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My Last Blog

After a week or so of settling in at Juniata College in the fall of 2013, I received an e-mail from my admissions counselor asking me if I’d be interested in joining her staff of bloggers. Here I am, four years later, at the tail end of my college career, writing my last blog.

Juniata has given me an abundance of opportunity. I had multiple campus jobs, studied abroad in Ireland for a year, and took some amazing classes with really great professors. I’m thankful for the jobs because I was able to engage with what I’m interested in: sharing information about Juniata and working with writing. Studying abroad was a great opportunity for me to meet people from around the world and expand my worldview. Finally, while I may heavily favor the English department, I thoroughly appreciate the liberal arts background that Juniata has given me through the courses I’ve taken outside my area of study.

I have taken the majority of my English POE credits with Dr. Mathur, so a last day of class selfie was a necessity.

I have taken the majority of my English POE credits with Dr. Mathur, so a last day of class selfie was a necessity.

I’ll always remember my days at Juniata participating in classes, giving tours, and tutoring in the Writing Center, but I’ll also remember the shenanigans like tenting for Madrigal or getting those early morning calls as part of the Mountain Day wake-up crew. Yes, I developed academically and professionally, but I also had fun. When people ask me what I love most about Juniata, I often say “the people.” I then follow that with a story from when I visited campus. The student whom I ate lunch with had to do a sign language scavenger hunt in which she had to have other students outside the class perform certain actions by giving them instructions in sign language. Students she approached dropped what they were doing to pay attention to her and to try to decipher what she wanted them to do. She had strangers doing cartwheels and football players sprinting to race each other. That’s when I realized that Juniata students are smart, but they’re also fun.

 

My good pals and fellow Writing Center seniors and I enjoying our last shift after three years of working together.

My good pals and fellow Writing Center seniors and I enjoying our last shift after three years of working together.

Thanks, Juniata, for a fun four years, and thanks to any of you who have followed my Juniata journey!

Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association Conference

Don’t worry; we weren’t moving when I took the picture.

Don’t worry; we weren’t moving when I took the picture.

 

We left Juniata on Friday morning and had a rainy drive to the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association (MAWCA) Conference in Reading, PA. Every year, our Writing Center Director (Professor Carol Peters) takes us to a conference for both professional development and group bonding. When I was a sophomore, we went to the National Council for Teachers of English Conference, and my fellow tutors went to the International Writing Centers Association Conference in Pittsburgh while I was abroad for my junior year. Some of us can gain some presentation experience at these conferences, too!

Here’s a table of good-looking Writing Center tutors having some fun conversations over dinner at Chatty Monks.

Here’s a table of good-looking Writing Center tutors having some fun conversations over dinner at Chatty Monks.

This conference was smaller than the one I went to my sophomore year, and that had its advantages. For one, it was more intimate. Many of the sessions were round table discussions rather than lectures. I had not considered how differently Writing Centers could function based on student demographics, institution size, and mentorship styles. There were many interesting presentations, too. For instance, I attended one that talked about tutoring grammar through games. While I don’t know that their approach would work for Juniata’s Writing Center, it definitely gave me a lot of ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we had to present as well. This is our table at The Carnival, where Writing Center tutors and directors talked to interested conference-goers about games and bonding activities to implement in Writing Centers.

Of course, we had to present as well. This is our table at The Carnival, where Writing Center tutors and directors talked to interested conference-goers about games and bonding activities to implement in Writing Centers.

Of course, we had to present as well. This is our table at The Carnival, where Writing Center tutors and directors talked to interested conference-goers about games and bonding activities to implement in Writing Centers.

Juniata’s Writing Center is a really tight-knit group, and the conference only brings us closer together. When prospective students ask me what my favorite thing about Juniata is, I either answer “the people” or “the opportunities.” In the case of the Writing Center, it’s a perfect marriage of the two. I’ve had many opportunities for professional growth and I’ve met some of my best friends.

Living off Campus

When I came to Juniata College, I had no intention of living anywhere but a dormitory. I loved (and still do) that Juniata guarantees housing for all four years. When I was in the midst of the college search process, I’d immediately scratch any college that forced students off campus after a year or two off my list.

