Author Archives: Kandyce Baker, Criminology, Law and Justice

Planning your FREE spring break staycation

Spring break is around the corner!  If you are like me and short on cash, a staycation is in your future!  That does not mean you can’t have the spring break experience because you aren’t soaking up the sun in Los Cabos!  My boyfriend and I are actually planning some FREE spring break activities in the city!  Here are a few things we came across

 Monday Night:

The ComedySportz Theatre
929 W. Belmont

“The Chaser” – 9:30 p.m.


The Chaser is a totally free standup open mic where the prize is a chance to perform in next week’s professional set.  It a great place to go if you or someone you know loves the limelight and being on stage!



Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
(312) 939-2438


Illinois residents can enjoy free general admission. This includes the Waters of the World, Amazon Rising and the Caribbean Reef. Packages including Wild Reef, Polar Play Zone and Abbott Oceanarium are available to Illinois residents at a discounted rate!


Lincoln Park Zoo

2001 N. Clark St.

(312) 742-2000


I live in Lincoln Park and I actually go to the zoo a lot during the summer time, but it holds some significance for my boyfriend and me.  Right by the zoo is a conservatory and a nature boardwalk.  On a pleasant day, it is a very nice stroll.

Side Note:  Lincoln Park Zoo has a new male African Lion that moved into the exhibit in August!  His name is Sahar!


Next week:  I will finish off the rest of your FREE Spring Break Staycation!  

Stay strong in your studies peeps!  Spring Break is just around the corner! Does anyone currently have any cool plans?

Trying to transition to the professional world

So last week I did a lot of “spring cleaning” of my Internet footprint.  This past week I added a lot of things to my Internet reputation to put myself out there to potential employers.

First, I create a LinkedIn account. 

I’m not sure why I have been so resistant to LinkedIn.  I think mainly it is because I did not know the first thing about being part of a social network geared toward the professional world.   Once I created an account, I was immediately connected to former co-workers from Campus Housing and Student Development Services.  I even was able to connect with  former supervisors and professors.  Looking at the profile of my former co-workers helped me to begin to create a profile that spoke to the duties I had in other jobs, as well as how to tell people the type of employment I am currently looking for.


Secondly, I began to network

As well as connecting to former supervisors online, I also began to connect with former supervisors in other ways. I regularly have lunch with my former mentor from the Cook County Juvenile Probation Office, I recently had a nice run-in with a former supervisor and I have been in e-mail correspondence with another former supervisor.  In every “how to find employment” type article I have read in the past few weeks, all mention the importance of networking.  I must say that “social networking” is a lot easier for me than “professional networking.”  It feels awkward for me to talk about the skills I have instead of what I ate for lunch.  Sometimes I feel a little narcissistic!  Hopefully I will get use to it.

Third, I spruced up my résumés

I know the importance of having different résumés when applying for different forms of employment.  However, I would send in the appropriate one along with a customized cover letter without thinking twice about it.  Because I have been networking more, I have been able to show my résumés to people who are currently in the career field I am interested in.  I have been given some great advice about things I should highlight in my résumés.  Now, when I send in a job application, I try and tweak my résumé just a little bit to appeal more to the specific job I am applying for.




Not going to lie, looking for employment has been difficult, but as my mother always says, “Nothing is going to change if you change nothing.”  So strengthening my professional reputation is my attempt to change.  What struggles do you find when looking for employment?  What has worked for you in the past?

Spring cleaning on the Internet

Spring may not start for a little while, but I decided to get a head start on some spring cleaning.  I really wanted to clean up my “Internet footprint” this year.  As someone who is trying to enter the workforce, it is time I make sure my best face shows up on the Internet.  Here are a few things I did.

1. I checked out my privacy settings on Facebook. 

Facebook privacy settings are notoriously confusing and controversial.  I found it difficult to navigate, but I made sure everything on my Facebook page was set to private.  The only things I currently keep public are my work history and education background (things that employers would see already on my résumé).

In case you didn’t know, every single post on Facebook comes with a little marking that will tell you exactly who is able to see the post.  You can also change your individual post to “public,” “friends only” “only me” or “custom.”  If I make a post or picture public, it usually has to do with an event or conference I attended. (Again, things employers would see on my résumé anyway).

