Aurora Camacho de Schmidt
Title: Associate Professor (on leave Fall 2011)
Location: Kohlberg 339
Interests: Mexican and Central American social movements in literature - Indigenous populations - immigration - postcolonial critical theory - the making and reading of poetry - the works of Octavio Paz, Ernesto Cardenal, Carlos Fuentes and Elena Poniatowska
Aurora Camacho de Schmidt studied philosophy at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She received an MA and PhD in Latin American literature from Temple University. Before coming to Swarthmore College, Aurora directed the Mexico-U.S. Border program of the American Friends Service Committee, and was engaged in Mexico-U.S. relations as a policy analyst, immigrants' rights advocate, and writer. Her research and teaching focus on the way the freedom and rigor of the literary imagination embody the struggles of marginal people in the Americas. Her two most recent articles explore the connections between pictorial and photographical images and the written word, including poetry.
With her husband, Temple University historian Arthur Schmidt, Aurora edited and translated Elena Poniatowska's Nothing, Nobody: the Voices of the Mexican Earthquake (1995), and Alberto Ulloa Bornemann's Surviving Mexico's Dirty War (2007). She is currently working on the role of female servants in contemporary Mexican novels written by women.
María Luisa Guardiola
Title: Professor (on leave Fall 2011)
Location: Kohlberg 342
Interests: Nineteenth and twentieth century Spanish Literature - women's writers - the works of Gertrudis González Avellaneda, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Caterina Albert (Víctor Catalá), Mercé Rodoreda, Carmen Martín Gaite, Carme Riera and other Iberian writers - "fin de siglo" literature and cultural developments, Benito Pérez Galdós, Federico García Lorca and other great Spanish authors - Spanish contemporary cinema
Professor Guardiola received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and her degree of "Licenciada en Filología Hispánica" from the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona. She specializes in nineteenth and twentieth century Spanish literature, with an emphasis in women writers. She has written on romantic authors such as Cecilia Böhl de Faber, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Antonio García Gutiérrez. She also works on the literary production of "fin de siglo" writers such as Emilia Pardo Bazán, and Benito Pérez Galdós. She has done research on Catalan women writers of the early twentieth century, Caterina Albert and Mercé Rodoreda, creators of a modernist style of their own. She has done extensive work
on important writers of the second half of the twentieth century: Carmen Martín Gaite, Carme Riera, Montserrat Roig and many others. She has presented at many national and international literary conferences. She is presently writing a book chapter on two novels by Carmen Martín Gaite for the prestigious Modern Language Association "Approaches to Teaching" series.
She published La temática de García Gutiérrez (La mujer), a book on the female characters and their role in the works of Antonio García Gutiérrez, a Spanish playwright whose literary production spans the nineteenth century (PPU, 1993). Professor Guardiola prepared a critical edition of García Gutiérrez's El trovador (Crítica, 2006), the play that Verdi used for the libretto of his renowned opera "Il trovatore". This critical edition is the first one to include the author's signed 1836 manuscript and is included in the emblematic Biblioteca Clásica collection directed by Francisco Rico. The edition of Pepita Jiménez, an important realist novel, is designed to help the student understand the essential aspects of late nineteenth century narrative style (Punto de Lectura, 2001).
Professor Guardiola has extensive experience directing study abroad programs. She directed the Hamilton College and St. Lawrence University programs in Madrid, Spain, several times. Under her directorship the programs have been updated to enhance the cultural experience of the participants.
At Swarthmore, Professor Guardiola teaches courses that focus on the representation of the Spanish Civil War in literature and cinema, nineteenth and twentieth century women writers, a survey on Spanish literary history, and the role of memory in literary, film and cultural narratives to build national identity. Additionally, she offers two seminars, one on Federico García Lorca and another in 19th-century Spanish literature, entitled "Héroes y villanos: el siglo XIX español y la democratización literaria."
Title: Assistant Professor; Latin American Studies Coordinator
Location: Kohlberg 335
Interests: Latin American Cultural Studies, LGBT studies and queer theory, Southern Cone and Brazilian literatures, Latin American cinema
Born in Tandil, Argentina, Luciano Martínez received the degree of Profesor de Castellano y Literatura from the Instituto San José in his hometown, and completed that of Profesor en Letras at the National University of Mar del Plata, for which he received the dean's Award for Outstanding Graduate. In 2000, he obtained his Licenciatura en Letras and, once again, was given the dean's Award for Outstanding Graduate. That same year, he was honored with the Academia Argentina de Letras award, given to the year's most outstanding graduate in literature in the country.
Specializing in Latin American Literature, Professor Martínez received his M.A. and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was awarded an Andrew Mellon Fellowship to write his dissertation. Wishing to work beyond the confines of existing disciplines, he pursued a Doctoral Certificate in Cultural Studies from Pitt's Cultural Studies Program, the oldest and most interdisciplinary such program in the United States. In addition, he obtained a Certificate of Advanced Study in Latin American Studies.
