I’m finding my final year in college to be bittersweet – exciting and terrifying. Looking back on my years here, I can’t capture into words all that I have gained and become. College is transformative and lasting. My time here will never be forgotten, and I will always look back at parts with love.
As a final blog, I want to talk about one of the most important pieces of my time here. My mentors, my advisors, my role models – my professors.
As a student who came in with a strong idea of what I wanted to do, it was shocking how quickly I shed that notion. But then without it, where was I going to go? What was I supposed to do without my idea of the future to hold my hand?
The god’s honest truth is I still have no idea. I don’t know what next year will bring. I don’t even know what next semester will bring. I’ve almost (not quite) come to accept that I’ll probably never know what the future holds for me. Not with certainty, at least.
What I do know is that it will be fine. I will be fine. I know that, not because my professors here have told me, but because they have built me up to be someone who knows myself. They have built me up to be someone who is capable, strong, and powerful. Someone with a voice and someone willing to act when action is due. This hasn’t just happened through classes in my POE, or with only a handful of professors. It has been slow, organic, and expansive.
I have been built up by Dr. Neil Pelkey. He has always encouraging me in my writing, and has always read pieces that I send to him, even when they are not quite what he might have been expecting. I have been solidified in who I am by Dr. Donna Weimer, who tells me to never doubt my voice. I have become the person I am today through my classes and discussions with Dr. Alison Fletcher, Dr. Chuck Yohn, Dr. Polly Walker, Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, Dr. Norris Muth… The list can go on because each and every professor I have interacted with here has given me something different, something wonderful.
Even when I have hated classes, disliked teaching styles, and disagreed, I have felt supported and encouraged by our faculty as a student here.
You can say a lot about the college admissions process. I remember it. It feels like all colleges promise you something shiny and new, and it’s terrifying. You’re making a major decision that will impact your life immensely. That’s not something to take lightly. Investigate, visit the campus, talk to students, do your research. I cannot tell you if this is your school. Only you can decide that.
What I do know for myself, and what I can say is that I would not be the same person I am today if I had not gone here. That fact is thanks to the faculty, staff, and students here. They have cared for me, they have advised me, they have let me cry when tears were what I needed. There are no words I can express that will fully capture the gratitude I feel for those three groups of people here. But with my very last blog here, I thought I might try.
Enjoy your college search. Be inquisitive, ask questions, assert yourselves. You’ll know the right choice when the time comes.
Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I’ve always celebrated a Thanksgiving week as opposed to a Thanksgiving Day.
This year, it started with an all-nighter of cooking in the kitchen of Unity House for the Friends-giving of Sherwood. The Resident Advisors held a Friendsgiving dinner in the lounge consisting of lumpy mashed potatoes (I couldn’t find a proper masher), Kraft mac and cheese, and sliced turkey meat from the deli counter at Giant. The food wasn’t amazing but, the company was.
Then the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I had another Friendsgiving with some old high school friends. We sat around for hours and ate an unreal amount of pie and talked about what we don’t miss about high school.
The main event of Thanksgiving dinner is always a huge production in my house. My Mom spends days prepping the house for company. In our house, “The door is always open”. (We’re like a less trusting version of the Tanner family from Full House – our door is only open figuratively and both of my parents are still alive). We usually have anywhere from 23-38 guests, in addition to my family of five, joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. We have first cousins, second cousins, third cousin, aunt and uncles, college friends, exchange students, exercise buddies, neighbors, coworkers, stray pets – if you can name it, we have more than likely had them over for Thanksgiving dinner.
This year our guest of honor was a foreign exchange student who was staying with my cousins in Colorado for six months. She’s visiting from Sydney, Australia. We grilled her on all things Australian then she grilled us on all things Thanksgiving. Introducing her to all of our family’s weird Thanksgiving traditions was probably my favorite part about this Thanksgiving.
