News@Gettysburg Latest news coverage from Gettysburg College Winnie Wang ’18: Committed to the fight against homelessness in San Francisco Winnie Wang ’18 has always been dedicated to social justice. At Gettysburg College, Wang forged a path that allowed her to immerse herself in the issues of homelessness immediately after graduation.

Hailing from San Francisco, California, the transition to Gettysburg was an enormous one for Wang. However, the community and opportunities she witnessed while visiting campus during Get Acquainted Day drew her to the institution and ultimately shaped her four years here.

“I remember sitting in on a political theory class and thinking that the structure of the class and the content was what I wanted in college,” Wang said. “During my first semester at Gettysburg, I actually enrolled in the course and the professor still remembered who I was simply from my visit a few months prior.”

At Gettysburg College, professors are dedicated to their students, and they recognize that college life can be challenging. Wang’s professors cared about her as a student and as an individual, and that meant a lot, especially being 2,579 miles from home.

Once settled on campus, Wang joined the Eisenhower Institute, a distinctive program that provides connections to global experts who lead undergraduate programs, helps students translate theory into practice, and allows them to build a professional network. She participated in three Eisenhower Institute Programs—Women in Leadership, Inside the Middle East (the Institute now offers a similar program, Contours of the Middle East and North Africa), and the Undergraduate Fellowship.

“I think outside of just the contextual knowledge I gained from each program, they also taught me life skills—how to ask the right questions and engage with people who are well-established experts in their careers,” she said. “These are networking skills that aren’t taught in the classroom, but rather through experience.”

With an office located steps from the White House in Washington, D.C., the Eisenhower Institute allows students to immerse themselves in national and global affairs. “Being that the Eisenhower Institute is a distinctive program only offered at Gettysburg College, the public policy exposure is something I see to be extremely valuable,” she said. 

Wang’s participation in the Eisenhower Institute allowed her to travel extensively throughout her time at Gettysburg College. She mentioned her trips to Israel, France, and the United Kingdom. “I truly got to be a global learner,” she said

Connecting her academic knowledge with global awareness allowed Wang to think critically about a variety of social issues. During her final semester, she centered her philosophy thesis around corporate social responsibility. Using a case study of the San Francisco Bay Area, she analyzed patterns of homelessness in one of the most vulnerable populations within her home community.

“It’s odd to think about how a few months ago I was writing about housing and homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area and today I’m working within an organization whose mission is to combat just this,” Wang said. “To jumpstart my career in the city that has shaped much of who I am is priceless.”

After graduating from Gettysburg in 2018, Wang returned to San Francisco where she is currently working as a program associate within the learning and evaluation department at the Community Housing Partnership, an outcomes-focused nonprofit that aims to help individuals experiencing homelessness secure housing and become independent.

“My role is data-focused, so I contribute in creating a number of evaluation tools that gauge and help our residents in becoming more self-sufficient,” Wang said. “ My job is exciting in that I’m contributing to a cause that quite literally changes people’s lives.”

Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Wang’s experience at Gettysburg provided her a cultural and social shift that was very different to how she grew up. “My time at Gettysburg, even as a first-year student, taught me how to navigate spaces that are not partial to me, and it also taught me to form relationships with those who are very different from myself,” she said. “This is something I find invaluable.”

Tyler Mitchell ’20 creates potentially revolutionary medical device in Gettysburg Innovation Lab At Gettysburg College, innovation occurs when a student’s academic pursuits and personal passions collide. Just take Tyler Mitchell ’20, a computer science major who is leveraging 3D printing technology on campus to aid those with Type 1 diabetes.

“I’ve lived with diabetes all my life, and realize the limitations it can have on you every single day,” said Mitchell. “My goal is to make the quality of life better—to make life normal—for those living through a similar experience as me.”

Through the College’s Digital Technology Summer Fellows Program, Mitchell invested months of hands-on experimentation to develop a potentially revolutionary medical device—an affordable, closed-loop insulin pump for diabetics.

Created in Gettysburg’s Innovation Lab—a campus space designed for the exploration of bold, technological ideas—the insulin pump operates entirely from reading blood sugars that continuously move through a glucose monitor. With access to the College’s 3D printer, Mitchell manufactured the necessary components for the pump, such as the casing and the gears responsible for administering the insulin.

Tyler Mitchell“The pump can’t be connected to anyone yet, but the way things measure on it demonstrates that it works. It definitely feels good to be one step closer to making a difference,” he said.

While Mitchell takes great pride in his closed-loop design, which controls a complex path of blood sugar data, the technology’s promise lies in its cost savings for patients.

The beauty of 3D printing is that it does not require industrial-sized equipment, which dramatically lowers manufacturing costs on a per-unit basis. Mitchell’s closed-loop insulin pump costs roughly $800 to produce—that’s a staggering $9,200 less than the inflated sticker price of a hybrid closed-loop pump on the market today.

When factoring that 1.25 million Americans currently live with Type 1 diabetes—according to the American Diabetes Association—Mitchell’s groundbreaking work at Gettysburg College could be life-altering for diabetics across the nation and around the world.

“This project would not have been attainable or nearly as successful without access to specific courses at Gettysburg and the support of my mentors,” said Mitchell, citing the guidance of Eric Remy, director of educational technology, and Rod Tosten, vice president of information technology.

“Dr. Remy and Dr. Tosten would always answer my questions without hesitation, especially when it came to the physical components of the project, which I needed help with. I also received help from every professor in the computer science department. They inspired ideas on how to make [the pump] even better, and I’m currently implementing some of those ideas. To this day, they’re still guiding me through this process.”

Tyler MitchellRecently, Mitchell was recognized through a Facebook post by Charles Riley—a member of the College Diabetes Network—for his advancements in biotechnology for Type 1 diabetes.

To Mitchell, the acknowledgement signified the tremendous progress he’s made—and the unfinished work still before him.

“At Gettysburg College, I was given the freedom to build whatever I wanted through my summer fellowship—and it seems to be paying off,” he said. “My hope is that this project will have a real-world impact on those suffering with diabetes, and that I can truly help those individuals in a meaningful way.”

College honors 14 Gettysburgians who made ultimate sacrifice during Vietnam era Vietnam Memorial Dedication Ceremony

On Veterans Day Weekend, Gettysburg College dedicated a Vietnam Memorial in honor of 13 alumni and one staff member who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States during the 1966-1973 period of the Vietnam War.

