Episode Notes | Episode Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)  3-Minute Listen

Luke Neureiter is a Senior at Swarthmore College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies.

Luke’s experience is one of focus and enthusiasm. His dedication to academics, the pursuit of “Peace Engineering” concepts, and becoming a Lang Scholar doing social innovation, is remarkable.

Luke is heavily involved on campus via soccer, athletics, and clubs like the Design Football Club.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. Incredible Experience
  2. Why Swarthmore?
  3. Profs
  4. Peace Engineering
  5. Advice for Aspirants

Episode Notes

Episode Title: Luke Neureiter on Swarthmore: Peace Engineering, Soccer, and Lang Scholar.

Episode summary introduction: Swarthmore did not make Luke’s initial list, because his dad went to Swarthmore. Then, late fall of his senior year, he visited Swarthmore and stayed overnight with the soccer team. Luke was blown away by the people he met at Swarthmore.

Luke Neureiter is a Senior at Swarthmore College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies.

In particular, we discuss the following with him:

  • Why Swarthmore ?
  • Why Major in Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies?
  • Being a Lang Scholar
  • Advice to Applicants

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introduction to Luke Neureiter, Swarthmore [0:51]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:54]
  • Incredible Experience [4:51]
  • Why Swarthmore? [5:51]
  • High School Interests [7:14]
  • Transition to Swarthmore [9:32]
  • Peers - “The Best Part” [12:19]
  • Profs - Phenomenal Experience [14:20]
  • Campus Life [16:21]
  • Activities - DFC, Lang Scholar [19:17]
  • Summers [26:00]
  • Majors - Engineering & Peace and Conflict Studies [29:43]
  • COVID Impact [36:03]
  • Advice to Aspirants [41:34]
  • Memories: Best Lunches & more [45:25]

Our Guest: Luke Neureiter is a Senior at Swarthmore College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies. Luke is a Lang Scholar.

Memorable Quote: “And peace engineering, in my mind, is really about combining both the ideas in Peace and Conflict Studies, and practical Engineering technical skills.” Luke.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

Luke  0:14

Just sitting in Sharples, our dining hall, and it was kind of it wasn't any special events or evening. It was kind of just a regular meal. But for some reason, you know, there's a running joke on the soccer team at the time or making fun of one of the coaches and his antics. I kind of me and all my friends, there's 20 minutes or so, where we just did not stop laughing. Like we all look back on it as one of the best lunches we've ever had.

Venkat  0:51  [Introduction to Luke Neuriter]

Luke Neureiter is a Senior at Swarthmore College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies.

Luke had played soccer all his life and started playing Rugby later, in High School.

He was on the Competitive Speech team and took time to do quite a bit of volunteering.

Swarthmore did not make Luke’s initial list, because his dad went to Swarthmore.

Then, late fall of his senior year, he visited Swarthmore and stayed overnight with the soccer team.

Luke was blown away by the people he met at Swarthmore.

Luke joins us today, to share his experiences so far, at Swarthmore.

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Luke  1:54  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[Incredible Experience]

Saying that my experience is worth more thus far has been incredible. I've really, really enjoyed it, you know, even I didn't take any time off during the pandemic. So I've gone straight through with a virtual experience and whatnot. And I've really, you know, I just had a fantastic time.

[Why Swarthmore]

I had a, an overnight stay with the soccer team. So I stayed and chatted with the guys. And I really got a sense of kind of the people at Swarthmore. And that's what really kind of shifted my viewpoint on the school.


So the biggest class that I've ever taken was introduction to Peace and Conflict studies was Sa'ed Atshan. And there was, I think, upwards of 80 students in the class, and he knew everyone's names.


[Peace Engineering]

Peace Engineering, in my mind is really about combining both the ideas and peace and conflict studies and practical engineering, technicality and technical skills. So the way that I always phrase it is that there's a lot of different ways to build bridges. And a community is one, you can build a physical bridge, you can engineer a bridge between, you know, over an obstacle or a valley or so. But you can also build a bridge, you know, between a community.

[Advice for Aspirants]

And that's my advice is that, don't look at the rankings, look for the community. Look for the type of people that you're going to be around, because in the end, like that's who shapes you as a person.

Venkat Raman  3:35  

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Luke. So without further ado, over to Luke Neureiter!

