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Earning Your Freelance Freedom

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.

The beginnings of my About Me page on my blog

The beginnings of my About Me page on my blog

–Julia Newman—

If you want to keep up with Julia’s writing adventures, follow her here: juliasworld6211899.wordpress.com

Wings on the Ridge

By guest blogger, Aidan Griffiths ’22

The annual hawk migration is an incredible sight if you're in the right spot! Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

The annual hawk migration is an incredible sight if you’re in the right spot! Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

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!

Trying to see through the fog. Photo credit Annemarie Sciarra

Trying to see through the fog. Photo credit Annemarie Sciarra

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.

Our trusted leader, Luke Fultz. Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

Our trusted leader, Luke Fultz. Photo credit: Annemarie Sciarra

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!

Mean, Green, Eco-Queens

Guest Blogger, Hannah Buckwalter, tells us about her experience living in Ecohouse this year!

The Ecohouse crew!

The Ecohouse crew!

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.

Some of our ladies hanging out with Dean of Students Ellen Campbell and talking about meat substitutes this afternoon.

Some of our ladies hanging out with Dean of Students Ellen Campbell and talking about meat substitutes this afternoon.

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.

We made vegan, allergen-free coconut curry with rice and tempeh. Cooking nutritious meals together has quickly become one of our favorite (& yummiest) house activities

We made vegan, allergen-free coconut curry with rice and tempeh. Cooking nutritious meals together has quickly become one of our favorite (& yummiest) house activities.

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!

A Year of Firsts

I have eight days left of my freshman year at Juniata. It’s the perfect time to start reflecting on my first two semesters of college. My Google Photos app has been trying to convince me to look through the slideshow of my freshman year for like a month and there isn’t a better time than the present.

It was definitely a year of firsts.

There was my first college paper. It took four trips to the Writing Center and lots of caffeine but I managed a solid A-. Now, I can write a paper on my own with minimal caffeine intake and still earn myself an A.

I was dragged on my first trip to Sheetz and was pleasantly surprised. I was convinced that it wouldn’t live up to my beloved Wawa but I was proved wrong. An estimated 300 Mac & Cheese bites later and I still don’t regret it.

I skipped class for the first time and got caught skipping class for the first time. Completely unrelated, but still good advice: don’t tweet about skipping class to go see Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day and use your class hashtag.

Me and Phil

Me and Phil

I ate my first microwave cup of ramen noodles. It’s an interesting taste, definitely a meal to save for after you’ve eaten all your other food and you’re desperate to eat something because it’s 2am on a Saturday and you have a paper to work on.

I fell asleep on a public bench for the first time. It was just such a nice day and I was going to read my book for class out on the quad but the grass was still wet from the rain the day before. I dozed off and was awoken by the feeling of a stray volleyball hitting the back of the bench.

I went electrofishing for the first time. I never pictured myself wearing waders and a large yellow backpack while trying not to slip on the rocky bottom of the river while sending tiny electric shocks through the water to stun fish. It was a new experience that I didn’t think I would ever want to do – much less get the chance to do. Turns out fish are pretty cool.

My first year at college has been quite the roller coaster. I have learned many things that will be helpful in the future. Career services helped me create a resume to send out when I’m applying for internships this summer. I took a history class about Australia and New Zealand on a whim and now I’m applying to study abroad in New Zealand.  I also learned how to Photoshop photos of my dog so she’s wearing rain boots in my Intro to Information Technology class.

Advice that I wish I was given before starting my freshman year at Juniata? Participate in Campus Events –  Res Life has events all the time. I met one of my best friends at a cookie baking and coloring book night in the dorm lounge. Take Calculated Risks – explore your interests. Go rock climbing, join a research team, study abroad, or participate in an outreach project. Have an Open Mind – you might find out that Sheetz is better than Wawa or that Ramen noodles are the new instant mac & cheese. Get a Sheetz Rewards Card – you will earn tons of points which equals free food. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY! I can now say that I’ve been electrofishing, learned to salsa, read an extensive amount of Ernest Hemingway’s writing and attended a live reading done by the award-winning author, Jennifer Steil.

I would like to think that my first year at Juniata was a success. I will be heading into next semester more academically and mentally prepared and ready for whatever the world throws at me next.

Why I chose Juniata

Choosing a college was not easy for me. I visited at least twenty colleges, applied to eleven, got scholarships to seven, interviewed at three, and found my place at one. I’ve been on dozens of college tours. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in a college until I found it. I applied everywhere from Vermont to Florida. Each school had something different to offer.

 

I made a spreadsheet of quantitative and qualitative data from each of my college visits. I thought that a bunch of graphs were going to help me make my college decision. I had all of the statistics from each college: student population, professor to student ratio, four-year graduation percentage, transfer rate and tuition. I also had all the words that I would use to describe the college and I rated each of the campus services like dining, janitorial services and employee interactions.

