March 23

Advocacy Project

For our Advocacy Project, Dagny, Erin, and I will be researching, discussing, and advocating for establishing a nationalized paid maternity leave for U.S. women. Currently, the United States has no standardized law for paid maternity leave, except in three states, whereas many other nations have extended amounts of paid maternity leave. But, that is not to say we do not have any form of paid maternity leave, rather it is left to the employer to determine how much a mother is paid and for how long when she is home with her child. For the project, we will begin by looking at current legislation in relation to maternity leave and will direct our attention to the “Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993,” along with its most recent amendments. From there our focus will shift to the legislation and programs here at Penn State. The medium through which we will advocate for our cause will most likely be some sort of flyer/poster or a pamphlet, so that our information can be easily disseminated and remembered.

January 23

Draft–“This I believe” Podcast

Be your own sunshine. Radiate positivity. Wake up every day and make the choice to be happy. Some people are naturally overtly joyous and infect those around them with happiness, others have to work at it for one reason or another.

You cannot rely on others to brighten your day because more often than not they have to worry about being their own sun, not your light. Not because they mean to do you harm, but because they have their own things to worry about other than your happiness. We have to be our own champions; no one is going to do it for us.

As we grow we must find the things, no matter how small, that make us joyful, that bring light to our day; we cannot, we must not, live under a cloud of darkness.

I enjoy making other people feel good, it genuinely makes me content, but we shouldn’t seek recognition or acknowledgement for things we should always be doing. Small acts of kindness not only improve our day, but the days of those around us.

I can recall seeing one of my classmates in middle school commit one of these small, unnoticed acts. She saw that one of our friends seemed to have lost his book and proceeded to get into trouble for it, but upon further investigation she discovered that another one of our friends had taken it in order to avoid getting in trouble herself. So, after class she took the book from our one friend who carelessly tossed it aside and returned it to the locker of our friend, who jubilantly exclaimed to our teacher he had found his book. Having watched all of this from the sidelines, I asked my friend why she bothered to do that, she said because it made him happy and because our other friend will never notice and didn’t think of how her actions affected those around her. The happiness on my friends face for silently saving the day was something I wanted to feel and have everyday sought out to achieve.

It is our job not only to ourselves but to others to put the best version of ourselves out there. If we all decided to put forth a bit more effort to understand and seek to make those around us see the grace in life and engage in the small, unnoticed acts of kindness, would not the world run a bit more smoothly? We all have a choice. I find it easier to be happy than to be sad and to spread that joy to those around me, however possible. This I believe.


January 13

Ideas for TIB, continuation of Passion Blog, and Civics Blog



For my “This I believe” podcast I may center my discussion around the broad ideas of either “happiness” or “understanding.” To go into further detail, for “happiness” I would discuss how my family has instilled in me how to live each day as a choice: to wake up excited and with a smile, or let the events of the previous day weigh on you. Happiness is a state of mind, a choice you make, even in the darkest of circumstances. My mother also makes it a point that happiness is infectious, so not only does your choice to be positive improve your day, but the day of those around you because you never know when the smallest act of kindness will make a world of a difference. If I were to discuss in further detail about the importance of “understanding,” I would focus on how people are too quick to attach their emotions to situations and thus forget to step back and analyze the situation from an outside viewpoint and clearly understand why people do the things they do, say what they say, act how they act. It is much easier to go into a conversation with a level head and leave judgement at the door. I would also discuss how all opinions are valid and there is no such thing as a “wrong” opinion, just ones that are misinformed or improperly communicated within a certain setting. When people say to me another person is “wrong” or their opinion is false, I say to them “that’s not fair.” If you invalidate or deny someone’s opinion you are violating the core belief of having an opinion, and whether you accept it or not, you just have to understand.

For my Passion Blog I will maintain the same topic of discussing the law and certain court cases. Last semester since we had to post 10 blogs I focused each post on one of the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. With the hope of not becoming to repetitive, this semester I will branch out from the Bill of Rights and either discuss current course cases or will select high profile cases and discuss their importance/effect in relation to the law. One way I can improve my blog is to make it more relatable and fun to read so that readers can apply some of the information to their own lives.

For my Civic Issues blog, I plan to focus on the larger topic of Identities and Rights. I hope to relate this blog to my Passion Blog as that relates to the law. Since my Civics Blog will connect to my Passion Blog I will expand what I am talking about every week in my Passion Blog and discuss the “theme” of the week on the international stage. I will do this by analyzing a case both at home and abroad that centers around the same issue and discuss how they are similar and different. Another idea I have for my Civics Blog will be to discuss international law and pick a country each week and research and discuss their judicial system; my blog will then be a summary of law around the world.

