Helping students find their place
Michael Thomas has a passion for LaGrange College, and that serves him well as
Director of Admisson. Thomas '05 says he enjoys sharing his love for his alma mater
with potential students and their parents.
"This is a community where you're going to be challenged," he says. "But you as
a student are going to be heard, you're going to have a voice. Faculty, administration
and staff are not only going to know your name, they are going to know your personal
story. They are going to listen to you, they are going to hear you, they are going
to be there for you."
What is distinctive about LaGrange, says Thomas, is that it lives up to expectations.
"We send out all these publications that talk about the great things that are
said about us, such as U.S.News & World report consistently naming us one of
the top 10 best colleges in the region, and as a 'great school at a great price.'
But when the families come for a visit, they see that we are who we say we are.
Often that is a defining moment for a lot of families. I love the fact that at
the end of the day, we are genuine, and the families sense that."
More important, he says, is the assurance he wants parents and students to have.
"We don't want students to come in the door and be here for a semester or a year
and be gone. We're committed to seeing them through this process. We are very much
invested in the success of our students."
Thomas, a native of Gary, Ind., says the college is very intentional in its commitment
to transforming the lives of its students, and two new initiatives support that.
"We have a study-away commitment for incoming freshman," he says. "We're definitely
broadening our global reach, and we want to ensure that every student has a chance
to study away. We've gone to places like Costa Rica, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Greece.
It's a great thing for these students to know that in their junior or senior year,
they will receive a $2,500 voucher to go toward a study-away experience."
Those trips help students feel a broader connection to the world.
"The economy isn't just limited to what is happening domestically, but we are
impacted by what is happening in Europe. So understanding that we are more and
more global, the college is committed to ensuring that our students also are connected
Also new to the college is the Servant Scholars Program, which will begin this
fall and is for juniors and seniors. As students reach their sophomore year, they
are able to apply for the initiative.
"If they are chosen, they are allowed to stay in the fabulous new apartments that
have been generously donated to us by the Callaway Foundation," Thomas says. "Basically,
this will be a collaborative effort of those individuals working with agencies
in or around LaGrange, whether it is mentoring programs, Habitat for Humanity or
The purpose is to get the participants together to study and to serve, as well
as to think about how the college community can make a bigger impact in the LaGrange
"It's a really great thing because it relates to the type of student that we have
here, and how we're trying to get them to see the big picture. The Servant Scholars
Program is definitely going to do that."
However a student chooses to become involved at LaGrange College, the goal is
always the same.
"We talk about transforming lives here," he says. "Understanding that, in coming
here, you are empowered to try to transform the lives of others as well. That's