First Walk, Second Year

Second-Years+on+their+First+Walk

Emma Hester, The Horizon

Second-Years on their First Walk

Hannah Marks, Staff Writer

Spirits were high as the bagpipes sounded this Friday, Nov. 5, at 4 p.m. outside Murchison Gym. One by one, blushing students and teary-eyed parents lined the path to Kerrwood Hall. 

The crowd received greetings from Vice President for Student Life Edee Schulze, President Gayle Beebe and professors as they passed through the Formal Gardens and gathered outside of Kerrwood Hall. In a speech prior to the walk, Dean of Students Stu Cleek recognized the resilience of the class of 2024 through a uniquely challenging first year. 

Westmont alumna Nicole Warne-Mcgraw reminisced about her own first walk and remarked on the experience of her daughter Mackinzie, a current second-year at Westmont: “Mackinzie’s class has missed so many rights of passage. I never thought I’d be able to see her walk like I did my freshman year.” 

Kelly Vivanco, one of the second-year students who walked, noted the difficulty of adjusting to Westmont last year: “We arrived on campus in haste, without ceremony, focused only on action like groups of soldiers.” Susie Talbot, another second-year, expressed a similar sentiment: “We felt like a forgotten class.” 

While the students lamented a difficult first year, they also gratefully celebrated getting the opportunity to walk. Talbot was visibly thankful for the experience, saying, “This makes up for a bit of what we lost last year.” Reflecting on the ceremony and celebration, Vivanco said, “Stu Cleek’s speech and this first walk are finally Westmont welcoming us, recognizing it is good for us to…call this place a home.”

Reflecting on the way the walk affected her, Talbot said, “The bagpipes made me tear up, I saw my brother do this walk forwards and backwards, now I get to follow.”

Frank and Sorcha Fornara with their babysitter Alyssa Hernandez (Emma Hester, The Horizon)

Megan Morehead agreed and tacked on, “This experience has been so joyful since there’s a community that’s already built.” She explained it was almost more meaningful to do the ceremony with people she already knows and loves. 

The gathering was lively as the festivities at Kerrwood Hall went underway. Ellie Michaelian smiled and said, “It feels so good to finally be recognized.” Hannah Goodloe added, “It feels official: we’re really Westmont students now — and we’re in person!” 

In the crowd, two kids, Frank and Sorcha Fornara, bravely waved their Westmont stuffed animals. When asked who they were rooting for, they said, “Our babysitter [Alyssa Hernandez] is doing this walk and she said we could come!” They were so excited to see her that they sprinted after her when she walked by.

Stu Cleek clearly hit the nail on the head in calling this class the most grateful. Even after all they’ve been through with the pandemic, most had appreciative things to say about their experience. Here’s to another 84 years of Westmont pride!

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