Having Fun Along With the Workload


Looking pretty for the Homecoming dance! (Photo: Morad Chihab)

We’re finally in October, and as the Fall Break approaches, we can’t help but feel excited! Well… not so fast.

First off, this month is when the college workload finally shows you its true colors. From CWS courses wanting 4 page essays, plus reading responses, plus lap journals and mandatory freshman meetings, to history courses wanting research papers and 200 page readings per week, college just dumps everything on you at once! Oh, did I mention the commitments that you have to clubs?

I actively participate in five different clubs: Plexus, Chinese club, Japanese Club, French Club and the African club. The clubs are all very diverse and do their best to stay true to their moto. Just last week, the Chinese club not only organized the Chinese Moon festival (also known as the lunar Mid-Autumn Festival and zhōng qiū jié in Chinese) and shared moon cakes with others, but they will also organize Chinese dinners (monthly) at the Chinese village. Ok, I must admit that the Chinese club is one of my favorites because, after all, I am a food person! The Japanese club does not hesitate to invite members to cook with them, and the French club puts together movie nights (the next one is this Friday!). Speaking of French club, they organized a trip to Montreal and Quebec City during Fall Break, for which I happily signed up. My Fall Break is going to be a blast!

I had the most amazing Friday on campus thanks to the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra. I was expecting the show to be dull and average, but the next thing I knew, everyone around me, including the lead singer and the entire orchestra, was moving with energy and dancing their souls out! You couldn’t help but move along. It felt very refreshing being in the Halbritter Auditorium that night. Thank you, Juniata Presents!

Homecoming, something that my friends (mostly Francophones like me), were looking forward to, took place last weekend! Before the actual soirée, we saw families arrive on campus to visit their students. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and students’ rooms were cleaned up. My international friends were feeling homesick. Seeing other students’ families made them miss their own families and friends back in their home country. I missed my mother as well, who was not able to come visit me that weekend even though she was about 3 hours away in Maryland. Nevertheless, I had a great time dressing up for homecoming and dancing with my friends.

As I am sitting at the library and writing this blog, regardless of the workload (4 more research articles to go through, 3 IA assignments to turn in, 2 reading and a research topic that I need to start), I enjoy being at Juniata. If you are like me and procrastinate from time to time, well, start early, take things one at the time and see where the wings take you. Remember the light at the end of the tunnel?

The Real “Settling In” Starts Now


Sheetz coffee… always a lifesaver (Photo: Morgan Horell)


I don’t know about you, but when October comes around, that’s when the stress of work, college, and let’s be honest, LIFE, really hits me. We’ve been easing into school during the month of September, and as if in unspoken agreement, all professors now suddenly hit us with mountains of tests and papers. It doesn’t help that in a matter of days the weather has decided to be cold and rainy. The last thing I want to do is trudge to the library and pore over books. The real settling in to college doesn’t happen the first few weeks of college; it happens now, when classes and friends and clubs all demand time that you simply do not have.

But we must persevere, JC students. Now that Mountain Day has come and gone, the light at the tunnel seems pretty far off. But fret not, Fall Break will be here eventually.  Until then, try some of my tried and true study habits:

Powernaps. This may seem like an obvious tip, but powernaps are truly underutilized. You know when you’re so tired you can’t focus on your reading, so instead you mindlessly scroll through Facebook? That’s when you set your alarm to wake you up in ten minutes – I promise you will feel revitalized. Go ahead and try it out in the library – I won’t judge.

Make study breaks beneficial. If you’re like me, you have zero willpower, so using Netflix as a study break will always end in disaster. Instead, I like taking a walk to Standing Stone for a chai tea latte. Not only does the physical exercise get my blood pumping and mind focused, but then I also have a delicious drink to sip on and keep me awake.

Make goals for the weekend to help you not procrastinate. While it’s true that my friends can be the number one distraction from getting work done, they are also great motivators. If we make plans to do something over the weekend, during the week I will be more focused because I don’t want to disappoint them by bailing at the last minute. Plus, since the weather is getting chilly, it’s the perfect time to get lost in a corn maze or appreciate the changing leaves on a hike!

