Making a good first impression

You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. This sage advice was taken to heart on the campus of Davis & Elkins College as the entering class of D&E Senators recently arrived to begin their collegiate journeys.

As cars approached Myles Gate and Sycamore Street, they were greeted with welcome signs, banners, unfurled flags, and upper-class students waving and cheering our newest Senators. With a class 11 percent larger than the previous year, students arrived from 29 West Virginia counties, 28 states across the country, and 13 nations from around the world.

Every year I have the privilege of standing just inside the door of The McDonnell Center as our new students check in. Joined by my spouse, Lisa, we are honored to welcome our newest Senators and their families to the D&E community. There is an intrinsic “vibe” we get from those conversations with the large numbers of young men and women from the entering class, as well as their families. I know that this class brings higher high school GPAs, and for those transferring from other higher education institutions, stronger transcripts. The “vibe” is the excitement, enthusiasm and passion for commencing their transformative time at Davis & Elkins College. It was unmistakable this year, and that makes me hopeful.

The theme for new student orientation, as well as Homecoming 2019, is “Senators Unite.” More than just words, the purpose of the orientation program is to create a sense of belonging, community and expectation. These students are “uniting” with the D&E family and we have pledged our investment to assist them to find their vocation and provide what they will need for a promising future.

I was concerned that D&E would make a good first impression on our new students during Orientation Weekend. The surprise for me was that our students took full advantage of the opportunity and made an incredible impression on the faculty and staff of the College, as well as the community-at-large. Their first full day on campus found more than two dozen groups of new students spread across the town of Elkins. What was their purpose? As new residents they were giving back to the place that was welcoming them. They spent an afternoon working on community service projects all over town. They painted a fence at the Kump Education Center, made improvements to the Randolph County Humane Society, worked in area churches, painted at the West Virginia Children’s Home, made repairs to area schools, and on and on. From across West Virginia and 28 other states, as well as across the world, they came to improve Elkins and create their own promising future. That is a first impression for which I am grateful.

As I reflect along life’s journey, I am constantly reminded and gratified by the goodness of people. In this new class of students, joining Davis & Elkins College in our 115th year, I see hope and promise. How fortunate that for a time our life journeys intersect, and we travel together to impact the world in which we are gifted to live.

The journey continues…