All posts by Waverly Hart

Library Open House welcomes all to increase library literacy

 Zoe Covey

Features Editor

 As we enter the first full weeks of the semester, students are beginning to receive assignments in classes that are more complex than naming three fun facts about themselves to get to know each other. As professors assign papers, Moodle readings and research topics, students must learn how to access the resources that the College’s libraries have to offer. While in years past, students may have been told to familiarize themselves with the many facets of the library during their first year, this year the library held an Open House advertised to all students. Events like this have been held for the past few years, but several additions were made this time, including a change in the way students were directed from place to place. 

In an effort to take students all around the library and teach them how to access each important spot, the library planning committee created a digital map where students could follow the “Black & Gold Trail” from places like APEX and Timken to the Crow’s Nest along with directions to and descriptions of each spot. 

Librarian of the College Irene Herold added that new this year was the addition of a theme to the classic library tour. “The biggest difference this year was creating a theme for the event, which we will be evaluating to see if we want to continue it for future years. It was ‘TAG! You’re It!’ and refers to Timken/Andrews/Gault for TAG, and our focus on students (as the ‘it’ part).” The inclusion of the students in the theme was not accidental. “We felt a more interactive and engaging experiences (plus doughnuts and other treats) would draw students in and provide an overview of what was available. These are instructional and experiential resources here that all students should know about,” Herold said. 

Students also appreciated the added interaction in this year’s Open House. Teresa Ascencio ’23 completed the challenge and enjoyed the opportunity to gain familiarity with the library. “I thought it was really nice. You know, just like what they had to present, all the information, the way they set it up — of course they had doughnuts, which was a highlight. I thought it was very well planned out, even with the tape of the ground to help people with the trail and such, so I think it was really well thought out and well planned for first years and people who don’t know their way around the school — especially the library,” said Ascencio. 

Ascencio went on to share how she and the friends she completed the challenge with navigated the new platforms and technology that they were hoping to become familiar with. “Well when we first started — because I was with a group of friends — we accidentally wrote like online books, but we needed a physical copy of a book, and so that was kind of confusing, but then we quickly learned how to see if it’s available online rather than a physical copy.”

Professors often like to assign the library challenge to their First Year Seminar courses in order to familiarize their students with the place they will likely spend too many hours to count over the course of their education here at Wooster. Professor Tim Freeze of the music department assigns the challenge every year and feels that it greatly benefits students. 

“I think that it’s important for first-year students in a First Year Seminar setting to be exposed to the fundamentals of conducting research and writing research papers. The starting point of any research project has to be choosing and honing a topic, which one can only do with the use of sources that pertain to that topic,” said Freeze. He also argues that not only does the challenge teach students where things are and how to conduct research, but that, “it introduces you to the idea that it is good and appropriate for you to approach that person for help. Many students arrive at the College with a natural inhibition to wanting to reach out for help with things. This can play out at the level of reaching out for help from a professor, reaching out for help from a librarian, reaching out for help from the Wellness Center, from [the Center for Diversity and Inclusion] — and I’m sure there are lots of different places — from Residence Life potentially, from the spiritual life as well, and so… in some small way, the library challenge acculturates students to realizing it is good and normal and appropriate to go to this person for help, use them as a resource.”

This year’s library challenge has combined teaching the essential resources that students use for research and modernizing the experience with digital aspects, keeping students engaged while making sure they understand not only where the printers are, but how to search for I.S. topics years down the line.

Convocation senior speakers discuss inspiration for speeches

 Ellie Kahn

Features Editor

 The sound of bagpipes floating through the sky, droves of seniors and faculty decked out in academic regalia and the air filled with nervous yet excited energy — Convocation 2019 was held in McGaw Chapel on Thursday, Aug. 22, serving as a benchmark for first years and seniors alike. The ceremony served as the official convening of the 150th academic year, and was dampered only by the rain that fell outside. 

Following an invocation from the Interim Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Erin Guzman, President Sarah Bolton addressed the audience and shared her hopes for the upcoming year. 

The audience then heard from four seniors who each serve as student leaders within an organization on campus: Courtney Lockhart ’20, president of the Black Student Association (BSA), Emilee McCubbins ’20, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), Garima Nayar ’20, president of the International Student Association (ISA) and Alberto Peralta ’20, president of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS). 

