By Emily Letterman, University Writer/Editor
A two-part documentary series profiling freshman Elias Mertens.
It’s raining. A fine mist coats everything – boxes, backpacks and the heads of anyone who dares venture out. But nobody seems to mind much. There is a task at hand.
It’s freshman move-in day at Drury University and campus is alive with eager students and anxious parents in tow. Like the steady hum of a rush hour freeway, sidewalks are bumper-to-bumper with light blue move-in crew shirts, unwieldy umbrellas balanced in already full hands and the feeling something big is just around the next corner.
Elias Mertens is all smiles. The mist beads off his chambray shirt as he makes his way downstream to Smith Hall. His nerves aren’t as easily dispatched, but he’s hiding it as well as any freshman can.
It’s 8:22 a.m. and he’s already checked in and received a key for room 203. The move-in crew took his things to room 212. A small mix-up is easily remedied with the help of an RA and a quick jaunt down the hall.
His room is dark, roommate Thomas hasn’t arrived yet. But within minutes it’s filled with life.
“You should let me decorate your bulletin board,” says mom Hilary Mertens, a fifth-grade teacher and Drury alumna. “Marty, how much border do you think we need?”
Everyone laughs. When you’re the son of two public school teachers, bulletin board decoration is almost in your blood.
“Should I put the laundry supplies in the bathroom?” Elias questions. At every turn, he’s discovering the abundance of hidden cubbies Smith has to offer. “My friend told me to live in Smith. She said it was older, but had the most storage. And the best vibe.”
It’s nearly 9 a.m. and the room is taking shape. The trio pause the business of unpacking as they head to their first move-in weekend event. Elias is two steps ahead and eager.
“He’s gonna be OK,” says dad with a pause. Marty, also a Drury alum, looks to Hilary. “He’s gonna be great.”
Read more below the timeline.
A DAY IN THE LIFE: Wednesday, August 28
Wake up, rinse, repeat
“I usually tell myself that I’m going to skip out on breakfast, but as soon as I get back from my two early morning classes, I eat about a quarter of a box of cereal.”
8 a.m.Introduction to Statistics with Professor Sergey Borodich, Breech School of Business
“It is our fourth period together and we’ve had a quiz. I am assigned to randomly sample students for the first project.”
9 a.m.Multimedia Production with Professor Brian Shipman, Springfield Hall
“It is a very interactive class with a great emphasis on using our technological resources. There will be a lot of student filming.”
10 a.m.Break time
“As of the second week of school, I do whatever homework Professor Borodich assigns. If I’m feeling zealous or like strutting down Drury Lane then I go to the fitness center.”
11 a.m.FUSE 101 with Professor Michael Verney, Pearsons Hall
“We’ve gone over an introductory period to 14th century maritime history, most of which is pirates.”
NoonLunch in the Commons
“My favorite spot is and always will be the booths in the corner because I am very close to the dessert bar where I can pounce on the ice cream machine when I feel like nobody is really paying attention. If I have time, I’ll sit on the bench in front of the library. That’s where the best landscaping is in my opinion.”
1 p.m.Business Foundations with Professor James Simmerman, Breech School of Business
“So far, we’ve done a small handful of group activities to promote teamwork in the classroom. Many of the other students in class plan to double major with one of their majors being in one of the fields of business.”
2 p.m.and beyondWhere the evening takes you
“I usually go to the fitness center for about two hours, and then I come back to everybody in my wing talking about how much I go to the gym. We end up sitting out in the lounge just talking. I hope to get involved in some activities in all this spare time. I’d like to join some volunteer groups for the benefit of the community. Most of the time, I’m so full from lunch I don’t have room for dinner. No matter what though, I always end the day with a cup of green tea.”
Elias is two weeks in now and starting to find his rhythm. Classes are buzzing along and much anticipated life-long friendships are forming. On this particular day, he’s in the Marketing & Communications office to catch up.
“It’s not too tough yet, but I feel like that is going to change quickly,” he says with a chuckle.
He’s double majoring in Marketing and Multimedia Production with the hopes of becoming a journalist someday – “reporting the news, deciphering the story,” he says.
“For years, I said I wanted to be an accountant because it was stable. But I took an accounting class my senior year and was already bored,” he laughs. “You know my parents just want better for me. Isn’t that what all parents want? But I’m happy.”
That’s part of the reason Elias came to Drury – it made him happy. What does he expect to gain from the new Fusion curriculum?
“In short, I expect it to fulfill my dreams,” he says. “I want it to inspire me to do something I haven’t even thought of yet. Honestly, I am going to put in the work, but I also expect a lot out of it.”
There to guide the way will be his mentoring squad from the Compass Center. The freshmen had help working out his Fusion schedule just prior to the start of classes.
“It’s tricky because of my two majors,” he says, noting he’s looking forward to building a relationship with his faculty adviser.
Brian Shipman’s Multimedia Production class is already a favorite with the 18-year-old, and he’s thinking of signing up to be part of KDRU student radio.
“I looked at other schools and Fusion is the only program like this out there,” he says. “We are a part of education history.”
Elias’ story will continue in the spring 2020 issue of Drury Magazine.