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Musings of the Week


I realize it’s been at least a week since I posted, so I am going to bring this blog up to speed.

Meeting with the Big Dogs

  • my heart was definitely pounding this past monday morning (8/22)! All of the ADs gathered to discuss important things, and I finally felt like I was involved with things that MATTER.
  • heard about a reeeeeeeeally cool DFP film about a boy who died in the Holocaust, and the United Nations is partnering with Wake Forest to promote it as part of Holocaust Remembrance year (2012).

Mentor Meeting with Allison McW

  • She was really good at asking the kinds of questions that got me to talk about what I love
  • she advised me to combine my communication skills with my passion for religion for a possible career
  • look in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, read job descriptions, pinpoint bits and pieces that sound exciting to me
  • pay attention this year to what I like and dislike about certain projects (is it the TYPE of work? etc)

Teaching Tab

  • at long long last, Rebecca has finally returned from Austria!
  • she snapped her fingers and we had a meeting with the provost, and now we have a meeting with CER, where they will give us templates
  • so excited about this project, i feel like it’s something i can actually be good at! My love of “storytelling,” as Allison McW referred to it, doesn’t feel like work.
  • Our pilot features will be about the TLC Graylyn Retreat, the Writing Program, and (drum roll)… a student-faculty adviser relationship I learned about in an email!


  • Student Orientation Advising has bee training all week, which means two things: bountiful free food, and reconnecting with old friends (I’M the awkward one!!)
  • PP introduced me at the SOA lunch, people clapped before I even SPOKE!! Too weird. Even weirder that I was being formally introduced to a room full of friends.
  • I said a few words about my objectives this year (highlighting teacher-scholar-mentor ideal), and later a girl emailed me! Really excited to follow up with her story.
  • Headed over to Brendle, where student advisers met up with their faculty pairings, and once again PP gave me an overly grand introduction, everyone clapped, I waved to all of Brendle… sort of embarrassed, not really sure how to handle the attention. I feel like a debutante at my coming out party or something, though it’s still me! Same Varian, new nametag. Which is why it feels strange to be applauded for just doing my job. I know it’s a great honor to have this position, maybe I sell myself short… but it’s just so weird to think of myself as especially important. Later, PP gave remarks about the mission of his office and at one point said, “with the help of our fellow, VT…” Ahhh! Come on! I will have to get used to this.


  • Preschool was on campus this year, and I couldn’t be happier about those circumstances. I got to hear worship songs bellow through Reynolda every morning, and got to see all my rising senior friends (specifically the Chi Rho guys and MV girls)
  • My heart sank when another guy sang JMac’s song, “Grace’s Amazing Hands.” Sigh. We graduate and depart, but the world keeps turning.
  • Ross WILL sing at my wedding, and at my bedside every morning for that matter. And that is final.
  • Youngy gave me two vintage cds! Now I MUST buy the In Reach cd.

Move-In, Students Return

  • Campus is bustling today with all the freshmen and their families! Energy is high, and all the dining facilities have their normal hours again.
  • I’m excited for things to get rollin rollin rollinnnnn


  • Like I said, Rebecca and I are meeting with some CER people, and one of the women replied to our email rather vaguely. It had been a few days and I wasn’t sure how to proceed, would it be appropriate for me to reply-all with my availability for the next week? I wanted to avoid clogging inboxes and rubbing people the wrong way.
  • Left a voicemail for Rebecca, asking how to go about it, then dropped by her office to ask in person.
  • her response: “you’re a wake forest fellow!” and went on about how I am just as important, and how it is perfectly legitimate for me to take charge, because this is MY project, not Rebecca’s project that she’s working on while I sit idly by. It was really encouraging, and I marched back to the computer and replied, “That sounds good to us. When and where would you like to meet?” SEND.


  • What a guy, I love him and his hilarious rants. He drops by my office every couple of days to vent about “overloading” the site, unnecessarily expensive promotional pieces, obviously forced “diversity” pictures, and how he needs a martini (grey goose, three olives- if they’re stuffed with bleu cheese then he’s in heaven). He’s just such a kind, light-hearted man with a fresh perspective on things, and his presence makes any situation brighter.


