"You don’t meet our requirements for admission" The late Tamara Soderberg told me as I sat in her office in the Fall of 2003. I never thought of college as a place I would go. I had a C average as a High School student. I was interested in education and working with special need students. However, I just never factored going to college into my future. I applied to Mansfield University partly because my sister was there, and it was close to home.Despite not meeting the requirement for entry into the Education program at MU, Tamara was willing to take a chance on me and offered me a deal. "If you send me your next report card, and I see an overall improvement in all of your classes, I will accept you into the AEP (academic exploration program) program". Challenge accepted. I worked my butt off for 6 weeks. When my next report card came- I knew I had completed my goal- I was going to go to college. I was going to be a Mountie.
Arriving on campus Fall 2004 was an exciting time. Laurel Manor was recently renovated, and for the first time it was going to be open to male students, only two floors though. Room 703 was mine, my roommate Derek and I all settled in, we embarked on our adventure as young college men. Admittedly I may have spent more time that first year involved with Student Life and organizations then on my classes, but we’ll get to that later. My second semester freshman year, I was asked to be a RA (Resident Assistant) on my floor. That opportunity to become a leader, was the catalyst to my life as a Mansfield student, and now my career. Admittedly, it went to my head at first, but I slowly learned what it meant to lead and serve others- work I do to this day.
Mansfield has had many slogans in the time I have been involved in the community. From “Mansfield University, Where Learning Imagines You” (no one knew what that meant), to “Small Campus, Big Opportunities” to finally, the slogan I had a part in creating “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders”- Mansfield has grown as an institution and as an ideal of what a small, rural public university should be.
I was blessed to have mentors such as Mary Beth Kollar, Dr. Jeffrey Bosworth, Dr. Maravene Loeschke, Jim Harrington, and Chuck Colby. These individuals embodied what Mansfield is all about. Being a resource for students and helping them with anything. Mansfield is a community. The faculty and staff at Mansfield are truly invested in being at a small school, working with students who may be first-generation, from low SES, or other identities that require additional attention. Bottom line, Mansfield University cares about it’s students, and their success.
My experiences in Student Life, Residence Life, University Administration and Leadership, have led me to pursue a career in Higher Education Administration. Because of my experiences at Mansfield- I have been blessed to work at some of the best universities in our country. Syracuse University, UMass-Amherst, Cazenovia College- these are some of the places I have had the honor of working at. No matter where my career takes me, or what school I work at, I take Mansfield with me. Mansfield made me the person and professional I am today.
Every time I turn down route 6 and drive into Mansfield, seeing North Hall in the distance- my heart flutters and my mind rushes with the memories of my time at Mansfield. When I walk campus, I see the changes and equate them to the changes Mansfield made in my life. For me, being an alum means more than just donating my money- but my time as well. For the past four years I have tried to involve myself with every aspect of Mansfield I can as an Alum. It’s the least I can do for the university that gave me my life. I love Mansfield. It is and always will be my home.
-Mark R. Ewing