Among Juniata College’s many strengths is its incredible study abroad program. I was almost as strongly attracted to the school’s incredible network of destinations for oversees study as I was by its highly reputable biology program. Perhaps even more impressive than either of these individual programs is the flexibility Juniata’s unique POE gives science students to take advantage of both. Often scientists-in-training at other universities, especially those that are not liberal arts institutions, have to follow a pre-planned academic schedule that affords no time for a study abroad experience. The POE is much less rigid and makes it relatively painless for even those students with the strictest class requirements to spend a semester or year abroad.
After battling through organic chemistry and introductory biology courses, I spent the fall semester of my junior year studying at the University of Waikato (pronounced why-cut-oh if you were wondering) in the city of Hamilton on the North Island of New Zealand. Waikato is in a beautiful area, nestled among the rolling green hills made famous as The Shire in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy (which was filmed in the next town over). While abroad I took courses that allowed me to more fully immerse myself in the New Zealand Culture while fulfilling core requirements of the POE. I learned about New Zealand history, contemporary issues in the pacific islands, and even got a chance to learn a little bit of the language of the indigenous Maori people. At many schools taking time to study abroad is something that hinders students and makes it more difficult for them to graduate on time. At Juniata, a study abroad experience actually propels you towards graduation, making it an easy decision to go abroad if you are interested in doing so compared to those students at other universities who have to worry about how it may negatively impact the rest of their college experience.
Since my time abroad I have had a number of opportunities to interact with science students who go or went to other schools via off-campus internships, research presentation meetings, etc. (more on that later!). They are often amazed that as a top notch biology student I still had the chance to study abroad, and are usually exceedingly jealous. Many science students who think it is very important have an opportunity to travel oversees for extended lengths of time actually find it necessary to delay attending graduate school or entering the workforce so they can spend some time abroad. This can cost a lot of money and make it difficult for them to re-enter the academic world, which makes me even more appreciative that I had the opportunity to study abroad so effortlessly while I was an undergraduate student.
Resume, check. Business cards, check. Tie, perfect.
Once a year, Juniata College’s Career Services center hosts an event that will give students a boost in their search for jobs or internships for the near future. This event is riddled with awesome opportunities for us current Juniata students to show off some of the skills based in professional presentation and professional networking.
As a junior venturing into the work environment for Marketing, I’ve learned during this event that some basic skills in communication will take you quite a long way when interacting with professional veterans (Especially those who are in Marketing or Sales).
As I stepped into the vestibule of Kennedy Hall I was greeted by several students who worked in either Career Services or Alumni Associations; these students have volunteered their time to plan and execute a welcome setup where sign-in and locating the businesses that suited your Program of Emphasis (POE) is a quick and painless breeze, allowing me to have bit more confidence when approaching business presentations.
Many of the representatives that donned their respective businesses in Kennedy were actual Juniata College Alumni. This made it easier for me to discuss their presented positions because of the things (as Juniata students) we’d have in common. For instance, when talking about a job in an informational technology company, I found out through conversation that he was a Men’s Rugby alumni. This connection gave us more to talk about and I hope made me more memorable.
After several exciting rounds of meeting and greeting many of the job representatives, a few events were offered to give each student a more relaxed atmosphere to discuss with the alumni offered positions.
Jim Tuten, a history professor, hosted a wine etiquette gathering that offered the employers one-on-one time with small groups or individual students to promote an even more individualized experience. This proved to be my favorite portion of the Career Fair.
Over a light supply of wine, the upperclassman we able to engage the alumni in a more comfortable atmosphere. I then was able to discuss several job opportunities presented to myself in the larger portion of the event in detail, hashing out times and meetings that were to follow in order to solidify a position.
An opportunity like that was something I didn’t expect when I think about career fairs. An image that always come to mind is a crowded room of people collecting resumes in exchange for business cards. However, the wine etiquette gathering offered an environment of relaxed, conversational exchanges that made my experience looking for a summer internship a less complicated one.
Through this sub-event I was also able to get a glimpse into the career fields that lay head of me. After hearing professionals, especially Juniata alumni, speak with passion and excitement about their careers, I am even more excited for my future career.
