Preparing for graduation: Kasey Varner '14 reflects on her Gettysburg experience

Kasey Varner '14 shares how Gettysburg College has enabled her to pursue her passion.

“That isn’t me,” I remember thinking. “These students must never sleep. Are there even enough hours in the day for them to accomplish all of these feats?”

These were my thoughts after visiting Gettysburg College for their Junior Open House. The campus was beautiful and everyone was so welcoming, but it was the students who left the greatest impression.

The College invited current students to speak to us about their campus involvement, and I remember how impressed I was with each one. They were president of this or that organization, dedicated to a particular philanthropy, held more internships and other professional experiences than I could care to count, and were high-achievers in the classroom as well.

While their accomplishments were intimidating, their enthusiasm for the College and active involvement in campus life is what drew me to Gettysburg.


I was already aware of the strong liberal arts tradition of the school and was excited by the prospect of fine-tuning my writing, a hobby which I was quite passionate about. But beyond that, there was this feeling permeating the campus that something big, something exciting was always happening. I knew that whatever it was, I wanted to be a part of it.

Gettysburg was the only college that I applied to, so when Get Acquainted Day rolled around, you could be sure that I “got the dot” and wore it with pride.

Check out this year's Get Acquainted Day video.

A few short months later, I came to campus still intimidated by the success of my peers, but through the support, guidance, and opportunities the College provided, found a way to be just as successful.

I learned early on that writing was not just a hobby, but a passion that could be turned into a career. Interning at my hometown newspaper, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, I became hooked on the thrill of seeing my name in print next to the words I’ve so carefully researched and assembled.

The more I wrote, the more I could feed my addiction, which made me very popular in the office. I think I was published more than 40 times during my twelve week internship, and was responsible for the publication of countless other stories. It never once felt like work, though, which was enough to convince me to pursue this as a career.

After my internship, I continued to write for my hometown newspaper while also seeking out new opportunities. I participated in an externship program provided by the College’s Center for Career Development and spent a week working for Forbes Media in New York City.

I met quite a few alums and was inspired by their passion for and continued dedication to the College. Not only was my externship experience organized through an alum, but I was housed by one of the members of the Board of Trustees. In addition to my “on-the-job” experience, I learned the significance of the College’s alumni network, not just for current students, but for other alums too.


Through contacts I made in New York City, I was asked to write for The Guardian, marking my first publication for an international audience. What did I write about? My love and passion for Gettysburg, and the countless opportunities it has provided me with.

Upon returning to Gettysburg, I started an internship with the College’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where I received encouragement to write for more than just the College’s website – I was encouraged to write for USA Today as well. I applied for one of their semester long programs and am now a contributing writer for their Voices from Campus section.

Writing wasn’t the only passion the College helped me to pursue.

I became a dedicated member of the Greek community when I joined my sorority sophomore year. I’ve held more leadership positions within that organization than I care to recall, gaining confidence in my ability as a student leader each time.

I joined the Residence Life staff, which challenged the way I viewed myself and my role in the world, while also enabling me to extend the reach of my impact on campus life.

My academic success was rewarded by membership in the history honors fraternity Phi Alpha Theta, of which I became vice president during my junior year.

I’ve held part-time jobs, attended numerous philanthropy events, made more friends than I can keep track of, and in the process, made this campus my home.


I’m now being told that I am one of those students I found so intimidating during the Junior Open House. I don’t think that’s accurate, because I still manage to squeeze a few naps into my otherwise busy schedule.

However, I can see how each of my accomplishments, to an outsider, seems impressive. To me, each accomplishment feels like no more than another step towards pursuing my passion, and with the support and guidance of the College, a step that I was able to take with confidence.

Feel free to check out some of my work from the past few years. Most of these pieces were inspired by a class, a conversation with a professor or peer, or some other kind of event that made me want to know more.

What’s America’s message to young women published by the Harrisburg Patriot-News on May 19, 2012

Ranking colleges and universities doesn’t serve a real purpose published by The Guardian on July 31, 2013    

Celebrating 25 years of the College’s commitment to diversity published by the Gettysburg College website on February 19, 2014

4 ways to build strong relationships with your professors (and why it matters!) published by USA Today Colleges on February 27, 2014

Redefining student leadership: Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Wangchuck discusses his first year published by the Gettysburg College website on March 6, 2014

How students are contradicting ‘nerdy’ stereotype of STEM published by USA Today Colleges on March 30, 2014

Article by: Kasey Varner '14, communications & marketing intern

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Mon, 21 Apr 2014

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