Then and now: Amy Jacobs ’14, Kelsey Abell ’14, and Mike Ehilegbu ’14.
So much can happen in just four years. Just ask members of the Class of 2014. Since their first day at Randolph College, these students have formed new friendships, studied overseas, learned new languages, declared majors, and explored career paths—including some that they had never considered before. But most importantly, they have received a mind-awakening liberal arts foundation.
In the fall of 2010, we sat down with a few members of the incoming first-year class and asked them about their personalities, goals and dreams, and the unique qualities that made them a good fit for Randolph College.
With graduation fast approaching, Randolph asked these three students to reflect on their experiences. Each has undergone a different journey. Kelsey Abell ’14 discovered a passion for art, ultimately changing her career plans. Mike Ehilegbu ’14 became one of the top athletes on the men’s basketball team while improving his academic game, too. Amy Jacobs ’14, who had already owned her own business before coming to Randolph, refined her business interests, studied abroad, and sharpened her leadership skills through co-curricular activities.
Read on to discover how Randolph College has helped them prepare for a life more abundant.
Most friends and family assumed Kelsey Abell ’14 would attend the college where her father worked. After all, everyone there knew her. Instead, Abell chose Randolph College, where she could develop her own identity.
Although naturally shy, Abell found herself developing confidence as early as her first year at Randolph. She has been involved with the Etas spirit group, Macon Activities Council, softball, and a variety of activities that helped her meet new people and discover a few things about herself.
When she first arrived at Randolph, Abell planned to pursue elementary education like her mother. “I had some really good teachers who have inspired me. I wanted to do that for someone else,” she said.
However, a new world opened up when she began studying modern abstract art. Discovering that passion for art has made the difference to her college career.“I go to the studios at night and get away from all the homework. It’s just a place for me to relax and enjoy doing something that I love,” Abell said.
The turning point came after a trip to New York, where she studied the work of Mark Rothko, an artist who was famous for his paintings of mythological subjects and large fields of color.
“From that moment on, her artwork was a more serious endeavor,” said Kathy Muehlemann, a Randolph art professor.
“Kelsey has an interesting, innate ability to work with patterns in an abstract way,” Muehlemann added. “When a student goes from an innate talent to an investigation of different types of art, to come face to face with her own ambition, it is a wonderful moment in a student’s education. I was happy to be there for it.”
Abell now plans to combine her passions for teaching and art by pursuing a position in higher education. She hopes to be present for those moments when budding artists “get it.”
“College is a big time for young adults when they figure out who they are and what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” she added. “I want to be an inspiration to others during this crucial time.”
By the time she became a Randolph College student, Amy Jacobs ’14 had owned an equine photography business for several years. She was intent on continuing in the business world and confident in her ability to do so.
“I’ve been my own boss. I’m a teen, but I’m in that more-adult world of running a business,” she told Randolph magazine in 2010.
Majoring in business at Randolph helped Jacobs expand on that earlier foundation and add skills that will help her succeed in business, especially in advertising and marketing.
One of the highlights of Jacobs’ college experience was a study abroad program in Copenhagen, Denmark, the fall semester of her junior year. There, she lived with a Danish family and took classes on European business strategy, international advertising, and other global topics. “It helped me grow academically and culturally, but I also learned a lot about myself and had a lot of personal growth,” Jacobs said.
A longtime equestrian enthusiast, Jacobs competed on the Randolph College riding team. She also took opportunities to ride for fun. “I got to ride way more than I thought I was going to be able to,” she said. “It’s really nice to have the opportunity to still pursue that passion and have that outlet for stress relief.”
Some of her favorite classes have been outside the business program, including some sociology and gender studies classes. She enjoys making connections between the different classes. “That helps me have a deeper understanding of the concepts I am learning, as opposed to learning just one discipline all the time,” she said.
Jacobs served as president of Macon Activities Council, worked as a Gold Key Guide and a business tutor, and also completed several internships. Business professor Jeff Heinfeldt, Jacobs’ academic advisor, said this wide variety of experience has helped Jacobs develop her leadership skills, master the business curriculum, and grow as a person.
“She has taken advantage of so much of what Randolph College has to offer a student,” he said. “As a result, she has been able to grow and develop in areas that extend far beyond her academic major. She is a well-rounded young woman clearly prepared for life after graduation.”
When he first enrolled at Randolph College, Mike Ehilegbu ’14 wanted a mix of athletic and academic challenges. “I have the opportunity to get a great education and play basketball with a great team,” he told Randolph magazine at the time. “That’s important.”
Ehilegbu’s college experience has exceeded his expectations, and professors and coaches say he has become a better thinker, athlete, and leader. In the classroom, he has developed communication skills that will be crucial for his future career in journalism. On the basketball court, he competed in conference championships twice and played in an NCAA Division III national tournament.
“I used to be quieter than I am. I am more vocal, more up front, and more outgoing,” he said recently. “I’m more willing to answer questions in class and put in extra work to be a leader, not a follower.”
Clay Nunley, head men’s basketball coach, said Ehilegbu made great strides on the court. He is the team’s top scorer and rebounder, and one of 13 students in the College’s history to score 1,000 career points. “He’s really taken pride in developing his all-around game,” Nunley said.
Making these changes on the court required Ehilegbu to keep an open mind, learn from older students, and be committed to practicing in of-hours to improve his foundational skills. “The seniors instilled that in me from day one,” he said.
That commitment to excel was not limited to the basketball court. “Mike’s best semesters academically have come as he’s gotten older,” Nunley said. “That’s been rewarding to see because it shows that while his classes have gotten harder, he’s performed better as a student.”
Majoring in communication studies required Ehilegbu to develop a talent for writing, which also helped him choose a career path in sports journalism. “I knew I had a passion about sports, but I gained a passion for writing,” he said.
Other classes outside his major, such as a sociology class called Sport in America, helped Ehilegbu gain more knowledge that will be useful in his career, whether he becomes a broadcast journalist or a writer. “I hope I can develop a voice in sports so I can state a strong opinion and people will listen,” he said.
Nunley has no doubt that Ehilegbu will reach his goals. “I can see him as a guy who steps to the forefront and asserts himself as a leader.”