A month after saying goodbye to their son and daughter during Move-In Day at Mississippi College, Memphis residents Jeremy and Jenny Wilkes were eager to know how well their university students were transitioning into life at the Christian University.
Several universities had recruited their son, Josh, to play on their soccer teams. After visiting the Clinton campus, he nonchalantly informed his parents that he would be playing soccer at Mississippi College.
Then, having returned home from summer orientation at MC, Josh heard his mother and older sister, Rachel, a University of Memphis student, talking in the kitchen.
“He walked through the room and, without breaking stride, told Rachel she needed to transfer to MC with him,” said Jeremy, an administrator at Baptist Health Sciences University in Memphis. “Mississippi College had always been on Rachel’s radar. Before she graduated from high school, she came and visited MC. It was at the top of her schools to go to.”
Rachel decided to take her brother’s advice and leave home. At MC, the interdisciplinary studies major could concentrate on pursuing her interests in art, kinesiology, and servant leadership.
A few weeks later, Rachel and Josh’s parents had the opportunity to witness how well they were thriving at MC during Family Weekend, a variety of events that showcase student life at the Christian University.
This year’s Family Weekend is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17, on the Clinton campus. Jonathan Nutt, assistant dean of students, said the event offers parents and families a glimpse of what life is like for their college students.
“Our students’ parents and families are extended parts of our MC Family,” Nutt said. “We have had immediate family members come, and sometimes we have had siblings or grandparents. We want them all to feel welcome here.
“It’s important that they see what we do for their students and to enjoy themselves, too. Anytime we can show people what type of place MC is and what we have to offer here, show them our hospitality, it’s a great way to demonstrate what a fine institution MC is.”
Check-in is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Alumni Hall lobby. The first 200 guests will receive free stickers and a unique Family Weekend T-shirt. Residence halls will be open from 7-10 p.m. for families to visit their students’ living quarters, and a Family Game Hour is set for 7 p.m. in the Commons.
After a light breakfast at 9 a.m., Saturday in the Piazza, families will be treated to “Parent University” at 9:30 a.m. in selected classrooms throughout the main campus. MC professors will conduct “lectures” on special topics in different academic disciplines, and parents will get to ask questions and experience academic life from their students’ perspectives.
After an hour in the classroom, family members can stretch their legs in the Quad or visit the Brick Streets for the “Cruisin’ Clinton” Car Show. At 11 a.m., they can join a spirited gathering at the Family Weekend tailgate tent or set up their own tailgating tents in the Quad. Lunch will be available for purchase near Nelson Drive until 1:30 p.m., and residence halls will reopen for family visitation until 5 p.m.
Family Weekend participants will be invited to cheer on MC’s student-athletes as they parade through the Quad during the Choctaws Walk, then families can huddle up at Robinson Hale Stadium for the Gulf South Conference football match against North Greenville. Family Weekend will conclude at 6:30 p.m. in the Quad with “Squeal Night,” when female students find out their new social tribe.
The Wilkes took part in all of the Family Weekend activities last year, and despite a disappointing loss in the finals of a family cornhole tournament, had a wonderful experience. Josh joined his new soccer teammates for the Choctaw Walk, and Rachel joined Laguna during Squeal Night.
“With both of our kids down there (in Clinton), we were looking forward to coming down and spending some time with them,” Jeremy said. “All of our previous experiences with MC had been terrific, and this was, too. We had a picnic, went to the Choctaws Walk and the football game, and my wife got to hang out with our daughter.
“It was fun seeing Josh take part in the Choctaws Walk and to see Rachel join a tribe. It was good for us to see our students in the environment they were going to call home for the next academic year. After a month in school, it was good to meet some of the faculty and staff, and see the president. And it was good to see our students connecting with others.”
The Family Weekend experience confirmed that the Wilkes children had made the right choice of universities, Jeremy said.
“We were excited to see the MC community invest themselves in our students, whether they were soccer coaches, student life staff, campus ministry folks, or anyone who will be impacting their lives during the upcoming year,” he said. “It’s nice to be part of a community that cares about your students inside and outside of the classroom.”
Most Family Weekend events are free of charge, but parents and family members will need to purchase tickets for a tailgate lunch and the football game. To register for Family Weekend or for more information, visit www.mc.edu/familyweekend.