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Student Snapshot: Peter Guma ’24

Peter Guma '24

Starting college in the midst of a global pandemic wasn’t always easy, but Dickinson’s strong sense of community made all the difference for Peter Guma ’24. He’s gotten involved in numerous student clubs, made the most of faculty mentorships and worked over the summer as a Presidential Fellow. Below, he discusses his college search, First-Year Seminar, fellowship and more.

Hometown:

Vienna, Virginia.

Majors:

Mathematics and Russian.

Clubs and organizations:

Presidential Fellows, Russian Club, Gaming Club, Archaeology Club, Math & Computer Science Club and Dickinson Christian Fellowship.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

John Dickinson Scholarship, Alpha Lambda Delta, Western Pennsylvania Olympiada of Spoken Russian (gold medalist) and Dean’s List.

On choosing Dickinson:

My mom helped me compile a list of colleges I wanted to visit over spring break of my junior year, and Dickinson ended up being the last stop on our itinerary. I immediately fell in love with the campus and its architecture. When I returned to campus unannounced in February 2020, Associate Professor of Chemistry Rebecca Connor and Associate Professor of Russian Alyssa DeBlasio graciously took the time to talk about their respective disciplines. The friendly and intellectually stimulating environment I found as a prospective student sealed the deal.

Favorite place on campus:

I love sitting in the Adirondack chairs on the Academic Quad. The study spaces in the library are also good for getting work done.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

The Cuban pork sandwich.

Best thing about my major:

Mathematics and Russian are an unusual combination that I could only pursue at a liberal-arts institution like Dickinson. Going into my first year, I knew I wanted to explore my interest in both STEM and languages in depth. In both disciplines, the best part is the professors.

Favorite class/learning experience so far:

Puzzles and Paradoxes with Associate Professor of Philosophy Jeff Engelhardt. I had previously taken a high-school class in epistemology, but I never knew how fun studying philosophy could be. The group discussions I had with my classmates were very lively and thought-provoking.

Favorite movie:

Probably one of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Favorite professor: 

My academic advisors, Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Data Analytics Eddie Tu and Associate Professor of Russian Elena Duzs, are both terrific. They introduced me to Dickinson’s math and Russian programs. Their advice has guided my course selection and helped me consider where to study abroad. Taking the First-Year Seminar Natural Disasters and You with [Joseph Priestley Professor of Natural Philosophy] Marcus Key was also an important experience for me. Professor Key strengthened my writing and presenting skills and served as my advisor until I declared my majors.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a chemist.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I am open to working in the public or private sector, preferably using my quantitative and/or linguistic skills. A job that combines math and Russian would be ideal, but I can anticipate many opportunities to apply my liberal-arts education throughout my career and life.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

In the year I have been at Dickinson, one of the most important things I have learned is how to have a social life outside of the classroom. Attending meetings for Gaming Club and Archaeology Club kept me engaged during a remote semester before I got the chance to meet people on campus. Being a part of these communities has been just as meaningful to me as my interactions with the Dickinson faculty.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I can play the ukulele! I started as a high-school junior and have played it ever since.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

Earning my Eagle Scout Award. Through building a 25-foot-long fence along a ravine for a local neighborhood, I learned the importance of taking initiative to create a lasting impact on one’s community. The project was the culmination of years of involvement with my troop, including camping trips, patrol competitions and rank advancement. I am still involved with my troop as an assistant scoutmaster.

Best thing about my Dickinson experience so far:

I have really enjoyed getting to know my peers and professors, even during a year of remote classes. Dickinson’s tight-knit and welcoming community has so much to offer! Meeting students from different stages in college has been a valuable experience that I would not trade for anything.

About my fellowship:

As a Presidential Fellow, I worked full-time for Dickinson this summer. I contacted a wide variety of alumni, both in terms of graduation year and interests. The fellowship enabled me to listen to 65 Dickinsonians (as of early August 2021) and share their thoughts about the college’s future. It has been a great experience to build my interview skills and network with alumni. The connections I have formed through this program have further strengthened my ties to the Dickinson community and have the potential to shape my career path after graduation.

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Published September 16, 2021

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