F&M Stories

Catching Up On Campus: F&M Winter Break

For a brief moment between semesters during the academic year, time seems to stand still at Franklin & Marshall College. The days surrounding winter break are quiet – but not for long. 

In the coming days, students will trickle back to campus for winter sports, theater productions and other commitments. 

Below, meet some of the students who opted to stay on campus or return early for campus jobs, research and athletics. 

Vitalis Wekesa ’26

Vitalis Wekesa ’25
  • Hometown: Eldoret, Kenya 
  • Major: Economics
  • Minor: Mathematics
  • Pictured at: Information Technology Service help desk in Martin Library of the Sciences
Can you describe your job at the library help desk?

Every time a semester starts, we basically answer questions and try to help with any technological problems students and faculty might have. It has been quiet [during break], but we still do rounds to make sure equipment in every classroom in the school is working as it's supposed to when faculty and students come back. 

How do you pass the time during break?

Mostly read. Sleep. Watch movies or go to the gym. I'm not touching schoolwork at all – this is my time to relax!

What are you reading right now?

I’m finishing the “Masters of Rome” series (by Colleen McCullough). It’s a historical fiction series that starts from the late Roman Republic until the beginning of the Roman Empire – from Gaius Marius and [Lucius Cornelius] Sulla to [Gaius Julius Caesar] Augustus. I like history. 

Inna Shapovalenko ’26
Inna Shapovalenko ’26
  • Hometown: Chernihiv, Ukraine
  • Intended majors: Mathematics and computer science
  • Pictured at: Shadek-Fackenthal Library, building a 3D printer
Why did you choose F&M?

First of all, I like small communities. It's better to connect with your classmates and your professors. We also have an amazing program in computer science, in physics, and a dual degree program with other universities. And I have my sister here [senior Olha Shapovalenko].

How did you pass the time during break?

I'm a technical tutor at SparkLab (a makerspace with a poster printer, 3D printers and other instructional technology available for current F&M students, faculty and professional staff). I'm printing some posters for people, I have projects such as building something or printing 3D models, and using the laser cutter. 

Aidan Freeman ’24
Aidan Freeman ’24
  • Hometown: Lancaster, Pa.
  • Majors: History and American studies  
  • Pictured at: Shadek-Fackenthal Library
How do you pass the time during break?

I've been reading a lot and catching up on some work. I'm working on an honors thesis. It's an intellectual biography of the historian Howard Zinn. It's mainly focusing on his early years.

Why Howard Zinn? 

I used to be really into European history. Howard Zinn changed that. There's so much more in American history than just the Revolution and the Civil War, the World Wars and Cold War. There were all these movements and these people that have interacted throughout history that we just don't hear about much in regular schooling. 

Any plans for after graduation?

I want to be a high school history teacher. I interned in the spring with my old history teacher [Gabriel Painton, social studies teacher at McCaskey High School]. I had a lot of fun working with the students and talking about history.

Sonya Vu ’26
Sonya Vu ’26
  • Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Intended majors: Data science and psychology
  • Pictured at: The Diplomatic Cafe
Why did you choose F&M?

I heard there was a huge international student body here. I love the campus and all the [residence halls].

How do you pass the time during break?

I work in the Alumni Sports Fitness Center on weekdays. I’m also in Heathers: The Musical [by F&M Players]. So during the last week of break, I’ll gather with all the cast for rehearsals. It's my first – I had to audition for it, not expecting much, and then I got in.

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

I look forward to reaching out more to professors. Getting more involved in the campus, maybe doing research. I’ll also try to work on myself. 

Chris Arciuolo ’26
Chris Arciuolo ’26
  • Hometown: Bethlehem, Pa.
  • Intended majors: Public health and government
  • Pictured at: Alumni Sports Fitness Center 
You’re back early for the wrestling season. How do you pass the time during break?

We usually have practice for two hours each day – so just relax, recover, practice, maybe get an extra workout in, nutrition, sleep. If you want to hang out with friends, the rest of the team is here. 

What are you most looking forward to this semester?

I'm looking forward to the rest of the season and increasing my GPA. I have a nice GPA right now, so I want to keep it high. 

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