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Juniata’s Center for International Education (CIE) is an office that maintains and administers international programs including Study Abroad, International Student Services, Intensive English, and exchange programs. I have been working in the office as a student worker since the summer of 2021. What I have done so far includes: making a podcast for incoming international students, managing international student orientation at the beginning of the semester, creating study abroad information by country, and organizing various on-campus events for international education. The workplace is very comfortable, and I love the people I work with.
Working in the CIE, I have made a lot of connections on campus. At international student orientation, the CIE welcomed about 70 new students from all over the world. During 3-day orientation, I talked with all of the students, and, thanks to this opportunity, I still hang out with them or have a talk whenever we see each other. Some of them knew about me before coming to the campus through the podcast that I made in summer, which was surprising and made me happy. As the CIE runs various international events on campus, I see a lot of the international students at those events. We have been trying to create a space for anyone to come and enjoy the international/intercultural community. At the International Music/Dance Festival, one of the events that one of my co-workers and I hosted during International Education Week, the participants were dancing, singing, and listening together to appreciate music as a tool to connect people. They enjoyed learning about other cultures.
The CIE supports multiple events throughout the year. Multicultural Story Fest is one of the biggest events, an annual cultural celebration of art, music, dance, poetry, and more. This event showcases students from around the world and all of their talents and passions. We also have a fashion show, where you can see beautiful, colorful, and traditional clothing. As an international student from Japan, I participated in this event last year. It was a great opportunity for anyone to appreciate the diversity and cultures all over the world.
Another big event that the CIE runs is Study Abroad Fair. Usually held in September, international students and study abroad returners promote the programs to the students who are interested in studying abroad at Juniata, sharing their own experiences. Even if you do not have any plans or interests, just stopping by the event and talking with other students is great inspiration to make a first step toward studying abroad.
In the future, the CIE is going to run more events for the campus community to learn and enjoy international/intercultural communication and cultural exchange, while providing students with various opportunities for study abroad. In working to create a more globalized campus community, we are always open to any voices and participation from the students, faculty, and staff.
A report released this month by Allied Market Research starts with the quote, “The surge in demand for clinical diagnostics and personalized medicines play a major role in the growth of the bioinformatics market.”
This optimism is echoed throughout a September Global newswire release that states, “The Worldwide Bioinformatics Industry is Expected to Reach $21.8 Billion by 2026.”
Keeping that in mind, Bioinformatics degrees are a hot topic of conversation among potential graduate students. Coupled with the fact that the United States is poised to lead that growth, college campuses around the country are ramping up their bioinformatics program(s). There is no doubt that COVID-19 led to bioinformatics as a term becoming more of a household name, especially as (subjects around) clinical diagnostics are now prime-time news. Moreover, with more manufacturing companies entering the medical field, hiring for innovation in bioinformatics continues to surge.
Juniata’s well-known strengths in biology, computer science, and data science are leveraged not only by the faculty facilitating the bioinformatics program but also by the students enrolled in the program. Thus, opportunities for relevant course enrollment exist, and the ability to mine knowledge and resources from these related disciplines makes for a rich and engaging experience.
At Juniata, we are focusing on creating an environment that fosters a growing number of internship and employment opportunities with local biotechnology and bioinformatics companies for those that enter this program. This allows us to both create and maintain an innovative approach to learning. It also provides our students with sought-after opportunities.
Jason Moran, Vice President for Enrollment, shares, “One of the most exciting things about being part of our Graduate Programs is innovation. Graduate programs allow students to engage in education that is part of what is happening now. In a way, it is like being a part of history. In bioinformatics, our graduate students are learning and participating in things that are changing the world. That is important.”
We encourage potential graduate students to have one-on-one conversations with the program directors and counselors before picking your school. The people matter in your selection process; those relationships with companies and professors that are part of this surge may make all the difference. Next, look for schools where innovation drives their bioinformatics program. The need for bioinformatics (professionals) is here to stay, so those differentiators will matter when it comes to being hired. Finally, look to build up your resume as you learn. We believe we can help with that.
For more information on Juniata College Graduate Programs and our Bioinformatics Degree, go to https://www.juniata.edu/academics/graduate-programs/bioinformatics.php.
Summer Research in Physics
Before coming to Juniata, I hadn’t thought I would or could do physics research as an undergraduate. Luckily, I was proven wrong! This past summer, I had the opportunity to work in the physics department on an awesome project involving stars! My job was to collect and analyze data on binary stars, systems of two stars that orbit around each other. The data I used was photometric, meaning it related the intensity of the light my target stars gave off. Along with another girl in my department, we created light curves which graph the star system’s brightness across time. We completed a total of six curves this summer. From these curves, we found estimates for the system’s period and measures in the differences between their maxima (when the system is brightest). In the future, we can also use this data to calculate estimates for the mass-ratio and temperature of these stars.
This may sound boring to some, but my job didn’t just consist of graphing points on a curve! My research partner and I read papers, learned how to use new software, assembled telescopes, aligned those telescopes, learned about new constellations, and showed other students craters on the moon. While a fair bit of our work involved clicking buttons, we also got to travel and do some more hands on work. We collected data using a set of remotely-operated telescopes at the Sparks Farm Robotic Observatory which is owned by the college. Sometimes, our tech broke, so we drove down and spent the night running scripts and unscrewing things. By the end, I had mastered the art of falling asleep in a car.
