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A Transfer Student’s Goal to Complete Every Tradition at Juniata

Tessa Senel ’21, Professional Writing POE

When I came to Juniata College in 2019, my goal was clear—to complete every tradition on campus. Why? Well, as a transfer student who came to Juniata my junior year, I knew that I only had two years to try everything and to meet everyone. So, this is where my journey began

First, it was the fall semester in 2019 and I was living in Sherwood Hall with my freshman friends. We have a tradition at Juniata called Lobster Fest, where all of the clubs set up tables outside on the quad and students can sign up to be a part of them. We have over 100 clubs here at Juniata so our options are limitless. Me, being someone who wants to try everything, signed up for way too many clubs, so I received hundreds of emails welcoming me as a new member (oops)! For Lobster Fest, Juniata gets lobster all the way from Maine to feed all of the hungry new students. My friends and I sat on the grass on the quad and we dined on lobster, chicken, steak, and other delicious food! This was the first tradition on my bucket list to complete.

My friends and I enjoying Mountain Day at the lake!

Around September of my junior year, I woke up around 5:00 AM to the sound of pots and pans being smacked together and people shouting, “Wake up, Wake up! It’s Mountain Day!” I was equally excited and annoyed at the same time (I like my beauty sleep). On Mountain Day classes are canceled and students are bused to our local lake—Raystown Lake, for a day of relaxation. Our dining hall provides food for us (like hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers) and we can enjoy the lake by paddle boarding, kayaking, or swimming. There are even activates like tie dying t-shirts, a bouncy-house, or even just relaxing by the lake. This is such a fun tradition that provides a much needed break during the semester, which completes the second item on my bucket list of traditions.

Tenting with the Mock Trial team.

The third tradition I completed here at Juniata is called Tenting. Basically, around November (when it is freezing outside) students set up tents outside on the quad and sleep in them for one week with a group of friends—I was in a group with other members of my Mock Trial team. For that entire week, there needs to be at least one member from your team inside of the tent between the hours of 7:00 PM and 7:00 AM. Then, at random hours during the night, a group called “Head Tent” wakes students up with a bull-horn and you have to scramble out of your tent and gather outside in the cold. From there, “Head Tent” gives each group challenges to complete like a talent show, dancing competition, etc. Each team gets scored and ranked based on how well they do in these challenges. At the end of the week, these points are added together and the team with the most points receives the best tickets to a dinner and dance called Madrigal. I attended Madrigal with my team in December so this marks off two more traditions from my bucket list.

Me and Claire before the Bailey.

Now, this spring semester, I participated in the Bailey Oratorical—a persuasive speech competition hosted by the Communication department. This tradition dates back to 1910 and the winner of the competition gets a $1,000 prize (honestly, I’ll speak in front of anyone for $1,000)! Each year, students are given a prompt and this year it was, “What did we learn from the challenges of 2020 that we can use in the future?” I decided to focus on “burnout” for my speech and in summary, I talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to stop and slow down in their daily lives. I participated in the preliminary round, where I spoke in front of professors from the Communication department and judges from across the country. The judges are all alumni from Juniata instead of professors, so that there is no bias. I didn’t make it past the preliminary round to the final round, but it was a great experience that taught me how to craft an effective speech. This was my fourth bucket list tradition.

In the end, even though I can’t complete some traditions at Juniata because of the pandemic, I am grateful that I ticked off most items on my bucket list. Honestly, even if you are nervous to try a tradition, I think you should just go for it and have fun in the process. Now that I have completed most traditions, I can graduate feeling happy and full regarding my time here at Juniata.