Venkat Raman  3:44  

So let me just start by welcoming you to our podcast, College Matters, Alma Matters. Thank you for making the time.

Luke  3:52  

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I'm really glad to be here.

Venkat Raman  3:56  

Absolutely. So we wanted to spend some time talking about Swathmore days, which is still in progress. And just get a sense of how it's been so far, and all the learnings and insights and some background. So as I mentioned, we are doing these stories, mainly for the benefit of aspiring students. And hopefully they get something out of these stories and, you know, as they make their own journeys, so, again, this is why this is so exciting and so useful. So thank you. So, let me maybe the best place to start is give us a sense of how the undergraduate experience has been so far. And, you know, whatever what you like and don't like or if it's all likes, that's great.

Luke  4:51  [Incredible Experience]

Yeah, absolutely. Um, I mean, I, I'll start off by just saying that my experiences for For thus far has been incredible. I really, really enjoy It you know, even I didn't take any time off during the pandemic. So I've gone straight through with virtual experience and whatnot. And I've really, you know, I've just had a fantastic time. Of course, there's been ups and downs. You know, I think the transition to college was definitely a difficult one for me. So kind of starting out. There was a challenge. And of course, you know, adjust into virtual school was a difficulty. But overall, you know, Swarthmore, I think has been a really, it's a really unique place. And that offers a lot of really unique opportunities. So I've really, really enjoyed my time.

Venkat Raman  5:46  

So maybe we can start with, why did you pick Swarthmore?

Luke  5:51  [Why Swarthmore?]

Yeah, absolutely. This is actually kind of a funny story, my dad, so my dad went to Swarthmore. He attended and graduated in '87. And so kind of for up until I like applied to college, I just kind of maintained that Swarthmore would never be the place for me that I didn't want to follow in my dad's footsteps, I didn't want to go. And I didn't even tour the school until I think, like, October of my senior year, so really, really late in the process, right. And that was only and I had a, an overnight stay with a soccer team. So I stayed and chatted with the guys. And I really got a sense of kind of the people at Swarthmore. And that's what really kind of shifted my viewpoint on the school as I was like, Oh my gosh, the people here are so incredible. And that's what really kind of drew me to Swarthmore initially. So and of course, you know, I wanted an academic experience. I wanted a small liberal arts schools. So I wanted everything that Swarthmore offered. I was like, wow, I really connect with these people. And I think it's a great place. So that's kind of the story of how I ended up SWAT.

Venkat Raman  7:10  

Tell us a little bit about high school. I mean, what kind of things were you into?

Luke  7:14  [High School Interests]

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I've played soccer all my life. So I played competitive club soccer growing up and through high school. I was on the soccer team capitalist soccer team for two years. I also in my sophomore year of high school, I joined my high school rugby team, which is kind of unusual. But I started playing rugby, and eventually actually became a lot better at Rugby than I was at soccer. So you know, I kind of rose in that world, ended up winning the state championship and rugby. Really enjoyed that.

I worked during the summers. So every summer I would be trained for soccer. As well as working it was actually a Harry Potter theme summer camp I worked at so I kind of assumed the role of Professor Draco Malfoy. Just kind of fun. And that's what I ended up actually writing part of my college essay on was that experience and kind of the creative kind of process that we had to go through every summer with that.

And then I did a lot of volunteering.  Every summer, I would usually volunteer for a few weeks with a group and that was both international and kind of within the United States. And then finally, I was part of the speech team. So I did competitive speech on the weekends. And that was mostly if anyone knows what the speech events are, I did humor and do well. So yeah.

Venkat Raman  8:51  

Did you have time to sleep?

Luke  8:55  

Definitely a busy time. And that's definitely something that is kind of a big transition as you come from high school, going to school from like 7:30 to 3:00 and then practice and then homework and then whatever other extracurriculars you have right to college where it's like you set your own schedule, and you have way more free time. So it is an interesting transition.

Venkat Raman  9:20  

That's a good lead into the next point I wanted to ask you about. So what was that like going from high school to college and adjusting to college life?

