Laura Zimmerman


Laura Zimmerman

48 minutes
Melissa S. Mead
Interview/Event Date: 
October 11, 2013
Biographical note: 

Laura Zimmerman received her BA in Psychology with Honors, from the University in May 2011. During her undergraduate years, she was a member of the Campus Activities Board, a Resident Advisor, a Teaching Assistant. She was awarded a Citation for Achievement in College Leadership, the Logan Hazen Award for Outstanding Contribution to Residential Life, and was a member of the Senior Honorary Society, the Keidaeans. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology at Georgetown University.

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MM: So tell me what class you graduated with.

LZ: I graduated in Class of 2011.

MM: 2011. And did you run just all four years?

LZ: Yes.

MM: And you didn’t do a Take 5?

LZ: No, I didn’t do Take 5.

MM: Okay. Would you have wanted to do Take 5?

LZ: No, I don’t think so.

MM: And why was that?

LZ: Because I feel like while I was at school, I got a chance to experience a variety of different courses through the, you know, the open curriculum where you can really choose your own path and I had a clear idea in mind of what I wanted to pursue afterwards, so….

MM: Did you have – when you started, how did you get to what – how did you make your decision as to what you’re doing now?

LZ: Definitely. So when I –

MM: Tell me what you’re doing now.

LZ: Yeah. So when I came to U of R I – I declared, we had to sort of declare a tentative major. I declared psychology and that’s what I ended up graduating with a degree in, and now I’m in grad school at Georgetown University doing a Ph.D. program in developmental psychology. So I went straight through from undergrad. Yeah, so.

MM: What – I’m down actually, pay attention to the questions here - so tell me about where you were born and how you chose the University of Rochester and if it was your first choice.

LZ: Yep. So I actually have a unique story. So I’m originally from Rochester, New York, born and raised, been here my whole life and when I was applying to schools I did not really – U of R wasn’t totally on my radar because I thought, you know, I love New York State, I want to stay and go to school in New York State, but I wanted to get away from home, I wanted to leave my hometown, but then my mom was like, “Listen, listen, you really should check out University of Rochester; I know it’s close to home but you should still go.” And she encouraged me to check it out more so my – my I think it was my junior year, maybe my senior year, I did an interview and then she also wanted me to do an overnight. So I ended up staying in Sue B, in one of the freshman halls, and I was like, you know, at the time I was like, I’m from here, I don’t need to do an overnight, but I ended up being – I think it was Gates 4, maybe it was Gannett 4 – I forget which hall it was. But I was paired with paired with, you know, in a girls’ double on a coed hall, and I got a chance to get to know the student life and I just remember I loved, uh – they took me to a sitar concert in Rush Rhees – I think it was in the Welles-Brown Room or something like that – it was just like, this is such a unique place and I really love the people, so I thought, you know, I need to do more research on U of R before making my decision, and then it ended up being going from a school I that I didn’t really consider ‘cause it close to home to my top choice because it really fit well with everything I was looking for in a university. [chuckles] So.

MM: So, then you had your your overnight in Sue B; where did you otherwise live as a freshman – where you lived all four years –

LZ: I do yeah. So when I was a freshman I lived in Sue B also, I was kind of excited ‘cause I’ve done my overnight there so I already knew the lay of the land, I was on Holley 5 an an all-girls hall, and then my sophomore year I was a D’Lion in Gilbert Hall with one of my friends from my freshman hall.

MM: And who was that?

LZ: Stephanie Tam. Yeah, she was on the crew team and I just remember we talked about it our freshman year. We loved our D’Lions on our hall and we, you know, we were really spirited, we loved, like, decorating, we had different themes we would decorate the hall with. We started out with music, it was a music-themed hall and then we changed for the holidays with all different festive decorations. But but yeah, so I was a D’Lion in Gilbert my sophomore year. And then junior and senior year I was a residential advisor in Crosby Hall. So I moved from Sue B to the Res Quad.

MM: The Res Quad.

LZ: Yeah.

MM: And did you, um. . . As a freshman, did you do Wilson Day?

LZ: I actually did not. [chuckles] I did as a – I did as a sophomore when I as a D’Lion; my freshman year there actually weren’t enough spots for everyone to go, so I ended up not going with a couple other people on my hall.

MM: So do you – but do you remember your orientation?

