I’m Real, But I’m Not Sure You Are

img_4875  By: Beth Manney

A couple years ago, during one of my late-night Internet quests to find a video of a flying lawnmower that suited my needs, I stumbled upon the theory of solipsism, the philosophical idea that “only one’s own mind is sure to exist.” In an existential nutshell, how can you be sure anything else other than you is real?

I’ve been pondering what I’ve dreamt up in the past six years while writing fiction, and what I have the capacity to create. I think if you keep an open mind, solipsism theory is plausible. Thinking about all that’s happened in human history, I wonder, could I think up such cruel and beautiful things? If you look at it in the right way, which I would define as being able to keep an open mind without developing a narcissistic god complex, it’s fascinating to wonder what could be and what is.

I think my generation is in existential crisis. Spend any time on most forms of social media, and you’ll find an endless stream of nihilist memes that embody our need to plant our feet firmly on the grounds of actual existence. This angst also circulates around the intrinsic human need to belong. I think that Portland State does an excellent job catering to students’ wish to fit in by offering a multitude of various resource centers and events. There are so many opportunities to get involved with things you’ve never tried before and things that are familiar. In this vast, frightening world, find a buddy to scream into the void with you.

I’d love to hear your perspective! Do you think solipsism is narcissistic? Give the ol’ noodle a whirl.



Why I’m Annoyed by the Alumni Countdown

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

There is a sign on the alumni building on campus that went up on March 5 declaring “100 Days Until You Are An Alumni.” It’s been steadily counting down since then. I get it. It’s supposed to portray the happiness and excitement of graduation. It’s supposed to get the students pumped about being alumni of this fabulous university. It’s supposed to be encouraging.

Well, guess what?

For me—a graduate student in Book Publishing planning on graduating this spring—this countdown annoys the heck out of me. And quite frankly, it stresses me out. Why? It’s a constant reminder that I have 100 days, or 85 days, or 52 days to get all my crap in order. To find a job. To (maybe) find a new apartment. To (maybe) move to a new city. It’s a constant reminder that I have less and less time to get my final grad projects in. A constant reminder that May 20—my thesis defense date, the one that decides whether I pass or fail this program—is getting closer.

And that’s freaking stressful! With all the other ToDo lists in my life, all the other deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), all the other stresses, I don’t need this one.

But…maybe I need to look at it differently. Maybe this looming countdown can be…a count-up to my new life instead. My next adventure. That’s a better way of thinking about it. For now, anyway. Don’t ask me on June 12.

What do you think of the countdown?



By: Sharon Nellist

This is it. Ten more days until… FINALS WEEK. I am usually of mixed emotions during this 10258891_10101685513754293_6293913161816303566_otime: glad that the workload will be placed on a brief hold, and sentimental over the ending of classes that I truly enjoyed.

I had the privilege of taking a course in which the grade is solely up to me. It is a beautiful array of assignments catered to different learning styles that I can a-la-carte my way to a guaranteed ‘A’. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh yes, you guessed it, I never cease to amaze myself with my proficient ability to procrastinate. You would think that I would have this worked out now that I am in my senior year. Honestly, I had good intentions at the beginning to use this grading process to do away with procrastination, so I wouldn’t be stressed with a heavy workload at the end of the term. But alas, here I am, and I have roughly 20 pages of writing to do just for this class. And every time I do it well, it gets harder to change habits. “I also work best under pressure.”

The question is, is procrastination a bad thing?

vkuEJZCLets take a psychological perspective; hence, the course with this grading system is Abnormal Psychology.

Is procrastination DISTRESSFUL? Most of the term is distress free with this method as I absorb information like a sea sponge. It is only distressful the last few weeks of the term when I basically live in my own caffeinated-induced bubble.

Is there DEVIANCE? Probably not out of the ordinary. We are all human. I am sure that a copious amount of students at Portland State procrastinate too –  you know, since the library is open 24 hours from March 7-17.

Is it DYSFUNCTIONAL? It can be, if I fail to eat, sleep and hydrate. And, it may not be, if I manage to maintain grades above the GPA that I intend to graduate with.

What is your opinion on procrastination?


Not Just a Pool

SelfPost and Photos By: James Wilson


Many students are aware that the Rec Center has a pool, but one thing they may be unaware of is all the programs it offers. The Rec Center pool is more than just a place to do laps. The other day I got to shoot marketing photos of an aquatics swim clinic — I didn’t know until that day that the Rec Center offered lessons.


