EDMOND—Herbert W. Armstrong College kicked off its 14th academic year on August 18 as 73 students gathered for orientation lectures in Armstrong Auditorium. The students represent a range of countries and cultures, but all have come to Armstrong to share one education.
The freshman class has 19 students from seven countries: the United States, Germany, Canada, the Philippines, Australia and Colombia, plus a U.S. resident originally from El Salvador. The student body as a whole includes students from 11 countries, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Zimbabwe and New Zealand.
With students representing six continents, 33 internationals and 40 students spanning 18 states, 2014-2015 is hwac’s most nationally diverse year yet.
The weekend before orientation, Pastor General Gerald Flurry mentioned during his August 16 sermon that students had been brought from all over the Earth to prepare to teach the world about God’s lifestyle.
The Chancellor On the Bard
After his orientation lecture on poet William Shakespeare, Herbert W. Armstrong College chancellor GeraldFlurry shared more of his thoughts:
On how he hoped the students would be impacted by the lecture: “What I was hoping for the students to take from it is: You’ve got the greatest scholar who ever lived, and he really was an empire-builder. I think God influenced his development so it would give the British people every opportunity to deliver the message about David’s throne. It’s not just about education. It’s about building an empire. If you want to be in that business, you need a great education in vocabulary and communication.”
On Shakespeare’s impact:“Everyone knows Shakespeare. We can tie it in to when Britain was a superpower. If you were talking about the Bible and empire, it wouldn’t mean nearly as much to the British people. They can relate to Shakespeare.”
On America and Britain:“The two chief nations in the World Tomorrow will be Britain and America. What’s coming isn’t bad news when you think about that.”
On imperialism: “The students need to think, We’re here to be imperialist. How do we do that? We need to get educated. That’s critical.”
On the importance of education:“I was hoping this would make them realize how important this education is. If they want to fulfill their goals and ambitions, they have to be serious about education.”
“Think of what this world will be like when we have Armstrong Colleges all over the Earth,” Mr. Flurry said. “Can you imagine every single person on Earth really knowing God?”
Australian freshman Rachael Grellet said that before she came to college, she had heard that hwac is a challenging yet worthwhile experience. “Knowing that God wants us here brings a certain level of calm,” she said, “because you know God is backing and supporting every step taken in the right direction.”
During Mr. Flurry’s orientation lecture on Monday, he encouraged students to continue watching world events, and to think deeply about them. He focused on William Shakespeare as an example of one of history’s deepest thinkers.
Shakespeare was a perfectionist, Mr. Flurry said, and he lived in the era when the British Empire was beginning to rise. Mr. Flurry said he believed God influenced Shakespeare to enhance the education and vocabulary of the British people, emphasizing that students can learn a lot from this poet who was heavily influenced by the Bible.
“We are not confined to Oklahoma,” Mr. Flurry said. “God has commissioned us to go to the whole world. ‘Our island is too small.’ This is about the whole world, the whole universe, and the whole Family of God.”
Dean of students Stephen Flurry followed his father’s opening lecture with a reminder that the expansion of God’s Work depends on the growth of the college and the personal growth of students.
“If you are not here to learn and understand the Bible, what a missed opportunity this will end up being,” the dean said. “If you are not here excited about digging into God’s Word, you will not grow while you are here. The world is depending on you.”
As freshmen plunged into their first year at hwac, they said they felt excitement, fear, nervousness and anticipation racing through their minds.
“I’m looking forward to Bible classes,” freshman Katelynn Smedley said. Having taken some online classes previously, she said she is looking forward to actually interacting in the classroom. She also hopes to be involved in one of the future hwacmusical productions.
Other music students say they look forward to being in the orchestra, a weekly performance class and private instrumental lessons. Freshman Julia Hayes said she is excited about the opportunity to play clarinet in the Armstrong Youth Orchestra, which combines music students from Imperial Academy and hwac.
Freshman Tyler Verbout said he has wanted to attend hwac for as long as he can remember. The piece of advice on being a student that sticks with him the most is to “seek God daily, and He’ll make the impossible possible,” he said.
With students from so many parts of the world, culture differences are inevitable. Grellet said a minor culture shock for her was seeing cheese so orange and butter so white (both are yellow in Australia).
Freshman Tiffany Campbell laughed as she recounted a class experience when Filipino freshman Gino Chi heard the word cantaloupe for the first time. He immediately asked what it was, and when someone explained it to him, he looked up pictures on his laptop, and then showed everyone a picture of a cantaloupe—his new desktop background. “I’ve never seen anyone so excited about cantaloupe,” Campbell said.
