Home > The Antiochian > The Class of 2015
 Fall 2011

The Class of 2015

One hundred and forty students applied;
Only thirty-five enter the College this fall
as part of Antioch's first new class in four years. Some of their stories appear below.

photo of Megan Miller

Megan Miller

Megan Miller previously studied at Earlham, spent time teaching English to a group of young children in Rwanda, and volunteers at the Hospice of Dayton, where she plays piano. She is proficient in French.

This year, admission to Antioch College carried with it the Horace Mann Fellowship Award, which covers full tuition for four years. Additionally, fellows have the opportunity to be mentored by stellar alumni and friends of the College. This opportunity appealed to many top-achieving students from throughout the country.

Each application was different and each student is different. Admission decisions were made on the basis of each student’s individual qualifications and potential. One hundred and forty students applied, but only thirty-five students enter the College this fall as part of Antioch’s first new class in four years.

The class of 2015 enters with an average unweighted high school grade point average of 3.56. Most completed rigorous post-secondary education curricula, including International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and Honors courses. One student was a National Merit Scholar Finalist and two others were Semifinalists for the award.

Sixteen students completed some college courwork prior to applying, and ten have spent some time studying or traveling abroad. Eighteen speak at least one second language: ten speak Spanish, one speaks Japanese, four speak French, and one student is fluent in Hindi, Hazaragi, and Dari.

photo of Zeb Reichert

Zeb Reichert

Zeb Reichert is interested in a career in animation and believes Antioch’s individualized majors will best allow hom to pursue his goals. Zeb has lots of family in Yellow Springs, some of whom have studied at Antioch College.

Nine students are Ohio residents, four are from Texas, three are from New York, three from Pennsylvania, and three from California. Other students are from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A student from New Mexico performed in a circus musical and another worked as a professional designer in Florida. Several students were involved in volunteer projects with nonprofit organizations. Others are accomplished fine artists, have worked as blacksmiths, written for progressive news organizations, spent time abroad as scholars and volunteers, and worked as community organizers.

Many have done work in sustainability. Their biographies include stints farming in developing countries, working in agriculture and biodiversity, village construction and environmental conservation in Central America and South America, and organic farming in South America.

Their academic interests are also wide-ranging: ecological or sustainable architecture, sustainability and rural development, animation, African American studies, creative writing, philosophy, literature, and more.


Sometimes the stories of our family’s past have the power to change our future. That was the case with Adam Abraham, whose aunt attended Antioch for three years, then stayed on a co-op helping at-risk youth. Growing up, he’d listened to her recall her time in Yellow Springs as a young black woman in the ’60s—what always impressed him was how warm and welcoming the community was at a time when the rest of the country was not.

Abraham kept the idea of Antioch tucked in the back of his mind, but didn’t act on it at first. The week before he graduated high school, he was offered a job at a direct marketing company in Central Florida. He had taught himself graphic design after taking an introductory course as a ninth grader, and so he took the job, then took several others in the same field, and eventually branched off on his own as a freelancer. Business was steady, with a good amount of clients offering a variety of jobs—from CD covers to book covers to branding packages for local companies. Going back to school wasn’t really part of Abraham’s plan.

Then one day his aunt told him that the College was reopening, and she encouraged him to apply. When he really thought about it and reevaluated the path he was on, he realized that while he’d built a career out of graphic design, it’s wasn’t the foundation he wanted to build his life on.

“I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my life behind a computer. I’d rather see things with my own eyes and make a change,” he said.

Now 24, Abraham said he’s more mature and focused; he knows he wants an education that is much more than a typical college experience. The only thing he’s not sure of is his major—he’s considered anthropology, sociology, industrial design, and psychology, but he’s changed his mind several times. He’s happy to figure that part out as he goes. He knows better than anyone that plans can always change for the better.


