Friday September 1, 2017

Meet the SEHS Class of 2021

This fall, the University of Dayton welcomed its largest and most diverse class in school history, with more than 2,200 incoming freshmen. And with its increased undergraduate enrollment, the School of Education and Health Sciences is helping contribute to that milestone.

"Health & Sport Science and Teacher Education departments' first-year enrollment parallels the University's increase in a distinct and talented cohort of students," said SEHS Associate Dean Dr. Linda Hartley. "As compared to the fall 2016 first-year enrollment, both undergraduate programs combined have experienced a significant increase in racial and ethnic diversity, creating a positive impact for all students, faculty and staff."

Here's a look at some of the members of the SEHS Class of 2021, their early impressions of campus, and their hopes for the future.

The road to UD

When dietetics major Haley Stewart was a high school student in the Chicago area, a regular at the restaurant where she waitressed piqued her interest in UD.

"He said his daughter went to UD, and I should look in to it," she said. "I've always been really interested in dietetics. I couldn't see myself doing anything different. I'm confident in my decision to come to UD."

Teacher education majors Alyssa Mims and Brianna Gavin attended the same high school and were inspired by their teachers to pursue education.

"I had English teachers in high school who were inspiring to me," Mims said. "I want to be like that to someone else."

Gavin had many UD grads as teachers, including one "who was good at building community, but still focused on individual students, and I really liked that. The teachers cared about what was going on in and out of the classroom."

Building community

The long-treasured tradition of community has made an immediate impact on the freshman class.

"There hasn't been one person I've met who doesn't love UD," Stewart said. The sense of community on campus "is very welcoming. It feels like home."

For Gavin, the people she met when first arriving on campus have "turned in to my best friends overnight. They helped make the transition to UD easier."

"Everyone you meet is so welcoming," said exercise science major Tre Whittaker. "I can go the Rec(Plex) and find a group of people and hang out with them, even if I don't know them."

Exercise science major Samuel Tutu agrees: "You can be sitting in class alone, and can strike up a conversation with someone. I feel the sense of community's been great."

Making a difference

Though they are still relatively new to campus and the UD community, students in the SEHS Class of 2021 aren't wasting any time deciding what they want to accomplish during the next four years and beyond.

"I want to get involved as much as I can," Whittaker said. "I would love to do Semester of Service. Studying abroad would also be a big thing for me."

Ultimately, Whittaker is interested in working with kids. The oldest of seven children, he's been "told I work well with kids. I thoroughly have a good time. I want to work in pediatrics or surgery."

Even before she's experienced her first field placement, getting involved helping students is on Gavin's mind. "I want to start making that impact on other kids," she said. That includes getting involved with tutoring and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Tutu aspires to work with a professional sports team. "I have a love for sports, and science, too, especially physiology. I wanted to be in a field where I can meet new people and travel."

His advice to fellow first-year students: "Make sure you follow your passion, even when adversity hits. You'll be doing something you love, rather than going to work and being sad. Do what you love, and you'll be happy with the results."

- Karen R. Axelrad, communication content specialist, School of Education and Health Sciences

Pictured (from left): Haley Stewart, Alyssa Mims, Brianna Gavin, Tre Whittaker, Samuel Tutu

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