  • PP brought a man by my office and he had some great insight on how to go about deciphering which mentor relationships will be the best to cover
  • he does a lot of work with coordinating research fellows and richter scholars, and thus has connections to research day
  • this will be a good way to find out about non-science stories! humanties may boast the most active mentor relationships, but they are harder to pin down because they’re not happening in a lab here on campus
Now I’m off to prepare and brainstorm some interview questions for my meetings on Monday! Ta for now. TGIF.

Lightning Speed


You must be joking, a month has gone by?

Literally, an entire 30 days have passed since I last posted on this here blog. Today I have decided to revisit on account of my needing to become savvy in the blogosphere to improve “College 2.0” for the OAA. I’ve flitted around between tumblr, blogspot, and wordpress, and am trying to decide which on will be the best medium for the (hopefully) cool new OAA blog, designed to give students important academic information without boring them. Ideally, it will one-day become a student run operation with OAA staff as the supervisors, so that students can take ownership of their academic success and drive the content and overall vibe of the blog.

In other news, I have officially been oriented as a Fellow. On Friday, MBW gathered all the Fellows to hear from Senior Administrators, PDC managers, HR representatives, Mentor directors, and former Fellows with the goal of absorbing as much information as possible. I have to admit, it was an encouraging and inspiring day, and it came at the right time. I was feeling a little down, mostly because work has been slow in the summer but also partly because I’ve been overwhelmed by all the unknowns of this job. At Orientation, I was reminded that this job will be exactly what I make of it, and I need to take matters into my own hands if I want this to be a meaningful experience. The former Fellows had great insight on how to approach common concerns. Here is the highlights reel:

“Let your student perspective inform your staff perspective, not the other way around.”

“Faculty members admire students, but do not feel admired by students.” – [think of ways to change this with Teaching Tab]

“You will go through an internal transition (how you feel) and an external transition (how you’re seen). The latter requires that you earn respect and prove your worth.”

“Ask to join your mentor on a trip. Draw up a budget, show how it will enhance you professionally.”

“Don’t hesitate to meet with people who interest you. Respectfully say, ‘I’ve noticed you’re good at XYZ/accomplished in XYZ, can you help/teach me?'”

“The title of ‘Fellow’ carries a connotation of prestige, privilege, and extraordinary access. Take advantage of it.”

“Don’t wait for an assignment. Think of what you would like to have seen as a student and IMPLEMENT!”

“You will be most successful when you admit that you don’t know what’s going on.”

“Think SPONGE.”

“Explore Winston-Salem!”

“If you’re trailblazing a position, think ‘What can I do to benefit this office?’ and ask around to see what needs to be done, then spearhead an initiative.”

“What intrigues YOU? Now how can you match that to your job description?”

“To help you adjust from task to project centric work, create deadlines for yourself by setting up meetings with people as a means of accountability.”

“Refer to HR’s job evaluation sheets to help create an outline from your job description and a performance plan. Feel free to ask mentor what certain things mean.”

“Keep a journal of everything that stands out to you, good or bad. Read at the end of the year to help you glean specifics for a resume, and to uncover themes for career path.”


That last one is precisely why I have created this blog. I can’t wait for the day that I get to sit on the other side of the table and share this wisdom with next year’s Fellows. By then I hope that I will have lots of accomplishments to show for a year of employment!

Jesus Calling on Day 3


Last night I went home a little discouraged. Maybe it was the empty feeling of finishing Mad Men season 2, maybe it was the emotional SportsCenter coverage of the US women’s soccer team defeating Brazil, maybe it was my estrogen flaring up, but I couldn’t kick the distinct feeling of needing to cry. I think I’m mostly feeling down about not contributing meaningfully to work, and not knowing where or how to start.

This morning I came to work with a better attitude. “It’s only Day 3,” I reminded myself. Since 8:30, I’ve had a few co-worker interactions that have lifted my spirits considerably. First, I was invited to look at baby pictures of a new grandson named Beckett. Then I was asked to determine if a certain dress was black or navy (after much debate, I voted navy). Minutes later, Randy showed off a photo album of his recent trip to Israel. The pictures were almost as amazing as the stories accompanying them. He had pictures of the walls of Jericho, the slab on which Jesus was laid in the tomb, camels in the desert, and the Dome of the Rock.

