Hannah Garipey '24 - Introduction

Photo of Hannah Garipey
Hello dear reader! My name is Hannah Gariepy (she/her) and I am a rising junior at Amherst College, in the class of 2024. I am a mathematics major and I love it with my whole heart but that has not always been my intended major. Back in my hometown of Canton, OH where I went to high school, I loved my art and French classes the most. When I came here I intended on majoring in French and Architectural Studies and now, while I love taking classes in those departments thanks to the Open Curriculum, my heart lies with math.

When I applied to Amherst College, it was through the Questbridge Application. I am a FLI student here, which means I am a first-generation low-income student and finding a college that supports me and propels me towards a bright future was imperative. I am happy to report that I have found that and a wonderful community to boot. I participate in Choral Society Glee Club and 3D: Differences for the Developmentally Disabled. On campus I have worked with Phonathon through the Amherst Fund, Book and Plow Farm, and now as a summer relations intern in the Admissions center this summer.

Some of my favorite things to do around campus and in town are picnics on the quads, getting boba in town (especially cheese foam drinks from Mӧge Tee lol), and watching movies with friends. I also adore crocheting, reading, and art of just about any kind. You’ll frequently find me Val sitting, hanging out in some nook in the Science Center, or chilling at the Greenways. Thanks for reading and have a great day! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at hgariepy23@amherst.edu.

Women Scholars at Amherst College

Amherst College has a history as a predominantly white male institution since its founding in 1821. Much of the institution has catered towards wealthy white males throughout its history but Amherst College is in a period of transition to a more diverse community. One of the ways this takes form is through the empowerment of women scholars and programs. To start, Amherst College began admitting women into the institution in 1975 after extensive work was put in by the first female tenure-track professors hired at Amherst in 1962. We are now an institution that has a population of 51% women students and an even larger percentage of women professors at 54%. This is a large difference from how it was just 50 years ago when those women professors were first hired.

As a woman in STEM here at Amherst College, specifically mathematics, I would like to talk a bit about the support for women at this school. To start, one of my favorites (and also one of the best professors here) is Danielle Benedetto in the math department. She is one of the first professors most students have the opportunity to take a class with in the math department and one of the professors that leads so many students to declare a major in mathematics (including myself), which is one of the top 3 majors here at the college. There are many other amazing women professors, including our previous president Biddy Martin, that have the same effect in many other departments as well and it helps to foster a strong support system of women here at Amherst helping to drive each other higher.

Another important part of the support system to note is the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), which really incorporates all STEM fields in order to help create a network of women across the college and beyond. There are frequent events held with this association as well as a newsletter to help keep everyone informed and attending events is always refreshing and inspiring. An even farther reaching organization and resource is the Women and Gender Center located in Keefe Campus Center. Not only do they provide a great place to relax and do work, they also host a number of events and spaces designed to bring women and those with other gender identities into a safe space where we can have complex conversations surrounding gender identity. These are only a couple of the ways that women are supported through organizations as we have a wide array of groups that are led and championed by women across the college.

There is no limit to what a woman could do at Amherst College or even after their time here and I find myself being supported and encouraged at every turn here. So now, while the strides made have been great in terms of promoting women, we have a long way to go in terms of supporting our students of all gender identities as well as creating a better environment for students of all cultural and racial identities. I look forward to our communities continuing to build a better, more transparent and inclusive school together.

Farming Our Community

One of the lesser known aspects of the college to those that have not attended Amherst College is that of the Book and Plow Farm. The school farm lives just past the bike path on the south side of campus and extends across over 40 acres. Book and Plow Farm serves many useful purposes for the members of the college and community including job opportunities, education, events, community resources, and food production.

View of Book and Plow Farm sign

Students are able to work on Book and Plow Farm during the school year and the summer. Employment opportunities during the school year are split between the seasons of fall and spring with each season requiring different tasks to help with production. The spring season is focused mostly on seeding and preparing the soil for the growing season while the fall focuses on harvesting and field clean up. The summer position details everything in between from caring for the plants and maintaining the fields. While this position keeps you busy throughout your shift, it is extremely fun and important for the school. I worked at the farm during fall 2020. Because of COVID safety restrictions at that time, I was not allowed to leave campus nor have many outlets for stress relief. I appreciated the opportunity to be away from campus and to get involved in something meaningful.

A view of mountains at sunset

Book and Plow Farm is also a destination for some courses here at Amherst as well. This is because the farm practices and studies sustainability methods as well as teaching students about farming and food production. Alongside class field trips, the farm hosts several events throughout the year to allow students to take advantage of its resources and to enjoy the beautiful scenery that overlooks the woods and mountains. Some events include flower and produce picking, campfires, tie dye, and many more. Among these the most popular is Farm Fest. This festival takes place in the fall. Students, faculty, townspeople and the 5 college consortium students can attend to have delicious food and local ice cream as well as play minigames and get Amherst merchandise. It’s one of my favorite events every year because of how beautiful it is and all of the delicious food.

Empty chairs at sunset

The farm has a membership program every late summer and early fall when harvest is going on that allows members of the community to pay a small fee and receive fresh produce every week. This fee benefits the farm but also allows us to share resources with the rest of the Amherst town. In addition to providing food to the community, the farm’s main purpose is to produce food for the college itself. The majority of the vegetables that we eat in our very own dining hall come from Book and Plow Farm and they’re always so delicious. It is truly an amazing feeling to know that the meals you are consuming every day come from just a short walk away and grown by those of your very same school.

The Book and Plow Farm is one of the amazing aspects of Amherst life that gives space to appreciate what living on a small campus is like. We receive so much from the farm and those that work there but it also allows us to take care of ourselves and the environment around us. I loved working at Book and Plow Farm so much and I intend to work there again this fall. I recommend taking advantage of the many resources available there but also doing your own part to promote and lead sustainable practices in your community.