Katie Jablin '12

Katie Jablin '12
Hello! Welcome to my blog. My name is Katherine Jablin, but everyone calls me Katie (except for here in the Admissions Office, where I’ve been nicknamed KJ due to the almost comical number of women in the office with the same first name). A little bit about myself: I grew up in the small, rural town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I am a rising junior here at Amherst as a member of the class of 2012. If everything goes according to the plan, I will double major in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought (LJST for short) and Film and Media Studies. LJST is an interdisciplinary major unique to Amherst that studies law as a historically and culturally specific enterprise that aims to organize societies and social life. I know…it’s quite a mouthful. I hope they’ll be able to squeeze it all on to my diploma when I graduate.

As for extracurricular activities, I like to stay involved here on campus. I am the Director of Publicity and Promotions, as well as a DJ, at WAMH 89.3 FM, the college radio station. As the Director of P&P, I plan campus events such as parties, concerts, and movie nights. We hold an annual party here on campus called Jock Jams that brings in local performer E603 (if you haven’t heard of him, check out his music on myspace) where everyone dresses up for the sports-themed event. We also hosted an event this past year that brought in New York City-based bands as well as alumni bands from across the country. In addition to being a member of the executive board at WAMH, I’m also a DJ. My co-DJ and I host a weekly radio show that plays a wide range of music – from indie to reggae, old-school rap, and everything in between. We often joke, however, that people tune-in for our witty banter rather than the music. I have to admit, we are quite chatty, but the conversations are great and there are plenty of jokes and laughter. One of the great parts about DJing at WAMH is that in addition to local broadcasting, we have a live audio stream online. That way, we get a wide range of listeners – from local members of the community, to students at the other five colleges within the consortium, and even my parents back home in Pennsylvania and friends studying abroad in France and Spain. It’s a nice way to stay connected to the community as well as friends and family all across the world.

I am also a member of the Amherst College Emergency Medical Service (or ACEMS – you’ll quickly learn that we have tons of acronyms here at Amherst). ACEMS is a student-run and student-staffed volunteer organization composed of trained EMTs and first-responders. We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the school year, responding to all medical emergencies on campus, providing both treatment and transportation. I really enjoy being on-call and working for ACEMS. It’s a great way to work in the medical field and participate in community service.

Finally, I am an Admissions Intern in the AmherstCollege Office of Admissions. My job entails giving tours to visitors, assisting Admissions Deans and providing student insight during information sessions, and helping out in the office doing any work that is asked of me. I am really grateful for the opportunity that I have been given this summer, as it gives me the chance to peek into the inner workings of the admissions process here at Amherst as well as interact with all the visitors and potential students that come through the office.

Don’t worry though. Somehow I still find plenty of time to do my work, hang out with friends, take walks in the bird sanctuary, go to Rao’s Coffee (one of my favorite coffee shops in town), and watch my favorite TV shows on Hulu.

I will be blogging throughout the summer, so stayed tuned for future entries. Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions. I know a lot about Amherst and love talking about my experiences here. You can reach me at kjablin12@amherst.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!

Katie's Blog Entries (listed chronologically, latest to earliest):

I want to be a paperback writer.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I must have heard this question a million times as a kid. When I was little I went through a phase convinced I would be an Olympic gymnast. Needless to say, that fantasy didn’t last very long. Later, I played teacher and even had my parents buy me a white board as a present so I could hold lessons and teach my stuffed animals how to read and do simple math (all that I was capable of at the time). In high school I dreamed of being a trauma surgeon. I shadowed doctors, volunteered at the hospital, and attended summer programs geared towards students interested in healthcare professions. The more I was exposed to medicine, the more I loved it.

During the summer between high school and college, something changed. I realized that as an eighteen-year-old I was completely unprepared to make decisions that could determine the rest of my life. I still felt like a kid despite knowing that in a few short weeks I would be going off to college. My issues felt enormous and opaque.