His book, Miguel Briante, genealogía de un olvido (2001), was widely reviewed in Spain, Argentina and the United States. He has published articles on Jorge Luis Borges, Héctor Tizón, César Vallejo and Brazilian gay literature. One recent essay, "The Dictatorship of Masculinity," is part of the book 21st Century Gay Culture (2008), edited by David Powell.
At Swarthmore College, Luciano Martínez teaches courses in contemporary Latin American literature focusing on topics such as the non-fiction novel, literature and cinema, the Latin American short story, and gay and lesbian literature.
Luciano Martínez currently serves as the chair of the Latin American Studies program. In the past, he chaired both the the Gender and Sexuality Studies program and the Spanish section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. He also advises the student organizers of the annual Queer Issues Symposium.
Professor Martínez's current research interests center on the representation of minor subjectivities -specifically gays, lesbians and "travestis"- both in literature and cinema. He is the editor of the first special issue of Revista Iberoamericana on gay and lesbian studies and queer theory, which brings together the most current theoretical perspectives from Latin American, European and American scholars. His next book project deals with an aspect unexplored in both the field of history and that of literary studies: the relationship between two groups that offered resistance to the authoritarian Latin American governments of the seventies, the activists of the revolutionary left, convinced of the necessity of an armed fight, and the homosexuals, committed to the cause of sexual liberation.
Photo credit: Alina Jara
Title: Spanish Lecturer
Location: Kohlberg 315
Interests: Spain and Latin America - Spanish-American literature - Language pedagogy - Second language acquisition - Computer Assisted Language Learning
Patricia Vargas, a native of Peru, is a Spanish Lecturer who came to Swarthmore after teaching for many years at the University of Pennsylvania. She studied at the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in Lima, and has extensive training in language teaching methodology.
She is currently teaching sections of Intensive First Year of Spanish (001-002), Intensive Spanish for Advanced Beginners (002B), Intensive Intermediate Spanish (003) and and the Spanish Communication Workshop. Patricia Vargas also coordinates the Spanish Language Table.
In Vargas opinion, Swarthmore has a unique approach to teaching languages by which students are exposed to two instructors with different backgrounds, accents and teaching styles five days a week. After just two semesters, students speak the language, and are able to communicate their opinions and emotions about a variety of issues in Spanish.
Rachel Lynn Head
Title: Assistant Dean for Residential Life
Phone: (610) 328-8362
Office: Parrish 116
Building community is something the south Florida native Rachel Head takes seriously. "The work of the Dean's Office does nothing if not complement and support the work of the classroom," she says. "We're another community of teachers, here to add on to what's learned elsewhere on campus."
Head came to Swarthmore in June 2008 from Dartmouth College, where for two years she led a program focused on integrating faculty into residential education activities. She previously served in the student life offices of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Center for Academic Programs Abroad in London, England, and the University of South Florida, where she coordinated volunteer activities and service learning in the University's Center for Civic Engagement.
Head holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Florida State University and an M.ED. from the University of South Florida. After working as a greek-housing graduate assistant during graduate school, she started looking for ways to incorporate social work into her work with college-aged students.
"I've worked with students who've had challenges and for whom going home over break isn't a good thing," she says. "This is where my counseling and communication skills as a social worker are transferable. In a 'person in environment' system, like in social work and in college, some of the most basic theories are the same.
Ultimately, Head says everyone at Swarthmore wants the same thing: "For students to be successful, to help them try to figure out who they are and who they want to be, and to provide opportunities for them to explore and challenge some of the ideas that maybe they've always accepted."
Karen Henry '87
Title: Assistant Dean and Gender Education Advisor
Phone: (610) 328-8169
Office: Parrish 130
Karen Henry '87
is the first person to hold the position of gender education advisor that was created when she joined the Dean's Office in 1993. In that role, she provides support and advocacy for students who feel they have been victimized by sexual misconduct. She also assists students in understanding what constitutes sexual misconduct and in shaping appropriate responses to such inappropriate behavior.
Survivors, victims, crisis, misconduct, assault - with reassuring, professional calm, and even humor, Karen deals with it all. "There is so much satisfaction in my work," she says, "in seeing how resilient students can be and in supporting students in all ways."
Karen works with campus groups such as Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team (SMART), the Women's Resource Center, and all women's groups. As assistant dean, she advises other students as well, including the Philip Evans Scholars.
"ASAP is a great group," she says. "The older students have workshops and discussion groups especially with freshmen about the realities of what happens at Swarthmore, and on all campuses. They give tips on party behavior, alcohol-related behavior, thinking ahead in dating situations - they talk about it all."
Karen's expertise in advising and counseling comes not only from her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Temple University or her master's in social service from Bryn Mawr College, but from years of experience in Philadelphia, her hometown, at the Veterans Hospital and at Action AIDS. "When you see how people who have multiple issues are struggling to live, it's hard," she says. "But it prepares you for anything."
