–by Libby Stupica
PUBLICATION DATE: 09.13.16
I have fallen dangerously in love with Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. I say dangerously, because with a 25% acceptance rate it’s not a guaranteed admittance. However, the love affair is long and deep. Since my first dorm overnight with my sister last spring, this college stole my heart and has refused to give it back. Now that I’m in the midst of my junior year in high school, peers and their parents ask about my college interests. Having only tagged along on my sister’s college visits a couple years ago, I realize I need to do some research and do my own college visits. However, my motivation to discover and visit said schools is almost non-existent, because I have convinced myself that nothing could surpass the love I have for Kenyon.
So, instead of exploring new options or taking a college tour, I spent the past weekend further convincing myself that my heart only has room for Kenyon. The visit began after my dad and I drove up Saturday morning to watch my sister and her volleyball team play a home match against Hiram. The energy at the match was incredible. The two teams volleyed back and forth for the lead for an hour and a half until Kenyon finally won the match by two points in the fifth game. Even the pep band came to support and played during each time-out. A banquet for the three seniors followed after their victory, and I felt right at home around Schuyler’s teammates. Even during their celebrating, they were welcoming and included me in all conversation. This openness is something I notice among the whole student body during every visit to Kenyon.
Schuyler had reserved tickets for “Fool for Love,” a play being performed on Saturday evening by one of the theater groups on campus. Fortunately, she had called ahead to reserve the tickets, because when we went to the box office to pick them up, a line of at least 30 students waited in the hopes of obtaining them. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon. I was told that the students support and truly appreciate the arts on campus … and for good reason. The four-person cast put on a fantastic performance of this twisted, sometimes comedic, love story. After the curtain call, the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation.
After the play, we had plans to meet up with some of Schuyler’s friends at a party. Having never been to a college party before, I went in expecting truly bad behavior. I had a preconceived idea based on Hollywood’s portrayal of parties and stories from peers. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t walk by one passed out student after the other, and I never encountered a situation that made my 16-year-old self feel even remotely uncomfortable (Kenyon and its students impress Libby! Example 1389). Instead, I enjoyed a night full of dancing, laughs, and finally getting to know better the people I constantly hear my sister talk about. As Schuyler and I walked back to her dorm after a final dance to “Rock Me Mama,” I found out they play it at the closing of every party. I couldn’t stop gushing about how much I respected everyone at the school and how much fun I had.
The next morning we met Schuyler’s boyfriend for brunch, where I enjoyed coffee along with a view that only Peirce Hall can provide. If I disregarded every single charming aspect about the people at Kenyon, the campus alone would still steal my heart. I long to be a student walking through campus every time I see Middle Path’s arch of trees, the light stone and dark wooden door architecture, and experience the Hogwarts-esque vibe the interior of the buildings give off. Walking outside to enjoy the beginning shades of autumn was this season’s bonus.
After spending the afternoon at the library, Schuyler and I grabbed dinner and headed to a meeting for the Middle East Student Association, where we discussed Muharram, the first month on the Islamic calendar. The diversity on campus and the open-mindedness of students and professors belies its small rural setting. College is an environment that encourages a free exchange of ideas, and I yearn to be a part of such discussions.
As my dad drove me back home Sunday evening, I realized no amount of visiting would ever be enough to make me leave without feeling nostalgic. It’s strange that a place I’ve frequented only a few times already feels so familiar and welcoming, and I doubt and worry that no other college will ever make me feel the same excitement about the future as Kenyon College does. I promise you this, though, you can bet I’ll be working overtime these next two years in the hopes of being accepted to the school of my dreams.