was hosted where students were able to access information on study abroad opportunities, career information and other resourceful campus organizations. This miniature resource fair provided an immediate chance to practice and utilize the skills discussed by the panelists. Networking with the RMU faculty and staff at the event inspired me to apply for a summer internship that evening and begin the study abroad application for the University of Limerick for Spring ‘17 the very next day.

I would highly recommend this seminar in the future to any students looking to get the most out of their time at Robert Morris. I challenge every student to seize the infinite opportunities offered by our university. As the panelists, faculty, and staff at the event attested to, you won’t regret it.

-Olivia McCafferty


Insights on Applying for a Prestigious Scholarship

Honors students interested in learning a foreign language should definitely consider The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. It is a fully funded summer international language and cultural immersion program for U.S. college students. The goal of the program is to broaden the base of Americans studying critical languages ( there are 14 language programs currently available) and building relationships between the United States and other countries. Formal classroom language instruction is provided for 20 hours per week, and there are extracurricular and cultural activities to supplement the formal curriculum to help students learn more about the history, politics, culture and daily life of the host country.

I decided to apply for the Korean program on the intermediate level. The most difficult part of the application was the essays because of the small word count limits. Through these essays, the applicants should convey their dedication to learning the target language and how they plan to use the language in their future career. It was hard expressing everything I wanted to say in the limited amount of space.

My advice for future applicants would be to start the application as soon as possible and to submit the application a few days before the deadline. The application site is known to crash multiple times on the due date due to a high volume of traffic on the site. Additionally, the essays take some time to write, and you should have multiple people read over them to make sure there are no errors!

In the future, I hope to work in South Korea, which is why I have been pursuing learning the Korean language. I began taking Korean lessons at the University of Pittsburgh because my dad is originally from South Korea and I like Korean music and dramas. Having knowledge of a second language is also very valuable in the business environment. As I learned more of the language, I learned more about the culture and my interest in South Korea grew. I started to look for opportunities to travel to the country. While I was researching scholarships and study abroad trips to Korea, I found the Critical Language Scholarship Program and read about other students that have received the scholarship in the past.

If I were to receive a CLS, I would be able to improve my fluency of Korean. I would also be able to travel to South Korea for the first time and learn more about the culture. For my Honors Thesis I am studying Korean pop culture, so I would be able to see some of this first hand and I would also learn about different aspects of the culture that I have not previously researched.

Written by: Jessica Chin

Tess Barry: Professor, Poet, and Professional Optimist

In a world filled with darkness, finding light and happiness can be difficult. Society has become disheartened and cynical. However, people like Professor Tess Barry manage to find the light in things and share this light with other people.

A professor in the English department, Prof. Barry recently submitted poetry in the Manchester Writing Competition, a concourse that includes fifty countries and tens of thousands of submissions, and a competition she nearly won. “They said it was between me and one other person… I was close, but I didn’t get it.”

The Manchester Writing Competition is not the only notch on Prof. Barry’s poetry scorecard. Prof. Barry, a writer since childhood, has been a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize (twice), received Aesthetica’s Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Poetry Prize. Her poems frequently appear in the North American Review.

I asked Prof. Barry, “How would you describe your personality as a writer?” She responded,“Human. Praising and assuring of goodness and beauty. My work is… hopeful and life-affirming. Poetry doesn’t have to be true, but there is truth in it. There is vulnerability as well.”

Prof. Barry describes her feelings regarding her five shortlisted (or being put on a list of selected candidates from which a final choice is made) poems being displayed on an international scale. “It was terrifying. I was naked, and more than anything I wanted to honor my parents. They were my inspiration.”

Prof. Barry explains this outlook developed during her childhood. She grew up in western Pennsylvania, and she was a member of a family of ten. She claims her parents never complained, worked hard, and were always faithful, and they instilled their values into their children. Prof. Barry was raised in a Catholic household which caused her to “think critically, respect tradition, have a strong sense of right and wrong, and have a positive outlook and understanding. I can’t imagine moving in the world without believing in God. The world is missing faith.” Each family member had a grand appreciation for nature and art, especially her mother. Prof. Barry recalls her mother’s favorite poets being Robert Frost and Emily Dickens and her mother’s responsiveness to aesthetics being ekphfrastic.

