Prism Fall Issue 2022

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PRISM volume 18

fall 2021

table of contents

4 transition back to in-person 6 honors alumnus profile: dr. lance gravlee

8 the future of bright futures: where do we go from here? 10 a look around 12 the sand, the scarab, and the stoic 13 what (un)makes a mother? 14 uber memoirs 16 uprooted and replanted 18 prism’s picks 20 creating projects for peace 22 love is the color she imparts 24 what do gators dream of in their swampy slumber? 26 frenzy 27 the void staff

Taylor DiPietro Sophia Eberhard Kayla Ehrlich Dylan Farquhar Pranav Gupta Jordan Harrow Tara Kari

Marguerite Andrich Andrea Bravo Emilia Cardenas Naina Chauhan Stephanie Cobb Gina Crespo Tomas de la Huerta

Annelee Kiliddjian Campbell Lackey Caroline Levine Tiffany Liu Jillian Malinsky Kaitlyn McCarty Kaitlyn McGowan

a letter from the co-editors-in-chief editorial board

Dear readers, It gives us great pleasure to welcome you to the Fall 2021 PRISM Magazine! This semester, we wanted to reflect on the limitless potential of a new day. The past two years have been challenging, but we believe that they have also been a testament to human resilience, kindness in the community and appreciation for life. It was with these feelings in mind that we chose our theme: Daybreak. We hope that reading this magazine will bring a smile to your face, as it has for us.

co-editors-in-chief Joyce Jiang Soumya Kona

managing editor Brian Paulsen

art and photography editor Grace Dooley

creative section editors Noah Towbin Ronak Kanodia

design editor Emily Miller

lead copy editors Sofia Anrecio Daniella Conde

social media coordinator Zoe Golomb

We have both been fortunate to see how PRISM has grown over the past few years, and we are honored to be able to continue to advance the magazine in the roles of editors-in-chief. PRISM has always been a community of diverse and capable staff whom we are privileged to work with. This magazine was put together by a staff of talented, creative people who worked hard to publish an amazing literary experience for Honors students. Literature is not just about communication; it is a way of selfexpression and shaping our identity. At PRISM, we strive to share insight into not just the character of our authors, but of the Honors and broader University of Florida community. We could probably fill an entire magazine itself with thanks for all the amazing people that contributed to PRISM’s success, but we would like to just briefly highlight them here. Firstly, we would like to thank the Honors Office, specifically Dr. Johnson and Dr. Law, for their support and guidance. Secondly, we would like to thank all of our authors and copy editors for creating high quality articles that enlighten, educate and entertain. We would also like to thank all the photographers, illustrators and graphic designers that contributed to this visually stunning issue. Additionally, the leadership and education from our fellow editorial board has exceeded our expectations in PRISM’s mission to publish diverse, creative and meaningful stories. We would like to thank each PRISM staff member for their hard work and dedication, not just for this magazine but for online content as well. Although not every staff member’s work is featured in this issue due to the constraints of publishing space, we are proud of all of their contributions to the PRISM brand. Lastly, we would like to thank all our readers, for whom this magazine was created!

web coordinator

We hope you enjoy Daybreak.

Catherine Pereira

Sincerely, Joyce Jiang & Soumya Kona

Kiran Mital Dee-Dee Oguejiofor Nikita Patel Reya Patel Derek Pena Hannah Powell Yamika Ramesh

Mariam Sargsyan Niloufar Saririan Veronika Schmalfuss Greta Schmitzer Amanda Smith Holly Smith Jacob Stein

Marinna Stopa Max Taylor Melanie Van Peenen Uma Vogeti Julia Zhu

Transition Transition BACK TO IN-PERSON

This fall, for many students at the University of Florida, represents both a return to form and the beginning of a new normal. For the first time since last spring, inperson classes and events have resumed with almost no restrictions. The increasing rates of vaccination and the imminent approval of wide-access booster shots seems to signify that our quarantine is over, or, at least on its way out. COVID will certainly be here to stay for the foreseeable future, but it has certainly become much more manageable than it was a year and a half ago. For all intents and purposes, we are finally on our way back to normal.