While each speech differed in content and length, they were united in their shared themes of forming connections on campus and advocating for what one believes in. 

I reached out to the four seniors to ask about the thought behind their speeches, and their views on the direction of the senior class. A common theme among the speakers was offering advice to first-year students and words of wisdom they wish they had received back in 2016. 

Nayar reflected, “When I was asked to speak at convocation, my initial question to myself was ‘What would I have wanted to hear as a first-year?’ So, I knew my speech had to be student-to-student. I wanted it to be more casual and honest. So I tried to keep it personal, yet helpful.” 

McCubbins echoed this sentiment, sharing that from her speech, “I hope people took away a sense of relief and introspection. Relief in that they can know their insecurities aren’t exclusive to them — none of us really know what we’re doing most of the time, and reaching out to others for help is perfectly okay. Introspection, in that it’s good to take a moment to yourself here and there to remember how far you’ve come in life, in and outside of Wooster.”

Another form of inspiration behind the Convocation speeches was derived from the current political and social climate, which has become notably tense and divisive over the past few years. Peralta’s speech focused on the contemporary treatment of immigrants in America, an issue that he found critical to speak about because of his family. According to Peralta, “I have always done everything for my family. I will continue to do everything in my power to help my family. I believed I could honor those before me by encouraging those after me to make a change and take a stand against the injustices of the world.” 

Peralta then urged the audience to engage with the community around issues they find important, stating, “Whether you’re protesting the violence against trans folk, the human-made fires in the Amazon or the treatment of immigrants in America … I hope people can have some urgency to do some community work; we are such capable individuals and our work will empower this world. Our work is incredibly important to the world.”

Lockhart, too, used the current political and social climate as insight for her speech, expressing that “when writing this speech my inspiration was the reality of our world and the steps that anyone can take to changing its demise. Today, the lines between right and wrong are becoming more and more blurred and people hold too tightly to previous conditioning, become self-absorbed and/or fail to respect others.” Lockhart hopes that the audience left with this message: “It is not your privilege or achievements that make you. It is truly the person that you allow yourself to become and influenced by what matters and changes the world. There is no rush, life isn’t easy, but press through.” As for the direction of the senior class as we approach this academic year at Wooster, the speakers were no less thoughtful in their responses. 

McCubbins hopes that “myself and my fellow seniors will take on our Independent Studies with grace and passion, and that this year will be one of fervent conversation about research … This class is a special group of folks, and I don’t doubt it’ll be a hard year, but I have the utmost faith in myself and my classmates’ capacity to take this year and completely rock it.” 

This thread is reflected in Lockhart’s answer as well, who aims to see “this class finISh and be the role models for the underclassmen.” Adding to this, Nayar wishes that “we, as a class and as a part of the Wooster community, try to help others around us and try to uplift each other as we’re all in the same boat, not knowing where it’s going.”

Finally, Peralta acknowledged the unique timing that the senior class has been faced with, reflecting that “we came to this school and in our first months here we saw an unprecedented shift in politics as Trump began his first term. We have experienced challenges in all avenues, we have felt changes at all levels, and we are those in charge of making sure we take care of the country we will inherit someday. I just hope that we continue to work on ourselves and not succumb to pressure in our lives. I hope we can become leaders in our own respective fields and that we continue to learn.”

Be patient with your transition to Wooster

 I have two very distinct memories from my first couple weeks on campus in the fall of 2016. The first: I was intensely cutting a bagel with one of the metal sticks Lowry refers to as knives. Little did I know that right in front of me was a contraption that would forever change my Lowry experience: a bagel cutter. A senior on my field hockey team approached me and lovingly pointed out that instead of disfiguring my plain bagel, I could instead gently put it into a small black case and slice it cleanly through. My embarrassment was quickly replaced with gratitude that I had someone who was willing to help me with something so simple as breakfast foods.

The second memory that sticks out clearly was on a cool, late August night. A teammate and I were walking back to Andrews Hall (can’t wait to have you back, Andrews) and decided to sit outside and look at the stars. We got to talking about our experiences in high school and what we were most excited for going forward into our college careers. Among many other things, that night we made a promise to each other. We promised that college was going to be different. We promised that we would be open with each other and to our experience at Wooster. We promised that we were going to make the most out of our next four years. 

