A festive, travel-themed Freshman Orientation set the stage for Southwestern Michigan College’s Class of 2019 to embark on a two-year journey when fall classes start Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Metaphorical references abounded to educational expeditions, with passports stamped at each stop for entry into a prize drawing, including $500 scholarships awarded to Alex Wheeler and Rebecca Fuller.
Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Scott Topping, highlighting the Academic Roadmap, said, “Like any sort of trip that has an ultimate destination — graduation in this case — the real fun of a vacation is found in two places. The anticipation, thinking about it and planning. And, on the other side, thinking back on fond memories.”
For some parents, such as Lynn Scholten-Bingham, orientation offered an excursion down memory lane.
The former Lynn Goss of Borgess Medical Center graduated from SMC’s nursing program in 1989, before the three residence halls some 400 students moved into Aug. 31.
“I worked in Dowagiac at Borgess-Lee about eight years ago and a nurses group of us toured campus then,” she said. “It’s very nice. We’re super excited she’s going to be staying at the dorms” in Thomas F. Jerdon Hall.
Her daughter, Aryn Schoulten from Plainwell in Allegan County, is majoring in the versatile career field of environmental science with the goal of “working in different countries. We’ll see where it takes me.”
“Mom went to Ferris, too, so she’s also thinking about doing that,” Scholten-Bingham added.
The mother and daughter trekked around campus with Aryn‘s friend, Miss Hartford 2017 Mariel Hallgren, a visual arts major living in William M. White Hall.
“She knows where everything is, so I’m following her,” Scholten said of her friend since kindergarten in Hartford.
Scott Topping and Deans Dr. Stacy Horner of the School of Business and Advanced Technology and Rebecca Jellison of the School of Nursing and Health Services introduced themselves at Alumni Plaza in the center of SMC’s Dowagiac campus as the people privileged to call their names at graduation.
Vice President of Instruction Dr. David Fleming was busy at White Hall, moving in his son, Lincoln.
SMC President Dr. David Mathews expounded on the theme, “You Belong.”
“We are trying to do everything within our power to help you be successful here and to connect to the college,” Mathews said. “I hope you use some time today to seek out your faculty members and get to know them because you belong in their classrooms. They’re here because they care about your success.
“Connect yourselves to clubs and organizations we have on campus. We see the same thing national data tells us: Students who get connected in their classes, outside class and through jobs on campus are successful. They persevere and graduate.
“At the end of two years we want you to be graduates of Southwestern Michigan College,” Mathews said. “We will provide you with tutoring at no cost for every subject we have. We will provide you the best learning environment with faculty who have chosen to spend their careers teaching because that’s what they love to do. We will provide you with opportunities to get involved in things maybe you were involved in before — theatre, choir, band, athletics through our intramural program — and opportunities to get involved in things maybe you have never been involved in, such as rock climbing. That’s part of college life. We want you to really engage because you belong here.”