OWU seniors make the best of traditions lost

Transcript staff

For Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2020, closure may be the most difficult of all achievements.

Lost for seniors was the last Day on the Jay, planned send offs from teammates, the final late-night snack with friends at Smith Dining Hall, memorable goodbyes from sorority and fraternity sisters and brothers, a final round of toasts at The Backstretch and just hanging out with close pals one last time.

These and other significant final traditions simply evaporated on March 13 when Ohio Wesleyan closed the campus for the rest of the semester to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

The most important lost tradition of all? No May 9 commencement with family and friends to celebrate completion of all the years of hard work, culminating in a well-deserved college degree.

Below some members of the senior class reflect on their final days on campus and plans to celebrate that big day, or not, at home.

Senior Mahnoor Ansari, from Lahore, Pakistan who is still in Ohio, said she has no special ideas for marking graduation, at least for now. But she will earn a double major in pre-law and psychology.

“I don’t have any plans for celebrating,” she said. “I am sad that I’m not getting closure.”

Ansari said she misses the Treehouse, the environmentally-themed Small Living Unit, and its annual paint party, a tradition of glow paint and black lights, and the OWU women’s rowing team.

For Annabella Miller, from Wellington, Ohio, commencement day has lost its celebratory aura. She will graduate early after two years with a degree in pre-theology and minors in women’s and gender studies and psychology.

“Right now, I don’t have plans to celebrate my graduation,” Miller said. “May 9 will probably be like any other day for me and I will most likely work all day.”

To counter disappointment, at least a little, OWU is celebrating the Class of 2020 – for now – with a video and has urged all seniors to send in their photos for it.  A real ceremony will be scheduled for later, when it is safe.

“I think the best decision OWU made is making sure that us seniors still get an actual graduation ceremony. I’ve been looking forward to that day for four years and can’t wait to walk across that stage.” – Erica VanHoose ’20

“The video will be shown first on May 9, but please know this in no way is a substitute for your commencement ceremony,” the Office of President and University Communications wrote. “We are committed to not only an on-campus commencement, but also to a full weekend of celebration for the Class of 2020 at a time when we can do that in a safe manner.”

Some, like Amarii Johnson, an exercise science and Spanish double major, don’t plan to wait for the big party and will mark the day with their own festivities.

“I’m going to get lit with my family and my mom and sister just to celebrate being done,” Johnson said.

Johnson, home in Chicago, said like most seniors she is sad about the abrupt end to the school year.

“We didn’t have that time to really mentally prepare ourselves to end this chapter of our lives,” Johnson said. “I think OWU did the best that they can. They could’ve easily just canceled graduation but Rock (Jones) is trying his hardest to get us something even if it’s in the summer or closer to the fall and I really appreciate those efforts.”

Keionna Badie, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said she also thinks OWU has done the best it can for seniors under tough circumstances. Badie is a pre-law and philosophy double major and history and politics and government double minor.

“I think OWU has been one of the most understanding colleges for seniors during this pandemic,” Badie said. “I definitely miss my friends. We made plans to do things together to celebrate the end of senior year and I’m sad that we weren’t able to spend our last week’s together.”

Hope Poolos, a health and human kinetics major and psychology minor, said she too has struggled with the way school ended. She has also been challenged working alone from home in Sylvania, Ohio.

“Not being with everyone from OWU in these final weeks before graduation has been really hard on me,” Poolos said. “This was supposed to be our final time with friends and classmates and it is so hard to stay motivated.”

Poolos said she intends to don her cap and gown and have a cookout with her family, boyfriend and other friends on graduation day.

“… I had a lot of pain and hurt just knowing that all of it went away so fast with the blink of an eye.” – Andrew McFarland ’20

McKenzee Martin, from Urbana, Ohio, said she too misses friends, classmates, walks on the JAYwalk and face-to-face connections with professors.

“I did not realize how much I would miss school until it was taken away from me so soon and I also, surprisingly, miss my dorm room,” said Martin, a psychology major and English minor. “Trying to stay focused and motivated during this time has been difficult for me and it has been discouraging not having my usual academic environment as well.”

Martin is not sure how she will celebrate commencement, but it will include family and friends and a dinner.

Andrew McFarland, a fine arts major from Mount Gilead, Ohio, said the suddenness of the semester shut-down was difficult.

“I know when I first heard the word about the classes being postponed and closed and everything else, I had a lot of pain and hurt just knowing that all of it went away so fast with the blink of an eye,” he said. “I’ve heard from many faculty and others that they had learned the information about an hour or so before we even did as students, and it just seemed jarring that way.”

McFarland said OWU has done a good job with room and board refunds and working to return items to students who left things back on campus. Graduation celebration plans are up in the air for him, he said.

