Manchester class-of-2023
Dr. Friesen interviewed members of the Class of 2023.
Photo provided by MU

Dr. Jared Friesen Hosts VIA with Seniors for First-Year Students

Devon Allen

The VIA presented on Oct. 10 by Sociology Professor Jared Friesen titled “What Would I Tell my First-year Self ?” was one that would be very beneficial for many first-year students. Friesen questioned a panel of senior students that he had in the past and they responded with encouraging answers every time. “It was a good learning experience from a first-year perspective on how I can meet more people and go out,” said Nathan Hoffman, a first year on the Manchester Men’s soccer team.

To start off the friendly interrogating, Friesen began with some “walk in the park” questions. The first question was “What is your favorite spot on campus?” Mikaya Auerbach, who has been a Resident Assistant for a couple of years stated that the fountain outside of the Cordier Auditorium was her favorite spot, or the living room area in the chapel. Que’Shaun Julius said his favorite is where the giant bean bags in the Funderburg Library are. Cole Nugent enjoys the student lunge area on the second floor of the Jo Young Switzer Center (JYSC). Ben Miles appreciates any of the study rooms on the third floor of the library.

Friesen then asked the experienced students, “What was something you did not expect?” garnering a variety of replies. Kayla Anderson emphasized that the support from faculty members had surprised her and the small environment of Manchester’s campus helps with that. Nugent noted that Manchester provides the same feeling that is evoked out of him when he is at his actual home. Auerbach did not expect as many opportunities as she received, making note of her accomplishments so far, as she has worked in a position as prestigious as working for the governor. Julius did not realize how much he would enjoy esports, as the “team feeling and organized play” was something that really benefited him. Lauren Sponseller admitted that she had grown a lot from her previous years since being at Manchester and it allowed her to build some self-confidence.

As the VIA progressed, it seemed like the questions got more complex and complicated to answer, but the students being interviewed were able to still provide some insightful answers. “What was something you did not expect?” was a question Friesen asked. Julius had said what probably most of the audience could attest to, no matter the situation they were in, but he mentioned that Covid made it very difficult to get his homework done and that it was “very stressful” for him. Nugent gave some great advice, saying that it has been challenging to have the awareness to actually take care of himself, but to make sure that your body is your number one priority and that you should “take care of yourself ” in all aspects of life. Auerbach said that advocating for herself has been hard, as well as realizing her boundaries and sticking to them. She also mentioned that it is important to “control the controllables.” Sponseller claimed that hers’ was similar to Auerbach’s, but also added that balancing all aspects of her life has been difficult, as well as not feeling guilty about how she does spend her time. Anderson mentioned what most kids could also agree with, as being so far from home (about 600 miles for her situation) has made her college experience harder. Miles said that managing his time has been something that he has worked on improving throughout his tenure at Manchester.

Another important question asked by Friesen was “What are some practical strategies to overcome obstacles?” Miles explained to the audience that buying a calendar, as well as a planner, has been helpful for him because it allows him to plan his schedule out so he is more efficient. Julius said that utilizing the services that are provided by Manchester, such as the success advisors, is something that has really helped him out and that he has built a strong relationship with his success advisor. Nugent answered similarly to Miles, saying that he had to set a hard boundary of when stuff had to be done, making time limits for stuff to be done, as well as branching out and trying different ways to succeed. For Anderson, she had to get involved on campus with the different clubs and had to forget about her number one obstacle, which was her being away from her family, but just for a little bit. Sponseller mentioned that balancing everything helped her, along with being open and having honest conversations with herself.

When comparing themselves to how they were in high school, some of the students thought that they were very different, while others believe they have just became better people. Auerbach said that while she enjoyed band in high school, she has shifted her attention to other aspects. Sponseller and Nugent answered similarly, with them both saying that they are just continuing to grow and become better people. Miles and Anderson both came to the conclusion that they have become much more extroverted people as a result of college. Julius stated that he has matured a lot since high school because he thought he was more of mean person then but has become much nicer.

When the students were asked on how they dealt with pressure, some answers given were very relatable for many people. Nugent said that he had always been a perfectionist, but college taught him that he could not be perfect. Julius also agreed with Nugent and said he eventually realized that “perfection is an unrealistic goal to strive for.” Auerbach noted that pressure really changes people, but that does not mean you should give in, but rather stay true to yourself and use the resources that Manchester provides you with. Sponseller claimed that while she does put a lot of pressure on herself because of her family’s support, she also had to learn that she was not perfect and that managing her problems with a professional counselor has helped tremendously.

Possibly the most insightful question asked by Friesen of the entire presentation was “What is something you would tell your first-year self ?” Auerbach said that you should take chances on yourself. Julius stated that you need to accept that there are people out there who know more than you and to “not be scared of constructive criticism.” Nugent said that he would say “you don’t have to be a doctor, Cole,” to himself and that he could change his major, which he did, as well as having an open mind to fail. Miles was in conjunction with Nugent in that failure is okay and to not dwell on the failure but rather keep trying to find ways to succeed. Anderson would tell herself to have more confidence. Sponseller said that it goes by quickly, so make time for people and realize you don’t have to handle every obstacle you face on your own. Forget other people’s opinions and do not try to “people please.”