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Lessons I’m Glad I Now Know

As I set down the book of my Juniata Experience, I reflect on the many lessons I gleaned over my four years at Juniata College. From graduating with an individualized Program of Emphasis to coming to terms with being a student-athlete throughout COVID-19, here are some lessons I’ve learned at JC.

Don’t fret about what comes next. Even during my first year, there were students who had clear plans about what they wanted to do after graduation – going to law school, medical school, teaching or more. By my junior and senior year even more of my peers had plans set in stone. I was different. Sitting at my desk for hours each week brainstorming ideas, I still didn’t feel that same drive to commit to some idea of who I want to be that I wasn’t fully on board with. It wasn’t until my last semester of college that same drive to decide finally came. It’s okay not to know what awaits you after Juniata, but once something motivating jumps out, make sure to grab on to that next adventure and hold on tight!

Motivation can come from anywhere. This lesson I learned from the journey leading up to my next adventure after college. I’ve vacationed outside the US before, but never lived elsewhere for an extended period of time. When COVID-19 crushed my opportunity to study Communications abroad in Germany in Summer 2020, I felt even more motivated to travel overseas. I briefly held out hope that a reprieve would come in the form of a trip to Brazil for my men’s volleyball team to play in a preseason tournament my final semester. Not surprisingly, even that was postponed. In the winter when I was given the chance to continue both my academic and athletic career by getting a Master’s Degree in England, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Although the decision was my own, the opportunity given to me came thanks to the complete higher education experience that I underwent at Juniata. And, the motivation driving my leap of faith to move overseas to earn an MA was thanks to the strong encouragement to study abroad and opportunities for travel at Juniata that I was sad to have missed.

Live in the moment was the most important lesson I learned from Juniata. When people told me freshman year that four years will pass in the blink of an eye, I had no idea what they meant. It wasn’t possible then for me to see that one day soon, I would be walking across the stage to pick up my diploma, saying so long to the halls of BAC and having an especially sentimental final meal at Baker. It’s sad when the chapter titled ‘College’ in the book of our lives closes but part of living in my new present means living with our connection to Juniata.

As an alumni I expect to stay connected with both the lessons learned and people met through my alma mater. And when it’s your turn to leave the nest, I hope you don’t forget your eagle family either.

Reflecting on changes from COVID-19

Juliana Shugar
-Juliana Shugar ’23, Spanish and Secondary Education POE, Disney-loving ice cream connoisseur

The day we got the email I was incredibly upset. I wouldn’t be returning to the new place I called home. I wouldn’t be able to go to my classes. I wouldn’t be able see my friends. This pandemic has impact all of us, and the biggest way that it has changed my life has been in regards to how it has affected school.

Juniata, along with pretty much every other college in the country, has shut down its campus and moved to online learning. Not being able to physically be in a classroom has not been easy. I find myself getting far more distracted during class at home, but perhaps the hardest part has been not being able to see my friends. I have met so many wonderful people at Juniata who I have become so close to, and it was definitely an adjustment to get used to not seeing them every day. Thankfully, we live in the age of Snapchat and Facebook and my friends are never more than a text or Zoom call away.

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