By MacKenzie Hall, News Editor
November 28, 2021
From biology labs to jazz band to Recreational Life adventures, freshman Camryn Manning does a little bit of everything.
A biomedical sciences major from Russellville, Ark., Manning takes full advantage of the community Ouachita has to offer. It was this community that drew her to Ouachita from the beginning.
“I chose Ouachita mainly because of the small school environment and prestigious academic programs. After visiting campus and seeing OBU’s tight-knit community, I knew it was the school for me,” Manning said.
Since she started classes this fall, Manning has flourished in her major and believes she has found her calling. Combining her love for biology and missions, Manning hopes to pursue a career sharing the gospel and caring for others through medical missions. She felt this calling five years ago after a mission trip to New Orleans.
“After that mission trip, the Lord has really moved me to want to share him in every aspect of my life,” Manning said. “As I started to grow in my love for biology and the medical field, I felt the Lord call me to do that with my life while at the same time having a passion to speak to people about Jesus. My senior year of high school, there were several things that lined up one by one that led me to missions, Ouachita being one of them.”
While balancing her work-heavy major, band practice and a transition to a new season of life, Manning has adapted well thanks to her community on campus. “My first few months here at Ouachita have been life-changing and I feel that I have grown a lot in my maturity and faith here,” Manning said. “I’ve found a love for the little things in life like hiking, canoeing and just being in the company of other believers. Even though schoolwork can be tough at times, I’ve found more freedom here to define my life’s direction and grow closer to God.”
Manning has met many of her college friends by attending Rec Life events. Manning’s involvement with Rec Life began with the Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trip (FOOT). The four-day excursion immerses freshmen students into the outdoors and provides opportunities to build new relationships before their first semester of college begins.
“Going to FOOT before the semester started out was a great experience that disconnected incoming freshmen from everyday life so we could rest, enjoy the outdoors and make friends,” Manning said. “From that point on, I’ve been eager to participate in Rec Life activities when my schedule allows and have loved doing things with Rec Life, like moonlight canoeing and the Shepherd of the Ozarks trip over fall break. I love being outside with community. Rec Life has been a way to do that.”
Like FOOT, the trip to Shepherd of the Ozarks provided Manning with new friendships. The trip also taught her a valuable lesson about life balance.
“The Shepherd of the Ozarks retreat over fall break was a life-changing trip. The rest that was provided at a cabin away from homework and cell service was irreplaceable. I met so many people of all classes and majors. Being able to step away from school was a break that really taught me the value of rest,” Manning said.
Rec Life trips have not only provided a new circle of community and moments of rest for Manning, but have also deeply impacted her spiritual growth.
“Since being involved in Rec Life, I’ve become intentional about chasing sunrises and sunsets, sometimes by myself, sometimes with others. More and more I’ve been able to see the beauty of God’s creation all around,” Manning said. “Through Rec Life, I’ve built a desire to spend more and more time outdoors as a time to rest and reflect on God and his goodness.”
Manning encourages other freshmen to discover the community around them by seizing every opportunity to spend quality time with people on campus.
“I would encourage other freshmen to go for it and dive into everything head-first,” Manning said. “You only get to experience this place for a short amount of time, then the responsibility of adulthood hits. Make connections, hang out and make friends while you can.”
From her efforts to grow an intentional community, Manning has found that though the student population is small, there is always someone to befriend.
“No matter where you are at Ouachita, you can always find others to be in fellowship with. Whether it’s studying with others in your major, grabbing coffee at Dr. Jack’s or just sitting outside, everyone in this community is so welcoming and friendly,” Manning said. “There is absolutely no need here to feel alone or left out, because at Ouachita, there is always a friend just around the corner.”