February 28, 2017
Falling in Love with Ursinus
Valentine’s Day may have passed, but love is still in the air at Ursinus College. March is a month when so many Ursinus admits anxiously arrive for a visit, unsure about their college choice. Many of them end their visit falling in love with the campus, the people and the idea of becoming a Bear. So many UC GOLDs (Graduates of the Last Decade) have recalled the moments, both during their recruitment and while at UC, that made them realize that Ursinus was the right place for them. While it is hard to articulate just how much Bears love their school, many of them were able to remember the moments when Ursinus became a place they loved.
The number one reason GOLDs came to love UC was the relationships they were able to build with friends, faculty and teammates. Many of these relationships began even before they became students. Janel Melnick ’13 fell in love during her first recruitment visit her senior year of high school. “Everyone I met was so nice and the campus had an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. I knew after that visit that I wanted to attend UC.” Danika Dellanno ’15 echoed Janel’s message, saying, “I was in love from the start. It had such a great sense of community.”
Not everyone came to Ursinus with high expectations. Karli Scott Freeman ’11, never even expected to like Ursinus. “I was sitting in the car in the Admission Office parking lot refusing to get out after telling my mom I was never going to a school with such a stupid name.” Thankfully for Karli (and Ursinus), she experienced a significant change of heart. “After about 45 minutes on the campus, I had done a complete 180. The students and professors we passed were so friendly and really made the campus community feel like a family. I have made lifelong friends and mentors and have never once regretted becoming a UC Bear.”
Ursinus has made a great impression on so many because of its close community compared to other schools and the willingness of everyone on campus to reach out to new students. There is no waiting period for becoming a part of the UC family and starting to impact the school. By creating relationships, the Ursinus experience distinguishes itself as unique.
Chris Cannito ’13 agreed; “UC was something so utterly unique compared to my family and friends who went elsewhere, and that inherent uniqueness is what I believe makes a bond that is Gorilla glue strong.” Chris’ love for Ursinus came from the wide variety of experiences he shared with others. “Having strong interpersonal relationships with friends from schools representing an immensely diverse spectrum made me forever grateful for UC. Whether it was the folks I lived with, studied with, trained with, partied with or just bumped into, each relationship helped me socialize with people from a range of ideas, beliefs, passions and backgrounds.” Mike Ward ’12 added, “Those deep conversations “showed me that I wasn’t alone in facing the world’s challenges. It showed me that there were other people out there willing to dream big and help make the world better.” It is those conversations that have created the community that has become UC’s calling card. Many of those conversations would be lacking in substance and maturity without the Ursinus faculty.
The Staff and Faculty
UC GOLDs couldn’t give love to their school without including the faculty and staff, and the way they created a sense of belonging on campus. Freeman quoted Professor Jennifer Van Gilder as saying “We are a family and as a professor, I look after my students. If you don’t come to class I am going to call you, not to yell at you, but just to make sure everything is okay.” The willingness to go above and beyond creates longstanding bonds between professors and their students that stretch beyond their time on campus.
For some, it was the little things the faculty did outside the classroom that made them feel at home. Dellanno stated, “I loved how at the end of the year the senior biology students got a dinner at the President’s house with the biology professors. I don’t know many other schools that are like that.” For others, the dialogue happening at UC was the hallmark. Cannito said, “The high quality academics, professors and professionals raised my internal operating system as to how to work hard, but also surround myself with diverse thinkers and points of view.” With a faculty that acts as a role model for commitment to service and education, it is no wonder so many from Ursinus go into the helping professions and graduate school.
There are so many moments that can make a student fall in love with Ursinus, and in looking back GOLDs each had their own reasons for loving their time in Collegeville. For Bobby Stuke ’13, it was his campus visit with the lacrosse team where he fell in love with UC. Dellanno recalled her time spent with teammates her senior year on the track team as the biggest highlight, saying, “We just felt like such a big family, and even now, a lot of us still live in the city and continue where we left off at Ursinus.” For Melnick it was a little bit of everything, saying “The lifelong friendships I’ve developed, the professors I’ve had and the clubs I’ve been involved in all contributed to my love for Ursinus.”
Whatever the reason may be, Ursinus is a place that steals students’ hearts and leaves them as far better versions of themselves. Nostalgia may be in the air for the GOLDs, but for prospective students the love is just getting started.
- Tim Jordan