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!”

erika blog

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.

#ShaqTheHouse

On Saturday, January 31st at 4 pm, the Juniata College men’s basketball team played Drew University; however, this was a basketball game unlike any other. Throughout my three years at Juniata, I have gone to several basketball games, but I have never before seen such an enormous crowd of fans at a regular season game. The bleachers and surrounding areas were full of students, faculty, and community members who were all wearing white t-shirts with hashtags saying, “#WeGotShaqsBack” and “#ShaqTheHouse.” Without some more context, you might be thinking that Shaquille O’Neil came to visit Juniata. Unfortunately, that will probably never happen at small-town Huntingdon, but we do have our own “Shaq.”

In October 2014, Shaquille “Shaq” Smith, a Juniata College freshman basketball player, was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Within just three short months, Shaq was put on life support while in a coma and had suffered three strokes.  Amazingly, Shaq is now on his way to recovery but still requires 24-hour care. With rising medical bills, the Juniata College men’s basketball team held a game in order to raise money for Shaq’s family. Typically, games are free to students, but for this game, students and all other fans could purchase a five-dollar t-shirt or bracelet for admission into the game. The money that was raised from the concession stand, 50/50, and halftime contests was also donated to Shaq’s family.

The cheerleaders wearing their #ShaqTheHouse t-shirts.

The cheerleaders wearing their #ShaqTheHouse t-shirts.

Before the beginning of the game, Shaq was wheeled out to the middle of the court where he expressed his gratitude for everything that had been done in his honor. His teammates and coaches hugged him and shook his hand, but even more powerful, the Drew team members, all wearing #ShaqTheHouse t-shirts, also shook his hand. This was when the waterworks began for me. There is something just absolutely beautiful when two opposing teams can come together to unite for a cause. The game is put aside, and reality prevails.

Shaq meets with his teammates before the game.

Shaq meets with his teammates before the game.

English author Charles Buxton once wrote, “Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal. The winner is he who gives himself to his work, body and soul.” Not only did the Juniata College men’s basketball team demonstrate this zeal by defeating Drew 68-58, but Shaq, unable to walk and still suffering from multiple complications, said to the crowd, “Don’t worry about me. I’m a fighter, so I’m going to keep on fighting.” And with that high level of perseverance and the tremendous amount of support from the community, Shaq will be right back out on that basketball court in no time.

Shaq swooshes a shot during halftime.

Shaq swooshes a shot during halftime.

To learn more about Shaq’s illness and/or to donate to the cause, please visit the following website: http://www.gofundme.com/kwlq58.

 

This Week at Juniata Week 15

Senior Natasha Lane Publishes First Novel

Publishing a novel is something that many people dream of accomplishing throughout their lifetimes, but for senior, Natasha Lane, she is already well on her way to becoming a successful, published novelist. As a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Juniata, I had the opportunity to interview Natasha to find out more about her accomplishments.

Her love for writing first started when she was a young girl. She said, “I had a love for reading, and that love for reading just changed into a love for writing. I started off writing just poetry, which was good because it was a way to get my emotions out. I guess I was an angry kid for various reasons, so I wrote poetry to get my feelings out.”

In 8th grade, Natasha had to write a short-story for class, and she told her teacher that she wanted to make it into a full-length novel. Her teacher responded, “Well, then why don’t you do it?” So at the age of 13, Natasha wrote her first novel and got into the habit of scribbling down ideas for future novels in a little notebook.

Although she has had previous works published in the past, A Meeting at the Grocery Store was the first novel that she had had published.

Natasha Lane holding her 1st published novel and a newspaper article featuring her work.

“I originally submitted a fantasy novel to Books to Go Now, but they rejected it. They said that they prefer to publish e-books versus print copies, but they said, ‘We can tell you can write, so would you come back on as romance writer for us?’”

“I am one of those people who used to look down on romance novels because sometimes it can just be so cliché with a damsel in distress and perfect cookie-cutter characters. You see people like Fabio and shirtless cowboys, but I thought that maybe I could write my novel in a way that wasn’t so cliché.”

Natasha then wrote A Meeting at the Grocery Store for the next several months, which is now available for purchase on Amazon. She is also working on a second novel titled, Waiting for Mistletoe, which should be available for purchase sometime this month. Additionally, she is writing a sequel for A Meeting at the Grocery Store.

