Senior Admissions Fellow
Why I wanted to become a Senior Fellow
I wanted to be a senior fellow because I feel a great connection to Middlebury and wanted to serve the college community in some way. The Senior Fellow position was the best opportunity for me to serve Middlebury. This is because I have worked in the Admissions office previously both as an office assistant and as a tour guide. Over the last three years I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting prospective students and showing them what a great college Middlebury is. I felt as though being a Senior Fellow was the next logical step to take if I wanted to help both my college and its prospective students in a greater capacity.
What I did this summer
My summer began in Tanzania where I spent this past spring term abroad. I was lucky enough to receive a Mellon Foundation Grant through Middlebury that allowed me to extend my stay in Tanzania to study ethno-genesis, or the process of identity creation within the Maasai and Waarusha peoples. I focused my research on the identity of the warrior groups, or Murrani, within each culture, this research will be what I focus my senior thesis. Later on in the summer I traveled to Belize where I participated in an archaeological dig at the Maya Lowland sites of Lower Dover and Baking Pot.
What my college search was like
My college search began before I even started high school, I am the youngest of three children in my family, and as such I was forced into tagging along during my siblings college tours and campus visits. If there was one benefit to being the youngest child – other than being the favorite child – it was that by the time I was looking for my own college I knew what I wanted. After seeing the opportunities that both of my siblings had I decided that I belonged at a college where I would be able to participate in a variety of academic experiences and extracurricular activities. My sister went to a small liberal arts college in the northeast similar to Middlebury, and my brother went to a large university in a big city. It amazed me at the opportunities that my sister had, she was on the varsity swim team, she participated in the college’s jazz band, and she was able to even study abroad while actually being able to put academics first the entire time. I was also a high school athlete and loved the idea that I might be able to continue to be an athlete at the college level. In fact if it were not for my interest in playing college football I would have never found out about Middlebury. After looking at a few schools and attending football camps I received an e-mail from a coach at Middlebury suggesting that I visit. My dad actually forced me to visit because he said that if he was going to be driving all around the northeast looking at schools he was going to make me visit Middlebury too, especially if a coach was reaching out to me. I do not admit this often, but sometimes parents are right, and maybe I should listen to mine more often. Middlebury offered me everything that I wanted; a great education, the opportunity to continue athletics, and the ability to also be so much more than just a student or an athlete. I ended up applying Early Decision 1 to Middlebury, and as they say the rest is history. I have often been asked if I would have done anything differently, but in all honesty I do not think I would have. I was fortunate to see a variety of colleges in a variety of places and by the time I chose Middlebury I knew exactly what I wanted in a college, I guess it also helps that I was accepted (I’m still trying to figure out how that happened).
Life at Middlebury
Biggest challenge in transitioning to college
The most challenging part about transitioning to college had to be the quality of writing expected from me as a college student. Before Middlebury I was not a good writer, this was especially troubling for my mom who is a journalist. Throughout high school I had to suffer through essays and often relied on my charm and luck to compose a passable paper. Within the first two weeks of my freshman fall I was already being forced into writing papers at a break-neck speed and I was expected to write them well. At first this was extremely difficult for me, but soon it became easier, and my writing style and the composition of my papers improved dramatically. Even my mom, often my biggest writing critic, was impressed by the quality of my writing. This transition was a true wake up call for me about the realities of what is expected was expected of me as a college student, especially as a student at a school like Middlebury. The improvements that I was able to make within a semester also made me realize the quality of education that I was receiving and what I would be able to expect from my future at Middlebury.
Greatest surprise or least expected aspect of life at Middlebury
The greatest surprise for me at Middlebury has been the level of school spirit that exists here. My high school barely had any school spirit and we often had trouble getting over 100 students to attend sporting events. At Middlebury there is support for just about every sports team. I have enjoyed being part of Middlebury athletics as both an athlete and a spectator.
