5/09/2013 Chris Karlesky

Phil Ehrig '13: Academic, College House Bonds Define F&M Experience

  • Phil Ehrig '13 formed close bonds with fellow members of Brooks College House and several F&M professors. (Photo by Melissa Hess)

A profile of Phil Ehrig '13 is part IV of "Faces of the Class of 2013," a series on the academic and extracurricular interests of graduating seniors.

Hometown: Emmaus, Pa.
Academic Majors: History, German Language & Literature

Days before his graduation from Franklin & Marshall College, Phil Ehrig '13 thought back to his decision to apply to F&M. The Allentown-area native remembered waiting until the summer before his senior year in high school to begin his college-search process -- later than most of his friends -- but he knew exactly what he wanted.

"I wanted to work closely with faculty and get to know professors," Ehrig said. "I heard about F&M's high ranking in terms of faculty accessibility, and had a good feel when I visited campus. I applied early decision."

Several years and two academic majors later, Ehrig could write a book about the individualized experience at F&M. During the summer of 2012, he participated in the College's Hackman Scholars program with Professor of History and American Studies Louise Stevenson, supporting her latest book project on Abraham Lincoln. He served as a preceptor in Professor of German Cecile Zorach's "German Secrets" seminar. And he developed academic bonds with numerous professors in the Department of History and Department of German and German Studies.

Ehrig's experiences with professors inspired him to organize an event earlier this year with fellow history majors to encourage first-year students and sophomores to get the most out of their relationships with faculty members.

"I've benefitted from the faculty so much that I wanted to invite [first-years] and sophomores to talk to history majors," Ehrig said. "It was an event for students, by students. We said, 'this is what the department is really like,' and encouraged them to get to know faculty. Our professors are completely approachable."

Ehrig also formed close bonds with fellow members of Brooks College House, the place he calls "home" at F&M. A member of the Brooks government since his first year, he served as judicial chair for the past two years and also was a house adviser.

"The College House system at F&M helped give me a sense of identity," Ehrig said. "I'm proud to be in Brooks. I feel like I've been surrounded by greatness in my house, with so many people doing terrific things." Ehrig cited fellow Brooks College House members Akbar Hossain '13, who won a Truman Scholarship and worked in the White House; Ali Penfield '13, who won the Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship; and Mélanie Terrasse '13, who is graduating at age 19 and heading to Princeton University for a Ph.D.

Ehrig recently earned a prestigious honor of his own, securing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany for the 2013-14 academic year. He is one of four F&M students who recently received prominent fellowships. "The Fulbright is an honor, and I'm looking forward to being back in Europe (after studying abroad in Vienna last year)," he said. "It will be the capstone of nine years taking German classes."

While he's teaching in Germany, Ehrig will strive to have the same effect on students that F&M professors have had on him.

"I've learned from our faculty in ways I never imagined," he said. "'Social Deviance, Social Discipline' with Professor [Abby] Schrader changed the way I look at history. I had a similar experience in 'Atlantic Revolutions' with Professor [Ted] Pearson. My classes here affected the way I look at the world."

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