AHA program introduces new students to Linfield and more

Fourteen new students are being introduced to Linfield College life through the lens of exploring art, Oregon history, eclipses and, of course, murder ballads. AHA (Arts and Humanities in Action) is one of four pre-orientation programs that 67 entering students are participating in right now, a week before classes start for the 2017-18 school year.

The AHA program shares some basic characteristics with the other Linfield pre-orientation programs. Students work with faculty and student mentors, connect with fellow participants and settle into campus life before classes begin. The programs “allow them to be focused on one thing for a set amount of time,” said Anna Keesey, assistant professor of English. “And they make amazing things!”

AHA students watch the 2017 eclipse at Linfield College

The AHA program this year is focusing on the case of Charity Lamb, the first woman convicted of murder in the Oregon Territory. “Students will examine primary documents and inventory the possessions of the prison,” Keesey said. “They’ll hear how philosophers might talk about the day of the murder. From a professor of religion, they’ll hear the role of women in the 19th century.”  And at Cold Comfort Farm, the home of Keesey and professor of biology J. Christopher Gaiser, students will listen to murder ballads performed by David Sumner, professor of English.

“There’s a lot of exposure to a lot of different disciplines—religious studies, history, creative writing, philosophy,” says Josh Harper ’18, one of the group’s four peer mentors. “Students just out of high school might not know any of those disciplines except history; for instance, they might not know that you can study religion academically.” Harper has been a peer mentor for AHA for the past three years, when the program debuted.

But the program isn’t all murder and interdisciplinary research. Students also got a session with the Career Development team on career discovery and exploration. Students brainstormed different mission statements for their careers, looking to create connections between their values, skills, interests and personalities; a critical skill in an economy where the average 38-year-old has had 10 to 14 different jobs.

Career development doesn’t stop with this session, however. Through AHA, students can take a January Term career exploration course, for sophomores and juniors who major in arts and humanities disciplines; as well as apply for the AHA internship program, where they would receive a $2000 stipend to take an unpaid internship, as well as receive leadership and career development training and faculty mentorship.

Other pre-orientation programs include First CLAS, a service-learning and leadership program; iFOCUS, an interdisciplinary science hands-on laboratory and field experience; and the SOIL Project, which teaches students what it means to live sustainably at Linfield and in the McMinnville community.

Orientation for new students continues through the weekend at Linfield. Classes begin on Monday, Aug. 28.