High school probably can be looked back on as the good old days, where minimal studying could occur and classes would still be passed with ease. There were no worries in the world because most parents were there to nag and make sure they could proudly watch their child receive that farewell handshake and be handed their diploma. For some, that was sufficient enough in schooling but for others, that was just the start.
Entering the college environment is a whole new universe. Your performance in high school could have been at the top of your class, but now you have the same type of students from all over competing to one day have that one extra part to their resume that will determine they get the job over anyone else. Realizing the importance of not only getting to make new friends, meeting professors that will change the course of your life and exploring new and exciting opportunities but thrown into the mix is also how to advance your future outlook. Building networks and establishing a name for yourself is crucial to succeed in such a competitive job force. That’s a lot of pressure that is placed on you to determine your own destiny. But having the support and available advice at a college such as Juniata, students cannot only enhance their knowledge but also go that extra step further in life.
When needing to build your resume or just seeking hands-on experience, no other college makes it more effortless than Juniata. Not only do they have a Career Services Office that can set you up with shadowing, internships and tips on how to put a competitive edge on your resume but also hold facility and staff’s expertise for research opportunities and answers to questions.
I was able to experience for myself the endless number of opportunities offered and available through the college. I got insight from a friend about a special internship for Juniata students through the Career Services Office. When I went to inquire about it, the director was so helpful and within a month I was a shadowing intern. My internship was at the Altoona Hospital in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It was through a residency program set up in the hospital through Altoona Family Physicians that ran anywhere from 7:00AM-5:00PM on weekdays. The internship was strictly shadowing and more of just getting the students exposed to the typical duties and responsibilities of a family doctor. Because interaction with patients comes with medical students and not undergraduate students, the exposure is limited but so is the knowledge of aspiring medical students. Even so, some of the residents were gracious enough to explain and teach the students about everything that was going on with the patients. I was able to learn and take so much from the experience. Some of the unforgettable moments were witnessing C-sections and a natural birth, learning different suture tying techniques and being allowed to assist in a routine pregnancy check-up. A majority of the time was spent with residents but interaction with the doctors and even medical students was incorporated. This was special for me because they went through the tough schedules and difficult struggles that are faced everyday as a biology undergraduate student. They can relate and reassure that a bad semester or grades that do not live up to your expectations are perfectly alright. Everything will be worth it in the end if you set your heart and mind to it.
Being able to experience this internship with some of my peers was definitely worth a majority of my time winter break. It reassured me that my dream to pursue medical school is the path I want to take with my life. Even though I do not wish to be a family doctor, exposure to this branch of medicine allowed me to narrow my focus down and know that this certain field is not my calling. Opportunities and experience like these are plentiful at Juniata. It’s up to the students to be proactive about their future and start it somewhere. The future is yours, embrace it with open arms and an aspiring heart full of ambitions and a countless number of possibilities will await.
Finals week… AKA stress. Over the next week I have a 58 page final project due, two essays, and two final tests. It’s safe to say over the last month I didn’t go out much. Last Friday I was doing what I had done for the last couple of weeks, working on school assignments with no intention of sleeping. I was attempting to figure out how to run a Chi Square test on SPSS for my statistics project when my friends rushed into my room saying I had to go out with them to the foam dance party. While I was reluctant to be torn away at first I gave in eventually.
The scene at the foam dance party was in short, awesome. There was a live DJ and a giant swimming pool full of foam with a crowd of people playing around with their friends. When we jumped inside what ensued was a lot of foam being thrown at each other, and I mean a lot. After an hour I think I had my fill of foam fun for a lifetime. That’s one of the things I love about Juniata. They always have events to remind you college is a lot of work, but it’s supposed to be fun too. Afterwards I got back to work, but a lot more distressed. Also I had another memory about freshman year in the books.
When I tried to remember what I’ve been doing for the past week, this is the list I came up with, in the order that I thought of:
1) This past Friday, I ventured
up to the peace chapel with three of my closest friends. It was a much-needed break from staring at textbooks and computer screens, and the perfect day for enjoying some sun and relaxing.
