During an Aug. 16 ceremony to welcome Ohio Wesleyan University’s incoming class, returning student Peyton Hardesty ’20 reflected upon becoming a Bishop.
“Ohio Wesleyan University sure knows how to introduce itself,” said Hardesty, a double-major in environmental science and philosophy from Columbus. “The campus seemed to emit a sense of purpose, as if it were vastly capable – and I was immediately drawn to it. … I knew that this would be my home.
“In my time here,” Hardesty added, “I have had plenty of opportunities to learn about myself and my place in this world that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Some experiences include working on two organic farms, apprenticing with a local beekeeper, and backpacking across Cumberland Island.
“I encourage you to take some time to reflect upon your own path,” Hardesty told the approximately 500 incoming students. “Whoever you are, and wherever you come from, we welcome you.”
During OWU’s 177th Convocation ceremony, Stefanie Niles, vice president for enrollment and communications, officially presented the class. She also shared fun facts about Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2022 and new transfer students.
“You are an academically talented group,” Niles said, noting:
• 90 incoming students are National Honor Society members.
• Four are National Merit semi-finalists, finalists, or commended scholars.
• Seven are high school valedictorians.
• 22 completed study-abroad or exchange experiences during their high school years.
“Outside of the classroom, you have kept very busy,” Niles shared, noting:
• 275 incoming students played varsity sports, and 112 served as team captains.
• 55 were involved in theatre, with nine playing a lead role or serving as director of a production.
• 48 were involved in marching band, with 86 participating in concert band, orchestra, or choir. Three served as concert mistress or master.
• Six were the editors of a literary magazine, eight edited their school newspapers, and 10 edited their yearbooks.
“In addition to these leadership roles, you made your mark in other ways as well,” Niles told OWU’s newest Bishops, noting:
• Three are Eagle Scouts, and eight are the recipients of a Girl Scout Gold or Silver Award.
• 28 served in a leadership role in student government, including at least six student body or class presidents.
• 68 were involved in a Diversity club or organization.
• 11 participated in Model United Nations.
• 16 were members of a debate or speech team.
• 62 were involved in a religiously affiliated organization.
• 30 percent held jobs while in high school.
• 55 percent volunteered time in service to others.
“I also want to mention a few of your specific accomplishments to give you a sense of the eclectic and diverse interests of your classmates,” Niles said, noting that OWU’s newest students include individuals who:
• Placed third in the National Technology Student Association Programming/Coding/Problem-Solving Competition.
• Helped start a foundation and does volunteer work to protect bees – setting up hives and spreading awareness about decreasing bee populations.
• Competed as an alpine skier.
• Completed an internship with the Ohio House of Representatives.
• Conducted extensive research on gorillas and is the youngest speaker ever to present at the International Gorilla Conference.
• Currently is restoring a 1981 Corvette.
• Completed service work for village schools in Peru and Costa Rica.
• Earned a black belt at age 14.
• Coached soccer for kindergarten through eighth grade.
• Competed as an Irish dancer.
• Worked at the Homeless to Home Cat Sanctuary.
• Ranks in the top 1 percent worldwide for the video game “Rocket League.”
“The list of impressive accomplishments goes on and on,” Niles told the students, their families, and the members of the OWU community attending convocation. “You bring many talents and aspirations to Ohio Wesleyan, and our community will be better for your contributions. And the best is yet to come.
“Today is just the very beginning of a range of wonderful opportunities open to you as you dive into the Ohio Wesleyan experience,” Niles added. “You all have the potential to excel here, and every member of the community looks forward to helping you discover and achieve your goals.”
In addition to the many achievements Ohio Wesleyan’s newest students bring to the University, President Rock Jones said their college journeys will be defined by opportunities and connections.
“At this convocation, we come together as faculty, staff, alumni, families and students,” Jones said. “And over the next four years, you will create that web of connections with the people here. Look around at all the unfamiliar faces. You may not know them now, but some of these people will change your life forever. …
“The education you receive here will prepare you well for all that is to come,” Jones added. “Most importantly, it will prepare you to make a difference in the world, or as we like to say at OWU, to be moral leaders in a global society.
“What do you care about? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be?” the president asked the students at the conclusion of his remarks. “I can’t wait to find out.”
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