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Elizabeth Lefever '16
Hey everyone - Welcome to my blog! My name is Elizabeth Lefever and I'm a sophomore from the New York City area. I'm double majoring in Computer Science and Asian Languages and Civilizations with a concentration in Japanese language and culture. My activities at Amherst have included the Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team, the Knitting Club (Much Ado About Knitting), the Computer Science Club, the Electronics Club, and tutoring through a program called Girls Inc., an outreach initiative in the nearby town of Holyoke. In addition to writing as a student blogger, I also work in the Admissions Office as both a Tour Guide and a Diversity Intern. I enjoy solving puzzles, getting down in Zumba classes, eating, painting, and taking power naps. My favorite pizza at Antonio's is Pesto Tortellini, I'm double jointed in all my fingers, and I smile in my sleep.
I also love to talk about Amherst, so don't hesitate to reach out! I'd love to hear from you, whether it's comments, questions, concerns, thoughts, ponderings, or anything else. Shoot me an email any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully you'll come to love this place as much as I do.
Student Spotlight: Servet Bayimli
April 8, 2014
This is Servet. Already as a sophomore, he’s probably the busiest person I know. We’re both Diversity Interns (he also works in the Admissions Office as a telementor) but that’s where our extracurricular similarities end.
Servet somehow is both Mock Trial Captain and Model UN president. Additionally, he’s one of the Senators for the Class of 2016. The majority of Amherst’s student government, the AAS, is composed of 8 senators per class, each on different committees with various responsibilities. As a Senator, Servet is on the Judiciary Council, Transportation Council, IT Policy Committee and the AAS Teaching Award Committee. Each Senator also has a personal project and Servet is working to create a time capsule for each class, which I’m super excited for.
One of the things that really impresses me about Servet is his commitment to research. As a Mellon Research Fellow, he’s investigating the phenomenon where young Arab girls who are forced to marry are killing themselves in protest. He’s also involved in the Asian Languages and Civilizations department conducting research with Professor Morse. He takes research seminars – currently he’s learning about Guantanamo Bay – and over the summer he’s doing research to help pass a law that would grant visitation rights to siblings separated in the foster care system.
Servet also runs various events which span from everything from an environmental effort called the Green Games, to bringing the Central Park Five to campus. Next year he’s going abroad for the full year, the Fall in Madrid and the Spring in Japan. And on top of everything he’s a great cook. Every year, our dining hall, Val, hosts its own Iron Chef competition and Servet’s team won third place last year. Servet amazes me with everything he does; it’s hard to find someone more involved in Amherst.
April 1, 2014
It’s been a cold winter but it’s finally here! SPRING! There were dark moments when I thought warm weather would never come but, as my weather app is telling me, it’s all up from here. (If this turns out to be an April Fool’s joke then I’m going to be so mad.) And with the arrival of spring, there are tons of exciting happenings at Amherst.
To backtrack a little, we had spring break and, as I mentioned, I went to Georgia with the Frisbee team. It was tons of fun. This year, the women’s team was finally big enough to split into two teams, which was an exciting new development for Sparkle Motion. (Women’s A Side pictured below) We did great, but the men’s A Team won their whole division! The women’s team all lived in a house together and it was a blast. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.
Coming up pretty soon is Spring Weekend, and it’s one of the best times of the year. Friday night is the Spring Formal, Saturday night is the Spring Concert, and Sunday is the Spring Carnival. The Spring Concert is always a blast – Last year we had Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and they were awesome. This year’s performer hasn’t been announced yet but I’ve heard some exciting rumors. We should find out in the next few days. Spring Carnival is always great as well. Last year there was everything from a dunk tank, to mechanical bull riding, to live music, to great grilled food, to free t-shirts, etc.
One of my other favorite things about spring is hanging out on the first-year quad. Pretty soon, the Adirondack chairs will be brought back outside, and the quad will become a place for people to lay out in the sun and do their homework or casually toss a football with friends. It becomes a microcosm of Amherst at its best, and I can’t wait. (Is it obvious that I love the spring time?) All in all, it’s a great time of the year. If you’re looking to visit Amherst, the spring is the time to come.
