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Students Make MBU Their Home Away from Home

MBU has attracted students from across the United States to its campus. From bonding with friends at “Up All Night” to cheering at volleyball games, MBU students have created a strong community, with friendships sure to last a lifetime.

Spartan Team Leaders provide the energy and love to welcome the incoming MBU students and build a lasting community on campus.      Photos by Anna Jeschke

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Choosing a college, one of the biggest and scariest decisions you make, partly depends on the major you want, the scholarships you get and the location of the campus. But more personally the decision is affected by the atmosphere where fun memories are made and a quality college experience is built.

Missouri Baptist University is full of passionate students who are all about having fun and making lasting memories.

In this profile feature story, students Kolby Matsushima, Erin Dooley, Vanessa Waidmann, Cooper Akridge, Lindsay Mills and David Gregory share memories made in their time at MBU in hopes that you too will be encouraged to indulge in the campus’ unique college experience.

Kolby Matsushima
Graduate student, School Counseling
Kaneohe, Hawaii

Kolby Matsushima, 25, is in his third year at MBU after two years enrolled in undergraduate and now his first year in the graduate program.

He loves that MBU offers a unique college experience with a small campus size regarding proximity of the buildings, dorms and student body.

Matsushima has become a fan of the small aspect of the MBU campus and believes it contributes to the strong community.

“It is really community based and a lot easier to talk to your teachers,” said Matsushima. “It is a lot easier to get to know people, you see a lot of the same faces every day.”

Through the community comes growth and challenges at MBU, and he was glad supportive professors and friends have pushed him to overcome those challenges.

The student section, The 300, cheers on the MBU women’s volleyball team dressed in a Hawaiian theme. Group selfie by Lindsay Mills

“Coming into MoBap you should be prepared to be challenged,” said Matsushima. “That challenge will look different for different people. For me it was a spiritual challenge and I really got encouraged and pushed to take my Christian heart a little more seriously and be a little more intentional about it. For some people that might be academically challenged, for others, athletics might be a challenge. All these challenges help grow and develop as a person.”

Matsushima, who transferred from a community college but was able to get connected and have his fair share of MBU memories, said he values those moments he shares with friends on campus.

Matsushima cherishes the small moments with fellow students like the dinner he hosted last year in an apartment on campus.

“I was living in the apartments so I had dinner with some of the football guys I had gotten to know as well as some of the international volleyball girls that I had gotten to know, and I think some of the soccer players,” said Matsushima. “It was really cool to be able to hang out with all of them because like I’d hang out with a lot of them separately but we all got to come together and share food and play games. It was a really good time that I’ll remember for a long time.”

Campus events are also some of Matsushima’s favorite times on the MBU campus, his favorite being “Up All Night,” which is like a lock-in with games, food and opportunities to get to know other residents.

But what Matsushima enjoys most is the home sporting events.

“It’s awesome to be cheering on your community and a lot of people are here because of athletics, so it is a really good way to do life with people by showing up at their sporting events and supporting them. To me it is a great way of loving others.”

Erin Dooley
Freshman, Christian Ministry
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Erin Dooley, 18, a proud member of the Spartan Cheer team, said that when she toured the MBU campus she saw and desired the Christ community of MBU.

Because of the community, she quickly found friends her freshman year.

“I love MoBap because of the community,” said Dooley. “I’ve found friends who love the Lord and who walk alongside me and make me laugh and hold me accountable when I need to be. They’re not afraid to share truth with me and just lock arms and run after Jesus together.”

MBU is personal because your professors truly know you, whereas it’s more difficult to get to know faculty members at larger universities.

“If you look in the right places you can find friends who really do care about you,” Dooley said.

Dooley added there are student life activities every week so it is always easy to get involved on campus, and you are never bored.

Dooley’s favorite memory so far at MBU happened while playing capture the flag at a student life event, “Up All Night,” with Emilee Mitchell, her best friend she met on campus through her cheer team, and she laughed really hard while hiding.