Luke  9:32  [Transition to Swarthmore]

Yeah, totally. So for me, it was actually pretty difficult. Primarily my high school I went to a big Inner City public high school, East High School in Denver. So my high school is about twice the size of Swarthmore. Swarthmore has about 1600 students and my high school is just under 3000. So I went to this really big public high school. It's very much a country have, you can fly under the radar, if you're a good kid, and you get decent grades, you know, teachers don't really look twice at you that sort of thing. And of course, I played a lot of sports. So the transition into one the time management, yeah, kind of arena was really difficult. And then also just the intensity of the academics. You know, Swarthmore is known for its academic rigor. And that sort of hit me like brick. You know, your first semester at Swarthmore is always pass fail, it's mandatory pass fail for all incoming freshmen, which is a nice, kind of easing it into that different intensity. So it's kind of getting you adjusted to how difficult classes are to try and to adjust your schedule, that sort of thing. But it was really a challenge for me, particularly because, you know, I did engineering, so I jumped right into a bunch of math classes, physics classes. And I think in comparison to some students who had different academic backgrounds coming from different high schools, I felt a little underprepared. But Swarthmore did do a really good job of helping with those differences and preparedness. So there's a lot of programs available at Swarthmore, for students who are struggling in a particular subject, including tutors, ta sessions, that sort of thing, as well as plenty of office hours to professors and lots of FaceTime. So it's a it was a it was a sharp learning curve, but you get used to it eventually.

Venkat Raman  11:41  

Yeah, yeah. Very good. And obviously, after that, after that, it worked out okay, right? Academically speaking.

Luke  11:50  

Yeah Yeah, no, sure. I mean, it's what I say like it was difficult, there's mostly just, I just spend a lot more time I was I wasn't quite used to the amount of time I just spend to like, get good grades that I was used to. I found myself studying a lot more than I had in high school.

Venkat Raman  12:11  

So how are the, How are your classmates, your peers, other folks are the students at Swarthmore? What you think of them?

Luke  12:19  [Peers - “The Best Part”]

Yeah, I mean, I think I consistently tell people to my classmates, and the people that I'm with are probably the best part of Swarthmore. And I think this is also something as a general rule in college, that the community at a college is what's most important. So I've really been happy to find that. What I always say about Swarthmore students is that they're both interesting and interested. So they're interested in the world around them, they're willing to engage in different topics they might not be comfortable about. But they're also really interesting, you know, they, they have a lot of different layers, they're often doing a lot of really cool things. And what's even more is that they're willing to help. So you know, my friends, who are these mathematical geniuses who, you know, advanced level calculus or multivariable, calculus comes easy to them, they're willing to help me out, you know, when I'm struggling, so it's been a really good, having that support system of peers, particularly engineering department, I can't speak highly enough from the community that we have. It's really phenomenal. I would say in terms of the type of student this is. Smarties tend to be very intellectual, they like their their studies, academics are a big part of the culture at Swarthmore. And so we really enjoy kind of that those parts of, of students, you know, engaging with what you're studying what you're interested in, and how you're applying it not only in the classroom, but outside of the classroom. That's really the type of student that will really thrive at Swarthmore, I think.

Venkat Raman  14:04  

So how are your professors? You talked about FaceTime and office hours? How were they? How were the general teaching and the professors themselves?

Luke  14:20  [Profs - Phenomenal Experience]

Yeah, I mean, I've only had really good experiences with professors in terms of, I think, a big concern in a lot of college classes, like, Oh, you're going into like a 400 person seminar, where the professor even know my name, you know, they're just up there lecturing, and yada, yada, yada. None of that is really the case that's worth more. Even in, I think our biggest class. It's usually the introductory classes are around 100 students, and that's really rare. So the biggest class that I've ever taken was introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies with Sa'ed Atshan. And there was, I think, upwards of 80 students in the class and he knew everyone's names. And it's kind of a, you know, it's kind of a corny little anecdote, but it really does show that he really cared about, you know, learning who each individual student was their academic interests, you required you to come to office hours. So there really is like a lot of face to face time. And that's just one little story and a ton about, like, some phenomenal, phenomenal professors, you know, in terms of FaceTime, and actually getting to know them. You can do research with professors. I know I've had a lot of professors, you know, just offer like, Hey, do you want to come work in my lab, but that sort of thing. So professors are really fantastic. In terms of accessibility, it's really easy to get in touch. And then professors just their personal people, and at Swarthmore, they engage a lot with students. So they're not like esoteric beings, you can't really talk to, which is nice.

Venkat Raman  16:06  

Yeah, absolutely.

Venkat Raman  16:12  

Okay, so let's leave the classroom and how was the campus life?