Spring Break Bound (also 日本語)
March 13, 2014
It’s that time of year! Tomorrow is our last day of classes and then it’s spring break! With a staggering high of over 50 degrees, a few days ago we had our first glimpse of warm weather. However, it turned out to just be a tease, as it immediately dropped back down and snowed today. But that’s okay because I’m warm-weather bound! Every year the Frisbee teams road trip down to Georgia for our annual tournament. We leave tomorrow and I can’t wait.
Since I haven’t posted in a while, I though I’d write about some happenings in my life so that you guys can get an idea of what’s happening right now for sophomores and generally at Amherst. One cool thing is that I recently joined the Electronics Club. This semester, we’re working on building a 8x8x8 LED Cube and I’m pretty excited. We also just started up an Amherst Women in Computer Science group, where we do things like have weekly lunches. It’s been great to build that community and to get to know some of my fellow majors better. On that note, I am also now officially a Computer Science and Asian Languages & Civilizations double major! I’ve now officially declared both and it’s pretty cool. There a lot of exciting stuff happening right now.
In other news, I’m going to Japan! Next semester I’ll be studying abroad in Kyoto – it’s going to be an amazing experience. But I definitely need to practice my Japanese. So, following that train of thought, here’s a quick and dirty translation of the above paragraphs in Japanese:
Student Spotlight: Keiana James
February 20, 2014
Keiana is from Brooklyn (Coney Island specifically) and is double majoring in French and Political Science, with a certificate in International Relations. In addition to our 38 majors, we also have about 15 Five College Certificate Programs, ranging from Ethnomusicology to Logic to Culture, Health, and Science. As a sophomore, Keiana does a great job of pursuing her academic interests outside of class and is hoping to study abroad next year.
Keiana is involved in our two most popular dance groups on campus: DASAC and Amherst Dance. Amherst Dance is geared towards dancers at all levels; everyone is welcome, whether they’ve never danced in their life or had years of classical training. Their shows are always a fun mix of different levels and styles. At their fall show, there was everything from a tap number choreographed to Treasure by Bruno Mars, to intense modern pieces. DASAC, which stands for Dance And Step at Amherst College, is more selective. Their shows are always high energy and packed. After watching a DASAC show, you leave with a strong desire to learn how to dance, while simultaneously knowing you’ll never be that flawless.
In addition to her political interests and passion for dance, Keiana is involved with Girls Inc., a mentor-based initiative in a nearby community. In the Holyoke chapter, Girls Inc. matches up Amherst College students with young girls to tutor. The cool thing about this program is that you work with the same girl every week, giving you the opportunity to really get to know her and to have the greatest impact. This year, Keiana became a Shift Coordinator, taking on a leadership role. Amherst’s involvement with Girls Inc. is run through the CCE, the Center for Community Engagement, which I would say is one of the most active resource centers on campus.
I can say from experience that Keiana is also a top-notch roommate and always fun to be around. Some of her hobbies include crocheting, drawing and painting, and watching Disney movies. Keiana’s another great example of a well-rounded Amherst student.
Student Spotlight: Patrick DeVivo
February 13, 2014
Every post I’ve written so far has been about my own personal experiences. But Amherst is full of so many diverse and interesting students that I thought I’d take a break from writing about myself, and introduce some other members of the Amherst community.
This is Patrick. He’s a sophomore double majoring in Physics and Computer Science from New York City. Half-Vietnamese and half-Italian, Patrick embodies the racial diversity at Amherst. But I’d say that his diversity of interests and experiences is just as important. Patrick is a member of the Crew Team, Electronics Club, and Computer Science Club, all while working as a Physics TA. He also spends much of his time on different programming projects, such as developing websites. (A cool example of this is fluttr.io.) The Electronics Club is currently working on an app to monitor the traffic in Val, our dining hall on campus. Last semester they built a high-altitude balloon that will be launched this spring.
Crew is one of the most active club teams on campus. Together the men and women’s teams have about 60 people and they practice six times a week. In the fall and spring the Crew Team regularly attend regattas, and in between there’s some serious winter training. They’re also involved in community service efforts in the surrounding area.
Patrick's interests are far reaching. He played saxophone for about ten years, built a rubik's cube-solving robot, and is a pretty creative cook. He also loves spending time outside and was a FOOT trip leader this past fall. FOOT stands for First-year Outdoor Orientation Trip, where upper classmen lead hiking, canoeing, or rockclimbing excursions for incoming first-years. I think Patrick is a great example of a well-rounded Amherst student.
