Pioneering Your Future

J.T Henderson



Thinking about how you can get involved on campus as a student at Transylvania? Whatever your interests are, there are so many different opportunities!

We have 70+ student organizations including Greek life, intramural sports, and many other student organizations. There is something for everyone, but if you think there is something missing from the Transy community that students would like to be a part of, then you can start a new club or organization. Starting a new club may seem like a daunting task to take on, but it’s not too difficult with all of the support Transy has to offer.

As a freshman at Transy, I collaborated with a few of my friends, August Fox and Sarah Ashley, to found the Transy Habitat for Humanity Club. Our hope was to get students more involved in our Lexington community by working directly with Habitat for Humanity to help them accomplish their goals. We asked Dr. Kathleen Jagger, a Habitat for Humanity member of the board of Directors and Professor of Biology, to be our faculty sponsor, and after a little bit of paperwork, we were approved! Getting involved in an organization or forming your own can be a great way to improve your leadership skills too.

This year Transy started the Pioneer Leadership Certificate Program for students to learn about and make positive change through leadership during their time here. Dr. Shane McKee, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership, is leading the program to help students become better leaders as they progress through the various levels of certification. I’m a part of the pilot group and it has been a very rewarding experience to gain a deeper sense of my personal leadership skills and learn how I can more effectively apply those skills.

Last but not the least, when talking about pioneering your future, I simply have to include our up-and-coming program created by our new president, Dr. Seamus Carey; the 100 Doors to Success Program. This mentoring program hopes to provide current students with a network of mentors on and off campus to help students be successful after graduation, in whatever career they want to pursue. Although this program is still in its early stages of implementation, we can proudly say that we have a stronger than planned start to the program.

I have highlighted only a couple of reasons I think makes Transy a great choice for anyone, but there are so many other reasons why you should choose to be a Pioneer. One thing I can say for sure is that Transy will prepare you for your future and mold you into a future leader of our society.


A Presidential “First-Year” Experience

J.T Henderson

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with our first-year President, Dr. Seamus Carey, to talk about his “first-year” experience and get to know him a little better. Here’s how part of our conversation went:

Me: What has been your most memorable experience at Transy so far?

President Carey: I don’t know that there’s one specific experience, but I would say that what’s been most satisfying to me is the quality of our students. They’re incredibly bright, engaging, creative, and I genuinely enjoy being with them, so that’s been a really nice experience for me so far.

Me: Could you talk about your first big initiative The 100 Doors to Success Mentor Program?

President Carey: Well the idea came from talking with alumni that I had met early on, and I realized how committed and engaged they were to the school. This told me that the education they got at Transylvania was a good one, and also many of them live right here in Lexington, so I thought what an opportunity it would be to get them together with our students to help students navigate towards an understanding of professional life. It frees students up to focus on their studies and focus on subjects that might be of interest to them but might not necessarily lead directly to a career.

Me: You have held numerous leadership positions throughout your academic career. What prompted you to take your first leadership experience and what was it like?

President Carey: I wasn’t really thinking about it quite honestly. I was at Manhattan College and the Dean came and asked me if I would consider chairing the philosophy department, so I did that for a while. Then after a few years colleagues asked me to apply for the dean’s job. I had no idea that that was something I wanted to do at the time, but people I respected asked me and so I started to think about it. I decided not to take the dean’s job when it was offered because I wanted to achieve the rank of full professor before I would think about it again. I did that and the opening at Sacred Heart came along, so I said I’d give it a shot. I don’t think there’s a big divide between being a college professor and being college administrator. The basic mission is the same. I see myself as a teacher and as a philosopher first. Those roles inform the way I approach administration.

Me: Did you have a professor, teacher, or other role model who encouraged you to get where you are today?

President Carey: I took my first philosophy class with Michael McCarthy at Vassar College as either a sophomore or junior. Then I took another one because he was such outstanding teacher and he was an incredible person. I got into teaching and philosophy was because I wanted to live like him. He was an incredibly inspiring person and so full of life. Transylvania University will meet him in the fall when he speaks at the inauguration.

Me: In a previous interview with the Rambler, you mentioned that you believe the liberal arts are more relevant now than ever. Could you elaborate on that?

President Carey: I think we need to be really cognizant of the needs of families and students to have an affordable education that prepares them in ways that they can go on and have success in their careers. That’s essential. But if you look around at society and the world at large, you don’t have to pay too close attention to see that we really do need educated people. We need people who understand that there are higher goods that come with deeper understanding of the human condition. If we don’t have an educated population, we’re always going to be stuck with people who are concerned only with the lower dimensions of the self. We all have them, we all need help in rising above them and education is the key to breaking cycles of destructive behavior.

