The people make the place: How Gettysburg College brought me my forever people

Three students wearing masks at Get Acquainted Day
Gabrielle Eglinton ’21, Timmy Wilson ’21, and Samantha Hann ’21 on Get Acquainted Day 2021

Prior to knowing I would be moving into Huber Hall my first year, I wandered campus aimlessly on Get Acquainted Day (GAD) alongside my parents and brother, debating which school to choose as my home for the next four years. I applied to a variety of small liberal arts institutions along the East Coast and narrowed my options down to the final two. GAD is a chance for prospective students to experience the campus community one last time prior to their decision due on May 1, which is precisely what I needed. GAD was the only introduction I needed to know this would be my home for the next four years.

A few months later, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, I moved into Huber Hall. I quickly discovered other students in my First-Year Seminar (FYS), “Journalists and Media: Heroes and Villains through the Cinema,” all lived somewhere in my building, making it easy to bond over our common interests in choosing the same class. Similarly, students from another First-Year Seminar living in our building also focused on storytelling through different lens—our love of learning about others grew apparent within the first few weeks. My relationships with the people on my floor provided me with a support system I didn’t realize I needed.

As the year went by and I felt more comfortable on campus, my friends and I all wanted to find jobs on campus for the following year. While we all applied to different areas of interest—the bookstore, the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life, and the Garthwait Leadership Center—Timmy Wilson ’21, Gabi Eglinton ’21, and I all expressed wanting to apply to the Admissions Office for the tour guide position. Hearing from a student’s perspective when considering a school is critical, and there is nothing more fulfilling than helping others recognize their place at Gettysburg. After a few weeks and multiple interviews, my two best friends and I eagerly accepted our new position. Anticipation for the future transformed into excitement, for this was the start of our impact on campus.

Gabi Eglinton, Samantha Hann, and Timmy Wilson outside of Waldos and Company art studio in Gettysburg
Gabrielle Eglinton ’21, Samantha Hann ’21, and Timmy Wilson ’21 outside of Waldo’s & Company on Sept. 8, 2017

New tour guides often give their first tours on GAD as a way to embrace their new position. As a whole, the campus community treats GAD as a holiday, welcoming students into our family and painting them a picture of what their four years here could look like. This also starts our “Got the Dot” campaign, where deposited students wear an orange dot on their nametag with pride as a signifier of officially becoming a member of the new incoming class. Current Gettysburgians chant, “Congrats on your dot!” as a welcome to our network. Throughout the day, Timmy, Gabi, and I congratulated students right and left out of excitement for their future, and for ours, as well.

It’s cliché, but these next four years will fly by faster than you expect. I vividly recall my GAD as a prospective student—the rain bouncing off my jacket, and the wide smiles of the English professors as they answered my questions. I see the same enthusiasm in every student I meet on GAD that I had upon entering our community. As a way to commemorate our appreciation for the place that gave us each other and relationships that will last beyond Gettysburg, we took a photo of our first GAD together as a group.

Our photo became a staple for our office—recreating our annual GAD photo regardless of the situation. Our sophomore year, we took it right outside of the Hauer Fieldhouse, with plans to do the same for our remaining two years. However, our GAD photo in 2020 was unable to occur in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We refused to let this stop us, so we photoshopped ourselves into our home away from home to keep the tradition alive.

While I am disappointed that the past two GADs have been virtual, I am grateful to still be a part of the team of students that welcome the incoming class to their next four years. Working in the admissions office as a tour guide has highlighted the importance of personal connections and individuality—something I try to provide to all prospective students. The three of us—sometimes referred to as “The Three Musketeers” in the Admissions Office—recognize how empowering our interactions are, which is why we each applied to leadership positions our senior year.

Timmy and I serve alongside Abi Brown ’21 and Andrew Martin ’21 on the current Admissions Student Leadership Team, while Gabi is one of the three senior interns. Our roles encourage a close community among student staff and with prospective students. We want to ensure students feel the radiating love and support our students have for Gettysburg by providing them with our time, energy, and individual stories. 

It’s OK to be stressed about the next four years—I was too before I went to GAD. One of the most important things when considering a school is how you will fit into the community on campus.

Choose a place that will encourage you to embrace challenges by taking them head on—a place that will allow you to find your passions, a place where failing is a way of learning, a place where people care about your growth.

Gettysburg has provided me with the space to gain confidence in my academic, professional, and personal well-being. If it weren’t for coming to campus on that rainy Saturday in April, I would not be the person who I am today.

So, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and try to picture yourself wherever you can confidently say, “I got the dot.”

By Samantha Hann ’21
Posted: 04/28/21