Luke  16:21  [Campus Life]

Well, the campus I mean, when describing campus life, I always like to describe campus itself. Because I think it's really important to know that Swarthmore is an arboretum, so it's 425 acres, including 65 acres of crumb woods, so, you know, protected woodland. But every single tree is labeled and protected. It's basically when you're walking through, there's no, there's basically no roads on campus. So when you're walking through, it's kind of this beautiful, natural setting, intermixed with these old beautiful buildings. So people always kind of stunned when they come to campus, because it's so natural, you kind of feel like you're in, people said they feel like they're in state parks. Because there's so many like these giant trees, that's really incredible. So just being on campus is wonderful. You know, Swarthmore is a four year residential college. So 95% of campus, of the student body lives on campus all four years. If it weren't for the pandemic, I would have lived on campus for years. And so you know, living on campus is great. The dorms are really fun experience and your final year, you can typically get apartment style living, so your own kitchen, that sort of stuff. That's really nice. And then in terms of like clubs, and kind of more social stuff. There's every club that you can imagine. You know, there's a on I'm blanking on it now. But I think it's like the pyrotechnics, and they're the fire club. They like light stuff on fire in a safe manner, of course. But you know, this kind of the every club you can imagine. I've been a part of a few. I had an interest in finance and my first two years, so I was part of some finance developments, clubs, which is definitely something that's important. If you're interested in finance or business at a small liberal arts school, you know, there's not a business program so you can go to those extracurriculars for that experience. But, you know, in terms of the, the the campus life, I think it's just wonderful is you're in this natural setting. It's beautiful. And you have a ton of resources right there. But yeah.

Venkat Raman  18:48  

I think we should dive into some of the things you've been doing, personally. I saw some very interesting things. So maybe you could talk about - I am assuming you played soccer, and talk about that talk about the design FC, I guess. So maybe you could talk a little bit about the kinds of things you did and how you were involved.

Luke  19:17  [Activities - DFC, Lang Scholar]

Yeah, totally. So yeah, I've I've been involved in quite a bit, you know, and for years, you definitely can kind of spread your your wings and a few different areas. So yeah, I played soccer for three years. I've actually, I wanted to focus on things outside of athletics. So I stepped away from the soccer team from my friends senior year, which is a big decision, but it's not uncommon in college sports.

Luke  19:47  

But I also, you know, the soccer team was a wonderful community to walk into, and to kind of come to school and immediately have kind of a group and people and a team who will kind of show you the ropes. It's a really phenomenal thing to have. And then in terms of other stuff, so I've been a tour guide for four years now I started my freshman year. And, and now the head tour guide. So I run our tour guiding program, as well as I'm an admissions fellow will be this upcoming fall. So seniors actually have the opportunity to interview prospective students, which is a really interesting thing. So I'm working with admissions a lot.

In addition to that, I've been involved with sources Swarthmore has what's called the Lang Center for Social Innovation. And they have a grant called the Lang Opportunity Scholarship. And so you apply for it and your sophomore year, in follow your sophomore year. And between four and six students every year are selected to be laying scholars. And what it entails is you get a grant to have an internship of your choice, and your sophomore summer and then you undertake you get a second grant to undertake a project for Social Innovation of your choosing.

So the first Lang project that I was involved in was called Design FC, DFC for short. And it's essentially trying to combine an after school arts program design thinking and soccer. So it takes place it's that's where Elementary in Chester, which is about a mile down the road from Swarthmore. And really, it's working with fifth and sixth graders in an after school setting where we teach design principles, and it centers around designing their own soccer jersey. So it started as a Lang project my freshman year that a soccer senior was doing at the time. So I was a volunteer with the project. I wasn't a grantee. But it was a really, really cool project really successful. And DFC has now expanded, they have pop up clubs in LA, New York, as well as they continue to operate weekly in Chester. I'm still involved with that.

And then I actually became a Lang scholar of my own. So I got my own grants my sophomore year. And I'm currently working on a data equity project. So I'm kind of trying to combine a little bit of my experience and peace of conflict and engineering. And I'm building a racial equity database for nonprofits in Delaware County, which is the county that Swarthmore is located in. So we're trying to do is present data across basically a ton of different indicators ranging from housing to food scarcity, including public health, that sort of thing. And basically trying to provide a lot of data to nonprofits, so they can drive impact related to racial equity in the county. So that's what like, the grants can be used any way the student sees fit. So you know, I've worked with DFC, which is totally different from what I'm doing now. So that's kind of the big. Yeah,

Venkat Raman  23:23  

No, I was just gonna ask, is that something, this equity project that you mentioned, just mentioned, is that something that you're doing alone, Or do you have a group of folks who work, I mean, together with or how is that? Is that a team effort or individual thing?