 

After analyzing my extensive collection of data, I realized that the school that had the highest scores was the school that I least wanted to go to. I realized that just because the schools had great scores didn’t mean they were the greatest schools for me. I couldn’t base my college decision off of numbers; I had to base it on how I felt.

 

After my epiphany, I started narrowing down my potential colleges. I knocked out the ones that were obviously not the place for me. Then I looked at the student population. I didn’t feel like I was the big school kind of person. I don’t like getting lost in the crowd. Then I looked at location. All of the choices I had left were in a five-hour radius of my house so that didn’t help. I ended up thinking of the college tours and my experiences with admission counselors. Which one left me with the best impression?

why i chose

This gave me my final two schools: Washington College and Juniata College. Washington was only an hour away from my house and they offered me a great scholarship, an amazing apprenticeship, and great opportunities. Juniata was a four-hour drive from my house, offered me a pretty good scholarship, the ability to individualize my P.O.E. and explore countless topics, as well as an incredible community with people who were focused on helping me achieve the most for my future. As cheesy as it sounds, Washington had the money but Juniata had my heart.

 

Juniata was the college where I felt most comfortable during my visit to campus. The students were welcoming and friendly. The professors that I met made me feel like they actually wanted me to be successful. The concept of the P.O.E. rather than a normal major was extremely appealing because I had big dreams and I’m not sure I could have graduated from normal college without a quadruple major.

 

When I arrived at my orientation I knew I had made the right choice. I felt at home instantly. The people I met were wonderful, my orientation leaders showed me the ropes, my fellow incoming freshmen made me feel comfortable about my transition into college. When I came to Juniata, I knew I found my place.

 

Theatre Senior Capstones

Many college students spend hundreds of hours dedicated to creating their “senior thesis”. Some schools require it, some students pursue it as an independent study, and many present it at our ever-so-popular Liberal Arts Symposium. In the Theatre Department, we have a project called “Senior Capstones”. This capstone is an encapsulation of our four years at Juniata; where we’ve been and where we’re going. We are required to build a piece (whatever that may be) that we can take with us after graduating, and that reflects our future goals. For example, if you want to work in live theatre, creating your first short film as your capstones simply because it interests you may not be the most effective choice.
Performing my piece "Too Many Voices" during Senior Capstones.

Performing my piece “Too Many Voices” during Senior Capstones.

            For me, I have been in love with musical theatre since I was little and my career goals revolve around Broadway in New York City, so I knew I wanted to sing for my capstone. I also wanted to do something a bit different, something that would set me apart from other people. I began working on my capstone over a year ago, playing with different ideas and music and challenging myself with each step. I decided to play with recording my voice, and see what it would be like to harmonize with myself live on stage. And what better way to incorporate music and theatre than with a cabaret?
            I began selecting shows and pieces that I loved singing, or that told a story, that I could work with in some capacity. Some of the pieces I chose were solos, but others were more ensemble pieces with multiple characters singing. I will say it was a very ambitious project. I started with too much material that all felt cluttered and messy. I then began doing research, and watching other performers do original cabarets to get a sense of style and concept. Then I begam to write. I wanted the script to be natural, with the ability to talk freely instead of sticking to a scripted monologue. Instead of sitting and writing lines down, I recorded myself talking naturally, and then transcribed the lines that way, so that the text was comfortable and not forced. This entire process took a few weeks, and I eliminated pieces of music that didn’t fit with the emerging story as I went. It took a while for me to begin to put my piece on its feet, but luckily performing a solo cabaret requires little equipment or collaboration, so I was able to rehearse in my free time. Each senior was doing the same process as I was (creating a concept, writing a script, casting, etc.) so it was helpful to talk to one another. Every senior in the department met with the theatre professors every week as a group to discuss progress, questions, and feedback, so we were never left alone in our creative process. Once we started full-time rehearsals, we were all working together every night to further our individual pieces, as well as bring them together to create an evening showcase. We rehearsed for about two full weeks before bringing in our professors to observe, as well as an outside lighting designer. We incorporated lights, sound, and costumes for several rehearsals before we eventually opened the show to the public. We had two performances, as the Theatre Department’s contribution to the Liberal Arts Symposium.
            Not only was this process incredibly rewarding, but it was truly eye-opening for me. There were many tasks I assumed I would be able to do on my own, that I realized half-way through that I could not do. I made mistakes. I got feedback, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Instead of curling up and crying every time someone had something to say about my piece, I took it and asked myself how to make my piece better, or stronger, or clearer. I realized that writing, directing, and starring in your own show is hard. If I could do this process again, I would have brought in an outside director, who could watch my performance and give me specific notes (since it was impossible to step out and see how my piece looked). I would have changed our rehearsal format, and given myself more time to work in the space before bringing it all together. This process was long, strenuous, and tiring, but I learned so much about myself along the way. I created a beautiful piece of theatre that I hope to take with me and perform in the future. This piece combined my passion for musical theatre with my personal journey of self-discovery, all packable into a small carry-on suitcase. I owe everything to my professors, who act as my mentors, friends, and shoulders to cry on when I need it. They have taught me everything I know about acting, and I would not be here, feeling as intelligent and confident as I do if it was not for them.