Katherine Wiebke

Katherine “Katie” Wiebke, working at a rural development and sustainable farming institute in southwestern Venezuela, was undecided about college until she learned from a friend that Antioch College was reopening. “I decided, `This is perfect,’” she said.

After junior year in her home town, Charlotte, North Carolina, Wiebke earned a two-year baccalaureate degree similar to a high school diploma at United World College in Las Vegas, New Mexico, near Santa Fe, happy to find core values that included compassion, service, environmental stewardship, cross-cultural understanding, idealism, and meeting personal challenges.

College options outlined by a counselor left her unmoved, she said. She and other students were fascinated by what they heard from an Antioch graduate, Ben Gillock ’04, a UWC instructor in environmental systems and society, “but then he would always say, `It’s closed now,’” she said. “It was like kind of a tease.”

The next year, doing volunteer work at the Simon Bolivar United World College of Agriculture in Ciudad Bolivia, Venezuela, 290 miles southwest of Caracas and 350 miles northeast of Bogota, Colombia, she learned Antioch College was back.

Looking closer, partly through online conversations, Wiebke said, she was “amazed at how much the school actually trains its students to be effective as catalysts for social change.”

“The thing that hooked me, the extra cherry on top, was the commitment to redefine higher education,” she added.

Wiebke is considering a career in -elementary or secondary education. She is also interested in gardening, growing food, journalism, recycling, and outdoor activities from the ocean to the mountains. “If I’m outside, I’m happy,” she said.

It’s crossed her mind that attending Antioch is a gamble, she said. But if the College is going to make it, she and her classmates will have to be successful.

“The things worth taking a risk for always seem to turn out in the end,” she said. “We want this much more than anybody else in the world. We’re going to make it work.”  —TK

Maya Lindgren

Talking turkey with Maya Lindgren

Maya Lindgren

Antioch College was preparing to close when Maya Lindgren first came across its description in the book Colleges That Change Lives three years ago. By the time she completed high school, Antioch was again calling for applicants.

For Maya Lindgren, coming to Antioch College was a family affair. “My [older] sister was doing her college search and had the Colleges That Change Lives book,” she said. Antioch College excited the sisters, but at the time, the College was in the midst of its shutdown. When Lindgren was starting her college search, however, the Horace Mann scholarship had been announced.

Lindgren is especially enthusiastic about the co-op program. “Co-op—where work and school connect—is one of my favorite things,” she said. “I’m also excited about being a part of the relaunch, seeing how a school starts up.”

Lindgren followed her sister’s footsteps in another way as well. Both of them completed a high school fast-track program—completing the high school curriculum in three years and going to Ft. Lewis College for the senior year. “I worked hard, but I was never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this,’” she said.

Lindgren and her sister were the only students in their public high school to participate in this Colorado public school program.

As she prepares to start her first year at Antioch College, Lindgren said she’s not exactly sure what she wants to study. She is, however, excited about participating in community life on campus, particularly in community government in whichever form it reemerges at the College.

“I love the idea that students have a big voice,” she said. “I expect it to be that way when it grows bigger, too.” —CF


Anya Gandy

Anya Gandy

Anya Gandy

A home-schooled student who has worked on a farm, Anya Gandy intends to design a major in international studies and political science. She plans to study French.

Coming to Antioch was a study in serendipity for Anya Gandy. “I was searching for schools that would pay for tuition,” she said. “A random Google search.”

Once she started to read about the rebirth of the school, however, she realized that “this was a really cool program.”

Gandy is especially excited about the co-op program. “I was talking to someone at Williams College and they want to do a co-op program, and they actually referenced Antioch College’s program,” she said. “You get to try out so many things while working and doing co-op.”

A home-schooled student who has worked on a farm, Gandy plans to design a major in international studies and political science and intends to focus her language studies in French. She sees community government as essential to studies in political science. “I definitely want to be involved in the government,” she said.

She also intends to “do a lot of things in science and math and not just the social sciences,” she said.