November 4

Outline for TED Talk

Topic: Social smoking—smoking cigarettes/cigars/E-cigs


Purpose: To Analyze how this social activity has changed over time and what that change means for the dynamic of our society (socially, culturally, economically, medically, etc.)


Thesis Statement: For centuries, smoking has been seen simply as a social activity that most people engaged in either for leisure, reduction of stress, or for some other personal need; however, in recent years a cultural shift has occurred and now smoking carries a negative connotation and is fiercely labeled as a detrimental activity to your health.



  • To gain the audience’s attention I may begin with a question such as… “does anyone know someone that smokes?” Or maybe show a striking ad or play a commercial designed to persuade people to stop smoking.



Main idea: The change over time in the perception of smoking and how it was once acceptable to part take anywhere and anytime, but now smoking is highly regulated and carries a negative connation.


Topic 1: Past/History of smoking

  • Discuss history of smoking and illustrate with pictures/show where people smoked—home, restaurant, work, sporting events, etc.
  • Discuss economic significance—data/charts
  • how smoking was promoted in ads, the media, etc.
  • Talk about society norms/psychological impact smoking had—why do we all partake in such a common activity—do we feel pressured to do something everyone else is?

Topic 2: Beginning of the shift

  • Medical discoveries and the effects of long term smoking are what precipitated the change in the collective view of smoking—knowing long term effects and how smoking effects your body was main reason so many people quit so suddenly
    • for it being such a commonplace, smoking has died out relatively quickly when compared to other commonplaces—has taken less than a century for its public opinion to change
  • present data/charts—time period
    • discuss effect on economy/culture



Topic 3: Present day

  • Talk about how nowadays when people see someone smoking they think negatively about their actions because they know what repercussions lie ahead of them if they continue to smoke—people seem to be confused by those who smoke—they think, “why do they do that to their body, if they know what can happen?” But the answer isn’t that simple and should not be judged so quickly.
  • Regulations and restrictions
  • Present day media that illustrates this belief/commercials—discuss how smoking is painted in such a negative light—but is it too much? Is it all completely accurate or fair?



Sum up the shift and discuss where it may be heading in the future—what do scientists say about smoking today? What is the reality of completely ending smoking? How has it evolved? The market for cigarettes and the like still exists and thrives, but how? How do we not see it? Is it more of a hidden market?

October 19

Outline for Paradigm Shift Essay

Outline for Paradigm Shift Essay



Topic: Evolution of cigarette/cigar smoking/tobacco industry

  • Commonplace of social smoking

Time frame:

  • 1900-2016—start when smoking was socially acceptable and common and no one thought about its long term affects and travel through decades and explain the cultural transition from acceptable smoking to when it became a health concern to modern day where almost all forms of smoking are collectively looked at as socially unacceptable.

Those who are affected:

  • All generations
    • Started with older generations and trickled down to younger generations—over time reached broader number of generations because smoking was more widely promoted than it had been before so people of all different ages began to engage in smoking.

Characterize the ideology/worldview before:

  • Smoking was seen as acceptable and social—was normal to take a smoke break or casually smoke while talking with friends, walking to school, sitting in meeting
  • Large presence in culture—economically, socially, politically
    • Eco—big companies dominated industry and acted as supporters/sponsors of other company’s/sports teams/etc.
    • Soc—smoking was promoted in the media—celebrities did it; it was the classy societal norm
    • Pol—even high ranking officials engaged in smoking
      • **it was unusual for someone not to smoke

Characterize the ideology after:

  • Now smoking for the most part can be classified as socially unacceptable based on scientific discoveries that prove smoking is detrimental to your health—at least if you are an avid smoker and smoke every day.
  • Smoking now carries a negative connotation—when we see someone smoking we are confused to why they are harming their body

What markers can you point to as evidence of the shift?

  • Change in social dynamic
  • Presence in everyday culture
  • Scientific discovers/medical conditions
  • Negative social condition
  • Campaigns to end smoking
  • No longer as large of a market
  • Not popularized the way it used to be—now more of a silent industry


What resistance is evident? Who is resisting this new ideology?

  • People who unfortunately are addicted to smoking and cannot give up the habit
  • Those that believe they will be the “lucky” ones and remain unaffected by the side effects of smoking
  • Companies that make their fortunes off of selling cigarettes and cigars
    • But is smoking entirely bad—what if one only smoked every so often, are the effects then as drastic as those felt by people who smoke every day?

Shift response to?

  • A more knowledgeable society
  • Developing healthier lifestyles
  • Discovery of effects smoking has on body
  • New knowledge about long term effects

Who or what was key in moving the shift forward?

