Liberal Arts Symposium

As a first year at Juniata College, today I experienced my first Liberal Arts Symposium. Liberal Arts Symposium is a day where classes are canceled and the Juniata community is encouraged to go to see presentations about the research done by students. In addition to oral presentations, there were posters in the library and student art in the von Liebig Center for Science. Liberal Arts Symposium is also called “Mountain Day of the Mind,” and while looking at posters and listening to presentations does not sound like the ideal day of canceled classes, I found Mountain Day of the Mind just as exciting as Mountain Day (I also did not have to wake up at 4 in the morning).

CJ LAS1webI started the day by attending presentations on history and English research, which I found really interesting. After those, I went with some friends to see the art in VLB. The drawings, paintings, ceramics, and everything else were great. One of my friends went with me and she gave me some insight into the symbolism of different colors and styles in some of the pieces, which I really appreciated. We then went to the library to see some of the posters. The posters covered disciplines such as computer science, communications, environmental science, biology, and chemistry. Later in the day, I observed a panel of four students who created videos for an upper level writing class. The videos concerned accurate and ethical portrayals of themselves or others, which led to some moving stories of real people. Finally, I attended the Multicultural Storyfest, which consisted of international students sharing parts of their cultures. Two Russian poems and a dance from Thailand are some examples of the presentations from Multicultural Storyfest.

CJ LAS2 web

Students at Juniata work hard. With classes, papers, exams, homework, and other activities, the average student has a decent amount of work at any time. I think that Liberal Arts Symposium is a great way for other students and professors to take a break for a day and recognize and appreciate the impressive research that is being conducted or artwork that is being made throughout the year.

Welcome to Florida

Before spring break, everyone on campus is talking about what they are going to do with their break. I personally heard three main types of spring breaks: the people who sleep through it, the people who go on vacation, and the people who take service trips. I however, was not in any of these categories. As a part of the Juniata Softball team, we took a spring break trip to Florida. As nice as the warm Florida weather sounds and how exciting and fun the trip actually was, it was exhausting. Overall, we were in Florida for a week. We played a total of ten games, two per day. The day we got there, we also practiced. Doing all of this, right out of the gates in the hot Florida sun is exhausting, but the fun parts made it totally worth it.

Me at the Yankees Game

Me at the Yankees Game

In my opinion, the best day of the whole spring break trip was Wednesday, March 12th. This day was also known as our only free day. We had to option to either go somewhere with our parents, go with someone else’s parents, or go with one of the coaches to a New York Yankee’s Spring Training game. As a huge Yankee fan, I decided that even though my parents were in Florida, I wanted to go to the game. It was pretty awesome. Not only did I get to sleep in that day, but I also got to see Derek Jeter in person, who is retiring this year. It was pretty exciting.

Team Community Service

Team Community Service

We did other fun things in Florida too. One night we got to explore Downtown Disney, the huge shopping center in Orlando. Another night, we ended up exploring Orlando trying to find an ice cream place because everyone on the team wanted ice cream. Something huge we also did was community service. Our Coach wants us to help out the community everywhere we go. We ended up helping a local softball park make its park look better by painting the parking stops. Overall, I would say the fun and exciting parts of the trip balanced out the exhausting parts. This kind of trip really helped our team bond as a whole and it was totally worth the experience.


Hi! My name is Leah Jans, and I am a junior studying prek-4th grade education. One of my absolute favorite things about the education program is the fact that I get to work in the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC)! I never leave the center without a smile on my face and fun stories to tell my classmates.

ChildhoodCenter006 webOne of my fondest memories from the center is the trike-a-thon. It’s an event they run every year to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Before the big day, the children get friends and family members to sponsor them so they can raise money individually. More money is raised the day of through community members who stop by and donate money at the event.

As a Juniata student working in the ECEC, I get to help set up the course. We add obstacles such as stop signs and caution tape that the children need to maneuver around while they ride their trikes. At the very beginning to the event, all of the children line their trikes up at the starting line, and we count down before the children start.