LZ: I do, yeah, orientation was probably one of one of my favorite memories. I was really great to get to know my hall and my brother hall. We did a lot of we went to all the orientation activities together, going to Red Light, Green Light, you know, all these different the ice cream social I remember being really awkward but also really fun, you know, meeting new people because, you know, no one really knew anyone at this point so we’re all going up saying, “Who are you and where are you from? What are you doing?” You know, just getting to know one another and I think there was like a a concert one night like, you know, all the student groups performed and things like that. It was – it was great.

MM: So did you. . . Did you do things at other parts of the University? Did you go to the Eastman School for concerts, did you go to the art gallery?

LZ: I did. I tried I tried to do as many things in Rochester as possible to really take advantage of everything going on in the city.  I actually – when I was in high school, I took classes and lessons at Eastman, so while I was in college I tried to do different things and I didn’t take music lessons there but I did attend concerts there when I was an RA, I actually planned some hall programs, we went during Eastman – during the Eastman East Wing opening, when they built a new addition onto the building and had like a opening concert and reception and stuff, I took my hall to go see the concert and stuff like that. I was always a fan of Java’s and, you know, going. I think my freshman year we had a hall program to go to Strong Museum of Play, you know, things like that. I always loved getting off campus and exploring Rochester, going to the Lilac Festival. I always loved that festival, so.

MM: And in fact your experience is unique because you were a local student –

LZ: Right. So I already knew the area.

MM: Did you feel like you acted as a leader amongst your fellow students because of that?

LZ: Possibly. I think because I knew so much about the area I was always trying to sort of encourage other people to go off campus as well, so I’d I had always, you know, planned things with friends or suggest different ideas of things to do instead of staying on campus or in addition, you know, because there was always a lot going on campus as well but it was fun to, you know, explore East Ave or Monroe or things like that too, because there’s a lot going on.

MM: So - and so did you actually feel like, when you knew lots of things in the area, did you feel like that gave you an advantage over your classmates or was there also a disadv – was there a drawback to going to a local school?

LZ: Hmm.

[talking at the same time]

MM: – not necessarily because you were too close to your parents.

LZ: Yeah. For a disadvantage for the localness, I guess if I had gone to another university in a different city or state I would’ve been less familiar with, you know, the geography and been sort of exploring it anew so it might’ve given me an advantage in the sense that I knew my way around, you know, I could help navigate and and go to places I already knew I liked and things like that and I could recommend places to other people as well I think it might’ve been a disadvantage in the sense that I wasn’t exploring something totally new to me. But I still even though I’m from here, I’m still discovering new things even though I was from here at the same time, so.

MM: What professors do you remember, particularly?

LZ: Yeah. So Dr. Richard Aslin is one of my most influential professors. I first took a class with him my sophomore year Development of Mind and Brain, but even before I took a class with him I started research in his lab and this was the Rochester Baby Lab. And he was influential in so many ways of my life not just from being, like, a teacher and, you know, imparting new knowledge to me but also as a mentor and guided my research path. So I did a couple of independent projects with him. My junior year I also took a class with him a lab where we designed our own study, and conducted you know, some – I think, I think we did a mini-study. It wasn’t like a, you know, a full-fledged study but we we conducted research with a smaller sample and then analyzed the results and presented it to the class. And then I ended up doing a senior thesis with him as well looking at eye-tracking with infants and their preferences and things like that. And so ultimately the experiences I had working and doing research with him has is what led me to want to pursue graduate school in studying developmental psychology, so now I work with infants and toddlers, studying how they learn from different media sources, like touch screens, books, TVs, stuff like that. So if it weren’t for taking his class and getting really interested in his lab and, you know, having the chance to work with him over several years while I was here, I don’t think I would be in the same place today, so.

MM: Do you stay in touch with him?

LZ: I do, yeah. I’ve seen him at several conferences actually, so when when I was an undergrad he would he would host, like, lab parties and things like that so I got to be in a close relationship with him and his post-docs and grad students and stuff like that. And then I’ve stayed in touch with him throughout the course of grad school, I’ve emailed him sometimes, life updates or things like that when I’m, you know, presenting at a conference I always look to see if he’ll be there too, and we’ll have little lab reunions, we’ll – he’ll take the lab to dinner at a conference or something in another city, so so it’s always great to stay in touch like that.

MM: So were there – you were – so you graduated in 2011?

LZ: Yes.

MM: And you started 2007?

