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Advising at Juniata College

As I was enjoying my Spring Break and talking to some friends from high school, I noticed that my friends at other colleges are having a drastically different college experience than I am. I don’t mean that my friends don’t get to experience Storming of the Arch or Mountain Day or Liberal Arts Symposium. I understand that different schools have different traditions, but one of my friends who attends a large university said something that I couldn’t even fathom from my Juniata College mindset: he has never met his advisor face to face. Of course, this led to multiple problems with scheduling, internships, and degree requirements, but I couldn’t get over the fact that while I see both of my advisors multiple times per week, he has yet to meet his.

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

Me, my general advisor, and my friend at Madrigal

When I returned to campus and talked to my friends here about this strange phenomenon, they were all as surprised as I was initially. Juniata runs on a dual advisor system, meaning that all students from their second semester onward have both an academic and a general advisor. The academic advisor is from the student’s academic department, while the general advisor is a professor or faculty member from outside that department. Both my advisors are great; I’ve met with them (face to face) multiple times, had them for class, and received multiple letters of recommendation from both of them. With all that my advisors have done for me and how instrumental they’ve been in my college career, I was taken aback by a student one year ahead of me at another school saying that he doesn’t even know what his advisor looks like. When I asked if he thought my advising situation was as strange as I thought his, he said that Juniata’s advising actually sounded great.

I guess aspects of college like advising are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. I’ve heard students say that getting both advisors’ signatures on papers or forms is a bother, but I think that never seeing my advisor throughout my college career would be infinitely worse. The advising system at Juniata is a tad unusual in that it involves two advisors, but between my own personal experiences with my advisors and what my friends told me about advising at their schools, I am very grateful for the advising that I’ve received here at Juniata. I’ll be sure to thank my advisors for their work the next time I see them!


As my time in the Theatre Department was increased drastically throughout this year, I have become very close with many other members in the Theatre POE as well as the professors/directors. Although I was not directly a part this semester, I had the pleasure of watching several of my friends and one of my favorite professors on campus work together to create another absolutely incredible production of “Middletown”.

Julia Mathis, starring as the Librarian in "Middletown"

Julia Mathis, starring as the Librarian in “Middletown”

Directed by Professor Kate Clarke, the show is a dramatic comedy set in the town of Middletown, which is somewhere in the middle (humourous, right?) and describes the intersecting lives of the many quirky residents. Several actors play multiple characters, while some remain one character throughout the whole show. It was so much fun to see my friends transform into silly tourists, doctors, astronauts, librarians, and even a pregnant woman! As you can see, there’s a lot going on in this show!

Patrick Rutledge (left) and Kiah Mahy (right) in "Middletown"

Patrick Rutledge (left) and Kiah Mahy (right) in “Middletown”

One thing I love about the Theatre Department at Juniata is how small it is. It really allows the students to work closely with the professors inside and outside of class, and especially in the productions, which are directed by one of the professors each semester. I’ve already learned so many new techniques and skills just from the past two semesters in the Theatre Department, and it’s so fascinating to see those skills played out on stage by the performers. They also make it so easy to get involved in the show, even if you are not an actor that’s in cast. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes, with costume and set design, lighting, sound, and more. There are students involved from all different POE’s, from Biology to Communications to Politics. Working in the Theatre Department has also been a great way for me to meet new types of people and make many new friends.

Statue from the set of "Middletown"

Statue from the set of “Middletown”

The cast in “Middletown” is all very talented, and I would definitely recommend the showeven if you’re not into Theatre! The script is hilarious, the actors are stunning and the set is so beautiful! Middletown is overall an amazing production that is so incredibly executed by the Juniata Theatre Department. There are three more shows left (Thursday, Friday and Saturday night) and tickets are “pay what you can” (very convenient to the typical college student!). Attending Juniata Theatre productions is a must during your time on campus.