Phone: (610) 328-8299
Office: Parrish 124
, Martin Warner
is responsible for the maintenance and integrity of all academic records and student data reporting. He certifies graduation degree requirements, honors, enrollment, and degrees, and manages registration, grades, transcripts, classroom scheduling, and calendar planning. He also advises students and faculty on academic policies.
But Martin is proudest of the degree audit system, available online. "It's a check list for each individual student listing the graduation requirements for their major, what they've done, and what they need to do," he says.
"My reason for being here is to help students graduate, in particular to help them fulfill their degree requirements," Martin says. "My business is knowing the rules and helping others fulfill them, and sometimes that means helping students find the options they need to graduate. How do I do that? I meet with anyone who walks in, and I send a lot of friendly reminders."
Although now immersed in rules and regulations, Martin was once a long-haired hippie. During the Crum Regatta, for which he serves as Commodore, and Mustache November, some of the facial hair comes back. "These events are a little silly and simply a lot of fun," he says.
An avid Swat sports fan, Martin attends as many home games as he can, particularly basketball and volleyball. For himself, he prefers weight training and walking.
Martin traveled widely through the U.S. and held several jobs as a manual laborer before receiving his B.A. in religious studies at the University of North Carolina. He came to Swarthmore in 1995 from Duke University, where he had been assistant registrar for five years. He also worked in the library there as a cataloger while also earning a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies.
Title: Associate Dean for Student Life
Phone: (610) 328-8354
Office: Parrish 108
Collegiality and respect are the two qualities that Myrt Westphal, associate dean for student life, values most highly among the students and colleagues with whom she works at Swarthmore.
"I feel very lucky to be here," Myrt says. "It's a unique place, not just because of the exceptional students, but because of my colleagues and the wealth of knowledge I'm always able to tap into."
Myrt directs the student life team, which oversees housing, the resident assistants, the student judicial system, and all student activities. In addition, she advises many students individually and oversees the on-call system for the dean's staff. She moved into this position in 2004 after many years as assistant dean, director of residential life, and coordinator of services for students with disabilities. In addition, she served as the Lang Scholar's advisor for five years. Before joining the Dean's Office, she was director of the Adventures in Math & Science summer enrichment program for inner city high school students, with Swarthmore students working with her as RAs and TAs.
After earning an A.B. from Occidental College and an Ed.M. from Boston University, Myrt taught junior high school art and then was a "stay-at-home mom" and community activist. Now with nearly 20 years at Swarthmore under her belt and two adult children, Westphal's experience in working with young people is vast.
"Every interaction is a learning experience," she says. "And if you know a person's story, you know why they're in the position they're in. I learn from my friends, from my children, from literature, from travel, and from my colleagues. It all informs my work."
Myrt says her "deaning" style is very much like her parenting style. "If you treat a young person with respect and kindness backed with a clear principle for your actions, students will learn and feel positive about the experience."
Title: Director of Career Services
Phone: (610) 328-8651
Office: Parrish 140
Colleagues and students alike use superlatives like "force of nature," "indefatigable" and "awesome" to describe Nancy Burkett. Nancy was appointed Director of Career Services at Swarthmore in February 2003 and, since then, has devoted a seemingly endless supply of imagination and energy to helping Swarthmore students find themselves and define their futures.
"My favorite part of the job is the chance to see students grow and develop during their time at Swarthmore and to work with them toward developing career understanding and direction," she says. "There's nothing as satisfying as helping young people connect the knowledge, skills, values, and intellectual passion they develop at Swarthmore to rich career-building opportunities."
Nancy provides leadership and direction to the Career Services staff and serves as the liaison between Career Services and the College community, as well as employers, parents, prospective students and graduate school representatives. Nancy and her staff provide career advising and assistance to students and alumni, helping them identify career directions, locate opportunities to explore careers, and develop job search or graduate school admission strategies.
Nancy left an early career in human resources to pursue one in career services, working for a decade in that field at the College of William and Mary. She served for several years as dean of career development at Wagner College in New York before coming to Swarthmore.
"The Swarthmore experience hones students' independence, creativity, and ethical vision," says Nancy. "It is an education that offers the finest preparation for any career, and, also, for life."
Title: Worth Health Center Director
Phone: (610) 328-8061
Office: Worth Health Center
Beth Kotarski, a nurse practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in health care experience, began in Fall 2007 as the director of Swarthmore Worth Health Center. In this role, Kotarski is responsible for providing direct care as a nurse practitioner, overseeing the Center's extensive programs and services, and helping shape the College's strategies and practices in the areas of health services, health education, and wellness.