Several weeks before the start of the fall quarter, Gandy, who lives in California, was working out the logistics of getting to Yellow Springs. “My parents want to drive me cross-country,” she laughed.

Reflecting about her status as a Horace Mann Fellow Gandy offered some words to the College’s alumni, “You have a group of kids who are excited to learn, who are excited to be at Antioch. This is a great opportunity.” —CF


Brendon Deal

photo of Brendon Deal

Brendon Deal

As a student at Sinclair Community College, Brendon Deal conducted a bit of a social experiment by wearing a top hat every day. The move erned him a nickname, “Top Hat Guy,” and a fan page on Facebook.

People have a tendency to wear certain types of hats, labels that they don’t realize they’ve grown comfortable with. When Brendon Deal noticed this in action while taking classes at Sinclair Community College, he decided to conduct a little social experiment. He literally tried on a new hat—a magician’s top hat—that drew -attention everywhere he went.

Students who he’d pegged as timid, keep-to-themselves types started stopping him in the hall to comment on how much they loved his hat. Students who mostly socialized within a certain group started breaking out of it to spark conversations around Deal’s eclectic accessory choice.

“People will need very little excuse to get to know others,” Deal said.

Deal became known around campus as “Top Hat Guy.” He was interviewed for an article in the student newspaper and students created a fan page for him on Facebook, “Top Hat Guy Sinclair Community College.” Comments on the page, which has 309 followers, run the gamut:

“I work with his brother. One day he visited his brother and I said, ‘NO WAY! TOP HAT GUY IS YOUR -BROTHER!’”

“He was in my Shakespeare class Spring quarter of last year!! One of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet!”

“I just saw him! He held the door open for me :)”

Deal would be happy to know that an action as small as opening a door would linger in a person’s mind. Lately he’s been focusing more on the little things that make him smile. He feels that in the end, the good stuff, like hearing a joke from a stranger, should win out over the bad stuff, like getting stuck in traffic.

“I’m a firm believer that people are generally good, and that the general opinion on humanity is too cynical,” he said, adding that even people who appear unkind just need some empathy. “They are that way for a reason. You have to understand that.” —NS


Elijah Blanton

photo of Elijah Blanton

Elijah Blanton

Elijah Blanton prefers to use the term “unschooled” or autodidactism to describe his educational experiences. Since the eleventh grade, he has designed his own curriculum to feed his own interests and curiosity.

Elijah Blanton hasn’t been to school since the sixth grade. He hasn’t exactly been home-schooled, either, because that would imply that he learned his most important lessons at home.

Blanton prefers to use the term “un-schooled” or autodidactism, to describe his educational experience, though “living” would be an appropriate word as well. For Blanton, who’s designed his curriculum driven by his own curiosity and interests since the seventh grade, every experience has carried a lesson, blurring the lines between school and life.

From his months working for the Obama campaign in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, he learned about the power of community in revitalizing a once crime-ridden, impoverished town. While talking to people through door-to-door canvassing, cold calls, voting registration booths, or even just on the street, Blanton listened to the stories of how the town’s business owners and local artists came together to recover from the Phoenix Steel factory shutdowns in the ’80s.

From nineteen days bicycling from Boston to Chicago, Blanton learned about conquering self-doubt and that people will often surprise you with their trust and kindness. Every forty to ninety miles, he and his group of friends would stop to rest—sometimes at friends’ houses or on couches of people they’d met online. When they were out of options Blanton started knocking on people’s doors, asking if they could sleep in their backyard. No one ever turned them down. The next day, after an evening of rest, they’d keep going.

From a musician at his congregation, Blanton learned to play guitar. From his time working at an arboretum, he gained knowledge of biology, horticulture, and even Latin. He took anthropology classes at his local community college and approached a local artist to teach him his craft. By not going to school, he was able to turn the world into a classroom, with no one around to push him except himself.

