A Self-Diagnosed Imposter

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Easily self-diagnosable, imposter syndrome consists of chronic self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy despite finding professional success. As a woman majoring in math, I’ve definitely faced these feelings throughout my college career. Slowly, I’m realizing that the only person I still need to convince that I deserve to be in STEM is myself.

Throughout my life, I have placed constant pressure on myself to exceed expectations. Even when I’m successful, I question my ability and knowledge. Imposter syndrome makes it nearly impossible to be confident in my academic performance and makes me fear judgment from the rest of the world. A part of me feels like I must outperform my classmates to be taken seriously. I can’t just coast on being average because I anticipate that people will question why I chose to major in math. Maintaining a high GPA is more than just a point of pride for me; it is the only defense I have against someone wondering, “Should she really be a math major if she isn’t super good at it?” 

These feelings of inadequacy persist despite the fact that I have honestly had a positive experience as a woman in STEM here at PSU. I feel fortunate that my professors have never treated me differently from any other classmate—specifically my male counterparts. My professors have encouraged and supported me, and never once have they said or done anything to make me feel like I don’t belong in a math class. 

Everyone wants to feel accepted in their field of study and line of work. I have realized that I will always question whether I am accepted as long as I continue questioning my abilities. At the end of the day, I chose to major in math because I love the challenge and I am good at it. I’ve decided to adopt the attitude that if someone doesn’t think I’m smart enough for math—well, that’s their problem. 

Unexpected Calm

by Beth Royston

It’s safe to say I was worried about what was going to happen when the coronavirus finally hit Portland. I was extremely ill over winter break and for most of this term, and have been dealing with a lot of trauma about what happened to me. Some of those trauma symptoms were exacerbated by staying inside for long periods of time — and that’s what I was about to do as coronavirus continued to spread. 

I was unsure how my mental health would be impacted, especially with not being able to work as much as usual. I’m a productive person and getting things done is what makes me happy and fulfilled. Sometimes getting through a single two-day weekend at home was difficult, but I felt strongly about wanting to keep myself and others safe and therefore resigned to stay home. I had fought really hard to keep myself going to classes and work this term, battling physical and mental symptoms, and when I felt like I had finally reached a point of things being okay, I was about to be thrown into the fire I had spent so much time gently easing into.

Surprisingly, though, things have taken a turn for the better. I think I’ve been so occupied with keeping tabs on friends and family members and others affected by the coronavirus that I haven’t had time to worry about myself. A lot of my anxieties have faded, and I’ve had a lot to work on to keep myself busy. I usually prefer to take one or two online classes alongside one or two in-person classes, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with our new format. I definitely miss being on our beautiful campus, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to still attend classes. 

I’ve found that keeping a daily routine, eating healthy, trying to get outside for walks, and keeping busy has helped my mental health a lot. I’m looking forward to being on campus again, but I’m glad that I’m not putting myself or others at risk, and I’m thankful that my body seems to have decided to give me a break from my amplified anxiety. 

I’m very thankful that I am safe and healthy and all of my loved ones and friends are too. Continuing to hear about some of the things going on can be anxiety-inducing, but I try to watch how much I’m checking the news and reading stories and balance it out with things that I enjoy. Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon.

Moving Back Home

By: Ragan Love

I expected to spend Spring Break practicing flute and hanging out with my friends. Instead, I spent it moving out of the dorms and heading home to Colorado to begin remote learning. 

I was sad to leave Portland and my new adult life and nervous to be traveling. I get sick very easily and worried I could potentially spread COVID-19 to other people. But I knew that the safest place to quarantine would be home with my family. 

As an out-of-state student,I couldn’t take everything home with me. Luckily, I have an uncle who lives in Portland, and he let me store some of my belongings at his house. But this came with the challenge of sorting what I would keep in Portland and what I would take home with me to Colorado. 

Since I am doing schoolwork while I am at home, I had to pack all of my textbooks and flute accessories. I could only take two suitcases and two backpacks on the plane, which limited what I could bring back with me to Colorado. I also had to make sure I had enough clothing with me for the next six months. But I was surprised at the items that I was able to part with, like my ukulele and sweaters. I ended up having room to take home old textbooks that I could sell, snacks that I had just bought, and hygiene products that I was still using. 