When the last picture was turned over, I said something about needing to travel there, to which he responded jokingly (but sort of seriously), that he’s going back in September to do some research and work with/speak at Hebrew University… and he’s always looking for research assistants. By the way, this guy teaches classes on Hostage Negotiation and Communication & Terrorism (he’s analyzed a lot of  al-Queda’s messages. Read: HE’S A BIG DEAL. But also a notorious prankster, heh hehhh. On his way out he stopped to tell me more about his research goals, and said to let him know if I’m interested. (DUH!)

Feeling encouraged, I thumbed to July 13th in Jesus Calling to read today’s message:

“I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the Joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.

Instead of trying to “fix” fix yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect Love”

I bolded the line that most stood out to me. What a great reminder! I am so thankful for this job, and I need to realize that it’s not going to be easy or come naturally right off the bat. I need to redirect my focus when I’m frustrated because, ultimately, it’s not really about me.

Noob Status


Hopefully this will show up as my first blog post. I’ve decided to keep a blog to track my experiences as the inaugural Fellow in the Dean’s Office at Wake Forest. Yesterday, my first day, can only be described as a marathon. I walked all over God’s green earth the acquire my new laptop, fill out tax forms, visit the ol’ Advancement crew, pick up keys to the office, secure a new DeaconOne Card, get a voided deposit slip, converse with a Dean, grab lunch with Caroline, meet with Perry and Tiffany to discuss my first project, pick out office supplies (I almost just typed “school” supplies), and meet the people in the office. I finally plopped down at my computer and compiled notes for the rest of the afternoon, and began to develop a strategy for how to capture and portray the essence of Advising here at Wake. Then I walked a mile home to the Giles Faculty Drive abode while rehashing it all on the phone with my inquisitive mom and lamenting the fact that I had walked 4 miles in flats.

Today I woke up with Mad Men on the brain. Since spending some time at Holden Beach with my family, Austin and I have torn through seasons 1 and 2. We are currently 3 episodes away from finishing season 2, and I fully intend to purchase season 3 to keep this a fair and balanced relationship. But, those thoughts aside, I hurriedly got ready for work as I raced back and forth between my room and the bathroom and did my best to ignore the mess left by the Giles new puppy (shredded dryer sheets everywhere… niiiice). Determined to assuage my aching feet, I wisely opted to walk the mile to work while wearing running shoes. Just as I laced up my sneakers, Phil Collins appeared on my iPod shuffle. That was the moment I felt officially old and frumpy.

Today’s workday has been less physically taxing than yesterday, but I still feel a little out of place. I sat in on a staff meeting with the Office of Academic Advising, led by Perry, where the logistics of the new freshmen registration were discussed and I was, once again, introduced to my co-workers. Afterwards, we took a picture on the “stairs” to be used on the website, and I squeezed a few head shots out of the deal. I spent some time setting up my printing situation before heading out to meet Perry and Jacque for lunch at Deacon Tower. They asked me questions like “What are your goals for this year?” and “How can we help you succeed in this position?” ….. I’m a little nervous because the job description is so undefined. No one is going to tell me what to do, show me how to do it, and then send me off to work in the intern corner where they can keep an eye on me. This job is more along the lines of “think of what to do, and then do it!” which will undoubtedly take some adjusting. It seems like they are looking for a fresh twist on just about everything, and they like that I still maintain the perspective of a student.

I can already tell that I am going to need to step up, speak up, and think outside the box if I am going to be successful in this office. I wish I knew how to make myself indispensable, but I will probably only discern how I fit in to the picture when I am looking at the year in retrospect. My hope and prayer is that I will find my place sooner than later!

In the mean time, I started a blog to collect my thoughts and learning experiences over the next year. I hope you find it varianteresting.

Hello world!


Welcome to After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can alway preview any post or edit you before you share it to the world.