53 prospective students and guests Discover MSU

Robin Reid

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Jim Sernoe, chair of mass communication, talks with prospective students in the Fain Fine Arts conference room during Discover MSU on Feb 3. Photo by Arianna Davis

It was a crisp, gray morning as 24 students and 29 guests entered the winding halls of Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts, on Feb. 3, in attendance for the first Discover MSU event of 2017. Historically, Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts has been the smallest Discover MSU, while Robert D. & Carol Gunn College of Health Science & Human Services has been the largest, due to the growing interest and amount of career opportunities available within the health sciences field.

Sponsored by the admissions department, Discover MSU is in its fourth year and is offered at every college on campus. It’s designed to give prospective students the opportunity to gain an in depth look into the programs offered at the university. Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts is comprised of two buildings housing programs in art, mass communication, music and theater.

“We find that a lot of our students want to dive deeper into their majors and the departments, so we’re able to offer that,” Mandi Peterman, assistant director of admissions, said. “The goal is to bring prospective students on campus to learn more about the departments they’re interested in. We also like to bring the faculty and staff to the forefront and really let them meet the students and form those early relationships that will bring them back.”

As students and guests treated themselves to cups of coffee, they began to gather in the open atrium and soon filtered into the theater, where they shared what brought them in for Discover MSU, while they waited for introductions to begin.

“Well, I was planning on going to the University of North Texas, but my grandpa thought it would be recommended to attend Midwestern State University for a full year and if I’m doing well within the first semester, then we could see if I could transfer to UNT, then,” Anissa Williams, Burkburnett High School senior, said. “I’m feeling that if I did like it, I would probably consider staying just depending on my overall situation and how I’m doing personally. You know, there’s still a lot to learn about Midwestern.”

Students attended Discover MSU from local schools and other areas of the state, primarily within North Texas. Discover MSU Fain Fine Arts brought in 13 students for art, four students for mass communication, three students for music and four students for theater.

“I’m most interested in music and music education,” Garrison Tucker, Wichita Falls High School senior, said. “I want to become a high school band director one day and help kids find extreme passion in music, just like I do. I’ve played saxophone for almost seven years now.”

After faculty members introduced each department, making a sales pitch for why their department was the best, students went off to visit with other faculty members and students in each department according to their areas of interest. They took a tour of the facilities, except for the new mass communication complex, which is now scheduled to open later this spring.

Within the art department, students met in the Juanita Harvey Art Gallery where they were introduced to faculty. Art gallery director and photography professor, Gary Goldberg spoke to students about the degree plans offered within art. Then students and guests were separated into two groups where they went on a tour of the facilities. Half of the prospective art students began their tour in the computer lab where they were given an animation demonstration by graphic design assistant professor, Morgan Page.

Theater students answer questions that prospective students have about the program during Discover MSU on Feb. 3. Photo by Justin Marquart

At the same time, the other half of the art student group visited the ceramics studio where they were shown a ceramics demonstration by art education and ceramics associate professor, Steve Hilton. Students who began their tour in the computer lab switched with the students who began their tour in the ceramics studio, so each half got to experience both the animation and ceramics demonstrations. In both the computer lab and ceramics studio, students and guests had an opportunity for questions and answers.

Prospective mass communication students toured The Wichitan office with mass communication assistant professor and Wichitan adviser, Bradley Wilson and took a brief studio tour of the MSU2 television studio with mass communication assistant professor, Jonathon Quam, where they were able to try their hand at being an anchor for live broadcast.

Current students also had a part to play in helping prospective students and guests Discover MSU. A student panel formed of eight mass communication students and four prospective students was held in the conference room, as a slideshow of the new mass communication building played on the TV. Current students shared their experiences within the mass communication department as well as conversed with the prospective students to welcome them, answer questions and help them understand the close-knit relationship within the department.

Prospective music students were given a presentation titled A Day in the Life of a Music Major, by music associate professor, Matthew Luttrell.