Blogging from Abroad!

Long before I applied for colleges, I yearned to travel. While I was drawn to Juniata College by its community feel, beautiful campus, and flexible POE program, an important factor in my decision to attend the school was the excellent study abroad opportunities it offers. With the help of my academic advisor, I chose from the many countries and schools with which Juniata is connected. Now, as a junior I am studying at the University of Leeds in England and fulfilling my dream to travel.

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience. While the pre-study abroad meetings that occurred during the semester before I departed were essential and extremely helpful, there was nothing that could prepare me for the reality of studying abroad. Coping with culture shock, missing my family and friends, and acclimating myself to city life and a university with a student population nearly twenty times larger than Juniata’s were all issues that I could not previously understand. Amidst the struggle to cope though, I found new people, new places, and a new sense of self that could only be gained through study abroad.

An adventure in the English countryside.

An adventure in the English countryside.

Once I adjusted to living in England and attending class for only six hours a week, I began to travel with my roommates. The public transportation in England makes its beauty and history easily accessible. My roommates and I have spent weekends in Scotland and Germany and have taken day trips to many places including Bath, Oxford, and London. Less than two months ago, I stood before Stonehenge marveling at a man-made miracle I thought I would only ever see on a screen. In Berlin I touched history when I visited a site where part of the Berlin Wall still stands. As a Museum Studies and Art History major, I have spent countless hours strolling through museum exhibits and gazing upon masterpieces by artists such as Manet, Rothko, Ernst, Dali, Rodin, and others.

Despite the importance of these experiences, the life lessons I have learned while abroad are the greatest benefit of this program. I have set my own budget, carried groceries for miles, and dealt with the consequences of my professors striking for nearly a month. I have learned to plan ahead, manage bus and train schedules, ask strangers for directions, and laugh at myself for foolish mistakes. I have opened up to the once strangers who also live in my flat from Chicago, Holland, and Australia, and they have become some of the closest friends I will ever make. I have figured out the importance of family and community in my life and in the process learned that I have a strong support system at Juniata and at home even though I am an ocean away.

Studying abroad is as much a way to discover yourself as it is an opportunity to discover a new part of the world. It is an educational experience that cannot be measured in credits or dollars. I know it will be one of the greatest lessons I carry with me after graduation from Juniata College.

SCUBA for Spring Break

“Are you coming home for this spring break?” My parents ask. “Not this year, sorry mom and dad.” I respond. As someone who lives 500 miles from home, distance is usually the reason why I might not return home for breaks or long weekends. It’s an unavoidable day spent doing nothing but driving, and tends to get old quickly. But this year, I had the chance to go farther… 1000 miles further.

Nobody ever expects a small, rural, inland college to have a SCUBA club. Most people expect it to be a novelty, a space for misplaced sea-folk to commiserate about the trials of being landlocked. But at Juniata, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Along with events that introduce people to the joys of diving and yearly dive trips over spring break, SCUBA club also certifies divers with classes and pool dives. With more than 10 divers certified this year, SCUBA club had to go big.

Photo Credit Greta Hayden-Pless '18

Photo Credit Greta Hayden-Pless ’18

Our travels took us to midland Florida, where we dove and explored for a week. Most of our dives were in limestone caves and caverns which allow for beautiful, if somewhat harrowing diving. The dives are perfectly safe so long as you stay out of the more dangerous cave systems which are easy to get lost in; fortunately, all of these are well-marked and mapped. While bad weather forced us to cancel our ocean reef dives, we spent that time cavorting with manatees and paddling the beautiful Ichetucknee River in northern Florida before the long drive back.

The opportunities you’ll find at a niche place like Juniata are surprising, from research presentations in Oklahoma (where I’ll be headed the week after next) to diving in Florida. The mark of a true Juniatian, however, is how they face these opportunities. After a week with a dozen of my peers camping in hammocks, I’m happy to say that all of them deal cheerfully with the dreams that come with following one’s dreams—like in this case, the endless mosquitos and cold weather for camping.

