News@Gettysburg Latest news coverage from Gettysburg College Why Suzy Won’t Take Science and Dan Won’t Play With Dolls “Very few readers are delusional, but they do exist,” Sharon Stephenson read aloud to a room of writers at last year’s Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. It was the tail end of a public reading. Most writers had already shared their work, and it was the time of night when most start to fidget in their chairs and wonder if they can discreetly check their phones.  “In fact, one stands before you now, an outlier on the distribution,” Stephenson continued. “We rare delusional readers believe that perhaps this specific event will be magical.”

She captured the room’s attention—and kept it. (Another writer would later blog about it.)  

Sharon Stephenson headshotStephenson has also captured the attention of several literary nonfiction magazines over the past several years. Her work has been published in well-known publications like Shenandoah; her work is forthcoming in Fourth Genre. She’s a prolific and thoughtful writer. To those on the Gettysburg campus, however, she’s more widely known as Prof. Sharon Stephenson, the nuclear physicist. It wouldn’t be until Stephenson started teaching her First-Year Seminar, Why Suzy Won’t Take Science and Dan Won’t Play With Dolls, that she would discover she was also a writer.

Sharon Stephenson's First-Year SeminarThe First-Year Seminar program at Gettysburg comprises courses on a broad spectrum of topics that are driven by the personal interests of faculty. Stephenson’s class touches on issues of difference and gender and their intersection with science. For example, scientific studies have shown the impact on data of “stereotype threat,” a situation in which people feel like they might fulfill stereotypes about their perceived group. Stephenson asks students to think about how this may affect the scientific process. Is science always really objective? If we’re told our gender is bad at math or good at science, what does that do to our test scores.

Like other seminars in the menu of options, Stephenson’s course also incorporates a strong writing component, requiring students to write and critique one another’s work.

“Writing in the first year is crucial for our students, and is what sets us apart as a liberal arts college—teaching students to communicate well,” said Stephenson.

But when she first started teaching the seminar, Stephenson felt like she wasn’t applying the same steps she uses as a scientist to her own writing process.  

“As a physicist, having my peers assess my work is a huge component of my work—that’s what scholars do. But I wasn’t doing that for the First-Year Seminar, and it felt weird, ” she said.

So Stephenson reached out to the editor of The Gettysburg Review, Mark Drew, who recommended that she attend a writing workshop.

“I worked in the nonfiction group, starting to write memoir-ish pieces,” she said.  “You had to come in with 20-30 pages of written work ready to be critiqued. I ended up implementing many of the prompts and critique methods I learned there to teaching the First-Year Seminar.”

Soon Stephenson also began writing more of her own work and submitting it for publication.

“I started putting my work out there and embracing rejection, which is the hallmark of writers, I’ve found,” Stephenson joked. “But that’s good for me, too, because it helps me connect more with the struggles students have. I’ve become a novice again.  I think it’s helpful for faculty members to remind themselves what it’s like to be intellectually vulnerable.”

Stephenson is teaching the First-Year Seminar with Vice President for College Life Julie Ramsey. In addition to focusing on issues of gender, science, technology and society, race, and sexual orientation, they will focus on this concept of resilience—teaching students that to be intellectually vulnerable is required for personal and professional growth.

“I want them to be fiercely curious and unafraid of failure,” said Stephenson, “and I want to be one of a chorus of diverse faculty and students who make us question the world more. That’s a pretty big goal for one class that meets for four hours, twice a week. But, you know, go big or go home.”  

Read more about the First-Year Seminar Program.

Read Stephenson’s creative and scientific work published in The Cupola.

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 02:33:20 EDT
Lecture. Snorkel. Lecture. Snorkel. Natalie Pitman ’17 swims with whale sharks Natalie Pitman ’17 knew she wasn’t supposed to get too close to the whale shark.

She had been studying them for the past semester as a part of her field research during her semester abroad in Australia. As a result, she was well versed in the legislation enacted for their protection. No hunting whale sharks. No tour boats getting too close. No diving underneath them, unless for scientific research. The only reason why she was even allowed to swim with them was because of her research—and the connections of her research advisor, Australia’s leading whale shark expert.

None of that made a difference, though, as the whale shark insisted on swimming in her direction.

“Every whale shark has a different personality,” Pitman said. “Some are very fast, some are slow, some don’t care that we are there at all, but this one was very interested in us. He had small eyes and couldn’t see very well, so he kept swimming at us and we had to keep moving out of the way.

“It was my last trip into the water, and it was just such a fantastic experience.”

Natalie Pitman swimming with a shark.

Following a dream

When Pitman first began looking at colleges, she knew she would have the opportunity to study abroad, conduct hands-on research, and more to explore her academic interests when she first began researching Gettysburg.

“I’m from Massachusetts, but I heard about the College from my high school environmental science teacher. He is an alum and encouraged me to check it out,” Pitman said. “I went on a tour my junior year and knew that I wanted to go here when I would compare every subsequent school I visited to Gettysburg.”

She had recognized her love for marine biology long before coming to Gettysburg, and was looking forward to studying science and working closely with her professors on research.

Despite her love of science, though, she knew she wanted to study different academic disciplines. As a result, her first course here—a First-Year Seminar called Plato, Personhood, and Popcorn with philosophy Prof. Vernon Cisney—focused on the philosophy of what it means to be a person through various movies.

“As much as I knew that I wanted to study science here, I also knew that I wanted to take courses outside of the sciences, too,” Pitman said. “My First-Year Seminar was great because we would all get together outside of class to watch movies for class, and it really allowed me to make more connections across campus.”

She also got involved in Biosphere, a student-run organization that advances discussions of the sciences with an emphasis on biology. By her sophomore year, she declared a biology major with a chemistry minor, became a member of Tri Sigma, and began thinking about studying abroad.

“I was looking for opportunities to study marine biology a little more hands-on and was looking at programs in a few different countries,” Pitman said. “That’s when the Center for Global Education told me that I could study abroad in Australia and participate in a month-long research component right on the Great Barrier Reef. It had always been a dream of mine, so of course that is where I applied.”

Natalie Pitman with a koala.

Learning in the field

After arriving in Australia, Pitman began to settle into a rhythm with her classes: attend a lecture, go snorkeling, attend another lecture, go snorkeling some more. Her program also traveled to different parts of Australia to give them greater exposure to the diversity of research available in their program. There was a rainforest component, a week-long camping trip, a reef component on Lizard Island, and then research on the Great Barrier Reef.

At this point, students were charged with developing their own research project—the only stipulations were that the research take place in Australia and involve an advisor.

“The program gave us a huge range to work with,” Pitman said. “At first, I was thinking of researching black tip sharks, but after hearing my advisor tell me about his research with whale sharks, I couldn’t control my excitement. I began doing research and emailing everyone who had ever worked with whale sharks.”

Once her subject was clarified, her research topic fell into place. She examined the return rate of whale sharks to Ningaloo Reef in western Australia. In addition to analyzing data of whale shark sightings in the Ningaloo Reef over the past two years, she collected new data by going on boat tours and swimming in the reef, prepared the data for future analysis, and assisted in identifying whale shark photos by using a specific algorithm to map their spots—using the same algorithm used by astronauts to identify new constellations.

“The research we were conducting examined whether or not the legislation that had been enacted in that area helped the whale shark population increase as compared to other places,” Pitman said. “It was so incredible. The whole semester abroad has given me such a greater appreciation for learning by experiencing something first-hand.”

Natalie Pitman with friends on a boat.

Making career and graduate school connections

Now a senior, Pitman is finding ways to expand on the lessons she learned while abroad. She found a summer internship with the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, and is completing an independent research project with Prof. Alex Trillo. She is also solidifying her post-graduation plans—a year conducting working and researching in the field, followed by a graduate school program focusing on marine biology.

Above all else, though, Pitman is encouraging her peers to pursue their passion.

“My semester abroad was so influential and life changing,” Pitman explained. “It all started because I knew I wanted to study marine biology so many years ago. That led me to studying biology here, which led me to studying abroad, which led me to an internship at Buzzards Bay. Once you know what you’re interested in, you’ll find so many doors open to enable you to pursue that interest.”

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:26:01 EDT
Fulbright awarded to three recent Gettysburg grads For years, Gettysburg students from an array of backgrounds and majors have received grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This year, two recipients, Kim Longfellow ’16 and Jesse Siegel ’16, will head to Germany—Longfellow to teach English, and Siegel to continue research he started at Gettysburg. The third, Anoush Aghababian ’16, will teach English in Yerevan, Armenia, at the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University.

The purpose of the Fulbright, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, is to facilitate cultural exchange and promote mutual understanding.

“The program is a wonderful opportunity for Gettysburg students,” said Maureen Forrestal, assistant provost. “Through their work and research, Fulbright recipients are able to put a positive face on being a United States citizen to people who may think otherwise and/or who have had little, if any, contact with Americans. The College prepares our students extremely well for this opportunity through coursework, extracurricular activities, undergraduate research, study abroad, and through our fellowship advising program.”