Hang in there! A lot of work separates us from now and Fall Break (including midterms… yikes!) but we can do it!

Mountain Day: A Retrospective


When I was a freshman, Mountain Day was more of a myth to me than an actual event. There was a poster at Lobsterfest, letting people guess when Mountain Day was, and every now and again I would hear not-so-quiet conversation about the actual date. Plus, there was an art to the speculation. Everyone had their own telltale sign that let them know Mountain Day was tomorrow. But most of these speculators forgot the one important fact about Mountain Day: It is always tomorrow.

Of course when Mountain Day did come it was amazing! After all, it’s a day off from the rigors of academics and, for once, a day to sleep in. It provides an opportunity to rest, to have a break right before Midterms begin, and it can also be a catch up day, a time to study for the upcoming Calculus test or to work on an Organic Chemistry pre-lab. Whatever reason the students of Juniata College have for wanting or needing Mountain Day, they all let loose a collective sigh of relief, as the news of Mountain Day echoes across Campus.

For me, Mountain Day this year was meant to be a day to catch up on homework. But fate had other plans, and instead I spent most of the day catching up on sleep and friends. Looking back (a mere three days later) that is really what I needed. As classes get deeper into material and professors begin to expect more from their students as they get into the groove, we often lose track of some aspects of our lives. We forget to call home because we might have an essay due the next day that we have to finish (or start). Sometimes we even neglect our friends because we are so busy with keeping up with work that any free time that we have is dedicated to homework, a job, or sleep.


A much needed nap

I found myself exhausted on Mountain Day from lack of sleep and from not having enough contact with my friends. They are the people who keep me from getting homesick, the people I confide in, and the ones who help me to hurdle barriers when I cannot do it on my own. Sitting under a tree at Raystown Lake, I was able to slow down and to even stop a minute and reflect on my first month as a sophomore, to be able to take just a moment to appreciate the people I have surrounded myself with here at Juniata. College is an amazing experience, and the one Juniata offers is unique in so many ways, but it does not come without its trials. Days like Mountain Day offer a respite from the rigors of everyday college life and life in general.

So my advice for next Mountain Day… just see where it takes you. In the end you might find that what you did was more worthwhile than what you had planned.

When Juniata Starts to Feel Like Home


I was terrified to come to Juniata.

Okay, terrified might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was scared. I had never been away from my family for more than a week and a half before, and unlike most college freshmen, I wasn’t in the business of actively trying to get away from them.

Juniata is exactly three hours from my hometown of Springfield, Virginia. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a really long walk if you don’t have a car. My mom wanted me to get adjusted to campus life, so “See you at family weekend!” is what my family said. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and I appreciate that she did that because she was right to leave me some time to get adjusted, but family weekend was a month and a half away. That’s a staggering amount of time to stare in the face. So what did I do? I tried to keep busy, and if I hadn’t already had that in my mind as a plan, Inbound had it in mind for me.

Inbound was a great time, but my group didn’t quite stick together as I had hoped it would. Alas, I was friendless and in possession of free time – a horrible combination. This is where step two of my plan to survive a month and half without my family came in: I would have to be outgoing. So out I went. As it turns out, what everyone tells you is true. It is insanely easy to make friends in the beginning of college. Honestly, I think it would be more challenging to not make friends. Between classes, groups of friends, and clubs after Lobsterfest came around, I was certainly (and still am) very busy.


Somewhere in all of that business, I forgot that I was supposed to be sad, homesick, or whatever I expected to be. I was busy going to the Farmer’s Market or hiking down to the river. I was preoccupied playing late night pool in Eagles Landing and listening to speakers from The Wildlife Society. In all of that shuffle, any glimpse of tears was lost.

I still miss my family in Virginia. I miss sitting on the couch with my Mom and sister, going on meandering car rides with my brother, and eating dinner together. Of course I miss that. I think everyone does. But in keeping busy, I found a family here too. We watch movies together, go on long car rides (we go to Wal-Mart, but we’ll call it long), and everyday we try to sit down to eat dinner together. I’m starting to realize that when I go home, I’ll miss my family here as much as I missed my family when I left.