Gettysburgians recognized in the ceremony included Ronald Thomson ’60, Edgar Burchell ’62, Joseph Murphy ’63, John Colestock, James Ewing ’65, Andrew Muns ’65, George Callan ’66, Robert Morris ’66, Charles Richardson ’66, J. Andrew Marsh ’67, Stephen Warner ’68, Daniel Whipps ’69, and Stephen Doane ’70, in addition to ROTC instructor Millard Valerius.

Today, their legacies are now immortalized on the Gettysburg College campus—each name etched into the black granite memorial embedded in the exterior of the College Union Building.

Vietnam Memorial Dedication Ceremony

“The location for this memorial is deliberate. Every day, hundreds of Gettysburg students walk across this patio and enter this building. It is a place of fellowship, a place of community,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 in her dedication remarks.

“Going into the future, our students will look up at this memorial and read the names of these 14 Gettysburgians, 13 of whom were students very much like themselves—going to class, studying in the library, hanging out with best friends and girlfriends, participating in clubs and organizations—individuals who had dreams for the future. As a Gettysburg College family, may we never forget these 14 Gettysburgians, who continue to walk with so many of us in spirit and in our warm memories.”

Black Hawk on Memorial Field

“We mark not only deaths but also legacies, never forgetting that we are still linked to and informed by the character, liveliness, love, and accomplishments of these 14 men,” added Sue Colestock Hill ’67, who helped to spearhead and fund the memorial with a group of devoted alumni.

In addition to the Vietnam Memorial Dedication, attendees from across the state and around the nation experienced a variety of other events, including a panel discussion moderated by History Prof. Michael Birkner ’72, Musselman Library exhibits and reminiscences, and the landing of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter on Memorial Field.

To learn more about the Vietnam War era and its impact on Gettysburg College, read the cover story from the spring issue of the Gettysburg Magazine, Complex Memories, and explore Musselman Library’s Vietnam Memorial Project.

View photos from our Vietnam Memorial Dedication weekend.

Battlefield as teacher Mere steps from Gettysburg College, the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP) is fertile ground for history scholars. But, its role as a living laboratory for disciplines beyond history may be surprising.

Learning through observation and experience is a core tenet of a Gettysburg College liberal arts education. The GNMP provides students and faculty personal, hands-on connections to learning and research in history— as well as science and the arts.

A scientific connection

Did you know the battlefield is a prime site for studying geology of the Mesozoic Era? Or that the stones on the bridge near Big Round Top are embedded with dinosaur prints? Many students at Gettysburg College are intimately aware of these facts from their fieldwork in geology, ecology, and environmental sciences.

“Ecology is the study of interactions between species and their environment, but even the most basic concepts can seem rather arcane until students are able to witness them in the field,” said environmental studies Prof. Andrew Wilson, who uses the park in his Principles of Ecology and Environmental Science and Society classes. “Students are generally quite naïve to just how much wildlife there is right on their doorstep.”

The chatter of Wilson’s Principles of Ecology class can be overheard by the students in environmental studies Prof. Sarah M. Principato’s Earth System Science class, as their fieldwork often overlaps.

Principato’s students learn about the geologic history of the area, then study how the different rock types make up the topography of the battlefield and how they influenced the Battle of Gettysburg. From the vantage points of Seminary Ridge, Devil’s Den, and the Overlook Tower, students learn about the geology of the area long before the Civil War: when dinosaurs roamed the earth and when Pangaea began to break apart into the continents.

“My students can see that the layers of rock are mostly at an angle, signaling that there has been tectonic activity. That’s a real ‘aha’ moment for them, like, ‘Oh, wow, the earth was moving!’”

The landscape as teacher

For history and social science scholars, the landscape of the battlefield provides different lessons. Civil War Era Studies Prof. Peter Carmichael, director of the Civil War Institute (CWI), brings his students to the battlefield to read the letters and journals of the soldiers— on the grounds on which they felt, fought, and often perished in 1863.

“These moments on the battlefield are powerful for students, who can feel the presence of the past, whether it is at an obscure grave site at Culp’s Hill or at a more popular tourist haunt like Little Round Top,” Carmichael said. “They discover that the words of a single soldier offer a pinhole through which to explore the broader social and political currents of the Civil War. They see that the battlefield is not just a chessboard of tactical moments.”

Experiential learning in the battlefield

History Prof. Ian Isherwood ’00 said a central goal of a liberal arts education is to instill critical thinking skills. “It’s our job as faculty to encourage our students to learn new ways of approaching the past through its tangible symbols in our community,” he said.

As another example demonstrating the instructional value of Gettysburg’s landscape, Isherwood has his students conduct deep readings of Civil War letters while overlooking the fields of Gettysburg. In his First-Year Seminar, students use the letters to reflect on individual trauma, probe the meaning of monuments through the decades, and write reflections on sacrifice while viewing the headstones at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

“When you are between the ages of 18 and 25—prime military service age—the cemetery takes on a particular resonance,” Isherwood said. “Students reflect on their own lives at a leafy liberal arts institution and juxtapose that with the sacrifices that soldiers their age were making in the past. It’s a powerful moment for them.”

Blurring the truth

Challenging assumptions is integral to a Gettysburg College education. In Prof. Jill Ogline Titus’s class, Rewriting the Past: Historical Fiction and History, she teaches excerpts from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, a novel that may be the best-known and most widely read book ever written on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Her class visits Little Round Top after reading the novel to probe how the book has shaped popular understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg and the 20th Maine. “Students, like all people, are sensitive to the power of place, and enjoy the opportunity to make connections between ideas, historical experiences, and landscapes,” explained Ogline Titus.

In art as in other disciplines, rigorous thinking and questioning is required, whether the historical context is examined through a contemporary lens or a historical lens is used to study contemporary events.

“War is a frequent motif for artists and a topic of contemplation for students of art and art history,” explained Prof. Shannon Egan, director of the Schmucker Art Gallery.

The art gallery—small, but mighty—hosts eight to 10 exhibits a year and houses major artistic works depicting the battlefield. Many past exhibits have included interpretations or responses to the Gettysburg Cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge.

Through Egan’s History and Theory of Photography class, Erica Schaumberg ’18, an art history major, said she analyzed the works of Civil War photographers such as Alexander Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, and Mathew Brady.

“Many of the photographs taken after the battle were staged or manipulated to create a more dramatic effect,” Schaumberg said. “They pushed my understanding of how, as Americans, we view the war today and how that perception is intertwined with politics, economics, and a sense of celebrity.”