Learn more about this year’s recipients below.

Anoush H. Aghababian ’16 Anoush H. Aghababian ’16

Major: Classics

Minor: Studio Art

Fulbright: English Teaching Assistant Award

Placement: Yerevan, Armenia

The purpose of Aghababian’s program is to support local English language teachers, teach the language, and serve as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.

“I have been assigned to develop and direct a curriculum themed around world arts and cultures,” she said. “I will be teaching university students about various cultures and styles of art from around the world while developing and expanding their English skills.”

Aghababian, who is part Armenian, is looking forward to being immersed in the history and culture.

“My senior thesis focused on its ancient language, Classical Armenian, so I’m excited to learn the language further and explore the parallels between it and modern Armenian,” she said. “I am also excited to teach! As a Peer Learning Associate on campus I’ve taught Latin and Ancient Greek; it will be an exciting challenge to teach a modern, native language.”

Post Fulbright, Aghababian plans to return to graduate school. She was enrolled at the University of Georgia to study Classical Languages when she learned she’d received the award.

“It goes without saying that this would not have been possible without my experiences at Gettysburg. Having lived and studied in Japan when I was younger, I developed an international perspective that I knew I wanted to expand upon as I furthered my education,” she said. “I had the amazing opportunity to accompany Prof. [Carolyn] Snively to Macedonia after my freshman year and I later studied in Rome, Italy and Bali, Indonesia during my sophomore and junior years. The multinational education Gettysburg was able to offer truly has been life changing and has only confirmed that I must experience as much of this world as possible.”

Kim Longfellow ’16

Kim Longfellow ’16

Majors: German Studies and Sociology

Fulbright: English Teaching Assistant Award

Placement: Leverkusen, Germany

Longfellow will teach at a Gymnasium, a type of secondary school in Germany, where, like Aghababian, she will provide students with opportunities to converse in and engage with the English language.

“I first heard about the Fulbright scholarship from my first-year advisor. As I was going through my college career, I enjoyed working as a Peer Learning Assistant in the German Studies department and teaching German grammar—I really liked being able to explain it and help people work through problems and see the logic behind the language,” said Longfellow. “I had such a great experience [studying] in Heidelberg, I wanted to go back to Germany, so this grant is a great opportunity to combine my interest in learning and teaching languages, while also spending more time living in Germany.”

Longfellow first developed an interest in the German language in high school but did not plan to major in it, instead opting to fulfill the minimal requirement needed to graduate. Then, she fell in love with the German Studies department at Gettysburg. (Fun fact: she would also go on to become the valedictorian of her class.)

“I didn’t want to lose the momentum I built in high school," she said, "and I was drawn to the department's close knit community."

Ultimately, Longfellow said she hopes to pursue a career in international education, specifically working with study abroad programs like Gettysburg’s Center for Global Education.  She’s not ruling out pursuing graduate work after completing her Fulbright.

“I’ve received excellent training from Gettysburg, especially from the German Studies department, but also from all of my classes, and feel well prepared for this opportunity,” said Longfellow. “Even during the application process, I received an incredible amount of support from the entire campus community. It was a really supportive environment that pushed me to do my best work, and I know that preparation will carry over into the actual experience itself.”

Jesse Siegel ’16

Jesse Siegel ’16

Majors: German Studies and History

Fulbright: Study/Research grant

Placement: Munich, Germany

Knowing its competitiveness, Siegel applied for the Fulbright research grant with the expectation that he would not receive the award.

“Two advisors told me it’s not an award that’s simply given out,” he said, “so it was exciting to suddenly have all those expectations turned upside down.”

Siegel will use his grant funds to continue research he began as part of his German Studies and History capstone project under the guidance of Prof. Kerry Wallach and Prof. Bill Bowman: investigating the origin of the Sudeten Germans as well as the cultivation of their narrative and how it was used to influence the perception of the German and Czech people in the period between 1929 and 1934.

Like Longfellow, Jesse Siegel ’16 spent his junior year at Gettysburg studying in Heidelberg, Germany, where he conducted most of his research at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Library. In Munich, he will have access to documents previously unavailable to him, which will hopefully shed new light on his area of focus.

“After the end of World War II in 1945, 3 million Germans left Czechoslovakia and moved to what was becoming East Germany,” said Siegel. “A large number of them ended up in Munich, which not only has a research institute about the region, but also multiple public archives with documents from during that period.”

In the future, Siegel hopes to become a professor of Eastern European history and plans to attend graduate school after returning to the U.S. to share the results of his Fulbright research.

Learn more about the competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program.


Sun, 25 Sep 2016 08:43:22 EDT
Collaborating with the intelligence community Taylor Beck ’17 was walking around a conference for the U.S. intelligence community when she bumped into CNN’s Jim Sciutto preparing a Facebook Live broadcast from the exhibit floor. She was attending the conference as the personal assistant for Keith Masback ’87 P’19, the CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, who encouraged her to introduce herself.

Minutes later, she was behind the scenes, filming a broadcast to over 100,000 live viewers. No pressure.

“No one was there begging to hear my opinions as an undergraduate student, but I was still encouraged to speak up and connect with some of the most important people in the intelligence field,” Beck said. “It was a little overwhelming at first, but I was able to hold my own and network with some of the biggest names in the intelligence community.”

The week-long job shadowing experience came together rather quickly. Masback reached out to political science Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw in need of an assistant, who’s first thought to fill the position was Beck.

“She emailed me, asking if I might be interested in attending this national symposium,” Beck said. “I emailed her back within minutes saying yes!”

Finding a mentor

Beck’s relationship with Warshaw dates back to her first days on campus. In fact, Beck enrolled in Warshaw’s First-Year Seminar on the Bush Administration and was inspired to declare a major in political science with Warshaw as her academic advisor.

“I found the whole idea of the constitutionality of the Bush presidency fascinating. I liked the idea of having a classroom debate,” Beck said. “It made me realize that this is a school that values free speech as long as you have the facts to back it up.”

After starting the course, Beck was impressed with how Warshaw conducted the class, from challenging students’ ideas to encouraging them to speak up.

“I’ll admit I was a little intimidated taking that class, but once I realized how much hard work pays off, it was one of my most rewarding courses,” Beck said. “It forces you to think outside of the box and make connections outside of class, which is what Gettysburg is all about.”

According to Warshaw, it was Beck’s hard work in the classroom that first stood out to her.

“In every course that Taylor has taken with me, and in every situation that I have worked with her, she has been a dominant presence,” Warshaw said. “She is smart, hardworking, and always goes the extra mile. She is deeply engaged across campus and I know can easily multi-task at the highest level. When Keith sought a recommendation for an assistant at the annual Geospatial intelligence conference, Taylor was the first person I thought of.”  

Beck also applied to various programs offered by the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, of which Warshaw is heavily involved. She was accepted into the Inside Politics program with Bush speechwriter Kasey Pipes and the Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times program with international security and U.S./Russian relations expert Susan Eisenhower.

Outside of her love of politics, Beck began to explore other academic and social interests. She declared a minor in history, became involved in Student Senate, joined Alpha Delta Pi, and was on the student committee engaged in issues of political discourse on campus.

“The entire Gettysburg experience melts together,” Beck explained. “It taught me that it’s okay to try different things and to take an interest outside of your major, to make connections to other courses and experiences.”

Identifying a career direction

Taylor Beck with Keith Masback

Taylor Beck ’17 with Keith Masback ’87 P’19 (l) and Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Robert Cardillo (r).

With this as her foundation, Beck accepted a week-long position with Masback at the largest gathering of intelligence professionals in the country.

“I had breakfast with the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, chatted with the Former Director of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Letitia Long, and worked a Facebook Live broadcast with CNN’s National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto,” Beck recalled. “I was keeping Keith’s schedule for the week because he is a very in-demand guy at his own symposium, but he made sure to introduce me to everyone we were meeting with, as well. It was amazing.”

According to Masback, Beck was the right student for the job.

“She handled it well, with flexibility and a great sense of humor,” Masback said. “She is now the most well known Gettysburg College student in the U.S. intelligence community.”

As she heads into her senior year at Gettysburg, this experience has had a big impact on her future plans, too.

“I went into that symposium not knowing much about the intelligence field and left realized that I wanted to go into national security law. It really showed me how important this field is and how it is shaping U.S. national security in the future,” Beck said.

She is now studying for the LSAT and looking into law schools in Washington, D.C. At the same time, she is also reflecting on the impact alums can have and is looking forward to being able to help a student the way that Masback helped her.

“Keith’s ability to give back to the school is the epitome of what Gettysburg does best,” Beck said. “With alumni help, Gettysburg is creating future leaders who want to build up the next generation. It’s a really special thing to do, and I really can’t wait until I am in the position to help other Gettysburg students.”