It is so much fun to watch the children ride their trikes around. Some race each other, some choose to ride their trikes like a car and obey traffic laws, and some try to run down the Juniata students with their trikes. They spend the whole morning riding their trikes while their parents and family members watch.

Other than fun events like the trike-a-thon, having the opportunity to work in the ECEC has given me many other opportunities as well. I have gotten to attend family nights when I help run activities for the children and their families to participate in. The ECEC also runs a May program for children who want to attend the center for an extra month, and I have to opportunity to work there for the month of May. I will help supervise the children, plan activities, and chaperone a field trip. By starting out as an education student helping out in the ECEC for class credit, I have gotten many other opportunities that will lend themselves to invaluable experiences and will help me with my future career as a teacher!

International Roommate

In my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects about Juniata is the presence of international students on campus. I can’t think of an experience that I have had with an international student that was negative. Overall, they are some of the friendliest students on campus. It’s also interesting to see what different perspectives they bring to the classroom. I’ve met students from England, Germany, Russia, Spain, Japan, and Myanmar, just to name a few. However, I also have a roommate who is from France.

I know almost no French. And I can’t even pronounce the few words that I do know, I can only spell them. Nonetheless, we are able to communicate through English. Although he is usually pretty good with vocabulary, there are times when a word escapes him. This leads to one of my favorite parts about rooming with someone whose native language isn’t English: the game of guessing what he is trying to say. It’s kind of like a real life version of Catch Phrase or Taboo. Of course, there are websites for translation online, but where’s the fun in that? There’s also the friendly accusations that arise when English has stolen a word directly from French or when French takes from English. This word guessing game keeps both of us on our toes with vocabulary, which I appreciate as an English POE.

I’m not well-traveled at all; I’ve never left the country and I can count the states that I’ve been to on my fingers. So, it’s really nice to be able to talk to someone from a different culture and to see where we are similar and where we are different. Apparently, our American trains are not as good as European trains. He takes a train to school every day in France, and I’ve never taken a train anywhere in my life. Also, since the education systems are different, the term “college” for him is “middle school” for me. It’s really interesting to be able to talk with someone from another country on a regular basis and to be able to learn from each other, and I’ve had a great roommate experience.

Is That The Sun?!

The week after Spring Break is usually the easiest or the hardest, but besides that, the sun is FINALLY coming out! This past winter felt as if it would never end, but the only wonderful benefit of a winter full of snow and ice is that it’s completely acceptable to burst out into the Frozen soundtrack and let it go.

As spring begins to come back to Juniata, so do the spring activities! One of the most stressful activities is room draw. Room draw can either be the easiest thing you will ever have to do, or, it can be the hardest. Luckily for me, it was pretty easy because my roommate and I know how to use our resources and the fact that we will both be studying abroad in the spring of next year. WOO!

Another spring activity to look forward to is Pig Roast. This is exactly what it sounds like. The entire campus spends a Saturday at Raystown Lake and has a blast while a giant pig is smoked for our stomachs. Since the Juniata Rugby Team hosts the event, which means it’s not technically a JC event, you never know what will happen or what you will see at Pig Roast! The only thing I would recommend, especially for the pale white ghosts, is to bring a blanket and tons of sunscreen.

My Relay for Life team from last year.

My Relay for Life team from last year.

One of the greatest spring events is Relay for Life! Every year, groups of friends get together to help raise money and awareness for cancer. The entire campus gathers around the quad to create the circle that teams will walk around. Each team does a different type of fundraising. Last year, my team sold bracelets. Some of my favorite teams are usually the ones that sell baked goods. The best part about walking laps is that you can get a cupcake along the way.

Senior Dinner

My friends and I at Senior Dinner

My friends and I at Senior Dinner

If I’m being honest, most of my Saturday nights this semester have been wonderfully lazy: playing games, watching movies, and going to get a milkshake at Standing Stone with my friends have become the weekend norm. So, it was a nice change to have a reason to put on a fancy dress and eat some good food. And that reason was Senior Dinner.