As dusk descends on the GNMP and the tourists head home, Gettysburg students and faculty continue to muse upon their living laboratory. How did everyday soldiers feel contemplating the same moon back in 1863? Will the camera traps capture the mysterious nocturnal movements of the battlefield wildlife? In what ways will future artists be inspired by the landscapes outside the College’s front door? Every day, the GNMP gives the Gettysburg College community the opportunity to answer these questions and more.

William M. Matz ’61 introduces president at WWI centennial ceremony Major General William M. Matz ’61, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), introduced President Donald J. Trump at a ceremony at the American Cemetery of Suresnes, outside Paris, on Sunday.

The ceremony, organized by the ABMC, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

A link to the ceremony coverage is available on CSPAN.

View photos on Flickr:

Matz is a member of the national advisory council of The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College and has served on the Board of Fellows and the Commission on the Future at the College. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2011.

He was appointed as ABMC secretary in 2018.

Emily Vega ’19: Building community, bridging divides As a first-generation Latina college student, Emily Vega ’19 arrived at Gettysburg unassuming, yet ready. With the support of her parents, she was ready to transform herself into an explorer, take on the world, and find her passion. “Much of the process of getting into college, finding internships, and growing in an academic and professional setting has been new to both my family and I,” she said. “My parents never sat in a college classroom, experienced syllabus day, or had advisor meetings, but despite not having a college experience of their own, they are delighted to see me at Gettysburg College.”

Life as a first-generation college student like Vega comes with its own unique set of challenges. From college applications and essays to financial aid to choosing a major, everything seems extra hard when you’re maneuvering through the ultimate college checklist on your own. “I recognize how hard it is for first-generation students to find a sense of belonging and transition into a place that is so foreign,” Vega said. “While other students can talk to their families about their college experiences, many times our families don’t understand what we’re talking about.

Because of these challenges, Gettysburg College is committed to improving the experiences of first-generation students on campus. The Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME), led by Executive Director Darrien Davenport, is a place where students are encouraged to engage and participate in initiatives and programs that stress the value of diversity.

The OME strives to create distinctive opportunities for healthy discourse, allowing students to feel empowered while sharing aspects of their own diversity. “We need to make sure that all of our students have a great experience here—that every student has a chance to investigate who they are as individuals and has access to the resources available at Gettysburg College.” said Davenport.

Vega, who stepped in as OME’s First-Generation Programming Intern, is helping achieve that goal. Her job is to bring together other first-generation students on campus and create a community where they can relate and support one another. “Learning something new doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be bumps and hiccups along the way,” Vega said. “But there is a place where we can talk about the expectations and pressures we feel and recognize that they do not have to negatively define our experience.”

So far, Vega’s Gettysburg experience is defined by two words—determination and success. At first, she was convinced she would be an English major, but after taking several courses it was clear to her that her passions span the disciplines. So instead of focusing on just English, Vega created her own major—Conversations from the Margins—which focuses on the personal narratives and multimedia public representations of marginalized communities.

“The narratives of marginalized communities are studied across many disciplines, including English; Africana studies; women, gender, and sexuality studies; and sociology,” Vega said. “While I valued the opportunity to take classes in each department, I realized that my own academic interests would require me to put these classes into conversation with one another in a more intentional way.”

Through its interdisciplinary studies program, Gettysburg College encourages students to be innovative and find ways to make their education unique. To do this, the College allows students to integrate and design a major that combines coursework from at least two departments or fields with other experiences such as internships and off-campus study. Not only do students make connections across courses, they are also self-reflective and able to express a growing self-awareness about themselves and their education.

To enhance her interdisciplinary major, Vega spent four months in Morocco working as a student journalist. She traveled across the North African country learning about its history, current events, and people. She wrote stories about those she became friends with, talked to street artists about their large murals in the souks, and even learned how to make different Moroccan meals. “Being in Morocco pushed me out of my comfort zone and yet, I loved every second of it,” Vega said. “Between every awkward moment I had due to the language barrier, there were many more moments of laughter, discovery and growth.”

Prof. notes - Charles (Buz) Myers Jr. P'09 BuzMyersProfNotes-1170px

Buz on campus

I like to tell people it’s a Biblical name from Genesis 22, but that’s not why I have the nickname. My parents gave it to me—I’m a junior and my father was “Bus” so I am “Buz.” There’s no significance to the one “z.”

On the meaning of life

Emeritus Prof. Carey A. Moore taught a course on death and dying for 25 years, and when he retired he made me promise to continue teaching it. The thesis of my Death and the Meaning of Life course, now a First-Year Seminar, is that you can’t understand the meaning of life if you haven’t confronted the reality of your own death. Death is in everything around us, but we rarely talk about it— we are a death-denying society. I am interested in getting students to wrestle with the reality of death.

On gratitude

I was once asked what I would say to students if it were my last lecture. What I would say is, “Thank you.” Every class has its own character; the excitement of my students is contagious, and they challenge me to think more deeply and be more engaged.

I was on my way to class 10 or 15 years ago when I got a phone call from a former student, Martha Griswold Quijano ’93. She had been through brain surgery and endured a great deal of pain. She said that during that time she thought about my lecture on how much pain Jesus must have endured during his crucifixion (pictured, a first century Roman nail) and she called to thank me.

I was so touched by the story and to hear what impact I’d had on her, then heartbroken when I learned that she died in 2015. Martha was a remarkable person. Students don’t know the impact they have on the people who teach them.

Prof. Charles (Buz) Myers Jr. P’09 held the Edwin T. Johnson and Cynthia Shearer Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities Chair and served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, Myers teaches and preaches in local churches and regional and national conferences. He has received awards for his work in prison ministry.

Strategic technology enhancements increase interdisciplinary collaboration in the sciences Students in the chemistry lab

Alexander Paredes ’20, a biochemistry & molecular biology major, is frequently sequestered away in Science Center Room 359 as he makes measurements with the Jasco J-1500 Circular Dichroism (CD) Spectropolarimeter, a new scientific instrument that arrived on campus last fall.

“The new instrument expands collaboration between faculty and students, and these connections allow us to shape our future in research,” said Paredes, who is using the CD for his research studying the characteristics and applications of enzymes designed in Chemistry Prof. Kate Buettner’s lab. “Because of the instrument, I’ve been able to ask new questions in the lab and develop my own independent research, which has helped me confidently collect and analyze data.”

Alex working with the Circular Dichroism Spectropolarimeter

The CD, which was funded by a $112,136 National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation Grant, is one of two recent additions to the sciences at Gettysburg College. The second, an atomic force microscope (AFM)—the most versatile scanning probe microscope available to scientists—was acquired through a generous $150,000 grant awarded by the George I. Alden Trust.  