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 09:22:19 EDT
Faculty granted tenure in diverse areas of study This year, Gettysburg granted six faculty members tenure—three hailing from the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, the others coming from diverse areas of study including history and Africana studies, biology, and English. Below, read about their research and learn more about the work that makes these professors passionate about Gettysburg.

Abou Bamba —Africana Studies

Avner Dorman — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Yeon-Su Kim — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Jennifer Powell — Biology

Stefanie Sobelle — English

Brent Talbot — Sunderman Conservatory of Music


Abou Bamba Abou Bamba —History/Africana Studies

Prof. Bamba’s work explores Ivory Coast development from the end of World War II through the 1970s, focusing on the influence of the United States and France on the area. His book, African Miracle, African Mirage, is scheduled for release from Ohio University Press in November. Before Gettysburg, Bamba taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and at Georgia State University.

“I have enjoyed being part of Gettysburg College. In particular, I have found it quite fulfilling to be among the group of educators who keep Africa on the mental map of Americans and who challenge students (and the larger public) to unthink their preconceived notions of Africans,” said Bamba. “For me, this is important for the promotion of diversity and social justice in a national and transnational context.”

In the near future, Bamba said he plans to develop a first-year seminar on the “social life” of coffee, chocolate, and tea.

“I envision the course to be an interdisciplinary look at the history, economics, and anthropology of those beverages within the frame of social justice and the global food system,” said Bamba.

As for his research, Bamba will look to expand the extant scholarship on French residents in sub-Saharan Africa: “This will allow me to complicate the current racialized scholarship on migration as I analyze French migrants and expatriates in Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Gabon through the lens of Whiteness studies, citizenship, and the politics of belonging.”

Avner Dorman Avner Dorman — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Dorman, originally from Israel, has now made his home in the United States, teaching music theory and composition at Gettysburg and enjoying work as an active conductor and music director of CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.

“As teachers, we must have the courage to confront our students with what it takes to be successful,” said Dorman. “This is something we all have to face as artists—it’s not enough to work hard, you have to work super hard; and it’s not good enough to be good, you have to convince other people that you’re good.”

In addition to being a talented educator, Dorman is the consummate musician and conductor. His compositions have been performed by the most prestigious symphony orchestras, including the New York, Los Angeles, and Munich Philharmonics.

Read more about Dorman’s musical roots, growing up with a father who is also a composer.

Yeon-Su Kim Yeon-Su Kim — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Kim is an accomplished violinist who teaches and leads the string program at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. She performs actively as a solo and chamber musician and teaches masterclasses in Italy, Germany, Korea, and the United States. She was recently a visiting scholar at the Academy in Rome, where she continued her work on the Music and Mind concert series performing lecture recitals on music of contemporary composers such as Luciano Berio and Elliott Carter.

“To be able to study music at a high level like this, and to have the ability to broaden your horizons, provides the foundation for a very rich life,” Kim said of the conservatory.

Prior to Gettysburg, Kim taught at Amherst College and at the University of Massachusetts.

Watch a video about Kim’s work with a student in the Conservatory.

Jennifer Powell Jennifer Powell — Biology

Prof. Powell’s research focuses on molecular genetics, microbiology, and innate immune responses, specifically through the study of the nematode C. elegans, which is an established model for studying host/pathogen interactions.

In her time at Gettysburg, she has mentored many students interested in pursuing research in biology and genetics.

“What I enjoy most about Gettysburg is working with students and mentoring them in research — both semester-long research projects that students conduct as part of the courses I teach and long-term independent projects pursued by members of my research lab,” said Powell. “I love being part of their development from novices into independent scientists. Their enthusiasm and dedication are both inspirational and contagious.”

Read stories about Powell’s research with students Jennifer Giannini ’18 and Joe Robinson ’15.

Stefanie SobelleStefanie Sobelle — English

Prof. Sobelle’s work focuses on contemporary American literature and culture, and she teaches coursework in twentieth-century American fiction and poetry, including comparative approaches to the study of U.S. literature. Her book on the intersections between architecture and American literature is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

“As a professor of American literature, I have really enjoyed writing and teaching at a major historical site,” said Sobelle. “At Gettysburg, I enjoy showing students how literature can take many forms, and how ‘American’ can mean many things. I challenge students to push past their sense of their own creative and critical abilities, to find their own voice and to put it to work.”

This year, Sobelle will be sharing her decade-long experience writing and editing book reviews in a new course called “Writing the Review” for advanced writing students. “I have designed the course to be both a workshop for students who may want to write professionally, and a seminar on the history and practice of a major literary genre that they may not already know,” she said. She would also like to develop a first-year seminar on the history and future of higher education in the U.S.

In her new research, Sobelle will examine the contradictory, uncontainable, and seemingly endless space of the American desert. Reading 20th- and 21st-century engagements with the American desert (in literature, art, and architecture), she will argue for the material and conceptual space of the desert as a site for interrogating the state of humanity in the 21st century.

Brent C. Talbot Brent C. Talbot — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Talbot’s research examines power, discourse, and issues of social justice in varied settings for music learning around the globe.

“We all have a responsibility to change the social and economic conditions in which we live,” said Prof. Talbot. “Students and I work together to build a foundation of musical learning grounded in social justice.”

As just one example of that work, Talbot led a trip this summer to Bali, where Gettysburg students, alumni, and faculty from our own Gamelan Gita Semara—an Indonesian instrumental ensemble—conducted ethnographic field work and performed music and dance. At home, Talbot uses the gamelan in artistic and cultural programming with area school districts and also serves as the artistic director of the Gettysburg Children’s choir. Through these two ensembles, Talbot purposefully works with music education majors to connect Gettysburg programs to the surrounding communities. This fall, Talbot will put the finishing touches on two books, one on children’s songs and games from Bali that will be published by GIA Publications, and the other on marginalized voices in the field of music education that will be published by Routledge. Both books will come out in 2017.

Watch a video of Talbot talking about the music program at Gettysburg

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 09:50:01 EDT
In her words: Angela Pegarella ’17 reflects on choosing a language major and studying abroad Life seems to surprise us the most when we already made our own plans. Gettysburg College was my last college visit of the summer as a rising senior. I was burnt out from other college visits and ready to enjoy that last week before school, but I was signed up for a tour at this school that was recommended to me by a member of my church. When I woke up that summer morning, I didn’t know what I was in for. I didn’t know that I would fall in love with the college upon stepping onto the campus, or that this was going to be my home for the next four years of my life, and I most certainly did not know what those four years would entail. All I knew was that I wanted to study foreign languages and travel, and so I did.

Gettysburg’s immersive, no-English language classes can be intimidating, but helped accelerate my learning, causing me to speak more in a semester than in five years of school. Being a language-lover, I chose to major in Spanish and French and additionally took Portuguese classes. By the time I was getting ready to go abroad, I could have a conversation with people in three different languages other than my own. My language skills improved beyond the classroom with activities such as French movie night, Portuguese conversation group, and Spanish table, which is a weekly opportunity to practice your conversational skills over lunch at Servo

Angela studies abroad in France & SpainStudying abroad will make you grow up. You will need to become more independent than when you went away to college for the first time. You learn new life skills, like reading a map, interacting with people who live in a culture completely different from yours, and handling stressful last-minute situations (e.g. when you almost miss your bus back home or your flight for a weekend trip). You will begin to understand how an international student at your school feels, but thankfully, you will also have other students who are also going through similar experiences. All of that being said, you will have your own unique experiences based on who you are as a person and what steps you take to shape your time abroad.

I chose to study in Madrid the fall of my junior year. While I was there, I attended Spanish-French language exchanges on my own and met a great group of people who also dedicated their time to learning French. I also documented my trips on YouTube and my blog. I now have dedicated both of those to giving advice based on what I have learned about studying abroad and traveling in general. Topics range from what to do about a cell phone to the most important life lesson I learned: learning from others who are more experienced.

In the spring, I studied in Nantes, France, where I spent more time living like a local, joining fitness classes, doing an English-teaching internship, taking local university classes (including Korean), and continued traveling, although not as much as the first semester. I got to know Nantes well, and made lasting friendships. I even got to use my Portuguese there when I met a Brazilian couple after getting stuck in the church bathroom during my first visit (funny story).

Taking local university classes made me grateful for going to Gettysburg. Class sizes were larger, and it was a lot harder to get individual time with a professor. Even so, I did have the opportunity to develop a good relationship with my Korean professor at the Université de Nantes.

A combination of all of these experiences has helped me choose some potential career paths. While I am not completely certain about what I want to do, my experience teaching English in Nantes and tutoring a French student in Spanish revealed to me an interest in teaching that I never knew I had. Thanks to the staff members in both of my programs, I would also like to work with students coming into the United States to help them adjust to the new culture, language, and atmosphere. One thing is for sure: I want to help others whether it is through teaching, speaking, or writing, as I do in my blog entries.