Kotarski came to Swarthmore from Haverford College, where for six years she served as the associate director of the Student Health Center. Her extensive background in women's health, reproductive health, and family health includes service at Swarthmore, Planned Parenthood, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from West Chester University, a Master of Science degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, and a post-Master's Certificate as a family nurse practitioner from Widener University. Read more in the Phoenix.
Title: Fellowships and Prizes Advisor
Phone: (610) 328-8363
Office: Parrish 118
There is no getting around the fact that competition for fellowships and awards is intense. But for students interested in study abroad, doing independent research, or earning money toward their undergraduate tuition or graduate studies, applying for grants and fellowships makes sense. At Swarthmore, Melissa Mandos provides students with a road map to scholarship and fellowship opportunities.
"The process of applying for fellowships and awards is often more about the journey than the destination," Melissa likes to tell the students who come knocking at her office door in Parrish Hall. "Even if you don't win, the application process helps you clarify your goals for the future, find out more about who you are and what you value, and improves your writing and interviewing skills."
During her career, Melissa has guided students in developing effective writing and presentation skills, first as the coordinator of the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Rutgers University, and now at Swarthmore. Getting to know students as she guides them through the grant process is her favorite part of the job.
Selection of finalists for most fellowships is based in part on a candidate's personal statement, and Melissa's advice for preparing an application includes looking at the writing of the personal statement as an "exercise in self-reflection." Ask yourself the important questions, she advises, such as "Why do I want this scholarship or fellowship?" "How do my values and goals connect with the mission of the grant maker?" and "How do my academic and extracurricular activities connect with what I want to do in the future?" "How will this scholarship or fellowship shape me as person and my future?" 'Where do I see myself ten years from now?"
Melissa earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University, a master's in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University.
Title: International Students and Scholars Advisor
Phone: (610) 328-8361
Office: Parrish 126
Prior to coming to Swarthmore, Jennifer Marks-Gold served as an international student adviser at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa., for 16 years. She was also an adjunct professor at Cabrini, where she earned an Ed.M, and at Drexel University, her undergraduate alma mater.
Marks-Gold has assisted many area educational institutions as a consultant on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration regulations and is a member of the Association of International Educators, Philadelphia Area International Educators' Network, and the Main Line Advisors Group. In her spare time, Marks-Gold is an inventor of useful gadgets, one of which is copyrighted and under contract with a marketing company.
Describing herself as a creative thinker, hard working, and caring, Marks-Gold appreciates the "unique and supportive working environment" at Swarthmore. "The international students I've worked with so far have been outstanding," she says.
Title: Counseling and Psychological Services Director
Phone: (610) 328-8059
Office: Worth Health Center
As Director of Psychological Services, David Ramirez's primary focus is to provide counseling and psychotherapy for Swarthmore students. "There's no set number of sessions, which is rare these days, but seems to work out best for everybody."
Ramirez and his clinical staff also provide testing for learning and cognitive disabilities, consultation services to faculty and staff, and training for all members of the college community. The latter can include psychoeducational training for resident assistants, student academic mentors, sexual health counselors - essentially, for any office that is doing facilitating work.
"By the time they reach graduation," David says, "many students will have been seen by me or my staff at some point in their four years here. It's worth noting that there is an even distribution among majors and academic performance."
David attended San Antonio College in his hometown before completing his undergraduate and graduate doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Active in the American Psychological Association's (APA) Division of Psychoanalysis, a major focus was advocating multicultural education for psychologists.
His work for the APA , he says, feeds directly into his work on campus. "Being recognized nationally as a scholar/practitioner helps attract a high caliber of pre-doctoral interns and psychiatric residents and others who complete their training here," he says.
In a 1999 Bulletin article, David wrote, "As counselors, we try to get students to study themselves just as they might study a text or another culture. Our job is to help them find the most effective ways to become nonjudgmental observers of themselves."
Title: Health Sciences/Pre Law Advisor
Phone: (610) 328-8589
Office: Parrish 125
Gigi Simeone began working at Swarthmore in 1996 as the Health Sciences Advisor. Seven years later, she added pre-law advising to her responsibilities. Gigi now provides information and advising to current students and alums interested in law school or in schools for the health-professions - medical, veterinary, dental, nursing, and public health. She helps guide them through the application process, and for applicants to health-professions schools, writes letters of recommendation.
"I really enjoy getting to know the students and alums," Gigi says. "It's very exciting when they have happy results at the end of a long and arduous application process. Our students are remarkable and I know they will do extraordinary things and really make a difference in the world."
Gigi has worked in college student services since 1975, her entire professional life. She started in residential living at the University of New Hampshire and then went to University of Pennsylvania, where she eventually became director of residential living, in charge of a system housing 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students. While at Penn, Gigi completed her doctoral studies and was awarded a Ph.D. in higher education administration by the University. She received a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and a master's of education from Boston University.
Gigi is always happy to meet with current students and alums individually. "I tell students and alums that, if they have questions or concerns, to please schedule an appointment, email me, or drop by my office in Parrish West 125," she says. Gigi also makes herself available to answer questions from prospective students and their parents.