My family is very competitive, so every year we have a Thanksgiving Day tournament. This year in addition to playing Pit and Apples to Apples, we added cup pong and bowling. As the reigning Thanksgiving champion from last year (it says so in my Instagram bio, so you know it’s true), I got to start the tournament off. My sister designed the brackets and we had guest judges for each game. After a tie in nearly every competition, I passed the crown to Jordan as reigning Thanksgiving Day champion.
After the tournament we squeezed into the dining room and living room (we can’t all fit in the dining room) and sat down to eat. Before we can get our food, we go around the entire table and everyone has to say what they’re thankful for. This year there was an extensive amount of people who were thankful for family, food, and Steve Irwin. I think for that we can thank our guest of honor.
After dinner we ate dessert and watched my two grandmothers yelling at each other from their seats across the family room because neither can hear what the other one is saying.
“I’m getting old.”
“You’re feeling cold? Get a quilt.”
“I’m Irish not Scottish. We don’t have kilts.”
Thanksgiving will forever be my favorite holiday
If you’ve been on campus lately, you’ve definitely noticed the swarm of tents that suddenly appeared on the Quad. No, it wasn’t an evil camping magician that sought vengeance on Juniata students. No, it wasn’t Laughing Bush (our outdoors club) practicing for their next outing. It was actually a Juniata tradition called – yep! you guessed it! – tenting!
On a day and time chosen by the Juniata Activities Board, students race to the Quad to see who can be the first one to set up their tent. However, this year, there was a little bit of a twist! Groups, typically consisting of 6 to 8 students, first had to complete a set of 16 challenges in the form of a scavenger hunt in order to be granted permission to set up their tent. The very first group to set up their tent is deemed “Head Tent,” which has the responsibility of creating the rules and challenges for the next week.
Here’s where the fun comes in. Each tenting group accrues points through different challenges throughout the week while they sleep in their tent. From Sunday night to Friday morning between the hours of 5pm and 8am, Head Tent is allowed to call “Roll Call.” Whether it be at 5:00 in the evening or at 3:25 in the morning, when students hear the air horn they begin sprinting to its location. As soon as the air horn is blown, Head Tent begins reading the tent names in order from most points to the least, ensuring that at least 1 member of each tent has attended roll call.
In addition to roll calls and random mini-games throughout the night, every day there is at least one big event for tents to show off their style. This year’s events included a lip sync battle, a scavenger hunt, a calendar creation and presentation, a fashion show, and a talent show! In previous years, Head Tent has included different events like a rap battle and a drag show.
Students participate in all of these fun activities in order to be first in line to buy tickets to Madrigal. Madrigal is Juniata’s two-part winter formal dinner and dance; as such, the tent with the most points gets to pick the best table at the dinner. The most important thing about the Madrigal dinner is that your professors serve you! After the food has come and gone, students share a lovely time with candles and holiday carols.
If you’re looking to create some lifelong memories with your closest friends, Juniata is definitely the place for you.
Earlier this week, I was interviewing Juniata alum, Niki DeSantis, for a Q&A in the Alumni magazine. My writing internship in the Juniata marketing office has allowed me to make great connections to several brilliant people in the Juniata community. I was interviewing her about her assistance on Alex Ovechkin’s Sports Illustrated photo shoot and we got side tracked talking about the challenges of working freelance.
She gave me tons of great free advice about my future in professional writing and how I should go about acquiring freelance writing jobs. She’s worked freelance for over 15 years and had so much wisdom to share. She said I should start asking around of writing opportunities no matter how small they are and to begin working on unpaid projects to get my name out there. She gave me advice about applying for internships and how to pitch myself and my writing to potential employers.
Niki to me I should start a blog and an online portfolio for applying to internships and jobs so I have something to show my potential employers. She works mostly in freelance design and she was telling be how she has binders and binders of print magazines and posters and other pieces she has designed, but no potential employer wants to look at a binder full of papers. They want everything to be online. Something they can easily scroll through on their laptop, smartphone or iPad, after dinner or during their lunch hour. Something quick and easy to navigate that has several examples of my writing in all forms.