 

I made many of my friends through living in a dorm as an underclassman. If you end up on a floor with a lot of freshmen who keep their doors open, you’ll meet a substantial number of your classmates. With a meal plan, dinners and lunches become good times to catch up with friends about their days and even better times to procrastinate work.

 

I went abroad and ended up in a house with six Irish girls. My meal plan was gone and I was responsible for cooking for myself, cleaning the house, and buying necessary items like dish soap, aluminum foil, and toilet paper. A huge advantage to living in a dorm with a meal plan is that you don’t have to worry about a lot of these more mundane tasks.

 

After returning from abroad, I decided to keep the house-style living. But, as I said earlier, it was important to me that Juniata never forced me off campus. I made the decision for myself. Seniors have the option to apply for approval for off campus housing, and my house was accepted. Seniors, with the highest room draw numbers, also have apartment-style living options through Juniata, as well as single rooms in Nathan Hall or other double dorm rooms throughout campus. I have friends who still live on campus and those who don’t, and it really depends on each person’s preferences. The most important part of choosing a house for those of us off campus is that we are close to campus, because even when we’re not living on campus, we are still spending a lot of our time there – going to class, doing research, and working the jobs we’ve had throughout our time here.

 

Figure 1: As the flag says, “Welcome to our pad.”

Figure 1: As the flag says, “Welcome to our pad.”

 

While there are times that I miss aspects of living in a dorm (being only a few steps away from your friends’ rooms is pretty great), I do appreciate the chance to gain more adult experience. Sure, there are days when I wish I didn’t have to cook myself dinner. I also have to go outside to see the friends that I don’t live with. However, living off campus has been a positive experience overall and I value the chance to gain some extra responsibility before moving to meet whatever life has in store next.

Reflecting on the Fall Semester of My Senior Year

My mother never thought I’d be happier than I was when I was in Ireland; I had a smile on my face every time we Facetimed. She told me over Thanksgiving break that she was surprised how quickly I adjusted back to my Juniata College life after a year in Cork. So, I thought about it, trying to discern what it was that was so appealing to me about Juniata this year in particular. I readjusted so quickly because I really missed my classmates and now that I’m back I want to spend as much time as possible with them.

Here I am on Mountain Day with two of my best friends since freshman year.

Here I am on Mountain Day with two of my best friends since freshman year.

I went to school with the same people for fourteen years before I came to Juniata, so I never really had to make new friends. I think that’s the case for a lot of students. The advantage to the small campus at Juniata is that it is really conducive to making friends since everyone is in close proximity and you see most people on a daily basis. My friend Elise and I connected through overlapping Inbound activities, and Maris and I met through a mutual friend. We’ve remained friends since the early days of the first semester.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I spend a good portion of my week with my fellow Writing Center tutors, and they’ve become some of my best pals. Here, you can see Katie and me bowing to the newly crowned Mr. Juniata.

I always tell people that one of my favorite aspects of Juniata is the students; we are both intensely passionate about their areas of interest and willing to drop all that we’re doing to participate in an event or a tradition to have a good time. We do our schoolwork and take it seriously; we pursue internships and opportunities ravenously. However, we also want to have fun and embrace the quirks of Juniata and its students. Maybe there’s another school where students sleep outside in tents for a week just to sing one line in one Christmas song, but Juniata’s ambitious dichotomy in both fun and work is unique.

When I visited Juniata, I ate lunch with a friend who attended my high school and then went to Juniata. She asked if we could end lunch a bit early and partake in a sign language scavenger hunt. I obliged, and the resulting half hour is one that I talk about often. The rules of the scavenger hunt were simple: get people who were not in the class to do the actions that you wanted them to by only using sign language (think “sign language charades”). When students on the quad dropped their backpacks and sprinted around and football players did cartwheels in the Ellis Ballroom, I knew that Juniata was a place where I could learn and get the school portion of the college experience, but also that it was a place where I could have a good time and make some fond memories. That memory-making potential is what really drew me back in after my year away, and it’s what has me excited for all that is to come with the remainder of my senior year.

