The power of intellectual curiosity for Casey Ottaway ’22

Two years ago, Casey Ottaway ’22 found himself 13 hours from home as an engineering student at a public university. Eager to change his major and itching to be closer to home, Ottaway fell in love with the environment of intellectual depth and academic discovery at Gettysburg College. He packed up, trekked to Pennsylvania—joining the Gettysburg community at the start of his sophomore year—and has felt in his element ever since.

“It was a good school, good location, and it was about the right distance from home,” Ottaway, a Hollidaysburg, Pa., native, said. “Gettysburg checked off all the boxes.”

Ottaway’s transition was not only smooth, but prosperous. Gettysburg’s liberal arts and sciences curriculum allowed him to pursue a political science major with a double minor in philosophy and music. Had Ottaway stayed at his previous school, he would not have been able to chase his intrinsic appetite for knowledge across multiple disciplines.

Gettysburg, Ottaway has learned, emboldens those looking to intersect intellectual curiosity and a desire to make an impact. Its environment of passionate, change-driven individuals aligns with his impact-oriented attitude, and a political science education provides him with the tools to shape the world.

“As an engineering major, my plan was to go into green technologies,” Ottaway explained. “I decided to change majors to political science and focus on things like activism and developing and advocating for progressive policies. I want to dedicate my life to making the world a better place—and political science is a way for me to do that.”

Throughout the college search process, Ottaway focused on two vital aspects of his education: academic and co-curricular offerings, including music. Gettysburg’s rigorous Sunderman Conservatory of Music program stood out to him. Once enrolled, he immediately joined the eight-person vocal ensemble Camerata, College Choir, and the low-voices a cappella group Drop the Octave. This semester, Ottaway also elected to live with like-minded music peers in Harmony House.

Casey Ottaway ’22

“Gettysburg is the perfect fit of academics and music,” Ottaway said. “My music experience here has been great. A lot of my closest friends here at Gettysburg I met through the music program. It’s introduced me to wonderful people and directors. I've had a lot of fun here.”

In addition to pursuing a conservatory-caliber education at a liberal arts school, Ottaway opened his mind to academic possibilities within his other minor, philosophy. Energized by the stimulating discourse in his political theory course, Ottaway felt drawn to try a philosophy course at Gettysburg. Ultimately, he thrived in the classroom.

“I felt at home in [class] discussions because my personal theories of morality are a huge driver of my behavior,” he said. “As that class progressed, I became more and more engrossed in the discussions we were having. I really enjoyed it.”

Ottaway has not only felt academically motivated at Gettysburg, but also inspired by faculty. The contagious energy of Gettysburg’s professors and their commitment to their students’ success even sparked an interest in Ottaway to consider a career in education upon graduation.

“It’s the ideal learning environment,” he said, noting the close connections he has made with his professors and classmates. “I think education is one of the strongest ways you can make an impact, and I really enjoy the atmosphere in the classes here at Gettysburg.”

Passion ultimately comes from a place of love and care—especially in Ottaway’s case. His family has instilled in him a strong sense of compassion, which drives his enthusiasm for using his talents for good.

“My family—my parents especially—taught me to love, and that has been the strongest driving force my entire life,” he said.

Every step of the way in his academic experience, Ottaway has remained dedicated to using his education to make a positive impact and incite meaningful change—and Gettysburg College has provided him the tools to achieve that goal.

Discover how you can chase your intellectual curiosity at Gettysburg.

By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos by Miranda Harple and courtesy of Casey Ottaway ’22
Posted: 03/01/21