First Semester Survival Guide

TZ campus webIt’s that time of the season where the weeks are winding down and winter break is approaching. However, this is usually the time when everyone begins to stress about their assignments and cram for exams. As a freshman here at Juniata College, I was nervous about the college workload and my problems with procrastination taking a toll on my academics. Yet this semester I have managed to remain calm and organized with my schoolwork, which was a very pleasant surprise. I’d like to share my tips for managing assignments and reducing stress, while still being able to enjoy the semester!

Make a to-do list

I love being organized (color coding is really helpful!) and sometimes things tend to slip my mind. I like to take large sticky notes or pieces of paper and write out every assignment that is due that week, along with the due date and how long I plan to spend on each assignment. This way, I can get everything out of my head and on paper, and I can see potentially how much time I need to spend to complete my work.

Take breaks

It’s completely unrealistic to stay in your dorm room for nine hours straight writing an essay. People definitely do that, but I would not recommend it. Your brain can only focus on academics for so long. I like to set a timer, and work for a limited amount of time before I close my computer and do something else. For a distraction, I will watch an episode of my favorite show on Netflix, go to the gym, or go for a drive with my roommate. After a half hour or hour break, I will then return to my assignment, or work on a different class. I also really enjoy yoga because it’s physical and relaxing at the same time.


I cannot function if I’m not listening to music. A lot of people I know can’t focus with music; so if that is the case for you, continue your work in silence. A website I enjoy using is 8tracks.com, which has thousands of personalized playlists you can listen to. You can choose moods or activities that customize a playlist for you. When working, I like to listen to indie calm study playlists, but with this website you can listen to anything you want! I just know that music really helps me focus when I’m stressed or trying to work on big assignments.


One of the most important things regarding work is the classes you take. One of my favorite things about Juniata is the large number of classes, varying in all departments that we are able to take. At some schools, you can only take classes relating to your major. At Juniata, professors and advisers want us to broaden our horizons and take different types of classes. Although Juniata does have requirements across all departments, there are so many options of courses to take! It’s really important to take classes that will interest you, so completing work for these classes isn’t impossible. Right now I am enrolled in courses that I am incredibly passionate about, so taking ten pages of notes isn’t difficult at all, since I am interest in the topic. Taking classes that you will enjoy will definitely make completing assignments easier.

I hope these tips helped pick courses and plan your time for the rest of the semester and for future terms! Keep on working!


My Enthusiasm for Juniata’s Peace and Conflict Studies Department, Take 2


Juniata College recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Peace Chapel.

Juniata College recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Peace Chapel.

Within growing educational fields, I believe that the opportunity for rigorous research and discussion is absolutely vital. I have blogged in the past about my appreciation for the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) department here at Juniata College, and now from my senior vantage point, I think that it is important to mention a little something about research and how I have personally seen the department evolve. After all, an academic institution cannot remain static in its curriculum without falling behind in the ever-growing wealth of knowledge that exists in the world.

The field of Peace and Conflict studies is so exciting to me because its existence opens many, many doors when it comes to collaborative efforts towards peaceful campuses, societies, and interactions. As a Juniata student who has had the opportunity to work with the PACS faculty here, I feel lucky to understand that there are major shifts occurring in Conflict Resolution practice around the world. It is my belief that Juniata’s PACS representatives work hard to keep the curriculum extremely relevant to current work in the field. For example, this year Dr. Polly Walker has integrated a new course into the department’s repertoire that focuses entirely on the newer resources that are being developed for effective peace work. As a student in this new class, I feel as though the work is so important because it pulls us young, aspiring peace practitioners into the current dialogue of the field.

I could sing the praises of the PACS professors here for hours, but in the interest of maintaining a readable and coherent blog, I’ll restrain myself. I do want to add, though, that for anyone who wants to be actively involved in the current undertakings of the peace research world, Juniata has many resources. The work of the PACS initiative here at Juniata also spreads far beyond the Oller Center building on campus (where the department is located) and is working in exciting ways towards strengthening the fabric of our campus in a collaborative manner with other departments and the school’s administration.

My experience with the Peace and Conflict Studies department has helped shape who I am as a student and a person. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Am I Still Convinced That Juniata Was a Good Choice for Me?

