Dec 2, 2008

Freshman look back on their first semester at Liberty

by Daniel Martinez

On June 4, 2008, Liberty University did something it had never done in its entire existence, which began in 1971. That mid-summer day, it closed out enrollment.

The deadline for enrolling at Liberty for the fall 2008 semester was June 30, 2008, but what the Liberty Journal called “the tremendous growth of the university” caused that deadline to be pushed forward to accommodate faculty and staff and their efforts to meet the growing student body. With 25,000-plus DLP students, Liberty brought more than 11,000 onto campus in the fall, including the 3,500 reasons enrollment was closed out on that early June day: freshmen.

Almost six months later at Liberty, that number is in the books, and 3,500 new students have been on campus at Liberty since mid-August. While being involved in such activities as FROSH week, Spiritual Emphasis Week, Liberty Flames football, the Block Party, convocation, Campus Church and Scaremare, those students have experienced life at Liberty for most of a semester. But who are they?

They came from all over. Diego Suarez-Boscan had a 20-hour drive from Texas to begin his first term. Libbey Long’s home in Hermon, Maine, lies 16 hours from the Liberty campus. It is three-and-a-half hour trip from Kristi Mann’s home in Fairfax, Va.

They have many different majors. Long is undecided. Mann is in the nursing program, along with fellow freshman Ashley Caudle. Suarez-Boscan and Lance Powers are business majors.

After nearly three months in college freshmen have an idea of college life, and can affirm or disprove certain supposed clichés of college life.

“There is no personal space, and the food is not so good. That’s definitely true,” Suarez-Boscan said.

“I thought my professors were going to be extremely hard, mean and careless,” Caudle said. “But I found that they are not like that. They are just normal people who care about you and want you to succeed.”

Caudle’s anatomy professor, Dr. Perry, claims that she knows the name of every student in the class, despite having a class roll of more than 200.

Powers has been impressed that things sometimes considered normal at other colleges, such as sex and drinking, are not prolific at Liberty.

“I’m very happy about that,” he said.

Chris Johnson, the executive director of Resident Recruitment said the high numbers of students indicated that Liberty is becoming a common place students are coming to for a “solid Christian education,” according to the Liberty Journal.
Mann took an anatomy class in high school and registered to take another one during her first semester at Liberty, since the class is an early requirement for nursing majors. She thought she knew what to expect, but the Liberty version of anatomy class has “blown (her) mind.”

“I find myself working a lot harder than I thought I would be, since I was walking in with an idea of the information taught in the class,” Mann said.

Caudle said she expected work in the nursing program to be time-consuming, but her English 101 class has proven to be “grueling.”

“I think I spend more time typing papers for that class than I do studying anatomy or chemistry,” she said.

She said college has involved writing a lot more papers, doing more projects and more work outside the classroom than she expected.

Suarez-Boscan finds his classes “okay for college level,” with his most time-consuming class being European History 201.
Homework and class work tend to be staples of college life, but Liberty freshmen have been exposed to the spiritual side of Liberty.

“You really have a chance to grow with God and forge your future,” Suarez-Boscan said.

Caudle mentioned that some Liberty students complain about being required to attend convocation three times a week, but her background at a Christian school excited her about the spiritual life Liberty features.

“I really enjoy going and hearing the different speakers each week,” she said. “I find the praise and worship amazing. Plus, Wednesday nights with Ergun Caner are great.”

“I loved Spiritual Emphasis Week,” Long said, citing speaker Tony Nolan’s sermons as high points. “I could really feel God working. It was amazing.”

Mann said she had a rough background before coming to Liberty. Spiritual Emphasis Week gave her the chance to give her life back to Christ.

“That is a week I will remember forever. I really enjoyed the worship, and the speaker was excellent,” she said.

First-semester students at Liberty have cheered on the Liberty Flames football team as quarterback Brock Smith, running back Rashad Jennings and Coach Danny Rocco have led the team in repeating last year’s Big South Conference Championship.

“I love football games because of people getting hyped up,” Powers said. He has attended every home football game this season.
Other students have enjoyed the experience of Liberty’s annual evangelism project, Scaremare.

“I believe it was the scariest thing I’ve ever attended,” Mann said. “But it’s a great way to evangelize and help ‘entertain’ (people) at the same time.”

Amidst the stresses of the academic life, the joy of the spiritual life and the excitement of outside activities, freshmen have had unique experiences in their first semester of college.

Long attended a private school in Maine before her mother and cousins drove her to Liberty and helped her move into her dorm, 33-1.

“Liberty is a place where you can really find yourself and where you fit with God and his plan,” Long said. “The social life is fun and lively, and friends are easy to come by. The teachers are thought-provoking and show a level of commitment that exceeded my expectations.”

Suarez-Boscan only knew two people at Liberty when his parents and brother brought him from Texas, where he had attended public school. However, he said he has had no problem making friends.

“It’s easy to make friends; everyone is really open,” he said.

Suarez-Boscan said he found Liberty a little strict on rules such as curfew, dress code and the lack of open dorm hours between girls and guys but has interacted with good professors.

Caudle’s came from High Point, N.C. in August, and she did not know many people at first, but has enjoyed herself greatly.

“Liberty is a school where (people) can be challenged in academics, tremendously grow (spiritually) and get to know amazing people,” Caudle said. “I will probably remember Liberty for being a university on fire for God and having the whole university centered around doing God’s will.”

Mann said she has grown to love Liberty after initially being reluctant to attend.

“For someone who did go to church weekly, but never really got anything out of it, and didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, Liberty has completely changed my life.”

Mann believes that God always had a plan for her life, and she believes he does for everyone.

“Liberty’s goal is to create champions for Christ and to make stronger students who can go out and teach the world about the only father who will forever love you unconditionally,” Mann said.


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