First Fall Feels

What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your major? It seems like these questions wash over returning and freshman students in waves. “It happens every year,” one student says ungrudgingly.

Faith Gates, a music major, says that right now the campus has a sort of “vibrancy” – there’s “fresh classes, fresh faces.” 

“There’s 16 freshmen on my wing!” says communications major, Hannah Reese.

Lorrie McAlpine, a senior, studies with her sister Christine, a dual-enrolled student, in lower caf. Even in high school, Christine understands what every college student feels – her main goal is “to survive!”

Students are looking to go beyond asking “How are you?” and settling for a smiling “Good.”

Rachel Campos, a geoscience major returning as a junior, appreciates the growing sense of community this semester, especially being off-campus. One of her goals is to be more “involved and invested,” she says.

Gates, a senior, seconds that sentiment. 

“I want to invest as much as I can … not moving on mentally too early,” she says.

Freshmen are pacing themselves in various ways as they juggle friendships and grades. Bella York, a business marketing major, recognizes the blessing of friendships while keeping her focus on staying “grounded in studies.” 

Rachel Garcia, a pre-nursing student, says, “I love the profs. They make it.” 

Still, she’s looking forward to having “a good friendship.”

“I want to learn to love learning,” says Rachel Arneson, a marketing media major. “But I know there are people who are probably struggling more than I am.”

Returning students are finding themselves pushed in new ways.

Sophomore Greece Gates says that switching majors gives her a sense of “déjà vu…and the process of discovery” associated with figuring out which route is best. 

Arianna Sonnenberg, who also just switched emphases, is optimistic: “I’m not going to worry,” she says. “I’m going to focus on studies, and not what I’m going to get from this.”

Instead of drowning in the first-week questions, students are using them as a launching pad to dive in deep this semester. “I love it!” says Olivia Tellefsen, a freshman in education.

“It’s a great place to grow as a Christian,” reflects Olivia Buchan, a freshman pre-med.

Rachel Stotler, a junior in biology and currently studying molecular genetics, is excited to “find a new passion and next phase of life.”

Before transferring, Stotler remembers the struggle to approach science without a Christian perspective. 

“I would say, ‘There’s no way it’s random!,’ and they’d say, ‘Evolution!’ But now, the question ‘Why does this happen?’ is answered with, ‘God’s design,’ more than an ‘I don’t know,’” Stotler says.