They are small group sessions of five people and an instructor, so you get a lot of one-on-one help and instruction. The Rec Center even has beginner lessons. 


The Rec Center is full of different programs. You’ll be amazed at the variety!


I Can See Clearly Now

By: Sharon Nellist


Two years ago, as a junior transfer student to Portland State from a two-year college in Florida, I did not have the luxury of Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry and wondered what University Studies was. When I found out, I was for lack of better words, “pissed off” that I had to spend more money just to take more general education. There was to be three junior cluster courses and a capstone in my immediate future.

A couple of film classes and an English course to cover the Popular Culture junior cluster did the trick. Now what about the Senior Capstone?

My mind was absolutely changed about University Studies when I began the Effective Change Agent Senior Capstone, especially during our recent class project.My community partner site for Student Leaders for Service is Albertina Kerr’s Project Grow, a unique nonprofit program encompassing an art studio, gallery and urban farm that provides various job opportunities and endless possibilities in artistic media for individuals with developmental disabilities. We decided to continue an archiving project that I had begun in the fall term at Project Grow by photo documenting the artists’ artwork into a professional and efficient system. Our class immersed ourselves in an unfamiliar community with our minds solely focused on selfless service. The idea of ‘scaling across’ (which we have been discussing throughout the term), where people of different cultures and backgrounds bring forward their experience and knowledge to create something that will fit the needs of those whom it is for, was prevalent during our time there.

It is the community based learning in the capstone courses that I believe is essential to a successful academic career. Your perspective of the world will be wider even if nothing else is taken away from this experience.

What is your capstone story?


I’m Search Engine Optimized

IMG_1216 By: Sara Kirkpatrick

It’s a no-brainer that having a sense for digital media is becoming more and more of a necessity for the job market today. Companies expect students to have the ability to connect their brands on a wide variety of digital platforms. As students, we are faced with the challenge of developing an additional skill-set that may not be included in our required curriculum, but it could give us an edge over others when seeking employment.

I recently completed the Search Engine Optimization course offered through the Portland State Center for Executives and Professionals (CEPE); this course is one of six courses offered in the Digital Marketing Strategies Certificate Program. The course was taught by an Anvil Media integrated marketing expert Kent Lewis. His industry experience inspired the course material with real-life examples and up-to-date information.

I learned how to perform a basic SEO website audit, using the following check-list: Site Navigation Elements, Site Functionality, and eMarketing Components.

After completing this module, I ran the SEO audit on my current e-portfolio. The main purpose for the audit was to understand my lack of traffic to my external blog. The SEO audit led me to discover that my current links to my social media profiles were the cause behind the low traffic to my external blog. As a solution, I implemented an internal blog within the same platform as my e-portfolio and deleted my external blog. The audit has not only made my current blog easier to access, but also has highlighted my need for the usage of ‘Social Sharing Buttons’. According to Google Analytics, my site activity has increased traffic by 20%, and I have had positive responses to these very basic, but extremely effective site updates.

I am hoping that the implementation of these features will aid me in establishing a successful digital presence and capture the attention of potential employers.

I feel that this course is an essential tool for anyone interested in marketing / advertising / business sectors of any industry. More information about this program and other certificates offered through CEPE can be found here: http://www.pdx.edu/cepe/certificate-programs


Living the Dream

By: Sharon Nellist

10258891_10101685513754293_6293913161816303566_oOne of my favorite things about Portland State University is how we are incredibly diverse. I have had the opportunity to meet so many new people from all sorts of backgrounds. I have been exposed to various cultures by those interactions right in my PSU backyard.

January 18 was no different than my past experience with diversity, except in one major way. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), Oregon Campus Compact, hosted over 400 students from PSU and six other local colleges and universities to come together in unity and love. Our goal was to serve and prove that we are not just dreamers, but if we believe then the DREAM will become a reality.


Coffee’d up and ready to serve!

We served 14 community sites throughout East Portland and Gresham, logged 1,428 hours of service, and made an economic impact of $32,944.

I was privileged to lead a small group of students and AmeriCorps volunteers to serve the Dharma Rain Zen Center on their 14-acre former landfill site in Northeast Portland. In those four short hours it did not matter what school we came from, or what homework we needed to do when we returned; we put ourselves aside and focused on them. We were weeding around bare fruit trees, towing wheelbarrows of mulch downhill, and trying to avoid being poked by blackberry bushes while removing them. And even though we may not see a huge impact from our service at that moment, like the bare trees, we know that the fruits of our labor will be noticed with time and more love.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


At the Dharma Rain Zen Center