“I believe that anyone, when they’re given a blank slate, will fill it with something without having to be told to do it,” Blanton said. “When you want to learn something, you find ways to learn it.” —NS



Eros’s first experience as an Antioch College student was intellectually and emotionally transformational.

Courses in Media and Social Change and Postcolonial Literature “gave me a different frame for thinking about a lot of different ideas,” Eros said. “They were helpful in creating my critical perspective on things.”

One such issue was the matter of Eros’s given name, now discarded in favor of a moniker with no clear gender connotations. (There was a legal change of name in late August, Eros said.)

So when the College closed at the end of the 2007-2008 academic year, Eros, then coming to the end of a full year as an Antioch student, had no solid plan for where to go from there.

Eros had read about Antioch College in Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives but did not become convinced the College was the right fit until a campus visit during senior year in high school. That was not Eros’s first visit to a college campus. At other campuses, something seemed to be missing, Eros said. But at Antioch, “people had a genuine interest in who I was.”

“One of the first people I met on my visit, Shea Witzburger, told me I belonged there. That was the first time anyone ever told me I belonged anywhere,” Eros said.

In that first year as a student, Eros worked as a layout manager on the campus paper, The Record, and participated in a broad spectrum of Community Government activities.

Post Antioch, Eros moved to New York and edited video for a production company, and took visual art classes at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. To pay the bills, Eros took a part-time job in retail.

Eros returned to Virginia a year ago to be with family, and has since taken a Women’s Studies course at Virginia Commonwealth University. That class, incidentally, “was the catalyst for my wanting to come back to Antioch,” Eros said, “to be part of a social change movement.” —GPL


Forrest Humphrey

For most of the Horace Mann Fellows, going to Antioch College means entering a much smaller pond. Not so for Forrest Humphrey.

Humphrey’s home town, Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the rugged, scenic southeast corner of the state, has a population of 4,400, about 1,000 more than Yellow Springs. At Viroqua High School, he was one of thirty-eight students in grades nine to twelve. His graduating class this year had ten students, including three with whom he attended kindergarten.

He’s eagerly anticipating that Antioch, especially the co-op program, will provide the more varied experiences and bigger range of opportunities for learning he seeks before choosing a major field of study or career path.

“I’m interested in learning anything … I want to kind of broaden my view of the world and my understanding,” he said. “I’m interested in not spending four years in a classroom.”

Humphrey, 18, has lived in Viroqua since he was 4. He enjoys acting in theater productions, started learning tae kwon do at age 12 and earned his black belt and began teaching in May.

“That was my goal, to get my black belt before I graduated from high school,” he said.

Humphrey learned of Antioch from alumna Lois Fields ’55, who also lives in southwest Wisconsin, then did his own research. He also applied to Deep Springs College in Deep Springs, California, about 230 miles north of Los Angeles; Lake Forest College in the leafy suburbs about 30 miles north of Chicago; and the University of Minnesota Morris in western Minnesota.

“Antioch is kind of a gamble,” he conceded. “There’s always the chance that it won’t work.”

One of the deciding factors in his choice was Antioch’s tradition of shared, community governance, which he believes will make the College successful again only if students take a lead.

“That is an area of the College I’m really interested in,” he said. “I really want it to work.” —TK


Eva Erickson

photo of Eva Erickson

Eva Erickson

One of two students who attended Antioch previously, Eva Erickson said she is returning a changed person.

When Antioch College reopens this fall, Eva Erickson will be one of the few students who’ve already walked through its doors. She’s part of the last class that was here in 2008, and she’ll now be part of the new class that helps to revive it.

Even though she’s starting over as a freshman despite having a year’s worth of credits, Erickson doesn’t see the time that’s passed as a waste. She knows this is a new start, and that she won’t be coming back the same person.

In the three years since the College shut down, Erickson embraced what she calls a nomadic existence. She remained in Yellow Springs, something she said she was committed to doing even though she didn’t have the best resources.

To support herself, she took on various temporary and part-time jobs—political canvassing, retail, construction, elder care, and self-employed leaf raker—all the while learning about herself and the life she wants to live.

