Clack! A gavel at the front of the room hits the wood table, and the sea of chatter surrounding you slowly dwindles into silence. You look to your left, and then to your right, only to find students just like yourself dressed in semi-formal attire. Their attention is aimed at a PowerPoint slide titled “Student Senate Meeting – 10/1/18.”
As you might’ve guessed, this is a typical Student Senate meeting here at Juniata. Every two weeks, representatives from each class, different committees, and select other groups on campus come together to discuss solutions to issues facing students. Often times, there will also be a member of the administration presenting on pressing matters or giving senators the most up-to-date-information.
Just two meetings ago, President Troha himself presented the college’s budget to the body of student representatives. He discussed the college’s goals for the future, the introduction of new programs – like Mock Trial and eSports – to enhance the student experience, and reaffirmed the administration’s accountability to the student body.
When I asked about student government as I toured other schools, my questions were often dodged as if I had brought up some kind of scandal. I quickly found that at these schools, student government had no power to enforce their decisions or make any kind of real change. At other schools, these “student governments” represented a single interest group or weren’t committed to action.
When I first got involved in Student Senate at Juniata in my freshman year, I was amazed at how many groups of students were represented, and further, how much they actually accomplished. Through fair elections in every class, the appointment of 10 senators on behalf of a student advocacy group known as Students Advocating for Universal Respect, and the work of other specific committees, Juniata’s Student Senate beautifully represents students from all classes and identities. Last year, these students were able to get more bike racks and recycling bins on campus and assist in the selection process of a new food provider. These are just a few examples of the collective action of Juniata’s student body.
The experience of working with so many other students to collectively improve the lives of students as Freshman Class President is something I wouldn’t give up for anything. If you’re looking to make change in your new environment, give back to your community, and represent your peers, I suggest Student Senate at Juniata College.
This year, Stephanie Letourneau is living at the Raystown Field Station and running her own blog about the adventures there! To not miss any of her updates, follow her blog Pursuing Passions.
Waving hello from the lake!
On August 22nd, I successfully moved into the Raystown Field Station. We had a presentation after moving in on field safety and then went down to the fire pit by the lake for s’mores and residential life information.
The schedule at the field station includes having one class all day each day. Our first day was an introduction to the station, tours, and logistics.
My class schedule is:
Mondays – GIS
Tuesdays – Sense of Place Seminar and Nature Photography
Wednesdays – Research
Thursdays – Aquatic Ecology
Fridays – Limnology
Our first class was Limnology on Friday. We have only had a few classes, but so far, we have designed a leaf decomposition study as a class to evaluate nearby ponds and Raystown Lake. Our labs the past two weeks have comprised of going out on the lake on the boat and measuring the lake’s physical and chemical properties.
For GIS, we have been exploring the program and practicing creating maps or finding information. I am very excited to learn how to use GIS more and how it can help with my research.
Sense of Place seminar began with a boat tour of Raystown Lake, which included the basic science and history facts of the area. Who knew you could have a lecture on a boat? We also discussed our research projects for the semester. I am not sure what I am exactly studying yet, but I will be researching an acid mine drainage site.
The first two weeks, we did not have anything on Wednesdays because we do not have our research projects established yet. My professor said, “Either make it a very productive day or a really good day.” I did a combination of both; I did some homework in the morning and spent the afternoon kayaking on the lake with some classmates.
Nature photography is a lot of terminology and learning the basic concepts of how to take a good picture. It is particularly difficult to take pictures of wildlife because of their movements so we have learned a lot of specialized techniques so far. Our first project was a picture of a wildflower. I am looking forward to improving my skills.
Aquatic Ecology has been an introduction to ecology and learning the applications of these concepts in aquatic ecosystems. This course is unique because it is taught by Dr. Lane Loya from Saint Francis University.
One afternoon, we had a mini Lake Symposium to listen to researchers discuss the previous studies on Raystown Lake and the potential issues for the future. The presenters included a park ranger from the US Army Corps of Engineers, and from Juniata, Dr. Sharon Yohn and Dr. Chuck Yohn. It is interesting to learn about an ecosystem in which you live and about the different issues that have to be monitored.
