Jessica Butler '23 - Introduction

Hello friends, welcome to my blog! 

My name is Jess (she/her), and I am a junior here at Amherst College! I’m originally from Knightstown, Indiana and I am a current Biochemistry and Biophysics major (BCBP)! I am so excited to be able to share my Amherst experiences
Intro Picture  with you all, and if you have any questions at
all please feel free to reach out to me (jbutler23@amherst.edu)!

My life on campus includes...

  • The softball team! I’m a member of the varsity softball team here on campus, so oftentimes you can find me at our field, in Coolidge Cage, or the Woolf Fitness Center getting in a lift with my team!
  • The Christian community! I’m a part of the Amherst Christian Fellowship and I participate in weekly clubs such as Life Group!
  • Intro Biology (Bio 191) Teaching Assistant! I get to help set up labs and work with students as they navigate Biology at Amherst!
  • Outdoor activities! I love going for a bike ride on the Norwottuck Bike Trail, playing spike ball with my friends at the bottom of Memorial Hill, or finding a couple of trees for a quick hammock session!

I love Amherst and I am so happy to answer any questions you may have about student life, athletics, why I choose Amherst, etc. Anything at all! You can reach me at jbutler23@amherst.edu, I look forward to chatting with you!

A Heartfelt Goodbye: My 2 Cheesy Pieces of Advice

Hello friends! This is our last week of the summer on campus as interns and I’m so sad to see it go! I had such a great Bell and Juice
 summer working with the Office of Admissions and the other summer interns. It was so fun getting to know other students on campus and all of our visitors! I have greatly enjoyed getting to introduce Amherst to so many students, truly a summer I will never forget.

This summer, myself and the other interns have given over 50 tours. At least one tour of campus a day for 10 weeks and some days we gave two! The weather wasn’t always friendly, we gave tours in heat and rain, but the visitors were always in good spirits!

At the end of my tours, I always like to close with 2 cheesy pieces of advice. You can take them or leave them, but I think these are things I would have liked to have heard while I was doing my college search process!


Gregory 1.Thank the people in your life that have made you, you!

I know it sounds cheesy and you hear this all of the time, but tell your parents thank you. Tell your teachers, coaches, advisors, whoever in your life that has supported you thank you! I would do anything to be visiting college campuses with my parents and hanging out with them again. It sounds silly, but someday you will be a college student spending your summer on campus and you will miss your family! Hang out with them now and thank them for all that they do for you! Also, tell yourself thank you. You have done a lot of hard work and you deserve to enjoy your final years of high school!

2.Choose where you want to go to school because it feels right to you! Superwoman

It’s a common cliche, but follow your heart! Pick the school that you want to go to because it’s truly where you want to go. I didn’t actually visit Amherst until November of my senior year of high school, which was quite late. I really didn’t want to go on the visit, but my dad convinced me to go. He told me that I would never know unless I tried, so I went! He gets to be right about that. Amherst was the only small, Liberal Arts school that I looked at. I was almost certain I wanted to go to a large state school, but my visit changed my mind! Don’t be afraid to look at the schools that are maybe different from what you may think that you want- and don’t be afraid to make that decision for yourself. Coming to Amherst was very out of the box for me, but I have loved every moment of my time here. Make that decision for yourself- and if that’s Amherst for you, that’s great, and if it’s not Amherst, that is also great! Just do what feels right to you, you deserve to enjoy your next four years!

Greenway friends I hope you have enjoyed my blog posts and seeing a bit into student life- I have really loved my summer here at Amherst and getting to share my experiences with you. Getting to know the other interns and the Office of Admissions has been one of my greatest joys, and I’m so grateful for this experience. Please enjoy these pictures I've attached of myself and my fellow interns from some fun events from the summer!

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions! You can always reach me at my Intern friends email: jbutler23@amherst.edu . Thank you for a fantastic summer!

