WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster has welcomed a class that is “the most religiously, economically, racially, ethnically, and nationally diverse in (its) history,” declared president Sarah Bolton during last week’s Convocation exercise. With 40 percent of this year’s new students being multicultural (either U.S. students of color or international students), this marks Wooster’s second such record-breaking class in a row, as the campus continues to transform and more closely mirror today’s global community.
Described as a “powerful group” by Scott Friedhoff, Wooster’s vice president for enrollment and college relations, there are 573 first-years that make up the Class of 2022, plus 19 transfers. The class came together from more than 6,300 applicants, a record number for the College.
Included among the group are 110 international enrollees, also a Wooster record, and almost every corner of the globe is covered with 35 countries represented. Friedhoff noted that some students from Singapore traveled 9,600 miles to get here, and those from Vietnam, Mongolia, Uruguay, and Tanzania were not far behind.
Of the domestic students, 39 states are represented, including 28 percent from Ohio, while another steady development in Wooster’s demographics is the number of first-generation students who are enrolled, now more than 20 percent.
This genuine desire for a student population that hits all types of diversity is a goal of the College’s for a number of reasons, maybe none more so than “because we know that diversity and excellence are inextricably linked,” said Bolton.
Friedhoff delved into the topic further. “There is terrific value in understanding other cultures. Research tells us that individuals who spend time with those from different backgrounds are more creative and more innovative. As the most internationalized college in Ohio, all of our students have terrific opportunities to learn invaluable lessons from each other,” he remarked.
As impressive as the Class of 2022’s diversity is its academic talent. Nearly 60 percent of the incoming students ranked in the top 20 percent of their graduating high school classes, with almost two dozen being valedictorians. Their interests are as varied as their backgrounds, with biological sciences, psychology, and business economics being listed as the top intended majors.
To little surprise, there has been an uptick in interest among the biology, chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology, neuroscience, and environmental studies academic programs, thanks to the opening of the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science. “Most of our incoming students had a sneak peek at Williams Hall and they clearly recognized that it is one of the best facilities in the country for undergraduates who want to do research in the life sciences. We look forward to seeing what new knowledge they will create during their years at Wooster,” said Friedhoff.
Academics is just part of the unique skillsets that so many members of the incoming class bring. One young man from Los Angeles has done bio-physical chemistry research at Cal Tech, studied zebrafish brains, and also plays lacrosse, while a woman from Virginia won first-place in a Shakespeare monologue competition, then was awarded a scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center theater camp. And, of course, Wooster wouldn’t be Wooster without some fresh bagpiping talent and one first-year from Toronto already is a grade-one player who once shared a stage with Paul McCartney.
This mix of diversity and talent will make Wooster a richer, more fulfilling place to be the next four years.