Yes, I’m an Actor

I’m going to be completely honest: I have had people laugh in my face when I told them what I study at school. When I tell people I’m studying Theatre Performance, I often hear “Okay…but whats’s your backup?” Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a backup. I’m an actor and that’s what I want to do. I love performing more than anything in the world and it makes me so happy while doing it, so why not make a career out of it?
I’ve loved performing since the age of three. My first play was The Three Little Pigs, I played Pig #3 and my father played my house. Ever since then, I have loved being on stage. I love creating characters, expressing emotion through text, and getting to be someone I’m not. This semester has given me more than enough opportunities alone to help pursue my career.
Little Shop of Horrors
At the beginning of the semester, I was cast as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. It was one of my dream roles and I was so beyond honored to get to perform that show in front of the entire school. We sold out all six of our performances! How crazy is that! Right after we closed the show, I performed in Unlock Your Voice: Breaking Boundaries, an English-department event celebrating female writers. I chose an intense slam poem about feminism and sexism and it was awesome. After that, I was cast as Callie in Stop, Kiss which opens later this week. This play is incredibly different from Little Shop, and so much more emotionally draining that I expected it to be. I can definitely say this is one of the hardest shows I’ve worked on, and it is such a beautiful piece that I can’t wait to share with the campus community. And recently, I was cast as the lead in a student-written feature film that I will get to work on for a few months next semester. This is not my first student film, but it is my first feature length film and I am so excited to start working on it!
As a young actor, I still haven’t decided if I want to focus more on live theatre or film, because I’m still dabbling in both. At Juniata, however, I have been given the opportunity to try both, extensively, and learn so many skills to help me in my profession. I can never give Juniata enough praise for how incredible the theatre program is here. I never would have imagined to be cast in three separate projects all over the span of a few months.
Little Shop of Horrors
I know I’ve picked a risky career. Trust me, I know. But I chose it for a reason. Performing makes me happy. It gives me energy, it brings my joy, and it brings joy to other people as well in the audience. That is so meaningful for me, and I love what I do. I know I still have three more semesters left at Juniata, but I am so ready to go out into the real world and do what I love.
Photos by: Morgan Horell ’17

Ubuntu Presents: I Am African, but I don’t Speak African

Saturday Nov. 12th marked my most memorable day of the semester at Juniata. The Ubuntu African club held a cultural event that featured a fashion show demonstrating traditional attires, music and dance from various regions of Africa. I was very proud to have been part of this event called “I Am African, but I don’t Speak African,” because we wanted to educate the public about Africa’s ethnic diversity.

Figure 1: Ubuntu Club Members in Traditional African Attires: (from left to right): Melat Solomon, Ruhama Almaw, Kisest Birru, Anne-Marcelle (Me), Sayida Rabiou-Yari, Zoe Michael, Theresa Perry, Hephzibah Joshua, Taha Barkaoui, Joycelyn Radeny & Stephanie Njeru

Figure 1: Ubuntu Club Members in Traditional African Attires: (from left to right): Melat Solomon, Ruhama Almaw, Kisest Birru, Anne-Marcelle (Me), Sayida Rabiou-Yari, Zoe Michael, Theresa Perry, Hephzibah Joshua, Taha Barkaoui, Joycelyn Radeny & Stephanie Njeru

The planning of this event started a month ago when my fellow club members met at the Unity House to discuss our ideas for the semester. Although the Ubuntu club was known for dancing at various events, including the multicultural fest and the dance ensemble fall recital, we wanted a platform of our own. As such, we chose a date, booked the venue, created posters and reached out to professors and peers to spread the word. In addition to dancing, we had other members show their hidden talents through poetry, modeling and singing. I was mostly involved with reserving the venue and choreographing dances to popular Afro beats songs like “Bank Alert” by P-Square, “Tiguidi” by Tour de Guarde, and “Shake Body” by Skales. My favorite moment of the event when a kid named Jillian bravely came to dance with us. He was amazing, full of energy and quickly picked up our dance moves.

Figure 2: Joycelyn, Hephzibah and I dancing with Jillian, and other audience members joined us.

