First-years find their way

freshtoversSarah Coon, Hannah Cooke, and Lisa Kaucher decided they would like a little extra help with their social science seminar in the Westover Honors Program this spring.

The three “Freshtovers,” as first-year honors students are called, did not have much background in economics so they asked Dr. Dan Messerschmidt if he would have coffee with them. They found the hour-long conversation so helpful they decided to invite other professors to lunch. They dined with Dr. Ed DeClair, director of the Westover Honors Program, and Tracy Simmons, an instructor in the program.

“Westover Fellows are generally very resourceful and outgoing, but these three young women are also incredibly engaging,” Dr. DeClair said. “It was indeed a pleasure to be invited to lunch by Sarah, Hannah, and Lisa. I am still waiting for my second invitation.”

Then they decided to get to know John and AJ Eccles, and were even invited to Eccles’ lunch date one Wednesday. They’ve since had dinner with the Eccles and met their grandchild. John is vice president and dean for student affairs, while AJ is a math instructor. “It’s really cool how family oriented they are,” Sarah said.

For her part, AJ Eccles thinks these three first-year students are special for deliberately reaching out to faculty and staff.

“I think what strikes me is how purposeful they are about creating their college experience,” A.J. Eccles said. “They have been intentional about choosing activities and involvements. They are creating community within their peers (they made an Easter dinner for several of the students in their hall.)  They have taken this idea that faculty and staff are very accessible and run with it. I think they see every person as an opportunity to expand their world. Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious. The world is their oyster, so to speak.” 

The students are amazed at the response they have received.

“At a big school my friends don’t even know what the dean of students looks like,” Sarah said.

“Everyone is so nice and welcoming,” Hannah said, noting that other students will even lend them their cars.

The trio have become fast friends, supporting each other in their varied extracurricular activities. Sarah is on the basketball team; Hannah runs cross country and track; and Lisa is in the Kappa Delta Sorority.

They will part ways for the summer with Sarah headed to Costa Rica for a six-week language program; Lisa to Germany for a job in human resources for a nursing home chain; and Hannah hoping to go to South Africa with an LC Study Abroad Program.

When they return in the fall, they already have a list of faculty and staff to invite to lunch.