Finals Stress Buster Survival Guide

First Floor Cherry action reporter Hannah Good comin’ atcha LIVE from just having finished a 14 page paper! I’m hungry, sleep deprived, and all the life has been drained from my soul, but it was a darn good paper if I do say so myself.

Now, on to the next one for my English 300 class…

That’s right, Hilltoppers; the last week of classes is upon us. Here are some 100% FREE resources from the university to help you survive the next few weeks with your sanity (mostly) intact.

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The Talisman Magazine is the best magazine in the universe. Just look at it. Photo by Sally Jean Wegert who is a force of nature.

Read the new Talisman Magazine
When: Thursday 12/1 from 10-2 in Centennial Mall

Pick up a FREE copy of the first ever issue of the Talisman Magazine tomorrow from 10-2 in Centennial Mall. While you’re there, you can pick up some free coffee or hot chocolate. If you’re one of the first 200 to pick up your magazine, you’ll also get a goody bag full of coupons, a sticker, and a t-shirt. Check out the event page on Facebook to learn more.

As the Talisman’s copy editor, I can assure you with 100% certainty that this is the best magazine in the whole world. There’s even a coupon for a free cup of Spencer’s coffee or 20% off a drink inside every magazine.


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A Chik-fil-A sandwich that I ate last December in a startlingly bad decision to stray from veganism after I ran my first half marathon. Enjoy your own spicy chicken sandwich on the value meal all week.

WKU Restaurant Group Customer Appreciation Week
When: Nov 28 – Dec. 2 at all WKU Dining Locations

The week before exams also means that it’s Customer Appreciation Week hosted by the WKU Restaurant Group. Enjoy orange chicken for a meal swipe at Panda Express, a free Nutella pastry with any sandwich purchase at Einstein’s, or a free tall drip coffee with any purchase at Starbucks or Java City. Click here to view all the details at your favorite campus dining locations.


Complimentary Breakfast at Fresh Food Company

When: Breakfast Monday, Dec. 5 from 7-9:30 am

Speaking of food, start your finals week off right with a free breakfast provided by the Fresh Food Company from 7-9:30am. Help yourself to a wholesome breakfast before you jet off to take your first exams. They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothing.


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WKU Restaurant Group Exam Jam (a.k.a. FREE COFFEE)
When: Exam Jam events take place throughout finals week

Up late working on a paper or studying for a big test and need some fuel? Check out the WKU RRG Exam Jam events at Java City and in DSU during finals week featuring FREE fresh brewed coffee and cookies.

Here are the full dates and times:

  • Java City in Helm Library: Sunday, Dec. 4, Monday, Dec. 5, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Thursday, Dec. 8 from 8pm-midnight
    Other beverages will be available for purchase!
  • DSU Study Room: Sunday, Dec. 4, Monday, Dec. 5, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Thursday, Dec. 8 from 8pm-10pm



An exclusive pic of me slaving away on a research paper last Fall. Check that FREE coffee via the DSU Starbucks.

Extend Hours at WKU Libraries
When: Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1pm-2am
Monday-Thursday, Dec. 5-8 from 7:45am-2 am

There’s nothing I love more than heading to the top floor of Cravens Library with a cup of black coffee and stack of reference books taller than me. Luckily for us Hilltoppers, the WKU Libraries have got our backs. Stop by during their extended hours Sunday from 1pm-2am and Monday-Thursday of finals week from 7:45am-2am to knock out the last of those final projects.


PCAL Stress Busters
When: Throughout finals week

Did somebody say DOGS? It was me. I did. Because the Potter College Dean’s Council (featuring yours truly) will be hosting our furry pals Elle Mae, Wrigley, and Nyxie in the Academic Commons in FAC 166 next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

View the full schedule of times and days here.

You can also come color your stress away in the Academic Commons all day Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday. Coloring sheets and supplies will be provided.


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Study abroad with WKU English

A life suggestion: You should totally come hang out in Greece with the professional writing program this summer. Or Japan with Dr. Hughes and other English literature students.

If you missed our table at the Study Abroad Fair in Cherry Hall last Tuesday, we’ll fill you in on all you need to know about faculty-lead study abroad opportunities sponsored by the English Department next summer.


Greece: May 16 – June 22, 2017

Lead by WKU professional writing professor Dr. Jeffrey Rice, this five-week program visits Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Corinth, Delphi, Olympia, and Mycenae, among other must-see Greek attractions. Don’t miss your opportunity to tour Aristotle’s Lyceum or the Parthenon. Check out our page about this trip to learn more and view more photos!