Reflecting on my Summer Internship at Capital BlueCross

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Capital BlueCross, a leading health insurance company located in Harrisburg, Pa. Although my POEs are Health Communication and Psychology, I have worked in Juniata’s marketing department for the last two years, so I decided to intern with Capital BlueCross’ market research team. Little did I know, market research is much different than marketing, so I had a lot to learn! In addition to learning the skills required for market research, I also learned a great deal about myself.

On the first day of the internship, I walked somewhat hesitantly through the big glass doors because, I’ll admit, this was my first time actually seeing the building. My interview was over the phone, so I didn’t see the building until my first day on the job. I was also surprised to find 25 other students waiting in the lobby to begin their internships as well. This was when I discovered that Capital BlueCross has a huge corporate internship program with students employed in almost every department. And here I thought that I would be their only intern, which leads to Lesson #1: Research the company’s internship program a little more so that you are adequately prepared for your first day.


On our first day at Capital BlueCross, we met the other interns by doing team-building activities, such as building a replica of this helicopter out of Legos.

Speaking of research, I would be doing plenty of that over the summer! I learned so many new skills related to Microsoft Office and several other new databases. I also worked on a project with four other interns from different departments on how Capital BlueCross could better engage millennial employees and customers. We were planning on presenting our findings to our managers at the end of the summer, so we knew that we had plenty of time to work on the project. We planned out our weekly goals and paced ourselves accordingly, until one mid-summer day, we were asked to present our research to the CEO, Gary St. Hilaire, within three days of receiving the request. And now, we were scrambling, which brings me to Lesson #2: Be prepared for curveballs. Although we were rushing to compile all of our information, the presentation was definitely a success, thanks to increased effort from everyone involved.


As part of the corporate internship program, we volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House by baking hundreds of muffins for the residents and their families.

Reflecting on my internship, I am very grateful to have had such a wonderful manager and co-workers. They were very approachable and always willing to help me when I had questions. From this experience, however, I did learn some more about my own workplace preferences. Market research requires long hours at a desk without much interaction with the outside world. Since I am more of a people-person, I asked my manager if I could shadow some other departments. Thankfully, she was very flexible and willing to let me shadow a health educator for two days. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with her out in the community, and I even decided that I might want to pursue this field further in graduate school. Lesson #3: Be proactive and get the most out of your internship experience.

All in all, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to intern at Capital BlueCross. Not only did I learn more technical skills, I also learned a lot about myself and my work preferences. My internship was a wonderful experience, and I would definitely recommend it to other students!



Breaking Out of My Shell: This Week at Juniata


Some people love their first year of college. Other people struggle academically, or socially, or may have an “off” semester. Last year, I rocked back and forth between liking school, drowning in work, and having a hard time socially, which made my first year at Juniata a little strenuous for me. However, I am back for my sophomore year and it has started out with a BANG!

I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the hosts for This Week At Juniata, a weekly web show about different events happening throughout campus each week, which is then sent out to students and posted on Facebook to gain more attention to events on campus. I have never had a job acting in front of a camera before, but I am a Theatre Performance POE, so this has been amazing exposure and a really great skill-building process for me! I have met so many people through working on the show, and have gotten so close to my co-host, director, producer, editor, cameraman, and boss. Each week we plan an outline for the show to be filmed on Monday, which is then released on Thursday. Although a potential script is written by the producer, with input from my co-host and I, a lot of the work is improv! Sarah (my co-host) and I are really comfortable with each other (even though she is a senior and I am a sophomore).  We have so much fun goofing off, doing ridiculous things, and laughing on camera. 