Read Pegarella’s blog.

Learn more about the Center for Global Education.

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:30:29 EDT
Across campus, it's the Year of Food This year, Gettysburg kicks off the first year of the Gettysburg Cycle, a series of annual themes focusing on policy issues of global, national, and local significance.

This year is all about the Year of Food.

Drawing on both curricular and co-curricular experiences, students and the Gettysburg community will have the opportunity to learn more about the central role food plays in our lives both close to home and around the world. Across campus, over 60 professors are incorporating food-related topics into their coursework, campus organizations and departments are hosting their own events to spark discussion, and several exciting opportunities are planned to engage the community.

Each year, as part of a repeating four-year cycle, Gettysburg will introduce a theme designed to provide students with an entry point into the intellectual discussion and debate that is the hallmark of a liberal arts education. How is food related to art? What light can anthropology and political science shine on food issues? Biology? There’s a connection to be made by nearly every discipline. Each year’s topic will provide students the opportunity to learn about a pressing issue through a variety of lenses.

Below are just a few ways Gettysburg is celebrating the Year of Food—and how you can get involved.

By participating in a community event, like Salsa on the Square.

Salsa on the Square

There is no shortage of events this year designed to get the Gettysburg and greater community talking—and eating.  Learn more about international food issues while enjoying a street food fair, music, and cultural activities at International Foodfest on Friday, September 23, 4:30-7:00 p.m., sponsored by CAB and Dining Services and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Global Issues, Global Gettysburg Series, International Student Services, and the Gettysburg College Bookstore. Lincoln Avenue will transform into a global hub with different stations set up along the street.

Also in September is the 10th annual Salsa on the Square event (Sept. 16, 5:30-11:00 p.m.), which features live salsa music, dancing, and food from local restaurants. The event is held every year to celebrate the relationship between Gettysburg and its sister city, Leon, Nicaragua, and to observe the contributions of Hispanic people to Gettysburg and greater Adams County.

October will also bring several opportunities to get involved.  One example: In coordination with Gettysburg’s Center for Public Service, students and faculty from participating first-year seminars will head to local orchards to pick apples in support of The Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania (Oct. 19), which helps reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the Adams and Franklin counties. Every year, thousands of pounds of produce are left over after the commercial harvesting of fields and orchards—this project aims to reduce food waste and increase food security.

Attending a lecture on a variety of food-related topics, like “Food Justice: At the Intersection of Food, Politics, Poverty, Public Health, and the Environment.”

Chef Bryant Terry

Biological anthropologist and Harvard professor Richard Wrangham will visit Gettysburg to talk about how cooking (Sept. 19, 7:00-9:00 p.m., Masters Hall 110 Mara Auditorium) has served as a catalyst for life history, brain evolution, and diet. This will be the first talk to kick off the series, which will feature professors and researchers from around the country speaking on a variety of topics. Next up will be Roni Neff, an Assistant Professor in John Hopkins University Bloomberg's School of Environmental Health Sciences Department (Oct. 20, 7:00 p.m., CUB Ballroom), who will present an overview of the U.S. food system and describe the efforts being made to fight for food justice and adequate food access. In the spring, you won’t want to miss an interactive show at The Majestic Theater focusing on food justice with chef, educator, and author Bryant Terry (April 4, 7:00 p.m.).

Talking food in one of several courses.

Prof. Dave Powell's course

Across campus, several courses are incorporating food-related discussions. For example, students in the Public Health class taught by Health Science Profs. Amy Dailey and Audrey Hess are working on projects related to obesity, child nutrition, and mental health. Prof. Bruce Larson's Public Policy course is focusing on the politics and policy of food, with a focus on the U.S. food system and health inequities, U.S. farm policy, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the U.S. The Italian Studies Department will showcase several films as a part of a film series that will focus on food and culture in Italy. Several first-year seminars are also examining food-related issues, such as environmental studies Prof. Salma Monani’s Green Eggs and Government Cheese class—which studies the connections between food and issues like climate change, land use, and community health—and religious studies Prof. David Walsh’s course, Diets and Deities: Eating Our Way Through Religious Traditions.  

Advocating for hunger awareness during World Hunger Week.

Watch the movie trailer for A Place at the Table.

Mark your calendar for October 16-21, 2016. Gettysburg will be participating in a series of events in honor of World Hunger Week. On World Hunger Day (Oct. 16), the Majestic Theater will screen A Place at the Table, a documentary about the potential economic, social, and cultural implications of hunger (7:30 p.m.).  The South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP) will also hold a series of events and challenges designed to create awareness of hunger and food insecurity. The annual Hunger Banquet (Oct. 14, location and time TBA) provides an interactive experience to raise money and awareness of the poverty and hunger statistics in Adams County.

Learning why the Year of Food “ROCs”—with Research On the Cycle.


Research on the Cycle is a new opportunity highlighting student research during National Undergraduate Research Week.  Students will present their research related to food at a poster session in the CUB Ballroom on Thursday, April 6, from 4:30-6:30.  The event will serve as the culmination of the food-related discussions and research that took place across the campus and in classrooms throughout the year.

Other opportunities to get involved in the Year of Food include a trip to visit Smithsonian’s Food History Festival, a winter career immersion opportunity, Spark House projects, and events sponsored through the new Global Gettysburg Series

Learn more about these and additional events held throughout the year on the Year of Food website.

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:16:52 EDT
Parent to Parent: A small college across the country was the right choice “Gettysburg. I want to visit Gettysburg.”

This is exactly what my son said to me in the fall of 2014 during his senior year of high school. The size of the school was of interest, and—importantly to my son—it had a winning lacrosse team.

He knew that lacrosse alone was not a reason to choose a school, but he did want to compete at the collegiate level. So, off we went to visit Gettysburg.

Coming from the bright lights and action of Los Angeles, California—which is exactly 2,509 miles away from Gettysburg—I was skeptical of a small liberal arts college in southern Pennsylvania.

How would he ever adapt?


Putting my concerns aside, we arrived at Gettysburg on a picturesque day. The fall leaves were turning, students were bustling in and out of the beautiful campus buildings, and they all looked happy and engaged. More importantly, there was an excitement in the air that was palpable. This felt like a place where students could explore interests not yet known to them and find a community that was both challenging intellectually and supportive.

We took the pre-arranged tour of campus and learned all about the history of the school, the various majors and minors, and the co-curricular activities. We toured the cafeteria, known for its award-winning food, and learned about the head chef’s personal garden where he grows organic vegetables. We toured the beautiful library— which was surprisingly full of students studying—and the brand new athletic facility.  

Then we met with Head Coach Hank Janczyk, Gettysburg's lacrosse coach of nearly 30 years. He looked at me and said with his inimitable smile, “Mom, your boy is going to excel here, and not just as a lacrosse player.

“You see, I care about lacrosse, but I care more about turning my players into men that you will be proud of.” 

Needless to say, I was sold and ready to sign on the dotted line!

Thankfully, Noah felt the same excitement and was ready to commit to Gettysburg by the end of the day.

Still, I wondered…as wonderful as it is, how will Noah adapt?

He left Los Angeles and all of the access that a bustling city has to offer, but, apart from playing lacrosse, he did not have a clear direction of what he wanted to study or do.

That didn’t last long.

At Gettysburg, Noah became immersed in subjects that weren’t available to him in high school. He developed an interest in political science and—because of the small class sizes—was able to develop meaningful relationships with his professors both in and out of the classroom. They were approachable, accessible, and passionate about what they were teaching. He attended programs provided by the Eisenhower Institute and by the end of his first year, had found his academic calling: a major in political science and a minor in business.

Entrepreneurship Workshop

Perhaps his biggest transformation came during a weekend seminar for entrepreneurship. The seminar was sponsored by a Gettysburg alum—it taught students how to harness a passion and create a “start-up.” Noah was riveted by the facilitator and the workshop exercises he participated in throughout the weekend. He called home every night with a piercing level of enthusiasm in his voice.

I believe that a weekend program like this at another school may have been overlooked or oversold, however, at Gettysburg, it was open to anyone who exhibited an interest. Since Noah had access to this type of program, he learned that he had a passion to be an entrepreneur.

He was quickly able to put his new-found passion and skills into practice. While home on a break, he and his best friend began talking about all of the opportunities and events available to them as college students. They are part of a large population globally—a certain generation that wants to know what is going on around them NOW. Out of this conversation, a business idea for a location-based app that aggregates and rates real-time events was born. They called it BOOM. The next day, they set to work creating a business plan and developing a pitch for the Gettysburg Entreprenurial Fellowship.

Not only did they win, but they were awarded sufficient funding to develop the app in a Venice, California-based incubator and were connected with invaluable alumni mentoring. What began as a casual conversation between friends is now an app that will be launched this fall.

