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‘Cat in the Stacks: Midterm Week Reflections

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I’m William Repetto, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your new ‘cat, stepping in for the very talented Michelle Callaghan. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Library’s role in all of this.


It’s Wednesday of mid-term week, and there is something just so poetic about being halfway through the midway point of the semester. The ‘Cat in the Stacks, despite his enrollment in graduate English classes, which tend to have few midterms in favor of written assignments, sympathizes with you entirely.

You’ve been asked to do a lot this week: make sure you’re prepared for that natural sciences exam, get ready to fill up a blue book for philosophy, practice that presentation for your requisite communication course, and don’t forget you’re still working to become a specialist in your major.

Exam Studying

What studying for midterms can sometimes feel like. (Courtesy of StockSnap.io)

The good news is that you’re halfway through this stressful week! You’ve already lived up to half of the expectations set out for you, so cast those weights off and dive headfirst into the last challenges of the week. As you complete the rest of the week’s tasks, however, make sure you reflect on the amazing things you have accomplished already this semester.

I’d like to share some library-related and personal reflections with you to help put your own feats in perspective.

We’ve had some really amazing events and displays here at the library so far this semester. We hosted One Book Villanova author and speaker Elizabeth Kolbert, co-sponsored events for Hispanic Heritage Month, and are currently housing Andrew McKeough’s presidential libraries display.

As the days, weeks, and months go by, it’s sometimes difficult to recognize that what you have accomplished is something pretty great. Not every library in the world has the opportunity to bring in a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and not all libraries are privileged enough to have such a diverse group of students who visit each day – enough diversity that the library can play a part in the celebration of a particular heritage.

Your own personal achievements this semester work the same way. Whether you’re a communication student, an English major, an engineer, or an aspiring CEO, you have completed a significant amount of work already this semester. You have started to tackle that new mathematical theorem; you have read books on the intricacies of the business cycle; or, at the very least, you have begun to survey the literature of a particular field.

Midterm Reaction

How you should feel about everything you’ve completed so far this semester (Courtesy of youtube.com)

While very few of these tasks seem grandly inspiring as we complete them, not a single one of them is easy to do. Allow me to share a personal look at my semester to prove this fact.

Graduate schoolwork sometimes seems inordinate. Days quickly disappear as one budgets out reading a couple novels one week and challenging secondary literature the next week, while somehow becoming an expert on one particular aspect of the course, at least enough of an expert to write an engaging term paper.

How does this relate to you? Well, if someone had told me two months ago that in eight weeks I would tackle literary theory, including authors as challenging as Georg Lùkacs, start reading Miltonic verse as if John Milton were sitting with me casually explaining his vision, and get lost in the Realist worlds of Scott’s Waverley or Dickens’ Bleak House, I would say that prediction is a little lofty.

Studying for Exams

The work we have done, and the work that must be done – and don’t forget that cup of coffee. (Courtesy of StockSnap.io user Green Chameleon)

But here we are. We’ve made it (almost) to fall break, for a quick battery recharge before the final push to December.

You and I, in the course of the next two-and-a-half months, will write term papers, study for more exams, and give excellent presentations on various topics. The library also has excellent plans in store, chief among those: a presidential lecture series and the opening of a new reading room.

Around December, we’ll have the chance to look back again and be inspired by our new accomplishments. We’ll be surprised to have somehow made it through the tedium of the semester once again. The way that we continually inspire ourselves and encourage those around us marks the success of true leaders – whether in the individual sense or as the Falvey Memorial Library does as an institution.

I kindly ask you to reflect, discuss, or share in the comments below those things you are proud of yourself for this semester; perhaps your accomplishments will serve to motivate one of your peers, or maybe your comment will help put your own experiences into perspective.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 

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Last Modified: October 5, 2016