Getting Back at It
January 29, 2014
It’s been an eventful two months since my last entry. I survived finals week, celebrated holidays, knit a hat, went on vacation with my family, applied to some study abroad programs, returned to campus, saw Frozen, and began classes. Now it’s time to get back at it.
Looking forward for this semester, there’s a lot I’m excited for – including a spring break tournament in Georgia for the Frisbee team and a Women in Computer Science Conference at Harvard. But there’s also a lot of planning to be done. The next month will consist of a myriad of applications, as I try to figure out study abroad options and my summer plans.
The study abroad process has proved to be a bit more complicated than I thought it would be, but also more exciting. And the Study Abroad Office has been amazing. After attending a few meetings and presentations last semester, I went online and searched through the database of pre-approved programs. I was amazed to find how comprehensive it was. I easily found seven programs I wanted to apply to, all of them in Japan. They range from full emersion at Nanzan University in Nagoya, to living in a monastery with Buddhist monks in Kyoto. There are an unbelievable amount of possibilities and, as long as I can get through the applications, I’ll hopefully be in Japan this time next year.
Admittedly, I’m not quite as on top of my summer plans. Most of my time has been focused on study abroad shenanigans and I’ve been pretty singularly focused. Starting this week though, I’ll begin looking through the Career Center’s database(another amazing resource) for summer internships and opportunities. Last summer I had an amazing internship at a Brooklyn-based company called BioLite. I focused on marketing, and learned an incredible amount. So, I’m excited to see what might be in store for this summer.
At the moment, I’m mostly preparing for the upcoming year, so this is a time filled with potential. But at the same time, current aspects of my life are also going well. I’ve only had a few classes so far, but they all seem great. I’m particularly excited for Artificial Intelligence and Japan on Screen. Up until this point, I’ve been taking a lot of introductory or general courses and, while I’ve enjoyed those as well, I’m excited to delve a little deeper into specific subjects. And it’s always great to return to campus and be able to partake in all the events that are always going on. It’s good to be back.
The Holiday Season at Amherst
December 9, 2013
The holiday season is the bomb. Thanksgiving was delicious (anyone else have Turducken?), Christmas carols are on the radio, Thanksgivukkah happened for the first time since 1918, we had our first snowfall here at Amherst, and I’ve already participated in two Secret Santas.
Note: I did not take this picture and there is not (yet) this much snow. I found it by googling “Amherst College snow.” But that is Amherst and it is a legit snowball fight, so I figured it was okay.
The winter can be a stressful time, what with everyone getting colds and the ever-looming presence of finals. But if you can take a step back from all that, it’s also a time full of celebration. Christmas lights are everywhere. People are running around buying presents for family and friends. And most importantly, everyone is wearing those awful and wonderful holiday sweaters.
Did anyone participate in Coke Zero’s sweater competition? It was among the greatest things ever. You designed your own sweater, and if you were voted into the top 100, then they’d make it for you! My friend Ashley ’16 did it and created that last sweater… and she won! So now Coke is making her that sweater. Too great.
There are also a lot of exciting things that happen at Amherst at the end of the semester. Different performance groups have shows (like Amherst Dance and various A Capella groups), clubs run themed events (like making ginger bread houses in the dining hall), and even the Admissions Office had a holiday party. Yesterday, the Diversity Interns and some of the Deans of Admissions gathered, exchanged gifts, and ate mountains on mountains of food. All of it was home cooked and wonderful, and I immediately fell asleep when I got back home to my dorm.
And there’s still so much to look forward to. First and foremost, the Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug is coming out this week. But in terms of my Amherst life, there’s a lot happening as well. Over winter break and interterm I’ll be applying to study abroad programs, I’ve picked my classes for next semester and they sound dope, and more snow is on the way, meaning that we’ll all be taking trays from the dining hall and sledding down Memorial Hill. It's going to be great.
November 20, 2013
This year I joined the Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team, and it's been great. I'm not sure why, but the Frisbee teams at Amherst have a Donnie Darko theme, a movie that I admittedly have never seen but hear great things about. That means that our name is Sparkle Motion (or SpaMo for short) and our mascot is this terrifying bunny:
Don't let the mascot deceive you - the team is full of great people. I had friends in High School who played Ultimate but, having never done it myself, I was entirely new to the whole culture of Frisbee. I've played various sports in my life, and there's nothing quite like it. A good example of this difference is the fact that there are no referees on the field; all fouls are called and deliberated on by players. That means the level of accountability and integrity is unmatched.