Peter Akkies '12
Hometown: Laren, The Netherlands
Major/Minor: Honors Economics Major and Honors Political Science Minor
Activities: Webmaster of The Phoenix, Football (or, as Americans would call it, soccer)
Interests: Traveling (Facebook says I've visited 11% of the countries in the world!)
Why Swat: I hadn't visited Swarthmore until I arrived for orientation, because I spent the last two years of high school in Hong Kong, on the opposite side of the planet. After reading the website, college guidebooks and speaking to an admissions officer who visited my school, I felt that Swat was just the right place for me: academically challenging and top-notch, but not part of the traditional Ivy League, which attracts a different type of student. When my high school physics teacher encouraged me to apply to Swat, I was sold.
Favorite Class: Development Economics—a very knowledgeable and entertaining professor who is actively researching current topics in development economics teaches a class that dispels common myths and builds a solid foundation for understanding the difference in development across nations.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: Ice cream! Especially chocolate chip ice cream, but not the choc chip cookie dough ice cream.
Remarks on Swatties: They're all weird in one form or another, but that's very exciting and fun!
Favorite place on campus: The huge hammock hidden in the trees outside Hallowell and Danawell, hands down.
Favorite Swat Tradition: Writing thoughtful - or not-so-thoughtful - comments for others to ponder about, on trays in Sharples, the dining hall!
Most memorable experience: Arriving at campus for international orientation, having never visited before, and hoping that Swarthmore would be the place I want to spend four years. So far, I've been impressed!
What do you wish you knew about applying to colleges: Asking standard questions like how much attention professors will be able to give you and what the students are like is helpful, but if you want to get a sense of the diverse personalities of Swatties and the Swat culture, you'd better ask them about their passions, instead.
What is something you feel really passionate about: The need for everyone, but especially young people, to travel the world and gain different perspectives on both global and domestic issues.
Post Swat Plans: Post-Swat? Yeah, right. No idea! If I had the money, I would travel the world. More likely, I"ll work for a year or two before
Sydney Adler '13
Hometown: Agoura Hills, CA
Major/Minor: Potential double-major in Music and Religion
Activities: Chorus, Chamber Music, anything piano, Hillel, interfaith intern
Interests: Piano, musical theatre, singing, toe socks, dogs, tea, fruits and veggies, tofu, writing, bright colors, chick flicks
Why Swat: Many schools have "amazing academics," but Swat's size, personality, and general beauty are really what contribute so much more to that academic reputation. Swarthmore's small size makes for a community in which I can enter Sharples (the dining hall) at any time and know that I will have a friend sitting somewhere. I have two classes with only five other students in the class, and my one lecture class with 120 students has a ridiculous amount of TAs, lab assistants, and WAs (writing assistants) to help and is split into four smaller lab sections. Every dean, professor, and advisor is ready and willing to help, and our support system here, complete with CAs, WAs, ITS, SAMs, and lots of other groups with acronyms, is absolutely incredible! On a different note, the diversity of trees on campus here is so overwhelming sometimes just makes me stop where I am and wonder how in the world I discovered such an amazingly gorgeous place to spend the next four years.
Favorite Class: International Politics is incredible! My professor is an absolute genius, is British, and makes frequent Harry Potter references. Everything that we've read so far (there's a lot of reading, but it's worth it) and every political simulation the professor leads in class has been an eye-opening experience.
Remarks on Swatties: College guidebooks say that "All Swatties are passionate about something," and it's true. Every student, professor, and administrator here has something that he or she yearns to delve deeper into and share with the world. While every Swattie is entirely unique and not afraid to show it, we all feel that bizarre Quaker vibe that compels us to help each other out in whatever ways we can. And of course, we all speak with lots of acronyms and words like "heteronormative."
Dramatic Discoveries: I LOVE the rain here! I'm from Southern California, where rain makes everything cold, dark, and miserable. For some reason, rainstorms here give the trees and the general atmosphere a gorgeous lushness.
Favorite place on campus: Between practicing piano (in practice rooms that are always open), taking piano lessons, going to rehearsals in the concert hall with the gorgeous view, attending classes, and studying in the Underhill Music Library, I spend about 95% of my time in the Lang Music Building, and I love every minute of it! The Underhill Music Library is my favorite study space on campus, with its ridiculously comfortable seats and gorgeous view of the arboretum. A lot of people make the trek to Underhill simply to fall asleep on the cushioned bench.
Something you feel really passionate about: Music! I love performing, listening, analyzing, and discussing!
