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Student Snapshot: Grace Gontarek ’22

Grace Gontarek,

Grace Gontarek ’22 (environmental studies, political science) discusses what she loves about both of her majors—the people, the classes, the extracurricular activities and the ways she’s felt welcomed and challenged. She also recalls her favorite professor, her internship with the EPA and more.


Collegeville, Pennsylvania.


Environmental studies and political science.

Clubs and organizations:

Dickinson College Jazz Ensemble, Pi Beta Phi and first-year mentor (2019-20 academic year).


Benjamin Rush Scholarship, Trustee Scholarship and Dean’s List.

Favorite book:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Favorite movie:

School of Rock.

Best thing about my majors:

Both the environmental studies and political science departments are incredibly supportive, passionate and inspiring. The faculty and students of both departments have made me feel welcome and cared for, while also giving me flexibility to mesh the two areas of study according to my unique interests. Both departments capitalize on student involvement and engagement. There is always an interesting event or activity offered by the two departments, so it is often hard to choose which ones to attend!

On choosing Dickinson:

I chose to attend Dickinson because of its tight-knit community and focus on global, liberal-arts education. I was also impressed by Dickinson’s commitment to sustainability, which has only grown stronger since I first arrived on Dickinson’s campus.

Favorite places on campus:

Rubendall Recital Hall, The Trellis.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Gold Bars (dessert).

Favorite professor:

Associate Professor of Political Science David O’Connell. Professor O’Connell truly loves teaching and always brings a high level of energy to every single class. No lecture of his ever feels like a “lecture” because he always has something interesting to say and has fun while doing it. He goes above and beyond when it comes to making time for each of his students. Professor O’Connell has challenged me to produce some of my best work in college while consistently supporting me every step of the way. He is incredibly smart and inspires me to one day be as knowledgeable as him!

Little-known hobby/talent:

I can swing dance.

About my internship:

During the last several months, I have been interning as a student trainee in life science with Region 3 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I have been working in the State and Watersheds Partnership section of the Water Division within Region 3. This internship appealed to me because it focuses on water protection and policy. Through this internship, I have learned effective watershed management strategies and regulations that help protect our waters. I have learned the value of collaboration and goal setting as tools for success, especially in the context of ensuring that our waters are safe.

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

… Toni Morrison.

Best thing about my Dickinson experience:

Having the opportunity to meet so many different people who all share the same common sense of motivation and dedication to learning.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published December 8, 2020