When beginning the college search process, I was determined to find a school that welcomed a like-minded, motivated student body eager to participate in campus life. My first tour of Gettysburg College was truly eye-opening, as each student that I interacted with participated in numerous activities across campus and expressed a genuine love for each of them. These insightful conversations regarding their experiences allowed me to imagine myself on this campus and in this positive environment.
Finding a ‘sense of community’
Upon my arrival to Gettysburg College, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity outside my comfort zone by participating in Ascent, the pre-Orientation program organized by the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC). Through this experience, I was able to build friendships and develop my teamwork skills with my new peers and upperclass facilitators.
After returning back to campus and meeting the entirety of my class, I attended the College’s Activities Fair, one of many events hosted by the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life (OSAGL). I must have signed up for at least 20 different clubs and organizations, which got me extremely excited for my first year! Out of those 20 that I initially signed up for, I decided to dedicate my time and energy to the select few that really showcased my interests. I knew these engaging clubs and activities would allow me to grow as an individual and find my own sense of community at Gettysburg College.
I first found that sense of community when I approached the Activities Fair table run by Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus. My religion has always been important to me, and I knew that being engaged with other Jewish students was a necessity to enhance my college experience. I was greeted by smiles and even received a free Hillel T-shirt! I immediately signed my name on the interest list, and since then, I have assisted in planning events for the organization and still remain an active participant to this day.
I was also granted the opportunity to assist OSAGL in planning campus-wide events for the student body, such as Mid Mad nights at Servo and the New York City Broadway bus trip. Ultimately, I collaborated with my peers to both plan and advertise these exciting events, as well as many more.
Growing through leadership and service
My prior participation in the GLC Ascent program led me to join the GLC Leadership Certificate program as a first-year student. This seemed like an amazing opportunity to improve my public speaking and interpersonal skills as well as learn more about myself and my leadership capabilities. This year-long program allowed me to make meaningful connections with my peers and truly educated me on improving my time management skills, which I heavily utilize to this day. This program also gave me the confidence to pursue future leadership opportunities both on campus and in my local community.
Following the GLC Leadership Certificate program, I became the house leader of the Hillel House, which granted me the opportunity to interact with my peers who had similar interests to me. I planned events for house and community members, which then encouraged me to apply for a leadership role in the social sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. Shortly after, I became the vice president of event management for the organization.
In addition to building upon my leadership experiences, volunteering was a large aspect of my life at home that I was determined to continue in college. Through the Center for Public Service, I worked with children in Adams County as a swim instructor for the Casa Swimming volunteer program. This allowed me to combine two interests - volunteering and swimming - into one meaningful and impactful experience. I have also volunteered for Campus Kitchen, which provides community members with nutritious meals.
The opportunities that Gettysburg College provides its students have pushed me and my peers to unimaginable heights, both personally and academically. I know that my active involvement on campus has equipped me for the future by allowing me to develop my own interests, opinions, and knowledge.
Anna Baitel is a psychology major and a business minor. She was the Hillel House leader and vice president of event management for Alpha Delta Pi. She volunteers for Campus Kitchen and the Casa Swimming volunteer program and works on campus as an Admissions tour guide and Senior Admissions Intern.
By Anna Baitel ’23
Photos by Kuhn Minn Ohn ’19, Anna Baitel ’23