Cortina Podcast Now Live!

Get excited because you can now listen to “What Would Jon Cortina Do?” — the Cortina podcast — on iTunes or Google Play.  You can also check them out at SoundCloud.  See the titles and creators below. Enjoy!

Racism in the Modern World — Smiley Kotob and Kyle Armstrong
Where does racism come from? Where does racism come from and what does it look like internationally?

Misrepresentation of Minorities — Joey Wichep and Avelyss Roman
What is it like to be a minority on Creighton’s campus? What are some of the beliefs people have about minorities on campus?

Judging a Book by its Cover: The Real Truth about What’s Inside the Pages — Shannon Mulcahey and Sheri Tochiki
What are some of the stereotypes students encounter at Creighton and how does it affect our educational experience?

Striving vs. Surviving: Breaking Barriers — Loriana Harkey and Kara Harvey
How do people feel about homelessness on Creighton’s campus? How do we break down barriers between ourselves and the people around us?

Hunger in America — MaryAnn Rigo and Michelle Doyle
What are the effects of hunger in America and what can we do about it?

OMGMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms — Summer Nguyen, Jade Cameron, Natalie Lang
Who controls our food supply? What are GMOs and why should we care?

Sudanese Refugees in the Omaha Community — Eithne Leahy and Linh Tranh
What is the political situation in Sudan? What is life like for Sudanese refugees in Omaha?

Dependent Adult Abuse — Amy Dusselier, Delaney Peterson, Jeni Obman
What is dependent adult abuse? Why does it concern us as Creighton students and what can we do about it?

Love is Love, No Matter What — Anna Gerze and Kaylee Zhang
What are some of the views of same-sex marriage around the world?

The Care of a Community — Ed Nunez and Sarah Guntz
What does it mean that Creighton recently extended benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages? Why did Creighton do this and how does it affect the campus community?

Ending the Cycle of “Who Cares?” — Arash Hamidi and Peyton Schneider
How do issues like politics, immigration, climate change affect us as Creighton students and why should we care about them?

Alcohol in the College Lifestyle — Cristina Marquez and Tommy Walther
Why do college students drink? What causes and contributes to the drinking culture on college campuses?

The Psychological Effects of Bullying — Alex Banketov and Kareim Bakhsh
How does bullying continue to affect us as adults? What is the psychological effects of bullying on “bullies” and “victims” of bullying?

Chemical Allure — Rachel O’Neal and Kate Albrecht
What kind of chemicals are in the beauty products we use every day? What are the effects of these chemicals on our bodies?

What’s in Your Diet? — Katherine Crowley and Maggie Cooper
How does the food we eat relate to our everyday lives? How can our food connect us to our mind, body, and spirit?

Anonymity Online —Mateo Le Noir and Calvin Senteza
What does it mean that people can be totally “anonymous” online? How does online anonymity affect the way we communicate on campus?

Gender Inequality on College Campuses — Carly Kenney and Katie Rasmussen
What are some ways that gender inequality is important on Creighton’s campus? Why should you care about feminism?

Sex Trafficking in the Omaha Community — Mary Elizabeth Yeh and Sarah Kort
What is sex trafficking? How does it affect us here in Omaha and what can you do about it?

Gay Rights and Human Rights in Today’s Society — Sydney Kidd and Katie Riedell
Why did Creighton University extend benefits to same-sex couples? Why is this a human rights issue?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities — Sydney Lynch and Matthew Tran
What role do Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in the lives of American college students? How do they work to achieve educational inequality?

The American System and Pay Inequality — Vincent Salazar and Kaylee Stankus
What are the causes and effects of pay inequalities in the United States?

Mapping Arguments in Our Community

While we often think about words making an argument, spaces and places make arguments too. For example, neighborhoods make arguments about the values of the people that live there and public parks make arguments about how people should spend their time outdoors.

For the last two years, students in my English 155: Cortina Composition were challenged to work as a group to analyze how public spaces around Omaha make “arguments” that influence the way people think about a space. We practiced by visiting the Benson neighborhood to see for ourselves how the neighborhood demonstrates its values of local business, art, and community (and to drink delicious Aromas coffee).

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.41.01 PMTo conduct their own spatial analysis, students selected a site in the local Omaha area, photographed the site, interviewed local residents, conducted online research, collaboratively wrote their analyses, and posted their work to a publicly available Google Map. The end result is an exciting and interactive opportunity to explore the Omaha area.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.39.56 PM

I invite you to click on the projects to see, read, and learn more about public arguments in Omaha.

Dr. Faith Kurtyka

Speech Communities: “So That’s a Thing” by Kaylee Stankus

“I have to write a paper for Cortina English on a word or phrase used in my speech community, so that’s a thing.” One phrase that I find myself, as well as my friends, using a lot is “so that’s a thing.” The literal meaning of the phrase poses a lot of questions. What qualifies as “a thing”? How do we know if it’s a good or a bad “thing”?

i hear that's a thing copy

In my community of friends and Creightas, the phrase is almost an ending to whatever we are discussing. Instead of just ending the statement normally, we find ourselves unnecessarily ending it with “…so that’s a thing.” For example, if I was talking with Sarah, she might say “Today my boss asked me to stay late at work, so that’s a thing.” In this situation, Sarah included “…so that’s a thing” because she was hinting to her audience that it was something that she didn’t want to do but felt like she had to do.