The grants were a collaborative effort by several faculty in the sciences. Chemistry Prof. Shelli Frey was the primary investigator (PI) on the NSF grant. Physics Prof. Kurt Andresen, Prof. Buettner, and Chemistry Prof. Lucas Thompson are co-PIs. For the George I. Alden Trust, Frey and Thompson were the lead faculty members on the AFM proposal. 

Integration with curriculum

These instruments have far-reaching impact, bolstering the research programs of faculty across disciplines. As a result, Gettysburg College students are provided with the opportunity to work on timely problems facing scientists today—as well as access to the tools they need to investigate real solutions.

“In my research lab, we are currently focused on measuring how the cell membrane affects the aggregation of neurodegenerative proteins that cause Huntington’s disease,” said Frey. “The acquisition of these two instruments allows us to explore new and exciting research trajectories within this project with a focus on molecular structure details.”

Alex and Olivia working in the lab

This fall, the College will create a multidisciplinary imaging suite—a shared space in the Science Center—to house the AFM along with two existing pieces of research-grade instrumentation—a transmission electron microscope and a fluorescence microscope.

“Housing these instruments in a new interdisciplinary imaging suite will put three of our most advanced instruments in the same physical location. The close proximity in which these students will work helps them understand how the research they are doing is interrelated,” Thompson said.

The CD and atomic force microscope are also being integrated into the undergraduate curriculum at Gettysburg.

As an example, the AFM will be used in a new laboratory experiment in the first semester of introductory chemistry, a course taken by over 200 students annually, where they will directly visualize the physical dimensions of a molecular layer. In the second semester of the course, they will have hands-on experience with the CD—which uses circularly polarized light to investigate the structure of optically active molecules—as they assay protein folding and stability.

Collaboration across colleges

The instruments complement the College’s dedication to scientific exploration and curiosity, and they have the potential to connect students, schools, and colleges miles away from each other.

An integral part of the grant application for the CD was the inclusion of faculty from four nearby colleges—Messiah, Lebanon Valley, Franklin and Marshall, and Ursinus Colleges—who will travel to Gettysburg with their students to run experiments on this instrument.

"Having the CD located in my lab not only allows Gettysburg College students easy access to instrumentation for experiments, but has also enabled new research directions with my collaborator, Amanda Reig, at Ursinus,” said Buettner. “We are working to develop new, unnatural enzymes with metal binding sites for potential use as therapeutics and catalysts. The CD enables my students to check that our proteins are well structured, so that we can begin testing them in these applications.

Like Alex Paredes, chemistry major Olivia Peduzzi ’20 gained hands-on experience with the new CD in the Buettner lab. Because of the experiences she’s had in the lab with her professors and with the instruments, Peduzzi is excited about her future.

Olivia in the lab

“I really appreciate how Gettysburg gives me the opportunity to work side by side with my professors to get hands on experiences in the lab,” Peduzzi said. “The support of the professors gives me the confidence to take my own initiatives, design my own experiments, and become my own scientist.”

The show must go on David LeVan inside the Majestic Theater

David LeVan ’68 wasn’t unlike many other children. He would sprint to the outskirts of his family’s lawn in Gettysburg, adorned in his favorite—albeit oversized—cowboy hat, and dream of his moment to save the day.

Loyalty, honor, and a steady hand in times of uncertainty—these were the attributes that defined his silver screen heroes, icons like John Wayne and Gary Cooper who lifted his spirit and captivated the imagination of friends and neighbors at the Majestic Theater.

Historic Majestic“I have so many great memories of the Majestic from a very early age,” LeVan reflected. “As a kid, the Majestic was the heart of entertainment. I’d go there with my parents and older sister. They played Disney shows, nature shows, animated shows, and of course Westerns—Westerns were huge at the time.”

The grandeur of the Majestic—its lights, curtains, and enchanting marquee—left a lasting impression on LeVan. It was a place for excitement, a place for family.

When he returned to Gettysburg many years later, however, LeVan discovered that the Majestic no longer resembled the theater he remembered. It was weathered, worn, and itself in need of saving.

“It was almost depressing to see it in the condition it was in,” lamented LeVan, who built a successful career over 30 years in the railroad industry, ultimately ascending to CEO of Conrail, before returning to his hometown in 1998. “The Majestic was such a special place to me, and to see how it had deteriorated was really difficult.”

LeVan—Gettysburg College’s Chair of the Board at the time—and the College’s 12th President Gordon Haaland soon began to brainstorm strategies to bring the Majestic back to prominence.

“Gordon recognized the Majestic’s potential as a performing arts center,” said LeVan. “I understood the price tag for a restoration like this would be steep, but I also saw it as a great opportunity for us to create a stronger bond between the College and the town.”

Haaland shared that the College would provide much-needed capital support for the project, but in order for the endeavor to truly be successful, it would require a resilient and dynamic Gettysburgian at the helm—and he had one specific alumnus in mind.

“That’s when the ask came,” LeVan declared with a laugh.

“I had recently started Battlefield Harley-Davidson in Gettysburg, and I felt given my leadership role in town and at the College, I was the best person to lead this campaign.”

Inspired by LeVan’s lead gift and vision for the Majestic, generous donors within the community and across the state rallied to resurrect the theater through a bold 16-month, $16.5 million restoration project in 2004 and 2005.

Today, the Majestic Theater—owned and operated by Gettysburg College—is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places; serves as the rehearsal and performance home for the Sunderman Conservatory of Music’s orchestra and wind ensembles; and presents a live celebrity series with acclaimed performers from around the world, as well as award-winning independent films in its two nightly cinemas. In fact, the League of Historic American Theatres has cited the Majestic as a national model for small-town college and community partnerships.

And at any given performance, you’ll find LeVan seated in his favorite spot—first row, center balcony.

“Every time I walk through these doors, I feel a sense of pride in the role I played for the Majestic Theater,” he said, citing both the artistic and economic impact it has had on the community. “It is really one of the top five endeavors I have ever undertaken.”

100 Years and Beyond

A decorated dinner table at the anniversary celebration at the MajesticOn November 13, 2017—the eve of the Majestic’s 92nd birthday—Gettysburg College alumni, donors, and friends gathered for an exclusive evening together to celebrate the legacy of the Majestic Theater, as well as prepare for the future.

The event—underwritten by LeVan and featuring a keynote address by Randy Cohen, vice president of research and policy at Americans for the Arts—focused on the Centennial Endowment Campaign, a multimillion-dollar fundraising effort aimed at creating an endowment to expand and diversify its programming. These funds will ensure Majestic programming remains as entertaining and relevant for future generations.