August 13th, 2021

Finding Balance

Jess Catching Hi friends, welcome back to my page! As I mentioned in my introduction and a few other posts, I’m a part of the softball team here at Amherst. Getting to be a Mammoth and representing Amherst across my chest has definitely been one of my greatest joys!

While I dedicate quite a bit of time to softball, Amherst affords me the opportunity to enjoy a lot of other things as well. I’m involved in multiple clubs, I’m doing research, I’m a Biology peer tutor and teaching assistant, and I have time for friends and social life. Of course softball is a priority and a large part of the person I am, but Amherst has allowed me to explore other passions and opportunities as well. It’s all about balance here!

Finding that balance was key during my first year. It takes a lot of work, but it’s more than worth it to put the time and effort in. Depending on the time of year, the demands of our softball schedule can change. The fall is our off-season, where we’ll practice 3 times a week, lift 3 times a week, and then have some time for team bonding and group events. The fall is a great time for the team to get to know each other and form friendships and team chemistry before we get a bit busier in the spring. Usually I’ll try to schedule some of my classes that I expect to have a heavier workload during this time as well. A lighter softball schedule also means that the off-season is a great time to get involved in other things on campus. 

In the spring, things become a bit more hectic, as we are in-season and softball requires a larger time commitment. We usually begin pre-season on February 15th, where we will practice 6 days a week for about a month. We will also lift and prepare for the season in other ways during that time. Once we hit spring break (usually the first or second week of March), we jump right into games. We spend our spring break in Florida playing 10 or so games in warmer weather. After Florida we’ll play games through the end of the semester and a bit after for postseason. We’ll play double headers on Wednesday’s and conference 3 game series on the weekends with practices and an off day in between. 

The spring semester brings its own challenges- but with that comes a lot of joy as well. I think the greatest piece of advice I have received is to ask for help when you need it. I have great teammates, coaches, professors, friends, and an entire campus of resources right at my fingertips as a support system. Asking for help is encouraged, and the support is there for a reason, so use it! I recommend using tutoring sessions, office hours, and study groups to keep up with course materials. Also build the time in your days for seeing friends and taking care of your mental health.

Being a student-athlete at Amherst requires a lot of heart and dedication, but it is so worth it! I have loved every minute as a Mammoth and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Thanks for tuning in this week! As always, feel free to email me with any questions: jbutler23@amherst.edu !

August 6th, 2021

Top 5 Favorite Amherst Foods and Snacks

Hey, hi, hello friends! Welcome back to my blog! This week we’re diving into one of my favorite topics- food! I know when
I was doing my college search I was concerned about what I would be eating every day, so I thought I would share what I eat here as an Amherst student. Amherst has only one campus dining hall,
Valentine Dining Hall. Val, as we call it, is truly the heart of campus! Most students elect to be on the meal plan, which includes unlimited swipes at Val. Usually Val will offer a main entree and sides that are on a 4-5 week rotating schedule, so you won’t see the same meal for about a month. There’s also always a pasta bar, pizza bar, salad bar, panini presses, and my personal favorite, the cereal bar! Even if you don’t enjoy the main meal at Val there is always something that you can find to eat!

We also have a few daytime cafes that live in Frost Library and the Science Center. Those cafes are not apart of the meal plan, but they serve breakfast and lunch options- along with coffee, tea, and pastries. There’s also a night cafe in our Keefe Campus Center called Schwemm’s. Schwemm’s usually serves pub-type food like chicken tenders, fried mac and cheese bites, french fries, etc- all of the comfort foods necessary after a late study session with friends.

From these dining options, I’m going to rank my top 5 favorite on-campus Amherst foods and snacks.

5.Grilled Cheese Day

A definite student favorite, grilled cheese day is arguably one of the best Val meals. Usually a lunch meal served on a weekday, it is always a bright spot in my week to have grilled cheese. This meal is served with tomato soup, and especially in the fall and winter it makes for the perfect meal!

