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Knox Students, Loved Ones Connect at Family and Friends Weekend

October 15, 2012

Knox College students reconnected with loved ones October 12-14 for Family and Friends Weekend on the Knox campus, which featured opportunities to visit classes and attend special events, including informational sessions on internships and research projects, a debate in the style of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and an improv show.

Here's a quick look at what some of the students and their visitors had to say during the weekend.

Mikko Jimenez '15 of Skokie, Illinois, joined his parents, Tina and Frank (in photo above, standing in front of a poster featuring Mikko), for a presentation Saturday morning about study abroad opportunities for Knox students.

"We want him to experience a different culture," Tina Jimenez said of Mikko, who is interested in studying in Germany or Austria. She and her husband, both from the Philippines, were study abroad students in the United States when they were in college.

"It's good to explore," she added. "It makes you a lot more balanced as a person."

As part of their visit to Knox, the Jimenezes also hoped to attend the Rock-tober Fest, and Tina planned to cook Saturday night dinner for Mikko and his housemates.

Mikko's parents said they've been happy to watch their son's development at Knox.

"Every time I see him, I always see the change in him," Frank Jimenez said. "It's always positive."

"Knox is a small community, population wise, but it gives a very very diverse culture," Tina Jimenez said. "It opens their minds and their eyes to different things."

Mikko agreed.

"You're always talking with people who are from a really different walk of life than you," he said. "It's helped me be a more open and more social person because I feel I can relate to more people."


Ariyana Smith '16 from New Lenox, Illinois , was joined for Family and Friends Weekend by her mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt.

Her mother, Diane Smith, was looking forward to meeting Knox staff, faculty, and parents.

"I want to generate a support system with other parents going through the same experiences," she said. "I just really want her to have a real rounded experience so she can become a productive citizen."

In the month or so since David Callahan '16 started at Knox, the Orlando, Florida, native and his mother already have noticed changes.

"I've become more independent, and I've learned a lot in these past five weeks," he said. "It's been an incredible experience so far. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds."

His mother, Carolyn Callahan, said she's been pleasantly surprised by how easy the transition has been for them.

"I'm very pleased and proud about that," she said. "I think a lot of it has to do with my comfort level with where he is. I feel very comfortable leaving him here with a very intimate group of students and teachers. We're very excited about the prospects for him."

As part of Family and Friends Weekend, they attended "The Mysteries of Ancient Egypt" lecture presented by William Nethercut, and Carolyn Callahan sat in on a couple of classes, including a first-year preceptorial on gender and film.

"It was fun to watch the students just going at it in discussion," she said.

The best part of the weekend, she said, was simply getting to spend time with her son. "The big question is: Is he happy that he made this choice? And so far, so good."

David agreed. "Elated, yes," he said. "I just love the liberal arts philosophy and the feel of the school. It's literally my dream school."

Katie Miller ‘13 and Ai Miller '16 practically grew up at Knox. Their parents Glenda '85 and Greg ‘84 met here during their college years, and they haven't left the community since.

"We've always stayed connected with Knox people," explained Glenda.

"We came here so much as kids, and thus already built so many connections with the campus," Katie said, explaining her decision to attend Knox.

"We were essentially raised by the liberal arts education," explained Ai. "We were comparing everything else to the Knox standard during the college search."

The Millers keep coming back to campus for many reasons - including the people at Knox.

"My mom has stayed friends with Pinkie in the Gizmo," said Katie.

Ruben Villalobos '16 of Chicago, Illinois, hadn't seen his parents, Ginevive and Cuauhtemoc Villalobos, since he began his first year at Knox in early September. 

"It's great seeing them after a month," he said. "I think they'll start to see how I've changed and grown."

Not surprisingly, his parents were happy to see him. "For me, it's like my heart is jumping," his mother said.

On the family's itinerary: Going shopping, exploring Galesburg, and visiting campus landmarks such as the Gizmo, the Hard Knox Café, Seymour Library, and the Science-Mathematics Center. "Those are the places I spend most of my time," said Ruben, a pre-med student.

Ruben said he was attracted to Knox because of its quality education. After getting admitted, he said, he spoke with numerous professionals about Knox. "They told me it's a very, very good school, and the school is very well-known around the medical community in Chicago. They know how rigorous the programs here are.

"That's a big reason why I chose it. Also, the diversity. That was a big, big factor in my decision. I get to meet so many different people and see a new perspective on how the world is viewed."

Ginevive Villalobos added: "We liked that it was a small place with a lot of interpersonal communication," she said. "It's a community."
Ellen Lipo '16 of Oak Park, Illinois, said she was happy to be reunited with relatives, whom she hadn't seen in more than a month.

"It's the longest I've gone without seeing my family," she said. The relatives visiting her for Family and Friends Weekend included her mother, Theresa Lipo, and grandparents Victor and Jean Guarino.

"It's a relief to see how well things are going for her, how well she's acclimated, and how wonderful her suitemates and her RA are," Theresa Lipo said. "We just knew (Knox) was a great fit for her. She always felt very welcome, and so did we."

Ellen's relatives said they especially enjoyed getting to know her friends and seeing Seymour Library.

