Last year, prompted by an extended winter break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gettysburg College relaunched its January Term (J-Term) program virtually after 36 years—allowing students the opportunity to remain intellectually engaged with the College during the winter months.
Praised by several alumni who participated decades prior and hundreds of students who enrolled in at least one of its 21 sessions in 2021—totaling more than 1,000 registrations—the program will return in 2022, from January 3-14. Rod Tosten ’85, vice president of information technology and co-chair of the J-Term task force, says it’s here to stay.
Having participated in J-Term when he attended Gettysburg, Tosten fondly remembers exploring the new topics it offered. Through his involvement with Virtual J-Term today, he aims to keep that same spirit of exploration alive.
“Because of my fond memories and the opportunities that J-Term presented to me, I wanted to pay that forward and be involved in its relaunch, in whatever capacity I could,” Tosten said. “I can say with confidence that it remains just as formative an experience now as it was for me. It has the power to prepare students to be successful at Gettysburg College and in the future.
“It’s also a way for us to be distinctive and for us to add value to a student’s academic experience since all of this is free,” he continued. “I don’t see many colleges or universities offering this, and more so, I think we’re being creative in our programming.”
Through dynamic offerings from some of the College’s most distinctive programs, including the Eisenhower Institute (EI), Center for Public Service (CPS), Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC), and Center for Career Engagement, each of the free online J-Term sessions builds upon classroom learning with crucial college, career, and life skills. Last year, students enjoyed the various topics discussed, including networking, leadership, well-being, social change, and advocacy.
On the field and in the classroom, Emmanuel Ajewole ’24, a member of the Bullets baseball team, applied the skills he learned in GLC’s “Leadership and Team Simulation: Everest Expedition” course, and grew into a confident leader. The Chinese studies and business, organizations, and management double major worked alongside fellow students to navigate a simulation to the summit of Mount Everest, all the while developing proficiencies in critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
Biology and music double major Elizabeth Bishop ’23 also saw the Virtual J-Term experience as beneficial. In the “Hone your College and Career Skills” course, she learned valuable organizational and time management skills that have improved her study habits and productivity.
“For me, the J-Term helped me continue to learn over the winter break and develop my skills both personally and professionally outside of the classroom,” Bishop said.
Recent graduates Megan Keene ’21 and Logan Grubb ’21 have carried what they’ve learned during J-Term with them in their pursuits beyond Gettysburg.
Keene made a connection with Maggie Reilly Forestieri ’09, a recruiting manager at Huron Consulting Group, during last year’s “Health and Science Meetup,” who helped guide her through the process of applying to consulting firms. She learned how to communicate the skills and experiences she gained at Gettysburg in her resume and cover letters, which landed her a position she is passionate about—working as a communications specialist at Eastern Research Group, Inc., an environmental consulting firm.
Grubb, who now works as a program director for Urban Rural Action, attended EI Chairman Emerita Susan Eisenhower’s leadership series, among other courses, and was thankful for the opportunity to explore new topics and learn from professionals in various fields.
“It gave me food for thought,” Grubb said. “J-Term reminded me that learning never stops. There are always opportunities to continue to engage in something new.”
This year, many J-Term favorites will return, such as Eisenhower’s leadership series and Career Engagement’s meet-up events, but new courses have also been created following student feedback. Additions include: “Stories from the Gettysburg Battlefield,” “Leadership and Community Change at Home,” “Renting and Home Buying,” “Writing a Personal Statement,” and more.
Like many students, Jason Chase ’24, an active participant in last year’s J-Term and a business, organizations, and management major, is eager to participate again this January. He has already enrolled in “Network Your Way to a Job or Internship,” during which he hopes to engage with The Gettysburg Network and discover potential career paths. Having already experienced the value of the J-Term firsthand, he encourages his peers to consider enrolling in a course or multiple courses, too.
“The value of J-Term revolves around how much effort you put into utilizing the resources available,” Chase said. “There are enough courses and information for every student at Gettysburg College to get something out of their experience in the courses if they put the effort in to sign up and take pride in the ones that they attend.”
Learn more about Gettysburg College’s Virtual J-Term offerings. Interested in participating? Please register by Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Registration is required and a few sessions are capped.
By Molly Foster
Photos by Miranda Harple, Jason Minick, and Adrian Cooke