LZ: Yes. Yeah.

MM: And were there particular events that occurred in the in the US or in the world that you recall affecting life on campus?

LZ:. . . Trying to think . . .

MM: Was there particular events on campus that that you remember that were memorable either because they were really happy or they were really sad or. . .

LZ: Well I remember my freshman year one campus event, we, I think they were unveiling the new mascot. It was - they were changing Rocky from UR Bee or URBee to Rocky. So I remember that my freshman year as like a big campus-related event that was going on. Slightly more tragic event my senior year, one of the students was, was killed. Jeffery Bordeaux.  So that was a tragic event that occurred on campus that affected so many people. He actually went to high school with me. I didn’t know him on a personal level, but it was obviously pretty sad for everyone. Other events in the world, I don’t remember too many particular events really standing out that shaped life on campus. Yeah.

MM: Which is perfectly reasonable. That actually also tells us something as well, from the lack of, lack of impact.

LZ: Right.

MM: Did you feel like do you feel like you got really good preparation--it sounds like you did, but I’m not going to lead you--good preparation for what you are continuing to do?

LZ: Definitely. That’s I think one of the biggest strengths of my experience at U of R is the close mentorship and not just with my professor Dr. Aslin that I worked with, but also other grad students who were really involved and influential in, you know, making sure that I got experiences that helped me figure out what I wanted to do next, so.  I think by having so many research opportunities become available to me that I was better prepared. Actually, my freshman year I took a class in cognition, and one of the TAs I had – I would attend these optional recitations – one of the TAs I had asked me, “You know, would you like to be involved in a study?  I would, I would love to interview you to potentially help with one of my projects.”  So it was, you know, sometimes me seeking out opportunities but other times, you know, it went both ways, I guess, which was really fortunate for me because I know that’s not the case at other universities, that there’s so many potential options for people to get involved and study things that they didn’t know were out there even. You know, I didn’t know before I came to U of R that people actually scientifically studied babies. I was always, you know, interested in children and I’d do babysitting on the side and I was like, this is really great but I actually initially was in the grad program to… which is part of the Warner School. I was the first year in that new program to basically, you could extend and stay a fifth year and get your Master’s in education, so I was thinking, I want to be a teacher maybe, and then I ended up changing that idea because I learned there’s a whole new field I didn’t know was out there that I was even more passionate about that I could pursue. And it wouldn’t have been that way if I didn’t, you know, have these connections with other people and have these research opportunities. I worked in a couple different labs in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, so, yeah.

MM: Where did you study when you were here?

LZ: So I loved studying in the library, in Rush Rhees. I found it really difficult to study in my dorm room [chuckles] because there were always distractions going on, so I loved studying – when the weather was nice my all-time favorite spot was the balcony of Rush Rhees because I loved, you know, looking over onto the Quad and Interfaith Chapel and everything. So I would sit on the Adirondack chairs and read or write when it got colder in the wintertime and when I was studying for finals and things like that I would come just inside. I’m blanking on the name of the room right now –

MM: The Messinger Room?

LZ: Yeah. What, the Periodical –

MM: The Periodical Reading Room.

LZ: Yeah. The Messinger Room. And and occasionally I would, you know, vary it up and switch locations within Rush Rhees. But that was my primary spot I liked to study when I was by myself. Otherwise I might go to ITS or Gleason or something like that.

MM: And where did you eat?

LZ: Primarily Wilson Commons in the Pit, which has now changed names. I don’t know what they call it now.

MM: I think it’s just the Commons.

LZ: The Commons, yeah, now it’s the Commons.

MM: But it’s still called the Pit.

LZ: Yeah. And Douglass was a big favorite of my friends and I. Freshman year we always went to, um – wow, it’s taking me back – in Sue B, the –

MM: Danforth?

LZ: Danforth, yeah, Danforth Dining Hall, and Hillside because it was open until midnight and we could get, you know, coffee and snacks and things like that, even if we were studying late at night. It was nice, we could just go down and, you know, in our pj’s or whatever and it was fine. So. [laughs]

MM: Where did you eat off campus?

LZ: Off campus, I loved –

MM: Did you have a car?

LZ: I did not but some of my friends did, so we would sometimes go to, like, Aladdin’s by Monroe or, you know, you can also take shuttles to some of these places as well from campus.  Aladdin’s was my all-time favorite place I liked to go or Java’s Café. Yeah.  Sometimes the Distillery too. Yeah.

