Breakfast Shows First-Years What Being a Hero Really Means

Albion city manager Sheryl Mitchell talks to student Maddy Slamka.
Cathy Campbell talks with Albion freshman Amanda Baumgart.
Albion College's Kim Arndts, '84 and retired teacher Hazel Lias talk with students.
Mae Ola Dunklin talks to a table of students.
Andrea Benson, left, listens to Harry Bonner.

November 17, 2015 | By Chuck Carlson

There are heroes and then there are heroes.

For the 17 students in Carrie Booth Walling's First-Year Seminar titled simply "Heroes," the distinction is dramatic.

In the world that matters and in the world that everyone lives in, a hero does not wear a cape or brandish super powers. In the world everyone lives in, heroes do what needs to be done even when it seems few others will.

"We look at ways ordinary people do extraordinary things," said Booth Walling, associate professor of political science, in her introductory remarks this morning at the first-ever Hometown Heroes Breakfast in Upper Baldwin's Mary Sykes Room.

The breakfast brought together 11 Albion community members who have done the extraordinary things ordinary people do. She solicited nominations over the summer from College faculty and staff as well as from community members and invited those selected to the breakfast, which also included students from the class.

Over orange juice and eggs and muffins, the community leaders discussed with the students what they do, how they do it and, perhaps most important, why they do it. In return the students talked with them about their plans at Albion and what they saw for their future.

Guests included College trustee and retired educator Mae Ola Dunklin; her husband and Albion NAACP chapter President Robert Dunklin; youth development leader Harry Bonner; longtime Albion teachers Cathy Campbell and Hazel Lias; City Manager Sheryl Mitchell; Mayor Joe Domingo; community activist Juanita Solis-Kidder; Peggy Sindt, '73, president and CEO of the Albion Economic Development Corp.; College Provost Marc Roy; Director of Admission Mandy Dubiel; and Kim Arndts, '84, assistant director of donor relations and stewardship who also serves as vice president on the Albion District Library Board of Trustees.

For the students, it was a chance to meet the people who make Albion go and offer the kind of perspective they don't normally get from a classroom setting.

"Being a hero is a lot more than just going out and saving lives," said Katelyn Killewald, '19, from Waterford. "It's going out and reacting; it's getting involved. We've had speakers in the class before but we've never sat down with them. Those speakers talked at us and not to us. This is more of a communication. I never thought I'd be sitting down with some of the leaders in Albion."

It was also a chance for those leaders to talk about the town and what Albion students can do to help its revival.

"You'll find that in four years it will be very difficult to leave," Domingo said. "Not get your diploma, but leave. That's because of the passion of the people in this community. And you'll always be a part of Albion."

Mason Theile, '19, from Grand Rapids was indeed impressed with the pride and passion the community members showed in Albion.

"It's very inspiring," he said. "Now you have an appreciation for hometown heroes, the ones who don't get recognized."

All Albion first-year students take a First-Year Seminar as part of the College's First-Year Experience. Download the Fall 2015 First-Year Seminar booklet for descriptions on each seminar offering.