Wilson College welcomes first male residential students

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:53 pm | Updated: 10:15 am, Thu Aug 21, 2014.

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Wilson College ushered in a new era Wednesday when the college, founded in 1869 as a school for women, saw its first male residential students arrive.

Making the transition to co-education already has resulted in record enrollment, college officials said.

A total of 148 new students moved in Wednesday and participated in orientation sessions. Of those, 24 were men, college spokeswoman Cathy Mentzer said.

Last fall, the college enrolled 100 new students, Mentzer said.

“We are excited about this. This is the largest class for Wilson in 40 years,” said Brian Speer, the college’s vice president for marketing and communication.

Co-education, new academic programs, infrastructure improvements, and marketing and recruitment are part of the Wilson Today Plan to breathe new life into the college.

“We’re very excited about the direction that the college is going,” Speer said.

As Sam Mensah, 20, of Ghana was touring the campus as part of Wednesday’s orientation, he seemed unfazed by his groundbreaking role as one of the first male students.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said about being one of the first male residential students on campus.

Mensah, who is majoring in business administration and management, said he chose Wilson because of its proximity to his relatives who live in Maryland.

Standing well over 6 feet tall, Keifer Jefferson-Grimes of Florida came to the local college not only for its academics, but to show off his athletic prowess.

Now that the college has a men’s basketball team, coached by Miles Smith, Jefferson-Grimes is hoping for a little court time on Wilson’s NCAA Division III team.

The psychology major said he’s not intimidated by being outnumbered by so many women on Wilson’s campus.

“I’m up for the challenge,” he joked.

New student Sarah Neville, 18, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is proud to attend Wilson during the college’s new era.

“I think it’s going to bring a new dynamic to the school,” she said. “I’ve always gone to co-ed school, and I think it’s a good change.”

The college has the perfect program for Melissa Queary, 17, of Gettysburg, Pa., who wants to acquire a degree in veterinary medical technology before continuing her education to become a veterinarian.

“I think having an all-girls school is fine, but when you have a co-ed school, it prepares you more for the real world,” she said. “In real life, when you go to work, you work with men and women.”

Albert Bruce, 19, of Doylestown, Pa., is majoring in equine-facilitated therapy with a minor in psychology.

Even if the college had not gone co-ed, Bruce said he would have commuted the 2 1/2 hours from Doylestown because of Wilson’s exceptional equine program.

While it’s exciting to be one of the first two dozen men on campus at Wilson, Bruce said he feels a big responsibility.

“You have standards that you want to set for the other guys coming in (after you),” he said. “There’s always a stereotype for guys on how we treat women, and since it’s the first year, it’s the first chance to show that this is valid.”

Classes begin Monday.

Roxann Miller is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at roxann.miller@herald-mail.com.