Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series featuring students writing about their impressions, feelings, observations or other aspects concerning their experience at Newman University.
As a Wichita native I’ve always had a vague knowledge of Newman University’s existence, but beyond going to the occasional 7 p.m. Sunday Mass I really knew very little about it. I spent two years as a music major at Wichita State University, but slowly realized that as much as I enjoyed studying music, a career in it would be more like chasing a personal hobby than something I could feel satisfied with. So after years of knowing almost nothing about Newman I was suddenly a student here, enrolled in the theology program with hopes of becoming a teacher (since the first thing many of you will think is, “What on earth do you do with a theology degree?”).
With one academic year completed and another just recently begun, I suppose I am officially a Jet. One year isn’t enough to learn everything about a university, but it is certainly long enough to form overall impressions. If I had to paint a big picture of Newman, I would say that its greatest strengths are its Catholic identity, its spirit of service, and its excellent faculty.
Newman’s Catholic identity makes it a welcoming place, even to a stranger. I was comfortable here even before I decided to enroll. Newman’s Catholic identity allows it to educate the whole person. Even though the university describes itself as a liberal arts school, it’s no secret that many students come here for more technical programs like nursing. Whether or not the words “and sciences” should be added to “liberal arts,” Newman has the ability to give students in these specialized fields a broad education and a more complete picture of the human person, something desperately needed as more and more disciplines and universities abandon basic moral principles.
Newman’s Catholic identity encourages another of its strong points, the spirit of service the university tries to foster. From big projects like delivering toothbrushes to Guatemalan children to local efforts like serving at the Lord’s Diner, the spirit of service fostered at Newman is one of the university’s best traits. Though many people go to college for the sole purpose of getting something (namely, a degree, and that certainly goes on even at Newman), the near constant opportunities for service projects and trips serve as a reminder, even to those who don’t participate, of more important things.
The third strong impression I’ve formed is about the excellence of the faculty. Their personalities and teaching styles may differ widely, but the dedication to students and passion for intellectual pursuits the teachers have is truly remarkable. I’ve witnessed teachers go from helping classmates who were having difficulties to making sure other classmates who want extra challenge live up to their potential. There is also a spirit of friendliness among both the faculty and the staff around the school.
Of course, no school is perfect, and improvements could be made even in the areas I believe are Newman’s strong points. Taken in context of where the university has been and where it wants to go, this indicates that Newman University is in a growing process. Though that means there are challenges to meet, this is also an excellent time to bolster the university’s strengths and focus on fixing its weaknesses. Fortunately, this is something everyone, including students, faculty, staff and friends of the university, can do through our prayers and support.