“In many ways, the Majestic Theater is the cultural heartbeat of our historic town—and really all of south-central Pennsylvania,” said Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 before the crowd in attendance. “It’s up to all of us to ensure that it keeps beating strong for years to come.”

LeVan agrees.

“The arts are what enriches people’s lives. Singing, acting, dancing—we have a responsibility to expose a new generation to the arts. I think that is critically important,” he said.

“That’s why this endowment is essential to the future of our Majestic Theater. It will provide the kind of security that will allow us to take risks in our programming into the future and showcase many art forms here in Gettysburg.”

For information about how you can support the Majestic Endowment Campaign, please contact Jean LeGros ’73, gift officer for the Majestic Theater, at or 717.337.6481.

The diversity of The Gettysburg Network Cathie Wood P’15 creates entrepreneurial connections for Gettysburg College students.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Head-down focus. Inspiration. Passion. The drive to make the world a better place.

According to Cathie Wood P’15, these elements, among others, can lead a Gettysburg entrepreneur to success, just as they launched her company, ARK Investment Management, to more than $7 billion in assets under management (AUM) in just four short years.

Wood, whose daughter Caroline Wood ’15 was an art history major and Spanish minor, saw an opportunity to use her entrepreneurial experience to assist Gettysburg students in creating their own businesses.

So she donated to support Gettysburg’s Entrepreneurial Fellowship, a summer fellowship where venture ideas can be explored and students develop the experience, connections, and skills necessary to help them view entrepreneurship as a career.

The Entrepreneurial Fellowship is part of the larger Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Initiative (E-SII) at the College. “At Gettysburg, we believe the diversity of our experience enhances our ability,” said Economics Prof. Drew Murphy, the program’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. “E-SII endeavors to teach, through experiential learning, the skills of applying one’s talents and educational training to tackling real world problems.”

Wood is one example of how The Gettysburg Network comprises a variety of individuals, including alums, friends, and parents who provide numerous career connections for Gettysburg College students. Over the past few years, Gettysburg has worked with parents, like Wood, and alumni to provide over 8,000 opportunities for career exploration.

Wood, who was also involved in the Parents Leadership Council and the Center for Career Engagement’s seminar and shadowing programs, began her career in finance while still in college and moved to New York City in 1980 to become an economist and equity analyst.

“As an analyst, I had to find my own universe, stocks of my own,” she said. That’s when Reuters and Telerate, precursors to the internet, hit the market and no one wanted them but Wood. Similarly, when Vodafone went public, Wood jumped at what would become a leader in wireless.

So began Wood’s fascination with innovation and how it plays into the world of investments. In 2014, Wood decided to start her own firm focused on producing growth through researching and investing in disruptive innovations.

Though Wood had no hesitancy in starting the firm, many of her friends thought she was crazy to venture out on her own at that point in her career. There to cheer her on in the beginning were the connections she built at Gettysburg College, especially Betsy Duncan Diehl ’84, P14, the associate vice president of development and donor relations. “Betsy and Janet [Morgan Riggs ’77] so believed in what I was doing to start my business and were personally excited,” said Wood. “I was equally impressed with their sincerity and desire to make a difference in young students’ lives.”

Just as Gettysburg offered her support, she has returned the support. Wood’s dedication to Gettysburg’s student entrepreneurs continues today, providing a vital connection in the invaluable Gettysburg career network.

Wood’s daughter Caroline ’15 now works for ARK Investment Management as a marketing associate, harnessing social media to reach a broader population in ways completely new to the financial industry.

The E-SII program is introducing an alumni-parent mentor program aimed at promoting the value of connecting student interest and alumni-parent expertise. Learn more about participating in or donating to Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation programs at Gettysburg College.

Wrongfully convicted author Anthony Ray Hinton to students: "Forgiveness is freedom" Just-Mercy_1170

Gettysburg College believes in creating an environment that generates enthusiasm around student learning. To cultivate that experience, all first-year students participated in the 5th annual First-Year Common Reading Program. The program provides a common intellectual experience for first-year students; promotes college-level engagement through critical reading and discussion; and fosters a sense of community among first-year students, faculty and staff.

This year’s Common Read was Just Mercy, a book focused on mercy, redemption, and a plea to fix a broken justice system. Authored by Attorney Bryan Stevenson, the 368-page book shares the story about a young, newly-barred lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a legal practice committed to protecting the wrongly condemned and convicted. Stevenson brought stories about men and women like Marsha Colby, Walter MacMillan, and Anthony Ray Hinton into living rooms around the world with his inspiring book.

As a way to bring the discussion about Just Mercy and issues of social and racial injustice to life, Gettysburg’s extended orientation program Charting Your Course (CYC), invited Anthony Ray Hinton, one of Stevenson’s clients who spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row, to campus. Hinton recently released The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, a powerful memoir that reveals the power of hope.

Faculty and students sat stunned and silent as they listened to Hinton’s emotional and heart-wrenching story about survival, redemption, and mercy. Having been arrested and convicted for two murders he did not commit, he spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row. “For 3 years after I was convicted, I didn’t talk to another human being because I was so filled with hate,” Hinton said.

But on April 3, 2015, Hinton exited the Jefferson County Jail, and instead of hate, he was filled with forgiveness. “I forgave so I could sleep at night,” he said. “True forgiveness is the only way to be free, and I want to be free

A standing ovation ended the lecture, but it did not end ongoing discussions. It’s critical for Gettysburg College to build and maintain an environment that asks questions and challenges assumptions, so important conversations across campus will continue as students discuss Just Mercy, Anthony Ray Hinton’s lecture, and issues of racial and social injustice.

Gettysburg College raises over $160 million in record-setting campaign Greatness is within us. That is the belief that propelled our Gettysburg College community to raise a record-setting $160 million through a seven-year comprehensive campaign.

Campaign Numbers revealedWith a goal of $150 million, Gettysburg Great: The Campaign for Our College was the largest and most ambitious fundraising effort in the College’s 186-year history. The Campaign focused on five key priorities to enhance the Gettysburg experience: student scholarships, faculty support, engaged learning opportunities, global initiatives, and annual giving through the Gettysburg Fund and Orange & Blue Club.

In total, our College received gifts from 25,132 alumni, parents, employees, and friends—a testament to Gettysburg’s mission, values, and relevance in the world.

“I am humbled not only by how many of you chose to give back during this Campaign, but also by how far you reached to assure that our College continues to provide an exceptional liberal arts education into the future,” said President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 at the Campaign Celebration during Homecoming Weekend on campus.