On March 1, the Class of 2014 was invited to spend a night remembering the wonderful last four years at Juniata College. This event was generously hosted by the Alumni Association and they succeeded in making it a night to remember. As we walked in, we were able to present something to the class time capsule that will be opened during our 25th Class Reunion in 2039! I recently got a new phone, so I placed a plastic bag into the capsule that held a letter to my 47 year old self and my old EnV 3 phone, which contained texts from friends saved from the night before I left for college my freshman year, pictures from all four years, and lists that I made during my time at Juniata, including my bucket list and a ten year plan. I can just imagine myself, 25 years into the future, looking at the ancient piece of technology and instantly remember all the amazing times I had during these four short years.

My contribution to the time capsule.

My contribution to the time capsule.

There were emotional speeches given by class officers and leaders that reminded us what makes Juniata so special – Madrigal tenting, amazing professors, and Mountain Day. Then, along with some sappy songs, a slideshow was presented with pictures from the past four years that people could submit through the Juniata Senior Facebook page. Memories as recent from my house’s Welcome Back BBQ and as old as freshman Madrigal zoomed by on the screen, and it hit me for probably about the thousandth time that my time here is almost over. That feeling cannot be described any other way than bittersweet. I know that JC has more than prepared me for the “real world” and that it will always be my alma mater; but that does not fully make up for the sad fact that my college experience is almost at an end.

Surviving Seven Weeks of Softball

Playing Tails

Playing Tails

One of the most challenging things of playing an outside spring sport in college is the lack of spring part. This winter has been brutal; between the ice storm to the two weeks where the weather didn’t get above 10 degrees, it gets incredibly difficult to get motivated to play the sport I love the most. However, Coach Sam Kszepka does an incredible job at keeping us motivated. She has many different techniques to keep us interested and motivated. Some of these techniques include a game called “tails”, which is a game like flag football where if the tail (aka a sock) is pulled out of your shorts, you are out and do sit ups until your team either wins or loses. She also makes these brutal 7 weeks interesting by adding a little bit of competition during practice, and my personal favorite technique, letting us listening to music as we practice. Another key concept of getting through these practices? The team that you are on. Luckily, there is never a dull moment with my team. One second someone will be running, the next second they are on the ground for no apparent reason other than they tripped over air. We are a team filled with sarcastic comments and ungraceful moments. I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for these types of teammates, these brutal seven weeks would have been way worse.

Swimming Championships

Juniata College Women's Swim Team

Juniata College Women’s Swim Team

Championships is the most important event of the year for a Juniata College swimmer, and the reason we all brave the 6 A.M practices every day. Everything builds up to that one moment at Championships. Championships is the motivation to keep us going in those brutal practices that tear our muscles to pieces.  Champs is the reason we lift and swim and push ourselves to the breaking point twice a day, every day for five months.  We give up our winter break, our lunchtime cookie, our afternoon free time and most of all, our sleep, just to perform to our maximum potential at Champs.  It is the goal of every swimmer at the conference to get up on the blocks and swim their fastest time.  After all the pain and suffering, winning the race, and beating the swimmer in the next lane by a tenth of a second makes all the grueling training worth it in the end.

This year, Champs was held at Marywood University in Scranton.  We left on Thursday afternoon, did a warm up swim to loosen ourselves up after the long journey, and settled into the hotel to ready ourselves for the next day’s adventures.  Friday morning we were all ready. The first day turned out to be very successful for Juniata; at the end of the day we were placed first on the score board. We hoped this would be a sign of the continuous successes to come.

The following two days points were eaten up by the larger teams and Juniata’s ranking was not longer at the top. The score and the rankings, however, did not reflect the lasting mark that Juniata made on the meet.  Two of our relays captured gold and set new personal, school, pool, meet and conference records.  Everyone preformed equally as well in each one of their individual events.  Several school records were broken and individual records were shattered all over the place and even a new conference record was set. How then is it possible to have so much success yet have it not show by our team’s ranking?

