As my second year at Juniata draws to a close, I’ve taken a bit of time to reflect upon this year. One of the most major changes in my workload and responsibilities since last year is my position as a Resident Assistant, or RA. As an RA, I am in charge of one floor of my building. I help students with problems they face during the year, plan programs for my residents, and make sure the building stays in tip top shape. It’s an interesting and demanding job that, despite its many ups and downs, is extremely rewarding as well.
As an RA, I spend a lot of time interacting with students, both through email and through face-to-face communication. I am quite introverted and was a bit worried at first about the added interactions in my daily life. Honestly, it’s something I don’t even think about most days anymore; it has become so normal to have to interact with more people that it hardly affects me. By the same token, the number of unread emails in my inbox has increased dramatically with this job. That aspect of the job has been more difficult to manage, and it took some getting used to at first. With more emails, it’s harder to sort through them and decide what’s most important and to make sure no emails get lost. What I’ve found to be most helpful with this aspect of Res Life is to maintain personal boundaries. If I’m going on a walk and don’t want to be disturbed, I’ll turn off my phone or simply choose not to check emails during my “me” time.
A big part of the job as an RA is being on duty on weekends. On duty, you continually check the conditions of your building, deal with any issues with residents, and enforce quiet hours. At first, I found it hard to adjust to staying up late on Friday night after a long week or getting back to a normal sleep schedule on Sunday night after staying up late on both Friday and Saturday nights on duty. That particular aspect of residence life has gotten much easier with time. Another aspect of being on duty is confidence, or lack thereof. I found it difficult to be confident on duty the first few times, but every new experience builds confidence.
The most pleasant and awesome aspect of RA life is the community developed. Even after all these months, I am still amazed by all of the new friends I have made. Almost daily, I see other RAs or RDs around campus and we yell to each other from across the quad or stop for a quick conversation. I have loved becoming friends with a lot of the RDs. As they are older and have been in Res Life for a while, they have a lot of tips on being an RA. Many of them are also just really nice to get to know and excellent mentors to have when things get tough. Res Life can be a stressful job, so having an RD or veteran RA to talk to can be extremely helpful.
Becoming a Resident Assistant is a demanding yet rewarding job as a college student. While it comes with lots of ups and downs, I’ve found it to be a generally positive experience.
One of Juniata College’s goals as a liberal arts college is to give students an education that goes beyond their individual Programs of Emphasis and delves into other disciplines and areas. Two of these requirements are Interdisciplinary Colloquia (IC) and Cultural Analysis (CA). I am currently enrolled in the CA course Samurai Legends and Lives; this course seeks to examine the Japanese samurai in its historical and mythic contexts, but also to analyze how accurately these historical texts match up to the Hollywood and popular culture portrayals of this warrior class. On Monday, March 30 the class took a field trip to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms and to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian to view some examples of Japanese art.
Leaving campus at 8:30 Monday morning, we began our trip to the US capital. We arrived and ate lunch near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to work against us and most of the cherry blossom trees have not yet bloomed. After lunch, there was time for exploring. My friend and I first walked to the Jefferson Memorial and went inside, since neither of us had been there before. After the Jefferson Memorial, we walked to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial where I got a picture with a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. This statue was the first time that a first lady has been honored within a presidential memorial. After this, we walked back to the bus to travel to the Smithsonian museums.
In particular, we were visiting the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This subdivision focuses on Asian art and the class was looking to relate different artworks to the ideals and characteristics of the samurai. Some pieces related very directly, while others required more contemplation. Of course, after class business was complete, we were allowed to tour the remainder of the museum to see the art from other Asian nations. We later ended the trip with a meal at a Chinese and Japanese restaurant.
I had never visited Washington, DC before this field trip, but I had a lot of fun seeing some of the capital and visiting the galleries. Making connections between the art and what we have read in class helped to put our class discussions in context and added to our understanding of Japanese culture; it was a chance to do some cultural analysis outside the classroom setting. Now, I’ll be attending the course for the rest of the semester with an added appreciation for the culture that we’re studying.
One of the most important things to me is my well-being, and staying healthy throughout the year. Coming to college, I was a nervous about the rumoured Freshman 15, and the unhealthy food options many college dining halls have to offer. However, I was pleasantly surprised about the many different programs at Juniata to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle.
The program I am most involved in on campus is Fit Lab, which is run through the Theatre Department. One of the theatre professors, Neal Utterback, works with students every weekday morning at 8:00 (early, I know!) to prepare for the Spartan Race, a 10 mile obstacle course race occurring each summer. Each day of the week is different exercises, and on Wednesdays we do a high-intensity yoga session (my favorite form of exercise!). Neal is a great motivator, and really strives to boost endurance and performance.
Another fitness option is Zumba. On Tuesdays and Thursdays there are classes held in the lounge of Terrace & Tussey (two of the dorms on campus) that are taught by students. The classes aren’t too difficult, but will definitely make you sweat! If you’ve never tried Zumba before, these classes are a great place to dance with your friends while burning off the fries you might have had at dinner.
The most popular place to exercise on campus however, is the Fitness Center. Open every day of the week, it’s the best place to pop in for a quick workout in the morning or before dinner (any time, actually!). Since we go to a small school, the gym is never too packed and there are always plenty of machines to use. There is also a separate room with mats and exercises balls for additional use. I personally like exercising with few people around, so I love going to the gym during the day if I have a break in between classes, when the gym is most empty.
There’s many places I didn’t mention (the pool, racquetball room, the outdoors, etc.) that are great for exercise or blowing off steam all over campus. College can definitely be a stressful place, balancing classes, social outings and fitting in time for yourself, so it is always important to find places to relax and stay healthy!
After meeting Juniata alumni, Scott Kohmel in D.C. the previous year. I became very interested in joining the Foreign Service. Scott works for the U.S. State department and is the Vietnam desk. This is a four year job that he will soon leave to work at an embassy overseas. On his visit to Juniata he discussed how the State Department makes policy and how to write.
A very valuable piece of advice from Scott is that everything that happens in the State Department is based on writing. It is essential to improve your writing ability. The State Department looks for brevity, reading nothing over one double spaced page. Every sentence has to have a point, and it is best to write using as few as possible words. Professor of international politics, Emil Nagengast stated that in his experience students that couldn’t write well also did not read a lot. I am neutral on Professor Nagengast’s statement because I understand that reading does improve your writing syntax; however, struggling with grammar issues and spelling myself I do not believe that reading improves these issues.
As policy was described to me, I did not see much difference between it and some of the papers I write in my politics classes. To draft a policy you have to have an idea, research, and a valid argument that can be put into practice.
Another part of policy is conversation. Scott wanted to highlight that face to face communication is very important for creating a policy. You have to talk to someone in order establish and finalize a policy. This communication develops into negotiations, which are secretive in nature. Scott argues that negotiations should be secretive because the officials who make policy, especially policy with other nations need to be able to talk through the policy and come to a compromise. This compromise will not happen if the public and interest groups are watching and reacting to the negations. The negotiations are where the shaping of the policy is created and allowing these negotiations to be done in secret acts as a massive brain storm see if a win-win situation is achievable. It is important, however, to release the policy to the public in order to get public support. A policy is not very successful unless you have public support.
One thing that Scott stated that stuck with me that I am still trying to analysis is the statement “you cannot let your classes get in the way of your education.” I will leave you to think about that statement as well.
To hear more about Scott, check out this video.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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’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.
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
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”.
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!
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.
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.