Challenge and Fit

Ruthie Strauss '18

Ruthie Strauss ’18 

Growing up in a town with a huge university, Ruthie Strauss ’18 knew that one size didn’t fit all. She found a home at Dickinson, where she’s helping others do the same, as a trip leader, tour guide, first-year mentor and vice chair of a club that brings national entertainment acts to campus.


Physics, with minors in mathematics and German.

Clubs and organizations:  

MOB (vice chair), first-year mentor, WILD (trip leader), Tritons (admissions volunteer) and Alpha Lambda Delta.


John Dickinson Scholar.

Favorite book:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Favorite movie:


Favorite place on campus:

The Office of Student Leadership & Campus Engagement (SLCE).

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… either a teacher or president of the United States.

On choosing a major:

I’ve always loved math and science, so I knew from my first semester that I was destined to live in Tome. I started off taking Workshop Physics my freshman year and absolutely fell in love with the Dickinson physics department. I love the challenging classes and my tight-knit physics family—I couldn’t be happier with my major!

On choosing Dickinson:

Growing up in a town with a huge university made me realize that bigger isn’t always better. I wanted to go to a small liberal-arts school where I could have close relationships with my professors and be able to recognize faces around campus. Dickinson was the first college I toured, and nothing else compared to the friendly atmosphere and genuine interest that the staff and faculty have in the well-being of the students here. I felt at home right away, and, two years later, my younger sister has decided to join the Dickinson family as well!

Favorite class so far:

Last semester I took Theoretical Physics with [Associate] Professor [of Physics & Astronomy] David Jackson. It was an incredibly difficult class, in terms of both content and workload. Most weeks, my classmates and I spent upwards of 10 hours together, working on the three or four homework problems we were assigned. It was frustrating, but we learned a heck of a lot about theoretical physics and mathematical methods, and we also bonded together as a major class.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

You really can do it all. It’s just a matter of your dedication and whether or not you like to sleep at night.

Little-known hobby or talent:

When I was in third grade I sang Gayla Peevey’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” at my elementary school talent show … Does that count?

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

… Albert Einstein. We’d talk about physics in German. It would be beautiful.

In a perfect world …

… I would eat noodles for every meal.

About my two leadership roles:

This fall was my third round of Pre-O and Orientation. Being a WILD Trip Leader and First-Year Mentor has been a hilarious adventure. From getting lost in the woods together to making silly Valentine’s Day presents for my FIG (First-Year Interest Group) kids to realizing that I now respond any time someone yells “Mom!” across Britton Plaza, I’ve loved my time as a mentor. I also volunteer as a Triton in the admissions office, so being able to follow students’ journeys from their first visit all the way up through the end of their first year has been really neat. Transitioning to college isn’t easy for everyone, so being able to give back and share some of my knowledge with the newest class each year has been both fun and really rewarding!

I’ve been involved with MOB since my first semester at Dickinson and have had some truly incredible experiences because of it. I’ve eaten dinner with RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad, taken selfies with Hoodie Allen, and ordered Starbucks with Echosmith. Each week, I probably dedicate a solid 10-plus hours to planning, shopping for and running events on campus. It’s a busy time, but it’s taught me a lot about time management, event planning, poster design and marketing, and how to order enough mac and cheese from Dining Services to feed 300 people at 10 p.m. on a Friday. My MOB family is a crazy-diverse and talented group of individuals, and there’s no one else I’d rather clean the Social Hall with at 2 a.m. 

Most important part of my experience on campus:

My experience at Dickinson has been shaped by the relationships I have with Dickinson staff members. I don’t know where I’d be without people like Jessee Vasold, Josh Eisenberg, Annie Kondas, Anna McGinn, Tara Fischer, Molly Boegel and Michael Montgomery to listen to my crazy stories and give me advice in tricky situations. Some of the most important people you’ll meet in college are the behind-the-scenes people who keep everything running. You’ll plan events and run meetings with them, babysit their children, go out on lunch dates together and bother them at work when you’re bored. These people are so important and will be some of the greatest friends you’ll make during your college experience. Cherish them.

Learn more

Published January 6, 2017