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Three and a Half Years of Firsts

Julia Newman
Julia Newman ’20, Professional Writing POE

My impending graduation has had me reflecting back on a lot of things lately. Three and a half-ish years ago, I wrote my first blog for Juniata. Now as I write my last, I thought it would be a fun full circle moment to revisit my first ever blog, aptly named “A Year of Firsts.”

My first year of college was one of much adventure. I met my two best friends, lived with my first roommate, gained and then lost the freshman 15, discovered many new passions, tried a million new things, and started figuring out who I was.

Rereading my first blog, I see that so many parts of it were true and so much has changed since I wrote it. I pulled a few quotes that I think are especially relevant to the course of my reflection:

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5 Reasons Why Hybrid Learning Grew on Me

Julia Newman
Julia Newman ’20, Professional Writing POE

I admit I was not excited for hybrid learning when Juniata had announced its Fall 2020 semester plans. Online classes at the end of last semester and over the summer were not my jam. I found it hard to focus and keep myself on track.

As we enter into the third week of classes, I think I’m finally getting into the groove of hybrid classes. The collaboration between Juniata’s faculty, staff, and students has made this transition a little bit easier. We’ve definitely hit many bumps in the road, and I don’t doubt that there are still many more to come, but I have found five reasons that I have come to enjoy hybrid learning.

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The Gambian Art Coalition – Part 2

In the summer of 2019, I spent five and a half weeks in The Gambia, West Africa. Three of those weeks were spent studying politics and culture with 19 other Juniata students, and two and a half were spent working for the Gambian Art Coalition.

As a sophomore at Juniata I became the co-founder of the non-profit organization known as the Gambian Art Coalition. Exactly one year later, (as of November 18th, 2019), I am knee-deep in organizing sales and presentations, working with interns and business professionals, and coordinating buying trips and budgets. Being the co-founder and Director of Communications and Marketing of an international non-profit organization was not something I thought I would be doing while earning my undergraduate degree at Juniata College.

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The Gambian Art Coalition

I went into my sophomore year at Juniata with a full schedule. Three jobs, two internships, and a full load of credits. Never in a million years did I think I would have the time or the ability to co-found a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) as an undergrad.

The NGO I cofounded with two of my great friends, Evelyn McCammon and Sarah Borgardt, is called The Gambian Art Coalition. It was an idea brought to us by Professor Nagengast in the Politics department. He’s been travelling to The Gambia for the past 15 years and has made many great friends amongst the Gambians.

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It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are.

Juniata’s motto, “Think about who you are”, has caused me to have at least three existential crises in the last few months. I don’t know who I am yet. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

For a long time, I pictured myself working at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in their Education department. I’ve been thinking about working in Vessel Operations at a cruise company. Then I got to school and thought I could see myself being a fluff journalist writing articles about big cows and quizzes to find out what Disney Princess you are based off of the food you get at Sheetz.

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