Creating a blog seemed like the least daunting task so that’s what I started with. She said to start a blog and just write anything. Write book reviews, write about your day, about a concert you attended, about a funny thing you saw your dog do – just write anything. Create your social media presence.
I maintained a blog for a short time last year for my Writing Across Media class so I have some experience working with WordPress and managing posting and content, but posting about Bees (my blog was about bees) and posting about yourself are two completely different things. My blog about bees had guaranteed and easily accessible content. I had a fairly narrow area of interest presented on that blog so coming up with specific topics wasn’t difficult. Writing a blog specifically to showcase my brand, personality, and writing skills is a lot harder to choose a topic for.
I have to choose who I want to be and how I want to be seen for my future. I can always change it, but it is the internet – whatever I post is going to be there forever in one way or another. I’m still drafting my first post, but it’s going to be something brilliant.
My portfolio is still empty. That is going to be the big challenge for me. I have a few blogs from Juniata Enrollment and a PR piece or two from my marketing internship, but that’s it. I have pages and pages of creative writing, but choosing which to include, since none of it has ever been published, is nearly impossible. Until I start submitting my writing to different writing outlets, it’s not going to go anywhere.
Niki said I need to put myself out there with my writing and take chances. I think I already knew this in my head, but now it sounds more real and reasonable after hearing it from someone with experience. I don’t know how successful my blog will be, but by the time I’m finished at Juniata, my portfolio is going to be overflowing.
If you want to keep up with Julia’s writing adventures, follow her here: juliasworld6211899.wordpress.com
Wake up at 8 AM on a Sunday, load in a van, stop at Sheetz for the inevitable breakfast/bathroom stop, and hunker down for a five-hour drive – it’s field trip time. Except, when you wake up from that groggy van sleep, you aren’t getting out to hear a lecture. You step out into the cold air of the Finger Lakes and walk into your first of 14 wineries in 3 days. It’s wine tasting time.
This past weekend, I was on this field trip with one of my courses here – Wine in a Vessel. This course isn’t all wine tasting. We learn about ancient wine production, research wine regions of the world, and create wine vessels out of clay. Boring, right? And there, is also this minor component of tasting (and subsequently drinking) wine throughout the semester and for 3-days in the Finger Lakes of New York. You could say it’s an okay class.
On this trip, the weather was a bit lackluster, so we didn’t have the gorgeous views of sunny days, but we still endured the tastings and tours. We tried Reislings, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc… all the wines you can imagine. And the incredible (and sad thing for a broke college student) is that we did actually begin to taste the flavors and smell the aromas of the wine. I think our class of 20 actually began to learn what good wine really is. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to come out of a $20-for-5-litres box.
Beyond wine, we toured the vineyards to learn about grape growing and to take in the beautiful fall colors. We spent nights in our hotel studying in a daze for our upcoming tests. We explored little towns, ate Thai food, and probably spent a little too much money.
When I signed up for this course, it was to meet a requirement. I still needed an Interdisciplinary Colloquia course for my graduation requirements, and Wine in a Vessel fit the bill. I didn’t know it would turn into this incredible experience of developing a palate, learning how to work with clay, and bonding with these people I never would have met otherwise. It’s been a great experience. While it’s challenging at times to try and understand the chemistry of wine production and weeding the small vineyard we have here on campus, I have enjoyed it all.
So, while I didn’t expect to be taking a course on wine when I came into college as a Wildlife Conservation POE, I wasn’t entirely mad about sitting on a deck with a wine glass in hand for college credit.
A cool wind blows across campus. Jack o’ landers glow at night; the faint sound of Michael Jackson’s Thriller can be heard in the distance. It’s officially Halloween at Juniata!