Me: If you were a high school student applying to Transy, what would be the biggest influence on your decision?

President Carey: I would want to know quality of the education: “Are the faculty accessible to me?”, “What are the outcomes for graduates?” or in other words “Does this education actually work?”, and also “What would my life be like at Transylvania?” I would also want to consider the cost.

Me: You were a first-generation college graduate. Could you describe your experience? Did you have any struggles, and if so, how did you face them?

President Carey: I went to college with a very pragmatic point of view. Both of my parents were Irish immigrants so they didn’t have very much formal education at all, and so my goal in going to college was to get a better job. I was lucky that I got to go to a very good school, but I was completely out of place. The only thing that saved me was that I played basketball, so I had a built-in group of friends. Other than that I often felt insecure. I felt like everyone on the campus was smarter than me. It was often quite lonely and not always enjoyable except for the educational part. That part changed my life. I was in love with learning for the first time. Philosophy became something that I wanted to pursue, but the social aspect was tough. Being a basketball player, loving the education, having some faculty members that I became close with, and having a core group of friends made it possible to persevere.

Me: As an undergraduate, how did you choose your major? You graduated with a B.A. in Economics, so how did you become interested in Philosophy?

President Carey: To be honest, I didn’t know any better. I thought I would go to Wall Street, so economics was the best way to do that. It turns out I really enjoyed studying economics and loved working on my Senior Thesis, but along the way I became deeply interested in philosophy and that changed me. Even when I was graduating college, I still had a lot of self-doubt and never for a second imagined that I could be a professor of philosophy, but there was something inside me that pushed me to study this. I went to Ireland for a year to make up the undergraduate credits I didn’t have, so that I could think about going to graduate school. But when I came back, I still wasn’t convinced that I had the ability to be a professor, so I thought about going to Law school. I taught high school for a couple years, but philosophy kept calling me back. To this day when I read philosophy texts, it puts me in a different state of being; it just resonates with me.

Me: Do you have a favorite book and/or author?

President Carey: My favorite work of philosophy is “The Ethics” by Baruch Spinoza, but I also have a favorite contemporary philosopher, who has written a trilogy of books, and his name is David Michael Kleinberg-Levin.

Me: Do you have a favorite quote?

President Carey: I don’t carry a lot of quotes around in my head, but Socrates says in The Apology that, “[The person who is worth anything] has only one thing to consider in performing any action–that is, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, like a good man or a bad one.” Socrates challenges the reader to consider that and that’s pretty important to answer for ourselves.

Me: If you could describe Transy in three words, how would you describe it?

President Carey: Community-driven inquiry. I think the faculty really does an outstanding job at maintaining a high level of inquiry and challenging students to achieve. The idea that communal inquiry drives us further and further towards achievement and a deeper understanding of things, I think, describes Transy well.

In conclusion, it was very enlightening to discuss the future of Transy with the person leading these positive initiatives to ensure that students are truly benefiting from the best Transylvania experience the university can offer. I look forward to President Carey’s inauguration this fall.

All I Want for Christmas is… to Spend Time with Friends

J.T Henderson

I had always heard that your time in college is when you’ll have the most amount of free time that you will ever have during the rest of your life. I was definitely looking forward to this “free time” coming to college myself. Most Transy students have four classes per semester, which is about 12 hours of class each week. When you’re not in class, of course there are always other things that you should be doing; such as homework, papers, meetings, practices, rehearsals, and the list goes on. This is where your time management responsibilities should come into play; although sometimes this can be a challenge. However, this sometimes can also lead to the most memorable experiences, like it did in my case.

Transy’s Delta Sigma Phi Beta Mu chapter created the extremely popular and hilarious lip dub of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” at the beginning of the semester. Two of my Delta Sigma Phi pledge brothers, Ben Wagner and Dane Ritter, decided that a great way to strengthen our pledge class bond would be to do our own, timely lip dub video that would allow everyone to have a great laugh and relax for 5 minutes during finals week. This led to one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of during my first semester- making a holiday lip dub video of one of the most popular, holiday songs – the one and only – Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You!” We wanted to make our video really good and more importantly, have a great time doing it. We also thought choosing this song would be a great idea because 2014 is the twentieth anniversary year of the song.

