After nearly a year and a half of pandemic-related disruption, schools across the nation are preparing to welcome students back to in-person education—Westminster included. In anticipation of the start of the school year, The Forum reached out to a handful of incoming first-year students to get to know them and hear their expectations for their Westminster experience.
Madeleine Felix is from Marriott-Slaterville, north of Ogden. She has declared a major in business management, and hopes to one day apply her knowledge of business and finance as an antitrust lawyer.
Hannah Henke is from Sacramento, California. Currently, she plans to major in communication.
Jack Williams comes to Westminster from western Colorado. He is currently undeclared, but is interested in applying his experience with international travel to an international business or political science degree.
The following interview with them has been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did you decide on Westminster?
Madeleine Felix: I had sent my transcripts off to a couple different schools and my secretary, bless her heart, forgot to send them. It was this mad scramble of applying everywhere I could. I didn’t think that Westminster would be feasible, but I applied, got accepted, and they sent me a scholarship a week later. I looked into it, fell in love with it, and decided that’s definitely where I would go.
Hannah Henke: I applied to a lot of different schools and did a lot of research, but the reason I decided on Westminster College was the Honors College.
Jake Williams: I have always wanted a smaller school. Personally, I think you get a better education in a smaller classroom environment. Out west, there aren’t really that many small schools, especially in Colorado—then I stumbled on Westminster.
How did going through COVID-19 during high school change your experience of education?
Felix: I think with math, I never really understood it. During the pandemic I became a very active learner and owned my own education, specifically in mathematics. I was able to understand how everything relates to each other, and then use that without anyone holding my hand.
Henke: My biggest thing that the pandemic changed is that I was doing academics along with dancing about six hours a day. So, everything switched from being in the studio for six hours a day to being in my bedroom trying to do everything. I didn’t realize how much motivation comes from my community. On the flipside, academically, I thrived by myself.
Williams: It was a struggle for me, I’m a very social person. So, pretty much flipping a switch after spring break and not being able to see my friends, my teachers and my peers was really, really difficult for me.
What are you looking forward to about college?
Felix: I’m super excited to meet my roommates, they’re the sweetest people ever—also having an in-depth relationship with my peer mentors and the faculty members at the Honors College.
Henke: I’m looking forward to so much, but I think what I’m looking forward to most is getting more variety in perspective. When you’re in one little community, you’re just getting those perspectives, but I’m excited to go somewhere where there’s people coming from multiple places with varying ideas. I’m excited to have those discussions.
Williams: I’m really looking forward to the challenge. High school, for me, was really easy and I never really had to challenge myself. So, being able to have more in-depth discussions is really going to be beneficial to me and will definitely challenge me.
What scares you about college?
Felix: Everything scares me about college. Seriously though, I’m very excited, and I like all of the safety nets that Westminster College sets up.
Henke: Failure, which—logically, I know you learn from failure. I’ve always pushed myself to the breaking point, it’s always ‘you go harder, you learn more.’ I like feeling like I’m doing as best as I can, and it’s hard when you see yourself not doing well.
Williams: I think for me, it’s the unknown: not knowing that many people, not knowing what classes are like or how the workload is going to be or how the classes will be run.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Felix: I want to go in the world and how I want to contribute back to it, specifically the community I’ve grown up with in Utah.
Henke: I want to come out of college having really grown and changed as a person. Getting a degree is important to me, but what I’m really going to college for is to grow and develop as a person.
Williams: I’m hoping to become a more well-rounded person, to meet new people and learn more from others. I’d really like to figure out what I’d like to do with my life as a career.