Category: Of Special Interest

Meet the Students of CGS: Jennifer Gonzales

April 20th, 2017 in January Boston-London Program, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Spotlight, Students 0 comments

Jennifer Gonzales

Jennifer Gonzales. Photo and interview by Mari Fletcher.

College of General Studies 2017
College of Arts and Sciences 2019
Major: English

Were you undecided on your major when you entered CGS?
I was most certainly undecided when I entered CGS as a freshman. I knew I had an academic interest in literature as well as history. I’ve always known that I’ve had an interest in creative writing, reading. I knew that the College of General Studies would afford me the opportunity to explore other interests of mine. I’m very grateful for that opportunity because I did get to pursue other interests. I really enjoyed my classes in International Relations; however, English I thought was the best fit for me, so I recently declared myself an English major.

Why did you choose the College of General Studies?
I decided to enroll in College of General Studies because I thought that it would be helpful in the transition from a private, smaller high school into a larger University. I’ve taken classes in CAS, and I think it would’ve been more difficult to enter as a freshman where a lot of the classes are a lot larger than the classes in CGS and where you don’t interact with your professors as much. So I’m grateful that I made that decision.

Jennifer Gonzales poses in one of the red telephone boxes seen throughout London.

Jennifer in one of the red telephone booths seen throughout London. You can see a few of her photos from London in our series of posts on the January BostonLondon experience

How has spending time in London helped you develop a global perspective?
We were in London at the time that Brexit happened and I thought that was fascinating. I was interested in, and continue to be interested in, learning about the history of other cultures. I think it’s essential to college students to learn that we are members of a nation, yes, but we’re living in an increasingly globalized world and everyone should take the opportunity to travel to other places to learn about other cultures.

What value has studying abroad added to your education?
I think it was a way to not only learn about the history of another culture, but also immerse myself in that culture. The experiential learning process was so influential to all of us. All of the assignments were truly grounded in having us immerse ourselves in the culture and visiting various monuments.

What is your dream job?
I’m thinking that I might be interested in applying for law school. I actually am the child of two immigrants and obviously, we’re living in a time where immigration law is very relevant. I think reflecting on my own experiences that it might be something I would be willing to dedicate my life to after college.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an incoming freshman?
There are so many opportunities at BU if you just take initiative. It’s important to really seize every opportunity, seize the day. Over the past year, I’ve learned that it’s really best to put one foot forward and just send your resume, send your cover letter to any opportunity that you’re interested in.

Tell us something fun about yourself!
This semester, I’ve been taking an aerial silks skills class in FitRec. It’s something that I’ve seen acrobats do in the circus and it’s been a great way to relieve stress during the more stressful periods I’ve had in school.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Former CGS Terriers You’ll See in the 2017 NHL Playoffs

April 18th, 2017 in Alumni, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Students 0 comments

As you watch the National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs, cheer on BU Terriers–two former CGS students among them –as they take on the fight for the championship.

Charlie CoyleCharlie Coyle: Now in his fifth season as a center for the Minnesota Wild, Coyle played for the Terriers from 2010 to 2012, while studying at the College of General Studies. Originally drafted 28th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the NHL Draft, Coyle was traded to MInnesota Wild and has stayed since then. Just this season, Coyle netted 56 points for the Wild, while also scoring 5 game winning goals. Be sure to keep an eye out for Coyle as the Wild take on the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.


mcavoy_hsCharlie McAvoy: Charlie McAvoy hopes to make a difference and help the Boston Bruins win their seventh Stanley Cup this season. McAvoy played for the Terriers starting in 2015, and was drafted 14th overall by the Bruins in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. After a short stint with the Bruins AHL affiliate the Providence Bruins, McAvoy was called up, and made his professional debut in the first game of the playoffs this year. Be sure to watch McAvoy and the Bruins as they take on the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

Read about other Boston University Terriers in the playoffs at BU Today.

Meet the Students of CGS: Latifah Obaid

April 18th, 2017 in January Boston-London Program, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Spotlight, Students, Study Abroad 0 comments

Latifah Obaid. Picture and interview by Steven Silvio.