Looking back on these two moments seems like a lifetime ago. I remember being completely overwhelmed my first few weeks on campus. Hell, the first semester was a whirlwind of emotions. Yet, that first semester set the groundwork for the amazing experience I have been privileged to have at the good old College of Wooster (Roll Scots!). If I could give any advice to incoming first years — which I’m going to since that’s the whole point of this article — it would be to be patient, be open and be kind. 

Be patient with your transition. You’ve heard it before, but moving away from home is hard. Wooster didn’t start to feel like home right away; it took a lot of time to become comfortable with my surroundings and the person that I was becoming. While others may not be as privileged as I am with a family and home that I missed, it is still good to recognize that it’s OK to not be 100 percent OK right away. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to be a bit overwhelmed, but know you can still accomplish your goals while feeling this way.

Be open to new opportunities and guidance from those around you. Whether it’s a senior giving you the best way to cut a bagel in Lowry or being vulnerable with a new friend, allow yourself to be open to new experiences. By this, I mean more than just joining all the clubs you want. That’s still great advice, but truly be open to new perspectives and people. Wooster can be an excellent place to get out of your bubble, but you have to make the effort. 

Finally, be kind. Be kind to your new friends who are just as nervous as you are, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Be kind to yourself as you handle this amazingly terrifying experience. 

Being at Wooster will slowly begin to feel normal, if it doesn’t already. Your own bagel and star moments will stick with you for the next three years and then suddenly you’ll be wondering how the hell you’re writing an advice article as a senior. Trust me, it happens. 

 Grace O’Leary, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at GOleary20@wooster.edu.

Don’t be afraid to talk with staff

 After spending the last three years at The College of Wooster, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up on that may be helpful for those of the Class of 2023 who slept through our riveting orientation schedule. Some of those are simple — you don’t have to ask to go to the bathroom, don’t go to Lowry at noon on chicken tender day, stay away from the seniors’ carrels — but perhaps the best piece of advice I can give is this: reach out to the faculty, staff and administration.

No doubt, you’ve sat through a talk or two given by our fearless leaders at this point. As a first year, I remember looking up to those confident, professional folks standing behind the podium at McGaw or in front of my 30-person Intro to Education course and thought, “Wow.” The first time I interacted with a dean, I was terrified I would say or do something wrong — even though they had just popped into my First Year Seminar to introduce themselves and invite us to their office. When I stepped into my first office hours, I stumbled over my words, afraid that one wrong word would forever tarnish my professor’s thoughts of me and subsequently tank my grade and collegiate career.

Spoiler alert: it’s not like that.

The folks who work at The College of Wooster are here for a reason. They want to help you. Sure, it may be awkward initiating conversation with your professor about something not strictly related to the syllabus. Walking into the Dean of Students’ office hours just to see what’s going on may feel uncomfortable at first. Shooting President Bolton an email to invite her to your organization or thank her for a talk can be super intimidating. 

But these relationships are incredibly valuable. In your years here, things are going to get hard. I have lost track of the number of times I have showed up to Katie Davis’ office in Financial Aid just to unload my confusion and frustration about what being a good college student means. When a family emergency put my internship in limbo, Dean Steffensen already had an idea of what was going on. When everything seemed like it was freefalling, Dr. Krause opened her ears and her heart and helped me figure out a solution. Without reaching out, I would have had to go through so many more trials and tribulations on my own — and life doesn’t need to be a solitary act.

The folks who work here want to help you — and building those bridges make being a Fighting Scot all the more wonderful an experience. So reach out when you need help, but keep them updated on the good stuff, too. When I was accepted into a post-graduate program, Dean Benson was the first person I wanted to tell. When I had a breakthrough for what my Independent Study would be, I could talk [Director of Lowry Center and Student Activities] Julia Zimmer’s ear off about it. [Chief of Staff and Secretary of the College] Angela Johnston’s words of praise after speaking at Convocation meant more to me than I could explain. Looking back on my time here, it isn’t the classes or the academic buildings or the peppermint mochas that make up my positive memories — though, the peppermint mochas are a great plus. It’s the people.

Never be afraid to talk to staff. There’s a reason they decided to devote themselves, in some capacity, to ensuring that college students have a positive time in their undergraduate years. You’re not burdening anyone — in fact, you may make your own positive memories with them. Reach out, and forge your own Wooster journey.

