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Monmouth College’s new students begin the next chapter in their stories

Barry McNamara
08/17/2019

Monmouth College’s new students begin the next chapter in their stories

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Saturday, Aug. 17, marked the start of a new chapter in the stories of nearly 300 new students at Monmouth College.

Incoming freshmen and transfer students who were not already on campus for summer research and athletics moved into their new homes in Monmouth’s residence halls before making their way in the late afternoon to Wallace Hall Plaza for the College’s traditional matriculation ceremony for new students.

“Today, I stand here to urge you all to tell your own story,” said Magdalynne Bruckner ’20 of Aurora, Ill., president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College. “None of our stories are the same, and that’s the beauty in life. The only common denominator about our stories is that one person should write it – it should be you.”

Bruckner said that is especially true on matriculation day as students move from their homes and take on a new level of independence.

“Those who had a hand in writing your story aren’t here to tell you to study for an exam or think twice about making that mistake Saturday night,” she said. “It’s on you. It is on you to show up and show out, not simply be present. ... A story can be told many times, but only written once.”

Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt told the new students that the College’s faculty and staff will help them develop their awareness of social, political and environmental issues.

“They are seeking to make you stronger,” said President Wyatt. “Stronger in your appreciation of the richness of the human experience. Stronger in your ability to see things from other people’s points of view. Stronger in your sense of responsibility for yourself, for other people, and for our wondrous but fragile planet. Stronger in your courage to commit yourself to a cause.”

And Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt said that Monmouth’s professors are committed to overseeing that development in their students.

“Though right now you may or may not consider yourself a scholar, I want to emphasize that that is precisely what the professors to your left think you are,” he said. “This is why a Monmouth College education is so special: you have teachers dedicated to the prospect of YOUR improvement. As they once invested in their own talents, they have now chosen to invest in yours.”

Monmouth’s incoming freshmen and transfer students are from 181 high schools and 22 colleges in 16 states and 11 countries, according to Vice President of Enrollment Management Kristen English.

“There are students in this class who are less than a mile from their home address at this moment, sitting in the same row as students who traveled thousands of miles to be here from Pakistan, Australia and Ghana,” English said in her remarks.

 Getting Settled

New students were greeted all week long by College faculty, staff and students, who helped them move into their residence hall.

Willhardt was among those who greeted Dametrius “Meech” Lindsey ’23 of Chicago as his car rolled to a stop along Ninth Street on Saturday. Lindsey, who moved into Winbigler Hall, was already familiar with the College, as for the past two years he attended the Lux Summer Theological Institute for Youth.

“Last night, I was perfectly fine, but as we were putting things into the car for the drive here, I thought, ‘This is really happening,’” said Lindsey. “But I got my nerves quieted down on the way here.”

His father, Antoine Larkins, accompanied him.

“I’ve got a bunch of thoughts today,” he said, voicing emotions that most of the other new students’ parents were feeling. “I’m gonna miss him. I’m proud of him.”

Just down the street, Karen Fredrick’ 23 of St. Charles, Ill., was getting some more items for her room dropped off by her parents. A participant in the College’s Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities program, Fredrick has been on campus since late July.

“It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been a good experience so far,” said Fredrick, who learned about Monmouth through a neighbor, former Fighting Scots tennis standout David Johnson ’14.

“She said time’s flying by, and she’s having a good time,” said her mother, Mary Fredrick.

In the middle of campus, Hailey Bates ’23 of Weston, Fla., arrived outside of Fulton Hall. Like the other new students, her car was met by a group of students and staff, eager to help her move in.

“I’m excited,” said her father, Brad Bates. “I’m originally from Galesburg, so Hailey has a lot of family here.”

‘Beginning Again’

In the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott ’s prayer to open the matriculation ceremony on Saturday afternoon, the Monmouth chaplain called matriculation a celebration of “beginning again.” She prayed for the Class of 2023 that “feeling homesick may soon be replaced by feeling at home; that sparks of curiosity and compassion are kindled; that all are blessed with energy and enthusiasm for what lies ahead.”

While some students might feel homesick, Sean Maher ’95 addressed the other end of the spectrum – parents who might be feeling somber about their child beginning college.

“Your homes are about to get a bit quieter, and a bit lonelier and probably a lot cleaner,” said Maher, who is vice president of the Monmouth College Alumni Association. “Know that your student is at a college where the faculty and staff truly care about your student’s well-being and want him or her to succeed.”

Earlier in the afternoon, students who were part of Monmouth’s Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activities program presented their research in the Center for Science and Business.

Nearly 50 students participated in the three-week long program. They dove into a diverse array of topics, including: wolves at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, astrophotography using the College’s 20-inch Trubeck Telescope, recreating the ancient Greek Olympics and examining student life at Monmouth High School during World War II.