Ashley Banks '13
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
Major/Minor: Special Honors Major in Archaeology (based in Sociology/Anthrolpology)
Activities: Theatre, Swing club, EarthLust, Creative Writing, currently auditioning for Acapella groups and possibly auditioning for Vertigo-go. In short, I'm all over the place. This list is subject to change :)
Interests: Theatre, Shakespeare, Singing, Reading, Dancing, Laughing, Nature, Sociology and Anthropology, Life as a whole
Why Swat? I think the better question would be... Why NOT Swat? I asked myself this question almost every day during the "which college am I actually going to GO to?" phase of my application process (you'd think it's not as stressful, but I managed to be stressed nonetheless. Just a warning to you all). Anyway, I came to Ride the Tide (the admitted students weekend) basically with the mindset that I'd end up finding whatever made Swat a wrong choice for me, but I never did. I realized I never would, either, and I still stand by that belief. Everybody I meet (students and staff alike) is friendly and interesting to talk to. The campus is absolutely beautiful. The academic focus makes me feel like I can accomplish and learn so much more than I ever imagined. There is a club for pretty much anything you can think of, there is always something interesting going on, and somehow between class and clubs and events and sleep (sleep is good), I still always find time to just hang out with my friends. What more can you ask for?
Favorite Class: I feel like this is kind of unfair to decide, because I really love almost all of my classes. I even find myself enjoying my Stat class, and I'm definitely not the kind of person who would normally enjoy math. Still, if I had to pick one I think it would have to be my First Year Seminar called "The Forest of Symbols." I love the material, and the professor is fantastic.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: I'm a pretty picky eater, but I have to admit that the Sharples food is pretty good on the whole. They have fruit as big as your face! It's awesome! My favorite would have to be... I don't know. Maybe the little pizza things? They really amuse me because they're small and round. Okay, most pizza is round. But these remind me of miniature pies, and they make me happy. Also, I think I have yet to go through a single meal without drinking some of the citrus peach cocktail juice they have. It is SO DELICIOUS!
Remarks on Swatties: Swatties are awesome. Really. Everybody has something they're absolutely crazy about, and the range is all over the spectrum. We all have different experiences and passions and information and everything else, and we're all willing to learn from one another and grow as individuals. I've also noticed that I have no problem talking to almost everybody I meet. Generally, I don't have a lot to talk about with, say... somebody who is really into sports. Just because we don't have that much in common. But here, I've talked to people who have interests and ideas completely different from mine and we carried on a conversation just fine.
Favorite Place on Campus: I know it's maybe a little cliche, but I ADORE the Amphitheater. It's ridiculously beautiful. If I could live there, I totally would. Pictures don't do the place justice, really. And that's saying something, because even the pictures of the Amphitheater are beautiful. Parrish Beach is pretty cool, too, because there's almost always something going on, but the Amphitheater has a very peaceful feeling to it that I love.
Favorite Swat Tradition: I've only been here for about two weeks, but so far one of favorite traditions would have to be First Collection. I found the speech given by Professor Willie-LeBreton particularly moving, and seeing the entire amphitheater lit by candles was a breathtaking experience. It really made me feel like I was actually now a part of the Swarthmore community.
Most Memorable Experience: I haven't been here that long. This should make my choosing a most memorable experience pretty easy, but it's actually very difficult. Perhaps one of my favorites is the open mic night they had at Paces my first week here. The talent was fantastic, and at the end we all started singing such classics as "Be A Man" from Mulan, and "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Dancing Queen" and basically any other song you can think of. It was more fun than I can put into words.
Something you feel really passionate about: Life. Okay, maybe that sounds a little silly, but my thinking is that if you're not passionate about life, what is there you can be passionate about instead? I hope that I can learn to take everything life throws at me and learn from it.I'm also very passionate about theatre, but that might be a different kind of passion. My passion for theatre (and everything related) is the kind that makes me bounce up and down when somebody mentions it.
Post Swat Plans: I just got to Swarthmore. I'll probably go to grad school of some sort, but for now I want to enjoy all that Swarthmore has to offer me while I'm here.
Lily Austin '15
Hometown: Springfield, PA
Major/Minor: Possible Special in Neuroscience
Activities: Swarthmore Christian Fellowship, swimming, Random Acts of Kindness Club, working on campus as a lifeguard and at the library, and many more to come! (including the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit Project in Center City--will join that officially next week and hopefully be on a committee)
Interests: Finding balance, mentoring students, hanging out with my 7 year old sister, being active in a nurturing community, becoming involved in a College Committee at Swarthmore, and City Year (organization I worked with last year during my gap year).
Why Swat: When I visited I discovered that the vibe of this small community feels great! I realized I would flourish here and cultivate relationships with amazing people. I only applied to one school....so I may be atypical but the feeling I got when I came to campus really sold me.
Favorite Class: A tie between Intro to Psychology and Intro to Education
Remarks on Swatties: Individuality is a premium here and there are lots of genuinely nice people who love to share their passions with you.
