Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Elise G. ’09 finished her graduation requirements for her English Literature major in December, effectively graduating a semester early. But Swarthmore’s intoxicating mixture of stress and opportunity has kept her around campus this semester.
Elise is keeping herself (almost) as busy as she was as a student, wearing the various hats of Student Activities intern, or “funtern” as she’s christened herself, RA of Willets 1st South, and even auditing Professor Weinstein’s Modernism seminar… because she missed the stress of being a student. Yes, that’s right, the stress. The Daily Gazette’s Elizabeth Hipple sat down with Elise to find out what it’s like to be a Swattie…minus the work.
DG: So why did you decide to stay on for another semester?
EG: Myrt was looking for someone to replace Paury and she knew my plan was to finish up in December so she asked if I could fill in, as someone who’s familiar with how things work at Swarthmore. And I decided that I wouldn’t mind sticking around for another semester and posing as a student. It’s been great.
DG: What is the seminar that you’re auditing?
EG: Since my freshman year, I’ve wanted to take Prof. Weinstein’s Modernism seminar and when I decided to finish up early that was the one reason, well, the biggest reason, why I was not happy… so I pretty much begged Prof. Weinstein to audit his seminar and luckily there was enough space, so I get Wednesdays off, I get to prepare for seminar in the afternoon. It’s nice to sort of be a student again. I didn’t realize I would miss it so much.
DG: What is it that, to your surprise, you’ve missed?
EG: I guess the [laughter], I don’t want to say stress, but there’s something to the stress of getting reading done. I think just flexing those muscles. Class discussions in seminar are some of the most intense academic discussions you’ll have.
DG: Have you had a favorite moment or favorite project that you’ve worked on so far?
EG: I think the Parlor Parties have been most rewarding so far because it’s a good chance for different student groups to get the word out about what they’re doing and they’re always really grateful for that opportunity… I’ve been able to express my creativity through parlor parties; there have been a couple of weeks when student groups have not been able to host and so just spur of the moment I’ve had to come up with ideas for themes …. The “Puppy Love” Parlor Party was sort of a last minute thing where the administrators brought their dogs into Parrish. I didn’t realize that would be such a therapeutic thing for students but we’re definitely going to do that again during finals since that was such a success.
DG: How is it to be at Swarthmore and your classmates, ’09, are still here, still students and you’re still here but you’re not really a student, how has that been for you?
EG: It’s weird sometimes because I’ll be sitting in my room or walking around campus and thinking, why don’t I feel so stressed? And so…not being in student mode all the time is sometimes strange because I’m still in this place where I was a student for four years. Something else that I didn’t expect was sort of being on the other side of the divide between students and administration. That’s been interesting because I guess I didn’t realize how much went on behind the scenes of my student experience. And in that way it’s been very much a learning experience for me. And it’s interesting to sort of see the underpinnings of the Swarthmore experience.
DG: Plans for after this semester, dare I ask?
EG: I’m hoping that by method of osmosis, since my office is a couple of doors down from Career Services, that I’ll just have a job somehow after May. That’s pretty much the extent of my forward thinking right now.
DG: What job do you hope might make its way over by osmosis?
EG: I think I could continue in higher ed, especially because there are cases where you can get…decreased tuition by working at a school that you want to go to…and take classes. Right now I’m not thinking about graduate school, but…I could see that as a future plan. I’m really just trying to enjoy this semester and not think too much and worry too much about what’s ahead.