ONE FALL NIGHT SEVERAL YEARS AGO I was working at my desk on the second floor of the Kane House when I heard a faint roar outside. It grew louder, and when I looked out my window and saw a group of around 25 young men walking between Forest Hall and Hovey Cottage, I realized that they were walking together singing “Old Wabash.” Each of the young men wore a white hat —Beta Theta Pi pledges—and they were returning to the house from their study tables.
I enjoyed the sound of energetic and newly minted Wabash students singing a song that they had been learning and practicing often, not individually, but as a band of brothers. But on this night no one was asking them to do this. They spontaneously began singing this new song, their new song, on their own as they trekked back home.
I have witnessed pledge classes practicing “Old Wabash” many times during my time here, and it always makes me smile. But on that night my grin stretched extra wide: Somewhere down there in that singing group of eager young students with white hats was my son, Corey Hoffman, Wabash Class of 2016.
At the time, my connections to Wabash were many: student, alumnus, coach, and Advancement staff. But being the parent of a student was a special time.
Having Corey at Wabash also created some questions. How involved should I be? How much space should I give him? Should I pop in to see him unannounced? What if I stay away too much? I worked adjacent to where Corey was living, so these questions weren’t always easy to answer.
Corey made it clear as a student that he didn’t want any favors just because he was my son, and I respected that. During his years here I worked hard to give him his space, but I didn’t want to be too distant. For example, I was in the Beta house only a handful of times during his freshman year and never popped in unannounced. But did I handle this right? A few months after Corey graduated, I discussed this with him.
His answers comforted me. He said that the transition to Wabash was easier because I was here, that he could always pop into my office when necessary, that he enjoyed randomly seeing me on campus, and that he never ran into me when he didn’t want to (I didn’t ask for specifics on this one!).
Then Corey told me how “cool” it was sharing Wabash traditions with me. I swelled with pride because I hadn’t heard him say this before. Just when I thought I had experienced the full extent of emotional connections to Wabash, my son showed me something even more powerful.
Now I am looking forward to another possible connection in a few years: “grandparent of a Wabash student!”
STEVE HOFFMAN ’85
Director, Alumni and Parent Programs email@example.com