The poet Virgil sang of arms and a man, but I have come to tell the tale of students and an arch. Many have attempted to storm the arch throughout the decades, but no freshman class has made it through.
“This year will be different,” some say. “Our class will be the first to storm the arch!”
The event is undoubtedly exciting. As the students and faculty of Juniata gather around the arch, the anticipation builds. The upperclassmen and rugby teams prepare to defend the arch with intimidating chants. As a freshman, I couldn’t help but hope that September 18, 2013 would witness the victory of the underdog. The rules were set forth: once you fall, you must stay down.
President Troha, also a freshman of sorts, joined the freshman class. The event began. The teams rushed toward each other with purely metaphorical weapons brandished. The two sides clashed. The upperclassmen were stronger warriors. Within a minute, all the freshmen had fallen. The losing side regrouped and tried again, but to no avail. After a few rounds of combat, the upperclassmen decided that they wanted to challenge the leader of their foes. They chanted, “Troha! Troha! Troha!” However, the presidency of Juniata does not include armor adequate to defend against the rugby team. The upperclassmen were not going to allow anyone through the arch, neither new students nor their president. The occasional freshman who was able to emerge from the clump of bodies was then defeated by a second line of upperclassmen. Together, the freshmen and President Troha valiantly stormed the arch ten times. However, the upperclassmen defended the arch too well. The arch remains un-stormed.
Over the past 2 years at Juniata, whether by design or by coincidence, I have frequently stumbled across different lists on various social media sites describing attributes of small liberal arts colleges. So many of them harp on small colleges because you know everyone on campus and professor hang out with students, but honestly, I see the pros of a smaller student body outweighing the cons. Having a smaller student population allows for the campus to build a much stronger community that trusts and respects each other. If I told you to leave your laptop and phone sitting in the middle of the quad and walk to go get a coffee at any campus with over 5,000 students, would you do it? Most likely not. What if I told you that you wouldn’t have to worry about people touching your stuff if you did this at Juniata? This is the type of trust and respect that Juniata’s students have for each other. Even our new President has taken notice of this with how the students leave their bags outside the cafeteria. It is much calmer and makes your college experience less stressful when you don’t have to worry about people stealing your stuff. This is just one reason I prefer the small college experience.
With a smaller student population indubitably comes several other benefits. One of which is the ease of access students have to faculty, staff and each other. Many professors at Juniata have an open door policy, where if they’re in their office with the door open, you are free to walk in and strike up a conversation. Being able to have this connection with your professors really is a luxury that increases the quality of your education. I have professors from freshman year that still remember the names of my siblings and pets! Even new President Troha is going out of his way to be accessible to the student body, as seen in Kunal’s blog entry on September 12th. If you want to meet with your academic advisor, department head or even the dean of students, they will usually be able to meet with you within 48 hours. The beauty of having a smaller school like Juniata is that we have so much more access to our professors and staff, and as a result, more of an input into our education. I personally view this ability to interact with Juniata staff at such a personal level one of the pros of having a small, more tight-knit Juniata community. This ease of access is something most people at Juniata take for granted, but is something that also makes Juniata one of the friendliest and most welcoming campuses on the East Coast.
Most people are perplexed when I tell them I’m from Los Angeles, CA. They can’t imagine why I would be in quaint Huntingdon, though I’ve pretty much lived here full time for the past three years. So when I accepted a position on campus as one of the Inbound interns, I couldn’t even pretend to be optimistic about spending an entire summer on Juniata College’s campus. But life is what you make it and you definitely get back what you put into any situation.
Campus was silent, there were only a handful of people around, and I was at least 40 minutes from a more populated area. However, Juniata prides itself on its community feel, and I definitely felt that. I made a Facebook group called “JC Summertime,” and to my surprise, there were about 70 students in Huntingdon for the summer. Between my internship and working part-time at the print shop, I made new friends and connections. We had delicious potluck-style bbq’s once or twice a week, volunteered for local organizations, went to State College and Altoona for mini getaways, went bowling and to the movie theatre in town, had social gatherings on Friday nights to relax and unwind, and most importantly, we discovered or introduced to others the many things to do in Huntingdon. And no, that is not a typo, I said “many.” Coming from the city, I’ve never really been an outdoorsy person, but why not give it a try? The scenery here is so beautiful that I was always going on hikes and finding new trails around town and near the Cliffs and Peace Chapel, I exercised at the Thousand Steps, visited the Lincoln Caverns, found GORGEOUS outlooks at the vast Lake Raystown (there’s WAY more than Seven Points Marina), and I tried every single restaurant in the area.
The time passed just as fast as if I was in the city but I just felt more relaxed. Huntingdon can be a culture shock but there are chances to make coming to Juniata the best time of your life. I’ve never regretted my decision to come here, or stay in the middle of nowhere for an entire summer. I’ve chosen to make memories and have great experiences, and anyone can do the same.
Hey there! Do you know one of my favorite things about Juniata? The connections that you make! That’s why I got to spend an amazing weekend in Washington D.C. to meet up with some friends that I made at Young Adult Conference this past summer, which I was able to go to because Juniata sponsored my trip. While there I met people from all over the country, like D.C.!