I arrived at Amherst for orientation and realized that by the end of the week I would have to meet with my advisor to begin choosing classes. I was torn: begin the premed track and start taking tons of science and math courses from the get-go OR explore a little bit and see what else sparked my interests. With the open curriculum at my fingertips, I decided to experiment a little and register for the classes that jumped out at me from the pages of the course catalog. I put my love of medicine on the back burner and let myself discover new passions. That first semester I started taking LJST (Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought) classes and soon after fell in love with the department. I took four LJST classes during my freshman year and knew that I would eventually declare a major within the department. My affair with film came shortly after. I had never taken a film class before, but I always enjoyed movies. When I started taking film classes, I soon realized that my love of film rivaled my affections for law and the obvious choice to double major was easy.

emt symbolBut then, the old standby question crept up on me. “What are your plans for after college?” asked one well-intentioned relative. “What are you going to do with your degree?” asked another. Until this summer, my automatic response was always, “Oh, probably law school or graduate school to get a PhD in something. I’m not sure what yet, but I figure I’ll end up being a lawyer or going into business.” The more I said it though, the less I believed it. What about medicine? I was trained as an EMT and the more time I spent on-call, the more I liked it. This might sound totally nerdy, but I actually like getting woken up at 3am to the sound of my radio beeping, telling me to grab my gear and head to the scene. My roommate last year may not have appreciated the beeping at 3am, but I loved it.

This summer, I have spent every day talking about Amherst, yes, but also about myself. I have had so many visiting students look to me, sometimes in desperation, wondering, asking, “What is the right choice for me?” And I simply say, every time, “It’s about happiness. Where are you going to be happy? Go there.” I’ve realized that I have not been taking my own advice. I have been taking the safe route. It’s not that I couldn’t be content being a lawyer or going to graduate school. It’s rather that I could be hopelessly, wonderfully happy being a doctor. So, with this knowledge weighing heavy in my mind, I went to the career center, had a long conversation with my parents, and eventually met with one of the premed advisors (who was tremendously helpful and supportive) to map out my last two years at Amherst. Katie the LJST/Film and Media Studies double major morphed in the process. But Katie the LJST major with a simultaneous premed track is emerging to take her place.

Fortune Cookie: Open textbooks are in your future.
I can’t make any guarantees about what my future might hold or whether I’ll complete this new six year plan without changing my mind again part way through, but I can say this: I never would have had the freedom to reevaluate my life and change the trajectory of my education without the open curriculum and I am tremendously grateful that as I grow and change, I know that the faculty and administration here will support me in my choices and goals. Mom and Dad will, too.

Apparently I sound like Ellen Page.

Who knew? Certainly not me, but according to three different families and one comment card, yours truly sounds like Ellen Page. I guess those of you who know me or have met me can weigh in on the topic, but it started to make me think. I’m not famous (yet - this blog is launching me into stardom as we speak), but there are plenty of Amherst students who have gone on to do some pretty great things.

Just to name a few:

Calvin Coolidge, class of 1895 - 13th President of the United States 
Fred Karlin, class of 1958 - Oscar and Emmy Award-winning composer 
Jean Fugett, class of 1972 - tight end for the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins 
David Kessler, class of 1973 - former head of Food and Drug Administration 
John Tarnoff, class of 1973 - senior executive at DreamWorks Animation 
Antonis Samaras, class of 1974 - current Greek leader of the Opposition and President of New Democracy*
George Papandreou, class of 1975 - current Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece*
Kevin H. Baines, class of 1976 - principal scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Susannah Grant, class of 1984 - writer and director (Pocahontas, Ever After, Erin Brockovich, The Soloist)
Julie Powell, class of 1995 - author (Julie & Julia)
Kimmie Weeks, class of 2005 - global activist and humanitarian, founded Youth Action International

For a more exhaustive list, click here.

The bottom line: You are going to receive an excellent education here that is going to enable you to go out into the world and do whatever you want. Whether you want to be a CEO, politician, musician, actor, writer, scientist, you name it, your four years here will prepare you for success. All you have to do is work hard and take advantage of the opportunities available to you.

