MU
Oak Leaves

September 27, 2019




Manchester University Prepares for Annual Walk Into My Future Event


Carly Greaves

 

Over a thousand schoolchildren will flood into Manchester University today, Sept. 27, for Walk Into My Future, an event that introduces elementary school students to the opportunities and excitement of college.

Since 2013, the five school systems in Wabash County have sent their students to Manchester for this yearly gathering. This year the children, all in first through third grade, will number between 1,300 and 1,400. The volunteers that are needed to help maintain order for this event are numerous as well—between 215 and 300 people.

This considerable amount of volunteers is necessary in order to support the activities that the visiting schoolchildren will take part in.

Groups of kids, each containing one or two elementary classes, will be led by guides around the campus to get a taste of college life. The children will be shown what it’s like to dine in Haist Commons and dwell in a residence hall. “We invite students to visit campus and get to experience just a little bit of what it’s like to go to college,” said Senior Director of Auxiliary Services Alexis Young, who helps organize the event.

Arguably the most exciting part of Walk Into My Future is the 30 stations set up around the Mall’s grassy expanse. Each of these posts is dedicated to teaching the visiting children an educational subject or fun activity they could potentially take part in in college. “We have a variety,” Young said. “We have athletic stations, academic stations, and student organizations and clubs.”

This variety is certain to grab the kids’ attention, as the occupants of each station have prepared different activities or entertainment for the children to enjoy. Football head coach Nate Jensen and his team have planned three stations for the day. The first football station will have an agility station where the kids end their session by tackling a big pop-up dummy. Their second station will have a QB target that the kids can throw balls through for points. And Football’s third station will have kicking nets set up for the students to kick balls into. “Our guys love doing Walk into My Future,” Jensen said. “They have an absolute blast with all the kids.”

The Department of English’s two stations are organized by Professor Beate Gilliar, and will invite who Gilliar calls “future MU students” to write their favorite word on a half sheet of paper using thick colorful markers.

Art will offer two stations as well. The first, led by Associate Professor Jena Oke, consists of a gallery walk through the Cordier Lobby Gallery featuring the art and writing of Gijsbert and Robbyn van Frankenhuyzen. “My docents and I take them through the gallery talking about how we study art and then we practice observational skills and talk about the art with the kiddos,” Oke said. The students from Manchester Elementary School (MES) have been reading about this artist/author pair all semester. They participated in workshops at MES and this evening they—along with the Manchester University community—are invited to meet the artist and author at a reception in Cordier from 5 to 7 p.m.

While the event is a great opportunity for the kids to have fun, the true goal is always to get kids excited about college, higher education, and the benefits that come with it. Manchester University uses this event to support Promise Indiana, an initiative whose goal is to expand access to and awareness of college savings accounts. “Part of this is building the student’s excitement to go to college and then getting them interested in starting their own college savings account at a young age,” Young said.

While today is only the seventh Walk Into My Future, there is already evidence that this goal is being fulfilled. According to Young, there were initially only 1,084 of the Promise accounts with $625,896 in assets within Wabash County. But as of Aug. 5 of this year, there are 2,754 Promise accounts with $1,805,092 in assets. Events such as Walk Into My Future are a huge, invaluable part of this growth.

Walk Into My Future might just seem like another community event for Manchester students, but for the visiting children it could be a life-changing experience. Their eyes will be opened to a whole new world of learning and opportunities. And for an institute whose mission is to teach “persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition,” this event could not be more important.