College of General Studies 2017, January Boston-London Program
College of Communication 2019
Major: Journalism with a minor in cinema and media studies 

How has spending a semester in London helped you to develop a global perspective?
It really changed the way I looked at how I wanted to experience my life. I traveled a little bit as a kid, but not at an age where I really understood other people and other cultures, so to be alone in London was crazy. I felt like I grew up a lot there. It really made me appreciate the things I can do with my life. I can go out there and explore and do things.

What is your most memorable CGS experience?
As much as I’ve enjoyed CGS here–and it’s been great, and some of my best friends I’ve met in CGS–the London semester was unforgettable. We did so much in such a short time and I became so much closer with so many of my friends that I’ve met through the program. We went and saw Stonehenge, and we went into Westminster, and saw Big Ben… I learned so much  about England that I really did not know about.

What is your favorite College of General Studies class and why? Any favorite professors?
Probably my humanities class, freshman year. I had a great Professor–Professor Fawell. He was awesome. He was really engaging. He made the content really interesting. He was an expert on everything we talked about in class, and that just made it so much more interesting.

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Probably Pavement Coffeehouse. It’s so cozy, the food’s great, it’s a great place to do work. Aside from that, the 26th floor of StuVi [Student Village]. It’s also my favorite place to study. It’s been busy lately but when it’s not busy, it’s great.

A sunset view from the Student Village's 26th floor. Photo by Doruntina Zeneli.

A sunset view from the Student Village’s 26th floor. Photo by Doruntina Zeneli.

Favorite campus event and why?
I love when they do Splash [a student activities fair] on Nickerson Field with all the clubs. I think that’s so much fun. I have friends on sports teams, so it’s always fun to see them at their tables.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Meet the Students of CGS: Eli Elman

April 14th, 2017 in News and Events, Of Special Interest, Spotlight, Students 0 comments

Eli Elman

Eli Elman. Photo and interview by Doruntina Zeneli.

College of General Studies 2017
Questrom School of Business 2019
Major: Business Administration with a concentration in Finance

Were you undecided on your major when you entered CGS?
I thought I knew what I wanted to do. But, like many people when they go into college, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do— it took college to figure that out. Originally, I thought I wanted to concentrate in International Management. I learned more about that and more about finance and I found that finance was more of the path I wanted to go with.

What is your favorite College of General Studies class and why?
My favorite class was probably my humanities class last year because I had a really good professor. Professor Joshua Pederson really engages with the students. I grew close with all of my professors. When people graduate and need recommendations, the big problem is that they don’t really know their professors. At CGS, it is impossible for your professors not to know you by your first and last name–  and at least one weird thing about you– by the end of your year.

What is your dream job?
I’ve always been hesitant to answer that question because college is the time in your life where you are supposed to explore. I didn’t want to go into college with a narrow view, knowing exactly what I want to do, because then I would cut off other opportunities that might potentially be my dream job. Your career is fluid and you change a lot. I wouldn’t put my dream job down on paper.

If you could give one tip to incoming freshmen, what would it be?
My one tip is to take risks. You have four years to mess up. You are finding where you fit and explore it. If you are comfortable, you are doing it wrong because you really don’t know who you are when you are this young. It’s really important to explore because you don’t get that opportunity in your life.

Tell us something fun about yourself!
I love to travel. I went to China for a month before I came to college and that was a lot of fun. I am going to Israel in two months during the summer. I am interviewing right now with some big international companies in Israel and I love to see other cultures.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Meet the Students of CGS: Vaishnavi Kothapalli

April 12th, 2017 in January Boston-London Program, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Spotlight, Students 0 comments

Vaishnavi Kothapalli

Vaishnavi Kothapalli. Photo and interview by Doruntina Zeneli.

College of General Studies 2017
Questrom School of Business 2019
Major: Business Administration with a concentration in law

What made you decide to attend the College of General Studies?
I liked the fact that it gave you that liberal arts foundation and it gave you that background in core subjects that you need to know for all majors. If you have that knowledge already in your head, then it will really help you even more when you are pursing your actual career.