2) The Global Village was hosting an end of the year barbeque on Saturday, and my housemates and I spent hours that morning making shrimp shishkabobs and a pesto-pasta salad. All of the language houses made something for everyone to share, and oh my, was it all delicious.
3) On Sunday night, two of my friends and I took a study break and made homemade no-bakes.
4) The weather this week has been lovely, and I’ve spent a decent amount of time doing some work (…and sometimes taking a nap) with my equally as lovely housemates on the lawn outside of our house.
6) Yesterday, I went to lunch with one of my good friends and housemates at Standing Stone. We sat outside and ate our delicious Panini’s and sipped our smoothies, just enjoying the sun and people walking by.
If you’d asked me in person, I probably would have said something along the lines of “oh, a ton of work, you know.” This is not to say that I haven’t been working like a crazy person to finish everything that needs to be done, but I’ve realized that the people around me have made this week one of the best of my year, and it’s the week before finals!
The last few weeks of the semester are always rough. Anywhere you look, students are frantically trying to finish those last two papers, study like crazy for the coming exams, or desperately working to perfect end-of-the-year presentations. But the moments that I’ve spent with the people that I love here has made every painfully-late night of work more than worth it. These are the memories that I’ll look back on, seeing my friend’s faces mid-laughter, or remembering something especially amusing that they said. A good college experience has so much to do with the people you surround yourself with, and I’d say I’m pretty lucky.
Genocide Awareness and Action Week was started two years ago by a student named Lily Kruglak. She studied abroad in Rwanda and was interested in raising awareness of the recent genocide in that country. It has evolved into a week long series of events in April (movies, speakers, discussions, artistic projects and interactive activities) addressing a number of different genocidal contexts. This year, it was held the week of April 8-12, 2013.
Last year GAAW brought Ms. Eugenie Mukeshimana, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide to campus to speak and share her work with Genocide Survivors Support Network. I actually got the chance to give her a tour of campus and speak with her before her presentation to campus. This year, two different Holocaust survivors came to campus. Ms. Judy Meisel came during the actual week of GAAW and screened her documentary “Tak for Alt” and led a discussion afterwards. On Wednesday, April 17, Dr. Ruth Kluger came to campus in conjunction with GAAW. She was joined by filmmaker Renata Schmidkunz, and together they screened “Landscapes of Memory – The Life of Ruth Kluger,” a film Schmidkunz made based on Dr. Kluger’s life.
My favorite part of GAAW is when I get the chance to meet survivors. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the scholars that we bring to campus, and the activists are fantastic as well. But there is just something about hearing the testimony of someone who has gone through the events of a particular time that just resonates with me; I feel an instant connection with the person even though I have never met them personally. I imagine myself being in their position and everything becomes so much more real. Being a historian, it’s important to remember that these were real people that I am studying, not just names in a book. Meeting survivors brings it full circle for me. And so many times when I am reading about a particular event in history, I am left with nagging questions like “How did this person move on with life after such a traumatizing event?” or “How could they ever resume their previous life after something like that?” What’s great about these events during GAAW is that we get to ask these questions.
And the answers aren’t always what we want to hear, or they aren’t always the same across the board. For example, both Ms. Meisel and Dr. Kluger both had similar experiences during the Holocaust, but had very differing views on life post-war. Ms. Meisel chose to raise her children speaking her native Lithuanian and found much comfort in her Jewish faith. Dr. Kluger, on the other hand, did not raise her children speaking German, and found no solace in her faith, but instead in her poetry and literature. Last year’s survivor, Ms. Mukeshimana channeled her experience in the Rwandan genocide into becoming an activist for genocide survivors and founded the Genocide Survivors Support Network.
Each of these women has left a special imprint on my heart. I am truly grateful that GAAW was created three years ago by Lily so I could have to opportunity to meet these three incredible women and learn about their lives. I think it’s one of the really neat things about Juniata that we give students the opportunity to meet survivors of genocide and connect with them on a personal level, rather than just teaching genocide out of a book. Add that to the long list of reasons I love Juniata!