Figure 2: Joycelyn, Hephzibah and I dancing with Jillian, and other audience members joined us.

The event would not have been successful without our combined efforts, which is what the name of club reflects. Ubuntu is a Swahili word, meaning “togetherness”. We had Stephanie as the master of ceremonies, and she made sure that the show ran smoothly! Other club members helped make the event successful, including the club’s president, Hephzibah, from Nigeria, the club’s event coordinator, Joycelyn from Kenya, Sayida, from Niger, Taha from Tunisia, Melat, Kisest and Ruhama Ethiopia, Zoe, from New York, and Theresa from Maryland. In total, five African countries were represented that night: Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria; and seven ethnic languages: Swahili, Gouro, Baoule, Haoussa, Tunisian Arabic, Amharic and Igbo. Our message was clear: Africa is not a country but a continent, and its diversity goes deeper than country borders drawn on the map. These borders do not necessarily represent or isolate the different ethnic groups, which number in the thousands.

Our event had a great turnout, and I was very happy to see our peers and professors celebrating our cultures. This was very important to us because it encouraged us to put plans into motion for our bigger event in the spring, where we will have authentic African dishes from various parts of the continent.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Nahui Twomey

Reflecting on the Fall Semester of My Senior Year

My mother never thought I’d be happier than I was when I was in Ireland; I had a smile on my face every time we Facetimed. She told me over Thanksgiving break that she was surprised how quickly I adjusted back to my Juniata College life after a year in Cork. So, I thought about it, trying to discern what it was that was so appealing to me about Juniata this year in particular. I readjusted so quickly because I really missed my classmates and now that I’m back I want to spend as much time as possible with them.

Here I am on Mountain Day with two of my best friends since freshman year.

Here I am on Mountain Day with two of my best friends since freshman year.

I went to school with the same people for fourteen years before I came to Juniata, so I never really had to make new friends. I think that’s the case for a lot of students. The advantage to the small campus at Juniata is that it is really conducive to making friends since everyone is in close proximity and you see most people on a daily basis. My friend Elise and I connected through overlapping Inbound activities, and Maris and I met through a mutual friend. We’ve remained friends since the early days of the first semester.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I always tell people that one of my favorite aspects of Juniata is the students; we are both intensely passionate about their areas of interest and willing to drop all that we’re doing to participate in an event or a tradition to have a good time. We do our schoolwork and take it seriously; we pursue internships and opportunities ravenously. However, we also want to have fun and embrace the quirks of Juniata and its students. Maybe there’s another school where students sleep outside in tents for a week just to sing one line in one Christmas song, but Juniata’s ambitious dichotomy in both fun and work is unique.

When I visited Juniata, I ate lunch with a friend who attended my high school and then went to Juniata. She asked if we could end lunch a bit early and partake in a sign language scavenger hunt. I obliged, and the resulting half hour is one that I talk about often. The rules of the scavenger hunt were simple: get people who were not in the class to do the actions that you wanted them to by only using sign language (think “sign language charades”). When students on the quad dropped their backpacks and sprinted around and football players did cartwheels in the Ellis Ballroom, I knew that Juniata was a place where I could learn and get the school portion of the college experience, but also that it was a place where I could have a good time and make some fond memories. That memory-making potential is what really drew me back in after my year away, and it’s what has me excited for all that is to come with the remainder of my senior year.

Juniata’s First Cheerleading Competition

It was a normal day. The team woke up and prepared hair and got dressed in spanks, body liners, shells and skirts and awaited to board the bus for the two hour trip to the Harrisburg Farm Show complex. This was a normal occurrence as we traveled away to the boy’s football games often. The only difference was that this time, the cheerleading team was competing!

 

I can recall all of the nervousness in each girl. The chaotic mess of that morning scrambled everyone’s minds while their anxiety settled in. This didn’t help as several of our girls have never competed before and did not know what to expect. The other captain, Faith, and I have competed before several times and knew what was about to happen. Needless to say the day wasn’t too overwhelming for us. Our coach was probably the most nervous out of all of us. She has been with us since the very beginning of the routine and wanted us to do well. I should also mention that she is pregnant meaning her mom genes kicked in a lot throughout the day. We were told several times to use the restroom.