What is your most memorable CGS experience?
My most memorable CGS experience was going to London and just being in a whole different country. It gave me that benefit of being able to study abroad so early on in my college experience.

What is your favorite College of General Studies class and why? 
I would probably say Professor Shawn Lynch. He was my Social Science professor all of freshman year. Whenever there was something big going on, like the election, he would interact with us and have us do a debate about it. He would make it really interactive and fun.

What are some of your extracurricular activities?
I am in CGS Student Government as one of the senators. I am also the secretary for Club GiiVE, which is the other CGS community service club. I am one of the Cabinet Directors, specifically for Department of Outreach, in BU Student Government. I’m also in BU Senate. I am an Admissions Ambassador, and on the side I also do play on the Tennis Club.

What is your favorite place in Boston? 
I think my favorite place would probably be the Esplanade, especially when it’s late at night. I just love the whole calmness and tranquility around it.

The Charles River Esplanade in the fall. Photo by Doruntina Zeneli.

The Charles River Esplanade in the fall. Photo by Doruntina Zeneli.

If you could give one tip to incoming freshmen, what would it be?
We are one of the only college campuses that is right in the middle of a major city like Boston. We have some great places around here– shopping, eating, anything. I would really recommend, if you have time, to go out and explore because that’s one of the best parts of going to BU.

What value did the January Boston-London program add to your education? 
I think the fact that I was able to study abroad in a foreign country so early on in my college experience really helped me to understand the fact that I can do exactly what I want to do but in another country. It’s helped me realize there is another world out there. If I ever do want to go study abroad again, I would know exactly how it works, what I can do as an internship there. Just being exposed to that new environment gave me that perspective. Go to the London Eye. Go to the Tower Bridge. Go to the major landmarks because those are once in a lifetime opportunities for you.

Tell me something fun about yourself!
I wrote a children’s book two years ago in high school and actually got it published. It’s called Emily’s Extraordinary Expedition. It’s completely in German. I wanted to do something that enhanced my language skills, so I decided to write that book for my [senior] project, and getting it published was just the extra step to go above.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

A Look at Undergraduate Research: Tragedy of the Commons & Climate Change

April 5th, 2017 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Research, Spotlight, Students 0 comments

This post is part of a series that profiles the faculty-undergraduate research partnerships offered through the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning. To learn more, please contact the Center at

R. S. Deese and Morgan AshurianCGS Social Sciences Lecturer R. Sam Deese is writing a book that tackles philosophical and political questions around climate change. CGS student Morgan Ashurian (CGS’17, CAS’19) is providing some valuable research help along the way.

Deese’s book, Climate Change and the Frontiers of Democracy (Springer, coming in 2017), looks at an economic theory called the “tragedy of the commons.” It’s a quandary most of us can understand: if you have a common resource, like land, and everyone surrounding that resource is unregulated in their ability to use it, people will pursue their short-term self-interest and take as much of the resource as they can. In the end, the resource will be destroyed.

Deese’s book traces this idea from its originators, William Forster Lloyd and Garrett Hardin, then examines how it applies to the problem of climate change today. It’s in every country’s self-interest to have a strong economy, industry, and the cheapest energy possible—says Deese—but pursuing that self-interest is disastrous for the planet as a whole. As a solution, Deese argues for the creation of more democratic institutions on a global scale, with the ultimate aim of creating a world parliament that would be directly accountable to voters.

As a research assistant, Ashurian is the first reader for the chapters that Deese writes. She helps to convert his citations to APA format and gives her thoughts on how to clarify the concepts. “Morgan is absolutely excellent as an assistant on this,” Deese says, adding that she’s “very perceptive when she reads the chapters and has great ideas and suggestions. … It’s helpful for me to know what’s clear and what could be clearer.”