Through the Gettysburg Great Campaign, our donors created 132 endowed scholarships and 100 Gettysburg Fund Named Scholarships—totaling nearly $50 million in scholarship support.
Pres. Janet Morgan Riggs '77“A student scholarship is about more than just dollars and cents,” said Riggs in her Celebration address. “It translates to four words that breathe life into a student’s dreams, four words that can change their future forever—I believe in you. There is no greater message for young people trying to make their way in the world, and you provide this for our students with your support.”

Of course, to produce great graduates, we need great teachers. Gifts to the Gettysburg Great Campaign endowed seven professorships and one expert-in-residence position. In addition, donors supported Gettysburg faculty with funds to conduct research, travel to conferences, and secure state-of-the-art classroom equipment.

Investments in our faculty have proven fruitful. Gettysburg College was recently ranked #15 in the nation among all colleges and universities by The Princeton Review for the Best Classroom Experience—and in U.S. News & World Report, Gettysburg College ranked #28 in the country for the Best Classroom Teaching.

During our Campaign, we also created 315 new undergraduate research opportunities for Gettysburg students—and 37 funds for career-related experiences and other co-curricular offerings across campus and around the globe. These funds helped strengthen not only our nationally recognized Center for Career Engagement and Center for Public Service, but several other marquee programs as well, including the Garthwait Leadership Center, Civil War Institute, Eisenhower Institute, Sunderman Conservatory of Music, and Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Initiative (E-SII).

On campus, the impact of the Campaign is evident through our new Fourjay Welcome Center; renovated Hatter Planetarium, science labs, and athletic facilities; and countless other areas, including our two new Anatomage Tables—the most technologically advanced virtual dissection tables in the world today.

Truly, the Gettysburg Great Campaign has transformed our College—and the lives of our students.
Wind Symphony and Choir at Campaign Event“This Campaign has always been about our students—empowering them to make a difference in the world,” said Trustee and Former Chair of the Board Jim Chemel ’71. “We look forward to seeing the many ways they will benefit from our community’s tremendous generosity for years to come.”

Moving forward, our fundraising focus turns to advancing the College’s strategic plan, The Unfinished Work. Inspired by Lincoln’s legacy, this plan emphasizes three key themes: Impact; Inclusion and Internationalization; and Innovation—all components that are critical to cultivating the transformative leaders of tomorrow.

To learn more about the impact of Gettysburg Great: The Campaign for Our College, watch for our Campaign Final Report hitting mailboxes soon along with the fall edition of Gettysburg magazine. 

Forging the path to CEO In March of 2000, the dot-com bubble began to burst. Just two months later, the Gettysburg Class of 2000 marched through the doors of Penn Hall in their caps and gowns.

Included in the procession was Lauren Cooney '00, a history and management double major who was signed up to become an AmeriCorps VISTA member in San Francisco. "I had no idea what I wanted to do after college," Cooney recalled. "I knew I wanted it to be something of importance, changing the norm, making things better for other people, and ensuring that these efforts would stand the test of time.

Fast forward 18 years. Today, as the founder and CEO of Spark Labs, Cooney leads and empowers companies and their executives to create, innovate, and ideate in new ways that grow their business and strategic value in the market. From large, publicly-traded companies to small start-ups, Cooney makes her mark in a way that produces a ripple effect across the globe.

"In August of 2000, everyone was leaving San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, and I was just showing up," said Cooney.

Cooney did not just show up. With a sense of relentless grit and determination, Cooney spend the next 15 years making her way through the nonprofit realm, into venture capital, and into management and senior leadership positions at some of the largest and most recognized companies in the country, including BEA Systems (now Oracle), IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems. She’s been honored by Business Insider, The Huffington Post, CIO Magazine and many others as a top industry expert in cloud computing, new business strategy and open source software. She’s also passionate about helping women in technology to reach the leadership ranks, where they are vastly underrepresented.

While at BEA Systems, Cooney's vice president asked her where she wanted to be in 10 years. In her early-twenties at the time she responded, after a short pause of uncertainty: "I want to be an executive leader at a publicly run company."

To work at the executive level, his advice was to become “an all-around,” Cooney explained. "At the start, you need depth in an area or two. You need to be the ‘expert’ in those areas. From there, you need to learn to be an all-around—to manage the various things that come your way, from finance to human resources, legal, acquisitions, media and more,” she said. “You have to network with people out of your comfort zone, and in different areas. You won’t get to the top by just being a single topic expert—you need to fundamentally understand how a business is run so you can lead a business one day.”

It was an explanation Cooney knew well as a liberal arts graduate. She went on to carry various roles at major companies on the west coast, from creating and leading open source software and multiple business divisions to building new software platforms from the ground up.

Being a young female in the technology mecca of the world is not easy. Often mistaken for support staff as she climbed the ladder, Cooney started a women's mentoring program while at Cisco and took on board of director roles at nonprofits that empower women. “I’ve dealt with the politics. I’ve been that new leader that no one trusts at first. I’ve broken down walls and taken the big risks. Sometimes people just need a little advice and a push to get there, and I’m always happy to help.”

All the while, she was expanding and building on her breadth of knowledge that would eventually lead her to starting her own consulting firm in late 2017.

"I wanted to help people do amazing things and change the world in new ways," she said. "I figured if I could be at all of these companies and change the way they thought, built, and delivered new solutions to customers with amazing technologies and advanced lean business models, why couldn't I do this for my own clients as well?"

Cooney took the leap and created a website for her new consulting company, Spark Labs. “Spark” was meant to represent ideas, and the word “Labs” represented the work she and her company would be doing behind the scenes for their clients. At first, she was toying with the idea, but then after discussions with many entrepreneurs, leaders, and mentors, she got serious about creating a company. “I think I talked to maybe 20 people that I trusted in my network about the idea,” she said. “Every single one of them told me to take the leap. So, I decided it was time.”

Committed to launch, Cooney resigned from her corporate position. As she started to build the company, she realized she would need strong partners to round out the offerings of Spark Labs and an advisory board to help direct her, including prominent leaders from Salesforce, Cisco, Amazon, and others. Familiar with new organizations, she prepared to face multiple “nos,” a common response as a company, product, or new solution launches.  As a Gettysburg alum, she knew the feeling of resistance was an indication that a new path was ready to be forged.

"I've learned that you are going to face pushback and people who are going to tell you that you are not good enough along the way. You just have to push through it. Believe in yourself, your business and your worth," Cooney said. “Entrepreneurship is not just about smarts, about knowing the industry well—it’s also a test of endurance. You don’t just start a business and have success overnight. It’s something you have to work hard at and constantly be learning more along the way.”

