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Spring is often seen as a season of new beginnings. The dead limbs of the trees burst back to life and the dandelions become prolific. It’s a seson of sunshine and happiness after the dark and cold and dreary days of Winter. For some, however, it can be a season of melancholy. I am of course talking about the Seniors who will be graduating in thirteen days. Yes, graduation is supposed to be a happy affair, a celebration of achievement over the past four years and all the achievement that the future holds for the graduating class. It is also a bittersweet affair because while the graduating class is going off to change the world, their graduation marks the end of a very remarkable era.
I am a Junior here at Juniata and with each passing day I become more and more preoccupied with my own impending graduation. There are so many things that I need to do in the next year to be even remotely ready to graduate. I need to take the GRE so I can apply to Graduate schools, I need to apply to Graduate schools, write a thesis on the research that I have done here at Juniata, and try to have as much fun in the next year as I possibly can.
I am not a fan of clichés, especially in writing, but I do believe that college is one of the best times of your life. I didn’t come to terms with this realization until the beginning of last semester. I was not having any fun. Now that’s not to say I stayed in my room and did homework all the time; I did manage to get out periodically, but I never did anything that was outside my comfort zone, nothing that challenged me to grow as a person. So, I decided to change that. The one thing that I do not want to do is walk across the front steps of Halbritter a year from now and wish I had done more during my undergraduate years.
Your Resident Assistant is as important to your freshmen year as the friends you make during those first few weeks on campus. The RA is not just big brother listening at the door for shenanigans, they are also a friend and mentor. I have been an RA for the past two years and I can honestly say that if I had to go back and do it all again, I would still choose to be an RA. I have gained an overabundance of leadership experience and I have also gotten to meet and build relationships with some pretty amazing people.
Among those great people are the Resident Director Brett Greene, Residential Life Coordinators Kevin Turner and Jason Francey, our Director Tasia White and Penny Hooper-Conway. First, Penny is a saint. She is our Associate Director of Reslife and she is the glue that holds the office together. She has been there the longest and her experience shows (and is much appreciated) during times of high stress, like Room Draw. Tasia, the Director of Reslife is new to her position but not new to Juniata. I spoke with her last semester when she was applying for the job and her passion for Reslife and her love for Juniata are the main reasons that I recommended her for the position (though as a lowly RA my input probably had little to do with her hiring).
As freshmen, the RLC you’ll encounter most Is Kevin Turner. As the Senior RA of Sherwood Hall, it has been my pleasure to work alongside Kevin this past year to develop the freshmen community in that building and across all our first-year buildings. Next year he’ll be working with Senior RAs Becca and Ellie, in Sunderland and Sherwood respectively, to continue to grow the communities in those buildings and improve upon the programming that we offer.
The most exciting thing about next year is the staff. We have biochemists and zoologists, an expert bowler (with his own perfectly white bowling shoes) and a lacrosse player, a member of the Juniata Concert Choir and a kid who likes to ride bikes a little too much (though I can’t talk because I run a lot so…). We have a diverse staff and we all have very diverse interests and personalities. What we do have in common is a love for Juniata and the drive to make others feel as welcome here as our RA’s made us feel when we were freshmen.