My Favorite Study Spot

As a tour guide, I’m often asked about the best places to study on campus. While I’m happy to talk about that on a tour, I’m also going to use this opportunity to craft a definitive guide to my five favorite study spots.

 

The first is the English department’s lounge in Founders Hall. Perhaps I’m a bit biased as an English POE, but I think the bookshelves, chairs, and natural lighting have a lot to offer. The windows offer great views of campus, and there’s no better time to be up there than when the rain is tapping against the windows or when snow is falling. The lounge is perfect for reading assignments, and also for three or four people to create a productive study or work environment. When productivity fails, or you just need a break, you can take a quick lap around the hallway of the fourth floor or peer out the windows.

 

The lounge on the fourth floor of Founders is definitely my favorite.

The lounge on the fourth floor of Founders is definitely my favorite.

 

The hidden study room in the upper floor of the Brumbaugh Academic Center’s C Wing is an excellent choice for a study group of roughly six people. It has a table for a few students, and armchairs for a few more, with floor space if you need it. The windows offer great natural light during the day, too. This room is somewhat hidden by the men’s restroom, so there are a good portion of students who don’t know that it exists. This is a great place to go with friends around the times of midterms or finals to commit to getting work done.

 

The room in BAC’s C Wing (with the blinds down).

The room in BAC’s C Wing (with the blinds down).

 

Classrooms also make excellent study areas. I prefer those in Founders (again, I may be biased). I really like the larger tables because I can spread all my materials out and study in a state of organized disorganization. Even though they have the most room, classrooms are most fun to take for yourself. On the other hand, you can also gather in them with many friends.

 

My favorite solo or duo studying spots are in the Von Liebig Center for Science in the back corners. The armchairs are comfortable and I love the giant block tables. This is also in close proximity to Jitters in case coffee (or tea!) is a necessary element in your studying process. If you go to the one on the second floor, you can work behind the lab coats and scare the science students when they go to take them.

 

The library is an obvious choice. I like to use the desks that are in the basement. There’s something about sitting in a desk in a row that compels me to get down to business and write a paper or study for an exam. The concept of a quiet floor doesn’t seem quite natural to me, so I usually avoid the top floor. However, I do really enjoy sitting in the chair next to the stump table.

 

The tree stump table is a popular (or should I say, poplar?) spot for me.

The tree stump table is a popular (or should I say, poplar?) spot for me.

 

There are my five favorite places to study on campus, in no particular order (after Founders, of course). I’m sure there are many other places around campus that would make excellent locations, but I am either unaware of their existence or they don’t fit with my homework or study needs. Hopefully you’ll now have an idea of where to scope out a study session when you get here!

Returning from Cork, Ireland

When I was walking around Huntingdon on my first day back at Juniata College, I couldn’t help but smile. Even if I had an amazing time in Cork, Juniata was still home.

 

Here is UCC’s most photographed building – affectionately deemed Hogwarts. I studied Old Irish (c. 600-900 AD) in the left portion.

Here is UCC’s most photographed building – affectionately deemed Hogwarts. I studied Old Irish (c. 600-900 AD) in the left portion.

I spent my entire junior year studying Irish language and literature at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. Talking about study abroad is tricky – you don’t want to downplay the opportunities and experiences you had while there, but you also don’t want to sound arrogant or pretentious. In terms of school, UCC is much larger than Juniata. UCC has just under 20,000 students, around 2000 of which were international students like me. Compare that to the approximately 1600 undergraduate students at Juniata.

Most of the classes I took were within the Celtic Civilisation department (yes, civilization has an “s” instead of a “z” in Ireland). These classes had small, discussion-based approaches like at Juniata. This was not the case for other students in larger departments. I was happy to learn about Celtic linguistics, Old Irish grammar, and Otherworld literature as part of the 30-credit Certificate in Irish Studies that I earned.

This is me receiving my certificate for Intermediate Modern Irish.

This is me receiving my certificate for Intermediate Modern Irish.