Choosing a major
I did not choose my major until the fall of my sophomore year. I decided that it was important for me to try a variety of classes from biology to economics and studio art. After trying out a large array of subjects I ended up deciding that the best fit for me was anthropology. I did not stress about my decision because Middlebury makes it easy to change majors if you later decide that what you chose to originally major in is not right for you.
Favorite Class or professor
I know it is a cop-out but it would be too hard for me to choose a favorite class at Middlebury, instead I would like to talk about the class that has influenced me most since I arrived at Middlebury. When I was a freshman I thought that I was going to be an economics or physics major, however, I decided that I needed to explore all of the class options that I had before making a choice about what I would major in. On a whim I decided to take Africa: Continuity and Change an anthropology class taught by Professor Michael Sheridan. I had never really learned about anthropology before and new very little about the continent of Africa. In retrospect I probably should have taken something a little easier. The class was made for juniors and seniors and I happened to be the only freshman taking it. The class was not easy by any means and I often struggled with the workload, however, the topics we discussed were fascinating to me and the class opened my eyes to the field of anthropology. This class played a large role in convincing me to major in Anthropology, and Mike (Professor Sheridan) later became my advisor. This past spring I decided to spend a term abroad in Northern Tanzania, where I stayed on after my program to continue my own research for my thesis funded by a Mellon Foundation Grant that I received through Middlebury. If it were not for this class I doubt I would have ever became an anthropology major, nor would I have had a life changing experience studying a culture that was vastly different from my own in a country half way around the world.
Favorite Vermont-based activity
My favorite Vermont-based activity would have to be leafing. I know, I know it is kind of touristy, but there is nothing like the leaves changing during a Vermont fall. I do not know how to describe the way I feel about the leaves, but the colors are simply awe-inspiring. There is not much to leafing, but whenever I feel stressed it is always great to be able to just find a nice place on or off campus and take a step away from the outside world and work to just enjoy the nature that surrounds you in Vermont.
Favorite winter activities
Hands down, snow football and hot apple cider. I love the winter, I love snow, but unfortunately I am not able to ski, snowboard, or ice-skate, I suffer from something called clumsiness, and me on ice is only fun for the people watching me. Instead I try to participate in activities that either keep me warm, or things like football where it is okay for me to fall over. I have played football both in high school and at Middlebury, and being on an organized team is great and all, but there is nothing like playing with your friends in a foot and half of fresh snow that acts like a giant pillow to fall on. There is also nothing better than being able to thaw yourself out afterwards with hot apple cider. Vermont is known for great apples, and this means great apple cider, but for some reason when apple cider becomes hot, it transforms into something that is so much better. It is almost like having apple pie, but in drink form. I would just like to copyright this combination before it becomes the statewide pastime of Vermont.
Favorite spot off campus
Middlebury is full of great trails; in total there are over 20 miles of trails that go through the College’s campus and the surrounding land. My favorite spot off campus is about a mile down one of these trails located behind the science building – Bicentennial Hall. The spot is in a forest where there is a fallen tree. I discovered this place when I was a sophomore and ever since it has been the spot that I go to just to get away, or to simply enjoy the great nature in Vermont.
Favorite dining hall concoction
Simple, unhealthy, yet delicious, my favorite thing to make in the dining halls is a grilled peanut butter, chocolate chip, and banana sandwich (Warning: this should not be eaten as a meal). You can’t argue with perfection, especially warm, gooey, chocolaty, peanut buttery perfection. I like to think of it as the more mature version of my childhood favorite.
How have you changed in the course of your time at Middlebury?
The biggest change for me over the last few years has been the understanding that I have of the world around me. Because of my experiences both inside and outside of the classroom I have a better understanding of issues both in my community and the world around it. More importantly I believe I have gained an understanding of my role in these issues and how I can affect them.
One thing every Middkid should do before they graduate
Eat a Soprano at Costello’s, the best sandwich you will ever have in your life. Also tour the Ben and Jerry’s factory, who would not want to tour an ice cream factory?