Kraig Reiber visited Wittenberg on what he described as a "really bad day." However, what he discovered during his visit sealed the deal for him and determined where he would spend the next four years.
"I came to Witt because of the atmosphere of the place," Reiber said. "I came on a really bad day, but the experience was so positive, and it was real. I learned quickly that at Witt I could be myself, that students are encouraged to see what your interests are, what your passions are, what you're looking for in other people and provides you with the opportunity to look back."
Reiber fully expected to be challenged in the classroom. What he didn't expect was so many opportunities to experience new things and participate in such a wide variety of new challenges outside the classroom.
As a member of the Wittenberg Mock Trial Team, Reiber found himself competing far outside the scope he expected when the team's performance earned them a slot in a 2009 national competition.
"It was huge," Reiber said. "It's really tough to be leaving now."
His choice of Habitat for Humanity as his community service site allowed him to learn the ins and outs of setting up a first-time shop. The local branch of the organization opened a store to sell materials obtained from the demolition of homes in the multi-block area of the city where Springfield's new regional medical center is being built. Reiber's service project included preparing mantle pieces for restoration as he stripped, sanded and painted the finishes.
As a member of Wittenberg's cross country and track and field teams, Reiber said he discovered a coach who was dedicated and passionate about the sport, and his enthusiasm led the team to its best finish since 1999. He also played trombone in the pep band and served as a writer and news editor for the Torch, Wittenberg's student newspaper.
Reiber also discovered an interest in photography while at Wittenberg, and he believes that passion leads to curiosity and discovery. He now has a professionally bound book of his travels abroad.
The volume includes pictures of his Italian host family and friends, a series of people dressed in elaborate Venice carnival costumes, his journeys to Greece and Ireland as he stayed with others in hostels. His travels have allowed him to experience different cultures along with other students from yet other cultures, and he has documented them all in his book.
"We all had to try to understand each other from our various backgrounds and cultures," he said. "We dealt with several issues in our efforts to share our reactions to what we experienced. How you behave – how you act, means more than what you say.
"During my years at Wittenberg, I have experienced so many new things. I have been presented with new opportunities that have taught me to be open to different perspectives, different points of view. I have learned to not to be afraid of the unusual, to appreciate being outside my comfort zone, and I am more confident in being me, in knowing who I am."
Reiber said that the "Witt Light" has defined itself as openness to him: "It shines in those areas you don't normally look," he said. "Understanding is my light. I learned to pay attention so I didn't miss anything."
"My strength is my perseverance," Reiber said. "I believe you need to give 110 percent. If you're not pushing yourself, you don't know how far you can go."
Reiber's plans for the future include graduate school as he prepares for a career in international relations. He wants to work abroad with the American Government, perhaps the State Department or in the intelligence community.
"My goal is to find a job that I am passionate about," he said, "one that will allow me to make a difference."
- Written by Phyllis Eberts
- Photo by Erin Pence