And let me tell you, my weekend in D.C. was one that I won’t forget in a long time! Washington is only a 3 hour drive away – and a very pretty drive at that! Campus life is wonderful, but every once in a while it is nice to be able to drive somewhere for the weekend. My friends and I went down to see a band that we like, Joy Kills Sorrow; they were amazing!
In between acts I was able to talk to Bryan more in depth about Brethren Volunteer Service - the real reason that I went down to D.C. As a senior, I’m trying to explore my options for after graduation. Listening to Bryan’s experience about doing advocacy work on Capitol Hill made me much more positive that BVS is the path that I want to persue after my time at Juniata is complete.
On the way home from the show, after the GPS decided to take us a rather interesting way, we decided to explore the Monuments at night. When we walked over to Lincoln Monument, we were confused why there was an abundance of people there at 10:30 at night. Then we were asked if we were there to see the rocket launch. “ummmm, no?” So, my friend looked it up on his phone and it turned out that a lunar explorer named LADEE was going to be launched from an island off the coast of Virginia… and being in D.C., we received the best view!
Sitting with a thousand other people at 11:30 p.m. to watch an amazing launch with Abraham Lincoln’s statue sitting behind us was definitely a magical experience.
You really never do know where your Juniata experience will take you: Brethren Volunteer Service, our Nation’s Capital, or even to the Moon!
‘Twas the night of Mountain Day, when all through campus
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Homework was done, all with great care,
Even with hopes that Mountain Day would prevail.
All the students were nestled into their beds,
With visions of canoes, kayaks, and food swimming in their head.
Even Dr. Troha put on his sleeping cap,
Settling down for a short fall nap.
When all through the dorms there arose such a clatter,
All freshman sprung from bed to see what was the matter.
Away from their beds they flew like a flash,
Tore open the doors and joined in the clash.
“It’s Mountain Day! It’s Mountain Day!”
Cried the students, “Let us celebrate without delay.”
But in those wee hours they all fell back,
And settled down for another short nap.
The busses will soon arrive, driven with great care,
And students will play, full of joy that none can compare.
To all of you we cry out, filled with celebration:
HAPPY MOUNTAIN DAY TO ALL, AND TO ALL A DAY OFF!
*Mountain Day is Juniata’s oldest tradition, in existence in some form since the late 1800s. On a beautiful fall day, classes are canceled and everyone flocks to one of the state parks in the area for a day of outdoor fun including a picnic lunch, nature walks, crafts, music, tug-of war, and the spirited faculty/staff vs. seniors co-ed flag football game.
The most unique element of Mountain Day is that no one knows in advance when it is going to occur! Trying to guess our date of Mountain Day is one of the most-popular topics of conversation among the students and faculty in the weeks leading up to the even.
One of the activities I care about most is my involvement in student government. Last year I was honored to be elected Class President of the class of 2016. One of my responsibilities as Class President is to attend bi-weekly senate meetings, and this year the first meeting was at the house of President Troha himself! It was an amazing experience meeting his wife, and kids, and basically getting to hangout with the president and play table tennis with him. (Talk about historic.)
Last year President Troha spoke about expanding the role of student government, and this was a great symbolic gesture that he meant what he said, but he proved that night he was more then just talk and symbolism. One of the first events planned by my cabinet was a concert on the school quad with all the proceeds going to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. We later found out that our event fell on the same week as president Troha’s inauguration, the theme of the inauguration also happens to be wellness. So we thought it would be a great idea to make it an inaugural concert, where students would get to put their own mark on the whole affair. I took that night as my chance to pitch the idea to the man himself. I walked up, more then a little nervous, and gave him my sell, and to my surprise he approved it on the spot. I know I speak about “Juniata moments” all the time but I can’t help but feel like these type of things don’t happen just anywhere. I walked up to the president of a college, gave him a simple pitch about a really ambitious idea, and I didn’t get brushed off or told to speak to him later. I was listened to. Now I’m busy planning, and more excited then ever, because I know Juniata is in the hands of a man who means what he says. I can’t imagine the possibilities.
Starting college can be intimidating right? Its hard to make friends, figure out what clubs you want to join, find out what clubs there exactly are on campus? Well at Juniata the short answer is no. The answer is no because every year we hold a little something called Lobsterfest (and by little I mean an event that involves almost everyone on campus and over 100 clubs.) For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lobsterfest it is an event that is held on a Saturday at the beginning of the year, where every club sets up a table on the quad and advertises itself to the entire student population to get more members and at the end you’re served lobster. Awesome right? Its like a club shopping mall where you get free lobster ( or steak, or veggie burger).
This year Lobsterfest was held on August 31st, and honestly even though it was my second I was happier than a kid in a candy store. The thing I love about it is that everyone is so welcoming… it’s so… Juniata and that’s the only way I can explain it. I love it. The energy is electric and the clubs do their best to put on a show, eco club hands out plants, frisbee club is throwing around a disk, and the rugby club has the… syrup challenge (don’t try that full). At Juniata no matter who you are, you’re welcomed to build amazing things with your amazing peers, and that’s what makes this little school in Huntingdon, PA so special. If you love creating with other people who are passionate about the same things you are this is the right place for you. Here we are doing amazing things, with a culture of togetherness, and Lobsterfest is where a lot of that starts. I can’t wait for what my friends and I do this year!