“We were hiding and holding pine cones to attack the other team,” Dooley said, “but then our team had won and we were literally hiding behind this tree for like five extra minutes and our team was literally done playing.”

Volleyball games at open gyms are Dooley’s favorite events because she used to play volleyball and enjoys playing for fun with friends.

Vanessa Waidmann
Sophomore, Sports Management
St. Louis

Vanessa Waidmann, 19, a member of the women’s cross country team, said she likes that everything is close and the campus is small.

“You’re not just a number,” Waidmann said. “People know you and you have a name. It is more like a community than anything else.”

She also likes that MBU is a Christian faith-based community.

Originally, Waidmann did not look for a Christian campus, but now that she is at MBU, she is thankful for the faith-based morals and ability to attend weekly Chapel.

“I love MoBap for the people it has brought into my life,” Waidmann said, adding she also loves MBU’s Athletics Department as well as her coach and team.

The community is so important to her. “I just feel like it is good to feel like I am a part of something,” said Waidmann, “and having a group of people that you fit in well with and people that care about you.”

Many of her favorite memories were at practice with fellow teammates, such as on easy runs where they all talk and dance and listen to music.

Students (left to right) Madison Coumerilh, Lindsay Mills, Sylvia Douglas, Anna Jeschke, Vanessa Waidmann and Chuck Johnson (front) enjoy the weather of spring semester out in the Quad.

She also has fond memories of “living in North [Hall] with my roommate. I just liked how we did a lot of spontaneous things and we would run around the dorm and just be crazy and play ping pong baseball in the lobby,” said Waidmann.

Waidmann suggests getting involved with a group of people who will be there for you.

It is easier for her because she is on a team, but if you do not play sports, join a club or be on a worship team. In any way, get involved and attend events, she recommended.

Waidmann’s favorite event is “The Perk Event” because she said it is fun to listen to the live music and dance like crazy people with your friends – plus there is good food and plenty of coffee.

Cooper Akridge
Junior, Physical Education
St. Louis

Cooper Akridge, 21, transferred from Meramec Community College to MBU because of its physical education program.

MBU Cheer performs stunts during a football game at Spartan Field.

Akridge’s dad graduated from MBU and his parents met at the university. He also knew many students attending.

Akridge said he admires the size of the MBU campus because it is easier to make friends and connections. It’s not as daunting of a task to make friends, he said, noting that more people does not equal more chances.

“It really is about the people. Everybody has things they can say about their classes and problems, but I am as involved on campus as I am because I love the people that are here, and getting the opportunity to meet a lot of people,” Akridge said

Even though there are over 5,000 enrolled students on campus, there are also many God-centered communities at MBU.

“The reason I have such a good time on campus is because of the people I have around me,” said Akridge. “At the end of the day we’re all here for our majors but the goal is to push God’s love on people and share the gospel with people, and this is a really good place to get equipped to do that.”

One of Akridge’s favorite memories came this year in the dining hall with his friend Kamryn Bell.

“She had asked for me to grab her a cookie, so I went over, I grabbed my pizza, and I looked over and they were out of cookies, which happens,” Akridge said. “So I went back and sat down and before I had a chance to tell her that they were out of cookies, she went off on me for a solid 20-30 seconds about what a horrible friend I was. And then I told her that the cookies were out and the look on her face — I’ll never forget it.”

He also cherishes moments with fellow residents, like last year when he attended a concert with people from MBU.

Akridge also has multiple memories from the famous campus event “Up All Night.” He loves that it is centered around sports.

Lindsay Mills
Sophomore, Biomed
Festus, Missouri

Lindsay Mills, 19, a wrestler at MBU as well as an ambassador for the administration offices on campus, said she did not want to come to MBU at first, but God had other plans. No matter how many times she steered away from the school God kept bringing her back.

Mills is beyond grateful He did because of the love and community she has experienced at MBU.