4.Science Center Bagel Sandwiches

The cafe in the Science Center serves fantastic bagel sandwiches of all kinds! My favorite is the spinach, egg, and cheese with guacamole on an everything bagel. This sandwich is the perfect midweek pick me up after a morning class in the Science Center!

3.Mac n Cheese Bites from Schwemm’s

Schwemm’s night cafe serves many favorites among students- and the mac n cheese bites are amazing. My first year one of my senior friends introduced me to the beauty of these mac n cheese bites, and its been one of my favorites ever since.

milkshake 2.Milkshakes from Schwemm’s

Another Amherst student favorite, the Schwemm’s milkshakes are the perfect late night snack with friends. They have chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla that all hit the spot after a long day of work.

1.The Cereal Bar

Definitely the best part about Val- the cereal bar. One counter in Val is just a row of cereal dispensers with everybody’s usual sugary cereal picks. It’s super common for students to eat cereal after dinners for dessert. The cereal is my go-to pick for a snack or dessert after dinner, and it’s fun mixing the different kinds, using it as a topping for ice cream, or mixing some Rice Chex with peanut butter to make some trail mix.

There are plenty of great snack and food options here on campus- both in the dining hall and in our cafes! 

Thanks for tuning in and reading this week- as always, feel free to email me with any questions at jbutler23@amherst.edu ! Enjoy the rest of your week!

July 29th, 2021

Coming Full Circle

As a rising junior Biochemistry and Biophysics major, I’ve been able to take quite a few of Amherst’s introductory science courses. Intros are meant to cover a lot of material, prepare you for future upper level classes, and introduce you to a range of ideas and topics within the department. These courses are usually some of the largest we have here, with class sizes ranging from 50 to 100 students, much larger than the Amherst average of 17. These courses will be taught by 2 or 3 professors and the big lecture group will be split into small discussion and laboratory groups of about 20 people. Even in our largest classes here we still get that small classroom environment and we get to know our professors and other students well. 

In the fall of my first year I took Biology 181: Adaptation and the Organism. This is one of two intro Biology courses, with more of an ecological approach. I remember sitting in my first week of class, watching as the professor lectured and flitted around the room with enthusiasm and excitement. It was clear my professor loved the material and the course more than anything in the world, at the time I wish I could have felt the same. She was saying the first day or two would be a quick review from what we should have learned in high school- and I had never heard these words before. 

Sitting in that classroom in the Science Center, I felt my stomach drop. My head filled with every thought of “I don’t belong here”, “I’m not smart enough”, or “Why did I think I could do this?”. I went into full panic-mode and considered leaving Amherst and heading back home.

As we got to the end of that first week, I reached out to my professor and she met with me one-on-one in her office. I explained that I was overwhelmed, I didn’t understand the material, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be successful in her class. She calmed me down and told me she was glad I decided to meet with her. I’ve since learned that reaching out for help is the most important step!

From that day on, I met with my professor and student teaching assistants for study and help sessions 2 or 3 times throughout the week outside of class. I went to office hours and group study sessions as well. I discovered the multitude of resources available to me right at my fingertips, and I learned to take advantage of them all. I think as a first year student there’s a feeling of needing to prove yourself, and not wanting to turn to those resources right away. But reaching out to my professor, peer tutors, and other students in my courses has made all of the difference in my Amherst career!

I ended up doing well in Biology 181, and began to actually enjoy the material! I’m so grateful for the professors, tutors, and other students that have helped me in that class and every class I’ve taken since. Amherst is truly an environment of collaboration and support that has been absolutely essential to my development as a student here. Now that I’ve learned the ropes and figured out how to find this support, I’ve actually become a teaching assistant and peer tutor for our other intro Biology class, Biology 191: Molecules, Genes and Cells. Coming full circle and getting to help students that may be feeling how I did that first week has been one of my most rewarding experiences here at Amherst!

