Author Archives: Melissa '12

Dear Class of 2015:

In roughly two weeks (give or take a couple days), you will step foot on Colorado College. Some of you have visited, while some have not. Regardless, that first glimpse of Colorado College will be something magical for this will be your home for the next four years.

This is the place where a ‘unique, intellectual adventure’ is about to take place. You’ll have the opportunity to be a biologist, an historian, or a philosopher for 3.5 weeks. You have the opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas in a classroom with students from across the world. Professors become your friend, and really do care about your well-being and your many existential crises.

This is the place where you get a Block Break after that mind-blowing and exhausting FYE course. You then decide to go camping, visit some friends in Boulder, or stay on campus to catch up on sleep.

This is the place where you will meet incredible friends. You lived on the same hall, went on your NSO trip together, or bonded over your FYE.  You sometimes can’t get over how special your fellow classmates are, but more importantly, you can’t get over that they share your passions.

This is where you belong: the most magical institution of higher learning.

I will hopefully see some of you during NSO week!

Fourth of July Celebration!

Rather, I should say third of July.

I spent the weekend in Denver with my parents who drove all the way from Oklahoma to Denver.  It was great to see my parents considering that when I went home in May, I was only home for 36 hours before I headed back to Colorado.

The Sunday before July 4th, I went to the Denver Civic Center to see a masterful fireworks show that was timed to the performance of the Colorado Symphony.



Credit to Denver Post

Sundays: The Melissa Experience

Every Sunday (more or less) for the past couple of years, has been spent downtown at one of two coffee shops: Little Rico’s or Pikes Perk.

This summer I’ve found myself more and more at Little Rico’s drinking their delicious herbal iced teas (summer is alll about the iced tea for me. I’m from Oklahoma, what can I say?). It doesn’t hurt that Little Rico’s is connected to the cutest toy store, an amazing used bookstore, and a delicious restaurant (they even serve gluten-free pizza and yummy veggie burgers). I love interacting with the baristas and the local crowd–great fun. For example, last month I chatted with a local radio DJ for hours. We talked about food, tattoos, Colorado College, and music. Little Rico’s is a quirky fun place that I highly, highly, recommend if you need to get away or get that quick caffeine fix.

Last weekend, however, I found myself at Pikes Perk. What I didn’t know was that there was a Bike Fest! Crowds and crowds of people in leather, showing off their motorcycles, going to different booths, and eating street food. I felt a little out of place walking through the crowds to get to Pikes Perk, but it was great fun.  As soon as I ordered my iced yerba mate, I went up to the patio at Pikes Perk and had to take pictures.

My Sunday ritual takes me out of the ‘CC Bubble’ and allows me the opportunity to pretend to be a quirky local. (I’ve also noticed that coffee shops, particularly Pikes Perk, are one of the most common places for that awkward first date. *this is a hint, future CC students!) I may be doing research or doing homework, but not being on campus really brings light to the dimension of space.  It reminds me that so many other things happen in Colorado Springs. It’s like exploring the infinite abyss that is neither infinite nor an abyss.

A few thoughts on education reform:

We can all agree that education reform needs to happen in the United States.  BUT, how do we go about it?

Waiting for Superman is a 2010 documentary about the failures of the American public school system.  I recently watched this film again in my History of Education class taught by Professor Dennis Showalter.  Sure–it is a phenomenal film and makes you think about our education system.  But how do we fix the achievement gap?  Waiting for Superman implies that the “Superman” to help fix our education system is the charter school model.

But wait, are charter schools the answer? At the organization level charter schools sound perfect (in the general sense): principals get to choose ‘right fit’ teachers, teachers have the opportunity to get school-time for class planning, students are immersed in a college preparatory atmosphere, students are motivated to do well, and so forth…

In reality, charter schools are vastly underfunded compared to the traditional public schools (the film dismisses this); the film almost dismisses socio-economic status, we need to think about bettering the home life and life styles of these families in conjunction with bettering the school system; and Diane Ravitch (a well-known education historian) commented that charter schools really aren’t that successful (1 in 5 actually succeed).

Education reform is multi-faceted in its problems and methods to reform. We need to consider ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, and funding. We need to think about how to avoid teacher attrition–statistically, there is a higher turnover rate in charter schools than traditional pubic schools. How are we bettering family life? How are we getting parents involved (especially if some parents may have to work 2 or 3 jobs to maintain a basic lifestyle)?

