Why I Chose Juniata

Being from Florida, you get some interesting questions and looks from other people. When I am asked where I am from I always get this strange look because I chose to move from sunny Florida to bitter cold Pennsylvania. Yes it was a big change and a completely different place that was far away from home, but in the end it was worth it. I got to build my own major at Juniata where I could choose the courses I took and learn what I thing is necessary to build a career. I have chosen to name my degree Entrepreneurial Arts and it is exactly what I want to do. With my degree I can help businesses with their digital media plans.

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A photo I took of an artistic piece embedded in the walls of the Huntingdon community

 

I also got to continue to play the sport that I love and pick up track and field along the way to challenge myself further. I have two families here with me, my field hockey family and my track family. They are completely different and unique in their own way with multiple personalities. The relationships I have built with my teammates and the moments of silliness are ones that have made my experience so wonderful.

It is great that all the professors want you to succeed and want to genuinely help you to get a good grade, but to grow your knowledge and future. It is nice to go to a small liberal arts college where the professors make time to help their students and always have their door open for you to come in to talk. Juniata wants their students to thrive and the faculty help in any way they can to help students in any aspect they can. As a senior, I have many faculty and staff members that have helped me to prepare my resume and network. My boss even brought me to a marketing conference in Hershey, PA where I was able to learn more about marketing strategies for higher education. All this knowledge and experience will help me build the future that I envision and I am happy to have chosen Juniata College to help me do exactly that.

Advising at Juniata College

As I was enjoying my Spring Break and talking to some friends from high school, I noticed that my friends at other colleges are having a drastically different college experience than I am. I don’t mean that my friends don’t get to experience Storming of the Arch or Mountain Day or Liberal Arts Symposium. I understand that different schools have different traditions, but one of my friends who attends a large university said something that I couldn’t even fathom from my Juniata College mindset: he has never met his advisor face to face. Of course, this led to multiple problems with scheduling, internships, and degree requirements, but I couldn’t get over the fact that while I see both of my advisors multiple times per week, he has yet to meet his.

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

When I returned to campus and talked to my friends here about this strange phenomenon, they were all as surprised as I was initially. Juniata runs on a dual advisor system, meaning that all students from their second semester onward have both an academic and a general advisor. The academic advisor is from the student’s academic department, while the general advisor is a professor or faculty member from outside that department. Both my advisors are great; I’ve met with them (face to face) multiple times, had them for class, and received multiple letters of recommendation from both of them. With all that my advisors have done for me and how instrumental they’ve been in my college career, I was taken aback by a student one year ahead of me at another school saying that he doesn’t even know what his advisor looks like. When I asked if he thought my advising situation was as strange as I thought his, he said that Juniata’s advising actually sounded great.

I guess aspects of college like advising are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. I’ve heard students say that getting both advisors’ signatures on papers or forms is a bother, but I think that never seeing my advisor throughout my college career would be infinitely worse. The advising system at Juniata is a tad unusual in that it involves two advisors, but between my own personal experiences with my advisors and what my friends told me about advising at their schools, I am very grateful for the advising that I’ve received here at Juniata. I’ll be sure to thank my advisors for their work the next time I see them!

Kristin Beck: A Model of Courage

Last Thursday at Juniata, I had the opportunity to hear the courageous story of Kristin Beck, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who came out as a transgender woman at the age of 45.

Kristin Beck served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for 20 years.

Kristin Beck served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for 20 years.

Since the time Kristin was in the 3rd grade, she knew that she identified as a woman. She got caught wearing her sister’s dress a few times and received punishment from her parents for not fitting gender norms. She joined the Navy SEALs so that she could “protect herself, build armor, and hide her true identity from others.” Due to social stigma in the previous generations, Kristin did not come out publicly until 2013. She said, “This is who I am. This is what I got to do. I’m going to start living my life how I want.”

Many people were shocked by her dramatic physical changes since she had gone from a macho-looking Navy SEAL to looking like a “Barbie doll.” Kristin explained that change doesn’t always have to be this drastic and that even changing your major could help you become closer to the person that you want to be. “Live your dreams. We get one life. Go for your dream, and work hard,” said Beck.