Courses offered include:

  • ANTH 366 Topics: Art & Archaeology of Ancient Greece
  • ENG 349 Topics: The Road to Athens – Travel Writing & the Greece Experience
  • ENG 296/RELS 299: Mythology/Ancient Myth in Context
  • ENG 399 Topics: Ancient Greek Rhetoric – Argument & Persuasion in Classical Texts
  • HIST 490 Topics: Day to Day in Ancient Greece
  • HIST 490 Topics: The History of Roman Greece

All courses are 3 credit hours and are taught in English. Honors credit is available.

The program fee is  $5,200 + airfare. Here’s what’s included:

  • Up to 6 credit hours
  • Airport transfer in Athens
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Daily breakfast
  • Group trips and transport
  • Medical insurance
  • Security evacuation protection

The early application deadline (where you can save $100!) is Dec. 1, 2016. The regular application deadline is February 15, 2017.

To apply, visit Application includes essay, faculty recommendation, transcript, passport information, and a $250 deposit.



Japan: May 27 – June 26, 2017

Lead by WKU literature professor Dr. Sandra Hughes, this trip will take you to Nara for 2 weeks, Kyoto for 1 week, Tokyo for 3 days, and day trips to Hiroshima, Miyajima, and other beautiful Japanese cities. This trip even offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture through a 10 day homestay with a Japanese family. Check out our page about this trip to learn more and view more photos!

Courses offered include:

  • ARC 401 Topics: Introduction to Anime and Manga
  • ENG 339: Warrior Poet in Japanese Literature
  • JAPN 114: Introduction to Japanese Culture
  • JAPN 210: Intermediate Japanese Conversation Abroad
  • JAPN 310: Advanced Japanese Conversation Abroad

All courses are 3 credit hours and are taught in English.

This program is $4,560+ airfare. These fees include:

  • Up to 6 credit hours
  • Airport transfers in Japan
  • Accommodations
  • Two meals per day
  • Group transportation in Japan
  • Large-group excursion entrance fees
  • Local commuting fees in Nara
  • Comprehensive medical insurance
  • Security evacuation protection

The early application deadline (where you can save $100!) is Dec. 1, 2016. The regular application deadline is February 15, 2017.

To apply, visit Application includes essay, faculty recommendation, transcript, passport information, and a $250 deposit.


Visit KIIS Study Abroad or the WKU Office of Study Abroad and Global Learning to learn more about these programs and other opportunities to study abroad next summer!

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Wrapped up in Books: Thanksgiving Edition

Picture this:

It’s Friday morning after Thanksgiving. You’ve decided the eschew Black Friday Shopping in favor of a blissful morning of sleeping in late. It’s chilly outside but warm in your bed as the sunlight streams through the window. What better time to crack open a book or two and spend the day reading? Those research papers can wait until tomorrow.

Here’s a playlist and a reading list for your sleepy day-after-Thanksgiving.

Need some reading suggestions? Check out a few of these books recommended by NPR, the New York Times, and you guys of books that are sure to expand your worldview.

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Told through the author’s own evolving understanding of the subject over the course of his life comes a bold and personal investigation into America’s racial history and its contemporary echoes,” says NPR of this 2015 bestseller. National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas recommends this book to anyone hoping to understand the black experience in America. It’s an often painful but necessary read.


Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild

NPR summarizes this 2016 bestseller: “In an effort to understand why low income conservatives seem to hate the idea of liberal government intervention, a sociologist embarks on a journey to Louisiana bayou country, a stronghold of the conservative right.” National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas recommends this book to those striving to read “across the lines we’ve drawn in our lives.”


The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John B. Judis

Jonathan Alter wrote in the New York Times Book Review that this “cogent and exceptionally clarifying guide helps to understand what ‘populism’ means, where it comes from and why it is advancing on both sides of the Atlantic.”


Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Published in June of this year, Hillbilly Elegy is one of the newest books on this list. New York times critic Jennifer Senior wrote of this memoir about growing up in a once-thriving steel town in Ohio, “An investigation of voter estrangement has never felt more urgent … Now, along comes Mr. Vance, offering a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans.”


Night by Elie Wiesel

Written by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who died on July 2 of this year, this memoir gives a firsthand account by a Holocaust survivor. Amazon book review summarizes, “His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life’s essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel’s lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.” This book was anonymously recommended by one of our First Floor Cherry readers as essential reading.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This 2013 novel by the Beyonce-sampled Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who moves to America to attend college, leaving behind Obinze, the love of her life. The author described Americanah as being about “love, race … and hair.” The result is a thoughtful and engaging look into America from the eyes of an outsider.


