"My dad has talked to me about Bethany my entire life -- literally. I remember being about five years old, and during a Disney Channel commercial break, my dad started talking about some 'Bethany College' and, a bit jokingly, how I’d probably go there one day," senior Jenna Clancy recalls when asked about her decision to follow in her parents' footsteps.
Her father, Rick, a 1976 Bethany graduate, and mother, Mary (Dennington), a 1977 graduate, met at the College.
Senior Jenna Clancy says her advice to students is to say "yes"
"One night, during my mom’s junior and my dad’s senior year, they met at a party, and he thought she was cute. Thirty-seven years later, I’m sitting in Phillips Hall writing this."
Jenna finally experienced Bethany first-hand when she was about 12, when she came to campus with her parents for Homecoming. She immediately understood their love for their Alma Mater.
"I learned that this place not only brought people together but also managed to keep them together. It was like going through a time capsule. Mom and Dad were 20 again, and they had just come back from class to chill with their friends. There was a 50-year-old guy in a tie-dye shirt talking to me about 'that one time' when The Eagles played here. The good ole’ days were remembered (and sometimes reenacted) annually. I couldn’t help but realize what a special connection they all shared, and the very special link that tied them all to it," she said.
When the time came for Jenna to decide where she'd go to college, she explored multiple options. In fact, she was looking at college in more urban areas -- much different than the mountaintop community of Bethany. But when she weighed her options, she realized Bethany had something other schools didn't.
"Those schools were expensive and lacking either in natural beauty or that feeling of 'homey-ness' that Bethany seems to harvest. I got really frustrated one night. I think I had applied to about 10 schools, and none of them were sounding right to me. I started thinking that instead of looking at Bethany as that place where my parents met, or a place in a rural area that I wouldn’t normally be used to, to look at it instead as the place where my parents really became who they are now. I was interested in how Bethany had impacted them so much, and how it molded them into who they are now."
"No matter where I decided to go, I would have always been comparing it in some way to Bethany. I think that’s what ultimately made my decision for me."
What class was your favorite, and why?
I’ve never really considered myself to be religious, so having to take Dr. Farwell’s Introduction to Religion class made me a little nervous. Needless to say, it is not a class hidden in the clothing of a religious service. We learned about Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism from an academic standpoint, something I’d never been exposed to before. It was enlightening (pun intended). We had to take a field trip to a house of religion that was not our own. A few other students and I chose to visit a local temple. I had been to a bat mitzvah before, but that was the extent of my knowledge on the Jewish culture. And the trip was fascinating! The female rabbi (that’s right, I said female) took some time before the service to talk to us about some of the reformed Jewish culture. We got to ask questions and sit in while she led a service, mostly in Hebrew. I couldn’t help but feel lucky to be able to learn and experience something that so many hold sacred. During a lecture Dr. Farwell was giving on Buddhism, he taught us their view on not forming attachments to things. It overwhelmed me. I’d never given any thought to that way of thinking. I was left wondering why that was my first time hearing about it. You know it’s a good class when you’re left craving more.
What's your favorite memory at Bethany?
Just one?! My dad was saying to me the other day that he was worried I was going to sabotage my own graduation so I could stay here longer. I am in love with this place. When I was working at the Bethany TW Phillips Memorial Library last summer, in the rare book room, I found a really wonderful painting of campus with a quote that really explained that love, “There is a charm about Old Bethany/ A strange mysterious spell/ That we feel but cannot fathom;/ That we know, but cannot tell.” This is not just a really old brick-laid building on a hill. This is a place where you can grow up and make friends you’re going to have forever, be inspired by professors who can blow your mind in an hour and a half class period, and where you can have crazy fun just by making it up as you go along.
There are too many memories. The moment my parents drove away and left me for my Freshman year here was terrifying and exhilarating. It has led me to my second home in my sorority, Alpha Xi Delta. That organization and the women in it have helped me become a more assertive, confident and well-rounded person. Running up the Greek Hill stairs on Bid Night, my heart beating almost as loud as the screams of welcome and excitement of the hundred or so women awaiting our decision, is something you can only experience once in your lifetime.
What are some other life-changing experiences you've had throughout your time here?
I have done a lot of traveling with Bethany. In 2012, I went with the Bethany College Spanish Club, and advisor Dr. Lovano, on a trip to Puerto Rico. I almost didn’t go. As a Freshman and new member of the club I was nervous, but it was the best decision I ever made. It was the beginning of my love affair with travel. During Spring Break this year I went with the Spanish Club, and advisors Drs. Hillgardner and Sable, to Mexico City. As a Spanish minor, I was able to use a lot of my Spanish as we explored the city. It truly changed how I looked at the Mexican people and their culture. It is an absolutely beautiful place.
Professor Kenn Morgan took me and some other students on his January art trip in 2013 to Florence, Rome and Venice, which fulfilled my visual arts credit. If there is one place you choose to visit in the world, it should be Italia. Every step was a million doses of art and culture shoved into one block, or museum, or restaurant. I never really had the art bug before, but one look inside the Vatican Museum, and I fell in love.
This past January I crashed a Freshman Seminar class called, “Live in Berlin”, and went to Germany with Dr. Menz. We got the chance to plan our own trip and research meaningful and educational places to visit like the Berlin Wall Memorial.
In accordance with Dr. Ramjee’s International Business class, two other students and I traveled to China’s cities of Xian, Shanghai and Beijing, and got to learn about how their cultural differences impact their businesses in comparison to the United States. These trips have taught me just as much if not more than my in class experiences. There are tons of travel experiences to take advantage of here, and I fully advocate that everyone take advantage of any and all of them.
Do you have any advice for an incoming freshman?
This isn’t high school. Don’t treat it like it is.
Growing up my mom liked to tell me two stories about her college experience- how she bawled at her graduation because she didn’t want to leave, and about the time her parents dropped her off at Bethany. She said they waved goodbye and just left, and then she just kind of was looking around wondering what the heck she was supposed to do next. She was scared. To her credit, so was I. It’s a time for you to work on yourself and be whomever you want. That’s a lot to take in.
This is your next chapter. If you want to star, direct, and write your own play, do it. If you want to go to Spain for a year and learn more about the culture of Madrid, do it. If you want to try out for a division III sport that you have never played in your entire life, do it. Just don’t be complacent about this experience. It is four short years of your life. Be recklessly positive. Create as much fun as you humanly can. Just don’t waste your time here. It’s too fleeting.