Luke  23:38

So I'm the grantee. So I'm the Lang Opportunity Scholar. So technically, it's my project. And I am, I'm the only student working on it. So it's what I've been doing full time now this summer, is finding data building this website slash database. But I'm working with I have a lot of community partners. So I'm working with the foundation for Delaware County, which is a nonprofit that's both a project oriented organization as well as a grant writing organizations. So they write grants for organizations as well as do their own, do their own work and maternal health. So they're basically my community sponsor, so I've been working with them. In you know, they've been a fantastic contact in terms of community outreach. So at the beginning of the summer, we had a public forum with over 50 nonprofits, and they came and gave their insight and basically told us what data they were, they were interested in. So they said, you know, we want x y&z data related to public health or relating to, you know, child's education, that sort of thing. And we've taken that data and what they've given us and now turned it into basically what we're trying to find as we have a giant screen And she'd have all the data points there. And then the indicators, and we're trying to translate that into a working database.

Venkat Raman  25:10  

Very good. I mean, you know, a great effort and be great experience for you. So this is awesome.

Luke  25:18  

No, yeah, exactly. No, it's I mean, it's kind of nerve wracking because, you know, a lot of my friends were doing, and I think a lot of people in college do the the whole college internship thing. Yeah, with a prospective company. And I'm doing this instead. But you know, it is kind of invaluable experience. That's a lot of project management. So I think it's just been an incredible opportunity that you know, Swarthmore has been able to provide.

Venkat Raman  25:46  

Let's move a little ahead and talk a little bit about the different college summers. And I do want to come back some point in the podcast and talk about the COVID experience. But let's just talk about the summers for right now.

Luke  26:00  [Summers]

Yeah, totally. So after the summer of my freshman year, summer, so the summer after my freshman year, I actually, yeah, this is before COVID. Yeah, I think it was the summer of 2019. I actually worked remotely that summer, kind of funnily enough, I worked with Zoom, and I worked remotely with Yeah, it's kind of like a precursor to what I was doing next summer. I thought it was all revolutionary at the time was like, Oh, I'm working remotely. This is so interesting. But I worked with a group called it was the Ambusher, Ambershore group. So they're a consulting firm that what they do is they work with nonprofits, and kind of social innovation companies. Kind of at the ground state at the kind of kickstart level, so don't really get into the ground level. And they basically work with them to kind of build them up, build their networks for their capabilities. So it's really interesting, kind of getting in and being just a research intern with them. I did that remotely for a summer. And that was just I networked on campus. Through an event, there was an alumni who actually the founder of the Ambershore group came to campus and I met up with them, you know, asked for his card, and we had a phone call. And he basically said, you know, if you want, you can come work for me for the summer remotely. I can't pay you, but I can give you the experience. Right. And that's what it was. So I worked I think probably seven to eight hours every day, remotely, and then just tried to earn a little bit of money on the side. But that was really great experience.

And then my sophomore year, so I had the LOS grant at that point. So I was funded for an internship. And of course, this was the COVID summer. So I did another remote internship, this time with the Peace Tech lab in Washington, DC. And they're an international nonprofit that basically tries to link technology and humanitarian action. So it's a, it's a peacebuilding nonprofit. So they're focused on promoting peace around the world. And that was a really interesting project or internship, because I got to work kind of on COVID work actively. So we were trying to do is build a database around COVID-19 related violence. So is using a lot of big data, processing social media information and news reports coming in, and then trying to turn that into a working database. But that was really great experience, of course, remote. And then this summer, I've been working, basically, with the foundation, but it's also been a very self driven summer, just trying to develop the database, select the data indicators. And it's really just been a lot of web development, as well as data analysis and data management. So that's what I've been doing. Those are the three summers thus far. And I'm not totally sure what next summer will hold but hopefully something there.

Venkat Raman  29:28  

Let's talk a little bit about your major or majors. How did you get into engineering slash computer engineering? And also talk a little bit about peace and conflict and then talk a little bit more about that?