The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

Dwight Garner of the New York Times says of this 2013 nonfiction bestseller, “In The Unwinding, George Packer took a wide-angled look at this country’s institutions and mores and was appalled by what he found. The book begins like a horror novel, which to some extent it is. ‘No one can say when the unwinding began,’ he writes, ‘when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.’ What follows are profiles and meditations on personalities as diverse as Sam Walton, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Warren and Newt Gingrich … His book hums with sorrow, outrage and compassion.”


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Submitted by one of our readers, this novel tells the story of three generations — from the Civil War to the 20th century. The Amazon book review describes it as, “A story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America’s heart … Gilead tells the story of America and will break your heart.”


Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

As a lyric poem, this one’s a shorter read. However, don’t let its brevity fool you. With a cover that evokes the story of Trayvon Martin that kickstarted a new generation of racial protest, this poem about race in America will challenge you. Holly Bass of the New York Times says, “Rankine brilliantly pushes poetry’s forms to disarm readers and circumvent our carefully constructed defense mechanisms against the hint of possibly being racist ourselves”

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The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

This 2010 nonfiction work by legal scholar Michelle Alexander describes the current system of mass incarceration in America. She argues that the system of mass incarceration operates as “the New Jim Crow” to imprison and enslave a striking amount of people of color. Alexander told NPR’s Fresh Air, “People are swept into the criminal justice system — particularly in poor communities of color — at very early ages … typically for fairly minor, nonviolent crimes. .. Many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again, once you’ve been branded a felon.” It’s a must-read to understand our criminal justice system.



Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

In the words of one of our readers, “Reject cynicism. Embrace hope. Don’t give up.”

You can still submit your suggestions for books to help bridge the political divide here. You can also leave some words of encouragement to share with our readers while you’re there.

With love,
🍒 First Floor Cherry

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We Shall Overcome: A visit to the National Civil Rights Museum

Two groups of WKU students took a field trip to the National Civil Rights Museum the tumultuous weekend after the 2016 presidential election. This caused students to reflect on the nature of progress, protest and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A version of this story was originally published on


At just under 60 degrees, Saturday was an unseasonably warm November day in Memphis, Tennessee. The bright Memphis sun beat down on the Lorraine Motel, home of the National Civil Rights Museum and site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, as nearly fifty WKU students filed out of a red charter bus.

The students who came to visit the museum for a field trip were enrolled in two different classes: philosophy of public space and American studies.


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American studies students pose in front of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The field trip was lead by WKU professors Roger Murphy, Tony Harkins and Sandra Hughes.


The air in and around the museum was restless. This was the weekend after Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in a victory that NPR called a “major upset” and the “capstone of a tumultuous and divisive campaign.”

As in 1968, the museum was a hub for those searching for unity, justice and wisdom in the legacy of King and the other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

Bowling Green senior Magnolia Gramling noted a spike in attendance at the museum from her own last visit.

“I was moved by how many people were there this time,” Gramling said. “I remember it being very empty the last time I was there, and I think that [spike in attendance] has everything to do with this new focus on the presence of hate in our country, the trouble people are having with it and this need to reflect on the ways people have dealt with this hate and backlash in the past.”

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A wreath hangs on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel, marking Martin Luther King Jr.’s approximate location when he was fatally shot by James Early Ray.

King came to Memphis in 1968 in response to the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike, a protest against poor working conditions, low wages and the recent gruesome deaths of two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker.

He had spent the last year criticizing President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty for not going far enough and calling for a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” This trip was no different.

“If something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed,” King said in his last speech.

Now, the surrounding blocks of the Lorraine Motel are home to barbecue joints, coffee shops, art galleries and even an American Apparel store. The only telltale sign of the area as it was pre-gentrification is the presence of barbed wire fences and crumbling sidewalks several blocks northeast.

And, of course, there’s Jacqueline Smith.

The gentrification of Mulberry Street

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Jacqueline Smith of Memphis, TN stands on the corner of Mulberry and Butler streets. Smith has protested the National Civil Rights Museum there every day for 28 years.


Weather-worn books, educational flyers and photocopied newspaper articles littered a tarp-covered table at the corner of Butler and Mulberry streets. A sign affixed to a nearby telephone pole read that Jacqueline Smith had been protesting there for 28 years and 293 days.

