Feature Story

August 15, 2019 | By Cole Hatcher

Welcome, New Bishops!

Ohio Wesleyan Celebrates Arrival of Students from 28 States, Puerto Rico, 19 Countries

Following a morning of moving and settling in, Ohio Wesleyan’s newest Bishops took a class photo, gathered for a Convocation ceremony to kick off the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, and walked a first lap together around campus. (Video by Mark Schmitter ’12)

Ben Arnold ’20

As he welcomed Ohio Wesleyan University’s new students at OWU’s 178th Convocation ceremony, senior Ben Arnold recalled feeling calm and confident about his freshman year – until he arrived on campus.

“It felt like the first time I blew bubbles as a kid, and I finally blew one so much bigger than the rest,” said Arnold, a neuroscience and pre-medicine double-major from Tiffin, Ohio.

Nearly as quickly as it was created, he recalled, the bubble burst.

“[E]ventually I realized it was OK that it burst,” Arnold told the new students assembled Thursday afternoon on Merrick Lawn. “In fact, the burst was necessary.”

‘Breaking, Tearing, and Separating’

In physics class, Arnold said, “I learned that a bubble is merely the surface tension breaking, tearing, and separating the water molecules from those it’s been bonded to and has been supported by for its whole life.”

But at Ohio Wesleyan, Arnold said, he has found “a family of friends and mentors that I know will never leave my side.”

In addition, he has completed “defining experiences” that will help him fulfill his ambition to become a physician.

Achieving Goals ‘One Step at a Time’

For Arnold, his “defining experiences have included an emergency medicine practicum at Grady Memorial Hospital, neuroscience research here on campus, a public health internship at the American Red Cross, and a cancer research fellowship at the University of Colorado. …

“My lifelong dream of acceptance into medical school has become closer to reality one step at a time,” Arnold said, “thanks to the support, guidance, and mentorship that OWU has never failed to give to me.”

And while he found a new bubble of support at Ohio Wesleyan, he told OWU’s brand-new Bishops that he was confident they, too, would find experiences to “lift and inspire you to dream even bigger dreams and achieve even higher goals.”

‘Interesting and Accomplished’

Stefanie Niles

Also during OWU’s Convocation ceremony, Stefanie Niles, vice president for enrollment and communications, officially presented the new class and shared fun facts about Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2023 and new transfer students.

“You bring many talents and aspirations to Ohio Wesleyan,” Niles told the 423 incoming students, “and our community will be better for your contributions. ... Today is just the very beginning of a range of wonderful opportunities open to you as you dive into the Ohio Wesleyan experience.”

Of the new students, Niles said, “You are an interesting and accomplished group,” noting:

  • The incoming students represent 28 states, Puerto Rico, and 19 countries.
  • 89 are members of National Honor Society; three are National Merit semi-finalists, finalists, or commended scholars; and four are class valedictorians.
  • 24 completed study abroad or exchange experiences during high school.

“Outside of the classroom, you have kept very busy,” Niles continued, sharing:

  • 272 participated in varsity sports, 92 were team captains, and 26 were All-Star, All-State, or All-Region.
  • 55 were involved in theater, with 19 playing a lead role or serving as director of a production.
  • 40 were involved in marching band; 107 participated in concert band, orchestra, or choir; and four served as concert mistress or master.
  • Six were editors of a literary magazine, five were editors of their school newspapers, and seven editors of their high school yearbooks.

“In addition to these leadership roles, you made your mark in other ways as well,” Niles said, noting:

  • Two are Eagle Scouts, and four are recipients of a Girl Scout Gold or Silver Award.
  • 19 served in a leadership role in their high school student government, including at least seven student body or class presidents.
  • 44 were involved in a diversity club or organization, 13 participated in Model United Nations, and 20 were members of a debate or speech team.
  • 73 were involved in a religiously affiliated organization.
  • 129 held a job in high school, and many – over half the class – chose to volunteer their time in service to others.

In addition, Niles shared a few individual accomplishments of OWU’s incoming students “to give you a sense of the eclectic and diverse interests of your classmates.”  Among the new Bishops, Niles noted:

  • A student who founded an African American cultural club at his school.
  • A pre-professionally trained ballerina.
  • A student who participated in a sister cities exchange program to China.
  • A student who completed six months of research at the Columbus Zoo involving red-crowned cranes.
  • An award-winning artist.
  • A chief master sergeant with the civil air patrol.
  • A student who started his own business clearing downed trees after Super Storm Sandy.
  • A student who has sailed competitively for more than 10 years.
  • A student who created a podcast on early medieval history.
  • A student who has written three plays.
  • A student with a third-degree black belt.
  • A student who won second place at a national archery competition.
  • A Miss Ohio Teen finalist.
  • A student who is under contract as a player for an e-sports team.
  • A student who was part of a robotics team that won first place at a NASA competition.

“The list of impressive accomplishments goes on and on,” Niles told the crowd. “You all have the potential to excel here, and every member of the community looks forward to helping you discover and achieve your goals.”

A Life-Shaping Journey

Rock Jones

To conclude the Aug. 15 Convocation ceremony, President Rock Jones encouraged the students to take advantage of all of the opportunities now open to them.

“Today you begin a journey that will shape the remainder of your life,” Jones said, “a journey where you will acquire the knowledge, develop the capacities, and embrace the vocation that will form a life of meaning and purpose that brings rich personal fulfillment and offers important social contribution. Today, as you begin this journey in this place, you become a Bishop. We could not be more pleased. …

“The next time the Class of 2023 assembles here in front of Merrick Hall will be your graduation,” Jones said. “As you begin that journey today, we look forward to the vast network of connections you will weave between now and that great celebration we will share in May of 2023.”

2019 Convocation Resources