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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Scientist Abroad!

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.

Author (left) with friends exploring New Zealand’s beautiful wilderness

A Day in the Life of a JC Athlete

As you can imagine, student athletes have a little bit of a different schedule than other students at Juniata. We don’t have too much free time to nap, or watch tv, or hang out with other friends. If you plan correctly, you’d be surprised by how much you can fit into a day. Below I walk you through my typical Monday schedule (one of my more busy days).

A day in the life of a JC women’s volleyball player:
5:40am – Rise and shine!
6am – Practice starts
7:30am – Run back to my room to take a quick shower, grab something to eat (usually fruit or yogurt), and get ready for class
8-8:55am – Anthropology
9-9:45am – Nap Time! (best part of the day)
10-10:55am – Calculus I
11am – Go to the library and do work
12-12:45pm – Get lunch at Baker with the team
1-1:55pm – Biology Seminar
2-2:55pm – Organic Chemistry Concepts II
3-3:55pm – Rural Health Issues
4-4:45pm – Get ready for my hour workout with Coach Smith and do some reading
5-6pm – Coach Smith workout
6-7pm – Team meeting with the volleyball coaches

The rest of the night I’ll do homework, meet up with groups for projects, and relax. I try to go to bed by 11 pm because I have 8am lab Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that doesn’t always happen.

Also, Coach Smith is the greatest thing that will ever happen to you – but I’ll save that for a later post. But basically, he’s one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the nation and creates specialized workouts for each team here.

I’m not going to lie, getting used to a hectic schedule is hard. But if you stay organized and can resist procrastination (which I personally am a victim of), you can esily get used to it. I also have a lot of support from my team and coaches, because they’re all going through it too.

Don’t ever let a busy schedule intimidate you. Balancing classes, practice, sleep, and a social life is a lot easier than you think, if you stay organized and can plan well.

Career Fair

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.

Transitioning to JC

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. Mr. JuniataWhile 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.

Science in a Twirling, Swirling Liberal Arts Environment

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.

Trivia Night Festivities!

“What color did Oscar the Grouch used to be?” “Which is farther west: Reno or LA?” “Which sex of mosquito will bite you?” “In 1961, who was one of Glamour magazine’s ‘Best Dressed College Girls?”*

Wouldn’t it be cool if this is the information we needed to know for tests? Unfortunately, there probably isn’t a Juniata professor that will ask this on a pop quiz. But you know where you probably will hear these questions? Trivia Nights at Standing Stone Coffee Company, of course!

Once a month during the academic semesters, the wonderful staff at Standing Stone hosts a Trivia Night, where a group of four members can compete against other teams for eternal glory… or maybe just free coffee and dessert paninis.

My friends and I have been competing in Trivia Nights since freshman year as team ‘Swordface and Sons’ and we all get really excited for it! I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday night than laughing with your friends, sipping on the most delicious hot chocolate ever, while trying to figure out which bank is the only bank in the world that has ATM’s with Latin as a language (the answer is the Vatican Bank, if you were curious).

Trivia Night is open to the entire Huntingdon community, so it is a really fun and unique experience to see faculty and staff mixed in the teams, along with local residents and fellow students. I am so glad that these memories of Trivia Nights will stick out in my mind as I think back on my time here at Juniata. I already can’t wait for the next one!

*The answers from above are as followed: Orange, Reno, Female, and Martha Stewart. Consider yourself ready for the next Trivia Night!

Washington, D.C. Shenanigans = New Friends and Fun

I live on the Intercultural Floor, meaning that I am part of the Global Village – a living/learning community all about international interests and experiences. Some of us have studied abroad or intend to, some are international students, and some are interested in global perspectives. This past weekend the International Office sponsored an overnight trip to Washington, D.C. A number of us on my floor jumped at the chance to go because who doesn’t love D.C.? Or any field trip really. Plus, it gave us the opportunity to spend time together outside of Juniata and get to know each other as more than just a face in class.

To be honest, I was a little hesitant about going on the trip. I was familiar with the girls on my floor, but not super tight with any of them so I was unsure of how the weekend would go. Who would I hang out with? Would it be awkward? But after debating with myself I decided to quit whining and just do it! After all, college is about trying new things, making new friends. And let me tell you, it was worth it. Right away we realized that we all were feeling the same way and the awkwardness completely disappeared. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a long time.

We managed to pack a TON of sights and museums into two days. For most of the American students the monuments and museums weren’t anything new. It was really fun, though, to show the international students our nation’s capital and explain a little of our history to them. My inner history nerd was on big displayMarilyn's DC Trip. The group also went to see a production of the Broadway musical Fela while we were there. I was super excited because the theater was right across from the Verizon Center where the Washington Capitals play and on the Sunday we were there, the Penguins were in town! Our timing could not have been better. As we were heading to find lunch, some of the international students got to witness my hockey fandom as I cheered on every Penguins fan I saw going into the Verizon Center. I probably looked like a crazy person, but how much more American can you get? At least stereotypically.

I think one of my favorite things about my freshman year at Juniata was the floor I lived on in Sherwood. I met a lot of great friends on that floor and it was such an awesome sense of community that we shared. We even made t-shirts for our floor (I still have mine) with silly inside jokes and our room numbers on the back like our own Sherwood jerseys. After this past weekend, our first floor of Terrace has really become like that third floor of Sherwood. This hall feels more like its own little family than just a dorm hallway. We share our own stupid jokes, cook dinner together, and have movie nights. All because of a trip to D.C. And to think I almost didn’t go because I thought it would be awkward… Silly me.

Back To School Blues? I Think Not.

Welcome Home SnowI remember so clearly dreading going back to high school after any break. It wasn’t because I disliked my classes or fellow sleepy classmates, or my teachers for that matter. No, I simply dreaded going back to school because… it was “school”. There was something in the phrase, “I go back to school on Monday”, that warranted a physical and emotional cringe. Looking back now, I can’t exactly remember why it seemed like such a traumatic experience.
After my first semester here at Juniata, I went home for Christmas break completely relieved that I’d made it through one of the hardest transitions that I’d experienced. It was a good semester, but all I could think of was how fabulous it would be to have nothing to do and all of the time in the world to relax. It was great at first- seeing my best high school friends, driving around familiar places, and unlimited amounts of Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order SVU. But slowly, after about a week or two, I started to feel something else. My house suddenly seemed much too quiet and my college friends suddenly felt so far away. Did I actually miss being at school?!
Indeed, I did. It was during that break that I realized how happy I was that I had made the choice to come to Juniata. There is no feeling that can compete with the joy I experience every time I come back to this place that I now call home. The people, the mountains, the professors, and even my campus job fit perfectly into the spaces of my heart, and I can confidently say that they will remain there for the rest of my life.
I think that there’s a part inside each of us that changes when we make any sort of big step in our lives. Even though I am only a 3-hour drive from the places in Maryland where I became the somewhat-sane version of me, living on a campus like this has changed me much more than I ever would have expected. As I write this, looking out the window at a surprise snowfall, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am so lucky.
Cheers!
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