I’ve found myself saying the phrase ‘Juniata is what you make of it’ a lot recently. It sounds like something I found on genericquotes.com : “Insert word here is what you make of it” (life, time, sweet potatoes, etc). So I questioned myself. Cliché phrases often don’t mean much once they’ve been dissected. But the more I think on it, the more certain I am that for me, my college experience has been what I’ve been able to make of it. And that is exactly why, when people ask me if going to Juniata has been worth it, my answer is a firm yes.

My reasons as to why are multi-faceted, but I will start with the fact that I will be graduating at the end of my 4-years with both an American and a French diploma. I understand that this is perhaps an accomplishment specific to my French POE, but I know for a fact that these kinds of extra achievements are not hard to come by at Juniata. If you are dedicated and passionate about what you study and your outside interests, you WILL find yourself involved in projects, trips and programs that you would not have encountered so directly at a bigger school.

Additionally, Central PA is beautiful.

Additionally, central Pennsylvania is beautiful.

I believe that an enormous catalyst for my experience has been the fact that my professors know me as Erika, an individual person, not just as a student. Juniata IS a small community in the grand scheme of things. If you participate in class (and most of the time, even if you don’t), it is inevitable that your professors will get to know you. They have worked hard with me to develop my skills as an independent thinker and intelligent human being. The connections that I have here with them will extend far beyond May of 2015 when I will graduate from Juniata.

Choosing to go to a private college or university is a scary, personal decision. It’s a financial undertaking and commitment to live the life of a student. Additionally, it requires confidence that your time will be fruitful and ultimately lead to better opportunities and connections. In my case, choosing to attend Juniata College was a choice that I will fervently stand behind and always be grateful for.

The Glass Menagerie

Andrew Kilpatrick (left), Lauren Dobbs (middle), and Megan Smith (right) in The Glass Menagerie.

Andrew Kilpatrick (left), Lauren Dobbs (middle), and Megan Smith (right) in The Glass Menagerie.

As a theatre POE, it’s my goal to participate in as many productions as possible, or at least attend the ones I’m not a part of. Tonight I had to opportunity to attend Juniata’s production of The Glass Menagerie, a play by Tennessee Williams. I decided not to audition for this show in fear of over-scheduling myself at the beginning of my first semester. After seeing the play, and all of the hard work the cast and crew has put into it however, I am seriously regretting my decision not to be involved.

The cast of The Glass Menagerie is a small, four characters. Andrew Kilpatrick plays Tom, the protective poetry-writing brother who works to support his family. Megan Smith is Laura, the incredibly shy, crippled sister who believes she will never amount to anything. Lauren Dobbs plays Amanda, the faded southern belle mother who struggles to accept the flaws of her children. Finally, a friend of mine, Jamison Monella is Jim, an old high school acquaintance who strives for success and love in his adult life.

I’ve been taking two theatre classes this semester, and have become very close with my teacher and academic adviser Kate Clarke. We spoke about the production and how incredible the shows at Juniata always are, so I knew I had to see the show for myself. I was blown away. I’m used to seeing musical theatre productions with large casts of at least forty, with show-stopping musical numbers and intricate choreography. The Glass Menagerie was not one of those shows. This production gave off an eery, realistic vibe that pleasantly surprised me. The acting done by my fellow peers was phenomenal! The students seemed comfortable, and were incredibly believable on stage. It’s hard to truly justify the talent I witnessed tonight, so if you get the opportunity to attend this show or any other theatre production Juniata offers I definitely recommend trying to see one.

As we progress into the midway point of the semester, I have been able to think about how I’ve been doing so far at Juniata, and what I can do to better enjoy myself here. The first thing I always think about is getting more involved in the events going on around campus, and especially in the Theatre Department. Although I don’t think I will have time to participate in the other performances occurring this semester, I am definitely making sure to audition next semester!