MM: So, looking at your resume, looking at – I mean, you did D’Lion, you got the Hazen Award for Contribution to Residential Life and you were on the Dean’s List. You did a lot of stuff and you were a Keidaean?

LZ: Yes.

MM: And what was your experience as a Keidaean like?

LZ: It was pretty – it was a pretty great experience for me. I honestly didn’t know much about it, I had heard nothing about it before I got a little message about it, an invitation, basically and it was it was really a great experience for me, I – there were, you know, several other people who were members, leaders, and students on campus that I got a chance to know and we had people who other campus people who we would get to know on a more personal level and unique special events and things like that, so it was it was a pretty cool honor to have to be a part of i-the organization.

MM: And do you stay in touch – will you go to the Keidaeans group – Meliora –

LZ: I do. Yeah. Every, every Mel Weekend they have a little reunion and I love going because it’s, it’s really great to me to meet alum – other alums that have such cool stories about their experiences as well when they were here and I can – I’m sort of figuring out how the society has evolved over the years, you know, there’s a lot of traditions and stuff that went on years ago that have changed or are no longer going on or have evolved, so I always love hearing about what went on years ago and so I always try to go back to the events and stuff like that, and I stay in touch with other people in the society who are my year, who were seniors, yeah.

MM: Was there anything in particular that you remember doing as a Keidaean?

LZ: One thing we all went to Boar’s Head together, we had a table at Boar’s Head, and so that was really fun, I mean, there were there were a lot of different things we planned with like faculty-type members who were honorary members of the group, and so that was a lot of fun, getting to know them and we did some things off-campus as well, like, we took a trip to the the Memorial Art Gallery together and got a tour, that and things like that as well, so.

MM: It’s a fascinating group.

LZ: It is, yeah. Honestly –

MM: The more I learn, the more fascinating it is.

LZ: Yes. Yeah, I actually – so when I was a senior and I got this invitation that was very vague and I didn’t know anything about it, I immediately, um – it’s funny ‘cause I didn’t know anyone else who was in it, so I think I might’ve talked to my RA or something or asked someone who was funnily enough also in it but was not letting me know what was going on, ‘cause it, you know, it’s supposed to be this really secretive, unusual time where, like, until you all meet you have no idea what it means. And so I came to the Rare Books Library and I did a bunch of research, I said, “Do you know what this means? I got this thing.” And so I spent days doing research in the Rare Books Library you know, trying to figure out what all this meant and what was going on and it wasn’t until I joined that I realized not everything that we have documented is true about what’s currently going on with the organization, so, a lot has changed and not a lot has necessarily been documented since then, so I really tried my year to generate a lot of information that could be potentially passed down, so.

MM: And do you have things that you’d like to deposit in the library, I would like to have them.

LZ: Okay. Fine.

MM: We can add them to the Keidaean Papers.

LZ: Yeah.

MM: So . . . the – what other – so when you weren’t doing classes which were strictly related to psychology, what else did you take?  You took Latin.

LZ:  I actually –

MM: You didn’t.

LZ: I didn’t. I took Latin in middle school and high school. When I was at at U of R I explored other languages, I actually minored in ASL so so I took sign language and also Spanish. So. So, no Latin but I still had, you know, an interest in Latin as well and I remembered what I learned previously, and so. Yeah.

MM: And of course I have to have you tell the story about the “Meliora.”

LZ: The Meliora, yes. So.

MM: Dean Burgett says [laughs] – he says to say hello in case I see you.

LZ: Okay.  Thank you. Tell him I say hello too.

MM: And he also says that you’re now part of University history because he always tells that story and he always names you.

LZ: That’s so funny. Wow.  So when I was, I think it was my junior or senior year, I’m blanking on which year it was. One year I – I think it was probably my junior year one of the RAs was having a hall program and Dean Burgett came to speak. And I just – she said, you know, “If you want to come, come, you know, it’ll be interesting just, you know, getting to know him on a more personal level.”  I think they ordered, like, pizza, and he was talking to all the students about what they did, and I was like, “Wow, I never really knew Dean Burgett before.”  