She became a student at the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute, a community-based project of former College faculty, alumni, and staff that formed after the closure. For about a year, the group would meet at faculty members’ homes, friends’ basements, coffee shops, and church buildings to hold classes and continue their education. Reflecting on the reasons why the project didn’t succeed, Erickson is quick to focus on the positives that came from its many challenges.

“We had a metaphor for it: a phoenix that’s driving a plane that doesn’t have all of the parts in it, and we are learning how to drive it, and it’s running out of gas, and it’s in a thunderstorm,” she said. “I feel like it was inevitably going to fail; but considering the cards we were dealt, we did an outstanding job.”

After Nonstop, Erickson went through a series of jobs in everything from retail to waitressing to caring for the elderly and working in construction. In some ways, she sees her job experience as her own version of co-op.

Through work, she learned what she could and couldn’t do, and more importantly, what she wants to do. Realizing that she enjoys taking life at a pace slow enough to be aware of society and the needs of the underprivileged, she’ll be returning to Antioch with a focus on education and a goal to teach high school history. —NS


James Russell

James Michael Russell was a senior at an elite Texas prep school when he came across the second edition of Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives.

“The book seemed to say Antioch is not a place for everyone,” said Russell, who spent thirteen years wearing the shirt-and-tie uniform of Trinity Valley School, which sits on a sprawling 75-acre campus in southwest Fort Worth.

Russell had been a restless student with an interest in politics and doing. The regimen of classroom learning alone didn’t appeal to him. Antioch’s three C’s, as described in Pope’s bestseller, “seemed so right,” he said.

That was the spring of 2006, and Russell wouldn’t encounter Yellow Springs or Antiochians for another two years.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled at Texas Christian University where he was unsettled and unfocused. He declared a series of majors—anthropology, art history, English literature, religious studies—and remained unengaged.

“That school was just not right for me,” he said. “I found it uninteresting.”

Finally, after two years of “stalking Antioch” from afar, Russell got support from his parents to move to Yellow Springs.

Antioch College had closed by then, and the remaining faculty, staff, and students—with the support of alumni—had formed the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute. At Nonstop and in Yellow Springs, Russell found what he’d been missing.

“There was an amazing synthesis of faculty, staff, and students. We studied and worked with one another no matter how much we disagreed on issues,” he said.

Russell remained in Yellow Springs through the spring of 2009, when his parents called him back to Texas. He reenrolled at Texas Christian just long enough to land an internship at the Institute for Policy Studies. The experience, Russell said, was exactly as he imagined a co-op would be.

“Sometimes it was miserable,” he said of living on his own, “but I adapted, learned to tolerate things on my own.”

He chose not to return to TCU and instead went to work. He worked political campaigns, blogged for The Huffington Post, and then landed a reporting position at Truthout, an online progressive news and opinion magazine.

“Working for Truthout and on campaigns were change-making experiences,” Russell said. “They demand that I use the best of my skills in fast-paced environments.”

Since graduating from high school, Russell said he’s learned that his work motivates him more than anything. “Work defines me,” he said. “The day when a job just becomes a job, then I don’t want it anymore. My work has to be meaningful. When I have a good job, I have everything. It’s a point of stability for me.”

When Antioch College began accepting applications in the fall of 2010, Russell’s arrived for early decision consideration.

“I know what I want to do but not exactly how I’m going to get there,” he said of his plans for a career as a writer. “But I know Antioch will be a part of that. It’s a brilliant place and it’s a place where I feel totally at home.” —GPL


Jenn Wheeler

photo of Jenn Wheeler

Jenn Wheeler

Jenn Wheeler is interested in philosophy, especially philosophy of religion and the overlap of philosophy of theology. She’s looking forward to a more “pluralistic” and “left-leaning” environment than she found at Cedarville, where she studied previously.

