My View from South Hill
Monday, August 3, 2009
Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Blank your mind and turn inward. Feel the slowing of your pulse, your heart, and your breathing. You are at rest, and yet you are also poised for the next burst of activity.
You are just like the Ithaca College campus today.
I often focus on how an Ithaca College education transforms our students. But the opposite is also true: our students transform the College. Though we have students in residence year round taking courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, the campus is fundamentally at rest and we are counting our pulse rate while waiting to burst back into life in mid-August.
In less than three weeks, approximately 4,000 returning students will be joined by 2,000 freshmen in the Class of 2013. They are a remarkably diverse and talented group whose experiences, abilities, and enthusiasms will galvanize and challenge the campus. They are people like Haley Meadows of Calabasas CA, who was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 10, underwent surgery to remove part of her back, later in life was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was told to stay away from sports … and who nonetheless led her high school basketball team in scoring and was named second team all-league.
They are Emily Miles, of Prospect KY, who founded the Dream Weavers Mentoring Program at a local homeless shelter, and whom I met this summer, along with her mother and her aunt, during a trip to the area. They are Elizabeth Stoltz of York PA, who founded a 501(c)(3) organization called Food for Thought that is dedicated to eliminating childhood malnutrition. They are Zack Turner, who grew up in a family that traveled up and down the east coast with the carnival, and who along the way discovered a love for photography as well as becoming a certified elephant trainer.
The Class of 2013 includes Yanna Lantz of Tyngsborough MA, who has narrated children’s audio books and is a non-fiction book illustrator, who has received state-wide acting awards, and who found enough additional time to be valedictorian. It includes Emma Walker of Waitsfield VT, who created a rap video promoting sustainability and the use of public transportation. It includes Matthew Pappadia of Bay Shore NY, who was selected from among 500 auditioners to play the lead role in an independent film, Just Like Joe, which won the award for Best Feature Film at the Long Island Independent Film Festival. The freshman class includes MollyRose Mendell of St. George VT, who performs with the Vermont Children’s Theater on Ice, a competitive theatrical skating troupe that placed second in international competitions held in France and Spain. It includes Jeremy Coman of Tulsa OK, who broke barriers as the first male cheerleader at his school. It includes Lauren Mateer of Richboro PA, a weekly columnist in the teen section of the Bucks County Courier Times.
The freshman class includes Jessica Burrell of Owego NY, who was captain of her softball team until a car accident caused severe spinal injuries. Her determined commitment to recovery enabled her to cheer on her teammates during her senior year, graduate on time, and graduate first in her class. And it includes Chloe van Alstine, who saved a life this summer when she dove into the cold waters of northern Cayuga Lake, near her home in Wells NY, to rescue a man who had driven his van off a bridge and into the lake. Chloe is trained as a lifeguard, but noted in an interview with NPR that “It’s just human instinct to want to help another person.”
The Class of 2013 also includes nearly two thousand other sparkling individuals. You can see why we are excited to welcome them to campus and why we believe they will have a huge impact on Ithaca College!
Our freshman class will bring with them to Ithaca their TVs, fish tanks, iPod docking stations, and favorite pillows. They will also bring with them their hopes and dreams, their external bravado and their internal doubts. Most of them will be aware that the transition to college is one of the most significant moments of their lives. It is a voyage whose destination cannot be known. It is a voyage from which there is no coming home (figuratively speaking, of course). It is a voyage that we at IC cannot wait to begin.
Zach Turner, the incoming freshman who grew up with the circus, concluded his application essay with the following thought: “For my next journey [in college], I want to be around beautiful, open-minded people who want to explore, read, discuss, argue, think, create, and always, always play. Although I may now be far from my carnival roots … I am ready for my next creative endeavor, and I can’t wait to see what the next sideshow will be.”
You speak for all of us, Zach.
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