The heartfelt rite of passage that transforms a freshman class into Wabash men took place Saturday as Wabash College held is annual “Ringing In” ceremony in Pioneer Chapel.
As tradition dictates, 249 men sat in the Chapel balcony as President Gregory D. Hess welcomed the Class of 2021 and their families to campus, and set them on a path to strive for greatness as leaders and citizens.
“Our overall leadership development centers on the fact that you are not simply students; at Wabash, you are citizens,” said Hess. “You will learn to balance independence with responsibility, and to strengthen your resilience. Today, you begin your journey to greatness as a Wabash man.”
Using the hand bell that once belonged to Wabash’s first educator, Caleb Mills, Dr. Hess rang in the class, which marks the beginning of the students’ lives as Wabash men.
The Class of 2021 were also challenged by the fifth-year president to find the needed balance between scholarship and citizenship. “Here, you will passionately pursue a range of academic interests. That is the Wabash recipe for economic success. The moral bedrock of our challenge, though, is not just to be successful men, but how to be good men, better men.”
Associate Dean for Enrollment Chip Timmons ’96 announced that the Class of 2021 represents 16 states and 13 foreign countries. Additionally, the class features 49 legacies.
According to Timmons, this year’s freshman class includes 12 Eagle Scouts, two students who have founded non-profit organizations, one that has studied leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica, and one who was a goalie on his ice hockey team, yet he cannot skate.
What binds this class are its attributes, as he described, “What stood out to me most wasn’t the awards or the accomplishments, but the words that appeared repeatedly in the recommendation letters from your teachers, counselors, coaches, and mentors: scholar, thinker, leader, servant, inspiration, champion, and hero.”
Rob Shook ’83, the President of the National Association of Wabash Men, welcomed the students and their families to the Wabash community and spoke of engaging completely in what should become a lifetime of learning.
“Wabash will expect you to engage your whole self in your learning process, and for that process to last a lifetime,” said Shook. “You’ll be expected to get your hands dirty in Peru, as the Global Health Initiative has done, or to engage right here in Crawfordsville at a local organization. You’ll go on immersion trips, meet alumni who are leaders in their fields, and get coaching and mentoring from men who started out just like you and I did. You will be those alumni in a few short years.”
Shook, Program Director for IBM's Training and Skills, alerted the freshmen to the upcoming joys of the journey ahead.
“Get to know people who may seem different from you,” he said. “Eat meals with people from different cultures and religions, attend lectures outside your major, and get to know people outside of your dorms or fraternities and classes. Camaraderie is wonderful. You will be richly rewarded for those experiences.”
Dean of Students Mike Raters ’85, offered an earnest welcome and a hope for the next four years.
“This day should be one you’ll remember as one of the most special in your lives,” Raters said. “As we gather for the first of what will be many times in this hallowed Chapel, we do so as a college that takes you most seriously – your dreams and aspirations, your desire to achieve, and certainly the education we will provide which will guide your path. My personal and professional goal for you is that Wabash College will shape and make higher the trajectory of your life.”