Jenn Wheeler, 24, is no stranger to Yellow Springs. She grew up with home schooling in Cedarville, Ohio, six miles away, worked for four years at the Greene County Library in Yellow Springs and has lived in the Village for a year.

“I guess I was sort of interested in Antioch when I was in high school,” Wheeler said.

Instead she spent two years at Cedarville University, a Baptist school where her father is an economics professor. The university takes a “creationist approach” to science and requires at least a minor in Bible studies.

There’s also the issue of gender ID. “They have a policy to expel queer students, and I identify as queer,” Wheeler said.

Once again she was interested in Antioch, only to find that the College was being closed by Antioch University and faced an uncertain future.

Following the shutdown in 2008 “I kind of lost contact with most of those people,” Wheeler said.

Going into the inaugural year, Wheeler said she has no particular concerns but is eager to join with fellow students “to put some kind of community government back in place.”

She enjoys music and would like to return to playing the French horn and guitar, perhaps in a band or orchestra. Her favorite forms are classical, modern classical, minimalist, and ambient, a style dating from the 1970s.

She’s interested in philosophy, especially philosophy of religion and the overlap of philosophy and theology, and looks forward to a more “pluralistic” and “left-leaning” environment than she found at Cedarville.

“Having a sense of community is certainly appealing,” she said.

For all the differences between Cedarville and Antioch, Wheeler said her mother and father support her choice.

“He’s excited that I’m going to Antioch because it’s school,” she said. —TK


Dustin Mapel

photo of Dustin Mapel

Dustin Mapel

When Antioch College called for “bold” student applicants, Mapel, who’d had some tough times in New Mexico, knew he was ready for the challenge.

Soon after earning a GED, Dustin Mapel left his family in the northern New Mexico town of Alcalde, where about 13 percent of its 127 families live below the poverty line, and headed 100 miles south to Albuquerque.

Mapel had planned to study and work in the city. But in Albuquerque, he and a friend found themselves homeless for a stretch of many months.

That experience, extreme as it was, was a turning point for Mapel. His move to New Mexico was his third major move in just a few years.

Dustin had left Pittsburgh, where he spent most of his childhood and adolescence, for Huntsburg Township in northeast Ohio.

He never adjusted to life in Huntsburg, which was more conservative and much less diverse than what he’d experienced in Pittsburgh. Ultimately he dropped out of high school, and after his father died, moved to New Mexico to stay with relatives.

For a time, things began to come together for Mapel. He tested well enough to earn his GED. He began taking online classes through Northern New Mexico College, a state school. But Alcalde has its own set of problems, most of which have to do with its location in Rio Arriba County, which has the highest per capita drug-caused death rates in the state.

He’d hoped for something better in Albuquerque, was ready to make it on his own, by his own merits. When he and his friend found themselves without income or a place to stay, he chose to stick it out.

They lived on the streets for four months, he said. sleeping in parks or wherever he could rest his head, until he found a job working the night shift at Denny’s. Scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes into dawn was tedious work, yes, but the job brought Mapel in touch with his love of cooking.

“There’s something about preparing a good meal for someone that’s satisfying,” said Mapel, who eventually moved to Georgia with a girlfriend.

>At the time of that move, Mapel was not sure what he wanted to do. He knew only that he wanted more than he had at the time, and what he’d experienced up until then.

So when his brother, Shane Creepingbear ’08, called him from Yellow Springs to tell him that he was a new uncle, Mapel packed his bags and headed north.

This final move reconnected Mapel with his family and brought some stability to his life. He spent the summer working the night shift at Sunrise Café in Yellow Springs. And when Antioch College began recruiting its new class, he needed no major prompting to apply. “I was ready,” he said. —GPL


Jennifer Carlson

Before going to college, Jennifer Carlson was eager to do something to “help create change in the world,” so she spent six months working at an orphanage in India.

She’d attended the private Khabele School, which has about 200 students in grades 6-12 in Austin, Texas. The program was “very focused on student empowerment, helping students discover what they’re passionate about,” she said.

