My name is Terri Bollman-Dalansky, Senior Associate Dean of Admission, and even though I graduated from Juniata in 1985, I’m still here.
When I drive to work, I have flashbacks of my mother, older sister (who was already in college), and me traveling to Juniata for my campus visit almost 40 years ago. It was the middle of May of my junior year of high school, and I was on a whirlwind tour of visiting over 13 colleges.
We haphazardly weaved through the town of Huntingdon, desperately trying to find the admission office, worrying that we’d be late for our appointment. My mom was so confused by the number of one-way streets downtown. She was probably thinking, “Why on Earth would such a small town have so many one-way streets?” At one point we were even on a cobblestone road heading up a hill toward a cemetery!
When we finally found the town again, and began heading in the right direction, I looked at the store fronts of all of the Mom-and-Pop shops and urged my mother to turn around and head straight back home. I knew that there was nothing normal about this place. One-way roads? No mall? No outlets? You see, I grew up in the outlet capital of the world, Reading Pennsylvania, so needless to say this came as a bit of a shock. At home I could ride my bike to the Berkshire Mall which was only four miles from our house. Huntingdon just didn’t look like anything I was familiar with and I thought, “If I go to school here, where will I shop!?”
My mom told me, “Keep an open mind, Terri. Your cousin Dee Dee went to Juniata and she loved it!” So she parked the car, and we headed for the front door of the admission office (which I have no problem finding now of course). After taking a campus tour led by an extremely cute guy (I wonder what his name was?) and talking with an admission counselor who clearly showed interest in me beyond my academic profile and extracurricular accomplishments, I was hooked.
I quickly learned that coming to Juniata meant being part of a community of people who wouldn’t assume anything about me just by my clothes, my high school transcript, or my accomplishments. I learned that coming here meant being part of a community that wanted to know the real me, the deeper me. They wanted to help me discover who the real me actually was, and they wanted me to be proud of it. At first, something about that didn’t feel normal to me, but boy did I want to live in that world.
From that point on Juniata was at the top of my college list. So I applied, was accepted, and the rest is history. When I say “history” I mean it, because Juniata has had a very strong presence in my life for 37 years. Shortly after I graduated from Juniata, I found my calling in college admissions, and during my job search I discovered Juniata all over again. I can proudly say that I’ve been in admissions at Juniata for 33 years.
So, you might be asking yourself, “Why has her entire professional life been working in Juniata’s admission office?” The answer? It’s the very story you just read. I get to tell interested high school students and their families, guidance counselors, and anyone who will listen, what an impact the Juniata community can have on a young adult trying to figure out who they are and how they were meant to engage with the world. I get to be the first step in a young adult’s journey of discovering their true self and their true calling; just like Marsha Kyper, my own Juniata admission counselor, was for me 40 years ago.
Oh, by-the-way, after that visit to Juniata back in 1980, my older sister decided to transfer to Juniata! Funny how life works out, right?