I also enjoyed kayaking and going on a firework cruise on the lake with my mom on Labor Day weekend.
From September 10th to 14th, our class at the field station travelled to the Finger Lakes region of New York to study lakes and streams. We stayed at the Cornell Biological Field Station and the USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station. On the way home, we stopped at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Our Limnology and Aquatic Ecology professors joined us too, which provided an immersive experience to apply everything we have learned and will learn this semester.
I wanted to end this post with some fun from Juniata’s traditions, Lobsterfest (Yes, sometimes I actually go back to campus.) It is an opportunity for students to sign up for clubs and enjoy delicious lobster on the quad.
Another tradition at Juniata is Mountain Day. One day in the fall, classes are canceled, and the school provides buses to take everyone to Seven Points Recreation Area on Raystown Lake for a day of outdoor fun including a picnic lunch, kayaking, slip and slide, inflatables, tug-of-war, and more. However, no one knows in advance when it is going be. As the Juniata website states, “trying to guess the date of Mountain Day is one of the most popular topics of conversation among the students and faculty in the weeks leading up to the event”. It really is. Students and professors will place bets when they think it will be and students will stay up all night if they think it might be the next day.
Luckily, Mountain Day didn’t happen while we were in NY, so we were able to sail the research boat across the lake to join in on the festivities!
Here’s to more adventures and beautiful sunsets on the lake.
No one ever thinks they want to be woken up by airhorns at 4 am, but trust me, you do.
Mountain Day is one of those glorious Juniata traditions where I never really feel like I can truly explain it to someone.
“Well, on a surprise day every year, all of our classes/responsibilities are cancelled. They wake us up at the crack of dawn to tell us that (usually with airhorns and loud yelling), and then once we all do get up, we pile into cars and go out to the lake for an entire day.
I’m usually met with a classic, “Do you even go to a real school?” The answer is yes, it’s just a great one.
As a senior, this Mountain Day was bittersweet. While I was swimming and running and eating, I couldn’t help but have this little voice in the back of my head saying, “this is the last one.” However, that didn’t stop the festivities on what I believe to be is my best Mountain Day yet. The day was warm, the sun was shining (which seems to be a rarity this fall), and all of my friends were there. That’s definitely my favorite thing about Mountain Day – the fact that everyone can (and usually does) participate. Sure, we can plan lake days for ourselves, but usually someone has an essay or a test. On Mountain Day, we’re all free to race to the lake and spend the day in the sun without the worry of what is due tomorrow.
I returned home from Mountain Day sore, covered in lake water and sand, a little sunburnt (don’t tell my mom), and happy.
Who knows what my Mountain Day will bring next year. Maybe I’ll be teaching kids about watersheds. Maybe I’ll be writing for a journal. Maybe I’ll be in grad school. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find the time to escape down to a lake for the day. Whatever it brings and wherever I am, I’ll always have Mountain Day with me. It’s a Juniata tradition for life.
This year I had the honor of being an Inbound leader for the incoming first year students. I signed up to be a hiking leader – I don’t know why. I am not a hiker and I have no idea what was going through my brain when I filled out the application, but I was determined to make the most of it.
The Inbound leaders of my group last year were fabulous. They were relatable and basically the spirit guides of my first week at Juniata. I wanted to be like them for my group of Inboundees.
We hiked several different trails, and I went through like a bottle and a half of bug spray, but it was worth it. On one of our hikes, an Inboundee licked a slug against our recommendation. Turns out, when you lick certain slugs, the bottom of a slug it makes your tongue go numb. It was quite the week of learning.
My 19th birthday happened to be on the second day of Inbound, and we had a mini birthday celebration at the lake. We stuck candles in Rice Krispy treats and wore birthday hats and tiaras while we kayaked. It was the first-time kayaking for some of our Inboundees, and it was really cool to share this experience with them.
We hiked 1000 steps (the name is a lie by the way – it is more than 1000 steps), and I barely made it up. At every break in the stairs, the group would all take a break and turn around to watch me drag myself up the steps about 100 feet behind them. Around step 300 I waved them ahead with the other group leader and stopped for a break. I decided I couldn’t handle anymore hiking and told them I would meet them on their way down.