Luke  29:43   [Majors - Engineering & Peace and Conflict Studies]

Absolutely. So yeah, I am a double major in engineering and peace and conflict studies. It's I always say it's kind of the poster child liberal arts, major selection. You know, I'm kind of hitting all the buttons. But Swarthmore is a pretty unique place. Because are really unique liberal arts school because it offers engineering as a major. So it is an accredited program. So it's unlike I know that Williams and Middlebury both offer pre engineering degrees. So it's like for students who want to pursue engineering and a Master's capacity that can do the pre engineering track. Swarthmore is an accredited program. So I actually will graduate with both a Bachelors of Science and Engineering and a Bachelors of Arts in peace and conflict studies. So how I kind of chose that I knew I always was interested in engineering from the jump. So I started taking those classes kind of straight off the bat. And the way that I the software engineering works is technically I'll graduate with a general engineering degree. But we all specialize, we have, you know, there's specific tracks you can follow. So I've taken the computer engineering tracks, which a lot of it has been, you know, it's computer architecture, computer vision. So kind of more computer engineering specific classes, as opposed to taking like an environmental and environmental engineering class or an electrical engineering class. And then peace and conflict is another really unique program at Swarthmore. So Swarthmore has the oldest Peace and Conflict department. In the United States, it was founded as a Quaker school, so it kind of is one of the more I would say foundational principles of Swarthmore kind of with its Quaker background of grace, not not religiously affiliated at all anymore. But it still kind of holds those Quaker values. And the way that I was actually interested in to peace and conflict was so the same soccer senior who was doing the DFC projects, I was working with him. And he was a piece of college major. And he told me that I kind of had to take class with Sa'ed Atshan, Keys professor I mentioned earlier, right. So I took the intro Peace course, my freshman fall, and just totally fell in love with it, it kind of combined a lot of my different interests academically, you know, it touches on history, sociology, anthropology, it focuses in so many different things and is action based. So it's applications based, and so much as that it's not like political science, where there's a theory aspect, it's very much here's the problem, how do we solve it? Or here's what the problem was, this is what's been done to solve it. So that was really what attracted me about peace and conflict. So that's what I would say is they kind of work hand in hand, both engineering and peace of conflict, because they're both very application space, it's take a look at this problem, understand all the variables that affect it, and then find a solution. And of course, they're different topics altogether, but they work pretty much the same ways.

Venkat Raman  33:07  

Is that what you've been calling Peace Engineering, and saw somewhere that you had referred to this? So is that is that sort of a novel concept? Or is that something that you kind of coined?

Luke  33:19  

Yeah, so the the concept of Peace Engineering is an emerging concepts that I somewhat feel at the forefront of, not really, because I don't think I have any professional repertoire to back that up. But just because my chosen majors, yeah. But there are kind of rumblings in both the nonprofit space, the NGO space, as well as from an engineering side. You know, there's the concept of emergency engineering was introduced by engineers without borders, which basically is, there's an emergency situation, how do we engineer a solution. And peace engineering, in my mind, is really about combining both the ideas and peace and conflict studies and practical engineering, technicality and technical skills. So the way that I always phrase it is that there's a lot of different ways to build bridges. And a community is one, you can build a physical bridge, you can engineer a bridge between, you know, over an obstacle or a valley or so. But you can also build a bridge, you know, between a community and you know, build a partnership, that sort of thing. And so, it's not necessarily I wouldn't say it's a well defined section or a well defined concept, but it definitely is something that is interesting and something that I you know, want to go into and define more. So I couldn't tell you the exact definition of peace engineering. But it definitely is something that I think I'm setting myself up to go into, and maybe make it more build the foundations for it.

Venkat Raman  35:15  

Sounds great, in fact, sounds like great work in progress. So that's great stuff there. So really good luck defining it and getting some more meaning into that and for shape and form.

Venkat Raman  35:34  

Okay, so before we go any further, I thought might be a good time to just reflect a little bit on the pandemic and COVID what it has done, or how it has impacted your experience there. And, you know, and in a lot of ways you've kind of taken advantage, if that's the right word, of whatever opportunities that have come by with that, but how do you feel about it? And how did it really impact you there?