Since retiring from the Navy SEALS, Kristin has become a civil rights activist and is running for Congress. If elected, she will be the first transgender person in Congress; however, Kristin expressed that she doesn’t want to be looked at as the “first transgender,” but rather as an “American.” She said that her mission is the same now as it was when she was a Navy SEAL: To build bridges. As a Navy SEAL, Kristin physically built bridges in countries around the world, but as a civil rights activist, Kristin hopes to build bridges between people of all different backgrounds. “I want to fight for peace at any cost,” said Beck.

Kristin Beck serves as a civil rights activist and is running for a position in Congress.

Kristin Beck serves as a civil rights activist and is running for a position in Congress.

Kristin Beck’s story is not only inspiring for other people who are struggling with gender identity but is also inspiring for the population as a whole. Oftentimes, we face discouragement from others when wanting to express ourselves in a way that might not fit societal norms; however, Kristin serves as a model of hope for those of us just waiting to take that next step in discovering our true selves.

International Film Festival

The international movie festival hosted at Juniata College helps prepare students for their study abroad experience. From May to December, I will be studying abroad in China. Watching the movie Farewell My Concubine, about the traditional Beijing Opera, helped me visualize China and begin thinking about all the aspects of Chinese culture that I was going to experience.

This movie left me with more questions than it did answers. In all honesty I do not know too much about Chinese history. The movie left me fascinated by the Chinese revolution, and how jade tea cups could change the course of a nation. Once in China, I will be able explore topics like this a lot more in depth, but since the movie was able to inspire my interest on the subject I will be able to add that to my “Before I Go to China Research” list.

I would compare the beginning of the movie to Charles Dickson’s Oliver Twist, about a boy’s life in the orphanage in London. It was very similar, but very drab and painful to watch. When we think of actors we think of someone with a glamorous life, that is not what was portrayed. Instead this movie gave us the honest truth behind what it takes to make an opera star. The movie explored the Beijing opera, and gave a glimpse into what art and culture is like in China.

I liked the movie overall, and the festival helped enhance my international experience. I look forward to seeing the Beijing opera in China as well as all the other cultural and historical marvels China has to offer

Middletown

As my time in the Theatre Department was increased drastically throughout this year, I have become very close with many other members in the Theatre POE as well as the professors/directors. Although I was not directly a part this semester, I had the pleasure of watching several of my friends and one of my favorite professors on campus work together to create another absolutely incredible production of “Middletown”.

Julia Mathis, starring as the Librarian in "Middletown"

Julia Mathis, starring as the Librarian in “Middletown”

Directed by Professor Kate Clarke, the show is a dramatic comedy set in the town of Middletown, which is somewhere in the middle (humourous, right?) and describes the intersecting lives of the many quirky residents. Several actors play multiple characters, while some remain one character throughout the whole show. It was so much fun to see my friends transform into silly tourists, doctors, astronauts, librarians, and even a pregnant woman! As you can see, there’s a lot going on in this show!

Patrick Rutledge (left) and Kiah Mahy (right) in "Middletown"

Patrick Rutledge (left) and Kiah Mahy (right) in “Middletown”

One thing I love about the Theatre Department at Juniata is how small it is. It really allows the students to work closely with the professors inside and outside of class, and especially in the productions, which are directed by one of the professors each semester. I’ve already learned so many new techniques and skills just from the past two semesters in the Theatre Department, and it’s so fascinating to see those skills played out on stage by the performers. They also make it so easy to get involved in the show, even if you are not an actor that’s in cast. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes, with costume and set design, lighting, sound, and more. There are students involved from all different POE’s, from Biology to Communications to Politics. Working in the Theatre Department has also been a great way for me to meet new types of people and make many new friends.

Statue from the set of "Middletown"

Statue from the set of “Middletown”

The cast in “Middletown” is all very talented, and I would definitely recommend the showeven if you’re not into Theatre! The script is hilarious, the actors are stunning and the set is so beautiful! Middletown is overall an amazing production that is so incredibly executed by the Juniata Theatre Department. There are three more shows left (Thursday, Friday and Saturday night) and tickets are “pay what you can” (very convenient to the typical college student!). Attending Juniata Theatre productions is a must during your time on campus.

Being Different

I have always been different than the people around me. I have been asked frequently about how I feel about being “different” or about being a part of the minority. It was interesting to be interviewed for the Juniata Diversity Magazine and seeing the view of those considered “different” but I don’t think of myself as different because of the color of my skin. Although I am Jamaican and Chinese, I think of my experiences as what makes me different. Juniata has been welcoming from the start and has successfully been increasing the diversity to our community, which is nice so no one feels alone and they can have someone to connect with from the same background. Yes I am a part of the minority on the campus of Juniata, but that is not all that defines me. I just want to be a young women achieving her goals, who has been successful and created a bright future for herself. I am more than what people see on the outside and there is more to my story than what you can tell from an initial meeting.