Mills said that coming to college is hard and terrifying so she suggests making sure the place you chose feels like home, which is how she picked MBU as her college. She immediately felt welcomed and at home at MBU.

The fall semester is a great time to join MBU students in a game of volleyball in the warm weather outside. These outdoor activities help build the community for the following school year.

“I felt like it was a deeper connection than just wanting my money,” Mills said. “They truly want people to pour into and see improvements in, you know, in all aspects.”

She added: “Coming to MoBap and experiencing the love and community that I have experienced in my time being here has been amazing. I have been poured into by other students, professors, my coaches, not only athletically and academically, but spiritually.”

Mills said MBU does not provide the typical college experience, one reason being that there are always events and people around.

“No matter where you go you can’t escape people. Regardless of where you go you’re always going to be around people that are making community and just making you feel at home and welcome,” said Mills.

It is small so the students living on campus are like a family who are always welcoming and loving and ready to pour into the community.

Like many others, her favorite event on campus is “Up All Night” because it gives students a break from studying, and it is one of the few events you can’t study at. Plus, it is where she meets a lot of people.

Mills, however, enjoys the small events around campus like the worship nights because they are a good time to make community and fellowship with other believers.

“I just remember coming together as a group outside the Perk and there was a bonfire going and we just had like an acoustic worship session and that’s when I really felt God moving on the campus, and it is where I found a lot of community, and just a lot of peace with my college decision.”

David Gregory
Senior, Worship Leadership
St. Louis

David Gregory, 22, who transferred to MBU last year from Jefferson College, is now scheduled to graduate from MBU in spring 2022.

MBU was not even offering the degree he was looking for but after lots of prayer that he would be financially able, God provided through scholarships and Gregory moved to the MBU campus.

Gregory loves that MBU is a place where it is easy to grow musically, spiritually, mentally and intellectually, which is refreshing because he said so much of his life was learning things the hard way.

His time at the university has been a season of growth and he believes God planted him here for a reason, and in this planting he has grown.

The MBU staff wants students to grow and treat education as a ministry by which they invest time into each student.

“They see me, they love me, and they want me to grow,” said Gregory. “You are not just a wallflower. You’re not just some background person that walks through the halls and nobody knows. There is a place for you at the table here at MoBap no matter who you are, no matter what your background is.”

Gregory points out that MBU is different from other schools because in all the hardships the student population is happy, full of life, beautiful and strong.

“You’re going to have people who care for you, from the teachers to the students,” said Gregory. “I think that’s so important in the collegiate realm, like it is really hard to succeed when you don’t have people in your corner.”

The students struggle and get frustrated but the community is generally happy and thankful to be at MBU.

You can see the genuine joy in the MBU students at events like “Up All Night,” which is a favorite event every year because “there’s nobody who comes to ‘Up All Night’ and doesn’t have a good time – it’s got something for everybody,” said Gregory.

Gregory also loves attending the theatre events and shows because he loves watching fellow students tell the story. “It is so fun to see them thrive in their gifts and their talents.”

His favorite memory from his time at MBU was the first week of school where he met a lot of people who ended up being close friends. They all went to Insomnia Cookies after an organized MBU event in the Quad with 9-square and volleyball.

But Gregory truly treasures the moments that shape him as a person and will never forget the times sitting with a professor or counselor and pouring out what he is going through and receiving nothing but encouragement and pushes to keep going.

“I was able to pour out what I was going through and in that they walked beside me and they ministered to me and encouraged me and they really kept me going because without that encouragement I don’t think I’d be here today, and I love where I’m at today.”

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Anna Jeschke

Anna Jeschke

Anna Jeschke is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. She is majoring in communications studies and minoring in Spanish. Jeschke spends her time working at her dad’s coffee shop, La Cosecha, in Maplewood. Her remaining free time she spends with her friends. Jeschke has a love for story-telling through photography and does so in her photography business reached through Instagram @annajeschke_photography. She enjoys any form of art including painting, dancing and writing.

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