 

When we arrived we all settled down to finish our hair and makeup while our fan club (our parents and boyfriends) began to show. At this point, I noticed that every girl was listening to the music and going through the routine step by step. Everyone knew that we could get it down. We have marked it through so many times and we all knew where to go and what to do. The only issue was, we had never run the routine full out (this meaning with tumbling, stunts, and dance). This was probably what threw everyone’s nerves off the most. We were competing a routine that we had never completed before!

 

In the end, only one stunt fell which wasn’t bad. As the scores showed, the judges actually liked our routine! Not too shabby for a couple of college kids making up the routine on the fly one day after deciding to compete.

 

2016 is a year to remember for Juniata College as this is the first year JC has ever sent a cheerleading team to compete and guess what… We won first place! Check that one off of the bucket list.

 

The team after receiving our first place banner.

The team after receiving our first place banner.

 

The Juniatian

I wanted to do something big before I graduated; I wanted a big project in order to go out with a bang! The Juniatian has been the project for me. It’s been a roller coaster of a journey and it’s really just getting started.

It began when administration had to make the executive decision cut newspaper as a course. This was devastating to many of us. However, it was the opportunity for the newspaper to become something even bigger than it was.

Over the summer, I worked very closely with the Provost and administration to figure out what we could do to evolve the paper into something new and different. I learned a lot from this experience. Not only did I get to sit face to face with my president (not exactly something you get to do at other universities) and give a sales pitch (I still remember how sweaty my palms were!), but I also got to work closely with the Provost who then helped us take the next steps.

The Dean of Students, The Provost, my friend and I.

The Dean of Students, The Provost, my friend and I.

 

One of the most exciting achievements that came from the summer was the creation of the paid positions. We were able to create paid positions for Juniatian staff.

Because we are one-hundred percent student run, it’s students who run the interviews for these positions. So, this week I held interviews in our office. It sounds so official, I know! It’s been such an experience to be recognized for initiative, work with administration, and interview students.

I am honored to be in the position I am in and I look forward to what comes next. I am so fortunate for the opportunities Juniata has allowed me to surround myself with.

I am a Researcher

I’d never considered myself to be much of a “researcher”. Yes, I love environmental science, and most science learning, but when I thought about my future, I never saw research in it. Now, as a first semester Sophomore, I’ve found myself leading my own research project under biology professor, Dr. Norris Muth.

Last year, I began working on the project of mapping the street trees of Huntingdon Borough. I continued that project into this year, but a few weeks ago, Dr. Muth and Jim Savory (a member of the Tree Commission) approached me with a new project – the Huntingdon Champion Trees project. Well, that’s not quite our official name, but it sums it up fairly well. Essentially, our goal is to find the biggest tree of each species across Huntingdon County.

 

My friend Evan Quinter in front of a huge Sycamore tree.

My friend Evan Quinter in front of a huge Sycamore tree.

 

We had an article published in The Daily News (Huntingdon County’s newspaper) about our project, and the tips started rolling in. So far, people around the county have contacted me about almost 20 different trees. I’ve been going out a few times a week since then just to try to keep up with it!

 

The article written in the Daily News about our project

The article written in the Daily News about our project

Besides the fact that it’s incredibly cool to have my own project so early in my college career, the project itself somehow managed to combine everything I’m interested in. I love Urban Forestry (trees in cities and towns), history, people, and Huntingdon. I’ve met someone who lives in the same house that their grandparents once lived in, I went to one home that had an old carriage house, and a ramp in the front yard so people could get into the carriage, and I’ve seen some really, really huge trees.

I know trees are not everyone’s thing. Heck, they’re barely anyone’s thing. However, that’s not the point. Even though Juniata does not have a forestry program, I was able to invest myself fully in my interests.

Unpacking Me: A Personal story of Identity and Passion

There are a lot of things if your life that you must learn how to unpack. The hardest will be unpacking your passions. Especially as a high school senior, college student, college graduate, and many times as an adult you are going to have a dark night of the soul when you have to ask yourself what you want to do for the rest of your life. Its normal.

