Friday, August 24, 2012

Going from 12 to 1

(Cari worked on the Water Quality: Point and Nonpoint Sources of Pollution project with faculty mentor Dr. David Johnson during the inaugural Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2012.) 

by Cari A., Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

Before the Freshman Scholars Program, I was so nervous about being away from home for such a long time. I figured that all of the other scholars would be so introverted and kind of keep to themselves, but thankfully, I was wrong. Though I enjoyed all of my time at Ferrum College, I enjoyed meeting and getting close with the 11 other scholars the most. Each and every one of us came from completely different backgrounds and had gone through different experiences. Despite where we had come from, we went from being 12 complete strangers to being one crazy group of friends.  I enjoyed seeing each of the scholars interact with each other in different ways and form lasting relationships. It was also truly a blessing to get to experience spending two weeks with a group of faculty that have a heart for the educational advancement of young people.

As cliché as it may seem, my parents have already said that "the friends you make for life will be the ones who you meet the first week." After only a few days together, it was easy to see that we were working together and helping one another face our individual fears. The Ferrum Outdoors ropes course was my absolute favorite day of the program. When Professor Caston challenged us to work together to achieve a common goal but to do it in silence, we could have moved mountains with the amount of trust we put into each other. We played into each other's strengths to help fight our weaknesses and fears of others, and by doing so, we were able to accomplish so much more than the challenges we were given.

When the time for the high ropes rolled around, each one of us was challenged in some way; even some of the professors felt a sense of fulfillment. I know for me personally, I was challenged when I volunteered to go up with Professor Caston's eight-year-old daughter Mallory. Though she had been up on the course numerous times, she still wasn't tall enough to operate her lobster claws to make her own transfers from obstacle to obstacle. As her partner, I was able to assist her; essentially, I became her lifeline. She had to trust a complete stranger to safely transfer her to different obstacles, and she seemed to trust me with ease. Through my experience with Mallory, I also learned a lot about myself.

A second event on the ropes day that proved to me how our connections were growing so quickly was watching Jessa encourage Dr. Laura Grochowski as she faced several of her fears and enabled her to complete the whole course. Soon after Jessa helped Dr. G., she climbed up the tower to go down the zip line with me. Even though Jessa did not complete the whole course, just climbing up that pole to the zip line was a major accomplishment. As we prepped to jump off the tower, the uncertainty in Jessa's eyes was obvious. I was able to talk her through what we were going to do next; we were going to sit down and scoot off the tower. She looked at me and said, "You are going to have to hold me like a baby." She wrapped herself around me and held on as I scooted us off the platform and we went flying. Jessa had conquered her fear and a bond was formed between us. There are so many more examples of how each of us was challenged to face a fear that we didn't necessarily think we could.

The "unit"
I believe that without the support and the connections that each of the scholars and the faculty have made, we wouldn't have been able to test our own limits. I think that if you were to ask each of the scholars to name a fear they faced during the two-week program, each would be able to give an answer no matter how minuscule it may seem. The Freshman Scholars Program changed the lives of 12 scholars and of nine faculty members and possibly many other people that we don't even realize. The connections we made through this program will be with us all of our years at Ferrum College, and most likely, throughout our lives. I thank all those who put this program together and who will continue to hold it together in the years to come!

- Cari A.

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