Intramural Soccer Moms

Growing up, sports were a very large part of my life. Between multiple sports and multiple teams for each sport, I was always kept very busy. When I got to college, it was almost a relief to decide to not commit to a varsity sport, and instead dedicate this free time to the increased workload and many friends that I was making.

At the same time, it was strange not playing soccer anymore, and I really missed it! Fortunately, I discovered intramural sports, which are a perfect combination of low commitment and low pressure fun with the competitiveness of actually playing. We usually play one day a week, always at night after everyone’s activities and meetings are over. Five people are on the field at a time, and halves are twenty minutes long. This is my second year playing intramural soccer and though my team isn’t very good, it’s a blast!

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Soccer Moms, Fall ’15

Now when I say my team isn’t very good, I should really clarify that we are downright awful. Our team name is the “Soccer Moms,” and we’re made up of both guys and girls who haven’t played in many years, some since they were eight years old! The point, however, is not really to win, but to just have fun running around and trying our best (I know this sounds clichéd but it’s true; after your team scores multiple goals on your own net, your expectations really lower).

In the fall, we lost every single game except for 1, which we tied. Somehow, this was enough to advance us to the playoffs, and then we ended up losing our first playoff game. Now, for the winter session, our record is currently 0-3, but I think we just got off to a rough start and things are going to start looking up. Ultimately, I’m just happy to get some touches on the ball and glad that there are low-key options for those of us who don’t wish to commit to a varsity sport but still want to play. So if this sounds like you, don’t worry – there are plenty of opportunities to still be active and play the game you love (whether it’s soccer, basketball, volleyball, or more). Wish the Soccer Moms luck!

The Juniatian: Humans of Juniata

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I first heard about the Juniatian, Juniata’s school newspaper, through an email announcement. The email was searching for writers interested in writing their own column. I had always dreamed of having my own column in a newspaper. So naturally, when I saw this advertisement, I jumped right on it. I emailed Dr. Dickey expressing my interest and I registered for the course soon after (yes, writing for the newspaper gets you college credit!).

Once I was an official staff member, I started brainstorming ideas for my column. I thought of different things such as a school cafeteria food critique, an advice column, or even a satire column. Nothing felt just right. One day, when surfing through the internet, I found myself reading Humans of New York. I was reading for a few hours before I thought of it. Of course! Humans of Juniata: a feature column of all the unique students and employees of Juniata College. I brought the idea to class and pitched it to my Editor in Chief and professor. Both loved the idea and so began Humans of Juniata.

After writing for a semester in the Juniatian, Professor Dickey and the Editor in Chief commended me for my hard work and dedication to this column, and offered me an editor position for the following semester. This came as such an honor to me. Writing has always been a huge part of my life. It was incredible to be recognized for my passion and even better that I was offered such a position.

So I spent a semester editing Arts and Entertainment as well as continuing my column in a section called Campus Spin. Towards the end of last semester, I was approached again by my Editor in Chief and professor. This time, they asked me if I would be interested in stepping up to be Editor in Chief next year.

What an honor! Juniata continues to provide me with promising opportunities and recognition for my hard work and dedication. It is just one of the little things that reminds me why I chose this school!

If you’re interested in reading any of the Juniatian, our website is currently under construction but up and running! Please visit https://juniatiandotorg.wordpress.com/ and feel free to comment. Humans of Juniata is a great way to get to know some of the students and faculty that make up Juniata’s community.

From 0 to 400 in One Semester

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Because I’m a freshman, I’m expected to take the intro classes – the easy ones. However, this semester I decided to do something different. Back when I was signing up for classes, I decided to take a 400 level biology class called Environmental Toxicology.

Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with how class levels work (honestly it still confuses me a little bit). Essentially, I decided to take a class designated for juniors or seniors who had taken more than the single biology class I had taken, and perhaps a chemistry class or two. Simply put, I was crazy, or at least that’s what my friends told me. I was worried, but not too much because I had another freshman friend who would take it with me! Well, as it turned out, he had to drop the class, and so on the first day of classes I walked into Toxicology more than a little intimidated by what I had signed up for.