Throughout the last couple of weeks, we students have been very busy celebrating the arrival of Fall and all the seasonal joys that come along with it. The Juniata Activities Board annually hosts Festifall – a celebration of all things Fall that includes pumpkin carving, horseback carriage rides, hot chocolate, a costume contest, and much much more! The best part of Festifall is sitting around the fire with your friends, enjoying warm apple cider, and totally not procrastinating on homework.
What’s that? You can’t make it to Festifall? No worries! There are plenty of other events to attend. Just last week, the Social Dance Club hosted a Halloween dance where students dressed up in their costumes and learned common Halloween dances. A big plus is that Juniatians are very artistic, so you’ll always see some very intricate or super interesting costume designs. We also recently had a Haunted Walk put on by the Wild Hunters of Juniata where students traveled through a path in the forest to be scared by tons of spooky surprises.
Today is officially Halloween and that means trick or treating! Every year, Juniata students team up to decorate the lounges of our residence halls to get in the spirit of Halloween. Then, we invite the children from in town to come trick or treat on campus! It’s always a great time seeing the children gawk at everyone’s costumes and the awesome decorations we’ve put up to invite them into our halls.
The various events that I’ve described are only a few of the many traditions we observe here at Juniata. If you’re looking for a school that’s big on traditions and big on community, then Juniata might be the place for you!
It is now my senior year at Juniata, and for the third time, I traveled to Quebec during fall break (October 11th to the 14th). Unlike previous years, this trip was something that I especially looking forward to for several reasons:
Fall break this year came about 2 days after the Fulbright program’s deadline. The application process was very challenging, and by far, it has been the most difficult application that I have written. I applied for a linguistics research Fulbright in Cote d’Ivoire, a project that stemmed from my internship in Strasbourg, France in the Spring of 2018. I worked diligently with a cadre of faculty members who pushed me to craft a competitive and compelling research project. The process got overwhelming and intense at times, so after the Oct. 9th deadline, I was excited to travel to Quebec and celebrate, alongside another Fulbright applicant and a friend of mine, Annaleigh Baremore.
Annaleigh and I are French club officers and worked together to plan this trip, despite meeting many obstacles. First, the Quebec trip did not occur during the previous year when Annaleigh and I were abroad. Professor Henderson who is head of the French department and also the club’s advisor was away on sabbatical. As seniors, Annaleigh and I wanted to bring this trip back, and travel to Quebec one last time. Another issue that we encountered was the high cost of transport, which almost canceled the trip. However, at the very last minute, the Office of Student of Activities gave us a minivan and two vehicles to go to Canada!
This 3rd trip to Canada was in my opinion the best because we had a diverse cadre of students. The trips were previously dominated by French speakers, but this time we had students who spoke Spanish, Korean, German and Hindi. I was happy to see them participating and learning about francophone cultures. They all tried poutine, maple syrups, all specialty of Canada. In addition, because we all shared various backgrounds, we tried other cultural foods: we went to a Korean restaurant in Montreal called Kantapia and drank some bubble tea at Chai. Once in Quebec City, we had dinner at a Cambodian restaurant and tried a delicious tapioca desert!
Although the experience was tiring, given that we had a 12hours ride back to campus, I would do it once again if could. As it is my last year at Juniata, I will be looking at various memories such as this trip to smile back on.
By guest blogger, Aidan Griffiths ’22
There’s nothing quite like Fall hawk migration. Hundreds of thousands of birds of prey take advantage of the favorable Autumn winds and migrate south for the winter, sometimes grouping together in flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals at a time. Many enthusiastic observers gather each year to watch this amazing phenomenon, and it just so happens that Central Pennsylvania is one of the best areas in the country to do so. These majestic birds follow the abundant mountain ridges in Huntingdon and surrounding counties because the updraft of air off the mountain slopes helps them achieve lift. They also ride the warm currents of air, called thermals, that rise off the surrounding land. This allows observers to get fantastic views of many raptor species as they ride these thermals to the top and sail over the mountain. On October Seventh, the Juniata College Chapter of the Wildlife Society traveled to the Stone Mountain hawk-watching site in northern Huntingdon County to do just that!
