Seeing the potential in prospective students

Prospective students and their parents filled the Great Hall of Halliehurst at a recent Open House event. They were an attentive audience. One of the many privileges I have as president of Davis & Elkins College is to address the attendees at these Open House events throughout the year.

As alumni of D&E recall, there was a time when we were sitting in the audience as prospective students. Moreover, as many of us have experienced, we have been sitting in a similar situation as parents with our own son or daughter on a college visit. Every time I rise to speak, I think about these two audiences and the message I should deliver to each.

The message to our prospective students is straightforward. My challenge to them is to consider their hopes and dreams for their lives, actively pursue the discovery of their vocation, and to find the people and place that will provide the path to achieve satisfaction and meaning. After spending time on the D&E campus during an Open House, they need to follow their hearts. If their heart tells them that this college is not the fit to enable them to achieve and excel, then we want them to continue their search. On the other hand, if during their time on campus, they meet faculty, staff and students who excite their desire to learn and grow, and if they walk the hallowed grounds of D&E and envision themselves thriving on our campus, they need to follow their heart. Davis & Elkins College is the place that can provide the transformative educational experience that enables hopes and dreams to become reality. Join with us and become a D&E Senator!

For the parents in the audience, I remember my top concern as my own daughter began her college exploration. Beyond wanting a place that would provide a high quality academic experience for her chosen field of study, I was concerned that she would be safe. Statistically, as well as through personal experience, I assure parents that their son or daughter is coming to a safe campus and a safe community. Unfortunately, in our world today, we can never guarantee this. What we do promise is to do all in power, including a 24/7 Office of Public Safety to serve the campus community.

Beyond physical safety, there is one other message for both parents and prospective students. With gratitude to Dr. Rosemary Thomas for pointing this out, D&E is also a safe place to learn, grow, gain new experiences, and even fail. When we try something grand and fail, which is after all a natural part of life, it provides a valuable learning experience, particularly when we are surrounded by nurturing people who enable us to brush ourselves off, analyze what occurred, determine a better course of action, and move forward boldly, bravely and wiser.

As I look into the eyes of prospective students whom I am privileged to address, I see the hope, potential and opportunity that each of them brings to this milestone decision in their young lives. Their life’s journey will be forever impacted by the decision they make to attend college, and particularly to attend Davis & Elkins College.

For each of them and for us, the journey continues….