Bluffton University - Joel Wildermuth
While still a high school student, Joel Wildermuth earned enough college credits to enter Bluffton University with sophomore status, and he will graduate in May 2011 before his 21st birthday. It s probably fitting, then, that the Sidney, Ohio, native has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do next an idea shaped by his Bluffton experience. A history major, Wildermuth wants to earn a Ph.D. and become a history professor eventually, but first, he s considering a year of mission work, probably in connection with the Mennonite church. I have found that through my studies here at Bluffton and learning Mennonite values, I have become very attracted to them, he says, citing the church s peacemaking tradition as an example.
Seeing the bigger picture
One of the things he s learned and wants to continue to address is the injustice we see against humanity, and the need as Christians to work for justice around the world, he says. There s so much more I have to discover about other cultures and situations in which others live, adds Wildermuth, who is getting the chance to do just that during his May 2010 cross-cultural trip to Israel/Palestine. I ve discovered there are a lot of personalities out there I didn t know existed. People are from so many backgrounds and have so many different beliefs than I do.
In his college search, Wildermuth was looking for a small, private Christian campus. Bluffton met that requirement, he notes and it didn t hurt that his stepsister, Sherry Shoemaker; her husband, Bill; and even his piano teacher of 14 years, Clarence Pfaadt, were all Bluffton graduates. They were really pushing for me to come here, he says with a smile. And he hasn t regretted his decision. I really like the small-college atmosphere, being able to relate with a lot of people and with my professors. I like the small classes because they allow for good discussions.
Being a leader
Wildermuth has kept busy outside the classroom, too, serving as chapel leader and, next year, as Student Senate president. In the former role, he spends five to six hours preparing and practicing for each week s one-hour chapel service. As student government leader, he hopes to see even more student involvement and service, whether to the immediate or the global community. Going green will also be a theme, he adds, saying that composting on campus is another goal.
Prospective students checklist
Wildermuth advises students coming to Bluffton to get involved, make connections, build relationships and more. Come to school with an open mind, be prepared to be challenged in those things that seem natural to you, come with a desire to learn and be diligent in studying, he says.