The cover of this month's Juniata magazine

The cover of this month’s Juniata magazine

Life is more than first impressions but to those that are “different”, we don’t get that luxury. The color of our skin is seen first, which then leads to stereotypes that people place upon us. The same goes for those with different gender preferences. No one deserves to have expectations or lowered thoughts placed upon them for something that they can’t change. I am not saying that everyone does this, but from experience in my last semester it has happened pretty frequently. I guess it is one of those things that you can’t avoid in life, but Juniata tries its best to help any discomfort and educate people.

My only hope for the world is for those that are “different” to no longer be considered that way based on their appearance. Everyone is more than what meets the eye and it is important to accept that not everyone is the same and that it should be normal. Juniata embodies that through the students chosen to attend this college. There are many different groups of people, but it isn’t like cliché where you have to stick to one group. We are all different in our own unique way and there is beauty in that. There is beauty in everyone, we just need to get passed the prejudice and judgment to see that. Treat others the way that you would like to be treated goes a long way as well as being conscious of the feelings of those around you. So be the change you want in the world and accept those for who they are, not what they look like. I think that Juniata community has begun to implement these changes and encourage others to do so as well.

Guess What, Everyone? I’m On The Radio!

“Hello again, everybody, you are listening to Power 92.3 WKVR!”

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That’s right folks, I host a radio show. Once a week, my voice goes live on the air to tell stories and cheesy jokes and occasionally break out into spontaneous song (sorry not sorry) for anyone to hear.

When my housemate first suggested we do a show together on the Juniata station, I laughed. Speaking live, while people I don’t know would be listening? The idea made me a bit nauseous. But let me tell you – it is SO fun. For an hour, we talk about random memories we have from the past four years, share long playlists full of music and artists we like, and even chat about current events that matter to us, or interesting things from our classes. It’s like having a normal conversation, just in front of a microphone (and snazzy soundboard). Our show is also primarily a request show, so we get to play songs that listeners request each week. We also do competitions, asking people to tell us their best jokes or stories to win a small prize! Some of our dedicated friends and family listen in from wherever they are, and we even get mail requests! We are FAMOUS. (Of course I’m not exaggerating.)

I have grown to love the college radio station so much because it is just one of the examples of an initiative that is completely run by students, for students, that empowers us to raise our voices in the Juniata community, 100% as we are. All you have to do to host a radio show is sign up with the WKVR club. That’s it! The students who run the station are fantastic, dedicated, helpful and patient with any difficulties that arise.

Hosting the weekly show on Juniata’s radio station with my housemate has given me the chance to share and discover some really good music with Juniata students and anyone else who chooses to listen to the station. Even my best friend who goes to school in Amsterdam can listen. If you have the time, sign up for a show and see how much fun it really is.

“Have a great weekend, everyone. Power 92.3 WKVR, signing out.”

Be My Valentine, Juniata.

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

some people like Valentine’s Day,

but those people aren’t you.

An example of student made valentines

An example of student made valentines

As someone who calls herself “professionally single,” Valentine’s Day is not that important to me as a day for expressing my romantic love.  However, it is too popular a holiday to completely ignore, which leaves me with few ideas about how to celebrate.  Luckily, though, Juniata College provides students with options for people who want to spend the time doing fun/silly things with friends.

In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, clubs sell Valentine’s Day-themed items in Ellis lobby as fundraisers for their clubs.  Traditionally, the Dance Ensemble sells carnations, which students purchase for friends and partners ahead of time and the dancers deliver on Valentine’s Day.   Many of the clubs sell food- chocolate covered strawberries, fudge, cupcakes- that taste way better when you don’t have to share them with anyone else.  Buying food is both delicious and productive- while you’re devouring that delicious fudge from Amigos de Guanin, your purchase is helping fund projects in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to fundraisers, clubs and groups on campus hold events the week of Valentine’s Day.  Some residence halls hold card-making parties for residents to make cards for friends and for distribution to local agencies like the Huntingdon House.  The Social Dance club often holds a dance, sometimes on Valentine’s Day, where experienced dancers and beginners can swing the night away to all their favorite tunes.

