He strode to the front of the classroom, grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote, “18, 21, 22” and “No” large on the chalkboard, a 6-foot-3 freshman, doing a presentation for Effective Speaking.’What do you think of then you see this?” he asked, pointing to the first number. The class rang out with the obvious answers: the age of majority, eligibility for the military, marriage, legal contracts, and voting.
“And this?” indicting the second number. There were unanimous answers about the legal drinking age.
He then pointed to the third and fourth items, saying, “This is how old I am now, and no, I will not buy your liquor for you.”
To the class’s surprise, it turned out our speaker was indeed a 22-year-old freshman, and he told his story of why.
One unsuccessful semester at Vermont Technical College and then two-and-a-half years of driving a truck convinced him that a career in a semi’s cab was not for him.
Luckily he’d stayed active on the basketball court in the meantime, and so enrolled at Castleton, sure now of what he wanted out of a college experience. His fellow classmates called him “Dad” after that, and it was clear that Jeremy Jorgenson was on the road to success.
Not only will he graduate this spring, in four years, but he also has brought his reputation as a hard-working good guy to the basketball team, pulling down rebounds every game, and earning the praises from the refs on the circuit, who tell President David Wolk that they always enjoy doing games when Jeremy is on the court.
That day in class illustrates why it’s interesting and fun to teach at CSC. Students often surprise me. Like Melanie, the art student, who plunged through knee deep snow drifts on a wintry Sunday to take photos of the Corinthian, Ionic and Doric pillars on display on Castleton’s Main street for part of her speech on architecture.
The “non-traditional” students are especially intriguing, since they often have a clearer focus and a stronger work ethic than the “regular freshmen.” They provide alternate perspectives about the world out there, responsibilities to jobs and family as well as class work.
Some of them came back to us after having been in Iraq. Steve and Bethany are different people when we see them back on campus. Some stay around after graduation, working for the college in new capacities, like Jeff in coaching and sports communication, and Brian in the media center, fixing all technical glitches.
I enjoy following the careers of the students in my freshman classes. I see them in the community later on, as teachers, nurses, and coaches. I get to work with them as SOS advisors to my FYS classes. I enjoy watching my first-year students take on active leadership roles in campus life. There is Carley shining on and off the court, Mike and Chris writing good pieces for the Spartan, Derrick and Mike turning from hockey players to trainers and coaches, Chet and Melissa captaining the rugby clubs, Kevin and Courtney shining on stage. My former freshmen serve as RAs in the dorms, hang one-woman shows in the gallery spaces, publish their photography, man the library, work technical magic with computers and film.
They perform great music in the chorus and band, help run the dean’s office, organize the cheerleaders, and captain the men’s soccer team.
It all keeps me coming back, eager to see how the freshmen begin their college career in my classes, and then take off to become vital parts of the college community. What’s the surprise gonna be next week?