And then I found out – it must’ve been my senior year – he was doing a talk on the history of Rochester and it was like, I would love to hear ‘cause I don’t know much about, you know, the origins of U of R, how it was founded and everything like that. So it was in the Strong – no, it was in Hutchison Hall in the giant auditor – Hubbell Auditorium. And it was I kind of just went on a whim. ‘Cause it was like I’ve, you know, I’d heard about it that day, I was like, I might as well go, I’m free. So he he mentioned the origins of our motto “Meliora” as coming from a quote from Ovid: video meliora proboque, which is “I see the better way” or “path.” And so I was like, okay, but what is the context, like, what is the larger passage this comes from. So I did a bunch of research online and I found – I was actually a little concerned and discouraged when I [laughs] saw the next phrase of the sentence is deteriora sequor, which means, “but I follow the worse.” And so I I talked to one of my friends and I was like, “You’re never gonna believe this, but our motto is actually potentially flawed, like it’s, it’s a big concern, like I don’t know why this is, you know – [laughs] this is our, you know, this is supposed to represent our university, I thought it was, you know, ‘ever better’ or ‘better,’” you know, the superlative of meliorus, you know, meliora, meliorum. So I was like, “Oh no, like, I need to tell someone but I don’t know if I should tell Dean Burgett, what is he going to think?”  [laughs] And then I emailed him and he gave me a really great response about how humans aren’t always perfect, like we some – maybe this, you know, in context means something different than the literal definition of it, so sometimes we see what we should be doing but we can’t always achieve it so we’re always, you know, striving to do that and we always, you know, we’re human so we make mistakes sometimes, you know, but, it’s like, “Phew, okay.”  [laughs] I like “Meliora” again. [laughs] But I don’t know if that’s really the true origin because there were – he presented a couple different potential passages that it could have been derived from. So, I think it’s potentially still a mystery or maybe –

[talking at the same time]

MM: It’s a good motto.

LZ: It is. I like it a lot.

MM: But it’s kind of fun to think, oh, I’ve thrown a hundred sixty-one years of tradition on its head –

LZ: Yeah. [laughs] Right. Yeah.

MM: And you’re now – you’re now famous. Because Dean Burgett always talks about you.

LZ: Oh wow. If it weren’t for that one lecture. [chuckles]

MM: So were there – were there other lectures like that that?  So you went to a lecture or you had some – obviously Dean Burgett – Dean Burgett as Dean of Students is is mo-is very likely to come to a hall and have pizza and sit and talk. Were there other professors or deans and Res Life people, deans, other Deans of Students, Freshmen, Sophomores, Se - Juniors, Seniors.  Everybody’s got a dean now.

LZ: Yeah – I don’t know – My – I didn’t have a dean when I was a freshman, I just had a a professor who was our, like, Freshman Advisor, um –

MM: Who was your Freshman Advisor?

LZ: I honestly don’t know –

[talking at the same time]

MM: Besides dean – besides, besides Professor Aslin.

LZ: He was basically my primary advisor that I went to, not for my major, my advisor. I actually, I was a psychology major, although I did research in the BCS Department and my advisor was Deci – Professor Deci. I wasn’t particularly close with him. But, I, you know, I went to him on occasion to meet, but there were a lot of different, you know, lectures and talks on campus that I attended. I actually I always wanted to go to everything that was happening on campus, so I was – I would always read, you know, the Campus Times and the emails about all the events going on, so I tried to, you know, see all the different speakers and comedians and people that would come to campus and I found out my freshman year that there was actually a way to get involved in helping organize and plan these events, so at the Winter Activities Fair, um , so I joined Campus Activities Board. And then I helped in a variety of ways with organizing, you know, organizing different people that would come to campus and present or perform or something like that.

MM: Was there someone that you could remember saying, “Oh we should have this person come,” and that you were very involved with in that?

LZ: Yes.

MM: Was there someone that you were really proud of bringing because of the event turned out –

[talking at the same time]

LZ: Yeah, I’m trying to think. We had so many different people come – my – let’s see – my freshman year we actually had Dimitri Martin, who’s now coming again for Mel Weekend this year. So that’s cool to have him come back because he’s a hilarious comedian. Bill Nye the Science Guy who was it – Stephen Colbert came for Mel Weekend one year when I was helping organize events and stuff like that. Let’s see – a lot of different comedians and musicians and stuff like that, I’m trying to think of other big names that would ring a bell, . . We had The Onion, few writers from The Onion came,. . .