Oh, and did I mention that Noah is currently studying in Berlin this semester, too?

Gettysburg encourages students to study abroad and works with students to ensure they can balance it with their challenging coursework, competitive athletic schedule, and even budding entrepreneurial enterprises.

Noah and Mom

I truly believe that Gettysburg College has afforded Noah so many opportunities—from playing lacrosse for a championship team under the tutelage of an award-winning coach to attending lectures at the Eisenhower Institute about cyber security taught by government experts; from challenging his intellectual curiosity by learning new academic disciplines to studying abroad for a full semester in a country where he will intern at one of many startup companies found in the region as part of his core curriculum.

It is true that Gettysburg is an institution steeped with deep historical importance, but it is also a place for young, bright minds to be cultivated and challenged, ideas to be created, and great innovation to be bred. 

And while he is still far from the bustling city of Los Angeles, I’m no longer concerned about his ability to adapt. I beam with pride at all he has learned, experienced, and accomplished at Gettysburg.

Byrdie Lifson-Pompan P’18 is the mother of Noah Pompan ’18.

Read other stories written for parents by parents:

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 09:56:13 EDT
Four things we learned from the first-year reading When Cristina Henriquez first began writing The Book of Unknown Americans, it was a love story between two teenagers whose cultures were similar to the ones she grew up with. As it progressed, she began to ask questions about their family, neighbors, and other people who crossed paths with Mayor and Maribel. It became a novel that sheds light on the immigrant experience—the unknown Americans—whose stories she feels get lost in a larger narrative of immigration legislation.

As the author of the first-year reading for the Class of 2020, Henriquez delivered a lecture on campus that highlights her motivations for writing the novel and—in her own words—the power of imagination to break down narratives that promote generalizations.

“You’ll encounter a lot of people on campus and in life who it will be easy to overlook,” Henriquez said to the audience, “but I want you to make it a point to see them.”

It’s a message that resonated with students and faculty members alike, both through reading her novel and attending her lecture.

Check out four things they took away from this year’s first-year reading.

On the role of culture:

“I really related with the book. Coming from a Latino background, I felt like I was really able to connect with Mayor because of the his background and culture, and the relationships he had with his parents and siblings.” – Felix Gonzalez ’20

Loving how this book mentions my hometown! #GBurgReads

A photo posted by Ivana Lopez Espinosa (@ivana_axel_) on

On coming to a new place:

“I like the book despite some difficulty in understanding Spanish language. It's very helpful for me to understand how to make a transition to the College and the country. As I'm one of the international students, I really like the stories of the different immigrants coming to America. It gave me a knowledge, experience and preparation for the obstacles and solutions that I might face and have in the future.” – Vuochnear Ly ’20

Great day to chill in some shade with a good book and do nothing #GBurgReads

A photo posted by Jimmy Hickey (@jhicks97) on

On the importance of relationships:

“What really resonates with me is that this story is relationship based. I love how it was written from different perspectives, because seeing the interconnectedness of their stories paints a larger story of courage and strength. It tells a very personal story, but a story that has implications beyond these people as their stories are ones that our nation is engaging with right now.” – Associate Dean of College Life, Residential & FY Programs Keira Kant ’95

Central Park - a great place to read #gburgreads

A photo posted by Zoe P (@zanna_philips) on

On engaging in difficult conversations:

“This book deals with serious issues about immigration, disabilities, and what it is like to move to a foreign land where the culture and language are completely different than what one is used to. These ideas allow the book to tackle the issues of diversity and inclusion that the college tries to have front and center—and which are also playing a large part in the presidential election and national discussions—while also being something that many of our first-year students, who are themselves in the middle of a life-changing move to a place that might feel alien to them, will identify with.” – Professor of Mathematics and Director of the First-Year Seminar Program Darren Glass

Campus-wide small group discussions on the first-year reading and author lecture will take place on Thursday, September 15, and a reading guide has been prepared by Musselman Library for the entire campus community to use.

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 04:32:51 EDT
The mysteries of Golemo Gradište at Konjuh When Prof. Carolyn Snively began digging near Konjuh, a remote village in northern Macedonia, a lot of archaeologists thought she was wasting her time. “Most people didn’t think we could find anything of interest out here,” she said. She found plenty. Since 2000, Snively, a professor  in the Department of Classics, has returned each summer to this remote corner of the Balkans to excavate a city that flourished here in the fifth and sixth centuries. She and a small collection of archaeologists, Gettysburg students, and local workers have studied features, including whole rooms, which the inhabitants cut into the rock. They’ve uncovered the stone walls of residences; excavated the foundation of a Christian basilica with characteristics found nowhere else in the Balkans; unearthed streets, passages, and doorways; and discovered many artifacts.

Golemo Gradište

No one knows the city’s name. Local people call it simply “Golemo Gradište,” or “big hilltop settlement.” From the evidence she’s found, Snively concludes that Golemo Gradište was a heavily fortified city in the final turbulent centuries of the Roman Empire, when power was shifting from Rome to Constantinople, Christianity was spreading and displacing the old Roman gods, and invasion was an increasing occurrence. Whoever founded the city chose a spot with strategic and economic value. Golemo Gradište lay in a rich mining region; it overlooked a major east-west road that connected larger cities—Scupi, at modern-day Skopje, and Serdica, at Sofia, in Bulgaria. It enjoyed strong natural defenses, including the Kriva River. It was big enough to have a large church, and probably a bishop.

Why was it built? What did people do there? Why was it abandoned in the seventh century, barely two centuries after its founding? The historical record is scant. And yet Snively’s work at Golemo Gradište has enlarged archaeologists’ understanding of the kinds of settlements in which people lived during Late Antiquity. It has also begun to shed light on the social and economic life of a provincial Balkan city in the late years of the Roman Empire.

Snively works by a kind of triangulation, measuring what she’s discovered through excavation against the findings of other archaeologists and what she describes as a “spotty” historical record. She prefers an archaeology of ideas over an archaeology of objects—the hunt for beautiful artifacts that might grace a museum case. Few such objects have been found at Golemo Gradište.

She began working in the Balkans in the early 1970s, when she was a graduate student at the University of Texas. At Stobi, a Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique city in central Macedonia, she developed an interest in urbanism—the study of the character and organization of city life—and in the architecture of early Christian churches.

By the 1990s she was teaching at Gettysburg and looking for a site where she could lead her own excavations. It wasn’t easy. The Balkans abound in ancient ruins, but the 1980s and 1990s were decades of turmoil, as Yugoslavia tottered and wars broke out in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. In 1990, she accompanied local archaeologists to Golemo Gradište, bouncing down dirt roads in a cramped Zastava. It was the first of two trips. “We looked it over and said, ‘Hey, this has possibilities,’” she said.

To get permission to dig, Snively needed a Macedonian collaborator. In 1998, she participated in a pilot project that involved surveying the ruins of a small church, dubbed the “Rotunda,” which had stood outside the city walls at Golemo Gradište. Two years later, she began excavations at Golemo Gradište, teaming up with archaeologists at the Museum of Macedonia in a joint Gettysburg-Macedonia project.

They’ve been at it ever since. The excavation team varies year to year but typically consists of a handful of archaeologists and two or three dozen laborers hired locally. Funding has come from different sources, including the Macedonian government, the Dumbarton Oaks Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and Gettysburg College. An excavation season lasts five or six weeks before the money runs out and everyone is exhausted.

Golemo Gradište’s most prominent feature is its acropolis, which occupies a narrow ridge that rises 300 feet above the surrounding countryside. The sides are steep and in places fall off in rocky cliffs. That’s where Snively and her coworkers started. Some things were visible: a room cut into a cliff, a cistern filled with rubble, and a narrow terrace that the inhabitants had built. Excavation uncovered more, including streets, buildings that had been either houses or workshops, and big clay storage jars. Taken together, the evidence suggested that the acropolis had served as a fortress big enough to house soldiers, but also a place where people had lived and worked.

Snively and her team later turned their attention to a broad terrace between the ridge and the Kriva River, where the bulk of the city stood. In 2008, they ran into a curved wall. The wall belonged to the apse of a Christian basilica, the semi-circular east end where the clergy were seated. More digging revealed the main body of the church—a nave with columns, three aisles and an ambo—a raised stone platform used in the early church for reading the Gospels and Epistles. They also uncovered features unknown in the Balkans, including a semicircular stone structure on one side of the nave that they couldn’t figure out at all.

Telling the history of Golemo Gradište is like assembling a puzzle for which most of the pieces are missing. Snively believes the city began on the terrace next to the river in the middle or second half of the fifth century. Unlike most settlements of the period, the city was not built on the site of an existing Roman town. It seems to have been entirely new. One explanation for this is that invasions may have cut off Roman access to mining areas further north, increasing the importance of mines around Golemo Gradište. Another possibility is that a nearby Roman city was relocated, as many were during this period, to a site more easily defended. (None has yet been found in the area.) Snively also has concluded that the acropolis was occupied at a later date than the terrace below, probably not until the sixth century. This suggests that, at some point after the city’s founding, life at Golemo Gradište grew more precarious, prompting the inhabitants to withdraw into the acropolis. Why? Was it fear of barbarian invasion? Or of rebellious miners?

