Cross-country runner, commuter student finds success at MCLA


Jessica Gamari '14, above, third from left with both hands raised, joined the residents of Dublin, Ireland, in a 5K road race when she visited last spring with her MCLA class.

What does a Trailblazers cross-country runner do when she visits Ireland with her MCLA travel study course? Take part in a local 5K road race, of course! On the last day of the tour, Jessica Gamari '14 decided to join local residents on a run through the streets of Dublin.

"How many people can say they've raced internationally? It was definitely a life achievement," she said.

Back at MCLA, Gamari - a commuter student from Adams, Mass. - is this semester's editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, the Beacon.

When it came down to her final choices for schools, MCLA was the best choice, according to Gamari, an English/communications major with a concentration in journalism.

"MCLA is so close to home and I am very close with my family. Commuting to MCLA allows me to keep my part time job at the Adams Big Y, and, at the end of the day, I can come home to a home-cooked meal while still having the college experience."

Other MCLA student-athletes became her first friends.

"Having a core group of friends on the men and women's cross-country teams that I can meet with every day is wonderful," Gamari said. "Although we never place in high ranks among other colleges, individually we're having a great season. Many of us are reaching new personal goals.

"If there is one thing our team is known for, it's our high spirit and enthusiasm for running," she continued. "We are loud and encouraging. We're always cheering one another on. As I finish a race, I always see my teammates cheering me on, and as I finish, I join them to cheer on the other runners to come. Multiple times other runners have come up to us and told our team they love how supportive we are to each other and to other schools. I love the friendships I've made from running."

When she's not in class, Gamari spends hangs out with friends. She also spends a good deal of time in the Beacon office, where she has worked for five semesters.

"I was always interested in writing for a newspaper. I love reporting stories and delivering news to interested readers," she said. "I am usually very quiet, but I enjoy talking to other people and learning more about what they love to do or what their focus is. When you ask someone what their passion is, you can see their eyes light up. They have so much to say about it.... It's almost energizing."

Gamari has made the dean's list every semester. As such, she was named to the MASCAC All-Academic Team. As the recipient of the Bernstein Scholarship, she served a 10-week summer internship with the Berkshire Eagle, and she's been inducted into three honor societies.

Also a Hardman Scholar, she recently tutored one of MCLA's Chinese exchange students who, like her, is studying journalism.

"MCLA provides a great learning environment because the classes are small and professors are so accessible. They encourage participation from everyone for discussions, which is something many larger colleges are unable to have. In larger colleges, students attend lectures, take notes and pass or fail on exams. MCLA offers a much more personal connection," Gamari said.

At MCLA, "I have seen myself grow into someone who is more confident as a person. I've learned that it's okay to speak up and say what's on your mind. There are so many people willing to listen to you and who truly want to help you succeed. All you have to do is open the door."