Cooney learned this as she faced multiple rejections this past January, finally signing her first client in February of this year and following it up quickly with five additional clients. She called the first round of clients her “beta group.” Each company understood that they would be learning from each other during the first six months of Spark Labs’s inception. It worked well, and now Cooney is revising a few areas of the business, learning from what her clients taught her. To learn is to be in constant sync and revision of what you see, hear and experience, and one of the tenants of a strong and aware leader, Cooney said.

Today she forges ahead with her new venture, both as an executive and an entrepreneur. Always innovating, Spark Labs utilizes lean models for technology and business to help draw out ideas, strengths and gaps, and, often times, to realign companies and their teams on the same path forward.

Working with amazing companies and people and helping them to change the world in new ways gives Cooney a chance to remember her roots as well, coming full circle back to her first position out of college as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. “In the beginning, I never thought I would be someone who would start her own company. A CEO position does everything, literally. I didn’t think I had it in me—but in taking that leap, I am learning that I do,” said Cooney.

Today she is just that: an entrepreneur, a tremendously successful business woman, an “all-around,” and a liberal arts Gettysburg College graduate.

Learn more about opportunities for exploration for young entrepreneurs at Gettysburg College. Learn more about Spark Labs at To reach Lauren directly, you can email her or connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Article by Devan White ’11

Eight faculty members earn tenure Earning tenure is a major milestone, and eight Gettysburg College professors achieved that milestone this year. With expertise on topics ranging from sociolinguistics and foreign language education to bird ecology and conservation to World War II political philosophy, these professors have inspired students and led by academic example. 

Interdisciplinary Studies Prof. Abdulkareem Said Ramadan

Prof. Abdulkareem Said Ramadan earned his PhD in Arabic and Applied Linguistics at the University of Damascus where he also earned an MA in Arabic Syntax and Morphology. His research interests include Arabic syntax and morphology, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, and foreign language education.

Said Ramadan’s course objectives aim to reinforce the College’s commitment to internationalization and creating greater global awareness for students. “One of my fundamental goals as a teacher is to inspire my students to make interdisciplinary connections and to develop the ability to think critically from diverse perspectives,” he said. “I believe that the integration of knowledge and the capacity to make connections across disciplines are at the core of the liberal arts education.”

Since coming to Gettysburg in 2011, Ramadan has enjoyed the opportunity to combine his research interests with teaching Arabic language and culture. “My work at Gettysburg College has been invaluable in developing and experimenting with new Arabic language pedagogy, which I made use of in my courses, and in providing a foundation for my research in second language learning and Arabic grammar,” he said.

Environmental Studies Prof. Andrew Wilson

Prof. Andrew Wilson first taught at Gettysburg College as an adjunct professor in Environmental Studies. Shortly after, he earned a full-time faculty position in the department. Most of his research over the years has focused on birds, and in particular, how environmental change impacts bird populations and distributions. In addition, he has worked extensively with large-scale Citizen Science projects and developed expertise in analyzing large data sets, usually with a spatial component.

In the classroom, Wilson seeks to engage his students in the study of natural history and teaches them the basics of field biology and species identification. In doing so, he ignites a passion and enthusiasm for wildlife in many of his students. “There are plenty of jobs out there that require field biology skills,” he said. “A love and understanding of wildlife provides wonderful opportunities for lifelong learning and improving our mental health.”

Psychology Prof. Christopher Barlett

When he was seven years old, Prof. Christopher Barlett knew he wanted to be a professor like his dad. “My dad was (and still is) my hero, so I was naturally inclined to want to do what he did,” Barlett said. “Watching him teach inspired me, and I knew that I was going to get my PhD.”

He earned his PhD in social psychology from Iowa State University in 2012. Barlett is an experimental social psychologist who studies the variables and psychological processes involved in aggression. He uses experimental, correlational, meta-analytic, and longitudinal methods to answer theoretical questions regarding aggression. “The balance between teaching and research is important,” he said. “Gettysburg College expects research to be done at a high caliber level, and teaching 2 to 3 classes per semester makes that possible.”

When teaching in the classroom, Barlett focuses on getting his students to understand the complexity of research design. “I am a big proponent of theory and teaching how various research designs can be used to build, test, and (dis)confirm,” he said. “I strive to get students to learn the details of research studies while emphasizing how such details are used to build theory.”

Philosophy Prof. Gary Mullen

 Prof. Gary Mullen’s research focuses on developments in social and political philosophy after World War II and the specific challenges posed to democracy by developments in media technology and its potential to distort public opinion and political judgment. His current research on the work of Theodor W. Adorno addresses the need to revise our most basic assumptions about freedom, rational agency and national sovereignty in the face of genocide.

Mullen’s students benefit from his expertise in political philosophy, and he brings his research and experiences into the classroom. “I’m amazed at the level of interaction I get with my students, and the energy they bring to the classroom,” Mullen said. “They’re interested in how philosophy effects everyday life, and they recognize that inquiry should never stop.”

Africana Studies Prof. Hakim Williams

Prof. Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Director of Peace and Justice Studies, and a faculty affiliate in Education, Globalization Studies, and Public Policy. He completed his BA in Psychology at St. Francis College, Brooklyn; a Master of Education in Comparative and International Education with a concentration in philosophy of education, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Education in International Educational Development, with a concentration in peace education, at Teachers College, Columbia University.

After studying school violence and bullying, Williams’s interest expanded to include the structural violence of educational inequity. He also works on student, teacher, and community empowerment, and has been conducting a nine-year longitudinal study in Trinidad & Tobago. “My research feeds directly into all of the classes I teach, and I am able to give my students a very present-day sense of contemporary life in the Caribbean.”

Williams said he believes that this life demands a particular kind of global citizen and sets out to help prepare his students for that kind critical citizenship. “In the moment, many of my students complain, but many come back later on and thank me for raising the bar in the classroom,” Williams said. “After they graduate, I want them to be able to wrangle with the best anywhere in the world.”

Psychology Prof. Kathy Berenson

After conducting clinical and personality psychology research at large universities, Prof. Kathy Berenson came to Gettysburg College because she craved a closer working relationship with her students. “At Gettysburg College, students have opportunities to work closely with faculty, in ways you don’t see most places,” she said. “The depth and breadth of experience that students in my department get as research assistants and independent researchers—in our advanced lab classes, working in our labs, and during intensive summer research fellowships—is really quite remarkable.”