“Miners seem to have been an unruly bunch,” Snively said. “It’s one of those things I have to look into more closely. In Roman times, most miners were slaves. By Late Antiquity, they seem to have been free, or at least semi-free. But there is evidence that at least some of them were bound to mines and couldn’t leave.”

Snively is especially drawn to the architectural anomalies found in the churches at Golemo Gradište. What is the meaning, for example,  of the semicircular structure in the basilica? Where did this idea come from? An expert in the architecture of early churches in Syria has suggested that the feature is Syrian. But who brought it to Golemo Gradište?

Judging from the abundance of weaponry at the site, Snively infers that life at Golemo Gradište was “nasty, brutish, and short.” She found more dead-end streets and fewer doorways than she expected. “Was this because they were concerned about security?” she said. “We don’t know.” The presence of slag, a by-product of smelting, and the abundance of iron artifacts suggest the importance of local mining. But it’s unclear where exactly the mines were then, where the ore was refined, or where the miners lived. “We don’t have much evidence of people living outside the city,” she said. Parts of looms found at Golemo Gradište suggest a textile industry, but she doesn’t know if it supplied domestic use or trade.

Archaeology is a minefield of uncertainty, and Snively treads carefully. Her observations about the site are hedged about with qualifiers. But not everything about Golemo Gradište is mysterious. Excavation has revealed the bones of familiar domestic animals, as well as scythes and other recognizable farming implements. Like their ancient precursors, rural Macedonians grow wheat and raise chickens, pigs, goats, and other livestock. They live in stone houses with orange tile roofs, which have changed little in 1,500 years. How ancient life resembled or differed from modern life is a recurring theme in Snively’s courses as she tries to bring the challenge of archaeological interpretation to the classroom.

The difficulties are not all about interpretation. The excavations at Golemo Gradište have also posed considerable logistical challenges—securing funding, getting permission to dig, hiring workers, and more. For help, Snively has leaned heavily on colleagues at the Museum of Macedonia, now the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, and on the people of Konjuh, a poor farming village less than a mile from the site. Most of the workers at Golemo Gradište have come from Konjuh.

“There are few other opportunities,” explained Aneta Kiprijanovska, a 37-year-old woman whose husband helps organize the villagers. Villagers are glad for the extra income, but they also are proud of their contribution to archaeology. “I’m excited at the possibility of finding something,” said 15-year-old Darko Tasevski. Last year, his crew found bells and a set of earrings.

Gettysburg students get a chance to learn about archaeology firsthand

Working at the Golemo Gradište also has offered Gettysburg students a chance to learn about archaeology firsthand. For Katherine Haas ’10, the experience was transformative. She came to Golemo Gradište as a sophomore, fresh from Snively’s course in Roman civilization. She spent the season drafting maps of the site, taking measurements by day, and revising the maps at night. She came back the next year and received a promotion: her own trench to supervise. Today she is a PhD student in anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in archaeology and forensic anthropology. She spends her summers studying 4,000-year-old skeletons in Serbia.

“The thing is with archaeology, you have this massive site, but you can only look at a very small section of it at a time,” she said. “You really have to use your imagination and picture what it was like when people lived there. That’s what kept bringing me back.”

I accompanied Snively to Golemo Gradište last August, after the excavation season had ended. She was wrapping up some business before returning to the United States, including the printing of that season’s official excavation T-shirt. We drove north early in the morning from Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, following the Alexander the Great Motorway toward the Serbian border. The summer had been hot, and the hills were brown. At the city of Kumanovo, we turned east, then left the highway and followed a narrow, winding back road through a series of villages into the Kriva River Valley. We passed small fields ripe with corn, vegetables, and hay, and women on foot carrying shopping bags and pushing bicycles. Driving past a small store, Snively announced it was the last one before the site. Seven miles farther on, she crossed the river, turned onto a dirt track, and parked under a tree.

A hundred yards away stood the Rotunda, the ruins of a small church that once stood outside the city walls. Villagers discovered the site in 1919, they say, after a local man had a dream that the site was sacred. Little remains of the old church except low limestone walls and piers that once supported columns.

“It was planned out very carefully,” Snively said as she looked around. “It was not done by local craftsmen. It was planned with great precision. It suggests that somebody came in with money—a bishop, maybe—and said, ‘I’m going to build it my way.’ He had the clout and the money to impose his idea. It lets us know that this may have been a fairly grim mining town, but there were some people here who were sophisticated and educated, and interested in religious culture and the proper way to worship—and not just worried about defending the city against uprisings of miners or barbarians.”

We hike on up toward the acropolis, crossing the low berm that marked the line of the ancient city wall, now buried, then angling up the steep slope. From the top of the ridge, we could look down and see the outlines of the basilica and neighboring buildings. The stones gleamed in the sun. “There’s a lot left to do,” Snively said.

Before climbing back down, she made her way to the west end of the ridge, descending a line of stone steps and passing rooms that had been chiseled out of the rock. She walked out on a narrow outcrop until she could go no farther and stood for several minutes looking out over the countryside. It was an old land. In mid-August, it looked parched, rugged, and inhospitable, but, in fact, it was overlaid by layers and layers of human history, going as far back as the Neolithic. It had been settled and resettled over centuries and millennia. Golemo Gradište was only one chapter in a very long story.

From the ridge, she could point to a low plateau where tombstones of Roman soldiers were found in 1995. To the east, only a mile or two away stood Cocev Kamen, or “Tsotsev’s Rock,” an outcropping famous in Macedonia for its cave, which archaeologists believe was inhabited as far back as Neolithic times. Snively was more interested in a large rock that perched unnaturally on a slope above it. “It’s as big as a house,” she said. “The question is, ‘How did it get there?’”

Golemo Gradište

We followed a trail to where a fence enclosed the excavations on the terrace. When she first came to Golemo Gradište, parts of the terrace had been dug up by people looking for artifacts or maybe just stone for building. “We’ll never know what’s been taken,” she said. She walked among the buildings, lingering in the basilica, balancing on the low walls that traced the outline of a large residence. They had been excavating the residence for several years and still had not found its perimeter. Was it the house of an important family and its slaves? The local bishop? “We don’t know,” she said.

Before driving back to Skopje, Snively followed a narrow road up over the hill to Konjuh. Over the years, she has gotten to know the villagers well, including their struggles to prosper at a time when most of rural Macedonia is emptying. She’s liked and respected in Konjuh. Last summer, she acquired an abandoned house there and began fixing it up, repairing the roof, drilling a well, and hooking up a new electrical line. “I figure that, when I retire, I’ll want to spend time in the village,” she said.

Snively’s work at Golemo Gradište has been a long labor of organization and excavation, but also of study and imagination, an effort to wring as much meaning as possible from the scant evidence that remains from Late Antiquity. It’s been “endlessly fascinating,” she said. But she worried if others would find it so.

“I don’t know whether, when I retire, anyone will continue working here,” she said. “Or whether it will take another generation before someone is interested.”

In the meantime, she was getting ready for another season.  

—Richard Mertens

For further reading: Texts by Prof. Snively are available on The Cupola: Scholarship at Gettysburg College, the online, open access repository maintained by Musselman Library.

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 04:24:13 EDT
Parent to Parent: Support Your Student’s Opportunity to Study Abroad Our son, Joseph Portale ’14, spent the spring semester of his junior year in Copenhagen. Neither my wife nor I studied abroad, so this was new territory for all of us! Very exciting but also a little scary. We weren't really sure what to expect but left it to Joe and Gettysburg to get it all worked out. Joe was a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, and Gettysburg provided him with study abroad options that would fit his academic needs—he chose Copenhagen, and it turned out to be a phenomenal experience.

Joe lived with a host family, which really immersed him into the Danish culture. They treated him as part of the family and made him feel at home. On campus, Gettysburg students come from all over the world, but studying abroad really broadened his appreciation for a global perspective in several ways. While there were other Gettysburg students in Copenhagen, Joe met students from other schools that were also in Denmark. Several of them took advantage of being in Europe and visited other cities on weekends. Besides just seeing different countries, he really gained an appreciation for how different we all are, yet how much we have in common. Beyond these ad hoc trips, his science class spent a week in London visiting pharmaceutical companies to see how they operate.

Upon his return, we noticed how much more confident Joe was and how the experience really helped him transition into adulthood. On campus he had a hundred-yard walk to class; while abroad he needed a bike and train to get to classes, and arranged all of the travel to other locations himself. There was definitely a sense of maturity, responsibility, and openness to new experiences when he returned.