In India she found herself doing -everything from cleaning to helping with homework and substitute teaching children ages three to thirteen in mathematics, -social studies, and English.

“I think that it’s definitely de-romanticized my ideas about making change in the world,” she said.

As part of the inaugural class at the newly reopened Antioch College, Carlson, 20, said she remains committed “to help people, trying to make some kind of difference in the world … human rights.”

During high school, an advisor suggested Antioch, but the College was closed. Her interest was restored largely by Antioch College alumnus and former Trustee Rozell “Prexy” Nesbitt ’67, one of her sister’s professors at Columbia College in Chicago.

Carlson’s initial interest is in media studies and political science.

“I really like storytelling—radio, photography, or film,” she said.

Carlson said she was drawn to Antioch College’s co-op program.

“I would’ve felt weird about just going to school for four years,” she said.

Another attraction was the tuition waiver for the entering class, freeing her from worrying about how to pay off the loans she would have had to obtain to attend other schools to which she was admitted.

At the same time, Carlson is concerned about the startup phase and the long wait for accreditation, which can’t be granted until after she graduates.

“I really have no idea what to expect,” she said, “but I think it’s going to be unlike any other college experience I’ve ever heard of.” —TK



Sara Brooks is big into list-making. Every week, she jots down what she needs to accomplish in the next several days—tasks like getting her car fixed, going to work, reading a certain book. But she prefers to leave her bigger goals vague and unwritten, so they can be molded into just the right shape as she goes. She’s not the kind to rush into major decisions without giving it a lot of thought first. The Greek philospher Plato may have something to do with that.

A few summers ago, while Brooks was enrolled in the Post Secondary Enrollment Option at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, she read Plato’s The Republic and took an introductory course in philosophy. It moved her so much that she realized she needed to find a way to apply philosophy every day, beyond just reading and writing about it.

Being home-schooled when she wasn’t at the college gave Brooks the freedom to explore several outlets for philosophical learning. She often spent her days at the art museum, studying the works of Salvador Dalí or Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for testing the limits of the body, pain, and fear in order to transform the audience and evoke true emotions.

Abramović’s work struck a chord with Brooks: “I feel like it’s always a good idea to figure out what we’re afraid of and what we’re trying to hide from ourselves,” she said. “I always fear that I won’t be able to do as much in my lifetime as I’d like to. I fear that I won’t be able to finish what I start.”

So far, Brooks is finishing up just fine. She took six quarters at Sinclair and accumulated eighty college credits by the time she was essentially a high school senior. Though she’d planned to take a year off before applying to colleges, when she found out about Antioch reopening she chose to apply.

It was a last-minute decision; Brooks admits she almost didn’t make the deadline and had to drive to Yellow Springs to drop off the application in person. Even though she didn’t have much time to think about it, she knows it’s the right thing to do. “I feel like it’s something that I have to do. For me.” —NS


Seth Kaplan

photo of Seth Kaplan

Seth Kaplan

The cello, Seth Kaplan decided, comes with him when he moves into Birch, though he decided against a major in music when he chose to come to Antioch College.

Seth Kaplan comes from a musical family. His parents both play cello and tricked him into playing cello when he was five. He’d wanted to play violin, like his older brothers, he said. Even though he was fooled into playing a larger stringed instrument, he’s been happy with it. “I also play the piano.” Not surprisingly, he’s been studying cello and piano at the Chicago Academy of the Arts, performing in ten classical recitals a year, and lists Schumann and Schubert among his favorite classical composers.

Kaplan, however, isn’t majoring in music or performance. When asked about possible majors, he laughs “I have no idea! I don’t even know how my ideas [will] work at Antioch.” He applied to a number of conservatories, and applied to Antioch and Bard for non-musical studies.

A friend of his mother’s came across the Horace Mann Fellowship. When he researched Antioch College, it seemed to him as if students have “lots of control over how this works, and my class would be building an adventure.”

