A Silver Screen Among the Trails & Trees

By: Noah Zaiser

The Elon GAP Semester is, without a doubt, people centered. While we’ve all grown individually and learned new things about ourselves, there’s no denying that we’ve learned everything together. So how do we keep ourselves sane throughout the process of intense group- togetherness? The deep/ in depth answer would be that we “overcame group adversity through the skills we learned” or “a group like this utilized every aspect of ourselves to come together as a whole”. Not especially. The real common thread between us came in the form of movies. Think about it. Such a simple concept- the idea of a story being depicted through audible pictures dancing upon a screen. The funny thing is, movies are for everyone, but they belong to certain people. Everyone has a favorite, or one that becomes meaningful to them, and whether they know it or not, the reason behind their love of a particular movie stems from the person themselves. So here, I’ve compiled a detailed list of favorite movies and quotes from said movies from every GAP member and intend to use it to link everything I’ve observed about each Gapper with their best-loved flicks.

Alexa Baer

Favorite Movie: Bring It On (2000)

Favorite Quote: “Why do people always say ‘No offense’ right before they offend you?”

Oh Alexa. If there’s anything I’ve learned about this particular person is that she loves to talk. And you know what? It may be her greatest strength. Out in the NOLS course, Alexa kept everyone entertained (or on edge) with her multiple stories, complaints, and engaging attitude. “Bring It On” is very much a movie about competition and the will to come out on the other side with a greater sense of recognition and purpose, which almost perfectly describes Alexa as an individual. She may not always want to work for her goals, but by god she’ll make everyone know she’s there before she quits, even if it means talking to herself in a GAP group message. So yes, Alexa speaks more languages than just one, and that’s a language that everyone can hear. Others may say it’s time to throw in the towel, but Alexa says “No, Bring it on.”

Angelo Boone

Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Favorite Quote: “Get busy Living or get busy dying”.

Angelo is an interesting guy to say the least. As someone who didn’t even come to the GAP orientation weekend back in April, he’s done a remarkably good job of making himself known, despite the fact that he keeps to himself at times. It’s the perfect synopsis of the Tennessee native: In everyone else’s world, but very much his own. Much like Tim Robbins did in “Shawshank”, Angelo Boone has made the most of his time in the isolated places he has found himself in. During NOLS, I noticed that he was rather comfortable and very busy in all aspects of his surroundings, even when the wilderness was more of a prison than a place to live. You never knew where this kid was, but you always knew he was doing well, and in the end, he came out victorious and continues to do so because of his meticulous nature. It’s safe to say that Angelo wastes no time, and he’s always busy living, that’s a fact.

Mary DiMartino

Favorite Movie: “A League of Their Own” (1992)

Favorite Quote: “There’s no crying in baseball”!

Who is Mary? Is she the chillest girl on GAP? Is she the most down to earth person I’ve met in a while? Who knows. But one thing I absolutely do know is that Mary is unique, and in an important way. Much like the women in “A League of Their Own”, Mary has shown confidence in the fact that she has broken the mold. Also like these women, she has proven herself to be a team player who is always ready to support others on her team. (Us Gappers). While she’s kind to all, she does have an appropriate edge that would suggest a no-nonsense mentality, which fits her favorite quote well. So yes, I truly believe it’s safe to say that she’s in a league of her own.

Emma Gummerson

Favorite Movie: “Fried Green Tomatoes”

Favorite Quote: “Undecided”

As someone who has not seen “Fried Green Tomatoes”, the fact that Emma has chosen such a unique movie does not surprise me, because Emma herself is a unique individual. As someone who has experienced challenges, she has found friendship within the group, and has also found her strength. Perhaps her “undecided” will become a full on quote throughout the course.

Brendan Gallagher

Favorite Movie: “The Usual Suspects” (1995)

Favorite Quote: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”

Brendan. B. Close Enough. Seth. These are all many names Brendan has been unceremoniously given throughout our time here on the GAP Semester, and he’s taken every one like a champ. Unlike some others, Brendan is not at the top of his game. But this is the absolute greatest part of this kid. He’s always almost competent- 26 days and he still doesn’t know a Trucker’s Hitch. 26 days and he still throws together the ugliest yet great tasting meals. He can’t use a Macbook to save his life and he spends more time Facetiming the “homies” or the “squaha-ha-had” than he does anything else, but it doesn’t matter, we love him for it. He’s literally the most likeable person you could ask for. He may seem like a “Usual Suspect”, the tall and athletic stereotype (who just so happens to be one of three people to ever beat me in ping-pong), from an outside glance, but under the surface Brendan is so much more. Or maybe he’s not, he’s B, and we wouldn’t have him any other way. In typical Brendan fashion, his movie choice doesn’t particularly line up with his personality at all, but hey, close enough right?

