Rachel Kaufman, class of 2010 from West Lafayette, Ind., has long recognized the value of a liberal arts education, and she was especially attracted to Wittenberg's strengths in many disciplines. She has been so taken with the range of educational opportunities at Wittenberg that she is majoring in English while also carrying a rigorous three minors: history, theatre, and pre-modern and ancient world studies.
She doesn't just go to class and study. Kaufman is an active member of Kappa Delta sorority, Primetime, a student-led Christian ministry affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ, and the Wittenberg Choir.
She has also been pro-active in finding opportunities to broaden her college experience. For instance, when encouraged by the staff in the WittPath Career Center to look for jobs through personal connections, she e-mailed a relative of an acquaintance who was directing a film and asked if she could be involved. The result was a summer internship in Knoxville, Tenn., working on the independent film I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down," based on a short story by Tennessee writer William Gay.
"It had actors such as Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter, Ray McKinnon and Mia Wasikowska," Kaufman said. "As a PA in the assistant director department, I basically did errands such as running things back and forth or keeping the set quiet, but I also was in charge of the stand-ins and extras, as well as helping with the actors."
She added that she did whatever needed to be done at the time but feels she learned so much by just being around and witnessing the industry.
"In my opinion, a small film was the best environment for someone like me with no prior film experience because I learned something about each department in the film industry," Kaufman said. "I wasn't just stuck inside making copies all day. Plus, with a smaller film, I got to know the people I was working with better."
Kaufman realized similar benefits when she elected to study abroad in Finland, a destination not normally chosen by exchange students.
"I found that it fit me very well," Kaufman said. "The Finnish culture is so unique and unexplored that I found it fascinating to learn about because I basically had no prior knowledge about the Finnish people before living there. I was in the Scandinavian Studies Program, which included a little bit of all aspects of Scandinavian culture, such as art, history, literature, Nordic nature, Finnish language and politics.
"You can't have an experience like this without being changed," she added. "Being around other exchange students from around Europe challenged how I think about myself and my way of life. Academically, I was fascinated by the impact of the Scandinavian nature and culture on literature. I could definitely see myself pursuing further study in Scandinavian literature."
Kaufman has taken full advantage of the opportunities she has been given at Wittenberg, and of course, she doesn't plan to change things in the future. She is considering a career in film or going to graduate school after she completes her Wittenberg education in May 2010.
- Written by Phyllis Eberts '00
- Photo by Erin Pence