Thanks for tuning in! As always, feel free to email me with any questions you may have: jbutler23@amherst.edu

See you next week!

The Bike Trail and Other Outdoor Activities!

Hi everyone, welcome back to my page! This week is all about one of my favorite parts about Amherst (and Western Massachusetts)- the outdoors! Amherst is in a beautiful area and is great for outdoor activities both on and off campus. 

Mem Hill On campus we have great spots for hanging out outside. Memorial Hill and the First Year Quad are common places for students to play games, watch sunsets, and enjoy some fresh air. Most weekends my friends and I will get together at the bottom of Memorial Hill, play a few games of spikeball and then hangout until the sun sets.  The views from Memorial Hill are absolutely breathtaking (including this one I’ve added to the left!). Some other favorite activities on campus include hammocking between trees on the First Year Quad or on Memorial Hill, going for walks, or just doing homework at any of the tables or chairs set up around campus.  I also enjoy using our tennis, outdoor basketball, and beach volleyball courts for some fun games with my friends. 

One of my favorite features of the Amherst Campus is the Norwottuck Rail Trail. This is a bike trail that starts in Bike trail
 Northampton and runs all the way behind Amherst Campus and a few miles past. 11 miles in total, the bike trail is a paved pathway that students can use for biking, running, walking, or skating! It has some beautiful views, and also connects to our bird sanctuary and some nature paths. I usually head out to the bike trail 3 or 4 times a week for some biking or running. It’s a great place to do some thinking, relax, and get some exercise in. You can hop on to the trail behind our tennis courts or across the street from the gym! 

Farm with friends Another fun opportunity is our Book and Plow Farm. Book and Plow is our on-campus farm that supplies produce directly to our Valentine Dining Hall! The farm is often a great spot for student employment, educational and research opportunities, and they host fun events and festivals for students to participate in. Every fall Book and Plow hosts Farm Fest where students will stop by for great food, live music, and fun activities. There’s usually pumpkin carving in the fall, and students can always stop by to pick some flowers or produce for themselves! 

Spending time outside can be a great way to take a step back from school work and take care of ourselves. I love the opportunities here to be able to find that peace and relaxation for myself!

That’s all for this week! As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me jbutler23@amherst.edu. Have a great week!

July 15th, 2021

 

Breaking the Bubble (part 2)!

Hi friends! This week we’re revisiting the idea of leaving Amherst campus and fun things to do in the area! This time we’re adding a bit of distance as well! One of the great things about Amherst is that it’s just a 2 hour drive to Boston, 3 hours away from New York, and around 2 hours from the coast and some beaches! We often have busses that run to these places, but you can take the Amtrak over in Northampton as well! I actually have my car here on campus (students can bring them to campus after first year) so this week my friends and I decided to branch out and visit some of these places. 

Boston First, on Sunday, we headed to Boston! I have a friend, Izzy, that attends Boston University so she showed us around for the day. We explored the city (walking over 20,000 steps), ate some great food, and visited some well-known spots in the area! 

We started out by visiting Izzy’s home and visiting some small shops and restaurants. She took us down the Charles River Esplanade and it was beautiful! We walked along the river, stopped to take some pictures, and walked onto the Mass Ave Bridge. The city was gorgeous and I loved the time we spent outside.

Harvard Square We then headed to Harvard Square to eat lunch where we found this butterfly painting to take pictures in front of! Then we stopped at Shake Shack, visited some small shops in that part of the city, and then decided to head back to Amherst. We spent just around 6 or 7 hours but because Boston is so close to Amherst it was nice to be able to visit for a little bit and head back when we decided we wanted to go home!

On Monday we decided to head to the beach. Rhode Island beaches are actually quite close to Amherst (about 2 hours), so we chose to head to Watch Hill! Watch Hill is absolutely beautiful, and Taylor Swift actually owns a house there that we got to see
Watch Hill  from a distance (behind Megan and I to the right)! Since I’m from Indiana, I haven’t seen much of the ocean before, and I was so excited to set my feet in the water. Being 2 hours away from the coast is absolutely amazing, and the drive to the beach was so worth it!