Neil Howland

Favorite Movie: “Miracle” (2004)

Favorite Quote: “A bruise on the leg is a hell of a long way from the heart, Candy Ass.”

Cornelius Howland is the definition of a miracle. The fact that he’s a part of the Semester is one in itself (a story for another time), the fact that he’s actually smiling in this picture is a miracle, and the idea that he’s going to be with us through December is a miracle as well, and we’re all thankful for it. In truth, there’s not much to Neil. He’s soft spoken with just enough to say, effortlessly funny, and proficient with everything he does. On more than one occasion, I’ve enjoyed the caustic sarcasm he brings to most situations, and the simplistic sense of fun that he adds to it all. Always the one to be straight-edged, he’ll call you out if you’re doing something stupid, or if you’re doing anything at all. Everyone in the group has been on the receiving end of his “Candy Ass” quote, and there’s no better person to deliver it than Neil, the surprise hit of the group. So here’s to the kid who chose to be silent up to the day we left for NOLS, it’s nothing short of a miracle you turned out the way you did.

Samantha (Sammy) Johnson

Favorite Movie: “Step Brothers” (2008)

Favorite Quote: “You have to refer to me as Nighthawk”

Will Ferrell and Sammy are actually pretty similar. Not in the sense that they have the same personality, but that they play a variety of roles. To name a few, she’s the small, quiet girl who got re-vac’d after a stomach bug, the girl who scared Neil and Nate, and the funny, even crass at times person who managed to defy our expectations. In typical comedy fashion, Sammy is often put in situations that invoke unexpected yet hilarious outcomes. This would include the fact that people are just as interested in Gabby (Sammy’s sister) as herself. Also in great comedy style is the way that the genre plays with one’s expectations. Sammy has proven this time and time again by carrying a pack at least 60% of her weight, climbing mountains with wind gusts that could knock her over, and bush-wacking through sticks and leaves that were bigger than her arms. It’s true, you don’t get to make a name for Sammy, she’ll tell you how to refer to herself.

Nate Jones

Favorite Movie: “Good Will Hunting” (1997)

Favorite Quote: “My father used to put on a stick, a wrench, or a belt, and say, “You choose.”.”

Nate “Bones” Jones is the very definition of good will. There’s never been a more optimistic or deeply introspective person I’ve met, and it always seems like the guy is searching for answers. Not the world’s answers, but his own, and it’s unbelievably admirable. In the Wilderness, Nate’s positivity spread faster than the Wildfire we saw on night 5. Always one of the first to wake up, he would shout “Finding Nemo” quotes and make everyone’s morning. He embodies Will Hunting’s character- he is a genius (with words), but he won’t admit it yet. The skill is there, but whether he knows it or not, there will be an important story to tell of Nate one day. Seeing as the film has a current standing of overwhelming critical acclaim on Totten Tomatoes at 97%, I’d imagine the same applies to his life, as his likeability soars above the rest of the crowd. (The 3% minority are sorely misguided). Nate will never shy away from his personal goals, even if life gives him lemons. He’ll choose the toughest way simply because he can, and that he’ll come out stronger than the person he was. Truly one of a kind.

Emerson Loria

Favorite Movie: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

Favorite Quote: “Life moves pretty fast if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it”

We should probably make a movie called “Emerson Loria’s Day Off” because every single day of his life seems like a day off. This is a compliment by the way. With any day off, you’re tasked with making the most of it, or completely wasting it, and Emerson certainly takes his days by doing what he enjoys. One thing I observed from the guy is that he’s his own person. People may say things jokingly towards him, but he’ll fire back in response with good-natured humor and continue to do the exact same thing he did before. An avid lover of media such as movies, music, and video games like myself, Emerson doesn’t try to hide his interests, he only embraces them, and lets them become known among the group. He’s a good guy, and if he and Ferris ever met, I’m more than positive that they’d take a few moments to look at their lives, not missing a single beat.

