Do you feel like you made any concessions to come to a school that is reasonably priced?
Absolutely not. I chose Grove City College, specifically, because I knew my training in the sciences would be rigorous (and indeed it was!), but also because I would be able to study Christian theological reasoning at the same time. It was evident during my time there, and in my academic career since, that I received a premier liberal arts education at a substantial discount.
How was your faith strengthened and perhaps even challenged during your time here?
As a Christian, studying science can, often unnecessarily, challenge one’s faith as our constantly refined understanding of how the universe operates may contradict what we have interpreted through our beliefs. For this reason, much of society views science and faith as incompatible; however, I discovered the exact opposite at Grove City College where I met students and faculty who were rigorously logical in their integration of both realms.
While my studies in chemistry and biology gave me an enhanced understanding of how the universe works at the molecular level, and indeed a profound sense of awe for God’s creation, these scientific lines of inquiry (questions of “how?”) could never approach questions of meaning (e.g. What is the purpose of life? Is there an absolute good and evil?). However, studying Christian theology in addition to science provided me with a complementary perspective on questions of “why?” that have aided me in my life’s journey and strengthened my faith.
How would you describe the level of academics you experienced during your time at Grove City College?
Having now spent time at several different institutions beyond Grove City College including a large, research-oriented state university for graduate school (Penn State), an ivy-league postdoctoral fellowship (Harvard), and a faculty position at another top liberal arts college (Hamilton College), I can say without a doubt that the level of academics at Grove City College is of the highest caliber. As a student, I was able to benefit from small classes where I knew each professor well, enabling me and my classmates to dig more deeply into the subject matter at hand; and there were ample opportunities to conduct high-quality, publishable research. Students who graduate from the College will be entering graduate/professional school or the workforce with not only a solid technical training in their discipline but also the skill set of a liberal arts student who is able to draw important connections to areas outside of their discipline.
What is the relationship like between the students and the professors?
The faculty at Grove City College truly care for the wellbeing of their students on both an educational and personal level. When I was student, this was a surprising and truly invaluable benefit of attending Grove City College. Throughout my time there, I struggled to balance my academic life with a turbulent, personal life that included the death of a parent and dealing with the long-term effects of childhood abuse, among many other normal stresses of a college student. However, having a caring network of faculty invested in my success got me through it. For example, Dr. Kriley mentored me throughout my four years there and looked after me during the most challenging of times. He helped me identify my passion for research, setting me on my career trajectory, enfolded me into the campus community, and occasionally let me grab a power nap in his office on the really tough days!
What advice would you give to an incoming student?
Take advantage of the chance to study your faith as a student scholar. Sample classes you are just simply interested in, but are maybe not required for your career; for example, I’ve been surprised at how often, as a scientist, I benefit from insights learned through studying the arts and humanities. Also, savor all the late nights working with your friends, and enjoy as many chicken tender wraps at the Gedunk that you can; college life is short!
Describe your experience with residence life at Grove City College, particularly freshman year.
There is something about that common first-year experience among your first group of hallmates that is very special. Our own little community of oddballs on the first floor of Memorial, Zerbe side (aka “the Copacabana”) was an eclectic blend for sure – science geeks, athletes, musicians, jokers, frat boys, etc. – but we all shared something in common, and it never felt like there were any real barriers between us. Our RAs were hilarious and energetic, and they may have played more practical jokes on us than we did on them! We created our own website, complete with exaggerated personal profiles; came up with endless hallways games; worked hard and played (perhaps) a little harder. There are just too many memories to list. However, one that I’ll never forget was on Sept. 11, 2001, during our first semester, when everyone packed into the lobby to watch that horrific tragedy unfold before us. But, witnessing all of us band together, pray together, and face that year with new resolve was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.