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Remembering HU

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WALK: Forester alumni walk out of the fieldhouse with their degrees in hand, as the ceremony came to a close Saturday.
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SMILE: Justin Coleman smiles as hegives his friend a handshake upon becoming a Huntington University alumnus, following the commencement ceremony on Saturday.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

As Justin Coleman grew up in Detroit, he didn’t know anything about Huntington.

In fact, Huntington knew about Coleman before he’d even heard of Huntington University.

The Huntington University men’s bowling team found him in the town of nearly 675,000 people and offered him a chance to visit. When he arrived on campus, he knew he’d found the right place to attend college.

“I came to the school and thought, ‘This is a great institution that I want to be a part of,’ so four years later, here I am ready to graduate,” Coleman said during HU’s commencement on Saturday.

As he prepares to decide whether to stay locally and become a social media manager for the Lion’s Club or take a job at Chrysler as a member of the marketing and sales team, he said the small-town community is a memory he’ll take with him no matter where he lands.

“Everybody is so close here,” Coleman said. “Huntington is so small, and it feels like everyone knows you. I can walk into a local coffee shop and everybody knows me, which is really weird but pretty cool at the same time.”

He wouldn’t have got to where he is today without the help of professor of digital media arts Lance Clark and assistant professor of digital media arts Adam Widener, says Coleman.

He said HU has definitely helped prepare him for the next step, even though he said the process of finding a career is stressful.

“They put me through simulations to help me with anything that will happen in my career, so after four years of doing that, I feel ready for life,” Coleman said.

Matthew Ballinger, who’s from Hicksville, Ohio, said similar things about the staff.

“I’ll always remember that there are a lot of great professors here that care a lot about the students,” he said.

The past four years weren’t easy for Ballinger, he says.

“It’s been a huge, huge struggle financially and emotionally for sure – a lot of stress from the workload plus I was working throughout that time, so I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my wife, that’s for sure.”

Morgan Everly decided to come to Huntington after she left a four-year college shortly after graduating high school. She finished her stint at HU Saturday after completing an online associates program in organizational leadership.

Her time at HU was also stressful, since she juggled working full time while finishing assignments from her home in Churubusco, but she said HU’s program was a much better fit than her previous stint in college.

“I always had a full-time, 40-hour-per-week job, and at one point I had two jobs,” she explained. “Education wise, I spent most of my weekends were completely dedicated to school.”

She said working and attending college actually helped her put her coursework into practice.

She is actually planning to continue her education to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“The past two years have been exciting.

“The first step is finally done,” she said.

Coleman said leaving Huntington to pursue his career in the real world is going to be stressful, since he’s used to the friendly community here, but he said he’ll always remember jumping into Lake Snow-Tip.

The senior class’ gift to the university was refurbishing a pair of wooden swings near the lake so that more students can form memories on campus.

“Let’s go,” Coleman said as he prepared to walk across the stage. “ I’m ready. It’s a long time coming. It’s a really weird feeling knowing you’re about to graduate college and about to be an adult, but I’m ready for it.”