For all intents and purposes, we are finally on our way back to normal. 4

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And yet, for some reason, tensions seem to be rising. As COVID restrictions have loosened within the United States and elsewhere throughout the world, there has been an associated increase in feelings of anger, confusion and hysteria. In the service industry- particularly in restaurants, stores and airlines- there have been more reported incidents of disgruntlement and aggression towards employees and other customers than in years past. These sentiments frequently escalate into physical conflict, and many companies have since had to take steps to protect their employees from unruly customers. In the case of airlines in particular, hundreds of flight attendants have been given additional self-defense training specifically in response to this new wave of violent incidents. In general, more people than ever are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression. For young people in particular, the pandemic has had an especially severe impact on our mental health. Some studies even indicate that as many as 70% of all college students in the United States experience increased symptoms of anxiety and stress

As the semester has progressed, however, I’ve felt myself slowly overcome these obstacles, just as I’ve seen my community do the same.

as a result of COVID-19, and these symptoms haven’t just gone away with quarantine restrictions. On social media and student forums, many have spoken about the continued feelings of isolation that have followed them from quarantine. As a third-year student, I have really only had one full normal semester before now: fall 2019. I have to admit that it feels strange. I don’t really feel like a junior in college and, if this is how it feels for me, I can’t even imagine how odd it must feel for sophomores and freshmen. For many students, the end of quarantine has brought with it an eerie uncertainty as to where they stand in the post-COVID world. Our months of lockdown have left a mark on everyone. Like many others, I still find myself acting like I’m in

Some studies even indicate that as many as 70% of all college students in the United States experience increased symptoms of anxiety and stress as a result of COVID-19.


quarantine even though the restrictions have long since been lifted. I’ll forget to budget enough time to get to my classes since, for the past year and a half, my longest commute has been from my bed to my laptop. I’m always extremely aware of sniffling and coughing around me. I’ve even become more anxious about socializing with others, too used to the small circle of encounters that quarantine imposed on me. As the semester has progressed, however, I’ve felt myself slowly overcome these obstacles, just as I’ve seen my community do the same. I’m seeing people out and about again. I’m reuniting with friends that I haven’t see in over a year and I’m finally feeling, for the first time since March 2020, like things are going to get better. The new normal that we’re living in is strange and confusing at times but, in the same vein, it’s also comforting. The world is finally getting back on track.

Story by Brian Paulsen Design by Emily Miller

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Honors Alumnus Profile:

Dr. Lance Gravlee

Story by Sofia Anrecio Photos courtesy of Dr. Lance Gravlee’s website Design by Soumya Kona


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While taking a glance at the curriculum vitae of anthropology professor and UF Honors alumnus Dr. Clarence (Lance) Gravlee, one can find his anthropology research spanning from Germany to Puerto Rico to Bolivia. In addition to completing three degrees in the field, he has written a book on methods in cultural anthropology. Everything considered, one may not expect that Gravlee began studying anthropology by accident thanks to the Honors Program. Upon arriving at UF, he originally declared a political science major before switching to philosophy. During his second semester, he was required to fulfill one Honors course credit and ranked his preferences plus alternates. At the bottom of the list of alternates, in tenth place, lay anthropology. “When it showed up on my Honors schedule, I went to my adviser and asked to please be put in anything else because I was not interested in anthropology,” Gravlee said. “By the end of the semester, I had changed my major and realized this is exactly what I want to do; I just didn’t know that it existed before.” For the spring 2022 semester, Dr. Gravlee will be leading an Honors Signature Seminar. These courses are open to a select number of Honors undergraduate students who learn from top researchers in a weekly seminar format. The seminar is called Sick of Race: How Racism Harms Health and Misleads Medicine, which carries the same subtitle as his book project currently underway. The course will examine the health costs of systemic racism and how medicine and policy are led astray by false ideas about race. “We need to understand racism as a central piece of American medicine and the health of our population. I hope that students will come away from it with the ability to recognize how racism operates in medicine and in a broader society that harms people’s health,” Gravlee said. “I want people to have an analysis that they can take into the future, whether they are going into health or not.” Class discussions will delve into the history of racism’s impact on medicine, a timeline that stretches from the antebellum period of the 19th century into the current COVID-19 pandemic. While sharing his research work and serving as a facilitator for seminar discussions, Gravlee will also have the opportunity to gain insight on course topics from the class. “When learning from students’ own experiences, I think it is crucial to think about how our own position in a racialized society shapes what we know,” he said. “As a white man, my experience of race has been different from someone who is Black, Latinx, Asian-American or some other person of color. I hope that the diversity of the students in the class will also enrich the discussion and my own understanding of things.” The opportunity to teach as an associate professor at an alma mater is rare due to the structure of the academic job market. After graduating with his PhD from UF in 2002, Gravlee completed a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Michigan and later taught at Florida State. Since 2006, Dr. Gravlee has returned to the Gator Nation as an associate professor, even working in the same office where he had his first job as a research assistant. “To be able to go back into those same classrooms at Little Hall as a professor and be on that side of things is immensely gratifying. I feel this way strongly about the Honors Program, especially because it was such a formative piece of my experience at UF. Both because of the classes I took and because of the sense of community that I had in the Honors dorm.” For students interested in the Signature Seminar (IDH3931), the course will be taught on Tuesdays during period 10. In addition to the seminar, Dr. Gravlee will be continuing research on racism, medicine and health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Where do we go from here? Recent decades have seen the expenses associated with attending college in the United States climbing faster than the rate of inflation. With so much uncertainty around paying for higher education, proposals in the Florida legislature to decrease funding for the Bright Futures and Benacquisto scholarships unsurprisingly evoked panic in the University of Florida student body earlier this year. The saga began in the spring of 2021 when state lawmakers first discussed barring certain majors from receiving full funding from Bright Futures, a scholarship that has long been a staple in sending Florida residents to public colleges. Incoming college students in the state earn full or partial tuition assistance from Bright Futures based on high school academic achievement and community service. Senate Bill 86 controversially detailed a proposal to limit funds to “employable” majors. Though the bill died in April, it was amended to create the Finance Your Future dashboard informing students about the economic impact of their major choices. It also eliminated the $600 annual stipend for textbooks and course materials for all students. House Bill 1261, which went into effect towards the end of spring 2021, offered tuition assistance to majors of