Summer on Campus
Though Juniata is a small school, plenty of other research students were around this summer. Every Wednesday, research students would break from their work and meet in the von Liebig Center for Science. These afternoons, we listened to alumni and postdocs share their research findings and experience. They worked on everything from how nuts affect your gut flora to how birds in the Galapagos are becoming resistant to antibiotics. It was super interesting to hear from alumni, one of whom was actually a Goldwater Fellow. And the lunches were catered! We mainly got lunch from Lil New York, which never disappointed (except maybe for the olives in the empanadas…).
Beyond meeting for weekly lunches, the research students on campus met with those studying at the Field Station for s’mores and canoeing at Raystown Lake. Even though the lake is manmade, the area is super beautiful! Paddling through the mountains after scarfing down four s’mores was incredibly relaxing. Some of us also celebrated the 5th of July with other students working as tour guides on campus.
Presenting My Research
As the summer fun and research wrapped up, it was time to present! My research partner and I presented our findings at the Landmark Research Symposium, a symposium for undergraduate researchers belonging to Juniata’s sports conference. I was nervous for my first real research presentation—especially one online—but it went well! My partner and I successfully fielded questions from professors and some chemistry students. Our sponsor has plans for us to present at an AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) meeting, along with the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics and National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Though I’m super excited to present at more conferences, I still can’t believe our work is quality enough to do so!
Finally, a note about funding. Juniata has many opportunities for funding summer research, whether through department money or through other programs. Half of stipend was paid through the department, while the other half came from the Student Scholarly Initiative at Juniata. The SSI exists to offer assistance with research and travel funds. As a recipient of such assistance, I have the privilege and obligation of presenting at Juniata’s Liberal Arts Symposium. This is a spring event in which Juniatians can present their research and theses via poster or presentation to other students and professors.
I’m grateful to my department and sponsor for this research opportunity. This semester, I plan to continue observation on new targets visible in Pennsylvania’s winter sky. To other students, especially in the sciences, reach out to your professors for research opportunities. Professors are almost always willing to take you on their projects. The experience is well worth it, especially at Juniata.
Organizations that survived the pandemic had to address and meet new expectations amongst their employees; for example many wish to maintain the ability to work from anywhere, communicate digitally, address social change, and remain innovative. The companies who continued to thrive during COVID often already had cultures of resiliency and innovation which they were, quite simply, able to put to work.
In a recent study done by the AACSB, the results echoed this, 1
“Respondents believe leadership skills such as openness, empathy, resilience, and the ability to communicate will be of greater importance post-crisis. Pre-pandemic,13 percent would have pointed to resilience as a necessary leadership skill; post-pandemic, that number increases to 34 percent. Other front-runner competencies that will help leaders navigate the new normal are core humane skills such as altruism and mindfulness, according to respondents.”(more…)
As I set down the book of my Juniata Experience, I reflect on the many lessons I gleaned over my four years at Juniata College. From graduating with an individualized Program of Emphasis to coming to terms with being a student-athlete throughout COVID-19, here are some lessons I’ve learned at JC.
Don’t fret about what comes next. Even during my first year, there were students who had clear plans about what they wanted to do after graduation – going to law school, medical school, teaching or more. By my junior and senior year even more of my peers had plans set in stone. I was different. Sitting at my desk for hours each week brainstorming ideas, I still didn’t feel that same drive to commit to some idea of who I want to be that I wasn’t fully on board with. It wasn’t until my last semester of college that same drive to decide finally came. It’s okay not to know what awaits you after Juniata, but once something motivating jumps out, make sure to grab on to that next adventure and hold on tight!
Motivation can come from anywhere. This lesson I learned from the journey leading up to my next adventure after college. I’ve vacationed outside the US before, but never lived elsewhere for an extended period of time. When COVID-19 crushed my opportunity to study Communications abroad in Germany in Summer 2020, I felt even more motivated to travel overseas. I briefly held out hope that a reprieve would come in the form of a trip to Brazil for my men’s volleyball team to play in a preseason tournament my final semester. Not surprisingly, even that was postponed. In the winter when I was given the chance to continue both my academic and athletic career by getting a Master’s Degree in England, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Although the decision was my own, the opportunity given to me came thanks to the complete higher education experience that I underwent at Juniata. And, the motivation driving my leap of faith to move overseas to earn an MA was thanks to the strong encouragement to study abroad and opportunities for travel at Juniata that I was sad to have missed.
Live in the moment was the most important lesson I learned from Juniata. When people told me freshman year that four years will pass in the blink of an eye, I had no idea what they meant. It wasn’t possible then for me to see that one day soon, I would be walking across the stage to pick up my diploma, saying so long to the halls of BAC and having an especially sentimental final meal at Baker. It’s sad when the chapter titled ‘College’ in the book of our lives closes but part of living in my new present means living with our connection to Juniata.
As an alumni I expect to stay connected with both the lessons learned and people met through my alma mater. And when it’s your turn to leave the nest, I hope you don’t forget your eagle family either.