Invasion of Privacy: Ambitious RA Deb Bertlesman enriches student life with talents

In just two short years at Geneseo, sophomore Deb Bertlesman has filled her schedule to its maximum capacity, infiltrating all areas of involvement and becoming a vital part of student life.

"The best part of Geneseo - easily - is the people," Bertlesman said. "I like hanging out with all different kinds of people. It makes me happy." That love resonates in the activities to which she has dedicated time.

In her first year at Geneseo, Bertlesman got involved with hall council as an Inter-Residence Council representative, served as an editor for MiNT magazine and represented Cothurnus on the Academic Affairs Committee.

Before entering her sophomore year, she applied for a position as a residence assistant and was eventually placed in Suffolk Hall for fall 2008. "I love Residence Life," Bertlesman said. "They are the biggest family you can find at Geneseo. I like being involved for so many reasons."

Bertlesman said that one of those reasons is administrative and business responsibility. In the future, she hopes to earn a Ph.D., to work on a college campus as a professor or residential director. Her next step toward that goal is taking over as assistant residence director of Ontario and Seneca Halls next semester.

Bertlesman began working in Seneca's Writers House when it opened its doors in the fall. "Writers House matched my passion for writing and my love for Res Life," she said.

According to Bertlesman, writing, specifically poetry, has always been an important part of her life. While attending St. Anthony's High School, a Catholic school on Long Island almost as big as Geneseo, Bertlesman was editor-in-chief of a literary magazine. Currently, Bertlesman is one of two editors-in-chief for MiNT Magazine.

"I've changed very little in terms of involvement," she said.

She has expanded her creative capacity, however, by helping to found Different Now, Geneseo's just-formed spoken word collective. Bertlesman's goals for the group include increasing its presence at Geneseo and reaching semifinal competition at the international poetry slam next year.

"Geneseo is known sometimes more as a science school than as a humanities one," she said. "I want people to know more about the arts and I think slam poetry is a great way to do that."

Bertlesman said her personal interest in slam stems from her love of poetry and the opportunity to address the subject matter of her choice (often women, physicality and the environment), with a high level of feedback from an immediate audience.

"I've always loved writing and reading," she said. As an English major, Bertlesman takes that passion into the classroom. "English, because I have so many interests, is one of the most comprehensive areas of study. It pulls in from so many other fields. I chose it partly because I'm indecisive."

Struggling to decide, Bertlesman said that some of her favorite courses have included Chris Perry's INTD 105 class on metafiction, Tom Greenfield's Absurd Drama, Caroline Woidat's Women and Social Reform and Rob Doggett's Poetry and Beauty. "I remember that in writing papers for those classes, I took time and really enjoyed it," she said.

Carrying some experience from high school, Bertlesman has also been involved with theater production at Geneseo, specifically as a member of VegS.O.U.P. and as a lighting designer.

"I took a lighting class with Johnnie Ferrell and got involved in it my freshman year by just showing up in Brodie," she said. "I liked lighting the best because it was the most silent way to create something. I think I appreciate when something is really complex but it can appear as simple and it's really not."