Beyond the control, Kaplan is intrigued by the size of the class, just thirty-five people in this first year.

Kaplan hasn’t met any of the other Horace Mann Fellows in person, but he has gotten to know some over Facebook in a group that was created for them. “A lot of them know more than I do about everything [Antioch],” he said.

This summer, Kaplan spent his time playing and practicing music. He plans to bring his cello with him when he moves into Birch Hall but has not decided what else might come along: “I don’t feel as if it’s going to happen yet.” —CF



photo of Marianthe Bickett

Marianthe Bickett

Marianthe Bickett is the second in her family to attend Antioch College. She enrolled at Evergreen but left because the fit was not right. About the Midwest, she said, “Even the geography and plant life … is important to me.”

There’s a spirit of community in Yellow Springs that isn’t easily found elsewhere, even though Marianthe Bickett has searched. When she graduated from high school, Bickett moved across the country to Washington, even though her heart was still in the Midwest. At the time, Antioch wasn’t an option for her, but she’d visited the campus many times in the past when her brother was a student. An artist and sculptor, he was known mainly for the swing sets he’d built around campus. Bickett hoped to find an equally tight-knit environment when she left home.

But after a quarter at Evergreen State College, unsure of what she wanted to study, Bickett decided to drop out and seek out opportunities that would help her find a clearer direction.

She spent time in major cities along the West Coast, such as San Francisco and Seattle, taking in the nature and cultural diversity of the places she visited.

When she realized she enjoyed a more rural lifestyle, Bickett joined an intentional community, an organic farm where she would work in exchange for room and board. The goal of the farm was not to grow crops for profit, but to grow enough to live. Although she was fascinated by the exposure to the way agriculture, nutrition, and food intersected with one another, Bickett still longed for home. She missed not only her family and close friends, but the simplest things, like the soil and the climate. “Even the geography and plant life of the Midwest is important to me,” she said. “I know more about the plants here, I know about the seasons here. For someone who’s interested in growing her own food … I can do that more easily here.”

During her time at Antioch, she plans to focus on health sciences and the ways that natural processes and biology affect our own nutrition. She’s hoping that the work experiences she had while she wasn’t in school will continue, because she prefers hands-on learning to sitting in a classroom. If learning happens to involve a little dirt and soil, even better. —NS


Rachael Smith

photo of Rachael Smith

Rachael Smith

Rachael did a gap year in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica doing village construction and environmental conservation.

Rachael Smith is most at home in nature. When she encountered the forests in Ecuador this summer, she was blown away by the tropical plants and animals.

“I saw blue-footed boobies,” she said. “They are just the cutest birds who are not shy at all, and these little plants called mimosas that have soft little leaves that pull closed when you stroke them.”

In Colombia, Smith stayed in the little mountain town called San Agustin. She arrived at the time of a solstice festival. “All the horses and trucks are decorated and the people dance all night every night,” she said.

Smith has not decided what she wants to do professionally once she graduates from college. The only certainty beyond being a member of Antioch’s first new class since 2007, is she wants to return to South America. “Do something with wildlife reforestation or agriculture,” she said. “Something outdoors.”

Smith attended Arcata High School in Humboldt County, a densely forested, mountainous, and rural county along the Pacific coast in northern California. She studied performance in the school’s arts institute, where she also took classes in painting and fabric dyeing.

While in high school, she worked on a catering crew, helping mostly with food preparation. And in her spare time she volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Court Program, an alternative juvenile justice system that practices restorative justice.

For her involvement in volunteer action within her community, she received the Violet Richardson Soroptomist Award. She also received an award from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Smith took no time off after graduating from high school. Her five-month stay in South American included a stint on a coastal organic farm, where she farmed a garden, worked with animals, helped with a reforestation project, and taught English at a community school.

“It was incredible,” she said. “I -already miss it like crazy.” —GPL