The class is taught by Dr. John Matter, who is one of the professors for the freshman biology class. I enjoyed his section of the course so much that I decided that I would take a class with him in the spring semester. As it turned out, the only class he taught that I could possibly take was Toxicology, and so I decided that would be my class. I had to do a few things first: get his permission, and my advisor’s permission.

When I went to get Dr. Matter’s signature, I was a little worried he would just say “no” with no debate to be had, and so I was pleasantly surprised when he smiled at me and said “sure!” He assured me that even though it might require some work, he thought I could handle the class. With this newfound confidence in myself, I went to my advisor’s room to get her signature. She gave me a funny look and said, “Are you sure?” and then gave me her permission as well.

Walking into a room full of seniors and juniors on the first day of class was intimidating, but as it turned out, there were some faces I recognized. The first couple of classes went well, and I did not feel lost. Dr. Matter was hilarious as usual, and so I stayed in the class. It’s week three, and I’m still (and hopefully will continue to be) enjoying myself.

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The point of this story isn’t that you should take Environmental Toxicology when you get here because it sounds easy, because it’s not. The point isn’t that Dr. Matter is a hilarious professor, even though that is true. The point is that throughout the whole process, nobody told me “no” or “you can’t do this.” Throughout the whole process of signing up for this course, I was the only one considering holding myself back. You can do anything once you get here, like take crazy classes or join all the clubs. You can do whatever you let yourself do, and that is the best thing I’ve encountered about being at Juniata.

The Beginning of the End

As I walked upstairs to my room in Pink, I noticed that my resident assistant had changed the bulletin board. It read, “Celebrate the beginning of the end.” This certainly made me stop and think. My life had been so busy lately that I almost forgot this would be my last semester at Juniata College. I always thought that I’d be ready to graduate, plunge ahead into the “real world,” and then never look back. Well, I’m pretty certain this will not be the case. Although I’m excited for what the future will hold, I’m also more nostalgic about leaving this place than I ever thought possible.

The semester certainly started off differently than all of my previous semesters. During the first two weeks of January, I traveled to the Dominican Republic again on my third Cultural Learning Tour with Juniata College. Although this has been quite the pattern for starting out my spring semester, this particular trip was different in that my father came along, too! A few months before the trip, he asked me if he could go so that he could experience the beautiful country and meet the community members who had become my second family.  During the course of two weeks, we had a wonderful time and made sure not to complain too much about the extreme heat because we knew it was better than the alternative cold weather back home.

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My dad (right) saying farewell to his new friend, Santiago.

We braced ourselves for the cold, but we did not prepare ourselves for the insane amount of snow that would soon surround us. After our first week of classes, Winter Storm Jonas arrived. As the snow came down by the foot, I was at Dr. Will Dickey’s house babysitting his two little girls. By the time he and his wife, Katie, had returned home, the snow was almost a foot high, so they allowed me to stay overnight and wait to drive back in the morning. By the time I woke up, however, we had two feet of snow on the ground, so I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. Surprisingly, though, this was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. We all made breakfast together and then ventured outside to play in the snow.

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Attempting to uncover my car after the snow storm.

All in all, the “beginning of the end” is going quite well for me, except for the fact I can’t tell if my face is still tan or if it’s wind burnt from the cold. Either way, I’m looking forward to what the rest of my last semester has in store!

New Students Are Always Welcome!

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Sirimon Kijjanukij and Warisara ChangKaew, students from Thailand (photo credit: Primrata Siripong)

 

After almost a month of winter break, spent mostly sleeping, I was back on campus in a flash, a week earlier than anticipated, in order to serve as an orientation leader for new international students! Meeting new students, international students in particular, is always an experience that I look forward to with enthusiasm, for I was in their shoes not too long ago.

