Courtney Symons, an English major from Westfield, Ind. who graduated from Wittenberg in May 2008, believes that learning to make a life is as important as learning to make a living. At the close of her collegiate career, she knows that she is well-prepared for both.
"I learned to be myself at Wittenberg, and that it's okay to be myself," Symons said. "I learned how to be vocal and strong in my beliefs, and I learned how to be a leader."
She noted that one of the best things about being an English major was learning that everything is open to interpretation.
"There's no wrong answer," Symons said. "You get to analyze and look at things in ways no one else has before – and you're encouraged to share your thoughts."
Symons stayed very focused on her studies while at Wittenberg, and she said it definitely paid off. Outside the classroom, she worked at Infusion Campus as a volunteer for one and a half years, after which she was hired to provide homework guidance and tutoring assistance to students in Grades 1-4 in reading, writing and math.
"The Infusion Campus also has a fantastic program of the arts, including drama, vocal and visual art," Symons said.
She also worked as a resident adviser in Myers Hall during her sophomore year.
"It was very stressful and time consuming, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything," Symons said. "The staff was amazing, and I learned to do so many things."
A member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Symons was active in the sorority's annual philanthropic projects, including the annual Spaghetti Dinner, Moon Ball and a Teeter-Totter-a-Thon, which raised money for the Camp Fire Organization's Camp Joy.
The most memorable moment and biggest accomplishment for Symons was being one of the finalists for Alma Mater at the 2007 Honors Convocation. The honor is bestowed upon a junior woman on the basis of character and integrity, service to the community, concern for others and high standards of scholarship. Students, faculty and staff members nominate and vote for the candidates each year.
In planning her future, Symons said that since she was in sixth grade her professional aspirations have always come back to teaching. The atmosphere at Wittenberg was a perfect fit.
"It was hard being away from family and friends, but to me, Wittenberg means its people – the professors, the students and the family that I have developed while here," she said.
Symons plans to move back to her home state of Indiana and teach high school English.
"I want to change someone's life and have a positive effect and teach my students to be whole people," she said. "One day in the class room, some of my students took over the class, and they made themselves calm down. It was the moment I realized I can do this – I can be a teacher."
- Written by Phyllis Eberts '00
- Photo by Robbie Gantt