Emmanuel Maxwell – who is studying biology in hopes of one day becoming an optometrist – readily admits that his first two semesters here were a disappointment by any standards. The courses that were required for his major, including science and math, didn't come easily to him. Cutting his course load in his second semester didn't help, and his family was beginning to lose confidence in him. Then an invitation to audition for a theatre production changed everything, quite literally, about the academic journey that Maxwell was on.
"I had taken Speech Communications and Intro to Theatre, and I had thought to myself that I was good with people. Jaye Beetem [Associate Professor of Theatre] mentioned that there were auditions for a production and that I should go," he recalls. "It was for Angels in America and surprisingly I was called back. I loved the experience. From there, Bill Mutimer [Assistant Professor of Theatre] asked if I wanted to be an orientation leader over the summer. If I hadn't gone on the audition for that, I wouldn't have ended up working at orientation."
Listening to others at orientation talk about the various student services available on campus made the Easton High School graduate realize that all students have the availability of a support system around them. He also realized that in order to succeed, he had to do his own part. He put down his own money for a summer course and promised his parents that he would not only stay in college, but would also turn things around. Little by little, he did.
"I just took a few classes to get me back into the swing of things. Now I'm getting good grades, I'm on Student Senate, and I'm going to be playing lacrosse," says Maxwell. "At first I didn't understand how I did so much better with everything. It was all about the people around me. Now I know exactly what I want, and I want to go get it. You just have to prioritize yourself and make sure you have good time management."
Maxwell recalls that his own eye doctor told him that if he really wants to become an optometrist, then the work is going to be fun and not hard. Taking that same approach with classes, Maxwell says that he would tell students now at orientation that you've got to surround yourself with people with the same interests, and be sure that you're focused on learning along the way even if you're busy with several other clubs or priorities.
"My involvement here, starting with the theatre role, was just one of those small things in life that opened doors for everything. I was upset about my first year here, but I look at it now as a learning experience," says Maxwell. "Looking back on that year, I now use that as motivation. Everyone has something that drives them. Sometimes it takes those instances to look at the bigger picture."
Name: Emmanuel Maxwell
Major: Biological Science
Projected Graduation Date: 2015