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“strategic emphasis,” which were deemed to have a larger role in the future of Florida’s economy. It also stated that the 2021-2022 academic year would be the last in which out-of-state students could benefit from the Benacquisto scholarship that provides significant tuition assistance to National Merit scholars. Perhaps the most worrisome question to come out of the chaos was: how vulnerable is the future of our higher education? With SB 86 being amended, the end result was not as severe as expected, but that did not come without a fight. Students and parents organized through social media campaigns, petitions, and continual letters to their legislators, all to protect what was seemingly an unanimously positive investment in the state’s youth. Many are left wondering how much their education is valued by the state. A large portion of UF Honors students benefit from tuition assistance and have, or would have, been affected by the legislation. The Benacquisto scholarship is a huge draw for out-of-state students to attend UF, and many of its recipients join the Honors program. Coming years could see decreases in out-of-state students choosing UF, leaving those students with one less option in the increasingly


difficult college search process. If SB 86 had passed as originally proposed, UF Honors may have lost a great deal of the intellectual diversity that it prides itself on. Honors classes are undoubtedly enriched by having students of all majors collaborate. They have gone on to become employed in a wide variety of sectors and contribute to society in meaningful ways. The growing emphasis on certain majors over others completely contrasts the interdisciplinary nature of the program - who is to say any course of study is more important than another? One of the most daunting and evident effects of these discussions regarding the loss of financial aid is the impact on low-income, first-generation, and minority students, who, at large, are already the most affected by rising college costs. The loss of the textbook stipend is just one hit to the growing list of financial worries many of these students face. Tuition assistance is a necessary means of providing an otherwise unfeasible opportunity to attend universities in the United States and is a catalyst in increasing diversity in these institutions. Diversity in higher education has proven to be invaluable, and its benefits cannot be overstated. Bright Futures might

still be available right now, but seeing the persistence of lawmakers to reduce funding makes its future very uncertain. Amid the discourse, it is hard for students to be sure of what comes next. If the future of financial aid rests in the hands of public outrage rather than the schools themselves pushing against the legislature, there is a strong indication that Floridians’ views on the value of higher education are shifting. Ultimately, it is evident that protecting education is dependent on the people it affects. Voting in local and state elections and advocating for the importance of education demonstrates to schools and lawmakers that financial aid and freedom of choice in education are of high priority to students. Although the future seems unstable, it is vital to remember the power that students, and those who want to protect diversity in education, hold in their hands. Story by Kiran Mital Design by Courtney Chalmers




It’s always great to be a Florida Gator, but never more so than during the mid-fall semester. Football is in full swing, students have had a chance to get back into the rhythm of classes, and the clear blue skies are just beginning to hint at cooling off from the heat of summer. The sunlight slants through the oak leaves and Spanish moss in a way that reminds us how lucky we are to be situated in the Swamp, and that good fortune becomes especially evident when meandering through our beautiful campus’s natural areas.

HUME POND Tucked away behind Hume Field and shielded from the Gale Lemerand Drive parking garage by a tall screen of hardwoods and pines is Hume Pond—a hidden gem and an excellent place to sort out thoughts, take a walk, read a book or simply appreciate the crisp fall air. The areas surrounding Hume Pond, a shallow pond that flows out into Lake Alice, are host to a revolving cast of characters year-round, including a variety of wading birds, a nightly frog concerto, the occasional visiting firefly during spring, beds of arrow-shaped taro leaves, breeze-tossed marsh grasses and swaths of lady ferns.

