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What will Juniata be like in the fall?

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23
“Knowing that we will be back on campus in the fall with in-person classes because of our success this past year is exciting, and I am hopeful that our new normal will continue to evolve and include some of our old normal as well.”

There really are no words to describe the climate of the past year and a half. We can try and search for words to succinctly describe the chaos of our lives, but no words seem to really summarize the world changing under us overnight. We can try “life-changing,” but that seems too generic. We can try “confusing,” but that seems like too-simple of a word to describe all the ways that the world has shifted and will continue to shift. We can try “heartbreaking,” but this word never fully encapsulates the feeling of what it means to lose someone. In so many ways, the past year and change has been a whirlwind whipping past us while in others, it feels like time is minute grains of sand slowly slipping through an hourglass.

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5 things I’ve learned after working in the admissions office for a semester

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

Every time I tell someone that I work in the admission office, I’m immediately met with the statement “Oh, so you’re a tour guide?” I have never once given a tour (the fear of getting embarrassingly out of breath walking up a hill makes this an incredibly unappealing endeavor to me). My role in the admissions office is much more behind the scenes where I work directly under two of our admission counselors here on campus (shoutout to Kat and Molly!). There is so much that happens in the admissions office beyond just giving tours and mailing out acceptances every spring. As a student working in the admissions office for the first time this year, here are 5 of the biggest things that I learned about admissions that I never knew before.

1. Admission counselors are people too

Kat Swantak, Assistant Dean of Admission

I know from my own college decision journey I never once thought about the people behind all of the college communications I was receiving for three years. It can be easy to picture a faceless person behind the computer sending you thousands of emails and letters, but it’s actually the opposite. The admissions team at Juniata is full of a wide range of personalities who are incredible people you get the chance to know – take advantage of them and all they have to offer!

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The laments of a college athlete during a pandemic

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

Being an athlete has always been a key piece of my identity. Now I fully recognize that that might immediately cast me in a particular light, but in all honesty, it is completely true. Everyone has that thing about them that makes life feel a little fuller and the world feel a little brighter. Since I was three years old, the world of sports has been a comfort, a safe space away from the troubles always looming close by. Having the ability to make the decision to continue playing softball in college is one that I was incredibly thankful for, and even though my experience has been incredibly nontraditional in so many ways, the role of being an athlete for Juniata has already made such an impact on who I am as a person.

So, what do you do when that safe space is suddenly ripped away from you in a matter of hours? An injury is one thing – a rational explanation that albeit awful, it at least creates a smoother tear in the wounds of your life. But what do you do when a global pandemic shut everything down for six months? I, along with athletes all over the world, lost 210 innings of softball I will never again get the chance to play. I lost practice hours, time with my teammates, and the chance to play the sport that has meant so much in my life. And while I am incredibly lucky at the prospect of getting to play my sophomore year, I am still losing out on a traditional season once again.

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Reflecting on my first semester during COVID-19

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

I was in Florida on spring break with my teammates when we all first learned that we would not be returning to campus for two weeks. We had no idea at the time that we would not see each other again in person for almost six months. This is not a wildly unique experience I had – high schoolers and college kids alike missed out on their senior years, sport seasons, time with family members and friends, and the long list of experiences a person has while they are still young. The pandemic we have all been trudging through for the last year has put life on hold in so many ways, and yet life at Juniata has not become all that different as many of us thought it would.

I was ecstatic to come back to campus for in-person learning. Attempting to learn from a computer screen in my childhood bedroom hours away from campus for the second half of the spring 2020 semester was neither productive for me academically nor for my mental health. When I found out that Juniata was expecting to make a full return to campus, I – along with every single person that I told from home – was doubtful to say the least. How would a small liberal arts school in the (in what they like to say) “middle of nowhere” be able to control local outbreaks without endangering staff or the local community? How did we expect college kids to listen to all the rules in place? I bet we’d be on campus for three weeks max (which was very noticeable in what I chose to pack). And for maybe the first time in my life, I was very happy to be wrong about something. We were able to stay completely in person for the entire semester!

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What I wish I knew – Madison Wrightstone ’23

Madison Wrightstone
Madison Wrightstone ’23

I wish I knew what I needed to say.

I wish I knew how to start a paper about myself.

I wish I knew how to write without being cheesy.

I wish I knew what kind of person I would become.

I wish I knew how my identity would shift into something entirely new.

I wish I knew that I would become a better friend, daughter, sister. 

I wish I knew that I would meet some of the people that would change me the most.

I wish I knew that it was okay to mess up and not be 100% certain in everything.

I wish I knew myself in high school to tell her everything will be okay.

I wish I knew that Juniata would make me who I wanted to be all along.

There are so many things that I wish I knew when I began my college search. Being the first kid in my family to go to college on top of being an intense over-thinker made these years filled with lots of crying, spreadsheets, and trying to rationalize a million different factors I didn’t even know how to begin to comprehend everything. You always dream about going to college, but you never realize that those same dreams lead to some of the most intense headaches. Getting sucked into the tornado that is choosing the “perfect college for you” is a force that leaves your head spinning and you craving the solace of solid ground and certainty once again.

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