Not everything in college goes according to plan, not even for those focused and driven like Riley Lefever ’17.
One doesn’t collect 158 career victories on the wrestling mat, four national championships, including a spotless 129-0 mark against Division III opponents, and lead his teammates to three consecutive top-five national team finishes without those two adjectives linked closely to his being.
He came to Wabash thinking he would be a math major until his confidence was shaken by his first calculus class. “I didn’t do so hot,” Lefever explains.
That same semester, he also took an introductory English class with Professor Warren Rosenberg, which Lefever says sparked an interest in creative writing and literary theory that continues today.
“Anybody who knows Professor Rosenberg knows how awesome he is,” says the four-time champ. “That experience definitely persuaded me to take more English classes. I became an English major because of Professor Rosenberg.”
The professor quickly returned the compliment.
“In the case of a student like Riley the pleasure is particularly great,” Rosenberg says. “He is an exceptional person and it is very gratifying to know that taking a class with me had an effect.”
Rosenberg went on to say he was particularly pleased that Riley, on the heels of that appearance in English 101 as a freshman, also signed up to be in Rosenberg’s final class at Wabash (he retired in 2016), where students took a deep dive into great texts, like “Moby Dick.”
“Riley showed me that not only did he have the skill, courage, and fortitude to win all of those wrestling national titles, but he had the requisite skill, courage, and fortitude to read, truly understand, and gain pleasure from studying such challenging literature.
“And, no,” he says, “it never gets old to hear a student believes you played some part in his making such an important life decision.”