“I haven’t put much thought into it actually,” McFarland said. “Right now, I have been stuck inside for the last few weeks with my girlfriend and it’s almost blanked on me that I’m actually graduating.”

Mickey Rice, a neuroscience and psychology major from Louisville, Kentucky, said she misses the daily activity of being on campus.

“I find myself getting antsy and stir crazy at home, which makes it especially difficult to do my school work,” Rice said. “I miss my roommate, my housemates, going to Smith late at night with friends, getting breakfast and walking to class together.”

Rice said she could probably “list off hundreds” of things she misses about OWU, but the senior celebrations would be at the top.

“I’m really sad to be missing out on the celebratory moments that I thought I was going to have,” Rice said. “My sorority and the Frisbee team do a number of special things to honor the seniors that I was really looking forward too. I’m so sad that we did not have that time together and that we could not celebrate each other in person.”

Erica VanHoose, an exercise science major and zoology minor from Marysville, Ohio, said she will never forget her time at OWU and all the friends she made.

“I miss not being able to experience the senior activities and the feeling of enjoying all the lasts of senior year before they are gone,” VanHoose said. “I think the best decision OWU made is making sure that us seniors still get an actual graduation ceremony. I’ve been looking forward to that day for four years and can’t wait to walk across that stage.”

Senior athletes can return, but must pay for a full year of school

Alex Emerson and Peter Lujan
Transcript correspondents

The coronavirus pandemic served up a double-dose of misfortune and heartache for 105 senior athletes at Ohio Wesleyan.

They not only lost all the comfort, support and rewards of being on campus and attending classes, but after four years of hard work and sacrifice their final season of competition vanished in a flash.

Not all is lost. Since the cancellation of spring sports, the NCAA announced it would grant senior athletes another semester of eligibility, but not without strings attached.

The organization’s rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period, but the NCAA is allowing athletes to apply so that they can play and have eligibility for another year, as noted in an NCAA press release.

The catch? Seniors must commit to return for a full academic year. So students would have to pay for another two semesters of school in order to take advantage of this extension.

Ohio Wesleyan is working with the NCAA and the NCAC regarding questions about athlete participation and eligibility. Student-athletes will receive updates and information as it becomes available.

Doug Zipp, OWU’s director of Athletics, said some may return.

“It is our goal that our student-athletes graduate in four years and then use their Ohio Wesleyan education and do great things,” Zipp said. “I have talked with a few seniors who are interested in considering a return to Ohio Wesleyan to take advantage of the NCAA blanket waiver, which provides an additional year of eligibility.”

But the situation clearly presents a dilemma for some seniors who can’t afford additional tuition or who have plans for after college.

For instance, Jaliyah Atkinson, a senior on the women’s track and field roster, doesn’t have the time to take advantage of renewed eligibility and said she doubts that OWU can reduce tuition because it has its own financial woes.

“I am not planning to stay a year for eligibility because I already have life plans set up that I plan to follow through regardless of the COVID-19 setback,” she said. “I also would not pay to come back to OWU to play sports. It’s way too expensive and I wouldn’t want the classes I would have to take affect my GPA.”

Senior Tyler Mansfield, a member of the women’s swimming & diving team, finds herself in a similar situation.

“That does not help committing students like myself who are missing out on a large chunk of their spring education,” Mansfield said. “I do not plan to stay a year for eligibility because I have applied and been accepted to graduate school in the fall.”

Zipp said if any students do plan on returning, they must take extra steps to make it happen.

“If a student-athlete graduates, they can re-enroll in a second baccalaureate program or be accepted into a full-time graduate program,” Zipp said. “Any student-athlete who is interested in exploring this option, we are working individually with them to navigate this path.”

Meanwhile, the athletes have not been abandoned, despite the unforeseen cancellation of all athletic competition, Zipp said.

“We are so very sad and disappointed for our student-athletes and specifically our seniors who seasons came to such an abrupt end,” Zipp said. “Our coaching staff has been in constant communication with our student-athletes, checking in several times per week, having team meetings, virtual workouts, educational sessions and academic check-ins.”

OWU senior Nick Braydich, a member of the golf team, said he will not return, but his buddy, senior Ken Keller on the golf team at Youngstown State University, probably will.

“My friend on the team is staying in the area and he’s psyched about the extension,” Braydich said. “He didn’t know if he would be able to play next year after he couldn’t play this season.”

Keller said he loves competing and is thankful that the extension gives him more time to practice his craft.

“The biggest reason I chose to use my extra year of eligibility is that I now have the opportunity to develop my game for another year,” Keller said. “I also did not want to miss the opportunity to compete in another conference championship since this year was canceled. It also gives me the opportunity to take more classes and compete in more tournaments. ”

The NCAA adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility and decided to return for an additional year.