Dramatic Discoveries: How cool the brain is and what people are discovering about it! That a cat lives on campus and is very selective in who he makes friends with, that my Professors here are really nice and caring, that there are TONS of resources for academic support, and that collaboration really is a part of the student culture! So different from my high school.
Favorite place on campus: The Rose Garden. It's just awesome to sit in halfway during your day and relax. And the courtyard by the Intercultural Center next to Tarble. It's so pretty to sit in!
Something you feel really passionate about: That every child deserves a fabulous education and mentorship growing up, and figuring out better ways to provide this. Being a good sister to my 7 year old sister.
Post Swat Plans: Post-Swat? Yeah, right. No idea! If I had the money, I would travel the world. More likely, I"ll work for a year or two before getting a graduate degree.
Jeff Davidson '12
Hometown: Stroudsburg, PA
Major/Minor: Honors Political Science Major, Honors Statistics Minor, Course Public Policy Minor
Activities: Editorial and writing work with the Phoenix, intramural Men's Volley, Ping Pong club
Interests: Newspaper, tennis, vegetarian/animal rights awareness, music (guitar, bass, drums, piano)
Why Swat? Swat offers me a bit of everything I wanted in a school - few students but a big beautiful campus, suburban but close to a big city, intensely yet supportively academic. I especially like the Tri-College Consortium with options to take classes at Haverford or Bryn Mawr or visit a friend at one of those campuses.
Favorite Class: My First Year Seminar, Battling Against Voldemort, is definitely my favorite class. It involves a great deal of reading on the subject of epic tales and heroes, but I must say I never imagined reading Harry Potter for class and actually getting something out of it.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: Anything vegetarian - the vegetarian section is fantastic and always offers plenty of options for me. I would have to say the stir-fry is the best (over brown rice).
Remarks on Swatties: Swatties are simply the best people I have met in every respect. Everyone here is smart, involved, and open. Most important is the last of those three things - they are all willing to help you to study, to break, and to have fun.
Favorite place on campus: The Adirondack chairs under the trees behind Kohlberg.
Favorite Swat Tradition: First Collection was a great experience. It was beautiful with everyone holding up his or her candle - it was a great way to top off orientation week.
What do you wish you knew about applying to colleges: I wish I had known how difficult it was to make my own decisions without parental influence. Because it's truly about your own fit at a school, not what others think to be your fit. And once you get into college, it's time to relax a bit (something I didn't do).
What is something you feel really passionate about: Not related to Swat, but I feel like the public school system's view on gifted students, placement, and foreign languages from elementary school needs to be completely revamped. The public system is bringing down students who need to be brought up.
Summer Plans: Maybe some research with a professor at Swat in the physics department.
Dylon Chow '12
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Major/Minor: Honors Mathematics Major, Honors History Minor
Activities: Swarthmore Asian Organization, Quiz Bowl, Debate Team.
Interests: Mathematics, chess, languages, history
Why Swat? Some reasons I chose Swat are because the professors care about teaching their students and it is easy to build strong student-teacher relationships with them. Also, there's an excellent peer group and plenty of opportunities to get involved in campus.
Favorite Class: Honors Linear Algebra seminar, with Professor Maurer. It was during my first semester here. I really liked how everyone in the class got involved in discussions. Also, Professor Maurer invited us all to dinner at his house at the end of class! I think the class helped establish a real collaborative effort throughout the semester.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: Probably Indian bar or Greek bar. I also really like some of the vegetarian options, like quinoa.
Remarks on Swatties: They're all wonderful people who enjoy learning. Because Swarthmore is small, you do feel that you're in a community with the other students.
Dramatic Discoveries: I guess one dramatic discovery would be how big the Crum Woods are. The first time I went, I got lost. I thought the Crum would be a few short trails, but it's actually very big.
Favorite Place on Campus: Probably the Science Center. I spend more time there than in McCabe, because I can study in a large empty room with plenty of chalkboards to write on. I really like the design of the building, and every so often I chat with math professors who are walking by.
Favorite Swat Tradition: The Pterodactyl Hunt. I was impressed by how realistic it was. It was like playing a video game, except everyone was real. I also liked how anticlimactic it was - after the pterodactyls died, everyone just went back to McCabe or their dorms.
Most Memorable Experience: Either dinner at Steve Maurer's house, or the Pterodactyl Hunt
What do you wish you knew about applying to colleges: Choosing a college is a big deal, but if you've done your research, you're very likely to end up at a college or university you'll really like.
Something you feel really passionate about: Teaching. I've wanted to become a teacher since I was little, and I hope, after I graduate, to pursue a career teaching mathematics at the university level.
Brennan Klein '13
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Major/Minor: Psychology and Cognitive Science
Activities: Men's Club Soccer, Large Scale Events Committee, TOPSoccer (once a week, we play soccer games with developmentally and physically disabled kids from the area), Psychology and Perception Research
Interests: People, people interacting with people, well made movies, thinking about thinking
Why Swat: Swarthmore is a haven for those who cannot hold back their inner curiosity. It is a place where asking questions is legitimately encouraged. Most importantly, you will gain an immeasurable amount of knowledge here.
