Guilford lives up to the hype: we change lives
Bryan Dooley, Senior Writer
September 14, 2012
Filed under Features
We all know Guilford changes lives. Now we have proof.
Guilford has made the fourth edition of “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges.” The college has appeared in the book every year since the initial publishing in 1996.
According to senior Kim Kleimeier, this is a list that matters. This school does not just push students academically but is a “life lessons” sort of place.
“We are forced to grow as people, not just as students,” Kleimeier said. “The biggest change I’ve noticed in myself is that I am so much more sure of myself and who I am and what I’m doing.”
Kleimeier feels she has become a much more well-rounded and confident person since her first year.
“How I thought about things (then) and how I see them now, are so different,” she said. “I always thought I was open-minded, but I’ve become even more open-minded and accepting just being at Guilford and having the experiences that I’ve had.”
Senior Lily Wotkyns found that surrounding herself with people from diverse backgrounds has had a strong impact on her.
“(Students, faculty and staff) care about you, want you to succeed as a student, athlete, non-athlete, and as a person,” Wotkyns said. “Meeting them, hearing their stories, and understanding who they are has caused me to think about how I want to live my own life.”
Not only do the other students generally make our college experience remarkable, but the faculty also encourages students to engage the world by thinking about their own lives as well as the lives of others around them.
Jim Hood, coordinator of first year experience and professor of English, wants students to change the way they think. By the end of their time here, Hood wants students to be creative and analytical thinkers who dream about different ways of doing things in the world.
He relates this to his own experience here as a student.
“I came to Guilford as a biology major,” Hood said. “I wanted to work for the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service. But by taking courses in religious studies, philosophy, and literature, I realized that what I wanted to do more than anything else was to sit in rooms and talk with other people about books. Guilford provided me with the opportunity to discover what has become my life’s work: teaching.”
It is not just the students who change. The staff and faculty are also transformed by their experiences here.
“I’m a much deeper thinker than before,” said Kim Burke, coordinator of disability resources. “No one did that for me in my education — taught me how to think. Working with students keeps me alive, knowing that they care so much about what’s going on in the world.”
Burke attempts to push students to look at the bigger picture, and make them critical thinkers.
Internal transformation is encouraged at this college. Max Carter, director of the Friends Center and campus ministry coordinator, believes that authentic Quakerism requires personal transformation, and the power to transform lies within us all.
“I encourage students to listen to their Inner Teacher, providing times of quiet reflection and challenging study and discussion, and always urging them to follow the dictates of Romans 12: ‘Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,’” Carter said.
The college strives to put that into practice every day, and students feel the benefit.
“I don’t want to change the students; I want them to change themselves,” said Aaron Fetrow, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “I push them to become involved in the community and hold them accountable.”
Community involvement is one reason Guilford was listed in “Colleges That Change Lives.” The book states, “Service and community rank high among the students’ and professors’ values, inspired by the college’s Quaker roots.”
President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar celebrates being included in the book. According to Chabotar, the college’s inclusion is important for several reasons.
“It is nice to be recognized,” Chabotar said. “Being listed attracts prospective students, reaffirms current students, and assists in the college’s forward planning. We would love to be branded as the college that changes people’s lives.”