Ashurian says the project intrigued her because of her interests in philosophy and political science. Now she’s learned how the Cold War and space exploration prompted people to see the environment in a different way. She’s thought about steps the international community can take to collaborate on issues of global climate change. The research has even prompted Ashurian to consider a study abroad program focused on countries working together to solve international issues—issues like global climate change.

Ashurian appreciates that the project allows her to think about an issue from both the philosophical and political science perspectives: “So many of the issues of global climate change have to do with the people that are in charge of different countries, the decisions that they make and the moral outlooks of people. Philosophy is just the understanding of the ethical viewpoint, and political science is about looking at this modern issue from an international and political standpoint.”

Thanks to the CGS Undergraduate Research Experience program through the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Ashurian is able to get a stipend for her research work. Deese said her help is a “wonderful resource” and he’s grateful to CITL for making it possible: “It’s one of the wonderful things about CGS that ambitious and enterprising undergrads can do this kind of work with faculty.”

BU Professors Examine Two Popular Holidays

March 29th, 2017 in Faculty, News and Events, Of Special Interest 0 comments

St. Patrick’s Day has become a huge day for celebrating here in the United States. But why?

In an interview with WalletHub, Associate Chair and Social Sciences Senior Lecturer John Mackey takes a closer look at this question and provides some historical context as to how St.Patricks Day came to be such a huge celebration.

For starters, Mackey talks about how St. Patrick’s Day is “a story of immigration, social exclusion, and identity.” Irish-American identity developed in opposition to an Anglo-Protestant American establishment, and has grown ever since. Now we are accustomed to huge celebrations of Irish pride, but it was not always like that, especially given the anti-Irish intolerance of the nineteenth century.

Last year Wallethub interviewed Master Lecturer of Rhetoric Regina Hansen for a similar story on Halloween. Halloween is a day for the two “c’s:” costumes, and candy.  Hansen takes a closer look at the do’s and don’ts for how to stay safe and make the most out of your holiday.

Renstrom Publishes Chapter in Critical Insights: Isaac Asimov

March 22nd, 2017 in Faculty, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Publications, Research 0 comments

Isaac Asimov: Critical InsightsCGS Instructor of Rhetoric Joelle Renstrom recently published a chapter in Critical Insights; Isaac Asimov (Salem Press, 2017). As a researcher of science fiction and technology, Renstrom took a look at robot fiction in her Asimov chapter, Morality in Asimov: Laws of Robotics vs. Laws of Humanics.”

Renstrom’s chapter examines Asimov and the Frankenstein complex, or humans’ fear that they will be unable to control their creations. By looking at Asimov’s famous three laws of robotics, Renstrom shows what prevents robots from harming humans.

However, Renstrom notices the three laws deftly evade the notion of morality, rendering ethics  and values on the part of robots unnecessary, as robots are programmed to obey the laws without considering them.  While doing this, Renstrom examines nonfiction works such as “The Laws of Humanics,” where Asimov demonstrates that the fear at the heart of the “Frankenstein Complex” isn’t really about robots at all. It’s about humans, who violate the “do no harm” rule far more frequently than robots do.

For more on Renstrom’s fascinating work, visit her website: To hear more about Renstrom’s research, be sure to check out her April 2 lecture at TedX in Waltham: “Science Fiction as a Looking Glass: Teaching Students How to Save the World.”

A Look at Undergraduate Research: First Wives and Marriage in British Novels

March 15th, 2017 in Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, Faculty, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Research, Students 0 comments

This post is part of a series that profiles the faculty-undergraduate research partnerships offered through the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning. To learn more, please contact the Center at

A married woman abandons her husband and child to elope with a suitor who jilts her. A woman suffers hallucinations after she is suspected of burning her stepson to death. A mistress curses the young bride whose marriage will disinherit her son. Reading sensational nineteenth–century stories like these are all part of Kerry Sadlier’s work with Joellen Masters, senior lecturer of humanities at Boston University College of General Studies. With Sadlier’s invaluable help, Masters is studying marriage and the first wife as a narrative trope and genre strategy in the British and early modernist novel.