Working on This Week At Juniata has also helped me a lot socially. I tend to be very closed off when meeting new people, but now strangers will come up to me on the quad and tell me how much they liked this week’s episode, or that they love my outfit, or they think I’m hilarious. This feels incredibly weird, yet very flattering at the same time! I really cannot thank the Digital Media Studio enough for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing show. (They are also responsible for a lot of footage of events, creating videos for the Admissions Office and televisions around campus, and so much more behind the scenes work that I am not even aware of!) 

I feel so much more supported by others around me now that I have this exposure to the entire Juniata community, and my confidence has skyrocketed as well! The hosts for This Week At Juniata change each year, so you never know, you may be selected to host in the upcoming years! 

Attached is a link to our most recent episode, but you can check out all of our weekly shows on the Juniata Facebook page! 


Application of my Juniata Education: The Real World


Over the summer this year I was fortunate enough to work for a corporation in Philadelphia by the name of SPIN, Special People in the Northeast. This corporation is extremely large and works towards educating and servicing individuals of all ages who have disabilities. I was fortunate enough to be able to not only earn the job as a lead camp counselor, but also to have an opportunity for this job to count as college credit and an internship.

While working at SPIN, my duties included planning and leading the weekly activities, accommodating needs, administering first aid, monitoring/regulating behaviors, supervising trips, interacting with parents, and serving as a leader to senior and junior camp counselors. It was a lot of responsibility to take on but extremely fun and rewarding to see the effects of my hard work!


Studying education at Juniata really prepared me for this job. There were so many techniques that I learned in class that I applied to my experience as a camp counselor. I felt comfortable being in charge, even though a lot of the staff was older than me. I felt confident in my ability to apply my education and leadership skills to my work.

A large part of why I was hired was because of my education and involvement at Juniata. The many skills and experiences that I was able to add to my resume really helped me get the position, such as the work I did in the Early Childhood Education center on campus. On my application, I was also able to include the work I did for the Special Olympics. Because of these opportunities at Juniata, I felt extremely prepared for the scenarios and questions that were asked during the interview. It was great to see that my college degree is already paying off before it is even complete! I can’t wait to see what I can do next, once I graduate.

My Senior Year Bucket List

steph study abroad

It is officially week 2 of my final year at Juniata College, and let me tell you, I’m already feeling pretty nostalgic.  I spent the entirety of last year studying abroad, first in Russia and then in India, and though it was an incredible year full of adventures and new experiences, I am so happy to be back at Juniata.  Everyone tells you about being homesick, but no one really warns you about being campus-sick.  You really do start to miss your college once you’re gone for a while, but thankfully I still have one year left!  Here, I have created a bucket list of things I will endeavor to complete during my final year here.

  • Attend every single tradition. At which other college are classes canceled on a random day and everyone picnics at a lake in the mountains?  And only at Juniata is there an event where freshmen risk bodily harm by charging at the rest of the student body, trying to fight their way past them. Juniata College has many unique and fun traditions, and I was insanely jealous every time I saw pictures of my friends participating in fun activities, such as eating lobsters at Lobsterfest and pitching tents on the lawn for Madrigal.  This year, I am not going to miss out on any of the events and activities at JC.
  • Find the secret spots. Because Juniata is located in the mountains, there are many different places to explore around campus.  One of my favorite spots is the Cliffs, only a 10-minute walk away.  The views are incredible, but another little known fact is that there is a rope swing at the bottom (how cool is that?!).  No one really knows where exactly it is, but it can’t be too hard to find.  In addition, there are great hiking trails not too far from campus, including 7 Geocaches within a mile (a Geocache is a container filled with an unknown object that you find using GPS coordinates).  I have never been Geocaching but who doesn’t love a huge treasure hunt?!  Before I graduate, I will leave no stone unturned.
  • Make lasting relationships. This may sound cheesy, but one of my goals is to make sure I leave Juniata having made enduring friendships. Juniata is a small community, and I know everyone here has my back and wants the best for my future.  I know I can rely on my professors and advisors to guide me both in my final year and after I graduate.  In addition to becoming closer to my mentors, I am also looking forward to meeting new people and getting re-involved in my favorite clubs, like Circle K and PAX-O (a Peace Studies club).  It’s my last year to really make an impact, so I hope to be as involved as I can!  Finally, I know I’m going to miss all of the friendly faces on campus, from Laura who works in Baker to President Troha.  These sorts of people make Juniata a happier, brighter place, and ultimately a college that is unique and irreplaceable.

