Article by Miranda Mullings and Alyse Phillips
Each year, Drury hosts Family Day: a day dedicated to Drury students’ families. Family members of students are invited to visit Drury to see their favorite college student, explore campus, and have fun together. For many families, Family Day is the first time they have seen their student since they went off to college. Drury puts on a day full of events for families to enjoy together.
Family Day 2017 events
This year’s family day is Saturday, Oct. 7. Events begin at 7 a.m. and end around 5 p.m., and families are encouraged to come and go as they please all day long.
From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. is the Panther Run, starting at the O’Reilly Event Center. The Panther Run is a run or walk, and participants can choose between a 5K, 10K or 15K. The cost is $30 per person, benefiting Care to Learn, a local non-profit that helps provide for kids at school. Register to participate in the walk/run at http://www.panther-run.com/.
From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. is the official Family Day check-in at the Findlay Student Center (FSC) on the South Patio. Follow the sound of the ukuleles: the DUkes will be performing there. At check-in, families can donate items to Convoy of Hope to help those affected by recent hurricanes. Families can also sign up for one of two guided painting classes, which begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
From 11 a.m. to noon, Lambda Chi Alpha is leading campus golf at the fountains in the circle drive.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., stop by the Commons to enjoy a family lunch. Drury’s Jazz Band will be performing while families eat together. Lunch is complimentary to those who RSVP ahead of time (this can be done at http://www.drury.edu/parents/family-day).
From 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., families can enjoy some healthy competition: Bingo will be played in the FSC Ballroom. There will be prizes for winners, including gift cards and essential dorm room items.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., head outside to Sunderland Field to play Bubble Soccer – a classic Drury favorite.
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be many events taking place on Kellogg Green. Many clubs and organizations will be hosting different activities. This is an opportunity for families to see all the groups around campus that their student can get involved with. There will be a balloon artist, live music by Drury musicians of the Drury Music Alliance, a photo booth provided by the Student Union Board, pumpkin painting with Pi Beta Phi, snow comes with Zeta Tau Alpha, liquid nitrogen ice cream from the American Chemical Society, international calligraphy with the International Student Association, and many others. Drury’s Ultimate Frisbee Team will be playing on Sunderland field from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., wind down with “Happy Hour and Hors D’oeuvres” at the President’s House. Drury’s president, Tim Cloyd, Mrs. Cloyd, and Drury deans will be there to welcome families to campus.
There are several Drury faculty, staff, and students who are related. There are spouses, parents and children, and siblings to be found around campus.
Dan Ponder, professor of political science and director of the Meador Center, is married to Crystal Ponder, an employment specialist in Drury’s human resources department. The Ponders also have children who are students at Drury.
“[I] see them more than I did when they are at home due to jobs/friends/activities,” Crystal Ponder said. “[We] spend more intentional time together which is more meaningful.”
Being a Drury parent has shed new perspective on Drury, for Crystal Ponder. “After working here for over a decade, it is clear that the ‘Drury Difference’ has always been ‘a thing’ but it has been wonderful to realize that it has been most recognizable since I have been the parent of Drury students,” she said. She said she has enjoyed “watching the faculty and staff become invested in and mentoring our kids to ensure they have a great experience [at Drury].”
Kevin Henderson, professor of English and Chair of the Languages & Literature department, has a son, Michael Henderson, who attends Drury.
“My wife and I are glad that Michael is so active at Drury, with his major and all of the groups he’s joined. At first, I thought I might see him even more, but unless we schedule time, I almost never run into him on campus. Honestly, having my son here makes Drury seem like a larger world than a smaller one,” said Henderson.
Drury students come from 44 countries, so there are of course many international students on campus. For those who have traveled overseas for school, having their families visit for Family Day is not always possible.
Micaela Lopez is an international student from Ecuador, where her family still lives. She says she gets to go home to see her family every summer and during the four to five weeks Drury students have off for winter break.
“Ecuador is close enough to the U.S. that it allows me to see them quite often,” said Lopez. “I know a lot of international students who go years between visits to their families.”
Even though she considers herself one of those fortunate enough to see her family relatively often, she still keeps in regular contact with her family in Ecuador.
“We video chat often and chat all the time. When you’re an international student WhatsApp is your friend,” Lopez stated.
Dhruv Sitapara is an international student from Surat, Gujarat, India. Sitapara said, “I try to see my family over the winter break. But I couldn’t go last winter, so it’s been more than a year.”
Sitapara said going to school so far from family can be challenging. “It is very hard at first but then you get used to it. I try to call my parents every day and that definitely helps,” he said.
Friends turn to family
There are many organizations on campus created specifically to help students transition to living without their parents, whether they move 30 minutes away or across the globe.
The International Students Association helps international students get to know one another and become involved on Drury’s campus. Lopez said, “The International Student Association really played a key role in my feeling of integration and belonging at Drury. When I first arrived, ISA was immediately super welcoming and it’s how I met some of my best friends.”
Especially as time goes on and students find their niche on campus, Drury begins to feel more like home and other students become like family.
Lopez gradually became close to others in her major: “Being an architecture major, I also love my archifam, but that’s something that’s developed and grown throughout the years.”
Sitapara said, “I consider Drury my family and making connections and genuine relationships definitely helps.”
Many students find their ‘family’ on campus through Greek life. In sororities and fraternities, students literally gain new “sisters” and “brothers” when they “rush”, which is usually within the first couple weeks of coming to Drury.
Lauren Slamb, a sophomore Tri Delta, said, “Coming to Drury I was so nervous about meeting new people and I knew if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone from the very beginning I never would. Everyone in Greek life was so welcoming and kind and I knew I wanted to be apart of it. The one thing I did know was Drury felt like home, and what’s a home without sisters?”
Greek organizations have “bigs” and “littles”, which is essentially a mentoring relationship between an older and newer member of a sorority or fraternity. Lauren Pyle, a sophomore Zeta Tau Alpha, cherishes this relationship. “My favorite thing this year has been big-little reveal. The new girls in our chapter are so incredibly wonderful, and it was a blast to see the excitement on their faces when they saw who their big sister mentor would be. It’s a great way to guide them in not only ZTA life but in their day to day lives as well. It has been an amazing experience to bond with the new members and continue to grow with my sisters,” she said.
Slamb said, “I had my first of what we call ‘Delta moments’ (the feeling that you get when you know you’re home) on bid day when the girl who is now my big, Hannah Gooding, described Tri Delta in three words, the words meaning the different traits sisters would show to one another. Family: representing that we will be there for each other no matter what. Self-sacrifice: meaning that we will put others before ourselves in times of need. The last word is my favorite word and the one thing I look for in a person: Loyalty. When she said it I just knew; I had goosebumps everywhere. I was home, these were my sisters, and we were a family.”
Take time this Family Day to spend time with family, whether they are your parents and siblings or your best friends on campus. If your family is coming to campus for Family Day, do not forget to RSVP at http://www.drury.edu/parents/family-day so your family can have a free lunch.