Seven of us Wildlifers met bright and early (for a Sunday) at 9 AM behind Brumbaugh Academic Center. We took inventory, did some quick introductions, and carpooled up to Stone Mountain. On the ride up, we weren’t very optimistic about our chances of seeing good raptor activity. The winds were blowing from the South, which is the wrong direction for birds that want to end up there. Perhaps more to the point, there was a pea-soup fog that seemed to get thicker the farther up the mountain we got. When we finally got out of our vehicles, we could barely see six feet in front of us, and the rocky path leading up to the hawkwatch was wet and slippery. Nevertheless, we made the brief trek up to the platform. The view we had was such that we wouldn’t have been able to tell a hawk apart from our left knee, but we did have some nice birds at the summit. A small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and other songbirds greeted us with little chirps and squeaks while we waited for the mid-morning sun to burn off the fog. Our formal guide, Luke Fultz, had informed the leaders earlier in the morning that he wouldn’t be arriving until ten o’clock, and we were starting to wonder if we should have done the same. However, as the warmth of the rising sun increased, the fog burned off and blew away, and were left with a gorgeous view of Central Pennsylvania valleys and Jack’s Mountain on the ridge opposite us. And, of course, the dissipating fog heralded the arrival of our birds!
At about 10:30, we started seeing our first migrants. A group of four Tree Swallows passed daintily overhead heading south. Several groups of Turkey Vultures started lifting off and soaring over the ridge, some cruising right by us. In one group that we saw from above, we noticed another vulture species: A Black Vulture. The sun shone brilliantly off its plumage, and we were able to see the telltale silver wingtips and difference in size and shape compared to the nearby Turkey Vultures. Around this time, Luke and his friend Desmond arrived. He gave us a brief lesson about raptor identification and passed out some laminated fliers showing them in flight. Not long after, a Common Raven and a beautiful female Northern Harrier gave us amazing views as they passed the platform. We also had some songbird migrants overhead: a few warblers that zipped by too fast to identify and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. In the midday sun, many of us found we were baking in our sweatshirts and long pants, so we shed as many layers as was appropriate for an academic setting.
About this time, Greg Grove, the regional eBird reviewer for Huntingdon County, arrived at the platform. A brief digression: For those of you who don’t know what eBird is (which is probably most of you), it is an online citizen science database where birders can submit their sightings, view other people’s sightings, and learn more about the birds of the world. It’s also a great resource for scientists and conservationists who want to learn more about the status of various populations of birds. Greg and his wife have been birding in Huntingdon for over twenty years, and Greg is one of the primary hawk counters for the Stone Mountain site. He helped us recognize the differences between Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks. He pointed out the “top heavy” appearance, smaller size, and more fluttery flight of the Sharp-shinned compared to its larger, more fearsome-looking cousin. A couple male American Kestrels, North America’s smallest falcon, also sailed by the platform and wowed us with their beautiful blue, orange, and white plumage. A distant Red-tailed Hawk and another Raven concluded the day’s count. We thanked Luke and Greg for their help, gathered our things, and descended back down towards the parking lot. On our way down, we demonstrated our aptitude for non-bird wildlife observation when one of our leaders spotted a snake sunning itself on a rock. Unfortunately, it saw us and darted into the craggy rocks before we could identify it. When we arrived back at the cars, we rolled down the windows, grateful for the opportunity to cool off. On our way back to campus, we reveled in our success. It was a great day with great birds and great weather, shared by great people! It was definitely one of my favorite college experiences thus far!
Last week was fall break. This year it happened to line up with my older sister’s fall break which has never happened before. My mother decided we should all meet up and do a girl’s trip for a few days. We decided that Asheville, NC was a good midpoint between Huntingdon, Annapolis and New Orleans.