MM: Was there someone that you missed seeing that you said, “Aw, if only I’d seen – got to see – “

LZ: Ahhh . . . I don’t think so, no. It’s possible. Maybe in maybe my freshman year ‘cause I didn’t really fully know what was going on yet my freshman year, so.  I also loved going to the a cappella performances freshman year I went to the Yellowjackets’ shows and then I also sophomore year and through senior year got really into the Ramblers because they would have these clues to their concerts. So every concert had a theme, so, like, say it was Harry Potter or something. They would post these clues and you basically have to figure out the meaning behind the clue, –

MM: Where were they posted?

LZ: It would get posted on Facebook, on the - their event page. And then you have to figure out if you want to participate, what the clue means and search on campus, almost like a scavenger hunt, and figure out if there’s another clue hiding in that location. And if there is, then you, like, win tickets to their show. So I would always search with my friends, trying to find their clues, which was a lot of fun.

MM: And did you do any performing groups like that?

LZ: I did not do any performing groups on campus. A lot of my friends did, I more attended them than performed myself.

MM: And were you in a Greek – anything with Greek life?

LZ: No, no Greek life.

MM: Was there a reason why you didn’t do anything with Greek life?

LZ: No, I wasn’t particularly interested in joining, there was no real reason behind it. I had friends that were in, I thought, you know it was totally fine, I just wasn’t personally interested in joining, so. But yeah.

MM: And the things that I’m missing in what I’m saying – in what I’m asking – things that you’d like to talk about, specifically.

LZ: Let’s see. . .

MM: And this has nothing – this has nothing to do with advancement, alumni relations, this is really just to capture what part of – what you want to share with your experience –

LZ: Definitely.

[talking at the same time]

[background noise]

[long pause]

Well, one side note that’s kind of cool is well, since I’m from Rochester I went to school here. I went to high school, part of high school and middle school in the building that was the original dorm for U of R, and I didn’t know that until I I moved, you know, until I started U of R, but School of the Arts on Prince and University used to be a dorm for students, I think some of the faculty or, you know, former alumni told me that they were in the dorm there.

MM: Dean Burgett was in one of those.

LZ: Yeah. So I thought that was cool. ‘Cause I, you know, you never really learn these things as a student. I didn’t know the history of the University that used to exist there. I guess it makes sense ‘cause it’s close to the Memorial Art Gallery and other things, so the location makes sense. But then they moved later to the River Campus.

MM: The women came to - in ’55 and lived in Sue B.

LZ: Yeah. Um . . . I’m thinking. . .

MM: Is there anything that you would have changed about what you’ve –

LZ: Yeah, one thing that I always regretted not doing was studying abroad. There were a couple of reasons I didn’t want to. It was kind of difficult with my program to do that ‘cause there were a couple of things that we had to do at certain points in order to get the degree. And so I was in the honors program in psychology, so we had to you know, in one semester our junior year take a class that would prepare us to do our senior thesis, and that’s usually the time when people study abroad. And a lot of my friends went abroad my junior year, so I always kind of thinking if there was one thing I could change it was I wish I would have gone abroad. But at the same point, there was so much to still take advantage of while I was here that it wasn’t it wasn’t that big of a deal, but if I went back I might’ve done that differently. I would have loved to study abroad. I don’t know where I would have gone but I – somewhere in Europe, probably if I hadn’t maybe pursued – I did a cluster in Spanish but if I’d pursued Spanish a little more, maybe, like, Spain or some-I don’t know if they have a program there that sounds good, probably with the Spanish Department, or if I – if I hadn’t, you know, really gotten immersed into foreign languages well maybe somewhere like England or something like that, that’s not as difficult to communicate with other people ‘cause, you know, you speak the same language. But I’m trying to think. . .

MM: Why did you choose Spanish?

LZ: I took – so my – it was actually in high school, I took a little Spanish just as electives. And so I thought might as well try to continue it while I’m here to see if I can get a little more in-depth knowledge and be able to potentially speak it. But.

MM: And do you?

LZ: I, – un poquito. I speak a little bit. [chuckles] Occasionally I’ve used it with other people but since I don’t really keep it up, it’s hard to – I’ve forgotten a lot in the process. So. So, yeah.