A Memphis native, Smith lived in the Lorraine Motel from 1973 to 1988 when she was evicted for the museum’s construction. At the time, the surrounding neighborhood was home to primarily low-income, black families, said WKU political science professor Roger Murphy. Smith was the Lorraine Motel’s last tenant.

“Been a long time, but I still feel the same way,” she said. “All these people around here are thieving.”

Smith had plenty of recommendations for reading materials about gentrification and King’s message, including one of his own books, A Testament of Hope. She encouraged the small but curious crowd to take flyers home, and she told them that the Lorraine “ought to be used for some good” as a home of education and assistance for the poor, rather than a money-making tourist attraction.

Several police officers drove past, and Smith interrupted herself to wave hello.

“Hello, Officer!” she said. “We appreciate you!”

She turned to address the surrounding bystanders.

“They ain’t hurtin’ nobody,” she said. “I’ve been arrested many times … you have to respect the law enforcement. Ain’t no sense being out there acting foolish.”

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Two University of Texas Rio Grande Valley football players converse with Jacqueline Smith of Memphis, TN. Smith said she believes the museum “out to be put to good use” to educate and provide for the poor.



This is Our America

Recent protests against President-elect Trump have been making headlines in the week since the election — including on WKU’s campus in which a protest outside Pearce-Ford Tower on Wednesday, Nov. 9 resulted in the arrests of five students.

Across the street from the museum, a diverse crowd of people was gathered at Founders Park. Many of them were college students from the University of Memphis, while others were older. Some wore rainbow gay pride flags draped on their backs. Others held signs bearing phrases like “Love will triumph” and “Our bodies. Our choice.”

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Protestors speak out at Founders Park in Memphis, Tennessee next to the Civil Rights Museum. The protest was in response to the recent election of Donald Trump.

One by one, protesters stepped up to speak through a megaphone. One woman introduced herself as a child of Mexican immigrants. She said she’d never held a megaphone and told the crowd not to be afraid to speak out.

Another woman, a freshman at University of Memphis with purple dreadlocks, introduced herself as, “Tamara, a proud millennial.”

“I refuse to be quiet …” she said to enthusiastic applause and drumbeats. “This is our America.”

Protesters across the street joined arm-in-arm and began singing the Beatles’ song “Let It Be” as WKU students entered the museum through an extensive security check.

Keeping the Dream Alive

Owensboro senior Curtis Edge said visiting the museum was a unique experience because it “let you walk through history.”

The museum was organized chronologically, beginning with an exhibit on slavery which featured life-size mannequins of slaves bound by chains and packed into three foot tall slave quarters on the Middle Passage.

Audio of creaking wood, sloshing water, and human wailing completed the unsettling display, causing one museum-goer to turn away, saying, “I can’t even look.”

Edge echoed these sentiments, saying many of the museum’s artifacts surprised him.

“They had an iron collar with bells on it that the slaves wore so that the masters would know where they were,” Edge said. “It was eery.”

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A wall of mugshots lines a wall of the museum’s Freedom Rides exhibit. The Freedom Rides were a series of protests beginning in 1960 in which activists rode interstate buses into the south to protest segregation.

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Owensboro junior Michael Thompson examines 1970s soul records at the Black Power exhibit at the museum. The Black Power Movement was a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement that celebrated black empowerment through activism and cultural celebration.

The next exhibit focused on Jim Crow, the name for the formal set of laws that legalized segregation. It featured a set of Ku Klux Klan robes from the 1950’s hanging from the ceiling, ominously lit by a spotlight.


The next featured a reproduction of the Montgomery, Alabama city bus where Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, followed by a wall of mugshots of protesters arrested during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the subsequent Freedom Rides.

The next was a pastel blue display made to look like a ’60s diner, featuring more mannequins of black youth at a sit-in protest. A film tutorial from a workshop about how to conduct non-violent protests was projected on the tiled wall behind them.

The exhibit’s theme was how civil rights groups organized and carried out non-violent demonstrations.The next was about how they were beaten and jailed anyway.

Gramling said that to her, the museum emphasized the necessity for community organization and political action.

“I think [that] flies under the radar because a lot of the most visible points of the movement were the products of such intense organization and community-building experiences that started on the local level,” Gramling said. “That’s the thing that I took away from it the most and the thing I want to continue to preach to people who will listen.”

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A quote from King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is on display in the museum. King wrote this letter while detained in a Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963 for his involvement in sit-in protests.



