(Posted June 6, 2019)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Recent Juniata College graduate Sydney Spicer’s experiences living and learning while developing a deep appreciation of place culminated in her recently-published work, “Bloom.”

“I’ve been writing for a while and started working on pieces of the book in the fall,” says Spicer, a resident of Springfield, Virginia, who earned her degree at Juniata in May. “For my capstone, I chose to do a writing project, but had no idea what I wanted to do.”

With a Program of Emphasis centered on environmental studies with a secondary focus on communication, she penned a collection of insightful essays ranging in subjects, but interwoven with her love of nature. 

“I knew I wanted to write observational essays,” she says. “At the end of the semester, heading into spring, I saw that the pieces I had written all went together. I wanted to see if they could be used to form a larger work.”

Spicer discussed her progress with her adviser Neil Pelkey, professor of environmental science and studies.

“He gave me good advice and recommended that I consider publishing my work,” Spicer says. “I don’t share a ton of my writing, so by publishing it, I was able to share it in a way I hadn’t before.”

The encouragement she received from both Pelkey and Donna Weimer, Thornbury Professor of Communication, and the partnership with many other faculty members were invaluable in helping her to achieve her goal. 

“The main role Juniata played was in encouraging me to do something different,” she says. “Not to include on a resume or to have something to tell people, but something for myself.” 

By incorporating photographs by fellow 2019 graduate Kaila Topping, Spicer compiled her works so that they formed three parts.

“The essays go through the process of self-growth and going through the journey of life,” says Spicer. “It’s a quick read, but it goes in depth in talking about my journey and experiences in nature.”

She opted to self-publish her work, single-handedly undertaking the layout and design. 

“I did a few test runs to see how it would print,” Spicer says. “When I got the first one from Amazon, it was crazy and awesome to hold something in my hands that I had made on my own. It’s one of my cooler accomplishments.”

The lessons she both learned and taught through “Bloom” will be continued in her service as a Massachusetts Promise Fellow through AmeriCorps, as she mentors young women beginning their own journey through nature and life. 


Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.