Conspiracy Theories

My very first big project of my college career at the University of Mary Washington was research on a piece of information which may or may not be true. I decided to look into conspiracy theories surrounding Princess Diana of Wales and her death, specifically one particular article I found. Using a method from Mike Caulfield’s Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, I worked step by step to determine whether or not this article and claim were true. Although not a traditional research paper, I presented my conclusions as well as my own thoughts and reactions to information as I went through each step in the method. Check out the more detailed findings below!

Interactive Fiction

During my second semester, I took a class called Intro to Digital Studies, in which I had the opportunity to work on a variety of digital assignments. Although outside my comfort zone, I learned a lot in this class, from two projects in particular. The first project I completed turned out to be pretty neat. I created an interactive fiction novel, which I had not done before but which I ended up enjoying. I learned how to use Twine and then wrote a story based on observations and experiences I had during my first week as a UMW student. Have fun playing!

Text Analysis

The second project from which I learned a great deal in my Digital Studies class was all about text analysis. Using Voyant Tools, I compared two books written by one of my favorite authors and made observations about how they were similar to one another. So, here’s what I used to compare Madeleine L’Engle‘s A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light.

Music Composition

One of my favorite classes from my second semester was Diatonic Music Theory. It was incredibly challenging but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much. As we studied chords and progressions throughout the semester, we compiled what we learned at the end into a bit of a musical composition. Now, even as I listen to music and continue to play clarinet and piano, I find that I’m able to recognize chords and other theory concepts that we discussed in this class. I am very excited to take the next course, Chromatic Music Theory, in the fall!

Journalism Debut

Another very enjoyable and challenging class was News Journalism. I had recently declared a minor in journalism, and this class verified my desire to pursue this field specifically. Over the course of the semester, I wrote four news stories. With each one, I caught myself improving in some way, be that interviewing, research, coming up with a story idea to pitch, or writing a lead. My final feature story of the semester was my strongest one, and I am very pleased to share it with you. Considering that the second half of the semester ended with online classes due to the pandemic shaking the entire world, my professor instructed us to write a feature story on a particular group and how they are affected by the virus. So, here is my story on how families are coping with COVID-19.

Music Therapy

After finishing a crazy first year at Mary Washington, I was set to take an online logic class with Northern Virginia Community College over the summer. Although I was not looking forward to not getting a break from school right away, this class led me to a path I may not have discovered without it.

My final project for this class was to write an argument, using the skills and thought processing we had learned in the previous six weeks. Being a musician, I decided to complete the assignment with a subject which I thoroughly enjoy. My argument ended up being that all children should learn music. In the midst of research to support my argument, I kept seeing articles and studies that mentioned music therapy. I was intrigued by the sound of this field, which I had heard of before but had not realized that it is as big of a thing as it apparently is. The more I read the more excited I became.

Within a day I discovered a way to use my gift of music to help people, which I had been struggling to find for quite some time. At first I thought I was too late. UMW doesn’t offer a degree in music therapy. However, I soon found out that if I earn a bachelor’s in music, I can complete a music therapy equivalency program after I graduate. Two days later, I had decided that I would add a music major to my studies at UMW, and following graduation in 2022 I plan to complete the St. Mary of the Woods College Music Therapy Equivalency Distance Program (MTED).

Below is the single assignment which led me to find the path that I am going to follow, armed with skills in communication/journalism and music. Enjoy!

First Publications

As I have overcome a certain fear of sharing my written work with others, I started a personal blog in which I utilize my writing skills and reflect upon my Catholic faith in my daily life. This is not anything I am doing for school or any other specific responsibility, except the one I have to myself to write what I love. It has been a fabulous tool to overcome fear of people reading my work as well as providing an outlet for me to process various situations through the means of reflecting on my Catholic faith. I am very excited to be using my writing skills, enhanced by my college education, in such a personal way which supplements the work I do for school.

For my journalism minor, one of the requirements is to complete an internship. I was quite fortunate to land a wonderful opportunity in writing for a volunteer Catholic magazine. I absolutely love spiritual writing, as you can tell by my blog, so this has really been a great fit for me to kill two birds with one stone.

My first assignment was to introduce myself to the Prince William County Catholic community. This was a simple and personal piece, but my first publication! It holds a very special place in my heart.

Within the Catholic church, Pope Francis declared December 8, 2020 through December 8, 2021 the Year of St. Joseph. This provided me with the task of working on some stories which covered what parishes in the county are doing to celebrate this special saint. I am still working with this magazine, and am grateful for every minute of it.

In another light, I also made a debut within the Mary Washington community. A few months ago, I co-wrote an article for the UMW Blue and Gray Press, which covered the opening of the new Jewish center for students. I very much enjoyed learning about this growing community and hope it is a continued source of faith and fellowship for many.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to regarding journalism/writing. I am very excited to keep sharing the work I am doing within this field!

A New Branch of the Website

This semester, one of my biggest projects was another part of this very website. For another digital studies class, I was asked to tackle a problem for which I could present a digital solution. I narrowed down my options by focusing on the Catholic church. Now, a very prominent issue within my faith family is that of music. It divides us unnecessarily, and as a faithful Catholic and musician, I would like to do whatever I can to mend this broken bond.

I decided to create a website on Catholic music, in which I will discuss the disagreements among Catholics and reflect upon some ways we may be able to compromise. So far I’ve only done the beginnings of the project, as I ran into some trouble with copyright in needing to understand what I could put on my site. However, this is not simply something I am completing for a class project. I intend to keep working on this website and striving to reunite the broken Catholic family by means of music. I hope you enjoy looking at what I’ve done so far, and if you happen to be Catholic, please help me in spreading this message and let me know if you have any insight into how I can best utilize this website!