PHOTOGRAPHY AND FARMING WITH LEAH BRUMGARD ’19

Leah Brumgard is a Sophomore from Hanover, PA majoring in Computer Science and Studio Art. We reached out to get her views on photography, computer science, rugby, and more.

You’re majoring in Computer Science, a STEM field, and Studio Art, which is in the Humanities division. How do these two programs complement each other?

LB: Well, in high school I was a part of making the yearbook for all 4 years, and was really interested in graphic design and digital art. Since swarthmore doesn’t have any digital based graphic design courses, I’ve been exploring other art courses. Aside from that, my high school didn’t offer any computer science courses, which was something I knew nothing about, but always thought I might be interested in. The only classes I knew I wanted to take my freshman fall were CS21 and an art course. I applied here as a possible physics and art double major, but never even took any physics courses after taking computer science because I enjoy it a lot. I think in both STEM fields and art I’ve always enjoyed the application side of things — building things, measuring stuff, and making things work — and I think studio art and computer science both have that factor to them.

Right now you’re in a Photography course that requires a lot of creativity. What do you do when you run low on ideas? 

LB: I like to look at a lot of photography and art online in different forms. I think with something like photography many ideas are based off of what the photographer has seen previously, combined with their own original ideas. Most of the time when I don’t have any ideas, I’m just sort of stuck in a hole because if I try to force something I’m never happy with it, so I tend to wait until I have something in mind or see something worth capturing before taking pictures.

On top of everything else, you play on the Women’s Rugby team. What has that taught you about working in groups? 

LB: Communication and teamwork is extremely important in sports like rugby, where safety is a large factor. Rugby has taught me to be more aware of myself and others in a team situation, to make sure that everyone involved is comfortable and safe. I also love that our rugby team is incredibly supportive. 

When you’re back home, you work as a store clerk and a farmhand. How do you think Swarthmore students could benefit from taking jobs like these instead of pre-professional internships?

LB: Although pre-professional internships offer valuable learning experiences for students, I have definitely learned a lot in the jobs I’ve held at home. I started working at a farm before my sophomore year of high school: caring for horses, doing barn work, cleaning, as well as other odd jobs. I think this job taught me how to be dependable more than anything. If I didn’t want to show up at 6 AM, there was nobody else to call to fill in for me, the horses would go hungry and be left outside in the cold, heat, or rain. This job taught me about forming valuable relationships with people as well – I began doing only barnwork and painting, but soon my boss was leaving me alone in her house for hours to clean and gifting my Christmas presents. I also worked in a grocery store as a cashier and customer service for nearly 2 years, and now work in a convenience store either cashiering or preparing food. These jobs have helped me learn about people as a whole, either by helping a furious woman get her 75 cents back from the coupon that didn’t scan, or standing for 15 minutes listening to an old man talk to me about his wife’s death. Being in a situation that gives you an opportunity to meet such a range of people from every background is extremely valuable, and possibly more genuine when you’re in a similar position as them, rather than from a volunteer (or some similar) perspective.

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