Senior Perspectives: Reflections on Their Time at Gettysburg College
Compiled by Mikelyn Britt, Opinions Editor
Emma Fee ’23
“I transferred to Gettysburg after my freshman year at a different institution. I was genuinely happy and enjoying my college experience for the first time after what had been an incredibly hard year. I started at Gettysburg in the fall of 2019, meaning that Covid hit in the spring of my second semester on campus, and lockdown restrictions were in place for the next year. I am deeply saddened when I think about what could have been if I had had a “normal” Gettysburg experience, but Covid (as horrible and deadly as it was and continues to be) was also a blessing in disguise for me. During the lockdown, I made the decision that I loved my time at Gettysburg so much that I wanted to take an extra year, meaning I would spend four full years here, instead of the three it would have taken to finish my degree. If it hadn’t been for Covid, I don’t think that I would have decided to do that, and I am so glad that I did. I have loved every second of my time at Gettysburg and I know that transferring here was the best decision I could have made.”
Zane Kazmarski ’23
“My time at Gettysburg has been filled with many highs and lows, but I would say it has been a time of growth and self-discovery. Though I spent three years of my career here pursuing the wrong major, I discovered more about myself in those three years than I had in my entire life. One of my biggest regrets will always be not quitting my major earlier on and allowing myself to discover areas that I was actually passionate about, but once I found my way out, I was able to grow into the person I am today. I often feel that much of my time has been wasted, but when I look at the world I have created around myself I think I have created a life that I am really proud of. For that, I am Gettysburg grateful.”
Anderson Gray ’23
“If I thought four years ago, I would be graduating with two majors, and one minor, researching Black women’s representation in music awards, and performing a senior recital, I would have laughed. So, to sit and reflect on all my accomplishments creates a feeling of immense pride. Although, my college years have had difficulties, such as dealing with the college’s inequities or studying through a pandemic; I have grown and accomplished so much at Gettysburg. Majoring in Music and Africana Studies allowed me to foster a love for Black music and Black feminism. Through this major, I was able to be a student of the brilliant Dr. Williams and learn about social justice theory, not only within the classroom but within everyday life. With the knowledge and self-love gained through these classes taken, I know I am walking away from Gettysburg a strong woman of color and a leader in the world.”
“Flying six hours to find the college that would be my home for the next four years was not exciting at all. It was not all rainbows at the beginning. The cultural shock was very intense for an 18-year-old girl from Texas and there was no one to support me and understand how confused I was feeling. Being a Hispanic in a white-dominated school made me question my identity and capacity inside and outside the classroom. Then a pandemic took over my college experience and made me spend my sophomore year back home. However, all the anxiety from moving across the country was worth it when I reached the place that was constantly giving me friendships and memories. There was a huge change in my perspective and how I changed stereotypes by being the first in many things. The first to go to college out of state and the first to join a sorority, all while not being from the same ethnicity or race as my peers. Joining a sorority made me love Gettysburg more than my hometown by giving me a group of girls that believed in me and celebrated my own achievements. As a senior about to graduate with a double major in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Education, each course has definitely challenged me to bring my cultural background into perspective. My experience at Gettysburg College has been so rewarding and it is definitely going to be my hardest goodbye.”
Garrett Hale ’23
“When I look at my hands today, I don’t see them the same way as I did when I arrived in Gettysburg during my freshman year. Like everything about college back then, my hands seemed so new. I could never imagine just what I would apply them to. Week after week of classes, these hands gripped a pen as I worked frantically to record as much as I could from my professor’s lectures. I spent many late nights hammering away the keys on my keyboard, working tirelessly on paper after paper. They carefully flipped the pages of so many books, spanning a variety of subjects I never thought I’d investigate. I brought these hands with me on summer internships, where I put them to work recovering historic artifacts from the Earth. I’ll always remember those feelings of holding something left behind so long ago, such a tangible connection to a time so distant from today. But just as it hasn’t all been bad, it hasn’t always been good either. As the years have passed, these hands have been scarred over and over. There were days when they held my face when I wanted to do nothing more than give up. There were times when all I could do was reach out, hoping someone would take them.
“And my hands were always met by those I needed the most. When my hands were hurt, they always healed. When I wanted to throw in the towel, they wiped my eyes and I found the strength to push on. They’ve shaken other hands as I have made connections I will value for the rest of my life. They’ve been loved too, held by those who touched me so deeply. Come May, I will use these hands to gratefully accept the diploma I have worked so hard for these past four years. No matter how difficult things were, I always knew this place was special. I was never one to merely sit and absorb facts and knowledge, but one who always valued working with his hands. Gettysburg College gave me a chance to use these hands to do great work. When asked to write about my Gettysburg experience, I don’t think I could really put it all into words. Instead, I wear it proudly on my hands.”
Simon Kiel ’23
“I have had a great overall experience at Gettysburg College. The moment I declared my English degree in my Junior year, I felt like a part of the department and have found all of my courses to be interesting and suited to my style of working independently and keeping up with my reading—it also helps have such supportive faculty who are always willing to help with coursework or anything else. There are times I feel sick of my routine, but I found my experience with studying abroad in Greece last semester to be the perfect break from regular schooling, and I made friends outside of Gettysburg in my program that I will have forever. Even though the goal was to take a trip away from Gettysburg, it was the Center for Global Education that made the process of applying, going, knowing and paying so easy in the first place. These are just a few reasons why Gettysburg will always hold a special place in my heart.”
This article originally appeared on pages 16 to 17 of the April 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.