"We were very impressed with all the friends she has," Victor Guarino said. "They're all very friendly."

Ellen said she's seen that friendliness ever since she arrived on campus. "Everyone holds the door for everyone (else)," she said.

Victor Guarino noted that many Knox graduates live in the Oak Park area. The family knows several of them, including state Senator Don Harmon '88, who serves in the Illinois General Assembly.

"The people who've gone to Knox that live in the (Oak Park) community are the kind of people that are active in the community, and I think it reflects well on the school," said Jean Guarino.

John and Molly Dowling traveled all the way from Madison, Wisconsin, to visit their son, Will Dowling '16.

After arriving Thursday, the Dowlings attended a theatre class, Carl Sandburg's birthplace, the Cherry Street Jazz performance at the Gizmo, and a volleyball match. 

"[It] gives us time to spend together, and not just hanging out in a hotel room. It's really nice and laid back to be able to just spend time with Will," Molly said.

"My husband also notes every 13 minutes, ‘THERE'S A TRAIN!'" she added. Will jokingly corrected them, "It's more like every 5 minutes," as they all burst into laughter.


The family of Sam Scheurell '15 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had a clear objective for Family and Friends Weekend.

"We just want to see what Sam's doing, and we want to see what the activities are about," said his father, James Scheurell, who was especially interested in the presentation about student internships.

Sam said he would take his family - also including his mother, Kay, and brother, Nate - to WVKC, the Knox College radio station.

"I have a radio show here and it's one of my favorite things to do," he said. "My friend, Missy Preston, and I do an interview show with local artists. We have artists play a piece of music or read a poem inspired by a theme that we declare for the week, and then we interview them."

Sam's parents said that Knox has proven to be a good fit for their son.

"He wanted a small liberal arts school. The sense of community and camaraderie are what attracted him. He's loving it here," James Scheurell said.

Kay Scheurell added: "From an academic standpoint, what's appealed to Sam and to us is not only the smaller setting and smaller classes, but Sam's really able to get engaged in the classroom. This is a perfect environment and setting."


Kiran Gupta '16 brought all of her family members this past weekend including her mom Shyamala, dad Navyash, sister Rukshana, and brother Raghav. 

Visiting from Wilmette, Illinois, Shyamala explained they were visiting because "It's a lovely town. It's very quaint and beautiful."

She also "wanted to give the younger siblings a view of campus. Kiran's only been here for five weeks, so we wanted to be able to be here and support her studies."

For Amber Simon '16 of St. Louis, Missouri, Family and Friends Weekend offered the opportunity "to show my family around the campus and show them what my life is like here."

"I'm really excited to get everyone into the (Seymour) Library," she said, referring to her parents, Denis and Colleen Simon, younger brothers Nick and Dylan Simon, and uncle, Jason Hannibal. "I love the library."

Colleen Simon said that Amber is the first grandchild in the family to go away to college, and relatives are eager to keep track of how she's doing at Knox. They're pleased with what they've seen.

"She loves it here, so I wanted to see what it's all about and see the history of the place," Hannibal said.

"Everybody's very excited about Amber's opportunity here," Colleen Simon added. "She gets to know her teachers and the students. I think the bonds she's able to make here will be so much better than she would at a larger university." 

Amber Simon is thinking of majoring in biochemistry and minoring in creative writing -- fields that she acknowledges are "quite different" from one another.

"But that's why I like Knox," she added. "It gives me the freedom to do that."

Will Riess '16 of Arlington Heights, Illinois, was busy preparing for the "Uncontrollable Sass" improv show Saturday afternoon, so his mother and grandmother spent time in Taylor Student Lounge. They're impressed with the way he is fitting in at Knox.

"He obviously feels very connected," said his mother, Colleen Downey. She was with Will's grandmother, Maureen Downey.

For example, the trio attended a Friday afternoon debate on the east steps of Old Main, near the plaques of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. "I thought it was so cool to have it (there)," Colleen Downey said.

Before arriving at Knox, she added, her son didn't think much of politics and believed that his vote "didn't count."

"Now, he is politically engaged," she said. "He even asked a question" at the debate, which centered on the economic situation in the United States.

While on campus, Colleen and Maureen Downey also sat in on a microeconomics class taught by Richard Stout, professor of economics.

"He took a very, very complex subject and broke it down into very simplistic terms, which impressed me immensely," Maureen Downey said.


Kaity Hutchcroft '15 comes from a Knox family. Her dad, Joel graduated from Knox in 1982 as a Sigma Nu and will be attending his 30th reunion during Homecoming next week.

But he isn't the only Knox graduate in Kaity's family. Her grandfather, aunt, and a couple of great aunts also attended Knox.

"There's a lot of Knox in the family," explained Joel.

Although Joel came to visit to support Kaity at her cross country match this weekend, one of the main things that keeps drawing him back to campus is Seymour Library.

This was the last Knox Family & Friends Weekend for senior Tessa Cavagnero '13, and her parents and sister made the journey from their hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. 

Having participated in Family & Friends Weekend during Tessa's first year at Knox, her mother Judy explained that it's Tessa who keeps bringing them back.

"We just love to see why she loves (Knox) so much!"

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