4/30/2014 Peter Durantine

Ariel Eland '14: Kindled Her Spirit In Liberal Arts

  • Senior Ariel Eland says her experience at Franklin & Marshall College involved giving much academically and personally, but getting much in return that enriched her mind. (Photo by Melissa Hess) 

A profile of Ariel Eland '14 is part IV of "The Class of 2014," a series on the academic and extracurricular interests of graduating seniors.

Hometown: West Windsor, N.J.

Academic Major: Public Policy and Sociology

As she prepares to leave for New Orleans this summer to teach secondary math for Teach For America, Ariel Eland fondly recalls her experience at Franklin & Marshall College, the opportunities it provided her, and the accomplishments she achieved.

"I have put in a lot these last four years," the public policy and sociology major said. "I've realized many rewarding experiences from it."

Eland said her academic career and her extracurricular pursuits epitomize the liberal arts spirit. She enjoyed an array of subjects and experiences that enriched her mind.

"I had been searching for a small liberal arts college, not too far from home," Eland said. "When I arrived I knew this place is where I would have a lot of opportunities."

One of the first opportunities she sought was playing in the College's orchestra and philharmonia. Eland has been a bassoonist for nine years.

"I wanted to attend a school where I could be in music ensembles without being a music major, but I wanted to be challenged in my music, and I definitely found that here" she said. "For me, the biggest draw to the ensemble is Dr. [Brian] Norcross. He's really inspiring. He helped me connect to my instrument and why I play it."

To prepare for her career as a teacher, Eland took in her senior year a paid internship through F&M Works to help students at local McCaskey High School prepare for the SAT. She's in the process of getting certified as a math teacher. "I always enjoyed math. It's just not what I wanted to major in," she said.

As a sophomore, Eland organized a College club, Active Minds, a chapter of a national organization designed to promote awareness and educate the campus and local community about mental health issues.

"I started the club because my life had been touched by a number of suicides and I wanted to bring awareness to the issue," Eland said. "Also, there was just a general need for mental health resources."

As the club's co-president, Eland organized an annual 5K run, to raise funds and further awareness. She expects the club to endure. The president for the 2014-15 academic year is Patrick McGinnis.

Eland, in the fall semester of her junior year, studied abroad in Brazil, where she "fell in love with the music."

As the 2013 recipient of F&M's Nolt Music Award grant, used for any musically enriching project, Eland was encouraged by Assistant Professor of Music Sylvia Alajaji to return to that Latin America country. Over winter break of her senior year, Eland conducted interviews for her project, "Studying Popular Music in Brazil from the Voice of the Musicians."

"Brazilian music is a case of how Brazilians identify with their country," said Eland, who traveled to two cities, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, to conduct her research. "The musicians portray their regional identity. I was just taken by the complexity of the music and the passion."

Eland looks forward to life in New Orleans, in part because of the music. "I'm really excited to take in the jazz down there," she said.

As any liberal arts graduate would, she considers other possibilities, even a music career. "If I get down there and love teaching, I'll stay with it, but I'm leaving my options open." 

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