On January 12, the new international students started to arrive and so did the snow storm. To assure their safe arrival on campus, Juniata provided them with various transportations, including Maidens Taxi, Juniata shuttle buses, and my supervisor’s own personal car. Once on campus, I, along with four other orientation leaders, were responsible for guiding them to their designated dorms. The students came from all over the world, including Mexico, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Czech Republic, England, and France. The next day was composed of helping them fill out required documents, showing them around campus, locating major academic buildings, and later, showing them around town, especially the Weis store, Standing Stone Café, and Sheetz! That was only the beginning of an amazing welcoming week.

In the days that followed, the new students were treated with some American food, which to some, was a mix of American cuisine and other countries’ cuisine. For example, María, a girl from Mexico noticed that the tacos in the States were hard and crunchy, but she believed it should have been soft like in her country. She concluded that this was an example of Mexican-American food. The Chinese students also came to a similar conclusion during our dinner at China Buffet after they noticed that Chinese-American food tended to be sweeter.

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The most exciting moment of the orientation week was when we went to see the 7th Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. To many of the students, including myself, this was their first time seeing Star Wars! Now, I plan on watching the 6 previous movies during my spare time.

To this day, the International Office and Juniata College as a whole continue to make new students feel welcome. Going glow-bowling this upcoming weekend, taking a trip to State College, painting, and discovering Central-Pennsylvanian dishes are future events planned for the new students! I believe that this is the essence of Juniata: always striving to create meaningful experiences for all of its students, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Building Leaders Who Make a Better World

In September 2013, then senior Chelsea Naglic created Juniata’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), the nation’s largest leadership honor society. The mission of NSLS is to “build leaders who make a better world.” Since I was a sophomore in good academic standing at the time, I received an invitation to join the society. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical at first, especially since NSLS requires an $85 membership fee. After doing some of my own research and talking with other students on campus, I decided that the membership fee would be money well-spent.

To become inducted into the society, students must first attend orientation, which provides a schedule of events for the semester. In addition to orientation, nominated students must also attend Leadership Training Day, which helps students to identify their true passions and leadership styles. Additionally, students must attend three speaker broadcasts throughout the semester and participate in Success Networking Teams, in which students gather to discuss their future goals. Finally, Juniata College holds an induction ceremony each spring for everyone who completes the necessary steps.

We’ve all heard the saying, “It is what you make of it.” Sure, you could easily go through the motions and become inducted into the society, or you could go one step further to make the experience truly worthwhile.

I chose the latter option. After becoming inducted, I decided to apply for the Better World Grant—one of the many grants and scholarships that are offered to inducted members. I spent most of my spring semester developing a proposal to build a raised garden in a rural community in the Dominican Republic. Thankfully, my hard work paid off, and I was awarded $4,000 to begin my project.

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The finished garden at Centro Cultural Guanin in the Dominican Republic.

In January 2015, I traveled to the Dominican Republic with 16 other students on Juniata’s Cultural Learning Tour. We built the garden alongside community members and have been able to watch it thrive over the past year. Instead of relying on government funding for food, the community members can now produce their own fruits and vegetables.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without funding from NSLS. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and I highly encourage all nominated students to apply for membership. Currently, NSLS has 537,370 members at 490 colleges nationwide. In just two short years, Juniata has inducted 263 of its own members. As a member of NSLS, you will be joining a large network of alumni and peers across the nation, and who knows, you might even be able to make the world a better place.

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Kirstin McKenzie (right) and I (left) at the 2015 NSLS Induction Ceremony

To learn more about NSLS, please contact the chapter’s president, Kirstin McKenzie, at mckenkx09@juniata.edu. Also, be on the lookout for Juniata’s third annual Glow Run, which is set to take place in the spring!