We use this phrase in many different ways. I often use this phrase in a form of a question. If someone explains something that I might not believe right away, instead of saying “really?” or “for real?” I might say, “that’s a thing?” Sometimes it’s used sarcastically when we are angry or annoyed with something that has happened recently. Such as, “Today my politics teacher assigned 100 pages of reading due by tomorrow, so that’s a thing.”

Personally, I don’t mind the usage of the phrase, though this paper makes me realize just how often we use it. Since I’ve been writing and discussing this topic with my friends, I started noticing just how often I say it. I also realize how some people outside of the speech community might be confused when we use it in our everyday conversations. Whether it’s used sarcastically, as just a statement, or as an expression of disbelief, “so that’s a thing” will always be “a thing” in my speech community.

Speech Communities: “Magis” by Kate Albrecht

magis“Magis.” A Latin word. A Jesuit Value. An utterance frequently heard on Creighton’s campus. “Magis” can be seen in colorful sidewalk chalk scrawled on the mall advertising the #MagisMondays, can be heard in addresses to wide-eyed freshmen during Welcome Week, and can be spoken in casual reference to the new Magis Core. Yet, what does Magis really mean to the larger Creighton community?

When I first started here at Creighton, I was initially excited when I heard about how Creighton was unifying itself behind the Jesuit values and this sacred idea of Magis. Magis, as defined at Welcome Week, means more not in the quantitative sense but more in the qualitative sense of better or greater. Magis shows how Creighton strives for excellence in all things be it academics, athletics, the arts, or simply moral living. Yet, I was disappointed to find that that Creighton was using Magis in a less sacred way in the naming of the new core curriculum.

Magis appears in the name of new Magis Core as seen at This use of Magis as a marketing strategy designed to appeal to perspective students who are concerned with the return on their investment in a Creighton education cheapens the use of the word Magis. Magis becomes a cog in the capitalist society, having been chosen for its efficiency and slogan potential.  The more we use casually use “Magis Core” — like when a sophomore said to me “I am so jealous that you get the Magis Core,” or when a student in my RSP group complained “Ugh, we have to go to another Magis Presentation!” — the more we diminish the original sacredness of this age-old Jesuit value.

It is the duty of us, the students of Creighton University, to wrestle “Magis” back from its cheapened value. It is our responsibility to use this and all the Jesuit values in a respectful manner, remembering their original sacred meanings. That is truly doing more!

Speech Communities: “I Can’t Even” by Shannon Mulcahey

This begins our series from the Freshmen Cortina Composition class about word choices in speech communities. Enjoy!

In a world where Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram rule the lives of teenage girls, there are several new words and phrases that are dominating the pop culture. Social media has become people’s personal diary. Emotions are expressed in 140 characters or less; people’s best days are captured in a single picture. The restrictions social media has made on articulating feelings has led to new words in our culture like “swag,” “YOLO,” and “selfie” in order to portray situations in as few words as possible. “I can’t even” is another example and is used out of frustration, ignorance, and efficiency.

A few weeks ago, I was over at a friend’s dorm room because we needed to catch up with what was going on in our lives. As the conversation progressed, I found myself not being able to share all of the emotions I was feeling. I continually said “I can’t even do this right now” because I was not feeling comfortable enough to talk about a recent event that had happened. I was using “I can’t even” as a way to avoid an emotional meltdown. I knew if I expressed my emotions I would become vulnerable.

The evolving social media aspect of present-day society has contributed to the lack of emotional output girls are willing to express in person. There becomes a disconnect and a lack of trust between people. All people have to do now is sit behind a computer screen and tweet out their feelings in the comfort of their home instead of having face to face interaction and discussions about emotions. The words that I choose to speak have been affected by what others around me are using. For me, using “I can’t even” has revealed me as one to be more emotionally reserved, and it has become a refuge in maintaining my emotional wall. I also value efficiency, and this phrase allows me to quickly summarize all the emotions that go on in my head. Because of that, I will continue to say “I can’t even,” but I will not let the phrase become so instilled in my vocabulary that I am not able to share my feelings with my friends when I truly need to. There comes a point where people need to balance the relationship they have with social media and how they express themselves and figure out how much they want it to affect their personal life, which is a step that I have taken and encourage others to do as well.


Mapping Public Arguments in Omaha


It was my honor to teach two sections of English 150: Rhetoric and Composition specifically for students in the Cortina Community this semester. Thanks to a course development grant from the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, I collaborated with Annie Dimond, the director of Cortina, undergraduate student Gretchen Stulock, and graduate student Catherine Walsh to design a composition curriculum specifically for Cortina students.

