In a college town, it is common for high school students to avoid their local university or college like the plague, and Orange City is no different. Some Orange City natives never imagined attending college in their hometown, yet, to their surprise, found themselves called to stay. For each Orange City resident who finds themselves at NW, it’s a different experience.
For some local students, NW played a huge role in their childhood, while for others it played little to none. Sophomore Vanessa Stokes recounts attending countless theater productions, trick or treating in the dorms and playing “Guitar Hero” at the AV Christmas parties.
“My whole life has kind of been centered around Northwestern,” Stokes said.
In contrast, because of her family’s extensive history with Dordt College, junior Lexi Van Surksum said NW was barely a part of her life until high school when her mom started working here. No matter how much of an impact NW had on their childhood, many students from Orange City did not plan on coming to NW.
“I always said that after high school I would leave Northwest Iowa and not look back,” Van Surksum said. “There’s something about Northwestern that changed my mind. The students and my professors play a big part of that.”
Stokes adored NW’s amazing faculty, the dorm life of Fern-Smith Hall and fellow Orange City resident and junior Lauren Weber loved the idea of going to a school in a “familiar place with familiar faces” during a time in her life of so much change.
While some of us can’t imagine going to school in the same town they grew up in, the situation has its fair share of advantages.
Free laundry is the most obvious, but these students also enjoy things like not having to find a new job or church, getting baskets of goodies on sick days or having the ability to spend time with family several times a week. And of course, no one would complain about the money students like Van Surksum save by living at home.
Another interesting plus of going to school at NW after growing up in Orange City is knowing some of the professors. When she was young, Stokes was a part of the locally-made film “Prairie Pirates” along with her FYS professor Karen Barker and recalls the hilarious grouchy old woman Barker played. For Weber, knowing her professors is something she really enjoys and doesn’t find awkward at all.
“When I took one of [Professor Fynaardt’s] classes last year, we had so much to talk about. It was so fun to retell stories from when he and his family lived on my street,” Weber said.
Best of all, growing up in the area means that these students know the best places to eat and hang out. For those that don’t know the area very well, these local students have a few recommendations to share.
Sfumato Pizza, a restaurant outside Orange City, uses all-natural ingredients to create phenomenal pizza and gelato, and if you’re in Sioux Center for a Walmart run, try heading to Olivia’s, a completely authentic Mexican pastry shop, for a great price.
Next time you see a friend on campus who grew up in Orange City, ask them about the area. You just might hear a hilarious story about one of the faculty at NW or discover your new favorite restaurant.