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What I wish I knew – Fernando Gomes, Assistant Dean of Admission

Fernando Gomes
Fernando Gomes, Assistant Dean of Admission

By the time we reach the end of the school year, I will have spent an entire decade in college admissions. Ten years, three different schools in three different states, and I really wonder how time passes by so quickly! (And if that sounds like something an older person would say, don’t worry, you’ll find yourself saying it in due time.)

If there’s one thing I’m appreciative of it is how much I’ve learned over the years. Who I am now is definitely not who I was 14 years ago when I was deciding on what college to attend. There are many times when I want to go back to my high school self and just somehow impart all this new knowledge and do my [college selection?] process all over again! But what’s done is done- I can’t go back in time, and so here I am now working as an admissions counselor, doing my best to give students the knowledge they need, the knowledge I wished I had, to make the best decision for which college to attend.

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I graduated from Juniata and never left

Terri Bollman-Dalansky
Terri Bollman-Dalansky ’85, Senior Associate Dean of Admission

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.

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I’m a first generation student – Where do I belong?

Fernando Gomes
Fernando Gomes, Assistant Dean of Admission

First-gen. If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s okay, because I’m about to tell you why it’s so important. If you are familiar with the term, its likely had an impact in your life and how you view yourself, especially while you figure out which college to go to.

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My own college rejection story

Kat Swantak
Kat Swantak, Assistant Dean of Admission

 

Now that our office is busy at work sending out decisions, I couldn’t help but remember my devastating college rejection story.

Way back when, I applied Early Decision to a Particular Highly Selective Liberal Arts College Which Shall Remain Nameless thinking, “Ooo! This will definitely help me get in since I’m committing so early. They’ll definitely notice my demonstrated interest!” Yeah…it doesn’t really work like that, Kat.

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Mountain Day of the Mind

One of my favorite events Juniata has every year is the Liberal Arts Symposium, or LAS for short. Each year, classes are cancelled for the whole day, and students and faculty are encouraged to travel across campus and attend student presentations about work/research they have done during the year. There are a lot of different types of presentations, and most common presentations are often in the sciences. This year however, I was able to present my own work at LAS, with focus on the Theatre Department.
This semester, I decided I wanted to do an independent study with one of my professors, Leigh Hendrix, and I wanted to attempt to write a full-length play. I have written several short plays (10 minutes or less) throughout my time at Juniata, but I have never tried to write something as complicated and in-depth as a full-length play. I came up with the idea to write a murder mystery, because that is my favorite genre to read/watch. I’ve always loved crime shows and mystery novels, but I never realized just how difficult it is to write a mystery yourself! There is so much background work that needs to occur before one even starts writing in order to create a successful, fluid piece. Once a week, Professor Hendrix and I would meet to look at my writing progress, and map out the entire storyline of the play. I honestly didn’t think I would finish this semester. I know that it sometimes takes years for people to complete a play, and shoving this project onto my already packed work load was definitely difficult for me. However, a few weeks ago I managed to finish a first draft! As soon as I finished the draft, it felt like I had given birth! I had worked hard toward this goal that I didn’t think I would reach, and I did! Over the following few weeks, I printed out the entire script and edited it over and over again. I then recruited a bunch of my friends to aid in my presentation for the Liberal Arts Symposium.

 

The cast of the staged reading of "Airborne", an original murder mystery play at Liberal Arts Symposium.
The cast of the staged reading of “Airborne”, an original murder mystery play at Liberal Arts Symposium.

Since I was just doing a public reading of half of the play, it was a less strenuous rehearsal process, since the cast only had to meet once the read through the piece before presenting it at LAS. My play has eight different characters, so I had to ask a lot of different people to be involved, but everyone did such a great job reading their character at the presentation! After the reading, my mentor facilitated a talk-back session, where I could ask questions of the audience and receive feedback about the process. My first question to the audience was: Who do you think did it? To my surprise, although the audience guessed five different characters, none of them had correctly guessed the killer! That was definitely a confidence-booster for me, and it showed me that I wrote a really great play. I received such amazing feedback from the students and staff and outside audience members who came to listen to the reading. It truly was an amazing moment of pride, excitement and joy to hear my words being read out loud, and receiving positive feedback from so many peers.
Although the semester is coming to a close, that does not mean my work on this play is done. For most, a play is never done. There are always changes that can be made. I hope to keep editing this play and make it longer and stronger, and hopefully be able to stage the show at some point next year! Overall, the Liberal Arts Symposium was such a great experience for me to present a project I had put so much effort into, and see how others reacted to it. I can’t wait to keep working on my play!