Berenson’s research is on the processes by which social-cultural risk factors are associated with mental health problems. She’s also interested in the experiences of people living with mental illness, including stigma, identity concerns, and relationship strain. Most recently, Berenson has been studying the ways in which popular trends in our culture, such as over-valuing self-confidence, may be interfering with compassion for ourselves and others.

Over the years, Berenson has taught her students about the mental health field, and helped them understand its hidden complexities hidden in the field. “Many students have the desire to help people with mental health problems, but this is a topic so strongly linked with conflicting emotions and popular misconceptions that it can be hard for them to know where to begin,” she said. “I think my work with students, both in and out of the classroom, helps them accept that the mental health field has no easy answers, and that the complex scientific and personal challenges it presents can nevertheless be very rewarding to take on.”

English Prof. McKinley E. Melton

As a sophomore at Duke University, Prof. McKinley Melton was invited to an informational dinner for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, which was a program designed to help diversify the professoriate by encouraging and supporting underrepresented students in their pursuit of PhDs. It was at this dinner that Melton decided he was going to get his PhD.

Prior to joining the Gettysburg College faculty, Melton was a visiting assistant professor of literature at Hampshire College from 2007-2012. He primarily works in 20th and 21st Century African American Literature, but situates his work within the broader African Diaspora by looking at West African and Afro-Caribbean literary traditions. He explores multiple genres, with a primary emphasis on novels and poetry, but is also interested in ways that religious and spiritual traditions inform creative expression for Africana peoples and cultures. He’s written mostly on prolific author James Baldwin but also published essays on Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Danez Smith, among others.

Melton was drawn to Gettysburg College because of its commitment to the tradition of the liberal arts. “The idea of an integrative educational experience, where students are encouraged to place concepts from classrooms across campus in conversation with one another, is pretty powerful,” Melton said. “Moreover, Gettysburg is very intentional in offering the support and resources to help students be successful in their academic pursuits.”

Biology Prof. Ryan Kerney

As an organismal biologist, Prof. Ryan Kerney studies amphibian embryos and larvae. His particular research questions have focused on the formation and metamorphosis of the skeleton, the evolution of amphibian life histories, and interactions between embryos and microbes. “Since arriving at the College and have raised over $1.4 million in outside support for my research with students and collaborators,” he said. “However, a large amount of my work focuses on updating and revising our introductory biology offerings in order to make them more inclusive and inquiry-based.”

The primary courses that Kerney teaches are in introductory biology, but on alternating years he offers either a seminar on microbial symbioses or a developmental biology course. “The course on microbial interactions is a terrific way to expose students to some of the microbial interactions that I and many others study,” he said. “Developmental biology spans cloning, stem cells, assisted reproduction, and a huge range of advances in our understanding of gene function and morphogenesis using model organisms.”

Having arrived at the college in 2012 after working on environmental policy at the Department of Energy, Kerney has spent the last six years teaching and doing research, but his experiences in the classroom helped to create an environment that he could be proud of. “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some terrific students in my lab and classes,” Kerney said. “It has been amazing to watch them cultivate their interests and directions in both lab and life.”

Diversity, inclusion, and difficult conversations Many Gettysburgians remember where they were when they first learned of their acceptance to Gettysburg College. Maybe it was standing at a mailbox: the bigger the envelope, the better the news. Maybe it was in a college counselor’s office, or maybe, if you were Tyra Riedemonn ’20, it was while talking to Al Roker on a live broadcast of NBC’s Today Show.

Riedemonn, a native of Washington Heights in Manhattan, attended the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem (TYWLS) and became involved in the CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) during high school. CBI places full-time college guidance experts in high-need public schools in New York City to empower young women and men to realize their higher education and career potential.

With the assistance of her CBI college counselor, Tyra applied to 23 schools, with Gettysburg College being her number one choice. “Another student from my high school, Nene Sy ’18, whom I always looked up to, attended Gettysburg,” said Riedemonn. “When admissions reps started coming to TYWLS, Darryl Jones arrived from Gettysburg. We had the longest conversation. I knew if they sent someone as great as Darryl, there must have been something so awesome about the College.” Gettysburg College became Tyra’s top choice without her ever stepping foot on campus.

Riedemonn learned of her acceptance on the Today Show as Al Roker made his traditional rounds in Rockefeller Center. A group of CBI students attended that morning to bring awareness to the program, with Riedemonn designated as the speaker of the group. After describing CBI to Roker, Riedemonn’s college counselor surprised her with her long-awaited Gettysburg College acceptance.

Gettysburg’s partnership with CBI remains strong. “The CollegeBound Initiative greatly expanded our access to high performing students in New York City,” said Senior Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator for Multicultural Admission Darryl Jones. “Gettysburg College provides opportunities to transform the lives of CBI students through our rich and varied academic and co-curricular offerings, and just as important, students from CBI have helped to change the conversation from diversity to having real inclusion by becoming leaders in cultural clubs, committees, as tour guides, as interns, and all other aspects of the College.”

Now a junior, Riedemonn has done just that. From serving as senate rep for the Asian Student Alliance to a member of Alpha Phi Omega, she has her hands in various clubs and organizations throughout campus.

Tyra Riedemonn with friend

Among her many roles, Riedemonn serves as vice president of the College Panhellenic Association as a Tri Sigma. “My goal is to increase diversity and acceptance in Greek life,” said Riedemonn. “It was never on my radar to join Greek life, but then I realized that Greek members at Gettysburg do so much more.” Riedemonn leads a committee called GLEIC—Greek Life Equity and Inclusion Committee—which hosts events that are open to all of Campus, Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

All the while, Riedemonn works in the admissions office as a tour guide, student information presenter, and co-coordinator of multicultural visits under Jones, who made such a lasting impact early on. “I love talking to people and getting to know the prospective students,” said Riedemonn. “As a first generation college student, I didn’t know what to expect when starting at Gettysburg, so I enjoy sharing all of the opportunities they have before them.”

Coming full circle, Riedemonn also serves as an alumni leader for a three-day summer program CBI holds on Gettysburg’s campus that walks high school students through topics such as essay writing, the first-year experience, and college life in general.

A double major in theatre arts and cinema and media studies, Riedemonn is still unsure of life after Gettysburg. “There is definitely a trip to the Center for Career Engagement in my near future,” Riedemonn said with a laugh. “When the time comes to leave Gettysburg, I want people to know not to be afraid to have difficult conversations, especially surrounding inclusion. It’s not about what you say, but how you say it.”

Watch Al Roker surprise Tyra.