A few weeks ago the class of 2008 graduated from William Jewell College. When that group arrived, we wondered, as we always do, who would be the outstanding scholars, who would be the outstanding athletes, who would change the College as much as the College changed them. It was fun to watch them take the Jewell Journey with us for four years.
As they left us, these seniors said to us in many ways that they found value at William Jewell College. They found value in being surrounded by talented peers. We heard story after story about how they were challenged by their classmates. They were challenged to be better students; they were challenged to serve those who are less fortunate; they were challenged to be more adventuresome. They pushed each other to greater achievements.
They also found value in being surrounded by outstanding faculty members. They told stories of how faculty members helped them to think through questions from new perspectives; how faculty members helped them develop their research communication skills; how faculty members helped them see their new potential for achievement.
These seniors talked about their journey through the core curriculum that is designed with particular outcomes in mind. They reflected on their confusion and anxiety as first-year students when they struggled with the demands of college life, especially the more challenging demands of the classroom in which great classmates and great faculty asked more of them than they were comfortable producing. They reflected on the value of that curriculum as they confidently leave here for the next adventure.
These seniors also talked about the value of experiencing college in Liberty and Kansas City. The combination of a quiet small town and a vibrant city seemed just right to them. They could sit on the hill and think and work and, within minutes, attend a Harriman-Jewell Series event or work at Harvesters. They could attend a WJC basketball game and watch the Kansas City Chiefs play. They could enjoy a classmate’s art show in Stocksdale Gallery or head for the Nelson-Atkins Museum. It seemed to them a perfect location.
Finally, these seniors reflected on the opportunity they have had to think about the big questions of life. For some, those questions were stimulated by roommates. For some, the biggest questions were faced while studying overseas. For some, it was the internship at Big Brothers Big Sisters that forced consideration of life’s most important issues. Whatever stimulated those questions, our seniors appreciated the fact that they could address them in an environment where they were surrounded by thoughtful, supportive mentors.
Where did our seniors find value in their Journeys? They found value in their classmates, in their faculty, in their classwork, in being in Liberty and Kansas City, and in facing the big questions of life. They found value and they added value to William Jewell College. It was a great four years.