A museum visitor passes by the balcony outside room 206. The wreath marked the approximate location where King stood when he was shot and killed by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.


I’ve been to the mountaintop

The museum ended at rooms 306 and 307 of the motel — the rooms where King spent his last hours, preserved behind glass as they were in 1968 by the motel’s owner, Walter Bailey.

Signs called for “silence and respect” as lines of visitors filed past the rooms, stopping to gaze out the glass barrier to the balcony where King, Jr. was standing when he was fatally shot by James Earl Ray. The square of concrete where he stood has been replaced, but a red and white wreath marks the approximate spot where he stood.

Just across the street, golden sunlight illuminated the last of the protestors collecting their belongings as the demonstrations wrapped up for the night. To the left of the museum, Smith stood on the corner of Mulberry Street as she has for nearly three decades.

Gramling reflected on what the visit to the museum meant to her in the wake of the recent election and political unrest.

“It was definitely a comfort I will say,” Gramling said. “Although, it’s the site of, some would say, the death of the Civil Rights Movement because of the profound leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, there’s something comforting about knowing that you stand on the shoulders of really amazing and brave people.”

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Museum-goers are able to view the Lorraine from the third floor of the museum’s Legacy Building, a 2014 renovation of the boarding house across the street. Ray fired the fatal shot from a window in a room adjacent to this one, now reconstructed and protected by glass.

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The “I Am a Man” mural by Marcellous Lovelace stands on 14th Street two blocks from the museum. “I am a man” was a prominent civil rights rallying cry used during the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968.

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King’s signature following the closing of his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is projected on the wall behind a replica of a jail cell. Audio of King’s reading of the speech played on a loop in the exhibit.


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Read the Book That’s Not For You

This Monday, Nov. 14, NPR correspondent Lynn Neary spoke to National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas about this year’s National Book Awards ceremony, which is taking place amidst a time of deep political divide. Lucas said she believes one way to break the confines of our political echo chambers is to “read the book that’s not for you.”

Lucas suggested picking up Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russel Hochschild “about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana’s bayou country.” She also recommends last year’s National Book Awards nonfiction winner Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates about “what it means to be black in America.”

Read an excerpt from the story below, and then, we want to hear from you. Be sure to answer our poll about books that have changed and shaped your own worldview.

This year, the National Book Awards ceremony comes at a time when the nation has rarely seemed more divided. The bitter presidential campaign exposed a fault line in the United States that will not easily be repaired. And while there’s no one simple answer, Lisa Lucas, head of the National Book Foundation, recommends one way to understand the other side: read.

“We all need to be reading across the lines we’ve drawn in our lives,” she says.

For her friends and colleagues in New York City, that may mean picking up one of this year’s nonfiction finalists, Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana’s bayou country. And Lucas wishes the people Hochschild interviewed for her book would read last year’s nonfiction winner, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, about what it means to be black in America.

She says a book is a great connector, so the next time you’re looking for something to read, “don’t just read the thing that you think is for you … read the thing that’s not.”

You can read and listen to the full story here.

So we at First Floor Cherry want to know: what’s a book you’ve read that’s changed your political perspective or given you an insight into someone else’s worldview?

Comment your answer below or submit anonymously via our Google form. While you’re there, feel free to leave a few quick words of unity. Together, we have the power to build bridges of understanding, empathy, and compassion.

🍒 First Floor Cherry

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Guest Blog: Technical Writing in the Pharmaceutical Industry

by Kellie McDermott, Spring 2016 WKU Professional Writing Graduate and current technical writing for Piramal Pharma Solutions in Lexington, Kentucky

Originally posted on the Piramal Pharma Solutions blog on Oct. 31, 2016





Technical writing is not a new idea. Any type of communication written for and about industry and business with a focus on products and/or services is technical writing. Almost everyone within a company has written a form of technical document – from the résumé that was submitted to gain employment to the email sent to a co-worker to writing an investigative report. According to a survey of business leaders, as many as two-thirds of salaried employees have some writing responsibility, and all employees must have writing ability, especially with the increase in company email communication.

Technical writing skills are extremely important for any industry, but even more so when manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs. In this industry, if a batch record step is unclear or contains a mistake, it could have several types of negative consequences. Product could be unusable and clients could be lost if the mistake is caught. Employees could be hurt and lawsuits filed. Or, worse, the mistake could escape attention and end up impacting a patient, causing harm or death. The importance of good technical writing cannot be ignored as the science of pharmaceutical drug manufacturing depends on clear and accurate reporting. An otherwise meticulous document can appear flawed if it is poorly written, wasting company time and resources.

