How one student’s discovery of Emory & Henry changed her perspective…
“How did you find out about Emory & Henry College?” If the amount of times I was asked this put a dollar towards my tuition, I’d have all four years paid off. It is odd to think that someone from Lake Orion, Michigan, would ever even learn of Emory’s existence, let alone decide to take the 10-and-a-half hour drive through mountains to attend a school of a thousand students in what can euphemistically be called a small town; my stumbling–upon Emory & Henry was serendipitous, by all means, and I wouldn’t prefer it any other way.
A small college had never been in the books for me from the way I had previously viewed my ideal college experience—or so I thought. I looked at a variety of public universities and well–known institutions without feeling a particular inclination toward any. My search was becoming frustrating in that I couldn’t find a school that provided the right academic or social environment for me. Liberal arts education was then brought into the picture by a friend who had been in the same predicament a year earlier than me, and she briefly listed a few places that might satisfy what I was looking for (of course with Emory & Henry being one of them). In a few days, my application was submitted, and I was eager to learn more.
About 6 months later, I was in a full car—my twin XL bedding, a plethora of snacks, and other vital dorm accessories in tow—headed to Emory, VA. My first week at school was spent at band camp, followed a few days later by Honors Orientation, and soon thereafter the start of classes. Unlike many of the prospective schools I had considered back in Michigan, I was provided several opportunities to be fully immersed in an intellectual community that encouraged me to broaden my perspectives and become more confident in the pursuit of my ambitions.
There were certainly some aspects of Southern culture different than from my home state. “Appalaychian” was immediately corrected to “Appalatchian,” and the suffix “ville” was to be pronounced “vul.” I traded my typical fall experience in Michigan— 45 degree weather and going to cider mills—for beautiful fall days (about 20 degrees warmer) in the mountains and evening bonfires at Weaver Hall. Of course, my peers introduced me to some fantastic sweet tea, only to be complimented with a Moon Pie (which I don’t think is inherently Southern, but it was still my first exposure to them).
More than anything, I was lucky enough to be welcomed into a community that has challenged me to be a more open–minded, well–rounded student and person as a whole. Emory & Henry allowed me to explore what I was most passionate about and pursue it; I’ve become a more zealous advocate for change in the world around me, and also have been given the resources to do so.
BY: Kaelee Belletto ’19