 

For me, I came to Juniata and I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to travel the world and get paid for it. However, after my trip out of the U.S. it took me a long time to unpack that experience and understand it in terms of my own passions. And to be honest I still do not fully understand the impact it had upon me as individual.

 

For a Juniata student, I think that it is even more difficult to admit that my study abroad experience wasn’t one of the best experience of my life, because at a school where most people study abroad, all you hear is “my study abroad experience changed me,” “It taught me who I am and what I want to be”. After a lot of unpacking, I can honestly say that my study abroad experiences were not the best experiences I have had over my college career.

 

My study abroad experience challenged me, it helped me grow, it broadened my horizons and it did make me understand what I didn’t want to spend my entire life abroad. However, unpacking my last 4 years here at Juniata. I can honestly say my defining moment that helped shape me as the person I wanted to be happened on October 30th, 2014. That was the day my grandfather died.

 

When he died, it was echo that pushed me outside of the reverberations. For me it was like superman died, and very slowly all I saw were cracks in my foundation. For so long I was convincing myself that traveling was my passion, but it wasn’t. When he died, everything started to crumble and it was in that suffocating mess that I realized the void he left.

 

Being raised by my grandparents I was raised in a legacy. We were farmers. We raised cows. We gardened. We canned. That was our identity. After his death, I was fighting for that to stay my identity. I grew a horrible garden, but I grew a garden. And in many ways I thought that maybe I could connect the pieces of my life that seemed to fall through the cracks, but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t good enough. Because gardening wasn’t the only part of my identity I need to unpack.

 

An In’tents Election

As I write this, people all over the country are flocking to polling stations to cast their votes in one of the most divisive elections of our time. For months we have been bombarded by almost non-stop news coverage of what the candidates have said or done. New discoveries about shady pasts and predictions about even shadier futures have had us on the edge of our seats. But as with any mind numbingly repetitive act, this election cycle has ceased to surprise us… well at least me. The things that once appalled us about our candidates don’t really affect us anymore. When a heavy hitting revelation happens each week, the potency that they might have once held rapidly degrades.

“Oh more emails were found? He did that too? I mean how many of us actually know where Aleppo is?”

Figure 1: First time voting!

Figure 1: First time voting!

 

I would hardly describe myself has a political person, but the candidates up for election, and the issues they stand for, have gotten me fired up on more than one occasion over the past few months. Logic would dictate that the closer we get to election day, the more heated the arguments would get as people would try to sway their friends to their side of things. Yet I have noticed quite the opposite has happened. Sure I still here the odd conversation about the election on campus and I pick up the odd bit of election news from The Late Show with Steven Colbert, but the fiery rhetoric that has been such a Hallmark of this election has disappeared.

Figure 2: You can't run through a campground...

Figure 2: You can’t run through a campground…

Now again, I am not a political person and this is my first time voting, so I don’t know if this is how an election cycle usually progresses. Regardless, I think that we are all tired of the whole year. The election cycle was like watching a really bad reality show. Like the ones you see on TLC. People watch, not because they are particularly interested, but because they are captivated by the spectacle. By the time this blog is posted we will know who our next president will be and, hopefully, the drama will be over.

Here at Juniata there will probably be discussions that last a few days. We will want to know what our country will look like with our new president. Maybe a few of us will do some late night Google searches on the best way to sneak into Canada. But just as the election cycle rhetoric dissipated, so will the nervous chatter. We will start to focus our at’tent’ion to our annual tradition of tenting, where students camp out and compete for tickets to the Madrigal dinner. Students will write wraps, and choreograph dances and stock up on cold medicine in preparation for the week after tenting.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that while the presidential election is important and will determine a lot about the next four years, the outcome shouldn’t change how we live our lives. As someone somewhere once said, “This too shall pass.” Despite how you feel about the impending election results, don’t let them ruin your day, or your week or your next four years. There is a lot more to life than a presidential election. So if you’re feeling a little nervous, pack up a tent and get away from it all for a while. Oh, and don’t forget the cold medicine, it’s a little chilly outside.