It is difficult, however, to find employees who have content knowledge of their profession and also the skills needed to write a technical document. It is even rarer to find an employee who has taken a course in technical writing, and, as many colleges do not offer technical writing as a concentration in the English department, it is even harder to find an employee who has a degree in technical writing. With this information, it is not hard to believe the statistic that one-fourth of college graduates are not only poor writers, but lack proper communication skills altogether.

The Journal for Quality and Participation reports on several companies that lost big when it came to poor writing. Computer company Coleco eventually went out of business when customers who purchased its new line of computers found the instruction manual unreadable and returned the items. An oil company spent thousands of dollars to develop a new pesticide that had been written five years earlier by a technician in the same company but was so poorly written no one finished the report. A nuclear plant sent in a sales order for “ten foot long lengths” and instead of getting the ten-foot lengths they wanted, they instead received ten one-foot lengths. And, the list goes on.

According to the previously mentioned survey of business leaders, a little more than forty percent of companies offered or required additional training for employees with writing deficiencies. This training came with an annual cost of as much as three billion dollars. Add in the cost of poor writing resulting in liability to a company and that number grows substantially. Having just one staff technical writer could bring down this cost tremendously. Technical writers are diverse enough to fit into the pharmaceutical industry. Well-educated writers are able to explore a product and communicate its usefulness, process, what it means, and how it should be used clearly to the reader using as few words as possible.

In the pharmaceutical industry, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) require instruction documents like Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be error free and written in an orderly fashion. It is as important for manufacturing documentation, reporting on problems, laboratory test methods, batch production records, etc. to all be crystal clear in its instructions. If employees are lacking in the skills to create crystal-clear, error-free instructions, then how are companies compensating for the deficit?

By having the necessary skills to research, understand complicated information, and tailor writing to many different readers, a technical writer within the pharmaceutical company is essential. By having a staff technical writer, companies can also save on training others within the company on the traits of technical writing. Any good technical writer can put together a session for others in the company detailing the traits common to technical writing and strategies for using them. Everyone within the company producing documents must be able to communicate detailed manufacturing procedures with simplification and directness reaching the end goal quickly and effectively. The steps must be written with extreme accuracy as lives depend on it.

A technical writing session for employees should include an introduction to technical writing. A brief description of clarity, conciseness, document design, audience, and accuracy are helpful. Then, the session should focus on strategies for using these traits in company documents like SOPs and batch production records. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: Technical Writing Strategies for SOPs

Trait Strategy
Clarity: say the same thing to multiple readers Try to avoid words like some, several, many, few, substantial, often, and recently as they do not hold the same meaning for everyone.
Conciseness: help the reader to understand, do not present challenges to the reader Avoid multisyllabic words, redundancy, prepositional phrases, and passive voice (the subject of the sentence should be listed at the beginning, not buried somewhere within the text).
Document Design: the document should breakup large chunks of text and look appealing to the reader in order to hold their attention Use headers and sub-headings to draw attention, bullets for lists, tables and figures to highlight important information, and white space to break up large chunks of words.
Audience: write to the reader, if the document is for a wide range of readers with varying experience levels, a 6th grade reading level is the goal of writing. What does your reader know, need to know, and want to know? Define acronyms and abbreviations the first time they are used.
Accuracy: important for clarity and professionalism Use spell check but do not rely on it. Proofread. Let a peer read it, if not, then try reading it backwards to catch any mistakes.

By creating good quality content and having the necessary skill to tailor a document to achieve maximum clarity, technical writers can help achieve positive results for any business. More importantly, they can train others within the company to produce a more sound technical document. Customers and clients will value the consistent professional look in company documents and communications and will feel informed and trusting of the information provided to them. This, in turn, can bring in more customers and clients, increase value for stakeholders, and improve employee relations throughout the company. By hiring a technical writer, not only is your business going to increase but you save on the three billion dollars’ worth of training writing-deficient employees each year and decrease the problems resulting from unclear writing plaguing businesses.

Be sure to evaluate the technical writing capabilities of Contract Development and Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs) before starting your next project. Piramal Pharma Solutions knows the importance of producing sound, technical documents in the pharmaceutical industry. We employ technical writing to ensure more understandable SOPs and facilitate more executable batch records. Clients appreciate the consistency among the documentation and our employees appreciate the clarity of instructions and guidelines. Overall, we are more efficient as our documents become more efficient.


“Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket out: A Survey of Business Leaders.” The National Commission on Writing. 2004.
“Total Quality Business Writing.” The Journal for Quality and Participation. 1995.


Read more about Kellie and other recent English alumni in our post about the 2015 Profession Writing Capstone alumni panel.

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English Internship Opportunities: Deadline extended!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the first few weeks of registration reeling about the future: What classes should I take? Will I graduate on time? Should I change my configuration of majors and minors right now in the Spring of my sophomore year? (Seriously — I did that). We have some good news that might make these decisions a little easier.

Did you know that the English Department offers internships each semester?

English internships as part of the 3 credit hour ENG 369 and 389 courses are a great opportunity to gain real, concrete experience in the English field. And guess what — you’re in luck! The deadline to apply for these internships has been extended to Monday, Nov. 14 at noon.


The internships available are:

  1. English 299 Teaching Assistant — Assist Dr. Lewis or Dr. Langdon in such tasks as helping with in-class activities, selecting literary readings, and modeling  class assignments. 8-12 hours per week, including time in class
  2. Department of Engineering: Story Harvester — Collaborate with Professor Ellis, professor of engineering, to identify and collect interesting stories about WKU Engineering then craft those stories into articles for print, web, and social media. Other related tasks may involve collecting photography and video content. 8-12 hours per week
  3. Department of English Profile Writer — Collaborate with Dr. Hale and other members of the Department of English to build a library of English alumni, faculty, staff, and current student profiles. This internship is particularly well-suited for students looking to gain experience with interviewing and journalistic writing. 8-12 hours per week
  4. First Floor Cherry English Department Weblog — Collaborate with Ms. Blair, Department of English Office Associate and all-around cool lady, to generate consistent blog content and coordinate social-media coverage and outreach, among other tasks. That’s right, fam, you’re losing me come December. Will YOU be the bright, lovely soul to accept the torch? Allow me to submit my own appeal for the creativity, involvement, and collaboration that this position invites. It is with a heavy heart that I let it go, and I encourage you whole-heartedly to apply for this wonderful experience. 8-12 hours per week
  5. Department of Music: Social Media & Marketing — Collaborate with Dr. Harris, Head of the Department of Music, to maintain Music Department social media pages, departmental websites, and print materials. 8-12 hours per week
  6. Office of Scholar Development — Meet with fellow students and advise them on the content and form of application materials for nationally competitive programs and scholarships, which includes holding weekly office hours and building knowledge of application requirements and funding agency priorities. Interns must be available throughout the semester to advise applicants
  7. Professional Writing Program Marketing — Collaborate with Dr. Rice, Professional Writing Advisor, to define and market the PW program to future students, including maintaining program social media accounts, bulletin board, and print materials. 8-12 hours per week
  8. Society for Values in Higher Education — Collaborate with Ms. McAllister, Director, to help improve and standardize the organization’s brand through promotional materials, social media presence, and the research of grant opportunities, among other general office tasks. 8-12 hours per week
  9. Create your own! — Follow instructions on the application form, providing a detailed description of the opportunity. Drs. Jones and Hale will review your application.

You can find more information about these opportunities on the WKU English Department Internship Program page here.

Still not convinced? Check out this advice from a recent intern:

Do it. Interning opens up so much more learning opportunities and allows for intellectual growth in a different way that school alone cannot provide. I have felt that interning was one of my best decisions here at WKU.

Taking advantage of English internship opportunities was also on our list of advice from WKU English alumni. Several members of the panel even held the Society for Values in Higher Education internship. Don’t miss out on these great opportunities!

To apply, download and complete the Internship Application Form. Then, save the form as a Word document and attach it to an email to Dr. Jones ( by noon on Monday, Nov. 14.

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5 ways English majors can celebrate Election Day

Hey, it’s OK. I know you’re scared and tired and confused. Our country is divided and torn in ways we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. Here are some ways to (maybe kind of) restore your peace of mind today.

