During Interterm 2019 students arrived on campus to work on their senior theses, score wins for their teams and take non-credit courses and workshops in everything from bicycle maintenance to personal finance to art-collecting 101. Here are snapshots from five other Interterm offerings.

Jae-Hyun Ha ’19 was getting killed—repeatedly. “This game is not a joke,” she said as she furiously fired her fusion cannons and light guns. As teammates whirled, jumped and exploded, Ha ran, defending a truck.

She was in Overwatch, a multiplayer, first-person shooter game, and this was her fun—if brutal—introduction to the competitive video gaming world of Esports. Helping Ha at another terminal in the Science Center was Michael Fay Jr., director of Esports and head coach at the University of Akron in Ohio. At his home university, Fay oversees 44 varsity players and nine student coaches. At Amherst, he was on hand to introduce students to the multibillion-dollar world of Esports.

The day before, Fay had explained how Esports teams make (or don’t make) money, and how the gambling side of Esports is skyrocketing (it’s estimated to reach $12.9 billion by 2020). He also debunked the analogy between Esports and traditional sports franchises: While quarterback Tom Brady never worries about the gravity turning off, for example, significant glitches can happen at even the highest competitive levels in Esports. And although no one owns the game of football, in Esports, game publishers have virtual monopolies over their products.

“Getting more consumer attention on your brand is the primary business,” Fay told the students.

Edward Lantagne ’22 attended to learn more about the games his friends played—and came away intrigued by the business side. As an art history and anthropology double major, Ha is writing a senior thesis about the Esports industry. As for the Overwatch game, Fay and Ha ran out the clock, surviving the mission and winning the game. –by Rachael Hanley

Latrell Broughton ’20 and his siblings know the names and basic histories of several generations of his father’s family members. Information about his maternal ancestors prior to 1900, on the other hand, is scarce.

Broughton decided to see if he could fill the gaps this Interterm by taking a genealogy course led by Academic Technology Specialist Andy Anderson.

Eight students and staff members enrolled in the class, which taught them how to use census data, archival records and other sources to trace their own histories. They also learned how to compile and share their findings using free software.

Broughton was surprised at what he discovered.

His mother’s family has lived for five or six generations in Beaufort and Craven counties in North Carolina. Broughton himself grew up in Washington, N.C.—a city smack dab on the border between those two counties.

Broughton now plans to visit local archives and cemeteries to seek more information about his relatives.

“African Americans have been robbed of a sense of heritage in this country,” he says. “Not just because of slavery, but because of our long history of disenfranchisement and lack of sense of a permanent home. I myself have even been feeling a desire to connect with a place. This class will help me do that, I hope.” –by Caroline Hanna

Students cooking during Interterm class
“Let’s apron up and start,” said Maida Ives, manager of education and operations for the College’s Book & Plow Farm, corralling a group of students into Ford Hall’s demonstration kitchen for the Interterm class “Cooking From Memory—Finding Home Through Food.”

In four three-hour sessions, Ives and three outside chefs led students through the process of making simple but tasty meals, jumping off from dishes remembered from childhood, but not stopping there. “We wanted to design achievable, affordable meals for the students,” she says.

On the last night, the group soaked dried vegetables for soup, carefully cut hot peppers for sauce and mixed dough for a batch of scallion pancakes. The latter was at a suggestion of Daniel Xiao ’22, who hoped to recreate the scallion pancakes made by his grandmother. It took some work because, like many fine cooks, she doesn’t really use measurements, he said: “It’s really basic. The dough is the most important part.”

“This is one of the ways we are connecting students with becoming competent and confident food eaters in their adult lives,” Ives says. “I think the farm is something bigger than growing vegetables in a field.” –by Bill Sweet

Two students lay on the carpeted floor in the Science Center basement. Others crouched around them, strapping 
their legs into splits.

“Bilateral pedal pulses?” asked Amaya Smole ’22.

“Present but not equal,” replied Joshua Choi ’21, one of the class’s TAs.

The students in the room were taking part in an EMT-B certification course put on by Amherst College Emergency Medical Services (ACEMS), a student-run, student-staffed volunteer organization that operates 24 hours a day while classes are in session, providing Basic Life Support Quick Response to medical emergencies on the Amherst Campus.

ACEMS runs the certification course every January, with the College covering the cost for the 30 students. Students who complete the course are required to try out for the ACEMS squad.

“I signed up for this course because I care about helping people,” Smole explained. Unstrapping the mock-patient’s traction splint, she added, “It’s really fulfilling to be able to help my peers.” –by Julia Pike ’19

Students competed in the Great Midwest Trivia Contest, a marathon quiz running from late night on Friday, Jan. 25, to late night on Sunday, Jan. 27, in the Science Center. Fueled by pizza, cookies and coffee, they split up into teams by class year and listened to WLFM—the radio station of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.—for question after question, with only three minutes to answer each. They were allowed to use their laptops, but the questions were designed to be too specific or cryptic for simple Googling (one example: “On what date will an average man become a cowboy?”).

The Great Midwest Trivia Contest has been a tradition at Lawrence University for more than 50 years. With support from two Amherst offices—Student Activities and Science Center Programs—Kelley Baumann ’19, who is from Wisconsin, brought the competition to Amherst for the first time this year. “I was inspired by an alum, Carrie Frye [’93], whom I met during Reunion this past June. She is from Appleton and grew up participating in the contest,” Baumann says.

After the 50-hour challenge, the class of 2019 emerged victorious among Amherst teams, with 540 points. They were awarded Amazon gift cards. –by Katherine Duke ’05

Student practicing emergency medical procedures
Students in "Emergency Medical Services Training" practice emergency medical procedures on each other. Photo by Maria Stenzel