ALMA MATTERS: From Ramaz to Binghamton University: Interview with Hanna Sholes ‘18


Hanna Sholes graduated from Ramaz in 2018 and is currently a sophomore at Binghamton University. She is studying Politics, Philosophy and Law and is active in the Binghamton Jewish community. The Rampage interviewed Sholes about her college experience.

CS: Why did you choose Binghamton?

HS: I initially applied to Binghamton on a whim when I was submitting my early decision application for a different college. After decisions were released, it was clear to me that Binghamton was an option I needed to seriously consider. I decided to spend a weekend visiting the campus. That weekend changed the trajectory of my life, as I immediately felt at home and knew Binghamton would be a great place for me.

CS: What is your major and why?

HS: I am majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Law in the Harpur College of Arts & Sciences at Binghamton. I chose this major becuase it allows me to study a broad range of subjects and take many different courses during my time in college.

CS: Could you tell us about the various Jewish programs on campus?

HS: Chabad and Hillel both have huge presences on campus. I am very affiliated with the Chabad of Binghamton. They are constantly bringing people together, hosting events and shabbos meals and offering a wide variety of Jewish learning classes. Even during COVID-19, Chabad worked tirelessly to operate in the best, safest ways possible, while still providing a homey and comforting feeling to Binghamton students.

CS: What is the Jewish community like at Binghamton?

HS: The Jewish community at Binghamton is whatever you want it to be. The Jewish community is more than happy to have you, for as little or as much as you want to be involved. I felt at home when starting Binghamton, and the Jewish community quickly became a place where I made so many friends, and have been a part of many different programs.

CS: As a New Yorker and city kid, was it difficult to adjust living in a small town such as Binghamton?

HS: Not at all. In fact, the location was one of the reasons I was attracted to Binghamton. Growing up in New York City, and also knowing that I will spend a significant amount of time living in the city post-college, the idea of going to a campus school and living in a small town really appealed to me. In Binghamton everything and everyone is really close by, and it’s great to live out of a big, bustling city for a bit.

CS: What are some of the positives and negatives about living in Binghamton?

HS: Positives would be the scenery: it is absolutely beautiful here. One of my favorite aspects of Binghamton is the nature preserve on campus, that offers many different hiking trails and beautiful walking trails. I love spending time there in the fall and spring. I also love that I am far away from home, but not too far and that I can always get home/to school in a car, rather than relying on a flight. A negative about living in Binghamton is that it can get quite cold in the winter, but as long as you bundle up, you’ll be fine!

CS:  How has COVID-19 affected your college experience? 

HS: I am an in-person learner, and I thrive in a classroom setting with a notebook and pen and not any electronics. Unfortunately, since schooling is virtual, it is much harder to be as attentive in class, and I realized I am a worse student on Zoom, where there are constant distractions.

CS:  Did Ramaz help prepare you academically for Binghamton? 

HS: Ramaz absolutely prepared me for college academics. Switching from 11 classes a day to a maximum three classes was a game changer. Ramaz really helped me with time management. I am able to successfully balance my academic life and my social life, without feeling overwhelmed. At Ramaz I was accustomed to taking eight finals in a row, so when I came to college and only had four finals a few days apart, I was well prepared on how to study for my exams. 

CS:  Is there anything else you would like to share about your Binghamton experience with the students of Ramaz?

HS: During my senior year of high school, I was so caught up in the college admissions process, and felt like my worth was dependent upon an acceptance letter from college. When that did not happen for me for the early decision round, I was upset. All these years later, my advice is that at the end of the day, you will end up somewhere, and you will 99.9% be extremely happy at that school. If you aren’t happy, you can transfer! The college admissions process has nothing to do with who you are as a person. This is definitely something I wish I could’ve told my 17 year old self.