My mom and dad sent me to college with the same desire most parents do. That I’d study 20 hours a day, sleep the other 4, stick meals and laundry in there at some point, be top of the class, and at the end of it all, head off to some advance degree, and become a professional. For the first couple weeks on campus I had every intention of being that kid. (Well, kind of, my 6 meals a day took priority over the studying part). I would wake up, brush my teeth, shower (sometimes), eat breakfast, go to class, eat my 2nd breakfast, think about studying, surf the internet, go back to class, eat lunch, “ study with some friends,” (translation: sit on Sunderland lawn and complain about how much work I have,) go to my afternoon class, eat lunch round 2, get my books out, eat dinner, do homework, (look I’m a good kid,) eat a mid-night snack, (a man’s got to eat,) sleep. So while I wasn’t exactly what my parents envisioned at least I ensured I wouldn’t die of starvation, and I thought about being a hard worker. I was happily on my path to obesity and a 2.0 GPA when a little thing called the Mr. Juniata competition came my way.
It was a chance to be the center of attention on campus for 3 hours, not that that would appeal to me or anything. I could pretend to be the unknowing bystander who unexpectedly was nominated, but seeing as I harassed almost every freshman on campus to vote for me, I might as well admit, I wanted this more then you want to get out of high school. (I know that’s saying a lot). After hounding half the campus over the course of the next week a little email popped up on my laptop during one of my fake study sessions at the library (One thing I’ve learned about the library, no one really studies on the first floor of the library.) It was then I was catapulted into the mysterious world that was Mr. Juniata.
That evening I went down to Lobsterfest, one of Juniata’s great ways to make friends at the beginning of the year. The entire campus gets together for a lobster and steak dinner, it’s something you’ll look forward to at the beginning of each fall term. While I was standing in line for food a girl behind me asked if I was the freshman who got in. It was then I felt like a celebrity no one really cared about, aka Ke$ha. It was brilliant. Fast forward to the first Mr. JC practice and I realized the requirements where a huge ego, baseless self-confidence, severe narcissism, and a lack of inhibition. So basically I fit right in. My only real talent is I can hold a semi pleasant tune, so singing was the way to go. The fact that my life style most closely resembles that of a Snorlax, the song I had to perform seemed obvious. The lazy song describes my mindset to a tee. I got 7 of my fellow freshman to help me create a remake of the music video for the performance. That’s where doing Mr. JC really paid off. Those 7 guys are still some of my closest friends, so if you ever get a chance to participate I highly recommend you do, especially freshman year. The whole experience really helped with my transition. So with help from a few newly made friends, we put on an act to remember and all the other contestants did great as well. (We did better.) It still feels awesome walking around campus and people recognizing me as “that freshman.” I couldn’t ask for a better way to have started my first semester at school. After it was all over, it was time to really commit myself to studying…. I crack myself up. Lucky for me I did do a bit better then a 2.0.
As a science student you become accustomed to all the exams and dreaded four hour labs with the accompanying reports. It does become repetitive week after week, but knowing that all the late nights and stressful periods throughout the semester are going to be so rewarding in the end is enough to get through. With all the reactions and biological systems to make best friends with, a break is definitely a nice change to the regimen. This is where the liberal arts education comes in to claim its fame.
Too many core science courses can be a little overwhelming at times, but taking classes that take a step back and away from the normal routine can really be beneficial. Having other interests and being able to explore the questioned and unfamiliar is Juniata’s stronghold in educating its students. A well-rounded education in many different fields and perceptions will affect what you take with you in the future. Sure, there are some classes you may not enjoy; but there’s just as many that you will appreciate and learn something that can carry much relevance in the world past the walls of Juniata College.
This current semester I am taking a class called HOBO, more formally known as Behavior Analysis of Organizations. Where they get HOBO, I haven’t quite figured out. This is a business management type class. I know, on a whole separate scale from wanting to pursue a career in medicine but I can’t begin to explain how meaningful this class is, for any person of any POE. The class focuses around building relationships and how each fit in different work environments. I would imagine most are furthering their education to hopefully get that job of their dreams. But how can this job be everything they want if getting along with co-workers is a struggle or they are so unsatisfied with supervisors that it becomes miserable? Simple answer, it can’t be. So this class analyzes such conflicts and problems that can arise, while preparing the students for that day when they start that “work” chapter of life when the situations become real.
Yea, yea, I heard it all before: Juniata’s reputation carries and holds so much meaning. But there’s nothing more that can describe this college more accurately. Given the opportunity to go beyond your top interests and become acquainted with other classes, professors and peers just enhances the whole college experience and there’s not much more students could ask for in return.
Although Juniata might not be a strictly based research school for the science POEs, this liberal arts education will stand its own out in the real world. So much information can be learned and applied to what the world might confront you with next. I can wholeheartedly say that for a science POE, there’s no other school that I would love to have on my transcription for an undergraduate degree. Sure, there’s always opportunities to do research and build your resume in the swirling liberal environment. Juniata just sees the relevance of putting the main focus on this type of education, while letting its students be proactive with their own pathway of life and giving them the strong foundation on which to build upon.