It makes me wonder... That woman sitting next to me in class, will we read about her twenty years from now? Don’t you wonder who you'll be?

*Amherst educated both the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader. I wonder if they were friends while they were here.

I was once a puzzle piece, and you are, too.

puzzleI think the best advice I can give anyone regarding the application process is to focus on the essays. You have to write a short essay and a personal statement through the common application as well as an additional essay through the Amherst supplement. These are your three opportunities to really shine and talk about your passions and what makes you remarkable. For the most part, there will probably be many other students who look just like you on paper - they will have the same SAT or ACT scores, they will have taken the most challenging classes, received the same grades, and participated in similar extra-curricular activities. One of the deans likes to use this analogy: All the students applying to Amherst are puzzle pieces and the goal of the deans is to create an incoming class by putting those pieces together into a cohesive picture. There are probably twenty or thirty students who are all the same shape and will fit very nicely into the picture. What separates those pieces and makes one stand out more than another is how the piece is decorated. Your standardized test scores, academic transcript, and extracurricular activities help designate the shape of your puzzle piece, but your essay is what sets you apart. I know it can be challenging to write the essays for your college application. It's impossible to determine what the different schools are looking for in its applicants. I would suggest not even thinking "What do they want?" Instead, figure out your focus and what makes you special. Maybe you discovered a love for cooking French food or playing jazz trombone. Maybe you spend your weekends volunteering at an animal shelter or organizing games of soccer in the park. Whatever it is, write about it. Your writing will be much more compelling and interesting if you choose something that you care about and that is uniquely you. Once you have written an essay (or multiple essays) have someone who knows you well read it. In fact, get multiple people to read it. It helps to have an outsider give you feedback on your writing and someone that you trust will be able to help you present yourself in the best possible light.


Also, I would think very seriously about which teachers you want to have write recommendations for you. It’s smart to sit down with them as soon as possible so that you can spend time with them, talk to them about who you are, what you’re interested in, and what your goals are, academic or otherwise. If you talk to them early, they’ll be able to spend more time with you and work on your letter before other students approach them. You might even want to email or call them over the summer so they can start developing a very personal and insightful letter. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to set up a face-to-face meeting with your teachers in order to really convey who you are and what you want to accomplish.

Beyond that, try not to let yourself be intimidated by the process. You have already made it this far. Rest assured that you will probably have many great options when it comes to choosing a school. So take a deep breath, remain positive, and enjoy your remaining year(s) of high school.


One Major, Two Major, Red Major, Blue Major

I received a few emails from current and potential students asking me questions. I figured the responses would be helpful for you as well. The purpose of this blog is to help you learn more about Amherst and address your concerns, so if you have any questions or need any advice, please feel free to email me at kjablin12@amherst.edu.
Double majoring is a great opportunity for students who are passionate about two different departments on campus. A lot of students end up double majoring at Amherst because it is much easier because of our open curriculum. Students end up discovering new interests through exploring diverse academic departments.

I thought I would fulfill almost all the requirements for my two majors simply by choosing classes that interested me. Thus, declaring an intent to major in both departments seemed quite natural. Also, my two majors require 20 classes, allowing for 11 outside classes throughout my four years. Because of this, I have had plenty of time and opportunities to take a variety of classes and explore additional interests. However, a word of caution: You should not feel pressured to double major. Unless it is something you are very committed to accomplishing and feel passionate about, it is better to only major in one department. If your interests are  wide-ranging or there are multiple things that you are interested in studying, Iwould say declare only one major. That way you'll have a lot  more opportunities to take  classes in a variety of departments and get a more well-rounded education. Also, having

Chapin Classroom

 the freedom to take classes in a variety of departments or that strike your interest whenflipping through the course catalog is a huge advantage. You don’t want to come across a class that you find fascinating, decide to enroll, and not have the freedom to do so. If you happen to discover something  you love and want  to pursue later, there is always graduate school. A lot of times, it’s not necessary to have majored in a particular department or receive a bachelor’s degree in  a field in order to study that topic in graduate programs or pursue a career within  that sector. At the end of the day, you have to weigh all your options and decide what the right choice is for you.


