When I met him in his room, he was drumming away on a drum practice pad — rat-ta-ta-tat, ratta-tat-tat-tat, rat-ta-ta-tat — occasionally twirling the drum sticks and flipping them in his hand. He’s a secondary English education major at Elizabethtown College, who’s known since his junior year of high school that he wanted to come here.
His love of drumming and percussion has been with him since he was 4-years-old, when he was given a tiny Fisher Price drum set.
“My mom was tired of me taking spoons and hitting the edge of the tables and breaking both the corners of the tables and the spoons,” he said.
From then on, drumming became one of his passions. He has ADHD, so for him, drumming is a good physical release of energy that he can channel to calm his brain.
He still remembers the joy he felt when he got his first real drum set in seventh or eighth grade. While he’d known his parents had been talking of getting one for him, he hadn’t expected to come home from school one day to find giant boxes in the living room. Immediately, he wanted to get them out.
“So I called my mom, and I didn’t know she was in a meeting at work, and I just called her like five times, and she was like, ‘For the love of god, what do you need?’” He laughed. “And I was like, ‘Can I open these boxes?’ And she was like, ‘What boxes?’ ‘The drum boxes.’ And she goes, ‘Well that was supposed to be your Christmas gift, but go for it.’”
Although he enjoys drumming, he hopes to become a high school English teacher. A self-proclaimed English nerd, he loves not just the literature — Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is his favorite book, both because of its strong story and always-relevant lessons — but also all of the quirks and “odd little intricacies” of the language’s grammar itself.
He’s always known that he wanted to be a teacher, and pairing it with his love of English seemed natural, especially since he believes in the power of the written word to change the world.
“Through elementary school I always kind of idolized my teachers, because when you’re little you just have this vision that ‘Holy cow, this person can do anything,’” he said. “I figured that I can still kind of fulfill that wanting to be a superhero case through the role of a teacher.”
A miniature zoo
In the corner of his room are two aquariums sitting on a desk. Inside of one there’s a beta fish, a catfish, and a frog. In the other, there are two tiny fiddler crabs.
While those are the animals he has on campus, he actually has a lot more pets back at home, including two guinea pigs, a bearded dragon, two turtles, a hermit crab, and a dog. When asked which pet was his favorite, he quickly protested: “I can’t choose favorites! That’s like a parent choosing their favorite child, I refuse to answer that question.”
The funniest thing that one of his pets has ever done was when his hermit crab escaped from his cage.
“He crawled down the side of his dresser, out the hallway, through the kitchen, down a couple of stairs, up a curtain, and sat on top of wind chimes,” he said. “And when I went to open the door, he fell off the wind chimes and scared the crap out of me.”
As the interview came to a close, he picked his drumsticks back up again and started beating out another tune on the practice pad, skillfully spinning the sticks in his hand — rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat. In the corner of the room, his fish continued swimming in their tank. Later, he will open his laptop to work on his next paper he has due. But for now, he enjoys the time to make some music.
Listen to the interview with Kelly: https://soundcloud.com/samantha-seely/kelly-armstrong-interview
What is your name, year and major?
“I am Kelly Armstrong, I am a first year, and my major is occupational therapy.”
What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at Etown?
“Weirdest? Do you want me to tell you the dog peeing on a box story? We were down in the lobby, and there’s a box where you can donate books, and there was a dog in the lobby, and he wasn’t taken out, so he peed on the box and there is still a pee stain on the box.”
How did you meet your best friend?
“Fourth grade, I was neighbors with my friend Abigail, and the one time she had me over as well as my now best friend Jacqueline, and the three of us hung out and then I got to know Jacqueline more and we’ve been friends ever since like fourth grade.”
When did you know you were going to come to Etown?
“I knew when I came here on a visit and they told me about the study abroad opportunities, so I found out I could go to India and do an internship with OT while over in India, and then I also heard about all the other service trips you can take in the May term, summer term, and stuff like that. So that’s why I came here.”
Also check out these Humans of Etown stories:
View the video for this post here.
Emma: Hi! So what’s your name and your year?
Ryan: Hello, my name is Ryan Runkle, I’m a freshman.
E: And what is your funniest or most memorable moment here at Etown?
R: Um, I don’t think there is a singular one. I think my favorite moments at Etown are just sitting down here in the lobby with friends and having a good time.
E: So, nothing ever funny has happened or –
R: Nothing specific.
E: – something really memorable?
R: Not that I can remember.
E: Alright, well thank you!
View Stephanie Miller’s interview with Dana Morykan here.
View Samantha Seely’s interview with Kelly Armstrong here.
By Miranda Fedor and Brianna Titi
Miranda: “Hi, what is your name?”
Jerica Shuck: “My name is Jerica Shuck.”
Miranda: “And what year are you?”
Jerica: “I’m a senior.”
Miranda: “What is your major and minor?”
Jerica: “So my major is english and I have a concentration in professional writing and my minor is in communications.”
Miranda: “And what is a memorable memory you have had at Etown?”
Jerica: “There are a lot. I’m in Mad Cow, the campus improve group, and last year I got to experience the senior show and be a part of it. And that’s essentially whenever all of the seniors in the group get to plan, and place all of us in whatever games they want to play. And on our last game last year, last year, I like did my thing and then went off to the side of the stage and joined all of the other members of the group and I got to watch as all of the seniors did like their last scenes and it was really, really emotional. It was like the first time I’ve ever cried in front of an audience that big or in front of like a lot of people generally. Just looking at them as their like finishing their scenes kind of makes me think that’s going to be me this year too, but also how thankful I am that I could be a part of that experience for them.”
Miranda: “Thank you!”
Jerica: “You’re welcome!”
Watch Jerica’s interview above.