Favorite Class: Quantum Physics in Search of Reality, Social Psychology, or Theories and Representations of the Orgasm (yes, that's a class here)
Favorite place on campus: The Crum woods. Or the Amphitheater. Actually, Parrish beach. No, the Arboretum.
What do you wish you knew about applying to colleges: I wish I heard about more firsthand experiences from students. Not just about classes but about social lives, sports, and campus events. The truth is, I knew very little when applying to college, but knowing what I know now, I'd definitely still come to Swat.
Post Swat Plans: Hopefully stay on campus and do Psychology research. After that, I want to go WWOOFing in Fiji or Estonia or Lithuania or Iceland for a couple weeks--basically I just want to travel.
Chris Geissler '13
Hometown: Maplewood, NJ
Major/Minor: Honors Linguistics Major, Honors Minor Religion
Activities: Fencing, Quiz Bowl, Buddhist Community at Swarthmore, Volunteering at College Access Center of Delaware County
Interests: Pottery, Eastern religions, History, Education
Why Swarthmore? During the course of visiting colleges, I noticed that I was comparing every school to Swarthmore. Of course the size and academics were exactly what I was looking for, but it was the Swatties themselves that really sold me—a beautifully accepting, creative, nerdy lot.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: Sharples' lentils are surprisingly (disturbingly?) similar to my grandmother's, so they're my natural favorite. While I was initially concerned about being able to find good-quality vegetarian food, that has not been an issue by any stretch of the imagination.
Remarks on Swatties: I have never felt as "at home" as among Swatties. They're an incredible bunch, all passionate about something or many things, and they have a unique, quietly welcoming manner. As a first-year student, I have greatly benefitted from the willingness of older students to reach out, offer advice, and guide the less experienced—and I look forward to doing the same in future years.
Dramatic Discoveries: I find myself continually surprised with the quality of EVERYTHING here, from the professors in every department to the fencing team's record to the bagels at the coffee bars.
Favorite place on campus: Metasequoia Allée, part of the Scott Arboretum, is located between Kohlberg and LPAC. An unremarkable walkway, it's lined on either side with plantings of Metasequoia trees, once thought extinct, which number among the few conifers to drop their leaves in the autumn. Though a major walking path, the Allée is somehow calmer and more peaceful... and very beautiful.
Most memorable experience: On my first Sunday, I went to the Swarthmore Friends Meeting just to try to gain a better understanding of the college's Quaker heritage. I had never been to a meeting before, and the peace of the silence really amazed me.
What do you wish you had known about applying to colleges? I wish I could have realized how quickly all the worries and concerns of the college admissions fade away once college actually begins! Yes, choosing the right college is important, but it ought to be put into the proper perspective.
Tianyu "Tom" Liu '12
Hometown: Collegeville, PA
Major/Minor: Biology and Public Policy (Premed)
Activities: Swarthmore Martial Arts Club (SMAC), Global Neighbours, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Interests: Global health, martial arts, rural China, mind and consciousness, anything infectious
Why Swat: Three MAJOR advantages to going to Swat:
(1) Small class sizes. Meaning you get to know your profs really well, you get lots of opportunity for question-based "tailored" learning, and PROFS GET TO KNOW YOU (to avoid those infamous generic letters of recommendation)
(2) Conducive learning environment. You will never feel the pressure of cutthroat competition breathing down your back; what you will find are groups of students before an organic chemistry exam suffering together.
(3) Strong sense of social awareness. The campus is filled with it, from the many student groups to the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, there's a lot to learn and a lot of resources available.
Favorite Class: Microbiology—the only class where you will design a space lab, adopt a bacterium, simulate an epidemic, and walk out of the exams feeling like you just learned new material.
Favorite Food at the Dining Hall: Oriental chicken salad (you can both enjoy it AND feel good eating it!)
Remarks on Swatties: Usually open-minded, sometimes quirky, not very pretentious, some are laid-back and some study too much, but generally fun to be around.
Dramatic Discoveries: Group studying with friends really isn't studying at all.
Favorite place on campus: Wrestling room (note: Swarthmore has no wrestling team)
What do you wish you knew about applying to colleges: Really get to know the colleges you're applying to (and not just their ranking on the US News and World Report). A lot of it seems really foreign to you during the process, and it's instinctive to rely on rankings, but try to visit (overnight if possible), definitely sit in on classes, and try to get the feel of each college you're applying to.
What is something you feel really passionate about: I'm passionate about asking questions. In Bio 1 lecture, in the dining hall, on the train, in a village in China…I feel that asking questions is a simple yet often overlooked way to hear someone else's story and learn about something you've never been exposed to.
Post Swat Plans: Medical school…but maybe take a year or two off to do a program abroad.