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Monmouth College life begins for Class of 2021

Barry McNamara
Students of the Monmouth College Class of 2021 took the next step in their “one wild and precious life” on Saturday, officially joining the College community during the matriculation ceremony.

Members of the class began arriving on campus July 30 to participate in Summer Opportunity for Intellectual Activity, and they continued to trickle in through the first three weeks of August. But Saturday was the first time they gathered together as a class.

“You are not alone,” President Dr. Clarence R. Wyatt told the students, who were seated in red folding chairs on the Wallace Hall Plaza under a bright, sunny sky.

Wyatt reminded the new students that they have the support of the entire Monmouth community.

“We’re all here with you to keep your eyes on the prize,” he said.

After hearing from College officials, members of the Class of 2021 signed the “Monmouth College Pledge,” which symbolized their induction into the Monmouth College community.

But first members of the Class of 2021 were welcomed by Monmouth Chaplain the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, who asked in her opening prayer that “may feeling homesick quickly be replaced by feeling at home.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management Trent Gilbert told the new students “you are why Monmouth College exists, and we are excited you are joining the Monmouth College community.”

Gilbert told the students to “be responsible” for good times and bad and to not to be passive. He also encouraged them to “take initiative to make things happen for yourselves.”

Dean of the Faculty David Timmerman followed with a core message he called “simple, empowering and brief.”

“We will teach you,” he told the class, “but only you can learn. ... It is the most empowering thing that you can do, to realize that only you can learn.”

Javier Abrego ’18 of Chicago, president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College encouraged the Class of 2021 to value their peer mentors.

“We’ve lived through this – all you young ones have to do is listen,” he said.

Abrego also encouraged the new students to “make a huge mistake ... don’t be afraid to fail,” and to “be kind to your soon-to-be friends, and be kind to yourself.”

That was also stressed by Wyatt in his remarks to the Class of 2021.

“Many of the issues that divide us can be solved, or at least diminished, by an attitude of mutual respect,” Wyatt said.

He also encouraged the new students to “seek out people who look and talk differently than you.”

The president also had a message for the many parents in the audience, telling them “as parents, (my wife) Lobie (Stone) and I know how hard it can be to let go of your child.”

“Having our children grow into strong, independent people is our greatest joy,” he said. “We are partners together in the growth of your daughters and sons.”