2. I took a blast to the past on Facebook

With Facebook Timeline, it is very easy for you to take a glance at all the things you did on Facebook since you opened your account.  I can only speak for myself, but some of the things I talked about in 2008 are pretty embarrassing to look at today!  Therefore, I went back and deleted a lot of posts, pictures and pages I “liked” that seem childish and immature to me now.

Maybe "I can't touch this," but I CAN click the "unlike" button

3. I Google myself

I Google myself often.  I like to know what potential employers can see at any given moment when they Google my name.  I once found a very old outdated social networking page from high school!  Talk about blast from the past! I really don’t want potential employers to know what was on my mind when I was a 16-year-old band geek! Some people say it is narcissistic to Google yourself … I say it is smart!

I'm on the left as a 16-year-old band geek. I'm pretty sure my Myspace and Xanga pages were all about coffee, SpongeBob and the cute tuba player.

It felt great to go through a spring cleaning of my Internet footprint….maybe next week I will have the courage to tackle my closet!

I love my black history

It is Black History Month!  While we are busy celebrating some amazing and famous people in history, I chose to make it a point to celebrate a few important people in my life who I have learned so much from.

My grandmothers:

My paternal grandmother inspires me.  Every time I have a conversation with my grandmother, I feel that anything is possible.  She has a way of making all of her nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren feel special.  I am sure part of this comes from knowing the difficulties of raising four children herself.  My grandmother has never missed a birthday, she has a close relationship to my mother, and I feel like I have just been “pep-talked” after each conversation.

My paternal grandmother


My maternal grandmother (Granny):

Granny reminds me how hard my people have worked.  Granny was born and raise in a tiny town in South Carolina named Pamplico.  2011 population: 1,236. Despite living in a small, tight-knit community, Granny has many stories of injustice.  She once told me a story about her walk to school.  During this time, blacks went to separate schools and had separate buses. Every day during her walk, the bus with the whites would drive past them.  Some of them would throw rocks at her while she tried to go to school.  My granny reminds me that my ancestors, my family and others in the black community worked hard so that I can go after all of my dreams.

My granny with my sister and me in the early 1990s.


My mother:

If my grandmother inspires me, and my granny reminds me, then I have to say my mother is a fusion of the two.  She is a role model of the person I want to be.  My mother left the tiny town of Pamplico at age 18 and joined the military.  She got married and had two kids before the age of 30.  She retired from the military at the young age of 38.  Afterward, my mother worked her butt off to get her dream job inside the Pentagon!  That was not enough for my mom.  She knew she wanted to do more so she decided to serve our country in a civilian manner and took a job in Afghanistan! My mother is a product of what all the civil rights activists fought for.  Nothing is impossible for my mother.

My mother when she just joined the military.

Hopefully, I too will be a black historymaker in someone’s eyes.  Each time I want to procrastinate or feel the work is too much, I remind myself of these three wonderful women.  I remind myself that they accomplished all their dreams in much harsher time periods and anything is possible if I continue to work hard for my dreams.

My graduation in 2011.

15 pages in assignments each week?…Uh oh!!!

We are not even halfway into the semester and I am already overwhelmed!  Who knew my last semester of grad school would be so busy?  Currently my weekly assignments look as follows:

GWS 485 – Gender and politics.  Each week we have to read a book and write a three-page summary on each book due the day before class.

GWS 502 – Feminist Knowledge Production.  Each week we are assigned readings and required to write an annotated bibliography, which comes out to about three or four pages.

CLJ 500 – Law and Society.  Each week we are required to write a two- to three-page summary on each article assigned.  We are usually assigned four to five articles each week.

So lets do the math: I write and print about 15 pages each week in assignments alone!! The poor trees!

On top of all of these school requirements, I am also looking for employment.  I am currently attempting to apply for about 15 to 20 jobs each month.  This give me time to draft a cover letter each day of the week. Not to mention many of the jobs I am applying for require letters of recommendation from former supervisors or professors!!