When I moved to Portland six months ago I had my dad, mom, uncle, and grandma helping me unpack, but this time it was just me. My family did not feel comfortable being in the social setting of a college dorm so I had to move everything by myself. The most stressful part about this process was going through it alone . The dorms were empty when I moved out, so it was easy to move my belongings out.

Once I got back to Colorado, I tried to enjoy my Spring break before the quarter started back up. I have a piano at home, so I will be able to be successful in my piano class, but without a personal desk all of my school supplies are sprawled across my dining room table. My father is an essential worker and still leaves every day to his food packaging plant. My brother and I stay inside and quarantine. He is a senior in high school so we will both be working on remote learning together and it will be interesting to see how we learn  as we are both visual- and performing arts-focused. 

This is a big transition that I wasn’t prepared to take in the middle of March, but the transition feels successful so far. It will be an interesting ride with online classes, especially as a music major, but I think this experience will help us all learn how to adapt to different situations. I miss my friends, my new independence, and the city, but coming home was a good choice to help protect myself and my loved ones.

A Big Week for PSU Music

By: Ragan Love

Some people ask me what I do during finals for my music classes. I take written tests, but most of my examinations happen in the form of performing. This past week has been filled with three big performances and an informative masterclass. 

On March 1, the Chamber, Rose, and Thorn choirs had one of the biggest concerts in PSU history. Award-winning conductor Eric Whiticare came to the school to conduct his own pieces. PSU invited over 300 high school singers to sing along with the university’s ensembles. The band accompanied the entire choir in one song “Sleep,” and we also played the piece “Machu Picchu.” Whitacre conducted his own arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This fantastic concert was the first choir performance accompanied by a wind band that I have attended or heard. 

The morning of March 5, the PSU flute studio had a master class with Julee Kim Walker. A flute professor at Texas A&M-Commerce, Walker taught the flute studio for an hour. Three students performed and even though I wasn’t one of them, I learned so much by sitting in the room. She talked a lot about tone color with an accompaniment, which I have not thought about in my own piece. I took an entire page of notes and have been spending the past week applying her comments to my own repertoire. 

On March 5, the University Band and Wind Ensemble gave  their Winter quarter concert at the Foursquare Church in Beaverton. The University band performed the piece “Rainbows,” which was dedicated to a member of the band that passed away last summer who had conducted the same piece a year ago. My favorite piece performed by the University band was “Amperita Roca.” This is a very hype Spanish march that I played in my junior year of high school. 

The wind ensemble played the two pieces that we performed at the choir concert and also some other amazing pieces. My favorite piece that I performed was Kevin Walczyk’s “From Glory to Glory.” This was a piece celebrating the life of band director Ray Cramer’s daughter Heather Ellen Cramer Reu. The ideas and concepts that are in this piece are so thought out and it is beautiful.. The other piece that I enjoyed playing was a John Philip Sousa march. “The White Rose” is one of the lesser-known marches by Sousa but is so groovy! It’s loud and circus-y and is a staple band piece.

Sunday, March 8, the flute studio gave their end of the quarter recital. This was my first performance with piano and my first recital ever. I played Samuel Barber’s “Canzone” as my solo piece and a trio piece: Gary Shocker’s “Flutes in the Garden: I– Madonna Lilies”. This fun performance helped me relieve some of the stress I felt about performing for juries. The rest of the flute students also performed their solo pieces and trios. It was a nice way to wrap up the quarter and hear what my peers have been working on.

9 ways to get ready for remote learning at PSU

Spring term usually coincides with lounging in the sun on Urban Plaza, a plethora of festivals and activities and a humming, vibrant campus. But this year, spring at Portland State will look a little different.

The trees will still be in bloom, but a global coronavirus outbreak has prompted a shift at universities nationwide — and PSU is not exempt.