The primary difference, for me, between Juniata and UCC was the workload. Juniata students are driven by a deep desire to learn that comes from somewhere within them. Most work abroad was done right before the heavily weighted final exams. I suppose they would think our structure was strange if they came here, though. Additionally, a huge difference upon returning is working. I have a few campus jobs, and I love working for Juniata. I couldn’t work at UCC because I didn’t have the paperwork to be eligible, and the shift from not working to working has been an adjustment these past few weeks. However, that adjustment is a welcome one. I really missed working in the Writing Center while abroad, and I made sure to meet up with some tour guide friends who were abroad to catch up with them.

UCC has an arch, too! No one storms their arch, though.

UCC has an arch, too! No one storms their arch, though.

One of my favorite aspects of Juniata is that it has offered me opportunity after opportunity, and one of the greatest has been the chance to study abroad at UCC. I came back with so much academic, personal, and cultural development, but I am thrilled to be at Juniata again. I’ve had so much fun (and I’ve learned so much) talking to other students who were here last year and who were abroad, and I love seeing the way their eyes light up when they tell stories from abroad, or talk about an event on campus that they orchestrated, or dive into the developments they made in their research. You could say that what I missed the most about Juniata was the passion in the students.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chorcaigh, ach táim sa bhaile anois.

Thanks, Cork, but I’m home now.

Presenting at Liberal Arts Symposium

This time last year, I wrote a blog post about the experience of participating in Juniata College’s Liberal Arts Symposium as an observer. Now, one year later, I can say that I’ve crossed an item off my Juniata bucket list; on April 23, I presented at Liberal Arts Symposium with some of my colleagues from the Writing Center. This LAS marks the tenth anniversary of LAS and the first LAS presentation by the Writing Center.

To be honest, I was not supposed to present at LAS. Another Writing Center tutor had to back out since he had a job interview. Since the presentation was all about how working in the Writing Center prepares student employees for the professional world, we, of course, had to make accommodations so that he would be able to go to his professional world interview. A position opened up to present with the Writing Center team, I seized the opportunity, and I am very glad that I did.

The Writing Center’s presentation was inspired by a series of focus groups that provided us with valuable feedback about our operations and how other students view our services. After we were introduced by our supervisor, Professor Carol Peters, we began our presentation that covered the various skills that Writing Center tutors acquire and that other student employees could also acquire by modeling their employment style on the Writing Center’s. We covered leadership, communication skills, teamwork, and accountability, but my section in particular was the acquisition and use of communication skills as Writing Center tutors. After our presentation concluded, we watched the other two presentations that were assigned to the room with us, which were both very informative and intriguing.

The feeling of a completed Liberal Arts Symposium presentation is well-worth the anxiety and nerves that precede it, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in one of Juniata’s great traditions, “The Mountain Day of the Mind.” I’m hopeful that senior year will bring another Liberal Arts Symposium presentation my way!

Field Trip to Washington, DC

One of Juniata College’s goals as a liberal arts college is to give students an education that goes beyond their individual Programs of Emphasis and delves into other disciplines and areas. Two of these requirements are Interdisciplinary Colloquia (IC) and Cultural Analysis (CA). I am currently enrolled in the CA course Samurai Legends and Lives; this course seeks to examine the Japanese samurai in its historical and mythic contexts, but also to analyze how accurately these historical texts match up to the Hollywood and popular culture portrayals of this warrior class. On Monday, March 30 the class took a field trip to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms and to visit the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian to view some examples of Japanese art.

Leaving campus at 8:30 Monday morning, we began our trip to the US capital. We arrived and ate lunch near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to work against us and most of the cherry blossom trees have not yet bloomed. After lunch, there was time for exploring. My friend and I first walked to the Jefferson Memorial and went inside, since neither of us had been there before. After the Jefferson Memorial, we walked to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial where I got a picture with a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. This statue was the first time that a first lady has been honored within a presidential memorial. After this, we walked back to the bus to travel to the Smithsonian museums.

Eleanor Roosevelt

In particular, we were visiting the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This subdivision focuses on Asian art and the class was looking to relate different artworks to the ideals and characteristics of the samurai. Some pieces related very directly, while others required more contemplation. Of course, after class business was complete, we were allowed to tour the remainder of the museum to see the art from other Asian nations. We later ended the trip with a meal at a Chinese and Japanese restaurant.