Tuesdays, aka, Nagengast Days

One of the first things that anyone entering Juniata will learn is who Dr. Nagengast is. The first thing you will hear about him is that he is the scariest professor on campus. The second thing you will hear is that he is the reason why students change their POE from Politics to anything else. And the last thing you will hear is that he is the reason why students leave his classes crying.

My first encounter with Dr. Nagengast was on my first day of classes for my freshman year for a class called African Development. After taking a class with Nagengast and going on his study abroad trip to The Gambia, I now consider him to be one of the best professors anyone could be lucky to meet.

Dr. Nagengast at a hospital in the Gambia.

Dr. Nagengast at a hospital in the Gambia.

Going into the spring semester of my sophomore year, Nagengast gave me a list of classes to take for my POE in International Development. It just so happens that I am in every one of his classes this semester. At first, I was nervous that I would die of exposure to too much Nagengast. On Tuesdays, I am in class with Nagengast from 10:30am-3:00pm. Luckily, Nagengast likes me enough to let me be a little late for class so I can quickly grab lunch.

Many of my friends tell me I’m crazy for taking all of his classes at once, but I couldn’t imagine a better schedule. Taking Nagengast’s Intro to International Politics, African Politics, and Political and Cultural Modernization at the same time makes me appreciate Nagengast for all that he does. It’s so interesting to see how each of these classes can connect to each other. In every class that Nagengast teaches, he gives different lectures with the same greatness that could never put someone to sleep.

For anyone who has never taken a Nagengast class, I would highly recommend taking one. Don’t be scared, Dr. Nagengast is one of the best and kindest professors any student could ever meet, as long as you do the class reading of course.

Juniata to Dental School

Hanging out with friends.

Hanging out with friends.

During my college search I was looking for somewhere similar to what you seem to be looking for: a unique place with an engaging and challenging curriculum. I wanted to be certain that the school I attending would prepare me for my future and help me attain my career goals. I’m from Mooresville, North Carolina, but my search lead me all over, including Pennsylvania. After many campus visits and a lot of deliberation, I chose Juniata College.

If you are under the impression Juniata College is your “typical liberal arts school,” I assure you, it isn’t. I have talked with family, friends, and strangers about my experience at Juniata College, and have yet to hear of someone having a similar or better experience. In fact, the responses tend to fall more along the lines of, “Really!? I wish my school was like that.” Yet, the experience that has made me most appreciative of Juniata College was the one I have had applying to dental school.

I can’t say it wasn’t stressful, because it was – every single step of the way. But being at Juniata College made a huge difference. We have the most supportive staff I could imagine. Every single person that works here is determined to see you succeed. Not only that, but the other students here create an amazing tight knit community. From freshman year, my classmates and I have helped each other to persevere and succeed. We all support and encourage one another, and every one of us benefits. On top of that, Juniata College has a pre-health professions adviser that devotes almost all her time to figuring out what you need to get where you want to go.

As I was interviewing at dental schools this past fall, I talked with my fellow applicants about my experience. Every single one was impressed with the experience I had had at Juniata. Even better than that, every single program I interviewed at seemed to be pretty impressed as well, because I was accepted to all of them. I’ve decided to go to the UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, one of the top schools in the country.

So now as I recall the pressure in choosing the “right” school, I am happy to say I have always been happy that I chose Juniata College. Many of my friends and peers here have had similar experiences: my roommate is also pre-dental and is planning to attend the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Many of my friends are pre-med and having been receiving acceptances all semester. There are about 30 pre-health students in my class, and I feel like I am constantly hearing from everyone about where they are deciding to go. Not just that, but I honestly think we have all really enjoyed our time at Juniata College, and while we may be anxious to pursue our respective professions, we all wish we could stay here just a bit longer because we have loved it so much.

Dressed up for Madrigal

Dressed up for Madrigal

I think this is in part because of how much Juniata College has to offer. Being at Juniata allowed me to be more than just a “pre-dental” student. In my time here I have participated in everything from Archery club to Habitat for Humanity. I swam for the varsity women’s swim team. I studied abroad in New Zealand and had an amazing experience. I have joined my peers in our awesome traditions (if you haven’t heard about Madrigal, Storming of the Arch, or Mountain Day they are definitely worth looking into!) In summary – I have had an amazing, unique, fulfilling experience at Juniata College, both socially and academically. I am so glad I chose to come here and couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.

