Finding Macalester: Class of 2023 prepares for their first year


Old Main rock decorated in honor of Macalester class of 2023. Photo by Summer Xu ’20.

Bergen Schmidt, Features Editor

On Aug. 29, 2019, Macalester’s Class of 2023 arrived on campus for orientation. 505 new faces filled the first-year dorms and ate at Café Mac for the very first time. Here are a few voices from the new Class of 2023 so the Macalester community can get to know them.

Emily Drexler ’23 hails from Portland, Oregon and enters campus as a member of Macalester’s volleyball team. While volleyball was certainly a draw for Drexler, she also appreciated the support of the Macalester students after visiting campus.

“I really enjoyed the community. When I was on campus, I felt like I fit in, and I could see myself prospering in this community,” Drexler said.

Samuel Fletcher ’23 is from Snohomish, Washington.  His family moved to Minneapolis as he made the move to Macalester. He was drawn to Macalester for the reasons many students are:

“I wanted a small liberal arts school in a big city that wasn’t too far away from family. A combination of all those things and the fact that I got a pretty good scholarship from Mac is what made me decide to come here,” Fletcher said.

Zoë Chinander-McFaul ’23 and Joe Petersdorf ’23, from Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California,  respectively, echoed Fletcher’s statement. They were attracted by Macalester’s small school atmosphere and its location in the middle of two prospering, young-adult friendly cities as opposed to bigger schools such as the University of Minnesota or the UC system in California.

Petersdorf was drawn to Macalester because of the prospect of being able to develop relationships over his four years. The music scene in Minnesota also played a role in his decision to come to Macalester over a school in California’s university system.

“I wanted a small school because I tend to function better in smaller environments, and I like the idea of having close relationships with peers and faculty versus a larger school like the [University of California]  system where I wouldn’t really know anyone. Besides that, I like the music scene out here,” Petersdorf said.

Chinaner-McFaul and Fletcher are interested in the music at Macalester. Chinander-McFaul hopes to join Macalester’s Early Music Ensemble, which focuses specifically on Renaissance and Baroque music. She is also excited to join new extracurriculars without the fear of having to do the “right thing.”

“I’m looking forward to expanding what my interests are and trying new things. I really want to do the Early Music Ensemble because I got super into medieval music this summer, [as well as] doing things I want to do without the fear of doing the wrong thing,” McFaul said.

Fletcher, on the other hand, plans to minor in music. His first-year course is Music and the Meaning of Life taught by professor Randall Bauer. He hopes that after adjusting to his new life he can look into joining a music extracurricular at Macalester.

Drexler is also excited about the variety of classes at Macalester.

“I’m really excited to see what aspects of school I found most interesting because in high school I mostly took basic classes and not many electives,” Drexler said.

These four first-years’ goals relate to figuring out college life and balancing everything that comes with it. For Petersdorf, this means recognizing his new responsibilities from living away from home.

“What I’m probably most nervous about is the level of responsibility that I have because especially coming from really far away, everything I do — whether it be academic or social — is on me. Am I going to be able to handle that level of responsibility for everything that I do?” Petersdorf asked.

Drexler defines her adjustment in terms of balancing the two biggest parts of most college students’ lives — academics and social life.

“[I’m most nervous about] managing the school load — I don’t really know how hard it’s actually going to be because I’ve never experienced it… I’m really trying to get as many [A’s] as I can while managing a healthy social life and just being overall balanced,” Drexler said.

The first year of college can be exciting and stressful for first-years. Coming into a new school with several hundred other new students is nerve-racking. These first-years are handling the first weeks of school with confidence, ready to take on whatever challenge Macalester brings next.