I had never visited Washington, DC before this field trip, but I had a lot of fun seeing some of the capital and visiting the galleries. Making connections between the art and what we have read in class helped to put our class discussions in context and added to our understanding of Japanese culture; it was a chance to do some cultural analysis outside the classroom setting. Now, I’ll be attending the course for the rest of the semester with an added appreciation for the culture that we’re studying.

Advising at Juniata College

As I was enjoying my Spring Break and talking to some friends from high school, I noticed that my friends at other colleges are having a drastically different college experience than I am. I don’t mean that my friends don’t get to experience Storming of the Arch or Mountain Day or Liberal Arts Symposium. I understand that different schools have different traditions, but one of my friends who attends a large university said something that I couldn’t even fathom from my Juniata College mindset: he has never met his advisor face to face. Of course, this led to multiple problems with scheduling, internships, and degree requirements, but I couldn’t get over the fact that while I see both of my advisors multiple times per week, he has yet to meet his.

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

When I returned to campus and talked to my friends here about this strange phenomenon, they were all as surprised as I was initially. Juniata runs on a dual advisor system, meaning that all students from their second semester onward have both an academic and a general advisor. The academic advisor is from the student’s academic department, while the general advisor is a professor or faculty member from outside that department. Both my advisors are great; I’ve met with them (face to face) multiple times, had them for class, and received multiple letters of recommendation from both of them. With all that my advisors have done for me and how instrumental they’ve been in my college career, I was taken aback by a student one year ahead of me at another school saying that he doesn’t even know what his advisor looks like. When I asked if he thought my advising situation was as strange as I thought his, he said that Juniata’s advising actually sounded great.

I guess aspects of college like advising are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. I’ve heard students say that getting both advisors’ signatures on papers or forms is a bother, but I think that never seeing my advisor throughout my college career would be infinitely worse. The advising system at Juniata is a tad unusual in that it involves two advisors, but between my own personal experiences with my advisors and what my friends told me about advising at their schools, I am very grateful for the advising that I’ve received here at Juniata. I’ll be sure to thank my advisors for their work the next time I see them!

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Talent Show

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, Juniata College held a talent show to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Events like this are always great, since it’s interesting to see how talented some of my fellow students are. Before the event began, those running the event introduced the charity. The audience learned about Alex and her brave mission to help other children with cancer through money raised by a lemonade stand in her yard. People were so moved by her efforts that they began to take up the cause as well. As a sophomore in college with comparatively little hardship in my life, it’s incredibly sobering to hear about such a compassionate child helping other children fight the battle that she was also fighting. Further, if Alex were alive today she could have been a freshman in college.

Las Piedras, a group of friends who met on a trip to the Dominican Republic

Las Piedras, a group of friends who met on a trip to the Dominican Republic

The talent show itself featured students from all years and demonstrated a variety of ability. Some students chose to dance, such as Casey Anthony or the Juniata Kickline Dance Team. Many students chose to share their musical talents, whether through original, instrumental guitar playing or through playing an instrument and singing along. Liz Godusky played guitar and sang to “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips, while Anna VanDusen and Devin Clark played ukuleles and sang a cover of “Hallelujah.” Las Piedras, a band of four students who met and bonded over a service trip to the Dominican Republic, played “Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers, and Conor Austin and Katie Shelledy harmonized the lyrics. Elizabeth Fuhrman read a poem that she wrote about cancer and its impact, especially on children. I did not mention every performance, but everyone did really well.

Liz Godusky practices her song during rehearsal

Liz Godusky practices her song during rehearsal

While some of the songs may have had a sad tone, halfway through the event the organizers presented a slideshow of the lemon juice challenge, in which various students and faculty members were challenged to drink a small cup of lemon juice. Participants had their pictures taken when they were drinking the juice, and some of the facial expressions were really funny. The slideshow definitely lightened the mood and got people laughing.

Juniata students are often very intelligent, but also very creative. As someone with no musical talent at all, I am consistently blown away by the talent that my peer exhibit. This was a chance for students to showcase some of their singing, dancing, and instrumental abilities while also raising money for a great organization. Students were encouraged to donate based on their favorite acts, and while I do not have exact numbers, I think the event went really well and served as a reminder that Juniata is about more than simply academics.

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