Marah Brubaker '19: An Introduction

Hello friends! I'm officially back for one last year of blogging! I am so honored and excited to spend one last year in this corner of the blogosphere, and I'm so glad you stumbled onto my page! Welcome. 

Me on A Snowy Amherst Campus

For those of you who haven't met me, my name is Marah Brubaker, and I'm a senior here at Amherst. I've been blogging for the Admissions Office for almost two years (you can check out my past blogs here and here if you're interested!), and I'm thrilled to be back for one last year! I'm originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania (and hope to end up back in PA after graduation!). Here at Amherst, I'm a double major in Anthropology and Sexuality, Women's, & Gender Studies (or SWAGS), and I'm also pursuing the Five College Certificate in Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice. On campus, I've been singing a capella with the Amherst DQ for 4 years now (check us out!). I also love playing intramural volleyball, hanging out with friends, and exploring the trails around campus. I currently work as a teaching assistant and academic intern for the Department of Anthropology, as a student worker and blogger in the Office of Admission, as an office assistant for Alumni and Parent Programs, and as a note-taker for the Office of Student Affairs. In the past, I've also worked as a Campus Center Manager in Keefe Campus Center, as a Phonathon Caller for the Annual Fund, and as a Student Worker for the Office of Accessibility. I spent this past summer interning at a Jamaican governmental agency (which I'm sure you will hear all about in an upcoming blog post), and I have absolutely NO IDEA what I want to do with the rest of my life, so please don't ask! I'm taking senior year one day at a time and loving every second.

Well, that's a brief overview of me! Please feel free to email me at mbrubaker19@amherst.edu with any questions or comments you may have! (Aka please email so that I don't feel like I'm spewing words out into an empty internet void!) I can't wait to hear from you, and here goes nothing!

A Summer Abroad

Today, I write to you to tell you about one of the most incredible, novel, challenging, and memorable experiences of my Amherst career. Namely, I wish to tell you about my summer in Jamaica

me posing at a cafe on Blue Mountain

This past summer (Summer 2018), I got to spend about two months living in Kingston, Jamaica. I have far more memories than I will be able to recount in this post, but I figure I may as well try to tell you about as many as possible! First, you will see a picture to your left of me posing at a beautiful cafe on a grand mountain known as Blue Mountain. My best friend and I ascended Blue Mountain for lunch one day, and we just happened to snap this wonderful picture and got to enjoy this beautiful view. 

a beautiful panorama from the top of a large hill; overlooking Jamaica

 

Speaking of beautiful views--have another one! The second picture that I have included  is from the top of a huge hill/small mountain known as Jack's Hill. It's about a ten minute drive from the home of my host family, and I took this picture one of the first days I spent in Jamaica. From the top of the hill, you can see the suburbs of Kingston and (if you look veeeeery closely) you can even see some of the ocean. How wonderful to live so close to such beautiful places. 

the view of my host family's backyard

Next up in my chronicling of beautiful places in the very backyard of the family hosting me. Honestly, even after weeks of seeing this backyard every single day, it never got any less stunning. The trees, the gazebo, the pool, the flowers. Breathtakingly stunning, every single day. 

the NSWMA Summer Interns visit the Landfill

Slightly less beautiful, this brings me to the fourth picture in this post, which you will find to the right of this text. This picture was taken just outside of Kingston at the Riverton Landfill. Here I am posed with the entire team of summer interns working at the NSWMA. I here arrive at perhaps the most important part of this post: this summer I was given the incredible opportunity to work as a consultant and intern in the Human Resource Department of the National Solid Waste Management Authority in Kingston, Jamaica. 

The HR team of the NSWMA with whom I worked

First of all, I have to give a HUGE shoutout to the Amherst College LOEB Center for Career Exploration and Planning for making this summer even possible. It was only through the generous support of the LOEB center and Amherst alums that I was able to spend those two months in Jamaica! THANK YOU LOEB CENTER!

As for the actual work I was doing, it varied quite a bit from day to day. My primary task over those weeks was the development and administration of an Employee Satisfaction Survey to gauge the stances, sentiments and desires of the organization's employees nationwide. I also assisted in the planning and preparation for the 2019-2021 budget as well as prepared the Staff Complement and Employment Report for governmental submission. 

A beautiful glass bottom boat sitting on clear green water To be perfectly frank, living in Jamaica was hard. I found myself constantly navigating cultural and linguistic differences, and I missed home dreadfully. My time in Jamaica (which also happened to be my first experience living abroad!) was a time of challenges, growth, adventure, and learning. Sometimes everything felt incredibly heavy, but sometimes life felt incredibly wonderful! One such moment is memorialized in the last picture of this post. This picture symbolizes sponteneity and adventure, as one day when we were at the beach, my boyfriend and I spontaneously sweet-talked our way onto a half-price hour-long glass-bottomed boat tour! What a wonderful memory. 

Overall, this internship experience was transformative and instrumental in shaping me as a student and future employee—it fostered the development of a new independence, adaptability, confidence, and cross-cultural comfort in me that will be instrumental tools for my future. I will be eternally grateful to Amherst College, the CCE, and the LOEB Center for their facilitation and support throughout this process.

 

Senior Year

I'm here to talk to you today about one of my absolute favorite (and absolute least favorite) things: SENIOR YEAR.

Truth be told, senior year is pretty fantastic. I LOVE my classes, my professors, my friends. I LOVE having been at Amherst for four years. But I do NOT love entering the world of adulting. 