They sent me inspirational quotes and pictures of the view at the top to motivate me to keep going. I arrived about 20 minutes later than everyone else but I made it. They all applauded me when I arrived at the top of the lookout and immediately collapsed on the ground in a heap, gasping for breath. After I got over the fact that my legs were so tired it felt like they would never work again, I appreciated all of their motivation and support. I almost gave up, but I didn’t. It awoke a new determination within myself for the rest of our hiking adventures. I still always ended up bringing up the back of the group, but I wasn’t as far back as I was before.
The last day of Inbound got rained out, so we made tacos in one of the residence hall kitchens. I was low-key thankful to not be hiking another day, and eating tacos was a better bonding opportunity in my opinion.
We hiked, went kayaking, made tacos, played a lot of ice breakers, and made some pretty strong friendships. I’d say this Inbound was a success. I hope I was as good of an Inbound leader as mine were.
As I write this sentence there are 15 days, 10 hours, and 33 minutes until graduation. Not that anyone is counting. Yesterday one of the first-year bloggers wrote about the experiences that she’s had over her first year and today I’ll reflect on my last four years at Juniata.
When I was gearing up to graduate from high school I was nostalgic, scared to leave the place that I had called home for four years, unsure of what was ahead of me. That same nostalgic feeling is absent now. I know what I am doing with my future, at least the next six years of it and I feel academically and socially prepared for the world. Juniata did a good job.
Of course, I’ll miss the quad and seeing the volleyball players frolic in the sun on their portable court. I’ll long for the lazy days where my friends and I would hammock in the trees outside of Founders, talking, and laughing, and dreaming about the future.
I’ll miss my classes and the professors that taught them. I began to enjoy learning for learning’s sake because the professors here don’t just teach you the material, they challenge you to think about what you’re learning and understand not only how it applies to your field of study, but also about how it might help you to better understand the rest of the world. That’s the joy of a liberal arts education, it helps you develop a larger world view that allows you to better understand your place in it and how you can make it a better place.
I’ve received some of the best grades of my life that have led me to four semesters on the dean’s list. And I’ve received some of the worst grades of my life that have given me the worst GPAs I’ve ever had. One of the reasons I feel so prepared for graduate school and the rest of life is that Juniata and the courses I have taken here have taught me how to fail, and how to do it with grace. If I can offer one piece of advice to take with you into your first year it is: learn how to learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get an A on your first test in biology, or if College Writing Seminar (CWS) has revealed to you that you might not be the author of the next great American novel. That doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in biology or that you’ll never be a good writer. Take the advice that is given to you and follow through on it. Over time you’ll see that your bio grade will go up and your essays will begin to receive glowing insightful comments from your CWS professor.
You are all coming to Juniata next year for a myriad of reasons, but you all have one thing in common: a glowing work ethic and perseverance in the face of adversity. There are too many memories, both good and bad, to share with you in one blog post. That’s OK, because you’re going to be making plenty of amazing memories on your own.
I have eight days left of my freshman year at Juniata. It’s the perfect time to start reflecting on my first two semesters of college. My Google Photos app has been trying to convince me to look through the slideshow of my freshman year for like a month and there isn’t a better time than the present.
It was definitely a year of firsts.
There was my first college paper. It took four trips to the Writing Center and lots of caffeine but I managed a solid A-. Now, I can write a paper on my own with minimal caffeine intake and still earn myself an A.
I was dragged on my first trip to Sheetz and was pleasantly surprised. I was convinced that it wouldn’t live up to my beloved Wawa but I was proved wrong. An estimated 300 Mac & Cheese bites later and I still don’t regret it.
I skipped class for the first time and got caught skipping class for the first time. Completely unrelated, but still good advice: don’t tweet about skipping class to go see Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day and use your class hashtag.
I ate my first microwave cup of ramen noodles. It’s an interesting taste, definitely a meal to save for after you’ve eaten all your other food and you’re desperate to eat something because it’s 2am on a Saturday and you have a paper to work on.
I fell asleep on a public bench for the first time. It was just such a nice day and I was going to read my book for class out on the quad but the grass was still wet from the rain the day before. I dozed off and was awoken by the feeling of a stray volleyball hitting the back of the bench.