Swim meets determine winners by a point system. Each swimmer that performs for an event earns a certain amount of points for their school ,and the team that earns the most points (with the most points given to the first place and the least points given to the last place) wins the higher ranking. However, Juniata’s team is one of the smallest in the conference and it makes it hard for us eleven girls to gather up as many points as the other 20-30 person teams. So no matter how many successes we have, it can never reflect because the math just does not add up. On top of the sheer size difference is the equally frustrating principle that the meet is scored as a combination of swimming and diving; we do not have a diving program, and thus do not have eligibility to earn diving points.  As the larger teams in the conference devour more points from diving, Juniata continues to be pushed to the bottom of the rankings.

A congratulatory hug!

Tzvia gives a congratulatory hug to Hillary

Despite the seemingly unfair point system, Juniata comes out on top for the passionate relentless, die-hard spirit and team-support.  No matter whether we win or lose, for every race, the women on the Juniata swim team support each another.  The love and comfort that the team demonstrates is something that is better than points and better than winning. Any team, large or small can win, but not every team can be a family like us.

Congrats to the swim team and all of their accomplishments this season! Proud to be… JC!

Lift Ev’ry Voice

Lift Every Voice participants.

Lift Ev’ry Voice participants.

On Friday, February 21st in Ellis Ballroom, Juniata College’s English Department hosted “Lift Ev’ry Voice: Dancing in the Streets.” “Dancing in the Streets” comes from a song performed by Martha & the Vandellas. During the event, poems, songs, and a folktale by African American artists were read and performed by over a dozen students. Audre Lorde, Frederick Douglas, Maya Angelou, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper are just a few of the writers whose works were read.

“Lift Ev’ry Voice” is a program to celebrate African American writers. The event alternates yearly with “Unlock Your Voice,” which focuses on women writers. Both events were introduced by Dr. Judy Katz from Juniata’s English Department. Beginning with “Unlock Your Voice” in 1996,  Dr. Katz introduced “Lift Ev’ry Voice” not long after. However, after many years with the programs, Dr. Katz has retired, marking this as her last “Lift Ev’ry Voice,” but also Dr. Amanda Page’s first.

Since I was involved with planning the event since the fall semester, it was great to see the ballroom decorated along the block party theme that we decided upon. A city skyline spread across the back wall of the ballroom, and strings of lights added an upbeat glow to the walls. Paper records and musical notes decorated the walls, and large posters depicting jazz, motown, hip-hop, and gospel music were dispersed around the room. All the readers did very well, and the event was a lot of fun. I’m sure that I will get involved next year, too!

Tuesdays, aka, Nagengast Days

One of the first things that anyone entering Juniata will learn is who Dr. Nagengast is. The first thing you will hear about him is that he is the scariest professor on campus. The second thing you will hear is that he is the reason why students change their POE from Politics to anything else. And the last thing you will hear is that he is the reason why students leave his classes crying.

My first encounter with Dr. Nagengast was on my first day of classes for my freshman year for a class called African Development. After taking a class with Nagengast and going on his study abroad trip to The Gambia, I now consider him to be one of the best professors anyone could be lucky to meet.

Dr. Nagengast at a hospital in the Gambia.

Dr. Nagengast at a hospital in the Gambia.

Going into the spring semester of my sophomore year, Nagengast gave me a list of classes to take for my POE in International Development. It just so happens that I am in every one of his classes this semester. At first, I was nervous that I would die of exposure to too much Nagengast. On Tuesdays, I am in class with Nagengast from 10:30am-3:00pm. Luckily, Nagengast likes me enough to let me be a little late for class so I can quickly grab lunch.

Many of my friends tell me I’m crazy for taking all of his classes at once, but I couldn’t imagine a better schedule. Taking Nagengast’s Intro to International Politics, African Politics, and Political and Cultural Modernization at the same time makes me appreciate Nagengast for all that he does. It’s so interesting to see how each of these classes can connect to each other. In every class that Nagengast teaches, he gives different lectures with the same greatness that could never put someone to sleep.

For anyone who has never taken a Nagengast class, I would highly recommend taking one. Don’t be scared, Dr. Nagengast is one of the best and kindest professors any student could ever meet, as long as you do the class reading of course.


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