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The Sweetest Mem’ries of Thee

Richard Paige — I was combing through the photo archives recently when I stumbled across the gallery I posted of Freshman Saturday in August of 2015. So I stopped to look at them again.

These were the first moments that the Class of 2019 were all together on campus. It’s always interesting to be roaming the campus during times like this where a multitude of emotions seem to bubble up with each beat of the heart.

Lingering on these photos reminds me that the Class of 2019 is filled with some really good guys. We say that every year, but these pictures affected me a little differently. Maybe it was

Christian Wirtz ’19 in a photo taken on Freshman Saturday in August 2015.

because at the time I clicked that button on the camera, I had finally been at Wabash long enough to both capture and appreciate what these guys were going through and where the journey was heading.

I reached out to two of the students featured in the gallery, Brandon Arbuckle ’19, a political science major from Bloomington, and Christian Wirtz ’19, a rhetoric major from South Bend, and asked them two questions that came to mind as I pondered those pictures:

What thought enters your head upon seeing that photo?
Wirtz: I look at that picture and I see a kid in over his head who has no idea who he is nor who he wants to be. Blissfully ignorant of how much he’ll rely on other people to get him

through college, from my parents, my professors, and the friends I’ve made along the way. I see a boy who is not even sure he’s ended up at the right college and has no idea how much this place will mean to him in four short years.

Arbuckle: It was hot. My parents and I, mom looking at the camera in this photo, carried all my boxes up the stairs of the pre-renovated Martindale Hall (a lot of it stayed in those boxes for the entirety of the year). I remember meeting my Bangladeshi roommate, Hasan Irtija, shortly after this was taken. When I was admitted to Wabash and figuring out housing, I typed “international student preferred” for roommate preference. Hasan helped me move in, and we roomed together until he graduated last year. I’m so glad I did; he and I meshed so well. It was a lot of fun living with him. I think we peeled the room number placard off our wall when we moved out of Martindale 412 for renovations. I imagine I still have it somewhere.

I also remember crying in the room with my parents when they said goodbye and headed home. It was the only time they’d ever sent a kid off to college, and was my first time living anywhere but home. After they left I settled in quickly.

Looking back on the last four years, what does such a memory mean to you?
Arbuckle: Looking back, the uncertainty of what four years at this school would mean for my life was daunting. It felt like graduation was an

Brandon Arbuckle ’19 in a photo taken on Freshman Saturday in August 2015.

eternity away. Now that it’s just around the corner, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on not only the experiences that helped mold me into the person I am today, but also the people who helped get me there. From my family and friends, to peers and professors, the growth fostered by the people at this institution is remarkable. I’ll miss the camaraderie. There were a lot of challenges and hard points, but they all helped me in the end. I’m excited to take these memories and experiences out after graduation, and look forward to coming back to Wabash, my home away from home, in future years.

Wirtz: Seeing this picture, I’m also reminded of the ringing in ceremony and how overwhelmed I felt–I didn’t think I was smart enough to make it through and that everyone involved in my deciding I was Wabash material had made a mistake. I remember moving in and my mother crying. But of course, this also reminds me of freshman orientation week and walking

Arbuckle (left) and Wirtz circa 2019.

nervously into Hovey Cottage for the first time–I had interrupted a staff meeting as I was running late for the library tour. This was, of course, when I met Brent Harris [eventually becoming a student assistant in the sports information office] and the rest, as they say, is history.

I referenced the photo just two days after I took it, when Christian, indeed, interrupted one of our staff meetings while looking for work, saying “I took your picture Saturday,” as a way of breaking the ice. It was amongst the first of 123 photos I took that day.

Long in our hearts we’ll bear the sweetest mem’ries of thee. Congratulations to the Class of 2019.