Education Without Boundaries
As a high school senior, Charlie Leonard had already decided on a college, so when his mom asked him to go on one last tour to Goucher, he reluctantly agreed. But the reluctance was short lived — something just clicked for Leonard the minute he walked onto the college's grounds.
"It's a very beautiful campus; it's not just some city campus with streets and commotion," he said. "The atmosphere was really laid back, calm, and relaxed. I thought, 'I could definitely see myself here.'"
Leonard '13 thinks the peaceful campus masks an active community, one full of purpose and passion. "At Goucher there's a lot more awareness," he said. "People at Goucher are more aware of food crises or water crises ... biofuels, HIV/AIDS." In fact one of his teammates from the swim team is starting a ONE Campaign, an effort to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty. "It's nice; you can kind of bond through that and be more aware of global situations in general."
Leonard also believes that peers who look outward to help others are also more likely to look inward to ensure a considerate, responsive atmosphere among Goucher's 1,450 undergraduates. "I actually find community everywhere at Goucher," he said. "Everybody's willing to talk; as long as you're friendly, you can find friends everywhere here."
As a community assistant (CA) for a residence hall, Leonard works with staff to strengthen the college's community by developing programs and providing services to fellow students. He said one of his favorite experiences as a CA so far wasn't a game, presentation, or charity event. Instead it was his hall's response to a housekeeper's complaint about residents leaving trash in the halls. After a "house meeting" Leonard gathered his residents, mostly first-year students, and showed them the letter from the employee. The group decided to take responsibility for regularly picking up trash and throwing it out. "I liked this because it taught everyone that you have to look after yourself and others," he said. "It also developed some spirit and bonding with the new members of the floor."
He said he was inspired to apply to the CA position after his experience his first year. "I had a really good community assistant my freshman year," he said. "I wanted to be there for other students." Through his time on campus, Leonard has also been involved in Goucher Christian Fellowship, the Salsa Club, and the swim team.
As a pre-med student, many of Leonard's classes relate to physics, math, chemistry, and, of course, biology. Across these subjects, he says he has been impressed with his professors' leadership, knowledge, and detail-oriented teaching. Leonard said that during a final exam in cellular biology the professor noticed one of his classmate's absence and had another student call him. The panicked student made the final and had the chance to pass the class.
It's that level of detail and interaction that Leonard finds valuable. "It does help that you get a really personal relationship with your professor," he said.
Beyond the courses for his biology major, Leonard has also stretched himself academically to fulfill general education requirements, tackling Spanish and even ballroom dancing. "You might not like them in the moment, but looking back, it benefits you," he said of the "gen ed" requirements.
To complete another important requirement at Goucher, Leonard plans on participating in a study abroad in Denmark over the summer. "I think it's a huge benefit to the campus and the culture as a whole," he said of Goucher's study-abroad mandate. He said he's excited to be one of the people who are changed when they come back to campus with a more globally oriented perspective. "It's what college should do for you ... . You should have a different perspective and grow. If you don't get that, get your money back."