STARs now Blazer Ambassadors

By Stefan Miller

Hood College’s STARs program, which provides campus tours to visitors, changed its title to Blazer Ambassadors during the 2015 fall semester to better represent itself.

The STARs program’s title was changed to Blazer Ambassadors entering the 2015 fall semester. The idea to change the STARs’ title came up during a discussion about changing the STARs workers’ uniforms.

The supervisor of the Blazer Ambassadors, Elizabeth Gomer said, “While talking about the possibility of changing our uniforms, we realized that the uniforms said STARs on the front, but a lot of people didn’t actually know what the STARs program was or what we do.”

Gomer said that she believes the new title of Blazer Ambassadors is more self-explanatory and represents what the program does.

She also said that she thought the new title was more formal and simply sounded better. “It just makes a lot more sense than STARs,” Gomer said, “It’s a much more fitting title.”

An ambassador is a person who represents or promotes something. The students that are a part of the Blazer Ambassadors do just that.

STARs stands for Student Team of Admission Representatives. It is a program that employs students to give campus tours to visitors.

The newly named Blazer Ambassadors program currently employs 50 student workers. The program for campus tours was originally known as Blazer Ambassadors, but this title changed to STARs in the late 1990s.

Hood College has always given campus tours, but in 2006, STARs began employing students to give the tours. It was also in 2006 that Senior Associate Director of Transfer Admission, Elizabeth Gomer, became the supervisor of the tour program that was then known as STARs. As supervisor, Gomer oversees and manages the program along with organizing tour dates.

Travis Schweizer, a sophomore and member of the Blazer Ambassadors, offered his opinion on the new title. Schweizer said the new title is more formal and said: “I like it because it sounds more professional and is self-explanatory. Nobody knew what I was talking about before when I told them I was a STAR.”

Schweizer said that he joined the program during the first semester of his freshman year, because he thought he could create a positive first impression on potential future students. “I enjoy it because I’m very outgoing and I have always loved meeting new people,” Schweizer said.

The sophomore blazer ambassador enjoys the new title and thinks it will give the program more of an identity on campus and that it may even cause more students to join.

Gretchen Nonemaker gets promotion

By Angela Vines

A Hood College student life staff member was chosen for the director of student engagement and orientation position over six other national applicants.

Gretchen Nonemaker, previously assistant director, was promoted earlier this year to director of student engagement and orientation. Nonemaker received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in social work from Elizabethtown College and a master’s degree in counseling/college student personnel from Shippensburg University. She has worked as a student affairs professional at five other colleges and universities.

After the resignation of Don Miller, Nonemaker acted as interim director for six months while Hood College preformed a nationwide search for an official replacement, from which she was ultimately chosen.

Hood decided to perform the search in order to ensure they had the best possible person for the position, however Nonemaker was encouraged to apply. She said: “It was an interesting process. My application was just like everyone else’s. It made me not take the job for granted.” She recalls having a phone interview with her colleague who was just in his office across campus.

Maya Gonzalez, a senior at Hood, works closely with Nonemaker as an orientation coordinator, the campus activities board series events chair, and the president of class of 2016 counsel. Gonzalez said: “Gretchen did the job for six months with no plan. She was capable. The process could have been much simpler if Hood had just promoted internally.”

Nonemaker said her main goal in her new position is to “make sure students have a say.” She says that this is their college experience and they should not just be engaged in the process, but should take full ownership of it. She wants students to do things because they want to, not just because that’s what has always been done. Nonemaker says: “Students should have ownership of their time and their college experience.”

Another main goal she has in this position is to transition to an environment of transparency, especially in regards to the “reality of the budget,” which has been a major issue in the past in regards to student organizations.

Gonzalez says she sees Nonemaker workings towards her goals. She personally has felt more in charge and responsible for her programs, organizations, and events, but enjoy having a “safety net” of a professional staff member as a mentor who is there to help. Gonzalez says; “I think it is going to be one of the best things to happen to this school this year. Letting student leaders be student leaders.”

Nonemaker is happy in her new position. It has given her the opportunity to be a “larger guiding force” in student engagement. She now has a more active administrative role, which has been great. However, it has been a learning curve with not having as much student organization contact. She said she “does not want to lose sight of the fact that she is here for the students.”

Nonemaker differs from the previous position holder because she believes they should do more than just play a part in things. She says, “Students should take ownership of their organizations and programs, even if they fail. Things will succeed because of their efforts.” Nonemaker wants students to have a say in how things are done.

