Schenk '95 Tells Seniors It's Who Not What
by Howard Hewitt
February 18, 2013
Nearly 100 high school seniors from across the nation visited Wabash College Monday as part of Top 10 Visitation Day. It’s a chance for top seniors to learn about Wabash and earn substantial scholarship support.
Students who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school senior class, with a minimum GPA of 3.25, are eligible to attend and earn a $17,500 annual scholarship. Students and their parents go through a day-long program to learn about Wabash College.
After a welcome from President Patrick White, keynote speaker Dan Schenk '95 challenged the young men to think about their college search differently than perhaps they’d ever imagined. Schenk is Global Brand Manager for Nike Golf, Portland, OR.
“We’ve all been asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ “Schenk began. “That’s not the right question – it’s who do you want to be when you grow up?
“Take care of who you are and the ‘what’ will take care of itself.”
Schenk used the analogy to illustrate the benefits of a Wabash liberal arts education. He told the high school seniors that Wabash is the kind of place that will help them find out who they want to be. He credited his confidence and ability to his Wabash education.
“Some places will just tear you down but Wabash will build you back up,” he said. “You can’t prepare for a changing world with an education that says take this training and go be an accountant. You have to learn how to learn.”
Schenk talked about Wabash class size and being challenged intellectually, challenged to participate and engage, and challenged to show up. He reiterated a favorite phrase that Wabash classrooms don’t have a back row and students can’t hide.
“Wabash is a collection of moments,” he suggested. “Wabash didn’t make me who I am today; Wabash found me. When you think about who you want to be don’t let ‘what’ get in the way.”
He used a simple illustration challenging the students to find a passion and earn a broad-based education. He selected a visiting student volunteer and asked him for a historical fact which the student promptly offered. He then asked the young man for a favorite movie, song, or book and the student quickly provided one.
“Did you see his eyes light up on the second question,” Schenk asked. He told the students it’s that passion you want to take into your career and life and not a set of facts you memorize to earn a degree to just get a job.
Students and their parents heard from alumni panels in a more informal setting. The alums talked about their time at Wabash and what it has meant to them, not just in their careers, but how it has shaped their lives.
Sessions on immersion learning, career services, and mock classroom exercises filled the day along with tours and meetings with coaches.