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How Juniata is thriving during the pandemic

Theo Weinberger
Theo Weinberger ’21, Multi-Sport Athlete

How is it possible that at Juniata, despite CoVID restrictions, I’m allowed to compete in the annual Bailey Oratorical speech contest in person? I get to eat food at Baker celebrating Mardi Gras at a table with four of my friends?  Juniata students are in the fortunate position of having found a new normal during the CoVid19 public health crisis while keeping our on-campus students’ test positivity rate– our rate of infection –just around 1%. Through the extraordinary performance by our school, faculty, and most importantly, our students, we’ve been able to enjoy what many other colleges cannot at this time.

Of course, if your school is like most high schools or colleges across the U.S., these privileges may seem unbelievable for you.  Dining, sports, being with friends? The option for in-person classes that maintain the quality of education that has been more familiar and effective than SOME online classes have been for many? How is it possible?

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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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Juniata Esports: We Work Hard and Game Hard

Theo Weinberger
Theo Weinberger ’21, Multi-Sport Athlete

Just like there is no one “right way” for a person to go about finding their place in the Juniata community, I didn’t join the JC Eagles Esports team the “right way.” I didn’t have any knowledge of who or what would be waiting for me when I followed the flyer leading me to the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Team tryouts. As I meandered through the front door of the ESports Lounge neighboring the Tussey and Terrace Dorms, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be on the team yet. This doubt disappeared when the team captain invited me to take part in the tryouts.

The Juniata College ESports Lounge
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Reinventing yourself the Juniata way

Jules Slater
Jules Slater ’21, Advocacy Communication POE, Future Mayor of Picklesburgh

“College is a time to reinvent yourself.”

If only I could count how many times I’ve heard that phrase. Honestly, I thought the idea of reinventing yourself just because you’re headed to a place where no one knows your name was silly

The more I think about this now, I realize that “reinventing myself” is exactly what I’ve done. Well, by “reinventing” I don’t mean in a way that I completely changed who I am because I didn’t like who I was in high school and I had this chance to switch it up completely. It was more like I started evolving into a more well rounded person when I started to settle in at Juniata.

At the start of my freshman year, I told myself, as I’m sure many do, that I would try to push myself socially. My head was filled with key phrases like, “Get involved!” and “Make the most of it!” I was determined to do both of those things.

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Thank You, Juniata

Maggie Peck
Maggie Peck ’21 Biology/ Pre-Dentistry POE

As a senior, my time as a Juniata College student is quickly coming to an end. As I prepare for my next steps in life, I wish to reflect on all that Juniata has given me.

I will miss these peaceful mornings on campus.

Firstly, I have received a comprehensive, quality education. When searching for a college, I was looking for an academically focused institution. As an aspiring dentist, I wanted to go somewhere that would prepare me for professional school. Through my visits at Juniata, I felt assured that this was the right place to continue my education. I knew that I would be challenged intellectually while having opportunities to explore my own curiosities and interests. My experience has exceeded all of my expectations. The faculty members at Juniata have expressed their genuine interest in my success, which has allowed me to thrive in this educational environment. I feel confident and exceptionally prepared moving forward, and hope to find the same cohesive, supportive environment in dental school.

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