LAKE ALICE CONSERVATION AREA Lake Alice Conservation Area is formally classified as a Preservation Area, barring the 129.5 acres it spans from destruction or development, and proposed elements of the University of Florida’s 2020-2030 Master Plan seek to expand protection into a few adjacent acres as well. The paths that meander from Hume Pond to Lake Alice are a chronically underappreciated piece of our beautiful campus. Threading among floodplain marshlands, bottomland hardwoods and mixed hardwood forests, a walk or a run along these trails provides a survey of abundant plant life, culminating in a picturesque boardwalk overlooking Lake Alice. Lucky observers might spot a flock of ibises, a gathering of redwinged blackbirds or perhaps even an alligator wending its way through the water!


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NATURAL AREA TEACHING LABORATORY Per UF’s Institute for Agricultural Sciences, the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory serves as a point of education for UF students and the Gainesville community alike. Covering 60 wooded acres adjacent to the Florida Museum along the edge of campus, the Natural Area Teaching Lab (NATL) stretches through a wide variety of ecological communities, including hammocks, upland pine, and a marsh, as well as an ecologically engineered water retention basin. The paths through NATL follow pinelands through various

stages of succession, allowing visitors to follow forest regrowth through its phases. NATL is home to fields of bracken ferns, horsemint, partridge peas and tall grasses, creating an ideal place to explore. We suggest that visitors keep an eye out for zebra longwing butterflies, yellow-rumped warblers and cardinals. These three areas only scratch the surface of the natural spaces that UF has to offer, so we urge you to explore for yourself: take a hike and find your own favorite corner of UF!

Story by Jillian Malinsky Photos by Gina Crespo Design by Soumya Kona

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Scorching sand bullets across the air Riding angrily on howling wind They bombard an indifferent, mud-bricked shack In response, a curtain is drawn, Defending from the chaos outside, A shield raised by a delicate elderly woman. She closes off the dry tempest outside And hones in on her needle’s exacting end. Just behind its apex, an elaborate tapestry lay, Its geometric design longing for symmetry Her dexterous hands resume their work Intertwining a plethora of colored fabrics An invader. Its wings shatter the stillness in a tumultuous uproar Diving through the curtains Crashing into walls and fragile pottery Patiently, she waits For the shimmering scarab to find a proper perch The beetle darts into her tapestry Becoming swallowed in an unforgiving maw of yarn Struggling, it unravels And without a hint of calm missing She guides it toward the window Releasing it back to the sea of sand Scanning over the damage, she nods The needle re-embarks on its deft flight She sews over the beetle’s imprint And stabs just a few inches to the left Through mirroring the rips and tears The balance has been restored With each slash, the tapestry evolves from its razing And with this evolution, the needle thirsts. It digs deep, Sucking blood and splashing crimson about She winces, slightly Yet returns to cadence quickly, tending the wound

The Sand, the Scarab, and the Stoic

Across the meticulously constructed piece, Thick, dark red globs are scattered They claw along a towel, consuming more Pondering for a moment, she claps, Hangs her spotted work on the wall, And settles in for her daily rest.


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Poem by Derek Pena Design by Emily Miller

What (un)makes a mother? Inspired by Kathe Kolwitz, Mutter (Mothers), 1919 on display at the Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL

Mutti, Your tears are dry. You cried so much You lost supply. Mome, Your voice is sore. You screamed so loud When I saw war. Mama, You hold me tight. You feel so heavy, But I feel light. Mom, I cannot stay. But before I go, Please hear me say: Though cold are my hands today Mutti And though my skin is pale and grey Mome I see it now—see what they say Mama I see a world of light so near Mom And oh! The singing of the angels here Mutti, Mome, Mama, Mom O’ mutter, my mind is clear Mutti, Mome, Mama, Mom Release me now, I feel no—

Poem by Caroline Levine Design by Emily Miller

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Regardless of what is taught in school or presented on the news as being legitimate or factual, some individuals are still prone to sticking to their guns and believing information that has been proven wrong on multiple occasions. These types of people irritated Logical Lawrence, a recently graduated UF alumnus with degrees in geology and philosophy. On one pleasant Gainesville afternoon, Lawrence was forced to endure a ride and conversation with such a person. Almost immediately after sitting down in the passenger seat and without any prompting, this rider began ranting about how the Earth is inarguably, definitively flat—little did he know that his driver was a certified expert in debasing these types of arguments. Throughout the duration of the drive, and for around half an hour after they arrived at the destination, the pair thoroughly debated this issue until the passenger angrily jumped out of the parked vehicle. With a smug look on his face, he proceeded to jump up and down several times before childishly repeating the phrase, “Did you see that?” several times. Logical Lawrence, having figured out that there was no hope of convincing this fanatic to grasp the truth, decided to drive away rather than re-engaging.


