Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141 Fax: (937) 327-6112
From discovering and exploring interests to developing talents and taking advantage of opportunities, college life requires students to find their own balance in preparation for the future. Sarah Gearhart ’06 spends time with four students as they pursue their ambitions and tackle the challenges of every day life at Wittenberg University.
Sitting at her laptop, Kylie Evans ’06 carefully reviews stacks of scholarly journal articles, highlighting each in fluorescent yellow. Meticulously marking her notebook with black pen, she fills the pages with comments and interpretations. The Morgantown, W.Va., native is in the process of writing her senior honors thesis, a study focused on understanding body image and the mother-daughter relationship.
Her desk is organized — a small lamp sits on top next to several picture frames of family and friends and an enormous container filled with pens, pencils and a rainbow of highlighters. To the side sits a stack of unread articles, while other research and notes reside in an old filing cabinet next to her room.
“One of two things is usually going through my head when I write my thesis,” she explains. “Sometimes I read particular articles or chapters and think, ‘Wow, I absolutely love what I’m doing right now.’ Other times I think, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s just too much information, I’m never going to get this finished, and why aren’t the words just flowing onto the computer screen?’”
Dressed in dark faded blue-jeans and a T-shirt, she steadily works for two-and-a-half hours, reading and taking notes on Susan Bordo’s journal article, “Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body,” and Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s book, Fasting Girls: The Emergency of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease.
“I love the research I’m doing because I’ve been able to not only read a lot of typical journal articles, but also a lot of famous books about female body image,” she explains. “I think there’s a lot more to our body image development than what the media depicts.”
In between classes and working on her thesis, Kylie studies for the GRE — all part of the “weird balance” she describes of being a college senior.
“Senior year is all about trying to balance your Wittenberg life — classes, friends, activities — with the plans you’re making for the future,” she explains. “It’s a struggle between the here and now, and what’s yet to come.”
Evans, a communication major with minors in women’s studies and sociology, intends to enroll in graduate school next fall to study social work. Eventually, she wants to become a clinical social worker — a career that became evident after taking several women’s studies courses. She particularly liked Philosophy of Women’s Lives taught by Nancy McHugh, associate professor of philosophy.
“The class opened my eyes not only to the issues of concern facing women here in the United States, but also to a global perspective and the issues of concern facing women all over the world,” Evans explains, noting readings and discussions as being especially powerful.
“It was fascinating to learn about the experiences of women in other cultures. Professor McHugh really pushed us to look beyond the obvious. We dug deeper and really examined all the layers that make up a situation.”
By the end of her junior year, helping women not only became a desire for Kylie, but also a priority. Coming from a family line of social workers, Evans jokes at the idea of following in the footsteps of her mother and older sister, but adds, “I couldn’t deny what I wanted to do.
“I would love to work with women, empowering them to take control of their own lives, building strong self-esteem and providing them with the resources and tools to live a healthy and fulfilling life.”
Jonathan Scruggs ’06
While Evans explores issues and concerns of women in society, Jonathan Scruggs ’06 immerses himself in politics and geography.
Across campus, the lobby of Carnegie Hall bustles with a sea of backpacks and colorful notebooks as students come and go to class. In the midst of the commotion, Jonathan makes his way to his Urban Geography class, greeting friends and students who pass by. After an hour-and-a-half of lecture and discussion, Scruggs heads to the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center (HPERC) for work.
Going from one place to the next is typical for Scruggs of Knoxville, Tenn. As Student Senate President, he juggles running the student body while researching for his honors thesis and studying for the LSATs.
For Scruggs, one of the challenges of being a college student involves supporting himself financially, making sure the bills get paid and keeping food in his refrigerator. Aside from the usual condiments, he usually has an ample supply of hamburger meat and chicken, along with “soda because that is like my coffee.”
A political science major and urban studies minor, Scruggs intends to pursue his passion for politics at graduate school next fall — Vanderbilt, Duke and Georgetown top his list. Eventually, he plans to practice either criminal or family law.
“I am intrigued by politics because they are fun, exciting and competitive. Most importantly,” he explains, “it is a subject that allows people a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Scruggs yearns to do just that in the future; his ultimate goal is to become the President of the United States. “I really want to be in a position where I can help and influence people.”
He is already getting a taste of what if feels like to motivate others, though not on the political landscape. Five days a week, Scruggs drives a half-hour to Dayton, Ohio, where he serves as the varsity assistant coach for the nationally renowned women’s basketball team at Chaminade-Julienne high school.
“I really enjoy the challenge of coaching at a school that excels academically and athletically,” Scruggs says of the opportunity, which emerged through a connection he made while fulfilling his community service as part of Wittenberg’s requirement. “The most rewarding part of the job thus far has been working with the young ladies in the program and helping them to grow socially as well as athletically.”
Scruggs says prioritizing his activities also helps him to maintain control of his schedule. He puts his academics above everything, followed by Student Senate and his basketball responsibilities. For him, a free moment doesn’t come until the sun goes down, when he watches ESPN’s SportsCenter or the news before calling it a day.
Matt Reiss '07
As Scruggs awaits the alarm at nine a.m., Matt Reiss ’07 is already up and moving. At 5:45 on a typical Tuesday morning, he heads to the HPERC pool for swim practice. As Reiss moves effortlessly through the water, small waves of dedication splash in and out of his lane. Following a two-hour practice, he takes a quick shower in the locker room, throws on a pair of khaki shorts and a T-shirt and joins his fellow teammates in the Central Dining Room (CDR) of the Benham-Pence Student Center.