  • Scientists and those directly affected by smoking
  • Groups/campaigns that spread awareness of about smoking’s effects

What conditions didn’t exist that came to exist that made the shift possible?

  • New tech/medicine/research
  • Laws about purchasing products
  • Media took a different outlook on smoking once everyone learned that it caused more harm than good
    • However, there are still companies out there that encourage smoking regardless of their knowledge that it is harmful to your body

Which of the conditions above played the greatest role in advancing the paradigm?

  • Science=concrete, indisputable proof of effects of smoking


**Discuss evolution of tobacco industry—especially since it still thrives even though people look down on smoking


Structure of Paper

  • Paragraphs revolve around decades or chunks of time
    • Discuss progression of industry, social aspect, etc.
  • Use commercials, posters, campaigns as visual aids
October 19

Circle Post #5



The New York Times review of The Circle describes it as the modern version of George Orwell’s classic 1984 where Big Brother looms over society, however, now it is The Circle. Originally classified as the protagonist of the novel, Mae, determined by The New York Times morphs into almost an antagonistic character by the novel’s conclusion. With her evolution from hero to “villain,” Mae sets her sights on eliminating privacy and intimacy, which inherently become the doomed “heroes” we find ourselves cheering for till the final page. The quote from the Times describes “Mae, then, not a victim but a dull villain” because she has not valiantly fought and destroyed the system as so many heroes do in classic literature, but rather she has become an agent of that very system. Instead of tearing down The Circle, Mae becomes the poster child for joining and completing their mission. In this way she indeed becomes a “dull villain” because there is no dramatic change or climax at the end of the novel, rather the story drops off and picks up weeks later exactly where we expected it to—Mae helping complete The Circle. There was no great revelation or resolution, rather a continuation of plot and conclusion that we had been introduced to early on in the novel—closing The Circle. But, that type of ending almost speaks more to us as readers for it aggravates us and causes us to confront the reality and actuality of something of this nature occurring; it makes us think about the effects of such a world existing and how we may be helpless in our attempts to stop it.

The final book of the novel plays into the message that Egger’s wanted to convey to us because unlike the previous pages, here he switches to classic omniscient 3rd person, and instead of telling the story from the point of view of certain characters and using their direct quotes he eliminates the use of dialogue completely. The entire structure of the novel and indeed most directly the ending, act as metaphors for the lesson we as readers should take away from Eggers—that if we become so interconnected through technology, we will no longer be connected by anything concrete, like thoughts, memories, or dialogue. Throughout the novel, Mae and other characters become less attached to other people and become more involved with their screens and online profiles and thus Eggers begins to eliminate the defining qualities of his characters, especially their direct dialogue. The final three pages lend themselves as an overview of the most recent events at The Circle, but they offer no in depth or personal analysis; they are simply just a summary. It is interesting to point out that the final lines are Mae wondering about what Annie is thinking; would it not be easier to just ask Annie and not worry about the technology involved? Would you not receive the same answer from simple human contact? The novel concludes talking about an individual that is separate from the new dynamic of the world, an outsider; however, Annie is the most human among them for her thoughts are guarded and maintain a level of privacy.


October 13

Circle Post #4

The Mariana’s Trench, a seven-mile-deep forty-three-mile-wide geological masterpiece, remains relatively unexplored and foreign to researchers. Located in the Pacific Ocean, the trench presents a myriad of interesting topics and strange similarities to The Circle. As mentioned it remains relatively unexplored, it varies in depth, miraculously supports life, and strangely enough presents some clarity and simplicity to such a complicated world. The trench and the monsters Stenton retrieves from there act as metaphors for the goals and characteristics of The Circle.


The Circle, much like the trench, wishes to become all-consuming and controlling. The Circle hopes to and does become the dominant technology company in the world; they establish complete control over everyone’s online personality and file. Symbolically, the trench does the same—it is a vast space that encompasses much and almost acts as a behind the scenes puppeteer—always there, but never ostentatious. To stretch this metaphor further, the trench is at its simplest level a body of water, and The Circle wants to be in such demand that people feel as though they need it as much as they need water to survive.


The animals that Stenton specifically brings back from the trench are mesmerizing; they draw attention and invoke curiosity. Mae describes the animals from the depths as “bizarre, ghostlike, and vaguely menacing and never still, but no one who stood before it could look away,” just like those that become a part of The Circle can never fully detach from it (309). Personally, these characteristics seem to describe The Circle. The Circle is indeed bizarre based on the level of control it exhibits over its workers and members; it is ghostlike in the sense that its authority is behind the scenes and almost purely digital and that over time those who are a part of The Circle seem to forget that they are being watched, that a little ghost is watching over them. The Circle is also physically and figuratively “never still” because with the increase in members going transparent more cameras are capturing the world as their pilots move through it and The Circle’s presence is always felt online or in person—you cannot shut down The Circle.