Nonemaker’s predecessor Don Miller resigned late last year and is now director of orientation at Wright University in Dayton, Ohio.

Gonzalez says that Nonemaker is much more organized than the previous position holder and has an “open-door policy” which makes her easier to communicate with. She notes that things have been running noticeably smoother since Nonemaker took over the position.

Gonzalez is excited to see what Nonemaker does with the position the rest of this year and in years to come. She says; “She’s doing great. The positions was made for her. She really wants to help students and all the changed have been for the better.”

She believes that the whole college experience it incredibly important. She makes it clear that the reason she got into student engagement work is because fun things outside the classroom are a big part of maintaining a good balance and she wants to help promote that. “I try to be a good example of a good life-work balance for my staff and my students.”

Gretchen Nonemaker wants to encourage students to share with her how they feel. She says: “We want to know what’s good and what’s not good, what’s working and not. Let us know so that we can change things for the better and so that we can advise better. Let’s work together to make things better.” She encourages all students to come and speak with her if they have ideas. She wants to see organizations and programs move forward, grow and succeed.

New campus master plan

By Aliah Buford

Members of a planning committee of Hood decided on a new campus plan to be sent to the Board of Trustees for approval in October.

Vice President for Finance Charles Mann met and consulted with every department on campus, alumni and a few students to create a new campus plan for the next 10 years. The campus master plan will be used along with a new strategic plan to improve both the campus and the college itself.

The campus plan serves as a structural road map of the potential renovations and improvements experienced by the college over a 10-year period. It is a blueprint of what the campus should like, where new buildings should be placed and what needs to be renovated or added.

According to administrators, the campus follows a layout that should be stuck to when deciding where to build new structures. The northern end is recreation and athletics, the middle is residential and the southern end is academics.

Mann said it is important to consider the layout when planning because it would not make sense to put an academic building on the north side of the campus. The Campus Master Plan must account for the needs of the college as well as keep it organized and easy to navigate.

Currently the building plan is a draft that will be finalized when college administrators decide on a new strategic plan.

Faculty and staff and students all contributed thoughts and design ideas for the project. Mann said that he’s had a good committee and positive feedback from the forums. The draft for the plan reflects everyone’s needs and concerns about the campus’s structure.

The campus master plan has three phases, according to Mann.

The first phase is preparing for growth, which is where the plan is now. This phase involves the planning of where to put new buildings, what buildings to remove, and where put displaced offices.

The second phase is implementing the growth. When all of the planning is done, this phase is the actual construction.

The final phase is about looking to the future. All of the aspects of the plan need to ensure the improvement of the campus for students and staff in the long run.

“I think it’s solid and shows the commitment of the institution for future growth and future excellence,” said Alex Connor, a resident assistant representative on the planning committee. His job was voicing some of the concerns and wants of the student body.

Connor proposed that the new recreation and wellness center be built where the softball field currently is. He added that he feels the new plan will “bring life” to the campus as well as make it more attractive and modern.

The plan includes several additional buildings, parking lots and renovations to existing buildings.

Music at Whitaker – Yay or Nay?



music in whit

Although having music play daily in the Whitaker Campus Center is unprecedented at Hood College, it has gained a positive reception from students at Hood.

According to an anonymous survey of 164 students, 95 said they would like to continue having music played at the campus center. In contrast, 25 students said they would want music gone entirely.

Upon answering “yes,” one student said, “I think it’s more fun that music is played at Whitaker. It enhances the social life.”

Another student said, “Yes, it’s nice, but at the same time there are people trying to study.”

Some students did not have black-and-white responses. 30 students said they did not care either way on the issue. 8 suggested that the station be switched to Hood’s own Blazer Radio, while 6 said a cut-off time for the music would make studying at Whitaker easier.

Noise was a common complaint among those who answered negatively. Those attempting to study in the later hours of the day mentioned that it can be difficult to concentrate with the music playing all night.

“I have friends who are commuters, and they can’t study in here anymore due to the music,” a student who took the survey said. “Music just adds to the noise.”

A sizeable section of students were apathetic towards the music regardless of noise or station.

“I like music, but I don’t care,” a student said.

Time will tell if music will become a staple at Whitaker or a thing of the past. For now, it seems that it has made a positive impression on the student community at Hood.