I literally have no time!  I’m pretty sure my boyfriend is tired of us utilizing our time together analyzing the works of Foucault, Durkheim and Plato.  He is sweet for helping me, but I am pretty sure he just wants to watch “The Walking Dead!”

In order to cope with the demands of the semester, I utilize a huge color-coordinated calendar.  I list each class’s assignments, any due dates for jobs I’m applying for, as well as work-related due dates and events.

The only good thing about having all these assignments is that in the process I have become a stronger writer.  I know how to analyze theoretical works easier.  I feel like I am finally the graduate student I want to be (too bad it’ll ends in a few months!!).

Next week, I hope to catch up with school and take advantage of things going on in the city! Granted the weather makes up its mind about which season it wants to be in!

So…how do you stay organized?!?


Wow, we are not even halfway into the semester and so many crazy things are happening on campus!

First: UIC recreation had RECExperience LIVE last week.  There was free rock climbing, fitness class marathons and pretty cool raffles!  I was there teaching during the fitness marathon with six other instructors. I stayed the entire time and my body was very sore!  It’s amazing how dedicated many of the people were!

Some pictures from the RecExperience Live Group Fitness Marathon


Secondly, I was so excited to hear that Campus Programs was hosting LOL @ UIC: free event tonight that features Keenan Thompson! The free show starts at 7 p.m. at the UIC Forum.


UIC undergrads have no idea how good they’ve got it!  Back in MY early days at UIC, we did not have A-List celebrities at the annual Spark in the Park….because there WAS NO Spark in the Park.  If we wanted to see A-List celebrities….we turned on MTV!

Another great change I have been noticing going on at UIC is a huge push to get students more involved in supporting the athletic department.  During my undergrad years, there were no wacky, waving inflatable arm-flailing tubemen to get us pumped up for the big games.

He waved and smiled for the camera!

It is pretty cool browsing through my Facebook newsfeed and seeing so many people excited for UIC athletes.  Next time, I won’t live vicariously through their Facebook updates, but instead actually go to a game myself!

So are there other excited thing still going on on campus?

There are ALWAYS things going on on campus!

Campus Programs,  UIC Campus Rec and UIC’s calendar of events are just a few places to check out if you are looking for something fun, informative or new to do on campus!  Take advantage of all UIC has to offer because you guys have it oh-so easy!  

Mama’s in the kitchen, burning that rice!

It is a new year and a new resolution!  I consider myself to be a very determined person.  So I do not like when I begin to slack on my New Year’s resolutions.

This year, one of the things I want to begin to do is cook!   I usually run on coffee, frozen dinners and sandwiches at Tropical Smoothie.  So this year, my boyfriend and I decided to begin “experimental Saturdays”  in which I cook a new meal each week.   Last Saturday, I cooked quinoa stuffed tomatoes.  It was pretty good. I followed the recipe exactly and it tasted all right.  Next time I make it, I will add a few things of my own to make it a little bit sweeter.

My quinoa stuffed tomatoes!

When I was a child, if I asked my mother what was for dinner she would respond, “if-its.”

Me: “What are if-its, mom?”

Mom: “If it’s” in the kitchen, then you can eat it.

So, the other day,  I put together some vegetable broth and a bunch of vegetables I keep for snacks. The end result was my own if-its!!

My if-its

My boyfriend is a WAY better cook than I am!   After I made the stuffed tomatoes, he showed me up and made stuffed peppers. I can’t remember the last time I tasted something so good!

Stuffed peppers!

The only thing I don’t like about my newfound love of cooking, is the mess in the kitchen afterward!  The last thing I want to do after enjoying a great meal is clean up the dishes!

This Saturday, I will use the leftover quinoa to make a quinoa loaf with mushrooms and peas!  What are your favorite things to cook?  Where do you get recipes? I use the Whole Foods Recipe app!  It’s free and very vegetarian-friendly!

Have a great week everyone and don’t forget to stay healthy!

AAHH-CHOOO! Cough-Cough!

I’m not sure if you have been living under a rock, but we are currently in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the worst flu season in the last 10 years!  I hope everyone is starting the year right with a flu shot!   If you are currently under CampusCare insurance, you can receive a free flu shot at Family Medicine Center.