While some students enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day swing dancing or eating chocolate-covered strawberries, others choose to spend the night with friends.  Some of the residence halls have kitchens available for use, and they’re often heavily used on Valentine’s Day weekend as groups of friends make fancy dinners and bake heart-shaped desserts.  Still other groups of friends check DVDs out from the library and host movie marathons with friends.

Whatever your stance on Valentine’s Day as a single college student, there are lots of ways to celebrate as much or as little as you’d like.  Buy yourself fudge, make cards for friends, swing dance the night away, or watch movies with friends.  Whatever you do, have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Talent Show

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, Juniata College held a talent show to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Events like this are always great, since it’s interesting to see how talented some of my fellow students are. Before the event began, those running the event introduced the charity. The audience learned about Alex and her brave mission to help other children with cancer through money raised by a lemonade stand in her yard. People were so moved by her efforts that they began to take up the cause as well. As a sophomore in college with comparatively little hardship in my life, it’s incredibly sobering to hear about such a compassionate child helping other children fight the battle that she was also fighting. Further, if Alex were alive today she could have been a freshman in college.

Las Piedras, a group of friends who met on a trip to the Dominican Republic

Las Piedras, a group of friends who met on a trip to the Dominican Republic

The talent show itself featured students from all years and demonstrated a variety of ability. Some students chose to dance, such as Casey Anthony or the Juniata Kickline Dance Team. Many students chose to share their musical talents, whether through original, instrumental guitar playing or through playing an instrument and singing along. Liz Godusky played guitar and sang to “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips, while Anna VanDusen and Devin Clark played ukuleles and sang a cover of “Hallelujah.” Las Piedras, a band of four students who met and bonded over a service trip to the Dominican Republic, played “Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers, and Conor Austin and Katie Shelledy harmonized the lyrics. Elizabeth Fuhrman read a poem that she wrote about cancer and its impact, especially on children. I did not mention every performance, but everyone did really well.

Liz Godusky practices her song during rehearsal

Liz Godusky practices her song during rehearsal

While some of the songs may have had a sad tone, halfway through the event the organizers presented a slideshow of the lemon juice challenge, in which various students and faculty members were challenged to drink a small cup of lemon juice. Participants had their pictures taken when they were drinking the juice, and some of the facial expressions were really funny. The slideshow definitely lightened the mood and got people laughing.

Juniata students are often very intelligent, but also very creative. As someone with no musical talent at all, I am consistently blown away by the talent that my peer exhibit. This was a chance for students to showcase some of their singing, dancing, and instrumental abilities while also raising money for a great organization. Students were encouraged to donate based on their favorite acts, and while I do not have exact numbers, I think the event went really well and served as a reminder that Juniata is about more than simply academics.

Celebrating Culture and Diversity

Red Baraat performs at Juniata College

Red Baraat performs at Juniata College

For me, the car ride to Juniata College was not a long one, only about an hour and a half. Following US 22 you pass picturesque farm land, beautiful mountains, a few houses and arrive in a tiny little town. It is quiet and people were out and about on that warm afternoon. Huntingdon is in central PA, you can’t expect a city here, much night life or a mall. However, Huntingdon has something very interesting: a vibrant multicultural college, with a diverse student body. In the middle of central PA this much diversity is hard to find.

Besides the diversity of the student body, what is so unique about Juniata is how well all these cultures and ethnicities get along. Juniata creates a bonding experience that unites and celebrates the cultures that exist on campus, such as those of Pakistani students, Chinese Students, Vietnamese students, Australian students, and American students.

Juniata Presents, the organization that focuses on bringing art and culture to campus, does a good job at showcasing this diversity through unique musical acts. The Red Baraat and the Hot 8 Brass band, who recently performed on campus are two examples of this diversity. The Hot 8 Brass band represent the music scene in New Orleans. The southern flare, and trumpets are completely different from Red Baraat who has a more Indian hip hop feel to their music. The results are the same: students enjoy them.

Not every performance at Juniata is going to be a favorite of every single student, however the fact that this tiny little college in the middle of farm land central PA can bring these big name shows and allow students to experience these fun cultured performances for free, is a wonderful and transformative learning experience.

Here at Juniata culture is celebrated, and welcomed. It is something not only to be proud of but to be shared.

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