It appears as though that these animals are the physical representation of The Circle—powerful, transparent, mysterious. The one animal that Mae takes a key interest in and the one that becomes the only survivor is the shark, however, jellyfishes, seahorses, and manta rays were also brought back from the trench. The shark is described as “malevolent,” “omnivorous and blind,” “near translucent,” and “ethereal,” which all add to the description of The Circle (309). At surface level, The Circle can be described using anyone of these terms, for The Circle, much like the shark, looms over all and rules the “fish tank”—i.e. the interconnected world. The following pages go on to describe the feeding patterns of the animals and how dominating the shark was and how everything in its path was diminished to gray dust, to be forgotten by all. Mae also describes to her viewers and thus we the readers that the octopus can “one second seem like you could hold it in your hand, and the next it encompasses most of the tank;” The Circle too can appear to be minuscule on the surface, but behind its exterior its tentacles reach out into every crevice of information and detail in the digital world. Mae explains to us further that “the creature’s tentacles seemed to want to know everything,” much like The Circle. The animals, especially the shark, are very dangerous and almost injure one of The Circle’s employees.


Overall, the monsters from the depths of the Mariana’s Trench symbolically represent The Circle and its increasing control over the lives of millions of people. The final image of the lone shark in the glass fish tank plays up the dominance of The Circle and warns readers of the danger of a totally digitized world, where privacy and personal interaction cease to exist.

October 7

Circle Post #3

Eamonn Bailey does not guide Mae to create these three mantras, rather he manipulates her and appeals to her on such a deep emotional level that she is actually convinced of the validity of these slogans. Going into her meeting with Bailey, Mae is so fearful to lose her job that readers believe she will do anything to preserve her place at The Circle. Bailey is conscious of this as well and thus takes advantage of her vulnerability, and later he uses her again as the poster child for these mantras.

The first saying “Secrets are lies,” may hold true in certain situations where the secrets that are told are in fact lies, but simply keeping a secret does make it a lie, it just makes it a private thought, or an omission. A lie is when someone makes a deliberate choice to mislead another person or purposefully changes their statement, either for personal reasons, which may be justified, or for malicious intent. Bailey asks Mae, “in a family, is a secret a good thing? Theoretically, do you ever think, you know what would be great to keep from my family? A secret (284).” Here Bailey is deliberately invading Mae’s emotions, especially given the recent turmoil with her family. However, this is an unfair example to use in order to sway Mae’s opinion because sometimes family members, either for the protection or for the preservation of the family keep some things private, because in all honesty we do not need to know everything. I also think that we trust more when we do not know everything because have confidence in those that surround us to have our best interests. Bailey claims that secrets only “better the keeper of the secret,” when in reality it is usually harder for the keeper of the secret to maintain its covert status (285). Bailey declares that everyone is “entitled to know” everything, but no one is entitled to know or have access to any information that is not their own (285). There is indeed a difference between healthy secrets and those that weigh us down, but only we can decide how our secrets affect ourselves, no one else can make that decision for us. Bailey has a very simple way of looking at things; he believes that if everyone knows all then all danger would be eliminated. But his utopia demands the participation of everyone involved, but not everyone has such an idealistic outlook, thus his system is flawed. Bailey also ties in the idea of National Security and how if all nations divulged what they know then all conflict would end, I beg to differ.

The next mantra, “Sharing is Caring,” is not as far-fetched as the previous one because it does have many applications and should be implemented, but not to the extent The Circle wishes. The extent at which The Circle wishes it citizens to share indeed infringes on personal privacy and individuality, for if everyone shares all their experiences then there is no room for personal expression. Also, if you share too much, it may become a crutch to not only yourself, but to others and then they may rely on you too much. Bailey reveals to Mae that “knowledge is a basic human right,” and it is, but the extent of that knowledge cannot impede upon the privacy and individuality of other citizens; there must be limitations, so that everyone can grow to be their own person.

The third and final mantra that is presented is “Privacy is Theft.” Maintaining your privacy and having your own secrets is not theft, rather if privacy was actually erradictaed that would be theft because everyone has a right to privacy. There is no correlation between privacy and theft because either way, if privacy is maintained or destroyed, crime will still exist.

All three of these slogans connect to one another through the common thread of the expression of the individual or the expression of the collective group. The Circle aims to eliminate the individual to preserve the greater good; however, the way in which they hope to achieve this does not guarantee greater freedom and safety, but regulation and control.