My wife and I were members of what was then the Parents Advisory Board (PAB). We planned a trip to visit Joe in Copenhagen, and at the same time there was an International Educators meeting taking place there. As members of the PAB, we were invited to participate in some of the activities and we got to see behind the curtain of the study abroad experience from several perspectives. We sat in on meetings with administrators and faculty from other colleges as well as Gettysburg. We were impressed with the effort colleges put into making it a great experience for students. Everything from safety, to advising and academics, to matching host families is taken into consideration. From a parent's view, what we learned really made us feel good, knowing that all parties, including the receiving institution, went to great lengths to ensure a successful outcome.

In particular, I recall a discussion focused on helping students leverage their study abroad experience during a job interview. Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of interviewing potential new hires, many of whom are recent college graduates. I’ve noticed that when resumes reference studying abroad, interviewees rarely, if ever, bring this important point into the conversation. When I ask, it’s described more like a vacation – new places and experiences. I think they’re missing a large opportunity to share how this experience impacted or changed them. From an interviewer’s perspective, a candidate’s ability to recognize the value of their time abroad and articulate what the experience meant could be a significant differentiator. Gettysburg has a program called The Global Leaders of Gettysburg College, which gives students the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and transform them into opportunities for mentorship, scholarship, and activism—take advantage of it. I’d also advise parents to have open conversations with their students and encourage some self-reflection about their time abroad.

Our son has been out of school for two years now, and we are so happy he chose Gettysburg College. In addition to studying abroad, he joined a fraternity, made lifelong friends, had summer internships and worked with a professor in his lab. The entire experience really prepared him for the next phase of his life. It definitely helped shape who he is. Upon graduation, he accepted a position with a division of Johnson and Johnson, where he is currently a scientist doing cancer research. Seeing first-hand how firms operate around the world, and what it means to live in a global society, is an invaluable lesson. Having that appreciation for other cultures and the diversity of different geographic areas will serve him well as he progresses in his career. How often do we find ourselves either interacting with someone in another country, or, working side by side with someone from a different culture?

In summary, if your student has a desire to study outside of the U.S., I’d highly encourage you to support it wholeheartedly. No matter what one’s major or field of interest, there are programs available. With a little planning, and sometimes a little encouragement, it can turn out to be the chance of a lifetime.

Chuck and Helen Portale and are the parents of Joseph Portale ’14.

Read other stories written by parents for parents:

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Fri, 09 Sep 2016 01:35:05 EDT
Big impact, small footprint: Jason McCaffrey ’94 is Patagonia’s Director of Surf Solving puzzles is something that Jason McCaffrey ’94 likes to do.

Not only does he like it, but he is good at it, too.

It’s what drew him to the political science and environmental studies program as a student—back when environmental studies was a new and virtually unheard of academic discipline—and it is what distinguishes him as the Global Business Unit Director, Surf Division, for Patagonia today.

“I remember one project in particular,” McCaffrey recalls from his days as an undergrad. “We had to pick a problem like fossil fuels, examine the cause and effect this problem had on the environment, and determine a more eco-friendly, sustainable solution.

“For me, it was all about researching alternatives and seeing a different way of getting to the same place. It was a new wave back then—it wasn’t something that a whole lot of people were paying attention to, but it really caught my attention because of how it combined my interests.”


Professional problem solver

His skill as a problem solver came in handy shortly after he was hired as the director of the newly developed surf division within Patagonia almost ten years ago. He wanted to create products for the surf community that lived up to Patagonia’s values of environmental consciousness and decided to start this mission with the most essential product for surfers: the wet suit.

“Ten years ago, wet suits were made from non-renewable resources and the quality wasn’t all that great,” McCaffrey said. “People didn’t have the environmental consciousness that they have now. Add to that that we were a company from Southern California that didn’t have any roots in surf, and we left quite a few people scratching their heads. But we wanted to create the highest quality product from renewable resources that we could, and we knew we could create a market for this.”

So McCaffrey, a long-time surfer who was well in-tune with the surf community, set to work identifying challenges and researching alternatives. He knew the product would have to be flexible, durable, and warm—in every way more so than the currently available products.

He and his team spent years researching and testing various renewable and environmentally-friendly materials, eventually settling on Yulex, a bio-rubber made from the Guayule plant, as the greatest possible solution.


Jason McCaffrey ’94 (middle) presents the research he and his team have done on responsibly-sourced wetsuit materials.

The only drawback?

The cost of the material meant that there would be virtually little profit off of the product if they wanted to keep their wetsuits competitive with the cost of wetsuits made by other surf companies.

“We knew if there was a long-term profit gain, we could keep moving along with these types of products,” McCaffrey explained. “So we kept creating and kept testing these products, but realized that what it came down to at the end of the day was a need to change the market and to educate consumers on what they were supporting when they bought products using these materials.”

This strategy saw a shift, not only in consumer trends within the surf community, but within the surf industry as a whole as more companies began to look towards environmentally-friendly solutions for creating high-quality products.

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm—that’s exactly what our mission is here at Patagonia, and it is why we got into the surf industry, too,” McCaffrey said. “Obviously, we saw that there was financial opportunity to be gained by causing positive change, but changing people’s mind is not an easy thing to do. The fact that this is becoming widely accepted feels pretty cool. It’s an accomplishment for all of us who were working on this project for the past several years.”

Pursuing a passion, not a paycheck

Of course, McCaffrey was confident in his ability to change the mindset of the surf community when he took on the position. It was one of the reasons why he lobbied for—and was ultimately offered—the position in the first place.

Yet after his graduation, the New Jersey-native wasn’t quite sure where his professional path would take him.

“I knew I didn’t want to spend two to five hours in traffic every day, going to a job where I had to spend 40 hours a week in a suit and tie,” McCaffrey said. “I know it sounds silly, but I knew that wasn’t for me, and it really wiped out a lot of job opportunities at that time.”

Instead, the Phi Gamma Delta brother spent a year after his graduation travelling around the United States—inspired to immerse himself in the landscape and culture of his own country after realizing how little he knew of it while studying abroad in London and Lancaster.

It was a short while later that he noticed a Patagonia catalogue while staying with some friends. After recognizing the landscape of the pictures in the catalogue as a place he had hiked during his cross-country road trip, he decided—on a whim—to give the company a call.

A few days later, he found himself being interviewed by their regional director for retail on the East coast, and accepted a position based in Atlanta, working on the opening of their new store to coincide with the 1996 Summer Olympics.

It was a year later that he moved to California, working in a Patagonia-run surf shop and building surfboards by hand while living in the back of a friend’s van.

“The pay was terrible, but I was never happier,” McCaffrey said. “I could set my own hours doing work that I loved. I could travel. I could surf. I didn’t have much, but I was happy.”


Taking calculated risks

Ultimately, it was his relationship with the former CEO of Patagonia that inspired him to take on a more active leadership role within the company.

“I was at a point in my life where I wanted to look at more long-term career options, and he really encouraged me to go back to school,” McCaffrey said. “I had already been at Patagonia for ten years when I was finishing up my MBA and heard that they were looking for someone who could lead the surf division. I told them that I could start tomorrow. If in six months they didn’t like what I was doing, they could fire me, but it will still be less expensive than hiring an industry executive who doesn’t know anything about the people or the products.

“Of course, they were skeptical, but I liked the challenge.”

It wasn’t the only challenge he would face. Yet as he worked to create surf products that lived up to the mission of Patagonia while simultaneously changing the mindset of the surf community, he turned out to be a risk that paid off for the company.

“In everything I’ve done in my life, making money has never been as important to me as how I make that money,” McCaffrey said. “Figuring out new ways to do the same thing, exceeding current expectations, and leaving a smaller footprint—it’s the puzzle that I will always find interesting,”

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 01:44:43 EDT
What’s in a (family) name? Every family has its stories.

We share them at the dinner table and relive them at family gatherings, but, according to our faculty, there is something much more to be gained from quality time that spans generations.

“We’re all connected to our past,” said history Prof. Michael Birkner ’72, P’10. “Who we are depends as much on who our parents were and who their parents were before them.”

Ian Isherwood

Ian Isherwood ’00

Connections to family history gives people a sense of who they are and where they have come from. But even beyond this, learning about one’s family history through dinner conversations or diligent genealogical research can be an entry point to engaging with larger historical narratives—a launch to understanding the historical periods from which those family stories derive.

The reason why is simple, according to Prof. Ian Isherwood ’00. We are wired for stories.

“We all like stories about people,” he said. “Family history, in particular, is such a gateway to the story of all history because when you engage in family history, you engage in the same types of questions that historians ask, but just in a more intimate way.”

Asking questions

Perhaps the most direct manner of asking questions is through the collection of oral histories—interviews with people who have personal, first-hand knowledge of past events. It’s a method that Birkner and any of his students know well.

