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If you're a prospective student, my best advice is to take campus tours. Admissions representatives can give you all the facts, but you have to decide if you can really see yourself being a part of that university on a daily basis and enjoying your life there. Look for a school that will give you the best opportunities to grow as a person through a combination of academics, student life, involvement, community, etc. Once you're on campus, you've got to step out of your comfort zone. Meet new people, and get involved in activities that you're truly interested in - but be sure to find a balance between school and fun that works for you!
Hi! My name is Val, and I'm a freshman here at Western Michigan University. My parents both graduated from WMU, so I've been a Bronco for life! I was born and raised in Saginaw, MI and graduated from Heritage High School. I was involved in many clubs and groups in high school where I held leadership roles, and I am excited to grow my leadership skills here at WMU while having fun along the way! I am a Medallion Scholar and in the Lee Honors College. My major is secondary English education, and my minors are secondary math education and psychology. I play the violin, do yoga, used to referee soccer, and I love being outdoors. I also love the color teal, singing, and the TV shows The Office and Friends, because I love to laugh!
For me, the college decision process was very stressful and scary. I applied to six schools: five in-state and one out-of-state. After I received all my acceptance letters, I began looking into scholarship opportunities. I attended scholarship competitions at four of the six schools, which included admissions presentations and tours, killing two birds with one stone. Coincidentally, the only standard admissions tour I went on was to Western (they had this really nice set up where they bused over a group of students from my area, gave us breakfast, admissions presentations, a tour, lunch, and bused us back - I highly recommend it if they offer a similar service for your area!). What really appealed to me about Western was that everyone was so welcoming and accommodating. They seemed to value me as a person for my unique talents and ideas - I was not just another number in the admissions pile. In hindsight, Western is the perfect place for me.
Being a Medallion scholar and part of the LHC has given me academic, social, cultural, service, and leadership opportunities that I could not have experienced anywhere else. Western is large enough to provide these great opportunities and small enough to give me a true feeling of connection and engagement with students, faculty, and the community. For me, it's also the perfect distance from home (3 hours): far enough away where it's not convenient to go home every weekend so I'm able to stay on campus and make connections, yet close enough where I can go home if I want or need to. Additionally, Kalamazoo is a thriving community that is growing and holds many positive opportunities.
As for my major, I suppose I've always been destined to be a teacher. I come from a maternal line of teachers, and when I was little I would set up a mini-classroom and teach my younger siblings. Later, I realized that whatever I was going to do, I had to be helping people. I was extremely lucky to have had many amazing teachers who have impacted my life in ways I cannot even begin to thank them for. They have inspired me, and I hope that I will one day be able to change the lives of students as they have done for me.
On campus there are so many great organizations to become involved in that at first it's hard to choose! I am in the Emerging Leaders Certificate Program through Lead Corp, a program aimed at building and growing leadership skills in a variety of areas; WMU Campus Strings, our non-music major chamber orchestra; and Drive Safe Kalamazoo, which offers free rides home to WMU students. In the future, I hope to become involved with the Western Student Association, our student government; the Campus Activities Board, which plans student activities and events; and a choir or vocal music group. This year I chose to live in the Honors specialty housing in Ackley Hall, located in Valley 1. Next year I plan to return to the residence halls but live on main campus. The best thing about residence life is getting to meet new people who you otherwise wouldn't have gotten to know and all of the awesome programs put on by Hall Council and the Residence Halls Association! When I'm not busy doing all of these things, I like to go to a movie with my friends, watch a student production, or go see a Bronco athletic event!