Alex Jarnot '17

Why did you choose Hood College?

I chose Hood because it is a good distance away from home and it is close to places like Fort Detrick where there are opportunities for research and experience. I also chose Hood because it is a small school so the class sizes are small, and because Frederick is a gorgeous place to live.

Have you participated in an internship or leadership opportunity in the local area or on campus?

Yes, I participated in an internship through the chemistry department for a summer working on designing labs to be used by students at all class levels. I have also volunteered downtown at the soup kitchen and food pantry.

If so, what did you gain from that experience?

Living on campus over the summer gave me time to explore more of downtown Frederick and the surrounding areas, and made me more self-reliant. I would work during the day and then be free to go to the gym, work on research in my room, or go fishing.

What is your most memorable experience at Hood?

My most memorable experience at Hood is probably the time when my friends and I went to Cunningham Falls one weekend and hiked all around the park. We visited the falls and climbed around on the rocks for a while and ate lunch, and then did a nice hike out to Chimney Rock. On the way we passed another huge set of rocks, where I found an old water bottle down in one of the cracks in the rocks. The view at Chimney Rock was incredible and my friend and I climbed out to the actual overlook, which was an adventure in itself. The whole day was one adventure after another, and we had a great time just making it up as we went.

What do you value most about your relationships with your professors?

I value the personal connection that you develop with professors. Having that connection with professors opens up so many more opportunities for yourself, not just for your professional goals but also to make life long friendships and connections.

What is something that surprised you about Hood?

When I first came to Hood, I didn’t realize how many student organizations there were on campus. There is a club for everything, and if there wasn’t one for something I wanted then I had the ability to make that club, which I thought was awesome.

What was your most rewarding class or academic experience at Hood? Why?

I think one of my most rewarding classes was Gothic Literature. I signed up for it because it looked interesting, and I ended up loving it. The professor, Ellie Williams, was incredible and had a very unorthodox approach to teaching, which I enjoyed. She put a lot of emphasis on creative student projects, which forced the class to think outside of the box in order to get a good grade. I enjoyed collaborating with the other students who were also excited about the class to put together a polished project. Ellie also took us on several field trips, my favorite was when she blindfolded us and led us to Brodbeck Hall where she had a professional pianist playing Halloween music as we entered. We then sat blindfolded and listened to an entire concert of music ranging from the Nightmare before Christmas soundtrack to experimental “music from nightmares”.

When you aren’t in class what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

My favorite thing to do outside of class is to go to the ceramics studio and make pottery. I have been a potter for 6 years and I have made good friends in the graduate ceramics studio where they have given me a small space to keep my work. I can go in and work on projects or just make things like mugs or bowls. In addition to making the pieces we often fire the outdoor kilns, my favorite being the wood kiln. Firing the wood kiln is like being at a bonfire for 30+ hours and at the end you get to open it up and see the finished pieces, which is a lot like Christmas.

What is your favorite campus event?

My favorite Hood event is Policies for Dollars. I love getting the freshmen excited and seeing the upperclassmen coming out to support them, and it’s a great excuse to take a break from homework and go be crazy with your friends for a few hours.

How has the honors program benefitted you?

The Honors Program has offered me many opportunities for new experiences than any other program I have been a part of at Hood. The program is always offering trips to places like Cirque Du Soleil, DC, New York, and many more. Without these opportunities I would probably never go to some of these places on my own, and having them offered by the program is very convenient.

How do you think the program will benefit you in the future?

What kinds of things has the program helped prepare you to do in the future? I think one of the most beneficial things the program has offered me has been the departmental honors project. The Honors Program offered me the chance to do an honors chemistry project, and it has been a great learning experience. My project is on the atmosphere inside of Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park, California, and is a continuation of my research project that I worked on the previous summer at my NASA internship in California. In order to continue the project I coordinated a team at Sequoia to take 30 air samples from inside the cave at locations I specified. The samples were then sent back to the Rowland-Blake Lab at the University of California, Irvine, where my mentor from the summer analyzed them. The data was then sent to me so that I could interpret it and see if the results matched what we predicted from the summer. This experience taught me management and leadership skills, and how to work efficiently and effectively under a deadline.

How has the program improved your experience as a Hood student?

The program has opened up more doors for me than if I was not in the program, and has given me the opportunity to take classes I would not normally take as a chemistry major. If I were not in the program I would probably take the required core classes and then focus solely on science and math classes for the rest of my time in college. However, in the Honors program you are required to take honors classes that are vastly more interesting than some of the normal core classes, and also are in subjects that the normal student may never study under. This has made my class schedule much more interesting and eye-opening.

What special academic, co-curricular, social and enrichment opportunities does the Honors Program provide (perhaps that you might not have otherwise)?

The Honors program offers several extracurricular activities in addition to their co-curricular activities. There are a few special dinners that the program hosts, and the food is always amazing. It is a great time to see your friends and hang out with professors while eating some good food. The honors classes are also very interdisciplinary and often classes will go and sit in on other classes or events, which is something that you almost never do in regular classes, at least not in the sciences. Also, the honors practicum is a course that gives students the chance to go out into the community and volunteer and be active in the community rather than going to a lecture every class. You still have to do papers and a presentation, but it is much more enriching to go out and actually be active in the Frederick community than to just sit and talk about a book or something of that nature.

What is the best/most distinctive/most memorable part of Hood’s Honors Program?

My favorite memory from the Honors Program is probably when we took the trip on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. It was a gorgeous afternoon to spend riding on an amazing old train with my best friends, and we had a wonderful time. My other favorite memory was the time Dr. Wright took the Identity in North Africa class to Marrakech restaurant in DC for an evening. We had a great time together as a class and the food was delicious!

What’s your advice to future Honors Program students?

My advice would be to always go to the Honors dinners, and to try to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that the program gives you as possible. You will be so glad that you did, and your time at Hood will be much better for it.