Location, Location, Location

I get this question all the time on my tours and during information sessions: “Why did you choose Amherst?” My initial reaction is to explain why it is that I love the open curriculum and all the benefits of such an academic experience. But after the visitor ceases nodding and smiling at my enthusiastic response, I pause and think. Yes, I love the open curriculum and that was one of the main reasons I selected Amherst, but it’s not the only reason.

Freshman QuadWhen picking a college, it’s important to consider academic and extracurricular opportunities, but just as important is geographic location. I narrowed down my list of college candidates by deciding where in the country I wanted to be: the Northeast. That still left tons of schools to consider. So the next choice became urban or rural? That also proved to be not very challenging because I wanted to be in the country surrounded by tons of green space, trees, and mountains. However, in the back of my mind I worried about not having anything interesting to do on the weekends and being stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing but chain restaurants and a mall for entertainment. After some more whittling away at my potential college list, I settled on a reasonable list of schools I wanted to visit.

Amherst was the last school on my college tour and something happened when I stepped foot on campus. The first thing that happened was rain. Lots and lots and LOTS of rain. But something else happened too. It’s difficult to describe, but I felt at home. It didn’t matter that it was raining or that a few of the families on the tour with us bailed halfway through in search of shelter or that I looked and felt like a drowned rat. I had that feeling that no matter what happened, I could be really happy here.

memorial hill
After the tour, my parents and I drove into town and looked around. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. You can find pretty much every type of cuisine in town, an independent movie theater, museums, art galleries, book stores, coffee shops... Amherst somehow manages to provide the diversity and cultural experiences of an urban setting with all the benefits of a small, college town. Northampton, another great town with an urban feel, is a short bus ride away expanding the list of restaurants, stores, galleries, and concert venues available to you. That was it. I fell in love, and the rest is history.

Here’s the point: You can love everything about a school, but if you don’t like the location, it will be that much harder to get through the inevitable rough patches in life. Your college and its surrounding area will be your home for the next four years. Make sure it’s somewhere you can be happy.

Trying New Things

When I begin a tour or information session, I introduce myself and talk about what I do on campus. However, it has recently struck me that if I were to fill out my college application again, replacing the information from my years in high school with information from my college experience, it would look vastly different.

Pop Rocks Flier

My high school didn’t have a radio station, but when I got to college I thought wor
king at WAMH could be fun. I spent the majority of my first year listening to music, helping plan events, reviewing CDs, and doing more of the behind the scenes stuff. The thought of having a radio show intimidated me, so I didn’t take the steps to become a DJ. However, as the end of spring semester approached, I decided I had been backstage long enough. I went through training and emerged a new person – a DJ! (Although I still haven’t picked a cool DJ name or alter ego. Suggestions?) My friend Leah and I decided to do a show together and named it The Endless Search for Pop Rocks. We have two semesters under our belts and will continue broadcasting for the rest of our college days.


I wasn’t a DJ or an EMT (emergency medical technician) in high school. So what? That didn’t mean that I couldn’t be one in college. I know plenty of people who play rugby, row crew, sing in a cappella groups, debate, write for the student newspaper, and a myriad of other things who never did those things before Amherst. On the other hand, I know plenty of other people who have been doing those things long before Amherst came into the picture. The point is, you get to decide. It doesn’t matter what you did in high school. You can still do the same activities if you want, but you can also change, explore, discover, and transform yourself and the things you do. Amherst presents opportunities for you to experience new things and get involved and the students are welcoming and encouraging.

What’s on my mind: The overflowing basket of laundry that is beckoning to me every time I step foot in my room.

Looking forward to: The weekend and Taste of Amherst!