J.T All I want for Christmas

A photo of us rehearsing the last scene of the video

Making the video was so much fun! We spent most of the Saturday getting decorations and decorating one of the residence halls. We then filmed a few takes of the video in about an hour on Sunday. Ben and Dane had the video uploaded by lunch the next day and it began spreading all across campus and the web! It was quite the challenge finishing up our finals with all the attention we were getting because of the video. However; we all managed to finish the semester strong by completing all of our final exams, papers, and assignments since at Transy, our first priority is academic achievement. Spending time with some of the best friends I have made at Transy right before winter break was absolutely necessary and fantastic! I hope that everyone has a relaxing break spent with those who matter the most. If you have a chance to check out the video, I promise it’ll get you in the holiday mood! Happy Holidays!

Life After the Polar Vortex

Justine Yentsch

Unless you haven’t been outside in the past two months, you know that it’s been obnoxiously freezing, to the point that you would worry about frostbite every time you stepped out the door. However, as I am typing this now, it is a sunny 60 degrees, and while that may not sound like a lot compared to summer temperatures, it’s enough to not have to wear a coat to class, which means that I could not be happier. So in honor of this beautiful weather, I’m going to list some ways that you can enjoy warm weather on Transylvania’s campus.

  • Rent a bike (there’s a room in front lobby where you can rent one, and it’s 100% free!)
  • Sit in Forrer courtyard (you can sit on the porch swing and relax as you watch the fountain)
  • Play volleyball in Back Circle (it’s right near all of the dorms, and there is also plenty of grass space for any other sport you could want to play)
  • Get something to-go from Jazzman’s coffee shop and sit in Haupt Courtyard (conveniently in the middle of campus)
  • Make yourself a big ice cream cone in the caf (okay, so maybe this doesn’t involve the outdoors, but it’s never a bad idea)

In all, Kentucky weather is pretty amazing, at least from the perspective of someone that comes from Chicago. Transylvania showcases a lot of that warmth on campus, both from the physical surroundings and the people that go here. I highly recommend stopping by during the spring, because without the all the snow on the ground, campus tours can be longer and you can see just how happy our students are to be here.

Creative Engagements

Justine Yentsch

As a first-year at Transylvania, it can sometimes be intimidating to get involved with events around campus. There is so much going on, it can be overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there is a system that helps expose you to many different types of performances, talks, events, and shows. When you get to Transylvania University for your first year, you will receive a long (very long) list of “Creative Engagements,” required and non-required events that will greatly enrich your understanding of local culture, your peers, and the world around you. In addition, you receive course credit for attending a certain amount!

Some example events:

  • Lexington Gallery Hop: Trashformed. “American artists intercept the waste stream of flotsam and jetsam of American  culture and transform them into works rich with meaning.”
  • Student Electronic Music Recital
  • Transylvania University Theater performance: “A Theatrical Adaptation of Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions.” Continue reading

Vocal Scholarships: From Auditions to Your Freshman Year

Justine Yentsch

If you feel that you are musically inclined, it is highly recommend that you audition for a music scholarship. And although you can audition for either voice or instrument, my personal experience has been with the vocal program.

If you are also visiting Transylvania University for an academic scholarship, the music auditions are very convenient, since they occur on the same day. You’re already dressed nice, and hopefully the butterflies in your stomach aren’t too bad. So when the time comes, a current student escorts you to the practice rooms where you can warm up (and calm yourself down) before auditioning.

You only sing in front of a few professors, then answer some questions about your experience in music and what your future plans are. You don’t have to be majoring or minoring in music, and the professors are extremely nice, so for me it wasn’t as nearly as intimidating as I expected. Continue reading

How to Manage Your Homework (Without Going Insane)

 Justine Yentsch

Although college is an amazing experience, sometimes people forget that the primary reason you attend is for the academics. And while it’s always good to challenge yourself, in your first semester as a first-year, it’s probably better to pick classes that you know that you can handle.

That being said, there are many ways you can go about using your time to prepare for class, and it goes way beyond just writing your papers and doing your assigned homework. If you want to get good grades and be prepared for finals, it is better to space out your studying throughout the semester instead of just cramming right before tests or quizzes. (Trust me, it never works out too well.) Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage your course load, or even just to get a little ahead of the class. (It’s better than struggling to keep up!)

First and foremost, you absolutely-positively-imperatively need to pay attention in class. After all, your professor is there to teach, and you won’t do yourself a favor by skipping class to take an afternoon nap instead. Taking notes in class is pretty much expected of you, since your professor will most likely structure their tests around the same things they brought up in class. (And after class, make sure to reread your notes as much as possible. It’s probably the most important thing for your success in the class!) Continue reading