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Ladies and gentlemen, it is the moment you have all been waiting for—the return of Uber Memoirs! With the worst of COVID-19 hopefully behind us, I wanted to take some time to highlight some truly jaw-dropping stories from before and after the craziness of the past year and a half.


The story of Hydrant Hank is slightly different from any other entry into these memoirs due to the fact that this recounting was not done by an Uber driver; rather, I happened upon this tale at the “Dank Cakes” fried food stand after a pleasant evening at Bricks. After ordering an awesome, ridiculously sugary combo of fried Oreos, funnel cake, bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream, I asked him about his most interesting experience as a late-night food vendor in downtown Gainesville. He answered me with the story of Hydrant Hank—a sketchy 65-year-old with a penchant for destruction and mayhem. One beautiful Gainesville night, Hank was seen creeping up to the fire hydrant across the street from the food stand. He carefully reached into his suspiciously full backpack, pulled out a sizable wrench, and expertly opened the water valve. Almost immediately, a powerful jet of freezing water shot into the street. Unfortunately, an innocent man in a convertible Corvette—top down, of course—happened to be driving by at that exact moment. The driver was thoroughly bombarded by the stream, and the interior of his clearly expensive car was water-logged by the time Hydrant Hank shut it off and dashed down an alley. Legend has it that Hydrant Hank still roams the dark streets of Gainesville, waiting to soak his next victim. PS: Shout out to Dank Cakes for easily having the best dessert in downtown Gainesville. Story by Noah Towbin Design by Courtney Chalmers

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Uprooted and Replanted I felt foreign in my own body. A knotted tongue clogged my throat; muscles drank the ribbon of air that whistled down my windpipe. Despondency snuggled into the crevices of my brain, germinating like stubborn weeds. Attempts to remove them sliced my palm, a red frown drooling down my wrist. My skin–glutted with adversity–was rejecting me, but determination stapled me down. I gently untied my tongue, then tended to the scabbing wound on my hand. I retuned cacophonous voices murmuring doubts and delusions, now white noise. Warmth hummed throughout my body. I spent a lot of time within myself, a ragged ecosystem, tidying the overgrowth. I felt different, but recognizable, flourishing in a new equilibrium.

Poem by Kaitlyn McGowan Illustration by Julia Zhu Design by Emily Miller


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p r i s m ’ s



“The Starless Sea”

“Shang Chi”

by Erin Morgenstern

Released in 2019, “The Starless Sea” finally made its way onto my bookshelf this summer, and its presence could not have been more welcome. A staple for all book lovers, “The Starless Sea” illustrates the wondrous world of an underground library. Author Erin Morgenstern masterfully entrances the reader with her unique storytelling style; her mix of fables, tales, myths and backstories builds a fantastical world unlike any other. Join the all-too-relatable protagonist Zachary Ezra Rawlins as his ordinary existence as a grad student turns upside down in a thrilling adventure that will leave readers wishing they could find their own secret door to the Starless Sea. This novel is sure to be known as a fantasy classic for years to come.


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Marvel made a big comeback with the release of “Shang Chi” in September 2021. After a brief hiatus, Marvel’s first return to the theaters with the long-awaited “Black Widow” film in July was a hit-or-miss among fans, failing to reach expectations for many with its sometimes formulaic storyline and conventional action scenes. However, “Shang Chi” has restored hope for diehard Marvel fans and casual watchers alike. A fun, action-packed and exciting film, “Shang Chi” is filled with twists, turns and surprises, securing a spot at the top of my favorite Marvel movies list.

p i c k s


Story by Zoe Golomb Design by Emily Miller



“Mare of Easttown”

“Death of a Season”

Kate Winslet stars in this 2021 TV mini series as Mare Sheehan, a detective in a small Pennsylvania town alongside Evan Peters. The local murder of a teenage girl sets the town on edge, especially following the disappearance of another girl the year before. Mare must investigate the case while also confronting her own demons. “Mare of Easttown” is unlike any other crime thriller, packed with a series of twists and turns that concludes with a shocking reveal; this show is bound to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

by Electric Looking Glass

Reminiscent of 60s-style pop rock music, baroque-pop group Electric Looking Glass whisks their listeners away on a whimsical journey to the past. Melding upbeat rock ‘n’ roll music with soft classical sounds, their 2021 album “Somewhere Flowers Grow’’ is an ode to the imaginative world of 1960s psychedelia. The star of the album, “Death of a Season,” is a striking blend of melodic tunes, fanciful lyrics and joyful harmonies that will be sure to bring you to an era you did not even realize you were nostalgic for. The album is available for streaming now on Spotify and Apple Music.

