Carl Sandburg College
For his senior capstone project, Matthew Wheaton '10 set out to explore
the connections between the city of Galesburg and Knox College.
As a Galesburg native, Wheaton had an up-close perspective on how
the city and College related to each other, and how some perceived --
wrongly in his view -- that a "bubble" had come to separate them. Wheaton profiled Knox alums and other townspeople to show how deep the connections truly run.
Wheaton's project -- "Galesburg is Knox: Breaking the Bubble" -- was distributed in a limited run for local businesses, and later given an expanded print run for distribution in the Knox County Neighbors, with the support of Mary Jo '62 and Bud '63 Potter.
The following, written by Wheaton, is excerpted from his project.
I know firsthand about the "bubble." I'm 33 years old and graduated from Knox on June 5, 2010. I've lived in Galesburg since my family moved from the Lincoln Homes projects in Monmouth on Lincoln's birthday, back when I was a sixth grader, to the Iowa Court projects here in Galesburg. When I moved to Galesburg, I knew nothing about Knox. The longer I was a resident of Galesburg the more I heard about those "weirdos" on the Knox campus. A friendship allowed me to learn that those who are a part of the Knox community were very similar to Galesburg's residents and weren't "weirdos." Some of them were Galesburg residents.
One of my closest friends throughout junior high and high school lived on Cedar Street, a few blocks away from Knox. Occasionally, on weekends, I would stay all night with him, and we would always venture down to Knox to watch an athletic event or ride our bikes around campus. As we grew older, our friendship strayed, but my interest in Knox grew, and I kept meeting people who had ties to Knox. The individuals I met, and continue to meet, come from all walks of life, and I found out that no matter where they came from, I could relate to them in some way and that Knox changed their lives.
Those individuals who founded Knox and Galesburg were connected. Knox and Galesburg are one. I don't know for sure, but I would bet that for the past 173 years there has always been someone from Galesburg attending classes or teaching at Knox. We are one. We are Knox. We are Galesburg. We have been given the freedom to flourish. Even those who are not from Galesburg and attend Knox are Galesburg, but often times that fact is unknown, because years ago a "bubble" was placed over the 90-acre campus. Let's all break the bubble! I wrote the stories in "Galesburg Is Knox" in hopes of doing just that. We can all relate to each other. Please take some time to first read more about me and then read about Victor Davis, Carol Crouch, Nick Young, Pete Thierry, Mary Burgland, Brandon Polite, and Kandy Sayrs.
It was not always an easy journey for the people who are written about within these pages, and my journey was not easy either. I made my way to Knox via Carl Sandburg College. CSC helped me find my future and gave me an opportunity to succeed. Not only has Knox changed my life, but CSC has as well. I would not be where I am today without both institutions. I graduated Galesburg High School (GHS) in 1995, with a C average, if I recall correctly, and I didn't know what the future would bring for me.
When I graduated from GHS, I enrolled at CSC and pursued a degree in computer information systems (CIS). While I attended classes full-time, I worked full-time at Soangetaha Country Club as a bus person (a job I started as a GHS junior). I eventually got my degree at CSC, but I liked my job at Soangetaha, so I decided to keep doing what I was doing.
By the time I got my CIS degree, I was a cook and later became the soús chef. After about eight years, I had decided the food service industry was not for me, so I enrolled at CSC again, but this time I knew I was going for a bachelor's degree. The year was 2005. I enrolled for two classes at CSC and began my quest for a bachelor's degree that fall.
A lot of things were happening in my life when 2006 began, including the end of my job at Soangetaha. After two weeks of pounding the pavement, I landed a new position at Innkeeper's. During the two-week period that I was jobless, I interviewed with Robin DeMott, CSC's director of marketing and public relations, for a work-study job. I didn't get the position, but I got something better.
Robin offered me a talent grant for journalism, which meant free tuition, but there was a catch. I had to be a full-time student, and I needed two references. Dr. Norm Burdick and Mr. Wendel Hunigan, who were my professors the semester before, agreed to give me references. With Robin's help I found out about a creative writing class taught by Mr. Ron Hunt, who was nice enough to let me into the class, several weeks after it had started. My future was found.
I didn't really know if I could write when Robin offered me the talent grant, but I have found out that I can. I've even received an award from the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association for a story that appeared in the Register-Mail.
Robin believed in me, despite the fact that she didn't know if I could write either. I guess she saw how passionate I was about what I wanted to do in life, and Mr. Hunigan and Dr. Burdick must have said nice things about me. I'll have to ask her.
When I met with Robin that first time, I told her that I was hoping to land a job working for an athletic team, whether it be at a college, university, or at the professional level, which is something I still want to do. I decided to pursue a job in athletics, because ever since I can remember I've had a love for most sports.
Wheaton (left) with Evan Temchin in the offices of The Knox Student
It took me three years at CSC to finally complete the general education classes that I needed to transfer to a four-year school. Robin offered me a job after I graduated from CSC, and I'm now the sports information/CSC-TV Channel 22 technician. I quit working at Innkeeper's in October of last year, and I was a sports editor for The Knox Student (Knox's newspaper) for the two years that I attended Knox.
I never thought that I could attend Knox. First off, I didn't think that I was smart enough, which was not true at all. I graduated from CSC with honors and was very successful academically during my second stint there. I also didn't think that a kid who grew up in the projects could ever afford Knox, but I found out that I was wrong. I didn't live in the projects the entire time I attended GHS, but my family has always been poor. Neither my mother nor my stepfather has a college degree.
When I worked at Soangetaha, Mary Burgland thought it was great that I was working towards a bachelor's degree and suggested I look at Knox, as did many others.
I chose to attend Knox for several reasons. The first was my family. I have a half-brother, Justin, and he has three children. I wanted to be there for my niece, Emma, and my nephews, Jonus and Jacob. If I went to a school not located in the ‘Burg then I would have had to miss birthday parties and things like watching swimming lessons and attending t-ball games.
My brother and I are extremely close, as am I with his children. I also stayed around because of my parents. I wanted to be able to help them out if they needed me. My family always has and always will be the number one priority in my life.
My 91-year-old step-grandfather, John Jarvis, has a college degree, has always supported me in all my endeavors and has always preached education, education, and education. So another reason I attended Knox was because of the academic environment.
I've met many people who are from different backgrounds and from Galesburg and the surrounding area. Knox challenged them and helped them achieve their dreams. I knew the institution could do the same for me. I learned a long time ago that it doesn't matter where you come from: It is about setting goals and accomplishing them.
Knox College doesn't discriminate against you if you are poor, nor are those who are on the campus "weirdos," as I used to think. We are all like those who have wandered the campus before us. We're just trying to live our dreams and carry out our hopes.