I haven’t had the flu this season, but started off the year with a nasty case of bronchitis!  I will spare you the details, but I have spent the last 10 days loading up on vitamin C, soup and plenty of tea  The doctors gave me an inhaler, but I have been having issue using it correctly.

My fitness jobs requires me to stay active, so it has been difficult to rest my body when my mind really just wants to go for a run!  Speaking of fitness, the Spring Drop-in Fitness schedule has be finalized!  Feel free to check out my classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays!  I am excited about teaching on east campus in the evening this year. I’m sure January will bring a lot of students who made New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds.  Therefore, I will make it a point to bring my fitness instructor A game!

Hopefully, the last of my bronchitis cough will be gone before I teach!  I know crappy weather and sick family and friends can make it difficult to work out — or better yet, easy to make excuses — but try and get out there and stay active, healthy and happy (unless you have bronchitis yourself …then you should relax in bed and watch “Judge Judy.”)

The beginning of the end

The beginning of spring semester is quite different than fall semester.  For one, people are more miserable.  In the fall, there is an excitement about meeting new people and exploring new places, plus the weather is amazing.  After a brutal fall semester, we finally receive a four-week reprieve.  When we come back to school we are greeted with cold weather and people getting over colds!  It is way more difficult getting to class when the snowapocalypse is outside greeting you!

This is finally my last semester at UIC.  It is hard to believe how fast the years have gone by.  I have spent all my summers at UIC and every form of employment I have ever had has been through UIC.  My last semester at UIC just happens to be a spring semester.  I am expecting a difficult course load, but I think what will be even more difficult is saying goodbye to a place that has given me so many experiences, friends, and of course, knowledge.

This is my first visit to UIC in 2007.

Therefore, I plan to make the most of the “beginning of the end.”  I plan on taking advantage of everything UIC has to offer me.   Good luck on your spring semester everyone!  It may be gloomy and cold outside, but remember to make the most of it.

Living Vegetarian in Chicago

When I was 15 years old I told my father I wanted to be a vegetarian.  i just remember eating chicken one day and feeling VERY guilty.  He thought I was joking!  He told me I would not last two weeks.  Nine years later, I am still a vegetarian. I could not be happier and my father has FINALLY admitted that I’m not going through a phase.

One great thing about Chicago is that there are AMAZING vegetarian options.   This week I will highlight a few of my favorites.

1. Native Foods

Native Foods is an amazing restaurant. First, there are multiple locations throughout the city.  Secondly, the food is amazing and affordable.  I love this place so much I went twice in one weekend. When I signed up for their rewards program I received my drink for free!  I am pretty sure the burger in the picture below is my new favorite thing to eat!

The portobello and "sausage" burger from Native Foods.


2. The Chicago Diner: 3411 N. Halsted St.

Once people find I am a vegetarian, the second question I am asked is, “Have you been to the Chicago Diner yet?”  (The first question is usually, “Why the heck are you a vegetarian?”)

I moved to Chicago in 2007, but I did not get a chance to try the Chicago Diner until 2012!  One thing I enjoy about the Chicago Diner is that many of the menu items have a vegan or vegetarian option.  I decided to try a vegan “bacun” and avocado wrap. I’m not ready to go full vegan, but this wrap was WAY too delicious!

3.  Karyn’s Cooked: 738 N. Wells St.

I love Karyn’s Cooked.  It is arguably the most amazing restaurant in Chicago.  I brag about the awesomeness of this place so much that CBS2 Chicago did a segment with me about it.  The great thing about Karyn’s is that you can indulge in a number of comfort foods that are mostly vegan.  My personal favorite is the Jerk Tofu Wrap and the Vegan Pizza.  The prices are very affordable and the ambiance is great for couples.

"Ribs" from Karyn's Cooked.


So if you are vegetarian, looking to become vegetarian, or just plan curious, I highly recommend you check out these three places.  I bring my meat-eating friends to them all the time.  Once I brought my supervisor to Karyn’s and now it the first restaurant he suggests for lunch.

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