walk into my future manny
Second and third grade students enjoy activities around the mall as they learn about college life.
Photo provided by MU

‘Walk Into My Future’ Invites Local Children to Explore College

Miriam Erbaugh

On Oct. 7, 2022, Manchester University’s North Manchester Campus was flooded with second and third grade students (ages 7 through 9) from around Wabash County. “Walk Into My Future,” is an annual event on the first Friday of October, which takes place at many universities across the state. The initiative invites students from surrounding elementary schools to attend programming on a college campus to learn about the importance of higher education and what a college experience can offer.

Manchester students guided the children around the mall through stations that demonstrated the variety of activities available on Manchester’s campus . Each station was sponsored by an athletic team, major or program and had an activity, such as an obstacle course, drawing, sports related games or a chemistry experiment which made elephant toothpaste. The general atmosphere of the day was light.

Erica Shipper, a third grade teacher, shared her students’ excitement: “They love this, any time they can play games and run around during the school day,” Shipper said. The day was filled with so much laughter and music that the joy could be heard inside and outside of classrooms around campus.

Different activities and stations attracted the interests of different children. When asked what their favorite part of the event was, each student had a different answer.

“I think it might be like the soccer one for me,” Maddy, 8, said. “We played a few games. We played sharks and minnows, red light green light and a couple other games,”

Avery, 7, liked the trombones.

“I liked the science and the drawing,” Wren, 8, said decisively.

Finley, 8, could not make up her mind, “I liked everything,” she said.

Teachers spoke about the significance of Walk Into My Future. “I think the goal is just for students to be encouraged to go to college and to see what it’s about and what they can get from it,” Shipper said.

Rachel Bushong, a second grade teacher, said: “A lot of the kids haven’t been to a college campus before and so they get to see sort of what it’s like and what can be fun about it and the different activities that are available.”

As the second and third graders observed what their futures could look like, they gave insight as to what they aspired to be. Some students knew instantly.

“I want to be a farmer,” Emerson, 8, said without any reluctance.

“I really want to be like a football player or a basketball player,” Booker, 8, declared. Other answers were very specific.

Wren wanted to be a dolphin trainer and Nolan, 7, explained that he wanted to be a chemist or an engineer. “I’m gonna work for NASA,” he said excitedly.

A few students answered honestly. “I don’t know,” Avery said.

“I think [college students] come here to learn what they want to do when they grow up,” Callie, 7, said.

As the elementary school students learned about college, they also influenced the Manchester students that worked with them. The Manchester students enjoyed sharing in the children’s excitement. “My biggest take away from the day was seeing how excited the kids were,” said Hannah Brubaker, a senior. “I told the kids I like to learn about math and then I asked them what they liked to learn about. They were all so excited to tell me about all of the different things they like to learn about which made my heart happy.”

Ruby Rusk, a sophomore, said: “It’s such an enriching experience for these children to get such early exposure to a college campus. There are such parallels between the youth and current MU students who are figuring out who they want to be when they grow up, even though we’re in completely different stages of life.”