Colleges were also granted the flexibility by the NCAA to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that financial aid be provided at the same level awarded for the previous year, acknowledging the financial difficulty now stalking universities.

“The (NCAA) Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” chairman M. Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.”

Seniors sell art at museum

By Alanna Henderson, Managing Editor

Going once, going twice, sold. With only four days since the opening of the senior art show, 13 pieces have been sold out of 169 total displayed.

The spring senior art exhibit is on full display at the Ross Art Museum until May 13.

The 2017 theme is refraction, which features 13 Bachelor of Arts and Fine Arts senior majors, showcasing their best pieces of work throughout their time earning their degree.

Every senior spring art show, there is a theme or title of the show. Refraction originates from a take on the definition—about a beam of light traversing through many different mediums or mediums of varying density.

The theme is a symbolic re ection on the current graduating class and their experiences verses trying to combine everything together. The focus of the show is about the students as individual artists.

Seniors Louise Goodpasture and Wyatt Hall were the co-chairs of the senior art show. “It’s nice to gain this type of experience…” Goodpasture said. “[The show] teaches you the etiquette of selling yourself to galleries, and knowing how to act professionally and graciously with a museum.”

Goodpasture has sold a set of cups with detailing’s of birds. While not every piece on display is for sale, there are high hopes of selling almost every piece by the end of the show.

10 percent of the proceeds are donated back to the Ross Art Museum. The artist based on mediums and materials used will often determine the prices, but they can discuss the values with professors if desired.

Students will often begin thinking about what to showcase since determining the major. There is a wide variety of art currently on display and each year, the pieces in the show will vary. Some senior shows could include majority sculptures and other years, more displays of photographs. In this years art show, there are a wide variety of pieces for viewing and selling.

Senior BFA major Lexy Immerman has several pieces on display at the show in- cluding graphic work, a book layout, photographs, and metalwork.

“My pieces are unrelated… but I do want people to appreciate the design of everything,” Immerman said. “I want people to see the creative solution I applied and go, ‘Oh, that makes sense, I see why she did that, and it works.’”

Admission to the show is free and is open to Ohio Wesleyan students and the Delaware community through graduation.

“I love talking to people, and seeing how they receive my work…This was the rst opportunity any of the seniors had to truly take a look at what our class does … I was really stunned by the talent in my class,” Immerman said. “I’m proud to be graduating with them.”

Ohio Wesleyan seniors continue the hunt for jobs

By Ben Farynowski, Transcript Reporter

Like millions of other students across the country, seniors at Ohio Wesleyan University are on the hunt for employment after graduation.

Searching for a job is no easy task. In today’s society, even a college degree does not guarantee an individual a job.

According to the 2014 OWU Outcome Report, 97 percent of OWU graduates reported being employed and/or in graduate school within a year of graduation, while 81 percent of the reported graduates stated that they are working in their field of choice.

These statistics are above average when compared to a survey conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2016. This survey states that 89 percent of individuals who graduated college with bachelor’s degrees found employment within a year of graduation.

But this does not take into account whether that employment is in their field of choice.

When surveying students at OWU about their job hunting experience, senior Nick Norman said, “It is harder now than ever to find a job, and nearly impossible when you do not graduate from a target school.”

A school is considered a target when a high number of firms recruit directly from the institution year after year. Most common target schools include Ivy League universities and top liberal arts colleges. Target schools vary from city to city as well as from industry to industry.

Norman is an economics management major with minors in accounting and Spanish.

He currently has a 4.0 cumulative GPA, in addition to being the captain of the men’s soccer team and a member of the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI). Norman’s resume seems to be a golden ticket for finding a job upon graduation, yet like other graduating seniors, he continues to struggle in his hunt for employment.

Job hunting is very competitive, especially right out of college. A new factor that has become more important than ever in the hunt for a job is networking.

Senior Neil Wilson said, “The phrase ‘It’s all about who you know’ has never been more true.”

When firms are looking to hire new employees, getting referred is one way to get your resume to the top of the list. This can be viewed as a positive or a negative, depending on who you know.

Students at OWU have many opportunities to interact with a large pool of successful alumni through many programs offered by the university.

As the hunt for employment continues, look out for students to utilize resources such as the OWU Alumni Center in addition to online resources like LinkedIn.com.

OWU seniors and millions of others soon to be graduated college students continue to compete for jobs as fall semester winds down.

Seniors and alumni reflect on OWU

Areena Arora, Managing Editor

With only two weeks left to graduation, besides academic work and designing graduation caps, seniors have much to accomplish.