 

 

The Semester is ‘Final’ly Over

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Figure 1: Getting Ready for Madrigal

 

The end of the year at Juniata is a fun and exciting time that’s here and gone faster than you can say ‘finals’. One minute you’re picking out your Madrigal suit, the next you’re spending way too many hours awake studying for the final you’ve known about for three months but have been ignoring till two days before. The most fitting metaphor I can think of is that of a dance… and that’s not just because Madrigal was last weekend. When we got back from Thanksgiving break, the campus was abuzz with excitement about Madrigal, what dresses people were ordering, what tie was going to go with whose dress, and which professor would be serving you at the dinner. There is always a frenzy of activity the week leading up to the traditional dinner and dance because it is the last big event before the end of the year. As soon as we wake up the Sunday after the dance, we stop performing the excited happy dances of young people and start the exasperated stress induced dance of the overworked and under slept.

Finals week and the week leading up to it are not all that bad. They just sort of creep up on you. One minute you are going through RA training, the next you are living in some forgotten corner of an academic building trying to remember a semester’s worth of Inorganic chemistry in preparation for your upcoming test. Madrigal is rather well placed, because although it cuts a bit into study time before finals, it gives us one last opportunity to let loose with friends, to reminisce about the semester, and to hang out with some of the best people you will ever meet before you all go home for a month.

We go through the semester attending classes, completing homework, hanging out with friends on the weekends, procrastinating, procrastinating on the procrastinating, and before we know it another semester has come and gone, another year coming to a close. Similar to how I danced at Madrigal, I think as a school we go through the year in a very eclectic way. One minute you could be doing the hustle, the next dancing a slow waltz. One Thursday you are pulling an all-nighter to make up for your weeks of procrastination and Friday night you’re procrastinating again. And while this cycle may seem grueling at times, it really makes the time fly by.

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Figure 2: Ochem, Not even Once

 

The semester is almost over and that means the end of a lot of things. For me it’s the end of organic chemistry, a class that has reshaped how I think about science, and the first half of my sophomore year. There are those older than I that may be graduating and ending their time here at Juniata. The ending of anything brings with it a sense of melancholy. Even though I will be returning for RA training in only a few short weeks, another stage of my college career, however small, is over.

Thankfully with every ending there is a new beginning and I personally cannot wait to see what next semester has in store.

French-Giving: A Holiday like No Other!

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My friends offered my mother a basket of chocolate as a thank you! (photo credit: Yasmine Allaya)

 

After three months of school, it was time to return home for Thanksgiving. However, I did not go home alone; I invited my friends, all French speakers, to Germantown, Maryland, to spend time with my family.

My friends and I might appear to be an odd bunch to some people. However, although we speak French, we come from various parts of the world. Among those who came to my place were Joël from Burkina Faso, Élora who is half Turkish and half Algerian living in France, and Cécile who is French-Korean. We also have this particular habit, almost like a ritual—as Cécile would say—that involves mostly me preparing spicy ramen for everyone on Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t know how it started, but when we are out of energy and have nothing else to eat, “ramen seems to be life.”

Being back in Germantown and seeing my mother felt comforting. After my friends were settled, I took them out to see what the city had to offer. Our ultimate goal was to find a pistachio flavored ice-cream, which was Élora’s favorite. They had the opportunity to see both my middle and high school, and in 3 hours, we ate at a Chinese restaurant, had ice cream at Cold Stone, and, as if we hadn’t had enough to eat, Karl, my cousin, offered us two pepperoni and cheese stuffed crust pizzas; we were so full to the point that even my mother’s delicious peanut butter soup could not persuade us to eat another spoonful.

Finally, it was Thursday, Turkey-day, and my mother spoiled us to bits. In addition to the roasted and succulent turkey, we had jollof rice (West African fried rice), sweet potato and spicy tomato soup and alloko (Ivorian fried plantains). To my friends and I, the food seemed inexhaustible, for my mother kept refilling our plates! With our belly full, we went to the living room after dinner to watch Stomp the Yard.

