Explaining how “Why Culver?” becomes “My Culver” to a prospective student or family can be difficult.
Perfecting that talk was at the heart of a special elevator speech competition for Culver Military students. With fewer opportunities to meet with prospective students during the winter months, CMA’s Aide to Admissions Kevin Tai ’17 (Shanghai, China) held the contest to help keep the group sharp. The Feb. 28 competition gave 10 cadets 45 seconds each to make their “sales pitch” to a panel of four judges: Allison Allen, admissions visit coordinator, Emily Ryman, admissions counselor, Col. Warren Foersch, deputy commandant, and Tai.
The prompt was “Why did you choose Culver?” In their speech the cadets had to use “Culver Military Academy” at least once and pretend to be talking a prospective student or family. Foersch suggested the contest to Tai because SAO students are the “first impression” of Culver for prospective students and parents.
Dante Dalmaso ’19 (Wheaton, Ill.) took first place, Caleb Isom ’18 (Plymouth, Ind.) finished second, and Troy Shen ’17 (Chicago) placed third. Tai handed out the awards during a pizza party for all the competitors.
Dalmaso said it is difficult to boil the Culver experience down to 45 seconds.
“There are so many activities,” he said. “I tried to incorporate as many as possible.”
“Mostly, it is about speaking from the heart,” Phillip Yang ’18 (Granger, Ind.), a competitor, said. “You have to believe in what you say.”
The hardest part may be trying to relate what the Culver experience is. Dalmaso said showing and talking to a prospective student about the various aspects of CMA life doesn’t really give them a true taste of “how profound” the experience can be.
Also, the point when “Why Culver?” becomes “My Culver” is a gradual transition. The first year is actually a learning experience for the CMA side, Foersch said. And while there are struggles, you are struggling with your friends. That is where the bonding begins.
Dalmaso, Shen, Isom, Yang, and Tai believed that “My Culver” moment may actually happen during the summer between a cadet’s fourth- and third-class year. They all found themselves wanting to get back to campus to see their friends. Yang added stepping back on campus after that summer “felt like being home.”