I so enjoyed getting to know the amazing first-year class of Cortina, who consistently impressed me with their diversity of thought, engagement in learning, and enthusiasm for our unique approach to writing, which included identifying examples of propaganda on Creighton’s campus, discussing the meaning behind gang graffiti, and a field trip to the Benson neighborhood to learn about local businesses and community development.

For their final project, the students were challenged to analyze how public spaces and places make “arguments” that influence the way people think about a space. Students selected a site in the local Omaha area, visited their site to speak to local residents and take photos, conducted online research, collaboratively wrote their analyses, and posted their work to a publicly available Google Map. I invite you to click on the projects and learn more about public arguments in Omaha and see some of the excellent work of English 150: Cortina Composition.

Link to Mapping Project:

-Dr. Faith Kurtyka

Speech Communities//”Slash”//Rachel Pham

Is “A” or “C” the best answer?  Do I feel like having Rocky Road or Butter Pecan?  To be or not to be?  Harry or Peeta?  Whether small or completely life-changing, choices fill up our existence (so choose your ice cream wisely).


Due to their constant presence, much of the value of choices has decreased, in terms of the recognition of being able to make choices in a very mental sense, which in turn is reflected by a physical change of language.  The change to be addressed here is not a very prominent one, but has significant implications nonetheless: the usage of the word “slash.”

The slash I am referring to stems from the “/” symbol, commonly used when typing to replace the word “or” between two choices as an abbreviation. An extremely common printed application of it in context is as “and/or.” The unconventional usage of “slash” of interest in this case is the pronunciation of the word out loud in a normal conversation.  For instance, while planning a weekend of bacchanalian festivities with a friend, I might suggest, “We can pickle eggs slash shave pencils on Friday night.”  Though “/” is used as an abbreviation in print, as exemplified here, saying “slash” in a sentence does not phonetically shorten anything, even if it does psychologically.  As a result, it could be said that using “slash” implies that choices are being treated in a very careless manner (and in the extremely serious context of my thriving social life, no less).  Thus, the seemingly innocent, arbitrary throwing of “slash” in our dialogue every now and then may reflect our taking the privilege of being able to even have choices too lightly.


This value is further emphasized by the fact that we sometimes use “slash” not so much as series of two choices, but as one choice and a continuation of that same choice, but in further detail.  For example, while trying to convince people to give a few hours of service, I once said, “You should come volunteer with us on Saturday slash sell us your soul forever.”  In this case, after a closer examination, one can see that there really aren’t two choices being offered, just one event and a highly escalated version of that same event. Thus, the range of and gratitude for choice has been limited.  As a result, it could be said this conscious reduction of choice indicates a subconscious reduction of the value of choices as a whole.

However, it must be noted that it is not the word itself that causes the reduction of choice, but the feelings behind the community.  It is possible that with a conscious and deliberate use of “slash,” the values that come behind the word when it is used could be changed.  Thus, on this note, I bid you happy choice-making.  Whatever you decide, always be grateful for the choice that you will or won’t make.  Slash it’s alright to choose the wrong flavor, as long as you get ice cream.


Speech Communities//”YOLO”//Connor

Hello everybody! This is an excerpt from my speech community essay for ENG 150 where my word/phrase I analyzed was YOLO (You Only Live Once). We discussed the origins of the word and how it is used throughout our speech community and then what affect that usage has had in your own personal life.

Whenever I personally see or hear the word YOLO, I immediately picture a high school or college student about to do something totally ridiculous, and they are often times drunk. Therefore, I associate the word YOLO with exactly what I envision, stupid kids doing stupid things. Because of this negative association, I hear the word most often being used in a sarcastic tone within my language community, taunting the dimwittedness of our fellow classmates. This is a sign that my close friends and I place ourselves in a higher standard of language by mocking the lesser speech of the community that is metaphorically beneath us. In the situation used previously with the egging of the principal’s house,  upon finding out that the delinquents reasoned their behavior by the word YOLO, my friends and I would likely have continued using YOLO in every possible scenario possible. Such scenarios would include but are not limited to: “Hey dude, come to the bathroom with me before class.” “Well we only have like a minute left.” “So? YOLO!” or, “Hey, did you do the homework last night?” “Nah, it probz won’t count that much towards our final grade, YOLO.” or, “Hey man your shoe’s untied.” “YOLO.” These situations are instances where we feel comfortable enough with our intelligence that we can poke fun at those who make poor life choices. We know better and therefore can tease them. The word itself represents our appreciation for intelligence and common sense. “… Our language habits are at the core of how we imagine the world.” (Postman, 4) This quote applies directly to the usage of the word YOLO.

The habit of using YOLO in our language to justify the irrational decisions gives way to how young people commonly misunderstand the image of the world. They feel they are free to make any decision they want because it is their own life and they only have one; this is quite false however because everything is connected, so whatever you do in your small community will affect the greater community, positively or negatively.

Also, here is a link to a pretty funny video that shows an exaggerated yet accurate way YOLO is used.

WARNING: Some explicit language is used, and certain situations depicted are very dangerous and should not be attempted.

-Connor F.