Sadlier (CGS’17, COM’19) became interested in participating in the CGS Undergraduate Research Experience when Associate Dean Megan Sullivan mentioned the program in a meeting: “I decided to pursue it when I realized how much I enjoyed the research aspect of my RH102 research paper.” Funded by the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, the CGS Undergraduate Research Experience gives CGS students a stipend for their research work with a CGS faculty member. When she learned about Masters’ research focus, Sadlier said it “seemed like a perfect fit for me” given her own interest in Victorian literature and women’s rights.

Kerry Sadlier and Joellen MastersAs a research assistant, Sadler hunts for scholarly articles, essays, and contemporary reviews of the novels Masters is studying. Sadlier and Masters meet each week to review the materials and, as Masters puts it, “set up her next foray into the stacks and the databases.” Sadlier also gives comprehensive annotations for many of the critical works important for Master’s research.  Her research on one journalist and novelist, Dora M. Jones, will culminate in a short essay where Sadlier summarizes how Jones’ work was received by her contemporaries.

Before the fall semester began, Sadlier was jumping into the Victorian era by reading Ellen Wood’s East Lynne (a wildly popular novel published in 1861) and St. Martin’s Eve (1866), and George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda (1876).  Sadlier found some excellent information to help Masters expand on a draft about East Lynne. “She found articles and books that were fabulous, particularly those on Daniel Deronda and Lydia Glasher’s key place in Eliot’s plotting as well as story,” Masters said. Sadlier also tracked down unpublished dissertations and articles that have helped Masters learn more about Netta Syrett, a little-discussed playwright, novelist, and children’s story writer who was part of a high profile fin-de-siecle literary and artistic circle.

“This experience has been incredibly exciting and challenging,” says Sadlier. “The most exciting part of this job is the opportunity to discover new information about an author or character and contribute to telling their story.”  Masters says Sadlier has tackled the research with an “enthusiasm, diligence, and commitment that stimulated my own energies with the project.”

Learn more about student research opportunities—including directed study, stipends for research work through the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Contact CITL at for more details.

Hallstein Edits Special Issue of Women’s Studies in Communication

March 7th, 2017 in Faculty, News and Events, Of Special Interest, Publications 0 comments

WSICD. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein, associate professor of rhetoric at BU College of General Studies, has edited a special issue of Women’s Studies in Communication, a journal that provides a feminist forum for diverse research, reviews, and commentary addressing the relationships between communication and gender. Due to her expertise in the rhetoric around motherhood and mothering–in particular, celebrity motherhood and the pressure to bounce back to a postpartum bikini-ready body–Hallstein was the special guest editor of an issue devoted to “mothering rhetoric.”

“The issue explores mothering and motherhood within women’s studies in communication,” says Hallstein, who wrote the issue’s introductory essay. “As far as I know, it is the first time a journal has devoted an entire issue to the topic of mothering rhetorics.”


D. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein

Hallstein’s introductory essay draws from the work of Ashley Mack’s dissertation, “Disciplining Mommy: Rhetorics of Reproduction in Contemporary Maternity Culture,” to define mothering rhetorics: the rhetorics of reproduction (rhetorics about the reproductive function of women/mothers) and reproducing rhetorics (the rhetorical reproduction of ideological systems and logics of contemporary culture).

Hallstein writes in her introductory essay, “Even though motherhood and mothering are clearly now important intellectual topics within communication generally and specifically within rhetorical studies, no communication journal has yet devoted a sustained look at how exploring mothering rhetorics expands our understanding of communication studies and rhetoric, nor how rhetorical methods or concepts can also help us better understand mothering, motherhood, communication, and gender. Thus, this special issue on “Mothering Rhetorics” …. seeks to begin to fill this gap for scholars and educators interested in the study of mothering rhetorics in their historical and contemporary permutations.” 

The issue includes essays on “Michelle Obama, Mom-In-Chief: The Racialized Rhetorical Contexts of Maternity,” “Rhetorics of Unwed Motehrhood and Shame,” Fixing Food to Fix Families: Feeding Risk Discourse and the Family Meal,” and more.