When asked about where she finds inspiration for her novels, she said, “I daydream all the time. I am like the queen of daydreaming. I don’t really force myself to daydream, but if something isn’t really interesting to me in class, I let my mind just go. And sometimes, I’m inspired by things that have happened in my life. Sometimes, I reflect on past events, and I think, ‘I wish I could have handled that event differently, or I wish I was the person I am now so that I would have known how to handle that better.’”

In the future, Natasha hopes to find a bigger publishing company and also focus on entrepreneurship. She has an individualized POE of Entrepreneurial Journalism and hopes to one day work as either the communications or marketing director in a non-profit sector, while also continuing her love for creative writing.

“I love business, and I love creative writing. I can’t really see myself choosing one over the other, so I pray that I won’t ever have to choose,” said Natasha.

When asked which author she emulated the most, she responded, “I don’t really follow too many authors. I mainly just read the titles of books and decide if I would like them or not, but I do know that I want to be an original. One time when I was younger, my uncle was talking with me about what I wanted to do with my life. He said, ‘You could be the next Oprah Winfrey,’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to be the next Oprah Winfrey. I want to be the first Natasha Lane.’ And that’s the truth. I don’t want to be a copy of someone else. I want to be an original.”

Natasha is truly an inspiration for all writers, and I wish her the very best in all of her future endeavors!

To purchase A Meeting at the Grocery, check it out on Amazon!

The cover of “A Meeting at the Grocery Store” by Natasha Lane

I teach to…

CA Name Plate web

I don’t think it’s just Juniata College nor do I think it’s just Pennsylvania. Students studying to be teachers all over the country are frequently criticized and their choice is questioned. As someone who’s been a teacher at heart since I learned to talk, this is why I teach.

I teach to create a brighter future. I can’t change the hate, discrimination, and violence in the world today, but I can change it for the future. The students in my classroom are the future, and preschool and elementary schoolers’ attitudes are malleable in a way that adults’ attitudes aren’t. I’m cognizant of the influence I have in their lives and use that influence to teach an anti-bias curriculum that actively seeks to dispel stereotypes.

I teach to share. That’s what teaching is, really. It’s just sharing. I love books, so I try to share that love of reading with my students. I love science, so I cultivate curiosity and problem-solving through science lessons and activities. I have a different perspective on life and I come from a different generation than my students, so I have all of that rich culture and history to share as well. And sharing is reciprocal. I create a classroom space in which my students feel comfortable sharing their life experiences and knowledge with me. I believe that, regardless of age or authority, we should all be able to share our knowledge and experience with each other and learn from others.

I teach to learn. Kids are way smarter than adults give them credit for, and I teach to learn from them. Some kids know more about dinosaurs than I will ever know, some have had unique life experiences that I don’t know anything about, and some are emotionally intelligent beyond their years. Each child has a unique knowledge base to share with the world, and they’re so enthusiastic to share what they know. It’s my job as a teacher to value their knowledge and learn from them. In terms of emotional well-being and acceptance of differences, kids are some of the wisest people I know. As a teacher, it’s both my job to teach my students and to learn from them.

I teach to make a difference in someone’s life. Students come into my classroom from many different homes and kinds of families, and some come to school with a lot of emotional baggage. It’s my job to provide a safe, caring environment for every student, and create a classroom in which all students can be successful. For many students, teachers are their safe haven and school is a place where they can feel safe and loved. That’s a big responsibility, but it’s a responsibility that comes with so many rewards.

I teach for a multitude of reasons, and these are just a few of them. But, regardless of why I teach, I’m glad I teach at Juniata. Juniata’s Education department is unique and continues to prepare me well for life after graduation. Every semester, I have a practicum in which I get hands-on experience in a preschool or elementary school classroom. In addition to classroom time, my classes teach me valuable skills for other aspects of teaching, including writing IEPs, creating transition plans, and facilitating home visits for families. Juniata has prepared me well for teaching and will continue to prepare me over the course of the next 2 ½ years. There are a million reasons why I teach, and a million and one reasons why I’m an Ed POE at Juniata.

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