May 1, 2010
Friends Forever: Local residents (from left) Kelly Aughenbaugh, Annie Henley, and Jeannette Carey plan to remain close friends even after they graduate from The College of Wooster on May 10.
WOOSTER, Ohio - Wherever life takes Kelly Aughenbaugh, Annie Henley, and Jeannette Carey after they graduate from The College of Wooster on May 10, the three local residents are confident that their friendship will remain strong - regardless of the distance that may separate them in the years ahead.
Carey and Henley first met in kindergarten at Parkview Elementary School, just a few miles from campus. "I remember that we both had the same backpack," says Henley. "I was so disappointed."
The two quickly put the matching backpack incident behind them and became good friends as members of the same Brownie Troop. Unfortunately, the relationship was interrupted two years later when a redistricting plan sent Carey to Kean Elementary.
It would take five long years before the two were reunited at Edgewood Middle School, and that's when they met Aughenbaugh. The three of them tried out for basketball - an activity that would unite them through their senior year and beyond.
After graduating from Wooster High School in 2006, the three could have gone their separate ways, but they chose to continue their education close to home, although they came to their decisions quite independently.
Henley, whose parents attended the College, never really thought about going anywhere else. "I pretty much knew I was coming here," she says. "My parents tried to stay out of it and let me decide, but I grew up with the College, I liked the campus, and knew that was where I wanted to go to school."
Carey, on the other hand, took a good deal longer to decide. "I never thought I would go here," she says. "My parents made me visit, and that's when I realized that I had taken the campus for granted. Everyone seemed so friendly and made me feel at home." Carey also realized that she could play basketball, participate in music, and do a lot of other things at Wooster. Suddenly, staying close to home looked very inviting.
Aughenbaugh wanted to go to a small school close to home, so she visited Wooster, sat in on a few classes, and got hooked. "I had some friends from high school who had come here and really enjoyed it so I decided to come as well," she says. "I also have a number of family members who attended Wooster, including my grandmother and grandfather who met on campus, went on dates at The Shack, and then got married."
After arriving in the fall of 2006, it was again basketball that brought the trio together. All three played in their first year, but Henley and Carey decided to pursue other options, so they headed in different directions, but they remained friends, even though they didn't see each other nearly as often.
Now, as they prepare to graduate, they realize that they will have to work harder to stay in touch, but they're convinced that their bond will never break and that their decision to attend The College of Wooster was the right one. "Whenever we get together, no matter how long it's been, we always find something to laugh about," says Henley. "I don't think that will ever change."
Henley, a psychology major and education minor who will be student teaching in the fall, says she will always cherish her longtime classmates and the time they spent at Wooster. "I'm so happy I came here, and so happy that Kelly and Jeannette were part of my college experience," she says. "Wooster is a great place. I loved my classes and the fact that I could always call my professor when I needed help. I definitely made the right decision in coming here."
Carey, who plans to teach music in the fall, shares Henley's sentiments, although there was a time when she thought about transferring. "I wasn't sure about my decision, but the longer I stayed, the more I appreciated all that the College has to offer," she says. "I'm really happy that I decided to come. I don't know how I could have survived at a college where the professors didn't know my name. I'm especially grateful to Nancy Ditmer (professor of music and director of bands), who has been so supportive in helping all of her students to succeed."
Aughenbaugh, a geology major who will be working with the City Year in Cleveland program during the coming year, is also thankful for her Wooster experience. "I have made so many friends and so many memories, here," she says. "I learned a lot about my subjects and myself. The professors really pushed me academically and emotionally. I feel that this is such a well-rounded place."
Henley, Carey, and Aughenbaugh have had such good experiences, they almost hate to leave. "It's sad because never again will we have the opportunity to be in such a close-knit community," says Carey. "We won't be able to bump into each other on the sidewalk or see each other at dinner anymore."
Still, they expect their friendship to remain strong. "Even if we don't have a chance to see each other for a long time, there will always be something between us," says Aughenbaugh. "I have no doubt about that."
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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