It’s time for Alexander Dining Hall to receive its due. Far too many lunch dates, study groups and inspired conversations have taken place within its walls to deny it any longer: it is the college’s garden from which has sprung many a great idea.
Surrounded by food and drink and friends that feel like family, the cafeteria is fertile ground with just the right combination of elements to cultivate innovation and even a little bravery.
It was during a weeknight dinner like any other when writing major Luke Bartolomeo ’06 leaned across his tray and let loose an idea that he had been toying with for some time. He wanted to start his own literary magazine. Fellow English major and western Pennsylvania native Justin McGeary ’06 was quick to suggest a regional title. And just like that, The Monongahela Review was born.
Both English majors, the two shared a passion for art in its many forms. It wasn't long before they began advertising, soliciting submissions. Luke's vision, says Justin, was to publish good writers who had not been heard from before.
“We hear many stories and thoughts about life and people from all over,” says Justin. “These stories can be very challenging because literature deals with the tough things of life. Though we have to wade through some not-so-good poetry and writing, it’s rewarding to try to find what is good and true so that others can hear it.”
But dealing with the tough things of life is nothing new for these recent Geneva graduates.
“The key thing that Geneva and the English department do,” Justin says, “is push beyond the surface of studying a field. Often, in my experience attending other colleges, there was not a sense of really pushing the big questions about life and asking them within the Christian framework.”
Justin found that framework in more than just his English classes. As a liberal arts institution, Geneva students are required to take core classes in many different disciplines, including humanities, Bible and science.
“I found not only the English major to be exciting,” he says, “but also the core classes. I was able to learn in a more interdisciplinary fashion and also see more than just the English faculty wrestling with the big questions.
“The ‘why’ and ‘what for’ are asked here,” says Justin. “In many ways, it was the vision of life and the training provided at Geneva that is making this project possible.”
- by Brooke Prokopchak ('08)
Justin McGeary graduated from Geneva in May 2006. He is originally from and still resides in New Kensington, Pa. Justin currently serves as the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) in partnership with Chesterton House, a Christian study center at Cornell University. He is also involved in some independent study with Westminster Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program.
Though no longer on the editorial staff of The Monongahela Review, Justin says, “I am still following, reading and exited for where it will go in the future.”
Geneva is one of only 118 colleges in the U.S. to be approved for membership in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), and is a founding member.