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Student leaders urge classmates to step outside comfort zones

Tom Coyne

August 24, 2022

The two top student leaders at Culver Academies urged classmates to step outside their comfort zones and seek new academic and personal challenges this school year, saying those experiences will help them grow. 

Culver Military Academy Regimental Commander Owen Hart ’23 (Lafayette, Indiana) told students that the times he tried things he wasn’t sure he could do led to the moments he cherishes most during his time at Culver. 

“They allowed me to meet new people, challenge my way of thinking, and introduce me to new insights. That is the beauty of Culver,” he said. 

Hart told students attending the convocation Sunday evening at Eppley Auditorium that when he first arrived at Culver, he struggled with trying new challenges.  

“But when I developed enough courage, I did start to seek new opportunities and different activities. In a short period of time, I was amazed at the kind and gifted community that Culver’s faculty, staff, and student body provides,” he said. “These diverse, challenging opportunities will almost certainly welcome you, too, with open arms.” 

Culver Girls Academy Senior Prefect Jacinta Ndubuisi-Obi ’23 (Chicago, Illinois) told classmates that she lives by the motto of “seeking discomfort, saying yes, and the thrill of new experiences. 


CGA Senior Prefect Jacinta Ndubuisi-Obi urged students at the convocation to have the courage to be themselves.

“You never know what door may open for you or what opportunities may be waiting for you on the other side. So, take advantage now and take a leap of faith,” she said. “This is a time to discover more about yourself, find your passions, and create aspirations. Let fear take the back seat while courage is up front and center.” 

She also urged the students to have the courage to be themselves and not to let others dictate how they feel or act. 

“Be different, be unique, and focus on the present,” she said. 

Culver welcomed 267 new students, 150 boys and 117 girls for the 2022-23 school year. In all Culver’s student body numbers 836 -- 479 boys and 357 girls -- from 40 states and 20 countries. 

Hart and Ndubuisi-Obi both recalled their first days at Culver and the doubts they felt. They told classmates it’s what most students feel when they first arrive here. 

Ndubuisi-Obi said she spent her first days at CGA wondering how she would fit in, how she would fare academically, and whether she would live up to expectations. 

“I soon began to realize that the only one making me worry was myself. Rather than worry about myself, I learned to grow from the things I was afraid to do,” she said. 

Hart recalled listening as a new student to the regimental commander and senior prefect tell students how quickly the four years at Culver fly by. He had a hard time believing it because the first week had been so grueling. 

“Now, as I stand here in my final year, I wish I would have listened more intently and taken their words to heart. Now, I can share that it really does feel like yesterday that I was standing in your position, and, as they and so many others will share with you – make the most of your Culver experience because it does go by quickly and you only get one,” he said. 

Ndubuisi-Obi urged the students to be willing to ask for help. 

“If you feel like you’re falling, there are students, counselors, and teachers here to help you. Seek and trust that those around you will lend a helping hand when you are having difficulties. As Tupac said, ‘keep ya head up’ and ask for help,” she said.  

She told students that unexpected things always pop up, using COVID as an example. She said the pause in life caused by COVID gave her time to reflect on what she was doing and who she wanted to be.  

“Embrace the unplanned and embrace the spontaneity,” she said. 

John Buggeln, Ph.D., master instructor of Humanities, who is returning to campus after a year of traveling and studying citizenship education, asked the students to think about what it means not only to be a student, but to be a scholar. 


John Buggeln, Ph.D., master instructor of Humanities, told students that good scholarship is full of life, imagination, and creativity.

“I believe, to do academics well, we need to have the disposition of scholars. If you approach school like a scholar, you will learn more deeply by being more intentional about your work. And it is work,” he said. “Scholarship requires many virtues. Four stand out to me: curiosity, commitment, courage, and creativity.” 

He told the students that good scholarship is not dry and boring. He said good scholarship is full of life, imagination, and creativity. 

“The academic year ahead will have challenges. But if you bring your game, your curiosity, courage, commitment, and creativity, you will thrive as scholars,” he said. 

After the convocation, the students went outside for the Matriculation Ceremony where new students passed through Logansport Gate, to mark the beginning of their Culver journey. The names of the new students were read and they were greeted by school and student leaders, as well as all their fellow students. 

New cadet Shae Fesai salutes Col. Mike Squires, commandant of cadets, during the matriculation ceremony.

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