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(photo credit: Yasmine Allaya)

 

After Turkey-day came time for a make-over, during which Yasmine took the initiative to twist my hair into Bantu knots in order to condition them for crochet braids. The other girls used the opportunity to do some shopping at the mall on Black Friday. With our break coming to an end on Sunday, we packed our bags, and of course, my mother included some food to eat on campus. It was a Thanksgiving like no other that I will always remember.

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(photo credit: Élora Kerboua and Yasmine Allaya)

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I saw this funny graphic online that said “trying to relax on Thanksgiving break knowing I have 3 papers, five finals, and the cure for cancer due when I get back.” It made me think about how after Thanksgiving break, there are only two weeks left of my first semester as a junior. I used to always laugh when adults would say that college flies by, especially because of the countless hours I spend on homework and assignments. I didn’t see how it could possibly go fast. But here I am, two weeks away from the end of the semester again, wondering where the time went.

I absolutely do not wish that the semesters were longer because I’m not going to lie, I am absolutely spent! However, I wish that it didn’t go faster than a blink. I was packing my bags to move in just yesterday. My dad dropped me off and hugged me goodbye. I barely feel like I’ve moved in yet. And here we are at the end of the semester: crunch time.

Homework is one thing. But preparing for finals week is one of my least favorite things to do. It comes up so fast! This year, I have even more on my plate than I did at Thanksgiving. And although a lot of it is just stuffing right now, the turkey is coming up quickly. 

Kind of like with Thanksgiving dinner, preparing for the end of the semester is pretty similar. If you take too much too fast, you’re bound to blow up. But that’s why pacing yourself is important. Like with anything in college, planning and strategy is key. It seems impossible at times, but if you persevere and hang in there, the end of your semester and an empty plate are in the near future.

The new year is coming. And with the new year, that means new things. So here’s to the successful end of the semester even if that means three papers, five finals, and the cure to cancer.

Giving Thanks

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Juniata hosted a candlelight vigil, where students were encouraged to share thoughts of solidarity and peace.

 

Today is the last day of classes before Thanksgiving break, so it only seems fitting that I devote this blog post to what I am thankful for. Beyond the fact that the holidays are approaching, this is an especially appropriate time for us to reflect on our lives, given the events occurring on a national and global scale. Here’s an abbreviated list of the big and small aspects of life that I appreciate and remind me of how fortunate I am:

- an environment that allows me to learn and grow as a person. Like many colleges across the country, Juniata is partaking in essential discussions, ones that I have never participated in on such a large scale. I am being exposed to new thoughts and ideas and learning how to talk about these issues. Even though talking about sensitive topics may be potentially polarizing, I am thankful for simply the ability to be able to ask questions, to have a space in which I feel comfortable listening to others’ opinions and expressing my own. Only in this environment that Juniata provides can we as students grow as individuals and citizens of a global world.

– relatively few responsibilities, which allows me to devote time to friends, family… and Netflix. As a senior, the real world of adulting is slowly creeping into my field of vision, and I’m not looking forward to entering that strange world quite yet. So for now, I’m appreciating the fact that I only have to focus on college papers, exams, work, family, and friends (leaving me just enough time to squeeze in an episode of Parks and Rec).

– mashed potatoes… and of course the hands that prepared them and the company in which I enjoy eating said potatoes. After all, they wouldn’t taste nearly as good if they were whipped up by anyone other than my granddad.

– opportunities. When looking at all of the problems facing us globally, nationally, or even close to home, it’s hard not to feel small and helpless and insignificant. I’ve realized, however, how fortunate I am to be getting an education; how blessed I am that I have so many different options available to me, while a vast majority of people cannot say the same. I have a large support network made up of family, friends, and my college community, who are all helping me succeed in whatever I end up pursuing.  For this, I will always be grateful.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? (Also, check out our hashtag, #JCThanks, on Twitter and Instagram to see what other students and faculty are thankful for!)

 

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