Michael Birkner

Michael Birkner ’72 P’10

He uses oral history both to teach students about the tools available to historians and to document personal stories from the World War II era before they are lost. What he and his students have built is one of the largest collections of WWII oral histories in the country.

“Everyone has a story to tell, and we want to get those stories before they are lost forever,” Birkner said.

The trick, more often than not, is asking the right kinds of questions.

Birkner, the Franklin Professor of the Liberal Arts, doesn’t like telling students in the historical methods course specific questions to ask.

“They’ll usually figure that out while doing background research and from listening to the conversation,” Birkner said. “The only thing I tell my students is that they must start from the beginning. They must ask their subject something about their parents, their childhood, their siblings if they had any—those kinds of questions. As William Wordsworth said, ‘The child is the father of the man.’ You need to start there.”

Digging through documents

Of course, oral histories are only useful for recording stories that have not yet been lost. Likewise, not everyone has old family letters or mementos to kick start their genealogical research. That being said, there are still some tools that can aide the process—relatives, family stories, and, of course, the Internet, with various ancestry tools and the databases it can access.

And while not everything is online, cautions College Archivist Amy Lucadamo ’00, there are still other outlets for a family historian if one wants to get started.

“For people just starting out, patience is key,” Lucadamo stated. “While there are a lot of resources online, not everything is on the Internet. Sometimes, you need to go to historical societies, check out local churches, or pick up the phone and make a few calls.”

For the particularly adventurous family historians, learning about the time period that shaped their ancestors and the places that played a pivotal role in their stories is another avenue of research, too.


Isherwood’s project with the letters of World War I Major Hugh J.C. Piers offers a good example. The letters were loaned to the College by Marco Dracopoli ’14 and his parents, Nic Dracopoli P’14 and Diane Zorich P’14, who asked that they be put to good use. Piers was a Dracopoli family forebear.

In conjunction with the WWI centennial, Isherwood, Lucadamo, and a team of students have been sharing the letters on a website and on social media platforms—100 years to the day that they were written. The historians add commentary and historical context to enrich the interpretation of the letters.

“You need to look at not only what they are saying, but who they are saying it to, when they are saying it, and even what words they are choosing to say it,” Isherwood stated. “Nobody has to write a letter, but they do it because they want to convey something.”

Piers would write interesting bits of gossip and everyday life to his sisters, discuss family business and finances with his father, and reassurances to his mother to downplay the violence and difficulties of trench life to her.

“Don’t worry about Snipers,” he wrote. “No one is more anxious to avoid them than me, & they can’t do much where we are going.”


Putting it all together

While letters may not make up the bulk of historical documents that are available to family historians, they can often provide the most lively accounts. There are other records which can provide glimpses of people and past events—including census records, wedding announcements in local newspapers, paystubs, passenger manifests, and maybe even a signature in an immigration record.

Understanding those records is the job of the historian—amateur and professional alike.

“You won’t ever get a full picture of what happened in the past, but you’ll get little snippets and glimpses of it,” Isherwood said. “History, at its core, is the act of trying to make meaning out of those snippets”

This story is an abridged version of an article that appeared in the fall edition of the Gettysburg Magazine.

Read more about what our alums—like author of The Green Box Jim Kurtz ’71—have uncovered from their own family histories or how our faculty experts advise working on family genealogies by keeping an eye out for the magazine or by viewing the online edition.

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:42:30 EDT
The Bitters Biz Take three Gettysburg alumni. Add a city. Make it Washington D.C. Stir in a passion for the art of making high quality drinks, and what do you get?


It’s a bitters company that produces aromatic products for cocktails—their mission is to simplify and demystify the cocktail-making experience, bringing natural, quality ingredients into people’s homes, serving the “tasters, not just the tastemakers.”

Ethan Hall ’11 started the D.C.-based business in his kitchen, along with fellow alum, friend, and roommate Eric Kozlik ’11. Hall was a medical tech consultant and developed a love for quality cocktails over drinks with clients. Kozlik, on the other hand, originally found his calling in wine. While teaching classes at the University of Maryland and working towards his MFA in poetry, he took a wine and spirits education course on the side.

“Ethan and I have been pretty good kitchen mates since our senior year at Gettysburg, when we shared an apartment in the building next to the Ragged Edge Coffee Shop,” said Kozlik. “When we moved to D.C., the food and drink experiments got incrementally more sophisticated, and Ethan started dabbling in spirits and bitters. After he churned out a couple of progressively tastier batches of bitters, we started joking about making a business out of it. Now, a few years later, here we are.”


Experimentation was part of the equation, but Hall’s vision is also rooted in a deep appreciation for the craft of making drinks.

Ethan Hall ’11 “In early 2013, I picked up the volume that turned this from a hobby into a bit of an obsession: Bitters: A Spirited History,” said Hall. “The book explains the history of bitters, first as a pseudo-medicinal product peddled by snake oil salesmen, followed by mainstays of the turn-of-the-20th-century cocktail movement, the Mad Men era, and into today.”

Hall received rave reviews from family and friends after giving away his homemade concoctions as Christmas gifts, and the rest is history. Kozlik started developing marketing materials, and the pair developed a few product prototypes, invested in bottling equipment, and found a space to work. By the fall of 2014, they had released their first run of Orange and Aromatic bitters at DC VegFest, which is a food festival for people who are passionate about natural, ethical foods.

“That was an excellent fit because we differentiate ourselves by using primarily organic ingredients and avoid artificial flavors and dyes, unlike our larger competitors,” Hall said.

At Union Kitchen

In April of 2015, Embitterment joined Union Kitchen, a local food incubator that provides businesses like theirs with kitchen space, support, and shared resources. Hall and Kozlik also brought on former fellow classmate Russell Garing ’11 to the team to help expand their reach and operate the business at a commercial scale. Garing recently finished up his MBA at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. 

Preparing orangesThe three met while living together in Huber Hall and stayed close throughout college. They even joined the same improv comedy group on campus, “Shots in the Dark,” inspired in part by their shared first-year seminar, The Zen of Improv. But they also had their own interests throughout their time at Gettysburg—Hall helped form a chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, Kozlik was a writer and decathlete, and Garing became a member of Sigma Chi.

Now a team post-Gettysburg, the trio runs the business on the side of their full-time work—Hall is now pursuing his MBA at the Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management; Kozlik is a Digital Content Coordinator at an international trademark and IP law firm in Washington, D.C.; and Garing is a contract specialist with NAVAIR, supporting the U.S. Navy.

“We all have really different strengths, which is what allows us to run a successful business while continuing to develop professionally,” Kozlik said. “We segment the work that we’re individually really good at, and we tag-team the rest.”

“None of us thought we would be doing this, much less working together after college,” said Hall. “It just goes to show that while planning is incredibly valuable, it is equally important to be flexible and receptive when you approach your career and post-college life.”

Eric Kozlik ’11Hall, Kozlik, and Garing are now focused on placing their product in more distilleries and stores. The trio have just launched their fourth flavor, chocolate bitters, and Kozlik’s wife—2012 valedictorian Carolyn Murphy ’12 —has started experimenting with making candied desserts out of the peels and other flavor-infused leftovers from the production process to eliminate waste.

“[In the future] folks can expect more seasonal and specialty flavors, as well as more curated educational resources to help people discover the joys of becoming their own at-home mixologist,” said Kozlik.

Their blog often features the “drinkonomics” of making your favorite cocktail—for less money than you’d spend at the bar.

“In a way, we’re democraticizing craft cocktails” Hall said.

“I’m just happy to be part of a company built by friends and committed to bringing the most exquisite taste to the most people possible,” said Kozlik. “[People] can pick up our product and become an artist without the extra pretense, flash, and dollar signs that normally accompany mixology.”

To learn more about Embitterment, you can listen to Eric Kozlik’s recent interview on the Speaking Easy Podcast, or visit the Embitterment website for product info, recipes, and cocktail insights.

Video: An inside look at the Embitterment kitchen

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 09:26:34 EDT
Chairman Emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute receives French Legion of Honor Susan Eisenhower, chairman emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, recently received the highest French order for military and civil distinction, the National Order of the Legion of Honour.  She was recognized for her founding role as first president of the Institute and for her policy work, especially in the area of US-Russian relations.

Eisenhower currently leads the Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times (SALTT) program at the Institute, which focuses on teaching undergraduates about the strategy, leadership, followership, and values required of them in contemporary geopolitics.

Read Eisenhower’s personal reflections on the program.

Last year, the program culminated in a trip to Normandy, where students were able to study these concepts through the lens of the D-Day invasion, which began on its beaches. 

Video: Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times.

For many years, Eisenhower has worked with her French counterparts on issues related to energy policy and international security. Her SALTT seminar this year will focus on US-Russian relations, and later in the year she will be returning to Normandy with a Gettysburg group, including several members of her SALTT alumni.

Read more about the SALTT program.

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:17:48 EDT