“The best writers are readers,”  Prof. Barry explains as she elaborates on her mother reading to her and her siblings when they were young. “I was given a gift. It is my gift to [be able to] write poetry.”Prof. Barry certainly lives up to her gift and her parents as well. She explains, despite her initial apprehension, the vulnerability felt good. “Poetry, like everything in life, is subjective.”

Prof. Barry has traveled all over the world to diversify her writing. She identifies her favorite poets as Shamus Haning and Dame Carol Ann Duffey. She has two step children who have children of their own. She enjoys spending time with them, cooking and eating dinner with her husband, running (until a recent meniscus tear), and, of course, reading. She considers herself lucky and blessed to be at Robert Morris University, for which she has a good time teaching, and feels very connected to the RMU community, and cannot wait to see the students capitalize on their potential!

Written by: Anna Hartwell

Growing Beards for a Good Cause

Seven Honors Program students participated in No-Shave November this past month, in which individuals forgo shaving for the month of November to “grow” cancer awareness and raise money for cancer research.  Beginning on October 31st between 10pm and 12am, the students were allowed to shave one last time before November began.  All participants were asked to donate any amount of money that they felt comfortable donating.  All of the proceeds were then donated to Pink Feet, a fundraising competition that is heavily supported by the Honors Student Advisory Council and supports the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.  To celebrate the end of the month and the competition, a party and awards ceremony was held in the Honors Student Center on November 30th.  Awards were presented to Andrew Mason, Sam Ference, Eric Stauffer, Davis Simon, Spencer Wellington, and Will Camilleri for categories such as: Most Manly, Most Stylish, Best Neck Beard, and Overall Best.

Eric Stauffer

New to the Honors Program: Honors Stammtisch

This semester the Honors Program Co-Directors started a new tradition on campus: The Honors Stammtisch! “Stammtisch” is German for “regulars’ table.” It’s basically a table reserved in German bars and restuartants for family, staff, and regulars to gather to socialize. On RMU’s campus, a stammtisch is an informal lunch get together with the UHP Co-Directors. Two were held this semester on September 29 and November 3. They were great successes with many students siting down to chat with the co-directors. Topics at the event ranged from thesis projects and research papers to the upcoming election. It was a great opportunity to take a break from classes and homework to have a causal conversation with Professors Harold and VanDieren as well as other honors students.

Monica Deluca


Tips and Advice from the “Going to Grad School Seminar”

After Preschool comes elementary school.  After elementary school there is high school.  After high school comes college.  But what comes after college?  For some people it is entering the workforce in their chosen discipline.  For others, the answer is graduate school.  The RMU Honors Program recently co-sponsored a “Going to Graduate School Seminar.”  At this event, there was a multitude of panelists giving advice on applying to graduate school including admissions staff, career center staff, faculty members, and past and present graduate school students.  It was the perfect opportunity for anyone considering attending graduate school to get information on the graduate application process.

Prior to the seminar, I was unsure on exactly what graduate school entailed, which is exactly why I attended.  It was a very informative event, and I especially liked that the information came from different sources with various points of view.  Who better to learn from than the past and present graduate students, faculty, and admissions staff?  The current graduate students went over several tips based on their experiences.  Such as, it is never too early to start preparing an application.  The career center and admissions staff provided guidelines on what graduate school admission counselors are looking for when reviewing applications.  Overall it was a very worthwhile event and I feel that I now have a better sense of what to expect when applying to schools and how graduate school differs from undergraduate. I left the seminar with a better sense of the steps I can take to improve my chances of being accepted into the graduate school of my choice.

George Dietrich


A Mediterranean Lunch with the Rooney Scholar

On Monday, October 5th, 2015, several honors students had the opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Majid Hashemipour, Robert Morris’s current Rooney Scholar. Dr. Hashemipour is a professor at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus and is visiting RMU to share his expertise in the field of internationalization within universities. His wife also traveled with him to RMU, and they prepared a delicious traditional Mediterranean meal for lunch that included curry, chicken, chickpeas, rice, and salad.

During the luncheon, we discussed Dr. Hashemipour’s efforts to globalize EMU (Eastern Mediterranean University) through his work and study program, which sets up American students with jobs in foreign countries to allay the costs of traveling abroad. His program at EMU is primarily a summer project in which students teach English at the university in Cyprus in exchange for room and board. Overall, the luncheon was enjoyable, and a great way to get to know RMU’s Rooney Scholar.

Margaret Bordo

Lunch with Rooney Scholar 2  Lunch with Rooney Scholar