Barry McNamara  |  Published August 21, 2021

‘We Support Each Other’

One journey ends, another begins for the Class of 2025 with ‘so much promise and so much energy.’

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A funny thing happened to incoming first-year student David Dessin as he made his way from Bradenton, Florida, for the start of his Monmouth College experience, joining nearly 200 other members of the Class of 2025 who officially matriculated at a Saturday afternoon ceremony.

Part of the recruiting class for this year’s Fighting Scots football team, Dessin was on an Amtrak train to nearby Galesburg when he met another passenger, Grant Minor, a 1974 graduate of Monmouth. Minor had a Hall of Fame career on the gridiron for the Scots before starting a career in business that saw him serve 11 years as a vice president at Goldman Sachs.

Check out more than 2,000 pictures from move-in week.

As the Illinois countryside rolled by, the two had a long talk about Monmouth, football and Monmouth football.

“He just gave a really inspiring talk,” said Dessin. “He talked to me about how Monmouth is and how to go about it, to stay dedicated.”

Dessin had planned to get a lift to campus from the Galesburg station from a teammate or Fighting Scots coach. Instead, Minor drove him the final 15 miles and even took him around the town of Monmouth, showing him the sites.

“He went out of his way to get me to Monmouth,” said Dessin. “It was a true blessing. Not too many blessings happen like that. As I went to sleep that night and looked back on the day, it really just made me realize that there’s more to life than football. It was inspiring.”

‘We support each other’

As Vice President of Enrollment Management Kristen English addressed the Class of 2025 at the matriculation ceremony on the Wallace Hall Plaza, she brought up Dessin’s story.

“This is the community you’re joining,” she said. “We support our students and we support each other.”

Dessin is one of several new students who had to travel hundreds of miles to be at Monmouth – joining classmates from such locations as California, Washington, the Czech Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago – but English said every member of the Class of 2025 has had to endure obstacles. In total, the new class includes students from 15 U.S. states.

“The past year and a half has been a JOURNEY,” she said of a world turned upside down by COVID-19. “What each of you has achieved and overcome to be here today is nothing short of incredible.”

Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt said matriculation is “my favorite ceremony of them all.”

“Because it’s not just students entering our college; it’s students entering the larger world and the opportunities, and responsibilities, it contains,” he said. “There’s so much promise and so much energy. Who doesn’t love anticipating all the great experiences and learning which is about to happen?”

Just as Minor was there for Richardson to cover the final stretch to Monmouth, the College’s faculty and staff is used to going the extra mile, too, both in and out of the classroom.

“It’s not just students entering our college; it’s students entering the larger world and the opportunities, and responsibilities, it contains There’s so much promise and so much energy. Who doesn’t love anticipating all the great experiences and learning which is about to happen?”
– Mark Wilhardt, dean of the faculty 

“Our student life staff made approximately 1,437 Walgreens runs to pick up medicine, snacks, toiletries and small gifts for students in quarantine or isolation,” said English of the past year during the pandemic. She then referenced Monmouth chemistry professor Audra Goach, who said:

“The most important reason to choose Monmouth is that we support you. If I have a student who wants to do a little bit more, then I involve them in a research project. If I have a student who’s struggling for whatever reason, then I support that student in any way that I can. At Monmouth College, we support you, and we support each other.”

‘What we believe you to be’

Goach’s message touched on possible academic struggles, but Willhardt encouraged the new students to believe in themselves.

“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. “What we believe you to be, four years at Monmouth College will help you to become.”

To succeed in their new journey, Willhardt told the students they would have to learn “a new kind of hard work,” but that Monmouth’s faculty will be right there alongside them.

“Your professors will be there with you at every step in that process,” 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.”

‘Defining moments’

Monmouth alumnus Chris Schwarz told the students that life is about “defining moments and choices that we make.” And he told them that their decision to attend Monmouth “will set a foundation of success for the rest of your lives.”

“I never realized as a student how important my choice would be toward my future, but my life really began on this campus.”
– Chris Schwarz ’09

“I never realized as a student how important my choice would be toward my future, but my life really began on this campus,” said Schwarz, a 2009 graduate who is principal of United High School and is a member of the Monmouth Alumni Association Board of Directors. “I met my wife on the second floor of this building that we stand before, and I recited my wedding vows on these very steps. My current family of four wouldn’t have been possible, had I not made the choice to attend Monmouth College.”

Monmouth’s fall semester classes will begin Aug. 25, following a day when the new students attend their first “Introduction to Liberal Arts” class. Unlike last year, when classes ended just prior to Thanksgiving to reduce travel during the pandemic, this fall’s semester is scheduled to run through Dec. 8, with final exams being held Dec. 10-15.

A majority of Monmouth’s students have been vaccinated for COVID, and an even larger percentage of faculty and staff have received their shots. On Aug. 31, the College will conduct a vaccination clinic on campus. All students, faculty, staff and guests are expected to wear face masks inside buildings, except in residence hall rooms and while eating.

Check out more than 2,000 pictures from move-in week.


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