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When I first heard about the Projects for Peace grant, a $10,000 grant for community service projects promoting peace, it was just one of the emails I woke up to, yet it immediately intrigued and intimidated me. I had been thinking about creating a project that could make a difference in my community for a long time. But applying for a competitive


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grant, being responsible for the undertaking, it all felt out of my reach. So I just scrolled past the email and went to class. Still, the knowledge of the challenges in my community,

through firsthand community service experiences and by reading about the disparities exacerbated by COVID-19 in the news, was impossible to ignore. After researching further on social issues

in Gainesville and what resources the city lacked, I asked two other UF students, Eliza Morton and Hannah Powell, to join me in starting a free summer reading program: Book Explorers. Throughout this undertaking, apprehension plagued me. Without a formal background in education or nonprofit management, how could I lead a reading program? And how could we teach reading virtually, a challenge that the entire world of education was struggling with? I had a million doubts racing through my mind, each tempting me to give up. Instead, I reached out to experts in education and non-profit reading programs to fill in the gaps in my knowledge in order to build a resilient, well thought-out program. Nevertheless, unforeseen obstacles frequently popped up: ensuring we were following regulations regarding minors, creating legal contracts, managing finances and weathering a sudden change in leadership at our program venue, the YMCA. Navigating these uncertainties taught me that we are all capable of more than we may expect from ourselves.

With problems that seemed at times beyond my capabilities, I learned to persevere, to seek out and collaborate with experts and community partners. Despite the many challenges, I witnessed the kids in Book Explorers blossom in both confidence and reading ability. One of our students went from disliking reading to enthusiastically reading and discussing passages about Caribbean food or the Canada lynx at the end of the six-week program. Witnessing the kids grow in their excitement for reading affirms to me that all our hard work was worthwhile. So


would just like to end with gratitude to the multitude of individuals t h a t contributed to Book Explorers. Gratitude to Valentina Contesse and Dr. Holly Lane from the UF Literacy Institute for their help in developing

the Book Explorers curriculum and pedagogy standards. Gratitude to Taylor Stokes from the Brown Center for Leadership & Service for guidance through the Project for Peace grant process. Gratitude to Loren Israel from UF Student Activities and Involvement and Layne Prebor from Student Legal Services for their legal advice. Book Explorers’ success is indubitably thanks to the support of these interdisciplinary experts and our volunteer reading mentors who went above and beyond. When I first dreamt up Book Explorers, I did not think that I would be capable of creating such a program by myself, and I was right. Book Explorers was born through teamwork with experts and advisers, student volunteers, community partners and my two dedicated codirectors of Book Explorers. One of the most valuable lessons this experience has taught me is that there are so many people eager to help you succeed and create change, you just have to dive in and get started! Story By Joyce Jiang Design By Naina Chauhan

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I blink myself awake. As my mind comes alive, she stares at me from the corner of her eye. There is gauze wrapped around her head, crossing over the bridge of her nose and the apples of her cheeks. With each breath, the young woman’s hair shades itself a different color. The colors all seem so familiar, yet I can’t place a name to any of them. And as her hair gently flows, her paisley patterned blouse rests against her fair skin, taking a well-deserved siesta after an arduous journey. I blink, and a wooden board materializes under her. Taut chains of silver suspend the board about a foot or two off the ground. She gently sways with the swing with each movement of her legs. As I look up into the thick clouds to see where the chains may be attached, I’m unexpectedly blinded by an intense light from above, almost as if a force from the heavens was commanding me to lower my vision. I get the sensation that I was granted some form of mercy. A tear forms, not in an attempt to heal my eyesight, but in reverent gratitude for whatever may hold those chains. I blink the tear away and find the lady kneeling next to me. She reaches toward me with a hint of familiarity in her expression, and I notice a peculiar black speck on her cornea, separate from her hazel tinted iris. She offers something to me in a balled fist. A blue wrist watch glides onto my lap once she relaxes the tension in her hand. The watch is nearly shattered, and its leather straps are battered from what could only be years of wear and tear. The time perpetually reads 10:22. A tear falls onto the watch’s cracked surface and soaks into its inner mechanisms. I glance up at the lady and see that the speck that marred the purity of her eyes has vanished. She grins and nods at my observation. I blink out of confusion and the lady is back on her swing. She gives me a little wave accompanied by

