Phil Eaves

This week, as we countdown to the 171st Commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 15, we asked a few of our graduating seniors to reflect on their time on the Hill. Each day this week, we will hear from a member of the Class of 2021 about their unique Hiram journey and the personal interests they gained along the way.

Katie Whisler commuted to the Hiram campus from her hometown of Southington, Ohio. Katie is a student in the School of Arts, Humanities and Culture, and double-majored in English and history while also minoring in classical and medieval studies.

What was it like to grow up so close to Hiram College? Do you recall what made you consider Hiram when you were researching colleges?

Growing up locally, Hiram College formed a backdrop for my childhood. I spent many a Fourth of July curled up in the bleachers, playing a game of Zombie Dice with my father while we waited for the fireworks to start. As I grew older and started seriously considering where I wanted to attend school, I knew that I wanted something local and small enough that the culture shock of a college campus after graduating from a senior class of less than 50 kids wouldn’t totally overwhelm me. Hiram immediately felt like the right fit. Experiences such as attending the summer writing camp only confirmed this for me, and Hiram ended up being the only college I applied to.

What led you to declare majors in both English and history?

I’ve been an avid reader all my life, so when I decided to start taking classes at Hiram as a College Credit Plus student, I decided to start with a World Literature class taught by Professor Kirsten Parkinson (professor of English, program coordinator for the gender studies minor, and director of the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature). Afterwards, I was sold. I had fallen in love with the classroom debates, the well structured arguments made by the senior students. The next semester, I had a history class with Professor Janet Pope (professor of history and director of the School of Arts, Humanities and Culture) — a class where we talked about some of my favorite historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.

I quickly realized I could double major and pursue both paths at the same time, so I’ve never looked back.

Do you feel like you achieved a goal while you were a student?

I’m not sure I even realized it was a life goal until after I did it, but during an Advanced American Literature class with Professor Jeff Swenson (associate dean of academic affairs, associate professor of English, and director of Writing Across the Curriculum), I had the opportunity to create my own card game. I’ve long been interested in board games, but this was the first time that I had created one entirely on my own, from scratch, with mechanics that were actually playable. I don’t know that I ever would have sat down to create this initial project without having the framework of it being a class project, but now I feel like I’ll be creating my own games for the rest of my life.

What piece of advice would you give to new students at Hiram?

If I could give one piece of advice to incoming students, it’s this: don’t be afraid to be creative. If you have an idea for something you’d love to explore but you’re not sure if you’d be able to, always talk with your professors. I guarantee they’ll be excited to see what types of projects you can come up with if you think outside of the box and if you’re passionate about the subject. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing … it always pays to be unique.

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