Students interested in theater first met with theater faculty where they learned about the different theater degrees offered and possible careers to be pursued. They also saw a scene performed, which showcased a particular acting technique, called the Meisner technique.

Faculty, students and guests enjoyed a Chartwells catered lunch on stage, where they ate and discussed the events of the day. 

“Every other visit I’ve had, I’ve never gotten that connection (personal with faculty) so it was very important to get that. I’ve visited four schools,” Khirstia Sheffield, Mesquite High School senior, said. “They were saying they feel like they’re very prepared for life after college, that’s very reassuring that what I’m going to do is going to make me money.” 

Discover MSU was not only exciting and helpful to students, but parents had their own thoughts as well.

Danielle Sheffield, mother of Mesquite High School senior Khirstia Sheffield, said, “To me, the time that each of the professors take out to come and do a presentation for the parents gives me such a personal feeling or even helps me to decide, if I hadn’t decided already, that this is a good place to come because of the personal connection. I think that’s the key word, accessible.”

Not every prospective student is a graduating high school senior. Some students arrive as transfer students and quickly find Midwestern State University to be a good choice. Lake Wood College graduate, Vincent Sargent was attending Discover MSU as a transfer student.

“Getting to know what type of professors there are, their personalities, everybody has their own personality. Everybody seemed to be really friendly,” Sargent said. “Although I’ve seen the studio already, I’m excited to see the new studio. I’m doing broadcast. I graduated from North Lake, so I have a degree in video technology. I’m doing film work and also videography. This is just to get more experience in the broadcasting aspect.”

Sometimes one student can make the difference for another student, as Sargent recalled when he shared the deciding factor in his decision to attend MSU. A-Team member, Kara McPherson ultimately helped him seal his decision.

“Actually, believe it or not, I had a tour with Kara. She was the one that convinced me that this is where I needed to come,” Sargent said. “She was the one who sold me on the idea of coming here. Today just cemented that. I’m here, I’m starting in the fall. All the paperwork is turned in, so I’m ready to start.”

After lunch, students and guests met in the atrium one last time where a reception was held and either said their goodbyes, or chose to go on a university and housing tour.

Tucker said, “I feel like I know some of the music professors now. I kind of have a feel for how they are and how they teach. I really like the campus too, it’s really nice. It seems homey.”

Students had final thoughts about their confidence to attend MSU after engaging with faculty, current students and touring the departments to get a better feel for the environment.

“My favorite part was how the faculty came and communicated with the students, non-formally. They were opening and welcoming. They acted like they were one of you. It was very down to earth, it wasn’t too formal. It was comfortable. I felt accepted, I felt like I could tell them everything, I felt like I had met them before,” Williams said. “It was unforgettable. I got to be hands-on, and I got to walk through the facility and see some of the students working. I got to see how they were able to concentrate, able to learn, and I was able to see how people acted. I was able to see how it truly was. I felt like beforehand I didn’t know, because all I saw was the outside, but now that I saw the inside, I understand it’s big and grand in its own way. It’s affordable, it’s like home, and I was able to understand I didn’t need to go somewhere 20,000 miles away when it’s already right here.”

The first Discover MSU event of 2017 left admissions staff, Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts faculty and prospective students and guests feeling good about the possibilities.

Peterman said, “I hope they take away excitement about getting to college and what we can offer them at this university.”

The purpose of Discover MSU is to help prospective students and guests with their decision to attend MSU and give a more accurate picture of what the university and campus life is like. The admissions office spends half a year planning the Discover MSU events, working with the colleges on creating their agendas. Each college has its own personality, so every Discover MSU event is different which makes planning and execution unique.

Williams said, “I don’t know why people would look this place over!”

Dates for the remaining Discover MSU events are as follows:

Feb 10: Dillard College of Business Administration
Feb 17: College of Science and Mathematics
Feb 24: Robert D. & Carol Gunn College of Health Science & Human Services
March 3: Gordon T. & Ellen West College of Education
March 10: Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences

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