By Carissa Washington
Posted March 22, 2019
As the Wayne Gretzky saying goes, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Opportunities come in many different forms—and some are unexpected, at that. While most of us think of unforeseen opportunities as coming around just once, for Abigail Bügger, one “shot” came twice.
That’s not to say Abby wasn’t already taking advantage of opportunities at GC. In her junior year, she was double majoring in religion, ethics, and philosophy (REP) and liberal studies—not to mention, minoring in psychology, art, and dance. On top of her course work, she was also active in numerous on-campus organizations and activities, including Residence Life, Student Government Association, Pride of the Pride, Juggling Club, the student newspaper, the student literary magazine, Marching Band, the Student Honors Organization, Social Justice Club, and more. Whew!
Perhaps that’s why Dr. Dan Malotky, Dean of the School of Humanities, thought she would be the perfect candidate to study abroad.
Abby is well acquainted with the School of Humanities, as a significant portion of her coursework has drawn from the three departments that it comprises: history; English, Communication & Media Studies; and Religion, Ethics & Philosophy. Dr. Malotky’s task as the School of Humanities’ dean is to “support (my) colleagues and represent their ideas and initiatives to the rest of the college and outside constituencies.”
If being at GC doesn’t confine you as a student to one program or field of study, neither does it do so for its professors. You see, Dr. Malotky is also a professor of religion, ethics, and philosophy. So, while the classes within his field of study deal with “the deepest questions of human life,” as he will tell you, such as, “What is our purpose?” and, “How can we tell right from wrong?,” these are questions he no less imports into the humanities courses he teaches in the George Center for Honors Studies. Perhaps it was Abby’s similar dedication to interdisciplinary rigor that led to his considering her a worthy candidate for study abroad in Italy—and not only once, but twice.
When first given the honor, Abby declined. She was unsure if it was the right choice for her future. A few weeks later, however, a student dropped out of the program, and Abby was offered the opportunity again. This time, she changed her initial no to a yes. Abby gratefully suspects that she was contacted a second time because Dr. Malotky “saw worth in me as an individual.” And thanks to her trip, that worth only increased.
Through the Greater Greensboro Consortium, of which GC is a member, Abby made the trip to Tirol, Italy, to study for a semester. Being in Italy gave Abby the opportunity to explore topics far beyond those already part of her coursework, including sustainable agriculture, environmental ethics, nutritional and medicinal ethno-botany, and agro-archaeology. Not only that: She was housed in a 13th-century castle in the Italian Alps during her time there. She says she gained “a better wealth of knowledge” just by being in a foreign country and experiencing a culture other than her own. Without that helpful push from Dr. Malotky, Abby concedes that she would have never gotten the opportunity to experience such beauty—not to mention, an internship with a large-animal veterinarian, which included getting to work with goats. In fact, that’s why Abby now works part-time at the Goat Lady Dairy Farm, in Climax, N.C.
Abby epitomizes what it means to be part of a close-knit community like GC’s. She has worked with almost every department, club, and organization at the college—all while demonstrating a level of participation that was not lost on Dr. Malotky. She plans to spend the rest of her time here eating as much chocolate as she can, working part time as a Resident Advisor, at the Goat Lady Dairy Farm, and the College Place United Methodist Church, and lastly trying to be the kindest person she can be. At many other colleges, when an opportunity is given, it goes away if not taken immediately. Because of the support structures built into GC, you are often given more than one chance. Because of a supportive professor, Abby was given the opportunity of a lifetime. She was led down a path she did not know she could take.
Carissa Washington ’20 from Harrisonburg, Va., is double majoring in art (2D design) and English, Communication & Media Studies. She hopes to pursue a career in marketing or graphic design.