an equally little laugh. I can see her pure, gorgeous eyes even from this far away. The view does not last for long as she turns away from me and places her face in her palms. After some fiddling, she waves her bandage above her head. It curls along the chain and begins to climb up toward the sky. The hand that is holding the bandage breaks apart into a ribbon and continues to wrap around and climb up the chain. My legs kick me up off the ground in shock. Her arm follows suit, then her chest, head and legs, until there is nothing but the empty swing left. I feel my eyes shutting once more and fight to keep them open. But the struggle is futile, and my view plunges into darkness. I blink. The lady and her swing have vanished. I scan the endless plains around me, yet I find no signs of her presence. I feel an urge to find her and ask her why I’m here. A weight in my chest forms, and the shock drops me back down to the floor. I pick myself up from the fresh green grass, and I remember the wrist watch, the only hint of her existence. I search for it in hopes of contacting her and finding out why I’m here. As I comb the area I had woken up in, I feel the weight slowly building. My heart begins to race, struggling to pump out blood under the growing pressure. Eventually, I’m no longer able to pick myself up off the ground. I reason that the watch must have disappeared along with her and that even if it hadn’t, there was no way I could find it with this weight on me. With a sigh of resignation, the weight suddenly lifts from me just as quickly as the girl had vanished. I sit up and dust myself off. I blink another tear away. I think I’d like to sit on that swing some day. Story by Derek Pena Design by Courtney Chalmers

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What Do Gators Dream of in Their Swampy Slumber? This year, with the influx of students and many COVID-19 restrictions loosened, there’s been a return to semi-normalcy. However, for those who made the decision to attend campus last year at the height of COVID restrictions, things were very different. With online classes, mask mandates and social distancing, many of us found ourselves looking for some form of escape. Personally, I tried anything and everything in search of excitement: online club meetings, movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, trying to entertain oneself through a computer has its limitations and is truly incomparable to physical experiences. After about a month into my freshman year, however, I had the most fascinating dream; that is when things got interesting. I was in Turlington, and someone had offered me a drink. I looked at it and asked them if it was water. They said “no” and then laughed at me after I drank it, clearly proud of themselves for having pranked me into unknowingly hydrating myself. What shocked me out of this dream wasn’t a fear of hydration, but rather the sudden realization that I was on UF’s campus. This was my first UF-based dream. Weirdly enough, nobody was wearing masks or socially distanced. It struck me as odd that I had become so quickly acclimated to being at UF to the point of including it as a potential setting for my dreams, yet refused to include masks or COVID as key plot points, even though they’d been in my life for longer than UF. I woke up abruptly in a cold sweat, but from that point forward, I was obsessed. Every night as I fell asleep I would hope to dream of anything, be it interesting or mundane. I would be remiss not to point out that when I say “dream” I mean: just dream. No shifting (I personally don’t trust TikTokers) and no astral projection (I blame “Insidious”), simply falling asleep with the hope that my subconscious would conjure up some form of experience. The reason I bring this up is because I was perfectly content with having a bland dream about UF’s campus. I wanted my dreams to take place in the real world, but one free from COVID. With that said, I thought it would be interesting to look at other UF students’ dreams with the restrictions that the dreams are from either this or last year and they take place on UF’s campus. For each individual, I summarized their dream and gave wildly inaccurate and subjective but (hopefully) insightful interpretations of how the dream might be correlated to some of our current social, political or health issues.


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The American Dream

XOXO, Gator Girl

Dream summary: SP found themselves at a mall opening. They got in an elevator with two other people, both wearing fancy, expensive clothes. SP recognized them as a Republican congressman and his wife. SP exited the elevator and found themselves back in their dorm. Their phone received a Canvas notification and when SP looked at it, they were informed of their impending wedding with the Republican congressman they’d seen in the elevator earlier that day. SP was confused, since they themselves aren’t Republican and the congressman was already married. They told their roommate the news, and in response, SP’s roommate looked at them and stated about the marriage: “That’s not very bipartisan of you.” SP woke up because they didn’t know what bipartisan meant. COVID: No masks or social distancing. Interpretation: This dream sticks out to me as having some deeper meaning especially during these politically tense times. I think we can all relate to wanting a more unified and peaceful government. It’s interesting that they put themselves in the position of being pivotal to political change, since it feels like an accurate view into the current influx of activism and social change. As for not knowing what bipartisan means…I might have had to look it up, too.