I guess – going back to Campus Activities Board that was probably one of the greatest discoveries of my freshman year. Uh, I worked really closely with Melissia Schmidt, who’s now at Eastman the Assistant Dean of Students there. And she was also a really big influential person in my life as a mentor, a non-academic mentor because I learned so much about sort of, like, leadership development from her that I don’t think I would have if I didn’t join this club. I got to, you know, help in organizing different things. My – so my sophomore year I was the Winter Fest Weekend chair, and I got to, you know, meet with Class Council people and other people in the University to help organize this event with, you know, Husky dogs and an ice skating rink that was in Wilson Commons and what was on the fourth floor – the little performing area –

MM: May? In the May Room?

LZ: May Room, yeah. We had a little ice skating rink that they built in there.

MM: Oh my gosh.

LZ: We had, you know, s’mores and all these different activities we had a make-your-own – one year we had a – sort of like a make-your-own stuffed animals – Build-A-Bear type activities. So so different – being involved in helping planning different things on campus was a really was a really awesome experience for me and I think it helped me grow as a person in terms of, like, learning about, you know, delegating and, you know, what really all goes into event planning and what, you know, what types of things really go on behind the scenes, you know, and so I really enjoyed the experiences.  It was sometimes a lot of work and kind of stressful especially leading up to the event, but it was also a lot of fun, sometimes had great perks as well, like, um uh, two years I was the SA van driver, and so when we would have special guests come to perform I would drive and pick them up and bring them to campus and then drive them back so some hilarious events ensued.

One year it was D-Day for Dandelion Day. We had this band, Neon Trees come to campus. I didn’t really know them too well before but they, they’re sort of, um – they, they’re not like – they’re sort of like maybe punk rockish, I guess you would say. Anyway, so I go, I’m wearing my U of R shirt so they know, like, who I am ‘cause we’ve never met. And I go pick them up at their hotel to bring ‘em to campus for the sound check and then they were going to hotel but they were like, “Actually, we we need to stop at the guitar store.” So we stopped there ‘cause they needed some new guitar strings and they’re like, “We’re really hungry. Could we go somewhere to eat?” [laughs] So I’m chauffeuring them to Taco Bell. We walk in and, like, everyone was, you know, it was just a – it was a fun experience that I remember just because, you know, it’s not every day that you get to meet these people and, you know, chauffeur people around. So it was kind of a fun experience. Different, you know, comedians you get to see a different side of their personality and stuff like that, and get to chat with them. So that was something I recommend – something I would recommend to other students, you know, is definitely try to do something that you’ve never experienced before. I never really did anything event-related, you know, in in high school or anything like that. I was never I was never involved in planning any large-scale events, obviously, so it was cool to see a different side of campus life in that capacity. 

MM: Which sort of feeds into what someone else was saying about – I refer to “extracurricular” in these and he was saying, “Oh no, the really the stress was on “co-curricular” as the term because this was almost as valuable potentially an experience as your education, so is that –

LZ: Yes! I definitely agree. I feel like I learned in a different domain but almost as much from these activities as I did in the classroom or outside, you know, in the lab or something like that. So I feel like it was an integral part of my experience at U of R, and everyone has their different niche, you know, so this is what I ended up doing, but there’s so many other potential paths to, you know so.

MM: Would you do it all over again?

LZ: I definitely –

MM: What would you do differently?

LZ: Apart from the studying abroad, I guess . . . one thing I – there were a couple of classes that I would’ve really loved to take that people always said, “Oh my gosh this class is amazing,” that I just didn’t end up fitting into my schedule. One was Speaking Stones where I think they toured the cemetery and learned about the history of, you know, former Rochesterians and I would’ve loved to have taken that because I’m really interested in Rochester for a number of reasons, and the other one was Dean Burgett’s History of Jazz class. He actually – I took a class and his class was immediately afterwards and I was always like, maybe I should just, you know, take this class also and just, you know, I’d just stay in the same lecture hall, I wouldn’t have to even go to the next class but I think I had another class that I had to take that was after it so I couldn’t do both, but I would have loved to take those two classes ‘cause everyone I know who took them really, really loved the experience so let’s see . . . other things I would have done differently . . . trying to think . . .

MM: Are there things that you’re doing as an alum related to the University that you’re finding very helpful that you would like to do more of, that you look forward to your twenty-fifth so that you could –

LZ: Yes! [chuckles]

MM: – get to do such-and-such. But are you finding that there’s continuing support from the institution, both networking and also intellectually? 

LZ: Definitely. So actually just last weekend I attended an intellectual event. One of the professors at the University gave a lecture on the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.

