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The Final Hurrah: Reflections from a GA

By Jenna Renaud

My two years at Falvey Memorial Library and Villanova have officially come to a close. At the close of last semester, I wrote a similar post reflecting on the changes that Fall 2021 brought; however, now I am faced with a much more daunting task—reflect on the entirety of my GA experience.

tolkien books on map

Jenna’s personal Tolkien collection for celebrating National Hobbit Day

Thinking back to my first day at the Library, I’m struck by how different it is from the end in almost every way. My first day, I came down to almost an entirely empty office. I spent the semester in office only two days a week. My first semester was filled with time spent in the stacks helping Access Services and writing Cat in the Stax each week, discovering my voice and role in the Library. The post that stands out the most from that time was one of my first, talking about how to celebrate National Hobbit Day through Falvey’s collection. This was during a time where the majority of my inspiration came from items laying around my home office—including my husband’s new collection of Tolkien books.

Second semester, I focused on finding new ways to connect with the Villanova community and started the Read with the (Other) Jenna book club. Although short-lived, it was fun to dig deeper into books including Angela’s Ashes and Aftershock. Despite not being in-office with the team, our Zoom meetings were definitely a highlight of every week, discussing everything from Mosaic to upcoming events to the pros and cons of scrapple (don’t ask!).

GAs Jenna & Ethan outside of Falvey

GAs Jenna & Ethan at the Finals Stress Buster event

With the kick-off of the 2021-22 academic year came student workers, another GA, and the return of office work. It was definitely a transition going into the office four days a week, but it was a much needed change of pace. Passing off Cat in the Stax to Ethan, I looked for new recurring blogs to take on, settling on Peek at the Weeks and Weekend Recs. In addition to having another GA to collaborate with, we had student workers in the office again! Kelly showed Ethan and I the ropes for poster deliveries (something I had yet to experience) and Anna and I collaborated on what is to this day my favorite Weekend Recs following the drop of Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) album. The semester flew by and was such a fun experience, getting into the swing of how things were pre-pandemic.

And with that, it was my final semester! Ethan and I had the opportunity to attend more Villanova Theatre performances, including their most recent production, Curtains, which you can read more about here. In addition, Ethan and I took on a new project introducing In Case You Missed Ita YouTube series where each month we broke down the top stories based on social media data. Our Wordle episode was probably my favorite, along with all of the bloopers when we forgot how to talk. The spring semester also brought more in-person events, including one with Lit Fest author Camille Dungy, where I was the point person. My final event of the semester was our baseball-themed stress buster, with everything from soft pretzels to Bundt cakes (Get it? Bunting? Like in baseball?).

Maybe the past two years haven’t been “traditional,” but I wouldn’t change anything! Big thanks to Joanne, Shawn, Kallie, Gina and Ethan for being the best team and taking my graduate student experience to the next level. 168 blog posts later—I’m out!

This isn’t good-bye, it’s just see you later (I definitely need to come back for updated Falvey swag)!

Jenna Renaud is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

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Grad Students: Beat the Writing Blues

By Daniella Snyder

I’m Daniella Snyder, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey can play a large role in your success here on campus!

This post goes out to my fellow graduate students, and a question that we have heard regularly over the last two weeks:

How’s your thesis going?

Whether it be from co-workers, classmates, or professors, the question is anxiety-inducing. The timeline I had envisioned for myself might have been too demanding, I keep getting distracted, I love procrastinating…the list goes on and on.

However, I’m not here to stress you out any further. Instead, I want to help you. Over the course of the last few days, I’ve found tons of thesis and dissertation writing tips, tricks, and testimonials, and I’ve listed some of the best pieces of advice below. Wildcats: best of luck, and get writing!

1). It’s okay if you don’t write every single day. In her Inside Higher Ed article, Christine Tulley writes that, despite the popular “hour a day” writing schedule, real-life academics “carve out time and space for writing in an impressive variety of ways,” and advises a weekly writing day. If that sounds more doable than a daily writing sesh, read Tulley’s article.

2). Get in the driver’s seat. Dora Farkus, PhD, shared her own dissertation-writing journey in this online article. Farkus advises that you have to be your own project manager. “The purpose of grad school is to learn how to become an independent researcher,” she writes, “you are not at the mercy of your thesis supervisor,” and that you are at the point in your education where you know what is realistic to accomplish.

3). Accept that you will never feel like writing. In a different online article, Farkus makes it clear that you should not wait to be inspired to write. However, there are a few steps you can take to “warm up your writing muscles:” listen to music that puts you in the mood to write, watch a motivational video, or visualize all the things you will do once your thesis is finished. Then, she advises, start typing gibberish! Get something down on paper until words flow naturally.

4). Be intentional when writing. Instead of writing “work on thesis” in your calendar, Farkus and Tulley assert that you should be specific, such as “Finish Section II of Chapter I, 3-5 p.m.” This way, you can feel accomplished when you do finish the task. Further, by setting specific time restraints, you’re more likely to mono-task (the opposite of multi-task!) during that time frame.

5). Finally, not writing is writing (sometimes). Of course you know that you should take breaks when writing, but Tulley writes that on your walk to get more coffee or doing your laundry, you should use that time to think about what you worked on. Do you feel proud? Are there still problems to tackle? Who can you send it to to for constructive criticism or revisions? This way, you’re not allowing your break time to distract you from your project, and you’re still making progress towards your end goal.

Daniella Snyder HeadshotDaniella Snyder, graduate assistant for the Communication and Marketing department at Falvey, is currently working on her master’s thesis.



Last Modified: January 22, 2020

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