There is a new set of faces around campus this year, but this group is far from first-years. With two years of college experience under their belts, these students understand the rigors of collegiate life. They are the 23 Hesston transfers, transplanted from the flat landscapes of Kansas 1,000 miles to the valleys of Virginia.
The number of Hesston transfers this year is an extreme difference from the number last year: one. According to David Detrow, University Registrar, this is the largest number of Hesston transfers seen since the mid-1990’s.
Hesston College is a two-year college of about 450 students. After their two-year program, a majority of students continue on with their studies at other Mennonite colleges, such as EMU or Goshen College. However, which Mennonite college is always the question.
“It tends to be cyclical,” said Senior Erica Stoltzfus, the one Hesston transfer from last year.
EMU admissions counselor Patrick Ressler works closely with the Hesston students, making three trips to Kansas every year to generate interest in EMU and help students through the application process.
Last year, during a visit, Ressler took 30 prospective students out for dinner, an indicator of the high enrollment to come.
Ressler attributes the big group of Hesston students this year to EMU admissions having a greater visibility and presence on Hesston’s campus. He also noted that EMU professors were in direct contact with interested students via email.
“Our goal is to convey that [EMU] really wants them here,” said Ressler. Andrew Penner, a Junior and Hesston transfer, says that his decision to come to EMU was not influenced by the large amount of other Hesston students doing the same. Nevertheless, he has appreciated the Hesston camaraderie, especially because more than half of them are living in the same building.
Of the 23 students, 18 are living in Hillside. Having the majority of Hesston transfers live in one building was a choice made by the students, not a decision by Admissions or Housing.
According to Gloria Mast, Assistant Director of Housing/Resident Life, Hesston students face the same application process as EMU students would when applying for Junior/Senior housing. Students fill out their applications based on a point system of their academic and extracurricular records. This year, all of the Hesston transfers got their first housing choice.
Penner, who lives with three other Hesston transfers in a suite in Hillside, does not mind living with a majority of Hesston students, but his wish is to remain connected to the rest of campus.
“I want to get to know as many people as possible. I want to get to know the students in Parkwoods.”
Ressler noted that this group of Hesston transfers is very involved and diverse in their interests.
This year, two Community Advisers in Hillside are Hesston transfers, an arrangement Ressler worked out with Resident Life as a way of getting them involved in the community.
“Hesston does a great job at developing leaders,” said Ressler.
As far as next year, Ressler is hoping to keep the Hesston admissions rate high. He wants Hesston students to continue making the decision to come to EMU and not feel like they should go elsewhere because there are already a large number of Hesston students here.
For Penner, his transfer to EMU has been smooth. Still, he asks that stu- dents continue to be open and inviting to him and the other 22 “Hesston kids”, something he has already felt on campus.
Molly Kraybill, Contributing Writer