5/01/2018 Staff Writer

Senior Spotlight: ‘A Bond Built Solely on Exploring the Unknown Together’

As they prepare for their May 12 Commencement ceremony, Franklin & Marshall seniors look back at their four years on campus—and what's next.

Name: John Combs III

Major: Physics

Hometown: Philadelphia

Activities at F&M: Grundy Observatory technician and treasurer; Physics Department lab technician and assistant department coordinator; Schnader Hall House Advisor ('16-'17)

What has been your most memorable moment or time here at F&M? My first time going to the observatory by myself. I nervously trekked through 20 minutes of Lancaster suburban darkness with a Canon camera in my backpack. Once there, it was just me, the two telescopes and a Gil Scott Heron playlist. I opened the roof, pointed the telescopes up, attached the camera to the back of the 16-inch scope, and took as many shots as I desired of anything I found even remotely interesting. After about 50 shots, I sat down on the ladder elevating me to the eyepiece and just gazed up and then looked around. It was the first time I felt in control of my own destiny. I honestly felt like a king. 

  • "Meeting folks from various backgrounds, and seeing the look of astonishment, wonder and envy when they look through a telescope for the first time in their life, is overwhelming," F&M senior John Combs says. "A bond built solely on exploring the unknown is forged in that moment and I swear it’s stronger than any contemporary belief." "Meeting folks from various backgrounds, and seeing the look of astonishment, wonder and envy when they look through a telescope for the first time in their life, is overwhelming," F&M senior John Combs says. "A bond built solely on exploring the unknown is forged in that moment and I swear it’s stronger than any contemporary belief." Image Credit: Deb Grove

What did you enjoy most about your time at the College? The observatory helped me learn a lot about myself. Yet, meeting folks from various backgrounds, and seeing the look of astonishment, wonder and envy when they look through a telescope for the first time in their life, is overwhelming. A bond built solely on exploring the unknown is forged in that moment and I swear it’s stronger than any contemporary belief.

What advice would you give to rising seniors? Take risks, but be smart about them! Don't forget that life still exists outside of college. The more you do now to prepare for it, the bigger the payoff later.

What are your plans for after graduation? I'll be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and pursuing a master's degree in aerospace engineering.

  • As a physics major, Combs is F&M's  Grundy Observatory technician and treasurer. As a physics major, Combs is F&M's Grundy Observatory technician and treasurer. Image Credit: Deb Grove
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