People keep asking about my plans for next year (a reasonable inquiry, I know). But I have NO IDEA what I want to do. I am now in my SENIOR YEAR of college, and (despite the wonderful and constant support of my family, the Amherst Career Services, and my friends) there are so many voices telling me that I should have it all figured out by now. It's still a little awkward when relatives or random peers or professors ask about my future and the most honest answer is: I have no clue. Or they even ask about my goals and my answer is: I have no clue. Or where I want a job. Or what kind of job I want. I JUST DON'T KNOW. And I'm a senior. Apparently, I'm supposed to have this figured out by now!

I could see myself doing (and loving) so many thingsI could love working in medicine, could love working abroad, could love working for an NGO. Maybe I want to pursue money, maybe I want to pursue social justice, maybe I want to pursue an occupation to build my skills. I could see myself living in Boston. In Philly. In Jamaica. In Los Angeles. In Europe. Maybe I'd thrive working with people, or doing research, or maybe travelling and writing. I. Just. Don't. Know. And don't get me wrong, Amherst has given me so many tools to assist in this process. I have hundreds of internships, dozens of career fit surveys, hundreds of alums with which to connect. I do have resources. But that doesn't mean it isn't scary. It doesn't mean I'm not petrified. Because the truth is, I won't know until I try. It's one of those "throw you in the deep end so you learn to swim" moments. And they are scary. 

But there are a few things to which I cling dearly. A few truths that sustain me even in the most overwhelming and stressful parts of the year. Among these truths, a few stand out. I am not aloneThere is a network of people supporting me and stimulating me and sustaining me. Friends, family, networks, Amherst. I will be okay. No matter what career I choose, no matter the smoothness of attaining a job, no matter what continent I end up on, no matter my resulting salary: I will be okay. And finally, my value is not determined this yearSo many voices in my life might make it seem like this spring, this job selection process is the ultimate determinent of success. Whether or not I can get a stellar, well-paying, shiny job sometimes feels like the ultimate measure of my value as a human. The culmination of my 16 years of education leading up until this point. But the truth remains that I am valuable no matter what this year yields. 

So with that, I'm off to edit my resume and forge ahead! No way out but through!

A Taste of Summer

Laughing Against an Istanbul Wall

For this first blog post, I've decided to take you on a crash course summary of my summer (a...summer-y??). I start the tour in Istanbul, where I spent two weeks in May. My trip to Turkey was absolutely FANTASTIC, and I hope to dedicate an entire blog post to it soon. In the Spring 2018 Semester, I took a course called Istanbul taught by Professors C. Dole and M. Ringer. 

A Rooftop Bar in Istanbul

We spent the entire semester studying Istanbul, and the course then culminated in a two-week, all-expense-paid trip to Istanbul! The course was tri-listed in Anthropology, History, and Asian Languages and Civilizations, and let me tell you, it was awesome. The picture of my above is from one of the landmark sight-seeing days we got to have, while the picture on the right is of a fantastic rooftop bar that some students and I found while exploring one night. 

Jamaica

After my trip to Istanbul, I returned to Amherst for a few days before heading to my home in Pennsylvania. Less than a week later, I was flying to Kingston, Jamaica where I spent the next two months! Like my time in Istanbul, my time in Jamaica was incredible (and funded by the school!). I worked as a consultant and intern at the National Solid Waste Management Authority, helping to develop an employee satisfaction survey (among other things). Hopefully you will see a blog post coming soon about my time in Jamaica! The picture to the left is of a beautiful view at a little cafe on Blue Mountain where I had lunch one day. Aren't the mountains stunning?!

Best Coffee in the World

To the right is another picture of me in Jamaica, actually taken the same day as the previous photograph (are you getting sick of my face yet?). In this picture I am sipping on what just may be one of the best cups of coffe in the world. I am at Cafe Blue, where they serve the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee...on the Blue Mountain! You can't see it from the picture, but I am looking out at an absolutely stunning view. And I'm certainly enjoying my coffee!

Laughing in West Virginia

After returning from Jamaica, I had a few weeks left to waste in the States before school resumed. I spent my first week back in the States in a beautiful cabin in West Virginia with my sister, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nieces. It was a very rainy week, which (much to my delight), thwarted my father's plans for daily hikes, escapades, hill-scaling, running, and exploring. Instead, we spent most of our week indoors, watching movies, reading books, playing with my nieces, and playing board games. The picture to the left is from one of the few hikes we did end up taking. Overall, West Virginia was a blast!

New Jersey

Next up on my agenda was a vacation in Sea Isle City, New Jersey with my entire, massive extended family. This week at the shore is a tradition I have participated in every single year since I've been born. My mom is one of nine siblings, and I am one of twenty-nine cousins, so there are a whole bunch of people to hang out with for that week! And as an added surprise this year, my boyfriend (who I thought was out of the country) coordinated with some of my older cousins and showed up to surprise me during Beach Week! The picture to the right shows the evening he surprised me!

la The final picture depicts my very last adventure of the summer: California! For the first time ever, I ventured across the country to the west coast (and all alone!). I got to spend a few days in Long Beach visiting a friend from high school before journeying up to Los Angeles to visit one of my best friends from Amherst! I absolutely fell in love with LA--it was beautiful and bustling and just generally amazing. 

Overall, it was a truly memorable and fantastic summer--I left the country for the first time, got to see the West Coast, visited tons of fantastic family and friends, and rejuvinated myself for my very last year at Amherst! And now I'm back on campus, gearing up for what is promising to be an incredible last year!

Well, that's all for now. Congratulations on making it to the end of this very long post. Talk soon!