“It’s a team ritual to eat breakfast together in the CDR after an early practice,” says Reiss, of Beavercreek, Ohio. “I’m usually extremely hungry after practice so I’ll eat anything and everything in sight.”
After a hearty meal of pancakes, French toast, bacon and scrambled eggs, he makes his way to Synod Hall, meeting his class of nine students for Microeconomics with Fred Tiffany, associate professor and chair of the economics department.
“He’s great,” Reiss says of Tiffany. “He always encourages us to ask questions, and he is always willing to clarify. Dr. Tiffany does a great job explaining the importance of even the most basic principles.”
The class holds significant interest for Reiss, an economics major and psychology minor, who notes that the solid background Tiffany provides will help him in other advanced economics courses.
“Each year the classes become a little bit harder, but it’s something Wittenberg has prepared me for,” he says. “This semester has been my toughest one so far, but I feel ready.”
Reiss puts his knowledge into practice not only in the classroom, but in the courtroom as well — a practice courtroom. He is exploring the world of law as president of Wittenberg’s Mock Trial Association, an organization developed to give students an opportunity to learn about the legal system and the work of trial attorneys. After only two years since its founding, the association, formerly coached by Johnny Pryor ’99, adjunct instructor of philosophy and assistant prosecutor in Clark County, has already achieved national recognition.
“Mr. Pryor was absolutely fantastic in helping the mock trial team become literate in the legal world,” says Reiss, who is interested in studying corporate or international law.
Mock trial is just one of several activities Reiss balances in between learning about consumer theory and profit maximization. He also interns in the Office of Admission, where he interviews prospective students and trains and works with university tour guides — Reiss doesn’t mind his busy schedule, in fact, he enjoys it.
“My parents told me to go to a school where I could get a good education, swim for a good team and enjoy my college years,” he says, adding that being at Wittenberg has helped him discover his interests and allowed him to take courses from multiple disciplines — East Asian Studies and theatre especially fascinate him.
“I never would have taken Pre-Modern East Asia if I had not come to Witt, and that’s a class I’m glad I took,” Reiss says.
“Swimming is my biggest stress reliever. It is the only sport I’ve found that gives me that full challenge as an athlete, physically, mentally and spiritually,” explains Reiss, a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. He expresses gratitude toward his parents for supporting him throughout his college years.“ They’ve never missed a meet, even driving four hours to come support the team.”
As a newly elected team captain, Reiss looks forward to the season and the challenges that await, including stepping up into a leadership role and holding himself accountable for his teammates.
“I’m as ready as I can be.”
Christine Maddox ’07
Reiss’ commitment to his sport shows itself well before the sun rises, while Christine Maddox ’07 displays her dedication in the late evening hours.
Just as the night social scene begins to crop up, Maddox, of Miamisburg, Ohio, sits in Weaver Observatory working on the Torch, Wittenberg’s student newspaper. In a small room filled with old tattered couches and tired chairs, she diligently clicks away on her computer mouse while reading one article after another. On average, Maddox invests nearly 15 hours a week as the editor-in-chief of the student-run publication.
“You can’t spend the minimum amount of time on something and expect it to be outstanding,” says Maddox, a psychology major and English minor. “You have to dedicate yourself if it’s important to you.”
In between proofing layouts and editing the paper’s content, she constantly brainstorms for the following week’s issue. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding because the paper is improving,” Maddox explains. She credits a larger base group of writers, roughly 10-15 students, as well as the newspaper’s committed staff for helping to satisfy her vision for the Torch. “We’ve been gaining more support from the campus body, which really means a lot to me,” she says with a smile.
Aside from managing the newspaper, her schedule is crammed from one minute to the next. With a course load of psychology classes, Bioethics and British Survey, days are busy with little down time. Morning rituals of Saved by the Bell reruns keep her sane among her daily routine of classes, cross country practice and a plethora of meetings. She pauses for a moment, attempting to recall the last time she took a minute to relax.
“Sometimes I get so caught up in what’s happening right at the moment, I feel very overwhelmed that I forget to look at the big picture,” she says. “If I were to look beyond what’s right in front of me, I would realize that I have a really blessed life.”
The support of her family continues to be especially important to her.
“My parents are great,” she says. Whether it’s a package in the mail, a note or eating dinner together, Maddox appreciates her mom, while her dad, a minister, “is a support in a different way,” she notes.
“He has a really level head and keeps things in perspective.”
Maddox adds that the opportunity to be at Wittenberg and have the physical ability to run cross country have been a blessing to her as well. “There are so many things that can happen, which could take away from that,” she says.
Though she enjoys the continuous daily rush of college life, she looks forward to the day when she will step out into the real world and follow her passion of helping others. Maddox is currently exploring occupational therapy through volunteer service. On Monday afternoons, she lends her time at Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center, rotating between the acute therapy unit and the rehabilitation occupational therapy unit. Having already completed her community service requirement at the same location last year, she decided to continue volunteering.
“Through volunteering, I’ve been able to see if I should try other things,” she says. “A year from now, I’ll be able to leave Wittenberg and be confident in the path that I’m pursuing.”
Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141 Fax: (937) 327-6112