1000 Dinners

Me and ______

Me and Jon Atland

Here at Juniata College, having a cultural experience doesn’t necessarily mean going abroad. There are tons of opportunities to interact with new foods, ideas and languages right on campus (or in Huntingdon). This past weekend, I participated in the Night of 1000 Dinners led by our Peace and Conflict Studies Club, PAX-O. For the event, Juniata professors volunteered to host a number of students at their houses and cook them dinner and Juniata students paid a small ticket fee to attend. This year, PAX-O partnered with another club, Nourish International, and allowed students to go to a ton of different professors’ houses, and even our own President’s house, for a meal. It serves the dual purpose of fundraising for PAX-O and Nourish International and giving students the opportunity to get to know their professors on a more personal basis outside of class. This year, the event raised more than $400 that was split between Nourish’s Sustainable Development project for this summer and the UN Refugee Agency.

A traditional Kyrgyz Meal

A traditional Kyrgyz Meal

Mmmm!  German chocolate cake!

Mmmm! German chocolate cake!

I, along with a group of my fellow History department members, signed up to go to Jim and Belle Tuten’s house. Jim and Belle are both History professors at Juniata and, having gone to their house last year for this event, I knew that the food would be great and the company would be even better. Jim teaches the “History of Food” and is rather well known as one of the best chefs amongst the Juniata faculty. This year, he and Belle made a traditional Kyrgyz dish with homemade bread and salad, with German chocolate cake for dessert. None of us had ever eaten any type of Kyrgyz meal. My freshman year, the Tutens hosted an international student from Kyrgyzstan who taught them how to make the traditional dish of his country. It’s a rice-based dish which can be made with lamb or beef; Jim made it with beef for us that night and it was absolutely delicious. It was spicy, but delicious.

It was delicious!

It was delicious! (Emma Campbell and Colleen Wall)

The dinner was a lot of fun. Jim and Belle knew all the students that attended and we talked about a variety of things, getting into discussions about books and old films and classes we’re taking or might be taking next semester. They know us well enough to talk about our families and our lives outside of class, too. One of my favorite things about the History department, and Juniata in general, is how relaxed the professors are and how easy they are to talk to. They genuinely care about their students and advisees and although we were all guests for the night, it felt like I was part of their family. We hung out with their two sons and played with their very lovable cats and it was a Saturday night very well spent.

Belle and Jim Tutten with their boys.

Belle and Jim Tutten with their boys Tom and Oscar.

Real World Experience for Juniata Business Students

At Juniata College there are many different types of out of the classroom opportunities that students can take advantage of. A majority of the departments use a “hands-on” approach to learning, trying to give students real world experience before graduation. For example, students in the Accounting, Business, and Economics department just returned from a finance case competition at McDaniel College. In this competition, seven different colleges and universities were given a company’s financial information and students from each college were to present analysis and a recommendation if the company should invest in a particular international project.

Juniata College Business Students Compete at McDaniel College

Juniata College Business Students Compete at McDaniel College

While in a conference room at McDaniel, the case was treated like a real world experience. Teams were judged based on their relevance of analysis and content. In fact, the case that the students worked on actually happened in 2006 and one of the judges was a financial executive from the company highlighted in the case. After the presentations were over, the students were able to interact with the judges and students from other schools, providing a great networking opportunity for Juniata students. The departments were judged, in which Juniata placed third out of seven.
The opportunity was brought to them by the professors in business department. For a month the five students prepared a presentation and financial analysis and delivered their final product to ten judges on October 23.
Opportunities like this are available for students in many of the departments across campus. The professors at Juniata understand that real world experience as an undergraduate not only looks good on a transcript for graduate and Ph.D. programs, but is more beneficial than reading from any textbook. In my opinion, this adds a new dimension to the educational experience provided at Juniata College.


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