MM: Who was that?

LZ: Ah. . .

MM: If you can’t remember, it’s okay. 

LZ: I’m blanking on his name. He’s also a dean or an assistant dean of some sort – DiPieri or DiPiero.

MM: DiPiero.

LZ: Yeah, I had never took a class with him.

MM: DiPiero, okay.

LZ: Yeah, so he gave the lecture and it was – it’s, um – so I’m in Washington, D.C., so it’s a great location for alumni because so many people move there after they graduate so I’ve gotten to go to so many different events where I meet alums that were actually my year who I never even knew when I was at Rochester so I’m still continuing the connections even though I’m not here. And our, you know, our paths didn’t cross for one reason or another because we were totally different majors or lived in totally different parts of campus or something, but one thing I really hope to get involved in that I haven’t done yet is to help with interviews of potential future students I know that they do that every year in, like, the D.C. or Maryland area or something like that. I just joined the Young Alumni Council for the D.C. region so I’m looking forward to getting more involved in, you know, planning events in D.C. for for others, you know, alumni and, um.  Yeah, so I’ve just tried to, you know, continue the connections with Rochesterians that are are in D.C. because I feel like even if we don’t – even if we didn’t really know each other well in undergrad, we had something really big in common that brings people together.

Actually, one time I was running around D.C. by the Naval Observatory and the embassies and I ran by and then I stopped, and I did a double-take and turned back and there was a guy with a U of R shirt. And he stopped as well and, ‘cause I, you know, it was like, “Wait a minute! Did you go to U of R,” and he was like, “Yeah!” I was like, “Me too!” I was like, “What class are you with?” I think he was like, “1994!” 1996, or something. I was like, “Wow, that’s really cool.” And so we talked for a little bit, we end - we ended up running for a little bit and then going our separate ways ‘cause we’re on different paths but just little little events like that are pretty cool because even though people don’t know each other they’ll, they’ll always stop you if you – if they realize that you have a connection, a Rochester connection. So I think that’s a pretty great experience that I’m not sure is true of other places. I’m sure it is in many cases but it’s cool that I get to be a part of that U of R experience, so.

MM: Good.  

LZ: Yeah. 

MM: Is there anything else I missed that you were thinking about?

LZ: I guess one thing I didn’t mention is I was actually – I worked for the library when I was my – I think it was my freshman year or maybe it was my sophomore year and one of the summers that, in between. I was in the Multimedia Center. So that was another little experience that I had. I got to help with, you know, screenings, showing movies for the lectures for different classes and stuff like that and I just loved the library. One of, actually while we’re talking about the library, one of my all-time favorite events was actually happened twice a year but or maybe more. But the going up to the top of the library for Halloween and then also for Senior Week. It’s just a cool, a cool place to see campus and I always loved going to the top and – Actually, one thing also that I regret not getting involved in was the carillon [chuckles] bells ‘cause that’s a really cool thing. I know one of the students made a project, I think his KEY Project was getting more students involved in playing the bells.

MM: And they’re working on that. There are more people doing the bells.

LZ: Yeah. So I think it’s pretty neat that we have that, so . . . Yeah, I think that’s everything I had.

MM: And it’s just about 2:30.

LZ: Okay.

MM: And I’m gonna – we’ll stop and I thank you for doing this.

LZ: Sure. Definitely.  

MM: This is great.  I will send you the release form and anything else you could think of, and maybe what we’ll do is we’ll make you an “every every few years” kind of –

LZ: Sounds good.

MM: We can keep updating this.

LZ: All right. Sounds great.

[talking at the same time]

You can see the evolution of –

MM: Of a person, of alumni.

LZ: Yes.  Yeah. 

MM: Good.

LZ: Yeah.  It’s great to be back this year. I couldn’t last year for Mel Weekend, I always, you know, try to come back – well, obviously I haven’t had many chances to come back yet since graduating, but last year I couldn’t because I was attending a conference presentation in New Orleans. So I was like, “No, it’s the same weekend as Mel Weekend!”  But I’m glad I can be back this year.

MM: I think actually that might be a lot of fun to say every, every five years or whatever.  You should come back and we’ll do an interview.

LZ: Yeah.

MM: I think that’s a good idea.

LZ: Mmhmm.

MM: All right. Thank you.

LZ: Thank you. It was nice meeting you.