Folks in our Office of Academic Innovation and Office of Information Technology have been hard at work making sure our students, faculty and staff are ready for an all-remote spring term, and have created this Remote Learning Checklist:

  1. Learn what the plan is for each of your courses. Look for communication via email or D2L from your instructors, and read your courses’ syllabi carefully.
  2. Check out the Student Guide for Learning Remotely which covers many technical details and the Remote Learning Kit which covers additional tips for learning remotely.
  3. Get Zoom-ready. You’re very likely to have at least one instructor using this video conferencing software for virtual meetings this term. If you’ve never used this before at PSU, we have a few suggestions for getting started on Zoom.
  4. Schedule yourself. Look over the dates in your course syllabi, keep track of tasks in a calendar or planner, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to complete your work. With no in-person class meetings, it’s extra important to pay attention to how you’re spending your time.
  5. Take care. Give yourself regular breaks from your work. Exercise, eat snacks, and gift yourself with treats when you finish tasks.
  6. Stay tuned to PSU communication. The university is regularly sharing updates and resources to support you through this remote term via emails, Virtual Viking newsletter and on our social media channels.
  7. Ask for help when you need it. See more information about accessing campus resources remotely.
  8. Stay connected to friends, family, and classmates remotely. Social networks are more important than ever right now.
  9. Take a breath. Be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors. Everyone is trying to figure this out for the first time together.

For additional information, visit PSU’s Coronavirus Response webpage.

Sophie Soprani, Office of Academic Innovation

Senior Surrealism

By Maya Young

Over three years ago, my parents and I drove down from Seattle to Portland to tour the PSU campus. After visiting a few other campuses including Western Washington University and Evergreen College, I was instantly attracted to Portland’s unique urban setting and was very excited about the number of food carts scattered throughout the city and the campus itself. Moving ahead to September of 2017, I moved into the Ondine Residence Hall as an overwhelmed sophomore who had just graduated high school and had never lived on their own before. I quickly found a love for the campus, new friends, and all of the great food that Portland had to offer.

Flash forward to now, I am a week away from moving back home to Seattle and just completed the last of my finals for the winter term. Yesterday was my last day attending classes on-campus and I spent my walks to class looking around PSU for what felt like the last time. Almost three years have passed since I first moved to Portland, and while some stressful classes and long nights have made it feel lengthier, it simultaneously feels as if I just got here. My experience so far has shown me that being in college can be described as both the best of times and the worst of times (yes, it’s cheesy, I know). I have made amazing memories with friends, built long-lasting relationships, took interesting and useful courses in my major, and pursued a variety of great opportunities. At the same time, I also stressed over homework, experienced hardships with friends and roommates, and dwelled on my future after college. 

Despite these varying experiences, I am immensely grateful for my time at PSU and know that I will be leaving as a more well-rounded person ready to conquer anything that is ahead of me.

Coronavirus Courtesy

by Julien-Pierre Campbell

 

“You know,” my friend said, “we really don’t need to be worried about the coronavirus. Old people are really the only ones dying, and —” She paused. “Oh, well, I guess people with no immune systems too, or cancer, or something I read that online.” 

I knew, rationally, that my friend meant these as words of comfort. As an immunocompromised person, however, it felt like a nail in my coffin. Not only did it feel as if she was telling me I’d be the first to go, but it also felt as if I was supposed to celebrate this fact. 

It’s a very scary time right now. Colleges are closing and friends are abruptly returning to their home states. Concerts and plays are getting cancelled. People are buying enough cleaning supplies and toilet paper to fill a bunker. Friends refuse to hug or shake hands. Day-to-day life changes rapidly as more warnings are put in place. Even something simple as grocery shopping feels like an epic journey. It’s all the more stressful when you’re a target demographic for this pandemic. 

I’m immunocompromised. Though I deal with various physical limitations (such as chronic pain and a limp), this is what affects my lifestyle the most. I catch every cold, flu, and stomach bug that goes around. Strep throat, ear infections, chills, dizziness — these are familiar to me. I’m allergic to everything I touch, from grass and plants to dust to pet hair. I’m constantly covered in painful, itchy hives. I have a cough more often than I don’t. My nose is always stuffed up or running. I’ve had bad fevers three times this year, and it is only March. 

This makes life difficult. What makes it even more difficult is person after person repeating the narrative that only the eldery and the immunocompromised are at serious risk for death by coronavirus. It’s insulting. I hear, “Don’t worry! You might die, but everyone else will be fine! Your life is of less value to me, because I have a strong immune system!” 

As much as I try to be thick-skinned, this hurts. Your immunocompromised friends’ lives are of equal value to those who do not deal with this. Please be kind, and practice sensitivity. Silly as it may sound, put yourself in the shoes of those who are scared in the face of this threat. It’s not only a threat to our schooling and jobs, it is a threat to our lives.