Luke  36:03  [COVID Impact]

Yeah. I mean, so when the pandemic first hit, I actually it was funny. So I read the hot zone when I was in high school, and so I always had like peripheral interest in viruses and pandemics just because that's such a good book, and I was kind of tracking the Coronavirus in Wuhan, like initially and kind of joking my friends back in like December, I was like, oh, what happens if it's going to be a global pandemic. And then of course, it came true. But so we went on spring break, I think like a lot of colleges did.

And the pandemic really started to get bad in the US. And so Swarthmore extended spring break by a week. So we had a two week spring break, which was kind of fun. I got through a lot of skiing in Colorado, kind of take some time off, which was nice. And then, of course, it was announced that we wouldn't be returning very similar to a lot of schools. And at first, you know, I think everyone was kind of shocked.

But, you know, we made the most of it. I was just at home, I did lose a little bit. You know, of course, I think everyone lost a lot of bit of the community aspect. But I've managed to maintain a lot of good contact with some engineering people. So I think I was on FaceTime with some engineering friends for at least two to three hours a day, working through problem sets, that sort of thing. So that was really good.

And then Swarthmore made the decision to go pass fail for all classes. So regardless of status, every class and my sophomore spring was graded as pass or fail, which I think was a really good way to kind of accommodate for all the different situations arising from the pandemic. You know, a lot of students were forced into a position where they had to take care of family members, or they had to assume a role at home, or they weren't in a space where they could do their best studying. So it was a really equitable way to address those differences in instant access.

And then, of course, that summer, everything was remote. And then coming back in the fall, it was decided that freshmen and sophomores would be allowed to return to campus for the first semester. And then seniors and juniors would be allowed to return to campus in the in the spring. And so I elected to find a sublease or not a sublease, but an actual lease that's that fall with four other soccer players, another engineer in my in my class, so I and that was in Philadelphia. So I definitely still got a little bit of like the college experience. I definitely still had the community.

So in terms of like making the most of the situation, you know, we were stuck inside the entire time, but it was still a really good way to kind of get out of our house, get out of like our homes and be away from family to kind of get that independence that I think everyone wants during college and also still have that sort of academic and community support from other squaddies. So that was really nice.

And then I actually enjoyed it so much that I elected to do it again in the spring, so even though I was allowed to return to campus, I stayed off campus in with two other individuals and had another really good time. You know, I was able to cook a lot. I think I developed a lot of skills. What I would say is that, you know, I think everyone And when they graduate college, especially coming out of a place like Swarthmore, where it's all residential, is you're kind of thrown into the adult world, you're like, Yeah, goodness, I need to cook, I need to clean, like, how do I do these things.

So I kind of got a little bit of a head start on that is, what I like to say is that I got sort of a, a jumpstart into to how to take care of myself as a real adult, because as much as you would like to think that you know what you're doing in college, you kind of just don't at all. So I really do think that I made the most of it. And now I'm still living in Philadelphia, and we'll be returning to campus in the fall. But yeah, you know, I think everyone can agree that virtual school wasn't as good as you know, the real thing. And, but it's a given a take, and, you know, you kind of have to give a little bit to the community in order to to, you know, stop the spread. But, of course, you know, the things about being in that community are taken away.

Venkat Raman  41:10  

Let's sort of move along here. And, you know, I think one of the things we want to do is to provide some guidance to aspiring students. So based on your experience, and based on what you've seen so far, what kind of counsel would you give all these students around the world, applying to college or applying to Swarthmore?

Luke  41:34  [Advice to Aspirants]

