A First Look
Prospective students imagine a life at Antioch College.
President Mark Roosevelt with Elijah Blanton.
Jennifer Carlson took a year off after high school to work in an orphanage and school in India. But upon being accepted to Antioch College’s first new class, she is now reconsidering college because of Antioch’s co-op opportunity.
“I don’t want to sign away four years of my life to go to school,” she said while on a tour of the campus. “I’m interested in working and having experience in the world.” If she enrolls at the newly re-opened College this fall, Carlson, of Austin, Texas, hopes to study human rights and media.
“I’m ready for an adventure,” said accepted student Forrest Humphrey, who attended a youth initiative high school in southwest Wisconsin. “The most attractive thing to me [about Antioch] is this idea of community governance, of taking control of my education.”
Carlson and Humphrey were two of twenty-four admitted students who visited the College on April 17. The prospective students toured the campus buildings in which they would spend most of their time beginning this fall – McGregor Hall for classes and Birch Hall for living and eating – and heard from Antioch alumnus and MacArthur Genius Award winner Timothy Barrett ’73 as well as 2008 graduates Fela Pierre-Louis, MacLean Tiffany, Sarah Buckingham, and Zachary Gallant.
The importance of the moment was not lost on Pierre-Louis, a Haitian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. when she was nine and came to Antioch as a 21-year-old student hoping to make a difference.
Pierre-Louis hadn’t been back to Yellow Springs in some time, she said, but she remains enthusiastic about the College’s future and the impact it can have on a new generation of students.
“You could go to a school that has a football team...or where you’re going to actually grow as a person and have a résumé of actual experience,” she said.
Forty-five students were accepted into the College as Horace Mann Fellows. If they enroll, they will receive full, four-year tuition scholarships from the College.
“We got overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents and students,” Kristen Pett, special assistant to the president for enrollment, said. “We actually had a number of students who came undecided and left decided – in a positive way.”
For Diana Lopez, it was the co-op opportunities, plus the free tuition and the chance to work abroad, that attracted her to the College. “When you apply for a job, the one thing they look for is experience,” said Lopez, who hails from Chihuahua, Mexico, and hopes to study forensic psychology.
Circulation Specialist Steven Duffy ’77 (center) with Nargees Jumahan and Adam Abraham.
Sam Senzek, who wants to learn Japanese and pursue East Asian studies, is excited that she may be able to do so through Antioch. Senzek, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, looks forward to working closely with her fellow students.
“What interests me is the fact that it will be kids of a pioneering group starting a college over again – there’s going to be a unique group,” Senzek said.
Sam Franco of Oakland, California, said he looks forward to helping shape the College. “While they’re trying to rebuild the program, they will be incorporating everyone’s ideas,” Franco said. He was additionally attracted by the amount of attention he will receive as a student, the school’s history, and the peaceful campus.
Nargees Jumahan said Antioch would give her the educational experiences she wants in a beautiful, natural setting. “I can sit and meditate here,” she said. “This is how the earth’s supposed to be – to me it’s beautiful to explore and look at.”
Jumahan said that if she weren’t accepted at Antioch, she would have joined the military. Jumahan now plans to work for women’s rights in Afghanistan, where she was born and raised, on one of her co-op assignments.
Greylyn Burk, of Shelbyville, Kentucky, said she appreciates how the curriculum’s Global Seminars will expand her thinking on critical issues.
“It’s not just an education; it will make me into a better person,” Burk said. “It will be tough, but it’s something I want to do.”
Burk learned about Antioch from her mother, a self-described hippie who participated in student activities and protests on campus in the early 1970s. Because she is interested in film studies, Burk was excited to learn about the Little Art Theatre and the many local filmmakers with whom she might be able to work.
Adam Abraham, who lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, said he appreciates that the College treats its students more like adults and empowers them to take initiative, rather than being more like a factory that gives out diplomas. Abraham’s aunt attended Antioch in the 1960s, leaving the college after three years to stay on a co-op job helping at-risk youth.
“It really touched me to visit here and hear from all the alumni about their passions,” said Abraham, adding he will definitely be among the first class that starts school on October 4, with plans to study psychology, anthropology, and history.
On a tour of campus, Admission Ambassador Shane Creepingbear told students to envision high-tech greenhouses, orchards on the golf course and a student lounge and café at the Olive Kettering Library.
But bigger priorities for the College are upgrading the heating and cooling systems of Birch and McGregor, while these other campus renovations will depend upon fund-raising.
“The campus is in various states of disrepair, but it’s kind of romantic to think about all the people who have been here,” Abraham said.
An early version of this story appeared first in the Yellow Springs News. It is reprinted here with permission.