JOHN WITCZAK ’21 | STAFF WRITER • AsanystudentatWabashwill tell you, the place would completely fall apart if it weren’t for the many women that make up the faculty and staff. Whether it
be professors, administrators, counselors, cooks, or custodians, one can always find a woman working hard to make the campus we call home run smoothly. Given that Wabash is an all-male institution, it is easy, especially for those unfamiliar with the school, to think only of men when they think of Wabash, but, as we all know, that would be a mistake. The Bachelor set out to speak with a few relatively recent hires in order to get an insider’s perspective as to what it is like to be a woman at an all guys college.
Born right here in Crawfordsville in a house adjacent to five homes owned by professors, Julia Perry is as familiar with the college as anyone. After being raised in the shadow of the Chapel’s bell tower, Perry moved out east to attend the College of Saint Elizabeth, formerly an all-female institution that has recently made the switch to being co-ed. Asked about how she felt about the switch, Perry said, “The experience of going to Saint Elizabeth’s for me, personally, enabled me to grow further than I probably could have at a co-ed institution, so I appreciate the value of single-sex education. And I appreciate that here at Wabash, too.” Perry went on to say that, “It made me very sad when my institution went co-ed.”
After graduating and teaching high school for seventeen years in New Jersey, Perry moved back home four years ago. She found a job in the Registrar’s Office, working as an Administrative Assistant before moving over to Career Services the following year
to work as the Coordinator of Career Development. A year later, she was again transferred to work as the Assistant Director of Professional Development before being chosen to take over the newly opened spot of Associate Registrar. This rapid climb of the administrative ladder is indicative of one of the qualities Wabash has that Perry finds unique. “One of the things that Wabash offers is that if they see a quality in someone, they will foster it,” Perry said. “Wabash will help that person grow professionally.”
As Associate Registrar, Perry’s responsibilities include keeping track of transcripts, grades, and, most importantly from the perspective of a student, ensuring that everyone is on track to graduate on time. Given her experience with professional and career development, Perry brings a lot more to the table than your average Associate Registrar. “This position gives me an opportunity to use the professional development experience I had in the past to work with my students, today,” Perry said. “It is a really great opportunity to talk about what they want to do later in life. And I think having that knowledge and experience over in Career Services brings a different perspective to this position. Because as I am looking at their degree audits or helping with distribution it is really important to think about what they want to do. To help guide them in that path.”
An Indianapolis native, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemistry Alicen Teitgen fell
in love with chemistry while a student at Hamilton Southeastern High School. Like Julia Perry, Teitgen went on to attend an all-female institution, Saint Mary’s College, located in Notre Dame, Indiana. When asked if there were any similarities between it and Wabash given the single sex nature of the schools, Teitgen said, “The strong sense of community is very similar between the two schools, as is the supportive nature of the environment. There are a lot of things about Wabash that remind me of Saint Mary’s, which is funny given that Wabash is all male and St. Mary’s is all female.”
Being both a recent graduate of Purdue University’s PhD program as well as a mother of two with a third on the way, Teitgen knew she wanted to stay in the central Indiana area after she obtained her doctorate. Wabash’s location was exactly what she was looking for, but there was more than geography that drew her here. “I was finishing up a year and a half ago and
I started looking in the area,” Teitgen said. “There was a visiting organic chemistry position open and I obviously was familiar with the school. I loved my single sex liberal arts college, so it seemed to match up really well. That peaked my interest.”
Dr. Teitgen has studied at an all-women’s college as well as a co-ed university and, now, has worked at an all men’s college, completing the trifecta. When asked what she expected from an all-male college given her experience, Teitgen said, “That’s a good question. I definitely had heard really good things about Wabash, being from the area and being familiar with people who had gone to Wabash. I’d say that, being in a male dominated field like chemistry, maybe there was some hesitation in general. I really enjoyed being at an all woman’s college and the co-ed environment did provide some struggles, so I didn’t know if it would continue that way with all male or maybe swing back to how it was at an all woman’s college. It definitely has swung back. I definitely feel more respected here than I did several times in the co-ed environment.”
When given the opportunity to speak directly to the student body, Teitgen said, “Thank you for being so supportive and welcoming. I’ve never felt like a visiting professor. Everyone has been very welcoming, so I really appreciate that. And
I think that the students push me to be a better professor as well. They’ve taught me more than I’ve taught them.”
Born right here in Crawfordsville, Kelsie Merriett has known about Wabash nearly her entire life. Although she lived in close proximity as a child and was best friends with the daughter of an alumnus, she never felt particularly comfortable walking around or on campus. Like many locals, she viewed Wabash as something of a bubble, an independent community inside the larger community of Crawfordsville. As she grew older, though, things began to change.
Four years ago, Merriett found herself working a job in Indianapolis she didn’t much care for, with an hour-long commute to make things even worse. Having married an alumnus, Merriett was invited to Wabash Women, an annual gathering of female faculty, staff, and spouses of retirees. Realizing the potential to network, Merriett accepted the invitation and soon found herself chatting with the manager of the bookstore, who informed Merriett that she was going to retire, and that she was accepting applications. Eager for a career change as well as a swap of scenery, Merriett was soon hired by Wabash to work in Business Auxiliary Support.
Merriett’s main responsibilities include a little bit of everything. She is in charge of the mailroom: sorting, labeling, and organizing the many packages that flood in daily, as well as making sure all outgoing mail is handled properly. Merriett also runs the textbook ordering system, which has recently been switched to an online system, meaning her job has become more computer centric. If you’ve successfully received or sent a package or letter, the odds are that you have Kelsie Merriett to thank.
Now that she has been here for over four years, Merriett no longer feels like an outsider looking in when it comes to Wabash College. “It’s definitely different now. Over time, you feel like you have become a part of the college,” Merriett said. “It’s gone from a ‘them’ thing to an ‘us’ thing.”