Yeah. Well, I think like the number one thing is that pretty unanimously, people can agree that the the high school years are some of the most stressful just times your life in general, there's so much going on, you're going through so much, you know, personally. And then there's also the giant decisions about college and constantly having to worry about that process. So I think the first thing that I would say is, I'm sorry, that you're going through. I know that when I was going through, it was just a horrible experience. But it also yields some really incredible opportunities and some of the best times of your life. So it's really exciting in that capacity. And kind of along those lines. I think that a lot of students, particularly those who frequently, you know, would look at Swarthmore, consider Swarthmore are very caught up in kind of the elite college world is, you know, Swarthmore ranking where it is in terms of a bard schools, there is a lot of hype around the numbers and the rankings and where we rank and, and Forbes list or whatever. And frequently, on tours, and on when I talk to students and parents, they're very preoccupied with the numbers. You know, how does it feel going to a top of the world school? How does it feel like what was your SAT? What was your ACT? What were your grades in high school. And frequently, it's the parents asking these things, and I feel so bad for the kids are sitting there trying to make a decision about the community they're going to surround themselves with, are they going to be for years. Because at the end of the day, that's what matters. And that's my advice is that, don't look at the rankings. Look for the community. Look for the type of people that you're going to be around because in the end, like that's who shapes you as a person. If you surround yourself with interesting people who share kind of your same aspirations, for example, I think I've surrounded myself with people who care a lot about academics who care a lot about the world, and are really interested in discussing those things. You know, and I've had a really good time as a result, I think that I'd become a better person because of it. And I've really found a good community. So that's my like, number one piece of advice is if you're applying to college and Swarthmore, make sure the community matches and fourth was a pretty unique community. So if you think it's the place for you, definitely apply but also understand that, you know, Swarthmore isn't for everyone, and that's totally okay. That's totally okay and actually really mature if you know that a school isn't the place for you for whatever reason. So that's kind of what I always say to students on tours, and that's my persistent and number one piece of college advice is that, you know, the college doesn't make you you make the college so your experience will be what you make of it. It will be the people you surround yourself with. So keep that in mind as you apply

Venkat Raman  45:03  

So Luke, we are now coming to the end of our podcast as we wind down, I just thought give you a shot at sharing, you know anything you please, whether its some interesting memories or traditions or, or anything else that you might want to share on this podcast.

Luke  45:25  [Memories: Best Lunches & more]

Yeah, I'm trying to think of certainly anything really important, like my fondest memories, I think one of my fondest memories Oh, sure, two. The first is a very short one. And the second one is a little bit more drawn out. But the first one was one of my most fondest memories with friends. at Swarthmore was just sitting in Sharples, our dining hall. And it was kind of it wasn't any special events or evening. It was kind of just a regular meal. But for some reason, you know, there's a running joke on the soccer team at the time, or making fun of one of the coaches and his antics. I kind of me and all my friends, there's 20 minutes or so where we just did not stop laughing. And like we all look back on it as one of the best lunches we've ever had. And so that was definitely one thing that I really enjoyed. And then the next story is during move out, after my freshman year, I was moving a good friend of mine, Bashar has stuff and he is from Palestine. So I was moving to stuff, get a flight back to Tel Aviv I think at like three o'clock or something and I was moving stuff out of his room for him. And it was, you know, like 130. And of course, it's international flight. And so I am like losing half of the stuff. He's rushing around. I ended up getting into the airport with like, 45 minutes to go. Yeah. And he makes this flight of course. And I think two months later so and I ended up having to like store half of his dorm room for him because he had managed to get it in before he had to go to his flight. But two months later, I get A a box of Palestinian coffee from that. I was like thanks for moving me out. But that was after my freshman year. And I at that time I barely knew him. Yeah. So it was kind of just like an off the cuff. Like, I see you're in desperate need, I will help you move and stuff. But it's kind of just at a college. There's a lot of these random interactions that end up being very meaningful to you. So you know, take advantage. But yeah, those are two of my more fond Swarthmore memories. Yeah,

Venkat Raman  48:03  

No, that's, that's great. That's great. And, you know, there's more memories to be made over the next year now. But for now, thank you so much for both your time and your generosity with stories. Really appreciate it. And I'm sure this will be extremely, extremely beneficial to the audience. So thank you again, and be safe and I will sure talk to you again. Take care. Thank you.

Luke  48:32  

Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me. This was this is a wonderful experience. I really appreciate it.

Venkat Raman  48:37  

Sure thing, thank you for bye.

Luke  48:39  

Alrighty, bye now.


Venkat  48:46

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Luke Neureiter on Swarthmore College.

Luke’s experience is one of focus and enthusiasm.

His dedication to academics, the pursuit of “Peace Engineering” concepts, becoming a Lang Scholar doing social innovation is remarkable.

Luke is heavily involved on campus via soccer, athletics, and clubs like the Design Football Club.

I hope Luke’s story motivates you to research Swarthmore further.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io].

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

Swarthmore College, Lang Opportunity Scholar, College Podcast, US Colleges, College Admissions, College Applications, DFC, Design Football Club, Social Innovation, Engineering, Computer Engineering, Peace and Conflict Studies, undergraduate

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