As much as I don’t want it to, senior year is going to fly by.  No matter what I’m doing, whether I’m canoeing on Raystown Lake during Mountain Day or debating the meaning of life with a professor, I’m happy to be back home at Juniata.  I can’t wait to start checking things off my bucket list!

Juniata College and the Gambia

Being a participant of Juniata’s Gambian study abroad trip, one of the things you hear when you tell people I am going to Africa is:  “Why”?

Art in the Gambia

Art in the Gambia


In my opinion, Africa is often very difficult for people to understand, because it is not white and it is not a utopia. The media provides the average individual with only the worst possible news about Africa to shape these very negative misconceptions. Misconceptions that lead to the construction of the enemy. Having gone to The Gambia, one of the things that strike people is all of the smiles. Being able to form a relationship with someone half way around the world helps deteriorate these negative misconceptions, because the whole of Africa is not a terrorist or diseased. However, culturally some things like FGM are practiced but the amazing and motivating thing is that there are Africans (Not Americans or British) working to stop the practice. They are working to change a hurtful cultural practice by changing the mindset of the people.

Gambia blog2

Traveling to The Gambia was a unique Juniata experience, because it pushed you out of your comfort zone and shows that things such as WIFI are truly a first world problem. The Gambia is a very poor country whose main commodity is peanuts. Being there helps me better understand Carl Wilkens who visited Juniata and gave a talk entitled I’m Not Leaving-One Family’s Decision against Genocide, about the Rwanda genocide. This talk encompassed not only the tragedy of this small Africa country, but one of the biggest recoveries stories in history. My trip to the Gambia helped to explain his energy when he bounced around the room talking about his friends that he risked his life for during the Rwanda

Gambia blog3

A big take away from Wilken’s talk was that no matter what the circumstances are you have a choice. For him the choice was staying in Rwanda during the genocide in order to protect the two Africans that worked for him, and he had called friends. These relationships and the Rwanda genocide helped Wilken understand the important of a building a relationship VS building a school. Wilkens states that he “wanted to build something that lasted”. One of the things that really sold me on Juniata was the international experience they promised I’d have. So much of learning happens outside the classroom, and it was great to have my international experience linked with a guest speaker on campus.

Presenting at Liberal Arts Symposium

This time last year, I wrote a blog post about the experience of participating in Juniata College’s Liberal Arts Symposium as an observer. Now, one year later, I can say that I’ve crossed an item off my Juniata bucket list; on April 23, I presented at Liberal Arts Symposium with some of my colleagues from the Writing Center. This LAS marks the tenth anniversary of LAS and the first LAS presentation by the Writing Center.

To be honest, I was not supposed to present at LAS. Another Writing Center tutor had to back out since he had a job interview. Since the presentation was all about how working in the Writing Center prepares student employees for the professional world, we, of course, had to make accommodations so that he would be able to go to his professional world interview. A position opened up to present with the Writing Center team, I seized the opportunity, and I am very glad that I did.

The Writing Center’s presentation was inspired by a series of focus groups that provided us with valuable feedback about our operations and how other students view our services. After we were introduced by our supervisor, Professor Carol Peters, we began our presentation that covered the various skills that Writing Center tutors acquire and that other student employees could also acquire by modeling their employment style on the Writing Center’s. We covered leadership, communication skills, teamwork, and accountability, but my section in particular was the acquisition and use of communication skills as Writing Center tutors. After our presentation concluded, we watched the other two presentations that were assigned to the room with us, which were both very informative and intriguing.

The feeling of a completed Liberal Arts Symposium presentation is well-worth the anxiety and nerves that precede it, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in one of Juniata’s great traditions, “The Mountain Day of the Mind.” I’m hopeful that senior year will bring another Liberal Arts Symposium presentation my way!


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