October 5

Outline for Civic Artifact Essay

Outline for Essay


Original Artifact: Lady Justice/Scales of Justice_35

Contrasting Artifact: Album Cover of Metallica…And_Justice_for_All_(album)




Overview: Found contrasting image on a whim by googling “justice for all,” which is the name of the Metallica album from 1988. I believe I will stay with this image and compare it to my original because it displays, I believe, a more realistic version of how justice and the law were presented when the album was released and how the law/justice is perceived today.



  • Reintroduce original artifact and provide background info
  • Introduce new artifact for comparison and provide background info
  • Explain similarities and differences between two
    • Touch upon ideas brought up in speech—how Lady Justice calls on us to act civically—discuss details and juxtapose them with those from album cover and how they differ—and the significance of that difference
  • Context of both—time period



  • Paragraphs will most likely be split based on characteristic or detail on statue, or by rhetorical device
    • Ex: paragraph about scales, blindfold, sword, strings, etc.
    • Ex: logos, pathos, Kairos
  • Tie in more about time period album was created in and how it applies to now as well
  • Discuss how one version is the idealistic version, the perfect version, while other is more realistic, raw, and honest
  • Possibly tie in song lyrics because album was about political and legal injustice**
  • Also discuss phrase “justice for all,” which ties in the Pledge of Allegiance
    • Widen lens to cover what it means to be a part of our justice system—are we forced to be aligned with it or not? Do we have a choice? What does it mean to “pledge allegiance?”
  • Is justice just an ideal? Something to strive for, or can it be achieved? How is it achieved?
  • How is justice conveyed to the general public? Is there one definition of justice? Can it be molded to different situations? Is it circumstantial?



  • So what does this all mean?
  • What is the importance of the difference between these two representations of the same object?
    • Why did Metallica feel the need to manipulate this image, or make an album that completely revolves around it? How was the album received?
  • Have circumstances changed since the late 80s, or are the issues that were prevalent back then that inspired this album cover still present today?
    • Or are both illusions? Do the details on either statue misrepresent what is true about the law and justice system?
      • Should we be blind to what is in front of us? Does that truly make us objective? Can we really make decisions or form opinions by separating the facts from the emotions and context and etc., can decisions be made that simply?
September 23

Outline for Civic Artifact Speech


**Should I use all that is here? Should I just use song…?

  • Use personal memory to draw audience in—eighth grade history teacher and John Mayer Song “waiting on the world to change”—how he disliked that song said waiting on world to change—why not go change it yourself? Well, I think that was the point of the song.
    • “one day our generation is gonna rule the population”—quote from song—play at beginning of speech
  • We as generation Z are labeled as those that are truly going to change the world for the better-we have been tasked to leave this earth better than we have found it—that’s a pretty daunting task, but what better time to figure out how we are to do that than college.
    • We’ve heard it from our parents, teachers, friends, etc.
  • When thinking about how we are to go about changing the world, my mind drifted to law—a concrete way to promote change and then I began to think about how law is represented—the scales of justice and lady justice and whether they accurately portray civic justice and call us to be officers of the law.


  • I’m not quite sure why when asked to give a speech on a civic artifact I thought of the scales of justice
    • It might be from an interest in a career in that field, a Constitutional law class I took in high school—I’m not sure
  • Regardless, I felt this draw to justice and how its symbolic representation could possibly be analyzed to contradict how it should be portrayed in everyday life. Why separate the scale? Why divide a system where division has caused so many problems? Why cannot we think of justice as one collective effort, one scale, and weigh it for excellence, effect, or improvement?

Expand Idea/explain point

  • The law is clearly a commonplace among us, but it can be interpreted by others in many ways.
  • Historically, lady justice or the scales of justice descended from the god Justitia.
  • Popularly represented as blindfold, holding a sword in one hand and the scales in another, Lady Justice embodies many contradictions. Why must justice be divided? How can we actively change the world for the better if we are blindfolded to what is right in front of us? Can punishment be so simply regulated and dished out? How can we change what has been for centuries? How can we be civic when we are unsure of how to achieve that under the law?
  • Why are we called to weigh our decisions? Good or bad, right or wrong, is it ever so clear cut?
  • What can be more civic than living by the law of the land? Using that law to improve the situation of others.


  • What’s the point?
  • Why is this civic
    • Why do we feel the need to be better citizens/to live up to a standard?
      • Cause it is the only way to improve the system and to make a difference—live up to the standard in order to change it
    • So, don’t wait to change the world. Answer the call of justice?