We started out by going shopping in the adorably artsy town that is Asheville. My mother bought so much Tupelo honey that she actually had to check her bag on the flight home. We also tried on a million pairs of shoes, several were described by my mother as ‘feeling like a butter’. Yes, apparently shoes can feel like a single butter.
Our next stop after shopping was the Asheville Pinball Museum. I’ve never been a museum person but this one was incredible. We spent hours playing old-timey pinball games and classic Pac Man and Donkey Kong arcade games.
We visited Biltmore Mansion, I saw lots of fancy tapestries and wood carvings and Mr. Biltmore’s mesmerizing library. On our way out of the Biltmore gardens, we saw a black bear about 30 seconds into a Chinese Fire Drill. I didn’t realize it until after we left, but that was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. The bear was so incredible to see that I momentarily forget my intense fear of bears.
The main reason my mother had wanted us to visit Asheville was to see the changing fall foliage. Unfortunately, the leaves were behind schedule and hadn’t started changing yet because the weather has been so crazy lately. We had to drive until at least 5000 feet above sea level to see even the slightest bit of color.
Even though we had an extreme lack of color in the foliage, we went on a driving adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find some waterfalls. My sister sang “Waterfalls” by TLC for the entire car ride but the view more than made up for it.
I never really appreciated the mountains until I came to Juniata. Growing up in Annapolis meant that I spent most of my days 39 feet above sea level, crabbing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. My only real childhood memory of mountains is from the trip we took to the Grand Canyon when I was nine. The mountains in Asheville were incredible and lush and honestly one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.
The views from the Cliffs and the top of 1000 steps in Huntingdon are beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the Smokey Mountains. The mountains of Huntingdon and the mountains of Asheville are vastly different and not at all what I am used to, but they are both immensely fun to explore.
I can’t wait to embrace my newfound love of mountains and spend more time exploring in Huntingdon. In conclusion, Fall Break was amazing, we did go chasing waterfalls and we did not stick to the rivers and lakes that we were used to.
Guest Blogger, Hannah Buckwalter, tells us about her experience living in Ecohouse this year!
Juniata has a new addition this year!
EcoHouse is back up and running in its new home: 1631 Mifflin Street! There are seven eco-minded people living in the house this year who are all ready to make this a great year of sustainability.
So far, EcoHouse has put on three events for the Juniata and Huntingdon communities. Our first was a housewarming open to all to help us warm the new house. This event was a blast! People found that the house is very easy to find since it is right across from the World Language Center. They also discovered that it has an awesome yard and living room that are great for gathering to learn about environmentally friendly lifestyle choices.
The next event we hosted was a Meatless Meat Monday! Members of EcoHouse greeted people walking along the quad and invited them to try some delicious meat substitutes. So many people were amazed by how much better things like seitan sausages and soy/wheat bacon are than the typically gross tofu that most think of as the only meat substitute. The event was a huge hit, and we’re looking forward to this helping promote our push to get more vegan options in Baker that taste delicious!
The third event we’ve done so far was a make-and-take at the house where people could come turn their old T-shirts into reusable shopping bags. While we worked on the bags we talked about what single use products we use and how we can avoid using them.
Now, we are looking forward to the vegan cooking class coming up at the house on Oct. 27th at 3pm with Yasoda from Three Leaf Farmden! Keep an eye out on Facebook (Juniata College EcoHouse), Instagram (@jcecohouse) and Twitter (@jcecohouse) or on the announcements for more events at EcoHouse!
Hope to see you all around sometime!
EcoHouse is an off-campus housing option at Juniata College that focuses on sustainable living and eco-friendly practices. After a couple of years without an Ecohouse, a few determined Juniata students took initiative and started it back up again with the goal of making it better than ever! Residents of the house all take a part in providing the Juniata community with learning opportunities on sustainability, and you don’t need to be a senior to live in this house!