We spent our day playing spikeball, laying out in the sun, and swimming in the ocean. After we had wrapped up our time in the sand, we walked into the village street of Watch Hill to grab some ice cream and look over the harbor before heading home. It was a wonderful weekend and I loved visiting the beach and will definitely be going Watch Hill back for another visit soon!

Thanks again for reading this week! As always if you have any questions feel free to reach out and email me @jbutler23@amherst.edu If you’ve had me as a tour guide (in person or virtual) feel free to email me some feedback as well! Also check out our Instagram @meetamherst to get an inside view of Amherst College!

July 8th 2021

Dogs (and pets) of Amherst!

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog! This week we’re going to take a special dive into one of my favorite features Sadie about Amherst College… the animals I’ve met here! As a first year student headed to Amherst I knew the one thing I would undoubtedly miss about home would be my pets. At home, I have dogs, a cat, turtles, horses, and a few chickens. Animals have been such a big part of my life, I was afraid to come to college and not have that experience anymore. Surprisingly, I’ve met many animals here during my time at Amherst! 

Doggy office hours Many of our professors, coaches, staff, and Amherst community members have dogs or other pets that love to visit campus and interact with students. In the fall of my sophomore year, I took a Biology course with Professor Kim and Professor Purdy. They would host in-person office hours where they would bring their dogs for students to hang out with while we discussed class work! This is a common occurrence among our professors here, and I have met many of their dogs on campus during office hours. Floki and Zola

Luckily, my softball coaches also have dogs, so I get some animal time at practice as well! Coach Johnson brings Floki and Zola (one of my favorite dogs in the entire world) to practice almost every day. Coach Julie also has her dog Sadie who joins us sometimes as well. We get to throw them some tennis balls, give them lots of pats and love, and wear them out for the rest of the evening! I enjoy having them around for some extra love and stress relief!

Sachmo Here, in the admissions office, our Associate Dean of Admissions Michael Hawkins often brings his dog, Satchmo, around for us and the visitors! If you visit campus in person this summer, you may see us loving Satchmo Shadow at admissions in between tours and information sessions. He’s so sweet and can find the animal-lovers in any crowd! We've also had another campus favorite stop by our visitors check-in, Shadow! Shadow is Su Delguercio's husky, she's one of our Women's Soccer Coaches but he often hangs around here on campus!

Some students here on campus also have emotional support animals, often dogs or cats. One of my favorite on-campus pets is Fresca! Fresca is an on-campus kitty known by most students. She and her owner are extremely friendly, and she’s the softball team's unofficial super fan! You can actually follow her on Instagram, @fresca_cat ! 

Fresca I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through these pictures and meeting some of the most important members of our Amherst community! I was genuinely shocked and amazed to meet so many animals during my time here in college. I love getting to know and interact with our Amherst pets and hope to meet even more in my next 2 years.

 Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more Amherst fun facts and information! As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at jbutler23@amherst.edu ! Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

 July 1st, 2021

Short but Sweet Softball!

Hi everyone! As I mentioned in my introduction, I’m a part of the softball team here at Amherst! Amazingly enough, spring sports were allowed to play a short season this last semester through COVID-19, and my team got to play 16 games! It was awesome being able to get back on the field with my teammates and compete against some of our rival schools. 

Due to COVID restrictions, we were limited to playing against other conference schools. Amherst is a part of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, otherwise known as the NESCAC! The NESCAC includes: Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Tufts University, Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Williams College. Amherst is also part of the Little Three Rivalry, along with Wesleyan University and Williams College. Playing for conference championships and Little Three bragging rights makes games against these schools that much more competitive! 