I went electrofishing for the first time. I never pictured myself wearing waders and a large yellow backpack while trying not to slip on the rocky bottom of the river while sending tiny electric shocks through the water to stun fish. It was a new experience that I didn’t think I would ever want to do – much less get the chance to do. Turns out fish are pretty cool.
My first year at college has been quite the roller coaster. I have learned many things that will be helpful in the future. Career services helped me create a resume to send out when I’m applying for internships this summer. I took a history class about Australia and New Zealand on a whim and now I’m applying to study abroad in New Zealand. I also learned how to Photoshop photos of my dog so she’s wearing rain boots in my Intro to Information Technology class.
Advice that I wish I was given before starting my freshman year at Juniata? Participate in Campus Events – Res Life has events all the time. I met one of my best friends at a cookie baking and coloring book night in the dorm lounge. Take Calculated Risks – explore your interests. Go rock climbing, join a research team, study abroad, or participate in an outreach project. Have an Open Mind – you might find out that Sheetz is better than Wawa or that Ramen noodles are the new instant mac & cheese. Get a Sheetz Rewards Card – you will earn tons of points which equals free food. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY! I can now say that I’ve been electrofishing, learned to salsa, read an extensive amount of Ernest Hemingway’s writing and attended a live reading done by the award-winning author, Jennifer Steil.
I would like to think that my first year at Juniata was a success. I will be heading into next semester more academically and mentally prepared and ready for whatever the world throws at me next.
Choosing a college was not easy for me. I visited at least twenty colleges, applied to eleven, got scholarships to seven, interviewed at three, and found my place at one. I’ve been on dozens of college tours. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in a college until I found it. I applied everywhere from Vermont to Florida. Each school had something different to offer.
I made a spreadsheet of quantitative and qualitative data from each of my college visits. I thought that a bunch of graphs were going to help me make my college decision. I had all of the statistics from each college: student population, professor to student ratio, four-year graduation percentage, transfer rate and tuition. I also had all the words that I would use to describe the college and I rated each of the campus services like dining, janitorial services and employee interactions.
After analyzing my extensive collection of data, I realized that the school that had the highest scores was the school that I least wanted to go to. I realized that just because the schools had great scores didn’t mean they were the greatest schools for me. I couldn’t base my college decision off of numbers; I had to base it on how I felt.
After my epiphany, I started narrowing down my potential colleges. I knocked out the ones that were obviously not the place for me. Then I looked at the student population. I didn’t feel like I was the big school kind of person. I don’t like getting lost in the crowd. Then I looked at location. All of the choices I had left were in a five-hour radius of my house so that didn’t help. I ended up thinking of the college tours and my experiences with admission counselors. Which one left me with the best impression?
This gave me my final two schools: Washington College and Juniata College. Washington was only an hour away from my house and they offered me a great scholarship, an amazing apprenticeship, and great opportunities. Juniata was a four-hour drive from my house, offered me a pretty good scholarship, the ability to individualize my P.O.E. and explore countless topics, as well as an incredible community with people who were focused on helping me achieve the most for my future. As cheesy as it sounds, Washington had the money but Juniata had my heart.
Juniata was the college where I felt most comfortable during my visit to campus. The students were welcoming and friendly. The professors that I met made me feel like they actually wanted me to be successful. The concept of the P.O.E. rather than a normal major was extremely appealing because I had big dreams and I’m not sure I could have graduated from normal college without a quadruple major.
When I arrived at my orientation I knew I had made the right choice. I felt at home instantly. The people I met were wonderful, my orientation leaders showed me the ropes, my fellow incoming freshmen made me feel comfortable about my transition into college. When I came to Juniata, I knew I found my place.
Everyone at Juniata sells living abroad, and I have to warn you, I’m going to sell it as well.
Ireland seemed picturesque before I came here. It is rolling green hills, friendly people, good music, good beer. It is all of those things, but it also has its low points. I’ve gotten splashed by a car driving through a puddle (yep, it actually happens), I’ve gotten soaked inside and out by rain, I’ve gotten sick, and I’ve spent too much money on that good beer they have. But all in all, it has been an incredible, real experience.