Dream summary: BB was in Broward Dining and went to sip their drink. Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively) from “Gossip Girl” appeared and told BB not to drink. BB refused and kept drinking as an act of rebellion. Van der Woodsen started tickling BB to get them to stop, but BB managed to finish their entire drink and then woke up. COVID: No masks or social distancing. Interpretation: It appears the COVID entertainment binge hit this dreamer a little hard. When asked, they did admit to watching “Gossip Girl” at the recommendation of their roommate. I envy them for meeting Blake Lively in a dream and applaud them and their roommate for having good taste in television!

A Gator Has Fallen Into The Swamp in Lego City! Dream summary: JH was studying in Library West. They were part of a soccer league playing at UF. JH’s teammates were studying with them. JH got up to put a book away and one of their teammates followed behind. When JH’s back was turned, their teammate started building a wall around them out of Legos. JH was aware that this was a “Cask of Amontillado” situation and that the only way they could escape was by very loudly shouting the phrase: “A man has fallen into the river in Lego city!” JH did this repeatedly, eventually escaping their Lego cage. They then returned to studying with their treasonous teammate as though nothing had happened. COVID: No masks or social distancing. Interpretation: When asked about soccer, they stated that they do not play sports. Maybe this is a sign that they’re feeling trapped. The Lego wall is a metaphorical barrier that they feel can be broken down. It could be time to try something new: join a club or try a new sport/exercise. Either it’s time to branch out into new activities, or they should avoid cellars and people named Montresor.

McCallming Presence Dream summary: MJ was attending their UF hospital job. They had a difficult time getting into the building but eventually found a way in. On arrival, MJ was given a book to read through. MJ couldn’t understand what the book said, but all of their coworkers seemed to be confident in MJ’s ability to read the book. Distressed, MJ walked outside the building and saw “Teen Wolf ” mom Melissa McCall. MJ was then comforted by Ms. McCall who called them “sweetie” and helped them read the aforementioned book. COVID: No masks or social distancing. Interpretation: Having to figure out a changing routine can be difficult for anyone, and it’s important to have healthy ways to share our anxieties. I think we can all understand wanting Ms. McCall’s support when dealing with the stress of being part of something new. Overall, I’m glad they’re feeling comfortable with emotional expression, and just know that I’m extremely jealous that they talked to “Hottie McCall!” Although I can’t speak for all dreams, the absence of COVID seems to be a fairly common theme. Instead of obvious mask-wearing, the stress, loneliness and confinement of the pandemic play a more significant role in our subconscious manifestations. These emotions in conjunction with the already major life change of attending college can lead to some chaotic but interesting dreams. Although we may want a dream world devoid of current discomforts, we’re powerless to them creeping in. My personal recommendation is to accept and even look forward to them. It’s always interesting to see how your mind can surprise itself, so just let the dreams happen! Story by Niloufar Saririan Photography by Tiffany Liu Design by Tiffany Liu

fall 2021


Poem by Noah Towbin Design by Soumya Kona

frenzy There’s blood in the water. She can smell it, Slowly, Tantalizingly, Dripping, Deeper all around her. Her pupils dilate, Until her gaze is absolute, Blank, Passionate, Unrelenting, Darkness, void of all light. She hones in on the blood. Her movements are swift, Expert, Focused, Ceaseless, Until each metallic prize is found. She breathes in her victory. Triumphant, she moves on, To more blood, And more blood, And more blood. It’s a feeding frenzy. There is no stopping her. She rapidly consumes blood, Of red, Of blue, Of green. Until no more remains.


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She surveys her conquests, But realizes that she is still hungry, She will always want more. My mom is in a fireworks store… She really loves buying fireworks.

the void A flicker of cerise flame blossoms. Distorted shadows writhe around it. I brush it. Cleanse it. Shape it. Soft light. Golden. I stand, hanging over my newest creation. Another trinket to dot the darkness. One more planet to reduce the emptiness. Yet still not enough. I grab a fistful of a dying nebula. Use fading embers to ignite something new. And through actions done infinite times over, I begin to weave. Stars emerge within my canvas, glimmering lanterns in a rippling sheet of ethereal light, A voice calls my name. — my finger slips. Memories from a different timeline rush in. The stars wither, the strands unravel, As a rhythmic pounding is reborn in my chest, I turn around. and everything around me vanishes, There is no one. consumed by a gaping cavity in the void. My heart freezes over once more. I pinch the black hole shut. I sit. A flicker of cerise flame blossoms. And I restart.

Poem by Ronak Kanodia Design by Emily Miller

fall 2021


front cover art by grace dooley back cover design by emily miller


fall 2021 magazine