While some wish to drive on the JayWalk, others want to maintain strong relationships with friends and graduate.

Senior Mackenzie Sommers’ bucket list includes going for a midnight dip in the fountain at the JayWalk. “I’m pretty cautious about this one, though, because god only knows what people do to the water in that fountain,” said Sommers.

Senior Mili Green does not have much on her bucket list. “I try to live without regrets, so I do what I can. I do want to go karaoking at Clancey’s, though,” said Green.

With nearly 100 clubs, there is always room for involvement at Ohio Wesleyan.

Senior Nate Goodhart said, “This school offers so many programs, clubs and organizations that allow for students to truly take advantage of their time here at OWU.”

Senior Sadie Parsons from California said, “I do participate in many things. However, I wish I would have acquired more leadership roles in the clubs and activities I was involved with.”

Looking back at the four years spent at OWU, some say it has been a rewarding experience while yet others have some regrets.

Sommers said, “I wish I’d written more TIPITS (Theory-to-Practice grants) and SIPS (Student Individualized Project grants). This school gives you so many opportunities to see and do the things that you are interested in.”

Green said, “I was always curious about Greek Life … but I think it was too late to rush because everyone knows I’m not for it.”

For some seniors we talked to, summarizing four years’ experience was not easy. Parsons said, “My time at OWU has been amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I wouldn’t even take back any of the hardest times I’ve had here because I learned from them and only became a stronger person from them.”

Senior Camille Mullins-Lemieux, resident of Peace and Justice House said, “This place has allowed me to flourish as a person a lot.”

Kim Eckart, ’13, who now works as the assistant to VP of Finance and Administration said she regrets not having participated in a travel learning course and not joining a small living unit.

Haley Barber, ’13, who now works for the Community Service Learning office and Office of Career Services said, “I regret not studying abroad. That was one of the things on my bucket list … I couldn’t fit it in with my double majors in biology and studio arts.”

Kelly Rand, ’15, an intern at the Office of President, has some advice for rising seniors. “My advice to seniors is to be a little less responsible and little more spontaneous. You should enjoy time outside by the fountain with friends on a beautiful day. You can do your reading later, because you won’t be able to do that next year. Soak it all in while you can,” said Rand.

Looking ahead, in less than a month, seniors will be out in the world with an undergraduate degree. The campus they’ve come to identify as home will no longer be their residence.

Senior Shelli Reeves has her post-graduation plans made. “I will be completing my first book and travelling as much as possible,” said Reeves.

Mullins-Lemieux said, “I’m staying at a Buddhist monastery in Oregon in June … and then taking an internship in Panama at a sustainable village on their design-thinking team.”

50-Day Club takes off

David Fradkin, Transcript Correspondent

It is finally spring where the weather is getting warmer and the school year is winding down. It is also that time of the year when Backstretch Bar hosts its annual 50-Day Club event.

This year is the 13th annual 50-Day Club where 57 people signed up to participate. The deadline to sign up was March 21.

The even is open to Ohio Wesleyan students, Backstretch employees and Delaware residents.

Every day, participants are required to spend at least 30 minutes at the bar and order two beverages during each visit for 50 consecutive days. But participants are granted three excuses that must be requested and approved before missing a day.

The event began 13 years ago when two employees, who were also OWU students at the time, created a competition between each other to see how many days they could attend in a row.

The competition lasted 23 days until they were both unable to attend.  The bar owner, Joanne Meyers, thought it would be a great way to count down the days until graduation.

She said there are roughly 50 days left of school after spring break, which is when senioritis really kicks in. It has been a tradition ever since.

“A lot of what we stress and what we really promote is kind of developing like a little family unit,” Meye’s said. “It builds a very nice little community of people that you probably wouldn’t have been involved with.”

There are also more interactive activities that are optional such as the elite club.

The elite club is designed for dedicated participants. All participants are given Sundays off as a day of rest. But elite members are required to attend for 50 consecutive days, which includes Sundays anytime between noon and 2 p.m.

There are also team competitions on Wednesday nights for around two hours. For this optional activity, students are randomly divided into groups. Since employees and town’s people make up a smaller portion of the group, they are equally allocated in groups.

The groups compete in these weekly activities which vary each week. At the end, the winning team members get to sign and add some decoration to the winning trophy.

Senior Bridget McQuaide said she is excited to participate in the event for her first time.

“I think that 50-Day Club is a really good way to give seniors an opportunity to do something fun together everyday up until graduation,” McQuaide said. “It’s definitely something that you have to dedicate yourself to, but it’s a really awesome experience where you get time everyday to make more memories with friends and maybe even people you haven’t talked to since freshman year.”