Living abroad is an opportunity to truly experience life in whatever country you go to. That includes the good and the bad. It’s not always as picturesque as one might imagine, but it teaches you more than a semester of classes at home ever could.
I spent this semester in Cork, Ireland doing an internship at their Environmental Research Institute with UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre. What that really meant was that I wasn’t really a student. I’m using my Environmental Fellows scholarship from Juniata to cover my cost of living and now that I’m done, I’m using my savings to explore a bit of Europe. It was odd working every day and not going to class, but I got to experience Ireland all the same.
Cork has become my home in the past 3 months. This small little city has definitely taken a piece of my heart. The River Lee is always flowing past me. I can see farm fields on my walk home from work (and sometimes smell them). I have housemates who are kind enough to drive me to town when I need it. And the best part? All of the pubs have fireplaces. Now, I’m still 20, so I can’t drink in the states, but if anyone finds a bar with a fireplace there, let me know. Nothing is better than drinking a good beer and sitting in front of a peat fire.
Overall, studying abroad has been an amazing experience. I’ve gotten to live with people from Ireland, and one of my best friends from Juniata. I’ve gotten to travel around the country to Kinsale, Killarney, Dingle, Dublin, Cobh, Waterford, and more. I’ve experiencing living outside of dorm life, buying groceries, making dinner every night, and working every day. I’ve gotten to live a different life.
I love Juniata with all of my heart, but I am also so thankful for the opportunity Juniata provided me to live abroad. It’s no vacation when you’re studying abroad, that’s for sure. It’s definitely life with work, bills, bad days and good days… But it is also creating a whole new life for yourself in a whole new place. It’s not just limited to Ireland, either. Wherever you go, be it France, Australia, New Zealand, Spain – it’s an experience of discovering yourself and growing as a person.
Wherever you go, if you ever go abroad, jump into growth. See what part of yourself traveling will reveal. And if you’re lucky, have a good beer by a peat fire.
Long before I applied for colleges, I yearned to travel. While I was drawn to Juniata College by its community feel, beautiful campus, and flexible POE program, an important factor in my decision to attend the school was the excellent study abroad opportunities it offers. With the help of my academic advisor, I chose from the many countries and schools with which Juniata is connected. Now, as a junior I am studying at the University of Leeds in England and fulfilling my dream to travel.
Studying abroad is a life-changing experience. While the pre-study abroad meetings that occurred during the semester before I departed were essential and extremely helpful, there was nothing that could prepare me for the reality of studying abroad. Coping with culture shock, missing my family and friends, and acclimating myself to city life and a university with a student population nearly twenty times larger than Juniata’s were all issues that I could not previously understand. Amidst the struggle to cope though, I found new people, new places, and a new sense of self that could only be gained through study abroad.
Once I adjusted to living in England and attending class for only six hours a week, I began to travel with my roommates. The public transportation in England makes its beauty and history easily accessible. My roommates and I have spent weekends in Scotland and Germany and have taken day trips to many places including Bath, Oxford, and London. Less than two months ago, I stood before Stonehenge marveling at a man-made miracle I thought I would only ever see on a screen. In Berlin I touched history when I visited a site where part of the Berlin Wall still stands. As a Museum Studies and Art History major, I have spent countless hours strolling through museum exhibits and gazing upon masterpieces by artists such as Manet, Rothko, Ernst, Dali, Rodin, and others.
Despite the importance of these experiences, the life lessons I have learned while abroad are the greatest benefit of this program. I have set my own budget, carried groceries for miles, and dealt with the consequences of my professors striking for nearly a month. I have learned to plan ahead, manage bus and train schedules, ask strangers for directions, and laugh at myself for foolish mistakes. I have opened up to the once strangers who also live in my flat from Chicago, Holland, and Australia, and they have become some of the closest friends I will ever make. I have figured out the importance of family and community in my life and in the process learned that I have a strong support system at Juniata and at home even though I am an ocean away.
Studying abroad is as much a way to discover yourself as it is an opportunity to discover a new part of the world. It is an educational experience that cannot be measured in credits or dollars. I know it will be one of the greatest lessons I carry with me after graduation from Juniata College.