Dodging the Bullet: Reflecting on Experiences as First Year Ends

Taylor-Jo Russo has come a long way since she graduated high school (Photo Taylor-Jo Russo/The Gettysburgian).

Taylor-Jo Russo has come a long way since she graduated high school (Photo Taylor-Jo Russo/The Gettysburgian).

By Taylor-Jo Russo, Staff Writer

As my first-year comes to a close and with my final Dodging the Bullet piece, I find myself reflecting on all the transformative moments I have had at Gettysburg thus far. I cannot narrow down my experience to one moment or even one event, so I will instead discuss the most meaningful experiences I have had in a broader format. I realized when I was looking back on all of my favorite experiences, they all were from the opportunities I have gotten involved with thus far. So, in a listicle, I will briefly discuss in no particular order each of the organizations and clubs I am involved with and the impact that they have had on my life:

The Center for Public Service (CPS)

It all started with GIV Day. I volunteered a lot in high school and knew I was going to continue throughout my life, so GIV Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to garner a relationship with CPS. After that day and the EXPO, I learned about the programs I wanted to join and I signed up, making no excuses otherwise. I will be a Program Coordinator next year and am so excited to take my passion for service into a leadership role. CPS has made me realize my privilege, made me a better community member, but most of all has shown me support. My advice: do something bigger than yourself; CPS makes that easy.

The Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME)

My first job on campus started with an office assistant position at OME. When I applied and got the job, never did I ever expect the impact that office and the staff would have on me. Growing up in a diverse place, Gettysburg came with an adjustment and OME was that ally to help that adjustment. From the events they sponsor to the consistent welcoming environment, they have made me feel important everyday and have shown me ways to better connect with all members of the community. My advice: spend time learning about differences, OME teaches you to embrace it.


As a new tour guide and ambassador, a position I have wanted since high school, I have learned so much in such a short period of time. From communication skills to putting stress behind me and giving my all to visiting families, I have gained so much from Admissions regarding professional and life lessons. But they have also always proven to brighten my days and put a smile on my face whether that be from other student workers or the counselors themselves. My advice: remember where you came from and help others through it, we wouldn’t be where we are without Admissions.

Her Campus

Her Campus is a writing and social media feminist club on campus, that has shown me the ins and outs to advertising, promoting, and supporting a national organization. I hold a secretary position which has also helped my communications skills and jump-started my path to leadership on campus. The organization promotes a supportive atmosphere while emphasizing women’s roles in college spaces. My advice: join organizations that support the values that you believe in.

Honor Commission

While this organization tends to hold a lot of stigmas in particular being the campus “snitches,” I have learned the most about myself and my response to others through them. Being a part of the Honor Commission has taught me that I see the best in others and realize that everyone makes mistakes. It has also shown me the importance of the Honor Code as it is what promotes the respect and trust that allows the campus to be safe enough to leave our stuff everywhere. My advice: don’t shy away from opportunities based on other’s opinions.

The Eisenhower Institute

While I am not interested in pursuing a public policy or political science major or minor, I am interested in pressing issues that affect all of us. I decided to apply to the Women and Leadership program this year, and while I will do a larger reflection piece about it for the news section later, I will say this has taught me the most about myself, others, life, and has given me the best support group I could’ve ever imagined. My advice: don’t shy away from opportunities based on labels that don’t exactly align with your interests.

The Gettysburgian

Last but not least, The Gettysburgian. Not only have I gotten to exercise my love for writing, but I have been able to do it in a flexible and comfortable space. I have found myself happier than ever before in an academic environment and I feel that part of it is down to the amount of reflection I have been able to do. The Gettysburgian has forced me to reflect and communicate my opinions and thoughts, which I ultimately believe has made me more grateful. My advice: reflect often and flesh out your thoughts, it relieves so much stress.

While I will be continuing with all of these activities and am hoping to add more to this list during my next three years, these organizations are what made my first-year as special and as meaningful as it was. At the end of the day, the campus has so much to offer and as long as you get involved, there is no reason to not feel as enlightened and transformed as I do. These organizations have taught me a lot about life, professions, but mostly myself. I have grown in so many ways for the better and I expect to continue to do so. I hope to gain more leadership roles as I continue to make my Gettysburg experience as great as it has been. To all incoming first-years or even current students that feel that they are missing something, get involved. It teaches you more than you can even imagine. My advice: take control of your journey.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the 2018-19 edition of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2022 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. (-M. Neiman)  

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Author: Taylor Jo Russo

Taylor (Taylor-Jo) Russo '22 is a staff writer for The Gettysburgian who writes primarily for the features section where she covers current events, discussions, and more. She is from Princeton, New Jersey and loves going on adventures and trying new things. She is majoring in Psychology and Philosophy and minoring in Economics. Follow her on Instagram @taylorjorusso.

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