–Written by Zach Hesse ‘18

National Women’s History Month: Juniata Alumni

March is Women’s History Month in the United States. All over campus we are having events such as “Boobie Bingo” and “Java, Poetry and Monologues” to celebrate great women in history and to bring attention to the women’s rights movement.

This past Saturday night I was in Baker Refractory for Boobie Bingo and they had placed pieces of paper on each table that had lists of notable women in history who were trailblazers. Women such as Pearl S. Buck who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature and Sandra Day O’Connor who was the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Reading about all these amazing women in history got me all motivated to do something great with my future. Maybe I’ll write a novel like 2014 Juniata graduate Natasha Lane or run for a political office like Carol Eichelberger Van Horn a ’79 graduate of Juniata who was the first woman elected to the Court of Common Pleas of the 39th Judicial District of PA.

After failing to win a single bingo game, I returned to my cozy dorm room and opened up my laptop to do some research. I scrolled through Juniata’s distinguished alumni page and read names and accomplishments such as Heidi M. Cullen, Ph.D. ’92  the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Communications, Climate Central, Princeton University; Former Host, “Forecast Earth with Dr. Heidi Cullen,” The Weather Channel and Former Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research and the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction or Miriam Smith Wetzel, Ph.D. ’52 a Faculty Member at Harvard Medical School; Member of the team that developed the new medical school curriculum and Winner of Miss Pennsylvania, 1952.

After reading about the forty or so women listed on the distinguished alumni list, I wanted to find out more about what women alumni of Juniata have achieved. I opened up my LinkedIn and found the Juniata Alumni page and started scrolling. There were hundreds of alumni and countless accomplishments for all of them. I can’t list them all here but some notable ones that I saw were women such as Clarissa P Diniz, a 2014 graduate of Juniata College who is currently studying at Johns Hopkins Medical Center; Kelsey Kohrs, an associate dolphin trainer and water science operator at Discovery Cove; and Heather Fisher a 2007 graduate who is now a facilitator on the Multi-Disciplinary Investigational Team for the District Attorney/Government.

Juniata provides you with the education and the opportunities to achieve great things. They offer chances for students to collaborate with professors on research projects and incorporate real life objectives into the classroom to help build your portfolio and your resume. All I can say is that in ten or twenty years, I plan to be one of the women on Juniata’s distinguished alumni list.

Link to the Distinguished Alumni Page: http://www.juniata.edu/about/distinguished-alumni.php

Finding a New Passion Through Mentorship and Guidance

At one of my recent lacrosse practices we did a team building activity where we all listed a hero of ours, a hardship we’ve faced, and a highlight of our life. It took all of us a pretty long time to brainstorm up a response to each of those categories, but during my thought process I tried to narrow things down and think about it in just the context of my Juniata career thus far (which isn’t that long considering that I’m only a sophomore) and I found that the answers to all three of those questions could be rooted back to one thing, one person.

Dr. Barlow on a panel discussing the U.S. Constitution.

Dr. Barlow on a panel discussing the U.S. Constitution.

I came into Juniata on a pre-medicine track set on becoming a doctor, it was what I had wanted since I was five years old. However, I also knew that I had other passions so despite being pre-med my POE was still in politics. But, the more politics courses I took the less sure I felt about going to medical school; I was enjoying Intro to American Government far more than my chemistry classes. It wasn’t until my first semester of sophomore year that I met the professor who really helped me sort all of that out, Dr. Jack Barlow. I was in his American Political Thought class and something about his teaching style and quiet but witty and sarcastic humor really appealed to me. I eventually asked him to be my adviser and I don’t think I’ve made a better decision yet at Juniata.

Dr. Barlow has helped me through one of the largest conflicts in my life. He helped me to realize that giving up the dream I’d held for fourteen years of my life wasn’t really a loss, but an opportunity to explore something that didn’t just fascinate me but that also made me happy. He’s the perfect blend of supportive and challenging as an adviser and as a teacher. I know for a fact that I couldn’t count on one hand, and maybe not even on two hands, the number of times I’ve gone into his office in crisis mode and left feeling completely relaxed. Something about his calming demeanor and his odd knack of always magically appearing when you’re stressed out beyond belief seems to be able to resolve any problem. Dr. Barlow is basically everything your high school teachers always said you won’t find in a professor- he’s understanding, approachable, supportive, and impressively interested in his students’ lives. He’s the kind of person who asks how you’re doing and actually wants an honest answer (he’ll even call you out if he thinks you’re lying). He’s pushed me not only academically or in class, but also on a personal level to help me realize and actualize future goals. Dr. Barlow has been one of the best parts of my Juniata career thus far, and I feel pretty lucky to go to a college where professors of his quality aren’t an anomaly, but rather are the majority.

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