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article called”U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show.”

American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.

While there are problems with the test the students took (National Assessment of Educational Progress), this points at a crisis that charter schools can’t simply solve. What are we to do to promote holistic education reform?

My Summer (Re)Reading List




(aka highly recommended reading by Melissa)

Simone de Beauvoir- Second Sex




Robert Putnam- Bowling Alone


Michael Pollan- Omnivore’s Dilemma


Another summer goal I have is to learn some French. I bought Rosetta Stone recently and plan to at least be somewhat conversational. I just can’t ask “pardon, où sont les toilettes?” all the time…

Summer in Colorado Springs!

Hello all,

Summer is here!  Today I will be moving into my apartment with Sandy (my roommate!)!!  She will be doing the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program at CC, which starts next week.  Oh, you didn’t know that CC had a graduate program?  I think it’s phenomenal and such an amazing experience–liberal arts, block plan/block breaks (! Can you imagine block breaks in graduate school?), student teaching (what else could you ask for?)!  Click here to check it out.

Speaking of education, I am interning with a professor at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs doing education policy research. I’m incredibly excited, and also overwhelmed. Excited, because this is exactly what I want to do in the future.  For me, education policy synthesizes my interests in the theoretical practice and the experiences of humans.  I know theories of inequality, but how do I eradicate inequality? Is it possible? Education policy, in some sense, attempts to help me find some of those answers. That’s why it’s overwhelming. It’s also overwhelming, because this is a peek into my future! I’m currently working on three projects!  ahhH!

I’m all about the good tunes–especially the Summer playlists–and wanted to honor the memory of Gil Scott-Heron who passed away a few days ago.

Long before Public Enemy urged the need to “Fight the Power” or N.W.A. offered a crude rebuke of the police, Gil-Scott Heron was articulating the rage and the disillusionment of the black masses through song and spoken word. (The Associated Press)



Enjoy your summer, everyone!  (I’ll try and update often and narrate my summer in Colorado.) Hopefully I’ll see some of you in the fall!



The Decemberists, Block Break, and Block 8. Oh my!

Last weekend, I went to see The Decemberists play in Colorado Springs.  Oh, you haven’t heard of them?


They are probably one of my favorite bands ever! Each album, each song, and each instrument tells a story in a manner that completely absorbs me. The youtube video I posted is of their latest single “This is Why We Fight” from their album The King is Dead. I highly recommend this new album. How can you deny the beauty of lyrics like these, “When we die/We will die/With our arms unbound.” Plus, they are great live–fantastic energy and sound amazing!

Also, a really cool thing The Decemberists do when they tour is make posters for each city they tour. It’s art. The Colorado Springs poster is so awesome! (Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because I wasn’t close enough. Being 5’2” has its pitfalls sometimes…)

Block break came and went.  I ended up staying in Colorado Springs to dog and house-sit for a professor, and finish up some work for the History Department.

And when I say dog sit, I mean I was dog-sitting for three dogs.  Above, you see Hank.  He was the most playful and wanted to be outside alllll day.  (Note to self: when I go to graduate school,  I will have a dog to keep me company)


Block 8 starts tomorrow! This means two things: 1) I will be in a very difficult class (Junior Seminar: Studying History) with Tip Ragan (one of my favorite professors), 2)Summer is coming!


This summer, I will be doing education policy research with a professor at a nearby university.  I’m excited, because this gives me a first-hand experience in something I really want to pursue in the future. I’ll update more on this once this summer.


Until next time,


Dear (soon to be) Class of 2015:



Colorado College is a special place. I cannot imagine being anywhere else.

  • The students are passionate. They want to make a difference.
  • The scenery is gorgeous. Have you looked West recently? The mountains–they truly exist!
  • THE BLOCK PLAN! I cannot imagine studying on a semester/trimester/quarter/etc. plan.  You can’t be in this full immersion anywhere else.
  • The professors are one-of-a-kind. The most personable, available, and most caring.
  • Have you been to Rastalls? nom nom nom
  • There’s something exciting about this place. I can’t tell you what it is. YOU MUST COME FOR YOURSELF AND SEE.

So, you’ve been accepted to The Colorado College. Have you visited yet? Why not? This place is special–the most special place ever. I dare you to say otherwise.


Melissa Tran