Amelia Cotter ’07

Amelia Cotter ’07

Major: B.A. German, History; Employment: Writer/Author (

Amelia Cotter ’07

Graduation Year



  • English & Communication Arts
  • History

Tell us why you chose to attend Hood? Was there a particular moment when you knew Hood was where you wanted to pursue your bachelor’s degree?

I knew from the moment I opened that big envelope full of brochures and information from Hood that it was going to be the right fit for me. I wanted to attend a small college with a big personality, and Hood felt like my destiny and a place where doors could open for me. It felt like someplace faraway, like a gateway to the world, even though Frederick is only about an hour and a half from my hometown of Bel Air, Maryland. Hood had everything I was looking for academically, and immediately felt like home, even before I ever set foot on campus.

What prompted you to pursue a degree in German? Did you have a specific related career or job in mind when you chose this major?

I was originally a Biology major and have still been able to pursue my interests in animal welfare and wildlife conservation in other ways.  I had a life-changing experience during the summer between freshman and sophomore year, when choosing a college major felt like the most important decision I would ever have to make, and I decided to change my path to German and History. The choice to pursue a degree in language, literature, and history ended up making a lot of sense with my ultimate career path of becoming a writer and storyteller.

Did you have a particular professor, course, or campus experience that had an impact on your undergraduate and post-graduate success?

I had so many formative experiences with so many inspirational people. I traveled to Nicaragua with Dr. Boucher during my freshman year. I was on the tennis team with Dr. Latkovski, who was our coach and later my History adviser. I traveled to Germany with Dr. Pincikowski, who was also my German adviser. Dr. Derbes, Dr. Ruffin, and Yvette Webster were particularly influential to me. One of my freshman year biology professors told us at the end of the semester, “If you have a good opportunity, take it,” and those words have often helped me make brave choices. I was also something of a troublemaker at times, which I’ll politely file under miscellaneous “campus experiences.” But I have a lifetime of memories with the absolute best people.

You were fortunate enough to have multiple High Impact Experiences as a Hood student, including two study abroad experiences to South America, and Heidelberg, Germany. What would you say was the most challenging part of these two experiences, and what was the most rewarding?

Venturing to the rainforests of Nicaragua and later the Amazon in Ecuador pulled me from my limited, suburban, U.S. worldview and very much, as they say, broadened my horizons. These experiences were beautiful beyond words and taught me a lot about myself—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I learned that I was simultaneously more adventurous than I had ever imagined, but pretty privileged and not very tough. I was thrilled to encounter vampire bats and venomous snakes in the wild but cried when I got mud on my good jeans and ouchies from my [many, many] mosquito bites. As for Germany, it is impossible to articulate how incredible it was to live there. I entered with clunky schoolgirl German skills and left with fluency. I lived there for an entire year, navigating multiple countries, without a cell phone—surely one of my crowning achievements, considering that my iPhone is resting in my lap right now. It was a lonely and overwhelming time, and the most exciting time of my life. I met my best friend in Heidelberg and wrote the first drafts of some of my books and published works there. At all of the above, I had the best culinary experiences of my life. I met incredible people I will never forget and learned so much about the natural and human worlds.

As a former Honors Program scholar, what advice would you give to current Hood students to help them manage their academic responsibilities, while still ensuring they have enough time and energy for extra-curricular campus activities?

Do the work first, have the fun after. This will help you create healthy habits down the line as well. I kept a pretty disciplined schedule when it came to balancing my classes and extra-curriculars and did some kind of homework or studying every day. The most vital aspect of that was to give myself plenty of “me” time to retreat and take care of myself and my responsibilities. I also went to bed at a reasonable hour and got up early…ate my vegetables, and so on. These things sound cheesy, but structure and focus are key in achieving your goals, especially in this world where there is so much expected of us, and so much constantly pulling at our attention and energy. To that end, have fun and try to give yourself a day off as well. The world will take all of your time if you’re willing to give it. Practice now saving some of that time for yourself.

Your writing seems to be focused on the paranormal, especially in your books This House: The True Story of a Girl and a Ghost and Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State. How did you become interested in these tales and how you go about researching your material?

I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid, and I was always fascinated by ghost stories. Even before I could really read, I would spend hours at the library, browsing the Occult section and picking up old Gothic romance novels. Now, the paranormal has taken on a life of its own as, at times, this bizarre cultural phenomenon. Lucky for me and my books sales, I guess, but I remember when connecting to history and historic places, and with your hometown and community, through ghost stories and urban legends was thrilling and made the world a more wondrous place. I have never been too concerned about proof that ghosts are real or not, but am fascinated by peoples’ experiences, the exploration of why the supernatural fascinates us so much, and the ways we relate to the world and each other through what I consider to be these modern mythologies. I also love a good old-fashioned scary story. My research takes me to some odd corners of the world and the internet for sure. One day, I’ll be interviewing someone about their experiences at a haunted place, and the next day I’ll be combing the Library of Congress for plat maps of that place. Folklore is important, history is important, and peoples’ personal experiences are important, and the three don’t always line up with each other. I’ll spend hours in newspaper archives trying to find out if a famously haunted speakeasy was ever even a speakeasy at all. But even if it wasn’t, it doesn’t mean it’s not haunted, or that the legends and stories behind the hauntings are any less valid or cool.

One last question! What does “Hood is Home” mean to you?

I think about Hood all the time. It was only four years of my life—technically three with my study abroad—but feels like so much more and feels like “home” to me. I made lifelong friends and felt welcome and safe there. I was comfortable and inspired there. Frederick is a cool town with great art and museums and music. I came in the first year that Hood officially went coed. There was a vibe, and I was so happy to be part of it. Last year, I visited with my husband Jonathan and gave him the grand tour of everything. I was filled with so much nostalgia and pride and am so proud to tell people that I’m an alumna of Hood College.