This year we played 6 weekends in a row, playing a three game series against each team we played. A doubleheader was played on Saturday and a single game was played on Sunday. Whichever team won 2 out of the 3 games was considered the series winner.

My favorite game of the season was a Sunday home game against Middlebury. We had beat Middlebury in two really close games the day before, so we were going for the sweep! It also happened to be Senior Day, where we celebrate the time, work, and dedication our seniors put into the team and the college over their four years. Softball Senior Day The game was extremely competitive, and the score changed just about every inning. The winner would eventually be decided in the seventh inning, as the home team, we got to hit last! The score was tied 10-10 (an extremely high scoring game) and this was our opportunity to put a finish on the game and take the sweep.

We started off the inning with two back to back hits, and with runners on second and third, our senior leader Alyson Plaman came up to bat. In a storybook finish, Alyson hits a line drive single that scores the game-winning run! It was a fantastic game to celebrate our seniors, and it was even more poetic that a senior hit the walk-off on senior day!

While this season was short in comparison to a normal softball season, where we would play 30 games or more, my teammates and I were still so grateful to have the opportunity to step on the field and represent Amherst College! The short season made every game, practice, and second we spent doing softball that much sweeter. 

That’s a wrap for this week! Thanks for coming down memory lane with me and reminiscing on a great spring semester on the softball field. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments for me at jbutler23@amherst.edu. Tusks Up and Roll Mammos!

 

June 21st, 2021

Breaking the Bubble!


Hello! Welcome to the first week of Amherst on campus over ~summer~! This summer, I’m working with the Visitor Relations Team in the Office of Admissions as an intern. I’m super pumped to be spending summer here on campus, and I can’t wait to bring you all along with me!

As some of you may know, during the 2020-2021 school year, Amherst created a campus “bubble” to protect our community from COVID-19. Living in the bubble meant that students weren’t allowed to leave campus during the semester. In light of vaccinations and lower case numbers, Amherst is now allowing on-campus summer students to leave and explore the surrounding areas! 

My friends and I have taken advantage of this opportunity already this week, hoping to find some of Western Mass’s hidden gems and enjoy some time away from campus! Earlier this week, we headed out to grab a meal in downtown Go Berry Frozen Yogurt Amherst. We took just a short walk straight towards Antonio’s pizza. Antonio’s is a classic Amherst favorite- selling pizza by the slice with creative flavors and toppings! Some of my favorites include chicken bacon ranch, taco, and the classic
hot cheese (sold for only a dollar after 11 pm on Friday nights!). After we grabbed a few slices from Antonio’s, we headed across the street to GoBerry for some frozen yogurt. It was a great way to spend a bit of time off campus mid-week and enjoy some local food! 

After wrapping up a week of work on campus, my friend Rachel and I decided to head a little further from Amherst and
explore the Montague Book Mill! Just a 20 minute drive from campus, the Montague Book Mill is a used bookstore
Montague Book Mill housed in an 1842 gristmill right on the Sawmill River. The books were beautiful and Rachel and I spent hours wandering the store and looking for new finds to add to our bookshelves! After exploring the Book Mill, we decided to grab lunch next door at the Lady Killigrew Cafe. The food was delicious and we enjoyed looking out the windows Rachel and I at the Book Mill down towards the river! The Montague Book Mill was the perfect way to spend a free Sunday afternoon and I will definitely be returning during my time at Amherst.

 

Rachel and I made one last stop on our return to campus, heading towards a local ice cream place called Scoop at the Silos. We enjoyed a delicious frozen treat, I beat Rachel in corn hole (shout out to my Indiana roots!), and we got to hang out with a couple of cows. The stop was definitely worth it, and a great way to wrap up our day!

Scoop at The Silo


Sadly, that was the end to this weekend of adventures! But, the good news is there are plenty more to come, and I will be sure to bring you along with me! Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or just want to chat please reach out to me at jbutler23@amherst.edu ! Have a great week!

 


June 14th, 2021