When I got to college, I expected to make lots of new friends, take exciting new classes, and learn a lot. But I never could have imagined all the things that I have done in the past four years at Houghton, so I thought I would share just a few of the many opportunities I’ve had that I didn’t see coming.
1. Serve as an RA
I joined the Residence Life staff for Lambein my sophomore year, and was super nervous. But I shouldn’t have been, because I met amazing people through Res Life that I know I’ll remain friends with after graduation. I was the only sophomore on staff that year, so at first I felt out of my league, but my co-staff were kind, supportive, and eager to show me the ropes.
Being a resident assistant meant that I was acting as a go-to support person for 25+ residents, so the friendship and mentorship of my fellow RAs was invaluable. They helped me connect with my residents and with the wider Houghton community, so I felt like I belonged and had something to contribute to this dynamic and diverse group of student leaders.
2. Try ceramics
I had always wanted to take a ceramics class, but my high school was tiny, so we didn’t have the equipment for me to learn wheel-throwing or to fire anything that I might make. By the time I got to Houghton, I desperately wanted to do ceramics, but I was busy, and also nervous about taking a studio art class as a non-major.
Enter a close friend on my RA staff who was taking Ceramics 2, and offered to teach me the basics of throwing. I didn’t even know I was allowed to set foot in the ceramics studio! I ended up taking a class due to the confidence gained from that one lesson, and while I wasn’t the star of the class, I had so much fun, and made some cool (and wonky) mugs and bowls.
3. Honors Seminars
Honors seminars are one-credit classes you can take if you’ve participated in one of the introductory honors programs at Houghton. I am currently taking my fourth one, and I’ve learned so much! I took seminars on Henri Nouwen (taught by Dean Jordan himself!), Wendell Berry, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and am finishing up the classic (900-page-long) Hindu text called the Mahabharata. I took classes with professors I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and the one-credit seminars fit easily into my schedule every time!
4. Become a Mennonite
Houghton students have a wide range of denominational traditions, even though Houghton has Wesleyan roots. We are really encouraged to learn about and explore different Christian traditions and practices while we’re here. I grew up Baptist, but I visited Wesleyan, non-denominational, Anglican, Catholic, and Mennonite churches in my first year, as I searched out a new church home. I found it in Sojourners Mennonite Fellowship, a small, down-to-earth, and peaceful church that has become like family. Finding a church family was crucial for me, though I didn’t realize it would be.
5. Eat copious amounts of ice cream
Unlimited Perry’s, you guys.
6. Join College Choir
I love music, and I love singing, but I am not a music major, so I didn’t think singing would be a large part of my college career. When I tried out for the College Choir, it was mostly because some friends from the Gospel Choir club were also trying out. I hadn’t known I could try out since I was a non-major, and was completely shocked when I got in! Over five semesters (I missed a semester of College Choir for my student teaching) I have learned so much about singing technique, gone on two choir tours, and have sung dozens of beautiful and challenging pieces. We are currently gearing up for our performance of Handel’s Messiah Parts 2 and 3!
7. Go to a conference
I visited Taylor University for their Making Literature Conference at the beginning of March to read a selection of poetry that I wrote. I had an amazing time with Dr. Dashnau and another student whose work was accepted to the conference – we heard keynote speakers, talked with literary magazine representatives, and listened to students presenters like us. The experience was reassuring and enriching, as it reminded me that the world is full of creative writers who are passionate about the same things I am.
Just a side note – this last item on my list may sound specific to my English major since generally only English and Writing majors and minors apply and get accepted for undergraduate literature and writing conferences. However, most majors have their own equivalent. (I also went to an education conference for English teachers!) Our Houghton professors have connections all over and are always on the lookout, helping us get amazing professional experiences throughout our academic career.
…and Many More!
Hopefully this has been a helpful list, showing you just a few of the lesser-known opportunities that I have been blessed with at Houghton!
Gena is an English and inclusive adolescence education major at Houghton College, and a member of the Class of 2019.