 Emilee McCubbins, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at EMcCubbins20@wooster.edu.

Embrace the benefits of a liberal arts college

 Now that you’re a student at The College of Wooster, it’s important to think about the purpose of a liberal arts education. So far as I can tell, the idea behind a liberal arts education is to expand your horizons and get a wide breadth of knowledge that can be applied to a centralized discipline. In other words, in order to succeed in solving problems from a desired discipline, it’s imperative to have knowledge of other disciplines.

Taking classes outside of your major is more than just a requirement at Wooster — it’s an essential part of being a well-rounded adult in an increasingly interdependent world. As we begin to study more about any given topic, the amount of information that can be learned only by the original area of interest will begin to dwindle quickly. However, by applying information we have gained in outside areas of study, we can begin to solve a multitude of multifaceted problems.

Some of the more interesting I.S. projects I’ve ever seen in my time at Wooster have been a result of a strong interdisciplinary research basis. I can even personally attest that some of my favorite classes at Wooster have been a part of the core curriculum requirements and not something that I have necessarily taken in the mathematics department (sorry Dr. Ramsay). I even picked up a second major from taking additional courses outside of my intended field in my first semester.

Maybe you don’t want to take classes outside of your major. That’s okay; you still have to do so. There are all sorts of fun classes to take! You could take an astronomy course with Professor Wentzel-Long, you could learn about the Amish with Dr. McConnell, or you could even take scuba diving. There is a plethora of exciting options that are waiting for you to focus in on and explore with the innate curiosity that we all have.

Whether you want to be an English major or a math major, take classes that lay beyond your comfort zone. These courses may be difficult, but they will expand your horizons and help you to become a well-rounded adult. Or, maybe you’ll never use the information you learned in class, but it’s a fun piece of trivia that helps to make your life a little more exciting and to bring a little bit more knowledge into your life.

 Isaac Weiss, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at IWeiss20@wooster.edu.

First, take a deep breath

 Class of 2023, take a deep breath. You’re here. You’re in college. Welcome home. Some of you might be taking this for granted; others know that they fought incredibly hard to make it. Some of you will feel like the brightest kid in the room; others will have to deal with crippling imposter syndrome every day that they’re here. Some of you get to drive home this weekend and spend time with your loved ones; others will not get to hug their families for months or even years. Still, you are all part of the Class of 2023. Be there for each other. 

Beyond classes, athletics, student organization meetings and weird freshman relationships, be there for each other. Your four years will have a beautiful variety of ups and downs, and sometimes the downs will feel way longer and way deeper than any of the highs. But if you reach out through those ups and downs, your community will be there to be a positive light in what might feel like a sea of darkness. Maybe you think you found “your people” at ARCH a couple of months ago, but you’ve got 2,000 more people to meet. You might join a student organization after Scot Spirit Day and fall in love with it. You might join Greek Life (I am definitely partial to Delta Chi Delta on this topic) and find a new family. You might join student government (shoutout to SGA and Campus Council!) and have the honor of representing your fellow Scots. You might become a Tour Guide for Admissions or an RA for ResLife and welcome future classes of Scots to their new home. Alas, I am in no way equipped to see into your future. 

There are a few practical suggestions that I feel like sharing, and you can decide whether you want to read the words of a weird old senior or not. Here are some of those suggestions. 

When you’re in Lowry with your friends, just put your phone away. Start by creating in person relationships first, social media can come later. And yes, that is a very good dog meme. 

Enjoy being bored. For some reason we have decided to measure our success on how busy we are, but it’s time to take some time to listen, be silent and meditate. Oh, and take a walk at Wooster Memorial Park. 

Very few things in life are extremely valuable. That B- on your First Year Seminar essay will not be the end of your academic career. 

Read for pleasure. Find a good book, maybe a novel, and read that in your free time. And if you want a book suggestion, try Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s one of my personal favorites. 

I cannot promise you that the road ahead will be easy. But I can tell you that these next four years will be years of growth and memories you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Connect deeply and enthusiastically with those around you. And don’t worry, none of those around you have it all figured out — even (or especially!) the seniors. The plans you are making now might be short-lived, but be open to the hundreds of other paths that will open up in front of you. And if you ever need a friend, I am sure you can figure out my email address. 

 Marco Roccato, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at MRoccato20@wooster.edu.