Duane Bonifer  |   Published February 11, 2021

A Memorable First Year

Top scholars in the Class of 2024 reflect on a different kind of first year.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A year ago, they were among more than 100 students from the Midwest competing for one of the top scholarships at Monmouth College.

This school year, they were among the distinguished members of Monmouth’s Class of 2024.

LUIS CASTILLO: ?The professors are still there to care for you and they're still there to sho... LUIS CASTILLO: “The professors are still there to care for you and they're still there to show that even though we're going through tough times right now, they're still there for you.”On Saturday, Feb. 6, Monmouth welcomed more than 300 prospective students, family members and guests who attended this year’s Fellows and Scholarship Competition. A total of 165 high school seniors from the Midwest competed for the College’s top scholarship. The top six recipients will be notified later this month.

Some of the top scholars of the Class of 2024 have experienced an extraordinary first year at Monmouth. Luis Castillo ’24 said that despite the strange arrangements because of the pandemic, he’s been impressed by what the Monmouth professors have done to make the 2020-21 school year a memorable one.

“The professors are still there to care for you and they’re still there to show that even though we’re going through tough times right now, they’re still there for you,” said Castillo, who is a neuroscience major and a member of the baseball program. “That just stands out even more to me because the professors are not only there to teach you but they’re also there for you if you need anything, and that is regardless if a professor is within your major not.”

Janice Abel ’24 said she knows that the 2020-21 school year has been unusual, but she doesn’t have anything to measure against it because this is her first year of college.

“I wouldn’t know how college is without the pandemic because that’s just how it’s been while I’ve been in college,” said Abel, an English and public relations major from Wataga, Illinois. “It’s definitely been weird not being able to go to events or attend events that have all of these restrictions.”

In September, Abel participated in the Theatre Department’s annual FusionFest, a 24-hour theatre festival. The festival is normally held in the College’s Fusion Theatre in downtown Monmouth, but this year’s edition was held outside in front of Wallace Hall before a socially distanced audience.

JANICE ABEL: I just fell in love with the College the first time I toured it. JANICE ABEL: "I just fell in love with the College the first time I toured it." “We had to be six feet apart when blocking and the audience had to be six feet apart,” said Abel. “It was definitely an odd experience, but I enjoyed it a lot.”

Abel has also discovered a passion for radio working for WPFS-FM, the College’s station. She said she fell in love with Monmouth from the beginning – feelings that have continued to grow throughout her first year at the College.

“I just fell in love with the College the first time I toured it,” she said.

Tyler Houck ’24 of Park Ridge, Illinois, also said he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on because of the pandemic. But the accounting and business major said he’s enjoying his first year on campus as a Monmouth Scot, which also includes being a member of the baseball team.

“I just appreciated that we were on campus in the first place and being able to live in the dorms and have a roommate,” said Houck. “We’ve even been able to do some stuff with the baseball team, such as get in practices by wearing masks and all that. So I think it can only get better from here, and I already am enjoying it. So that’s a good sign.”

Houck said his first year at Monmouth has confirmed the decision he made when he came to campus for last year’s Fellows and Scholarship Competition.

TYLER HOUCK: ?It was definitely the best choice I could have made. I came here for the close cont... TYLER HOUCK: “It was definitely the best choice I could have made. I came here for the close contact you get with professors. I like having small class sizes and a personalized approach to education."“It was definitely the best choice I could have made,” he said. “I came here for the close contact you get with professors. I like having small class sizes and a personalized approach to education. I also like how I can collaborate with fellow students on projects, something that I feel like I couldn’t do at some bigger schools. It’s been a great experience for me, and I’m getting exactly what I wanted here.”

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Did you know?

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