Australian sophomore Panayiota Tolis said she is surprised how many people in America use a dryer for their clothes, even when the sun is out; Australians mostly air-dry their washing (laundry).
German students Emmanuel, David and Josué Michels have taken up the daily routine of sending a “German word of the day” by e-mail to all students. On the first day of classes, the campus experienced a strong earthquake, so the German word of the day waserdbeben.
Sometimes during classes, the teachers will make pop culture references, Campbell said. “Several of the international students just don’t know what the instructor is talking about,” she said. “We all, including the internationals, can laugh about it, so the mood is light overall, and even though we all have so many differences, we’re finding common ground.”
hwacstudents have just over eight months left in the school year to apply Mr. Flurry’s final admonition in his orientation lecture: “Take advantage of every opportunity this college offers you, and you are going to have some of the most dazzling and indescribable rewards ever given to man.”
Sidebar: Why Go To Armstrong?
Hundreds of students have made the pivotal decision to attend Herbert W. Armstrong College. Here are some reasons why:
Sarah Kimes (freshman)) “I could have applied to other colleges, but in my mind it was Armstrong College or no college,” Kimes says, adding that she wanted to become more directly involved in the Work. Her mother attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy from 1974 to 1977 and often recounted her own wonderful college experiences.
Samuel Livingston (junior)Livingston says his father always wanted him to enroll in hwac. He attended four years of Philadelphia Youth Camp and says that the example of his counselors and the kind family atmosphere moved him. “I knew there was something different about the way they did things at this school,” he says. He also says he was interested in practical education. “I didn’t want to spend four years learning about something; I wanted to spend four years doing something. That’s the way it is here. Every bit of instruction can be applied as soon as you walk out the door.”
Joel Price (junior)“Having my sister at Armstrong College showed me the fruits of the college,” Price says. “Whenever I would see my sister during breaks, I would be astounded at the growth she was making in all aspects of her life. I got to see a tiny bit of what I could expect if I applied.”
Kieren Underwood (freshman)“It was the example of others in my congregation who preceded me in going to college, and the opportunities given to them as students and alumni, which first inspired me to apply for college,” Underwood says.
Jessica Dalton (junior)Dalton says she spent much of her childhood looking through Envoys, listening to Philadelphia Singers albums and watching the Young Ambassadors. She also listened in on some of the classes her parents audited online. Going through public school, she noticed the lack of passion in the teachers, and how few students actually wanted to learn. “I knew AC would be completely different, and really wanted to experience it,” she said. “Pretty much everything AC has to offer, I wanted to have.”
Joel Hudson-Stewart (junior)The desire to attend hwac began during the 2011 Feast of Tabernacles at headquarters, Hudson-Stewart says. “I had, in a sense, put the idea of Armstrong College out of my mind. Being out of school for over five years, living out of home, employed in a stable and well-paying job, owning a car and having ‘full freedom’ nullified the concept of going back to school,” he said. But his Feast experience helped him reevaluate his “easy life,” he said.
Emmanuel Michels (sophomore)Michels, from Germany, says he was inspired by seeing the examples of others at the Feast and by reading the Envoy. He dedicated two years to learning English before applying for the college. “It was incredible how it worked out,” he says. “Physically it seemed impossible to me—passing the act, having enough money to go, and being intellectually able. But God provided every need.”
Bianca Wilson (sophomore)Wilson says the example of her counselors at pyc inspired her to come to Armstrong College. “They were always so positive and really showed the proof of living God’s way,” she said. “They’d admit that it would get hard at times, but they always brought it back to relying on God.”
Abraham Blondeau (senior)“What made me want to come to Armstrong College was seeing the success of my brother and sister after going there, and the changes they made in their lives,” Blondeau says. “Also after seeing what the colleges of this world had to offer, it became a very obvious choice.”
Jessie Hester (fifth-year senior)“The spark was lit when I met an AC student for the first time,” fifth-year senior Jessie Hester said. “I was 12 years old. Our encounter lasted less than a minute, but the impact it had on me is still going.” When Hester’s family dropped off his sister years ago for her first pyc, an hwacstudent approached the car window to direct them to the right place. Hester said it was the warmth and positivity of that student’s face as he greeted him that instantly captured his attention. “From then on, I started thinking: AC makes people like that. I want to be like that. I need to go to AC.”