Unlock Your Voice

For the past two years, I have been involved with Lift Evr’y Voice and Unlock Your Voice here at Juniata. These two events are courses taught every other year at Juniata through the English department. Our class (which is typically, no more than ten students) works together for the majority of the fall semester, planning a coffeehouse-style event celebrating specific groups of people. For Lift Evr’y Voice, we choose to celebrate African American literature. For Unlock Your Voice, we honor women everywhere by performing music and poetry written by anyone who identifies as a woman.
Lift Evr'y Voice
We picked a theme, created images and ideas, sent out emails, bought supplies, recruited volunteers, and ultimately transformed the Ellis Ballroom into a dimly-lit, beautifully decorated coffee shop with lots of sweet treats. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to pull together an event like this, but it is always amazing to see the final product a few minutes before we start our show.
This year, we had the most volunteers ever, and had about 20 performances throughout the night, ranging from slam poems to ukulele covers, and everything in between. We had both men and women participating, and some women actually read material they wrote themselves! We had a huge turnout, and it was so lovely to see so many wonderful people (faculty and students) come together to promote something that is so important in our society (and especially to me).
Lift Evr'y Voice
Every year the English Department switches the course every other year (i.e. this year we did Unlock Your Voice, so next year will be Lift Evr’y Voice) but I believe it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come and speak up about certain issues, by delivering beautiful poems and songs and sharing the beauty of literature with the campus community. I wish I could work on an event like this every semester because it’s very inspiring for me, so I’m excited to sign up to work on Lift Evr’y Voice next year!

My Favorite Study Spot

As a tour guide, I’m often asked about the best places to study on campus. While I’m happy to talk about that on a tour, I’m also going to use this opportunity to craft a definitive guide to my five favorite study spots.

 

The first is the English department’s lounge in Founders Hall. Perhaps I’m a bit biased as an English POE, but I think the bookshelves, chairs, and natural lighting have a lot to offer. The windows offer great views of campus, and there’s no better time to be up there than when the rain is tapping against the windows or when snow is falling. The lounge is perfect for reading assignments, and also for three or four people to create a productive study or work environment. When productivity fails, or you just need a break, you can take a quick lap around the hallway of the fourth floor or peer out the windows.

 

The lounge on the fourth floor of Founders is definitely my favorite.

The lounge on the fourth floor of Founders is definitely my favorite.

 

The hidden study room in the upper floor of the Brumbaugh Academic Center’s C Wing is an excellent choice for a study group of roughly six people. It has a table for a few students, and armchairs for a few more, with floor space if you need it. The windows offer great natural light during the day, too. This room is somewhat hidden by the men’s restroom, so there are a good portion of students who don’t know that it exists. This is a great place to go with friends around the times of midterms or finals to commit to getting work done.

 

The room in BAC’s C Wing (with the blinds down).

The room in BAC’s C Wing (with the blinds down).

 

Classrooms also make excellent study areas. I prefer those in Founders (again, I may be biased). I really like the larger tables because I can spread all my materials out and study in a state of organized disorganization. Even though they have the most room, classrooms are most fun to take for yourself. On the other hand, you can also gather in them with many friends.

 

My favorite solo or duo studying spots are in the Von Liebig Center for Science in the back corners. The armchairs are comfortable and I love the giant block tables. This is also in close proximity to Jitters in case coffee (or tea!) is a necessary element in your studying process. If you go to the one on the second floor, you can work behind the lab coats and scare the science students when they go to take them.

 

The library is an obvious choice. I like to use the desks that are in the basement. There’s something about sitting in a desk in a row that compels me to get down to business and write a paper or study for an exam. The concept of a quiet floor doesn’t seem quite natural to me, so I usually avoid the top floor. However, I do really enjoy sitting in the chair next to the stump table.

 

The tree stump table is a popular (or should I say, poplar?) spot for me.

The tree stump table is a popular (or should I say, poplar?) spot for me.

 

There are my five favorite places to study on campus, in no particular order (after Founders, of course). I’m sure there are many other places around campus that would make excellent locations, but I am either unaware of their existence or they don’t fit with my homework or study needs. Hopefully you’ll now have an idea of where to scope out a study session when you get here!

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