Students in Action

Rachel Harbeitner

Eldersburg, MD

Rachel Harbeitner
Major: Marine Science and Spanish
Tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a unique Eckerd student?

I am currently a junior. I am involved in everything I can fit into a single day and more. I am a Student Ambassador, a tour guide for prospective students, and I am the ECOS (Eckerd College Organization of Students) Vice President of Academic Affairs. This means I am the student-faculty liaison, sponsoring events and lectures. I am also involved with student research, getting my start as a freshman with the Marine Science Freshman Research Program, and am a student member of the NAS (Natural Sciences Collegium) Senate. I love being involved and staying constantly busy, but this is difficult with all of my work for classes. To reduce my stress, I just take all of my work outside. It's much easier to stay relaxed when I can do homework on the beach or even on the picnic table outside of my dorm.

What sorts of things are you interested in, and how do those relate to your decision to attend Eckerd?

My decision to attend Eckerd was based on looking for a school with a marine science major. I also wanted a small school where the interactions with professors are very individual. Eckerd was an easy decision especially since it's located in the South, where it is always warm, and it's on the water. I love being outside, and only Eckerd has a beach on campus and picnic tables scattered all over.

The first year of college can have a profound affect on the other 3 years; what was the defining moment of your Autumn Term experience and/or freshman year?

My entire Autumn Term experience had a profound effect on my first year at Eckerd. I really enjoyed taking one class for the first three weeks and participating in the daily events both on campus and around the St. Pete area. I loved the Kon Tiki raft race, the trip to Ft. DeSoto and Dalí Museum. By the time the rest of the students arrived on campus, I felt like I had already been at Eckerd for years.

Where is the best place to hang out on campus?

Triton's Pub and Kappa field are the best hang out spots on campus. There is always something happening in the pub. Kappa field is perfect for everything, whether it's to watch the men's rugby team, to play ultimate Frisbee, to spend time in the sun during a free afternoon, or to lie out and watch the stars at night. The newest space on campus is the coffeehouse. This is going to become a popular spot for students 24 hours a day.

Eckerd is recognized as a College That Changes Lives (book by Loren Pope). How has EC changed your life?

Eckerd has changed my life. I have had so many opportunities because of my experiences here. While I constantly have homework to do for both of my majors, I don't feel nearly as stressed as I would if I wasn't able to do my homework outdoors. Eckerd is so laid back and relaxed that I have become more relaxed as an individual, not forcing myself to adhere to a strict schedule all of the time. Life happens and learning how to go with the flow has had an impact on my life. Through Eckerd, I have had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands. I immediately fell in love with the tropics and am planning to go back soon: Roatan, Honduras for Winter Term 2010 and back to Costa Rica during summer 2010. I was influenced by each of these cultures and they shaped my life.

Who is a typical Eckerd student?

The typical Eckerd Student is an open-minded, free-spirited individual with a strong commitment to help others. Everyone is extremely friendly, walking around barefoot or with flip-flops, and has an "island time" mentality.

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