Tommy Nelson

Favorite Movie: “The Longest Yard” (2005)

Favorite Quote: “Cheeseburger Eddy, you gotta always protect the nuggets, it ain’t easy bein’ cheesy”

This one is too easy. Of course Tommy’s favorite movie is The Longest Yard. One look at him and you’ll be able to see athleticism and a love for sports in an instant. But beyond his “svelte” exterior, there’s more to see, and truly, it’s a great thing. Tommy’s greatest strength was and is the fact that he brings a certain lively and inappropriate energy to almost every situation, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s always looking for a good time, and unless Dave Durant, one of our NOLS instructors, attempts to shut him down during First-Aid, he finds it every time. An avid movie fan himself, I appreciate the fact that he’ll watch and continues watching a multitude of movies, both in and outside of the sports genre. But that makes sense, just like his movie taste, he’s extremely well rounded. If you know Tommy at all, you’ll know “It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy”.

Laura Pacheco

Favorite Movie: “Almost Famous” (2000)

Favorite Quote: “Anyone wanna see me jump off this roof”?

Laura is a really good cook. Does that have anything to do with her movie? Probably not, I just kind of wanted to say it, because that’s what saved me for the last week in the Wyoming Wilderness. Now that we’ve established this, let’s get to what her movie says about her. Almost Famous deals with a guy who just really loves music and gets the chance of a lifetime based upon hard work and expression of the love he has for it. On the trail, Nate and I learned that Laura had recently decided to go into theater, something that she recently decided upon, but has a huge passion for, something that will likely translate into her Elon career. And when you hear about Laura’s drive and ambition for it all, you know she’ll be successful, and much like the breakout success of former Elon student Grant Gustin, there’s almost guaranteed success. The next four years we’re all about to experience are the chance of a lifetime, and Laura is more than ready to take center stage and invite all to watch her take the jump.

Juliana Siler

Favorite Movie: “Now You See Me” (2013)

Favorite Quote: “If by “has been” you’ve been referring to me, I just want to say I’m flattered, because I always considered myself a never-was”.

Juliana certainly picked an interesting movie for her favorite. A rather recent release in itself, “Now You See Me” was, in my opinion, a good movie, but ultimately forgettable, and most critics swept it under the rug before really giving it a chance. As a person, Juliana is about as approachable as they come, but only when you give her the chance, such is the case of her best-loved movie. “Now You See Me” had a wildly original concept for such an sleeper hit, and I think that Juliana Siler is exactly this: much more than what meets the eye. I personally enjoy her quote chosen from the movie, because it only reinforces who she is: someone who considers herself to be less than she really is. Sarcasm abounds from a person like this, and behind it all, we enjoy it, there’s a sense of something truly enjoyable here, and if there ever was a pragmatic person in this group, the award would go to that of Juliana Siler. Consider her to be a “Never has-been”

Cheyenne Wilson

Favorite Movie: “Dirty Dancing” (1987)

Favorite Quote: “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”

In a word, Cheyenne could be described as exceptional. Much like Patrick Swayze in the classic “Dirty Dancing”, she exudes a particular charm and unmatched proficiency that isn’t seen in many people these days, which in turn puts her at the top of her game. Throughout the semester, I’ve personally enjoyed getting a good sense of her growth and ambition to do more, be better, to adapt to the unusual and often foreign surroundings put in front of us. But it’s so much more than this. “Dirty Dancing” was created on a shoestring budget of six million, and went on to gross over one hundred seventy million over the course of its theatrical run, safely considering it a monumental hit. Interestingly enough, Cheyenne stands at a fairly small height of 5’2, but offers a thousand times the results that her size may initially suggest. Both were created small, but both find success through their own individual parts. This is what impresses me most, the quintessential connection to a favorite movie, the perfect match. You may think you know Cheyenne and place her however you will, but know this: you’d be hard-pressed to find a better, more independent person, and don’t you think that one can EVER put Cheyenne in the corner.

So there you have it. As such a diverse group, we’re way different, but we can at least come together through a common bond of the things that inspire us through cinema. As tacky as that statement sounds, it’s kind of nice to escape to something that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. Hopefully this experience continues throughout the semester and maybe even beyond. Here’s to hoping; maybe we’ll create our own stories for the screen one day.


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