Frisbee also has a number of fun traditions. Some teams go all out in "flair," which leads to some of the greatest outfits you'll ever see. I don't know how people manage to play in footie pajamas or a tutu/tiara combination, but I'm always impressed when they do. I also thought I'd seen enthusiasm before, but nothing compares to the cheers that happen on the field. Arguably one of my favorites is where we sing the chorus to Milkshake (a musical masterpiece) at the top of our lungs... Maybe it doesn't quite qualify as a cheer, but it definitely pumps you up.
SpaMo is a club team here. At Amherst we have athletics at three different levels: varsity, club, and intramural. As a club team, we fall in the middle of that spectrum. We practice about three times a week and go to tournaments fairly regularly. This is some of the team after playing in a Mean Girls-themed tournament at Wellesley College.
Being on a team definitely has a great social aspect. We have tons of team dinners, team parties, and just general team shenanigans. Participating in various clubs and activities is an important part of being an active member of the community. I've gotten to meet some very cool people this year, and I couldn't be happier that I joined.
The Classes I've Taken
November 11, 2013
This week, I thought I'd provide an example of what an Amherst student's course schedule might look like. So, here are the classes that I've taken. I've included the title, a blurb on what it's about, and the department. If you'd like to explore all the classes you can take at Amherst, I'd recommend checking out the course scheduler. It shows you what's been offered when, along with a course description and the professor.
I wrote about the open curriculum last week, and you can definitely see its effect in the classes I've taken. I'm planning on double majoring and I'll finish Sophomore year about halfway through the requirements for both of my majors. But at the same time, I've been able to explore tons of different departments. You can also see specialization happen; I start by taking mostly introductory courses, to finding what I've really loved, and then delving in. If you have any questions about any of these classes (or others!) don't hesitate to reach out. As always, you can email me at email@example.com. Hopefully this gives you a little more insight into some of the intellectual possibilities here.
Fall 2012 - Freshman Year
Introduction to the Japanese Language: As the name suggests, an introductory Japanese language class. Japanese
Genocide: My first year seminar, and interdisciplinary course that looks at genocide from political, historical, and psychological viewpoints. First Year Seminar
Introductory Chemistry: An intro level chem class with both lecture, discussion, and lab components. Chemistry
Science Fiction, Narrative, and Identity: An analytic exploration of Science Fiction films and novels in the context of religion and philosophy. Religion
Sprint 2013 - Freshman Year
Introduction to Computer Science I: The first of two introductory CompSci courses, taught in java. Computer Science
Beyond Basic Japanese: A continuation of introductory Japanese language. Japanese
An Introduction to Economics: A basic Economics course that covers the essentials of both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Economics
Painting II: An advanced level painting course with a focus on independent projects and painting from life. Art and the History of Art
Fall 2013 - Sophomore Year
Microeconomics: A core class that goes in depth to different Micro theories with real world applications. Economics
Introduction to Computer Science II: The second of two introductory CompSci courses, taught in java and python. Computer Science
Communicating in Sophisticated Japanese: The first class in second-year language. Japanese
Introduction to Psychology: Basic level Psych course, lecture-style with aspects of participating in and conducting research. Psychology
Spring 2014 - Sophomore Year
Note: These are the classes that I've pre-registered for. That means I've signed up and will most likely take them. However, there's a time period here called Add/Drop, where you get to shop classes and play around with your schedule. So, who knows! I'll have the chance to explore and finalize my schedule at the beginning of next semseter.
Data Structures and Algorithms I: The first of two core classes, focus on theoretical understanding and gaining advanced programming experience. Computer Science
Experience with Authentic Japanese Materials: Next level Japanese langauge course, focus shifts from learning from textbooks to beginning to study actual Japanese materials. Japanese
Artificial Intelligence: Explores the ideas/techniques behind computers behaving intelligently. Other topics are based off student interest and can include game playing, speech recognition, and probabilistic reasoning. Computer Science
Japan on Screen: An interdisciplinary course providing an in depth cultural study of Japan and Japanese media. Asian Languagues and Civilizations / Film and Media Studies