  1. Log out. Consider beginning your day by logging out of Facebook and Twitter. Download the Chrome extension “StayFocused” that times your activity on certain websites. Take a moment to be, very, very quiet. No arguments, no toxicity, and no hate speech. Go make yourself some breakfast.
  2. Vote — Duh! You may be disillusioned with the presidential candidates, but did you know that a total of 469 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election? Or that Bowling Green is electing a new city commission? Learn about your down-ballot candidates then head to your local polling place to cast your vote. Need a ride? Check out WKU’s Ride to Vote rideshare program. You’ll feel better knowing you’ve done what you can.
  3.  Read some BOOKS! — A democracy is made of people. The ideas those people share are important. The ability to understand and empathize with the experience of others within a democracy is important. What better way to do so than through books?Check out some classics about civil rights issues like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Want to get lost in some fiction instead? Pick up one of the “Great American Novels,” like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Beloved by Toni Morrison, or Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
  4. Listen to NPR — You’ve probably heard the common English field phrase, “Anything is a text.” That includes radio. Take some time to sit back and listen to your local NPR station. If you live in BG, you can tune your radios to 88.9 FM. Otherwise, you can stream it online. The objectivity, nuance, and variety of perspectives will refresh your tired American spirit, and appeal to that special English major part of your soul that loves clear and concise language.
  5. Take a nap. Hey, Hilltoppers, we have the day off! Don’t let it pass you by without catching a few Zzzz‘s. After all, you’ve earned it after exercising your democratic right. Then, get back to work on that twelve page research paper you’ve been avoiding.


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Happy birthday to us! First Floor Cherry has officially been live on WordPress for one year. Cue: confetti, balloons, and CAKE.

To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 most popular posts for you to revisit and re-enjoy. Just like cold pizza, these posts are even better the second time around.


  1. Beyond the Hill: Tips from former frantic college students

    by Hannah Good, September 16, 2016

    This post proved that “life after graduation exists – and turns out it’s pretty bright” by featuring advice from a panel of recent WKU Professional Writing alumni. Highlights include advice about taking advantage of English Department internship opportunities, visiting office hours, and “not taking crap for being a millennial.” We’re glad we could alleviate your graduation anxieties and grateful to those alumni for sharing their wisdom.

  2. Meet Hannah

    by Hannah Good, August 31, 2016

    Well, shucks, guys. I’m flattered that my intro post made it on the list. This post is full of invigorating details about my life, interests, and goals. Did you know, for example, that I am a passionate hip hop fan, that I run marathons, and that after traveling the world reading and writing books, I plan to adopt a French bulldog and retire as an eccentric recluse? I know what you’re thinking: This girl is SO COOL. Hold your applause, please.


  3. PLEASE Stop Misusing Whom. Seriously. Stop. Just Stop.

    by Chelsea McCarty, April 14, 2016

    You’re in English Language 304, and you STILL can’t get the hang of the proper time to use “who” and “whom.” Luckily, Chelsea’s got you covered in this irate lesson (rant?) about usage and grammar. Chelsea also helps us discover that grammar lessons are more than just that; they are life lessons too. “Moral of the story? If you are going to use whom—again, which you do not have to do in the first place—then please, for the love of the grammar gods, use it correctly.”


  4. Goldenrod Poetry Festival 2016: An Interview with Visiting Poet Gary McDowell

    by Lena Ziegler, March 23, 2016

    In this post, Creating Writing MFA student Lena Ziegler interviews our Goldenrod 2016  visiting poet, Gary McDowell of Belmont University. McDowell shares his journey of writing poetry, advice to young poets, and opinion on the values of poetry in our broader society. He shares, “I got four rejections yesterday, and I bet if I checked my email right now, I’d have another. It’s the game we play to professionalize. It’s important, sure, but it’s not nearly as important as the work you do on the page. Write like hell, send out poems, and be patient. And know your market.”


  5. Classes, classes, classes, classes? An English major’s guide to registration

    by Hannah Good, October 27, 2016

    This one’s a personal favorite of mine — maybe because I got to do some fun illustrations, but also because I’m constantly curious about which classes other English majors have liked the best. With registration currently in full swing, this one’s well worth revisiting. This is your one-stop shop for filling electives, gaining some advice from older peers, and finally finding out what the Hemingway/Faulkner class is all about.


Thanks for being a part of our first year! Here’s to many more to come — hopefully, we’ll learn to walk, talk, and use the bathroom without diapers.

First Floor Cherry.

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Levar Burton thinks we’re cool, and other news

Guess what! First Floor Cherry is officially on Twitter. And turns out, you miss quite a bit when you neglect joining the world’s #3 social media platform.

You might remember our Reading Rainbow-inspired ad for our 2016 bookmark contest. Turns out, Reading Rainbow was pretty fond of it, too!

We’re pretty stoked.

So what’re you waiting for? Get on board and follow us on Twitter! Maybe Reading Rainbow will think you’re cool too… no promises, though.

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