“It was just a feeling that I had when I stepped on campus, it was a mind, body and soul type of thing,” Thornton said of his decision to attend Millikin. “I saw things, I felt things, and with me being close to theater, loving so much of theater, their theater program really spoke to me. Knowing how competitive it was, it was a matter of if I wanted to come here. Especially when I saw the new building. It's out of this world.”
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Millikin is holding freshman orientation this week and for a week in July, inviting about 50 students at a time to visit campus, take tours, meet each other, and start to feel at home.
Thornton hopes for a career on the silver screen one day, and his love of acting stems from his desire to tell stories, he said. Too humble to toot his own horn, he calls the recognition “a blessing,” and said he just hopes he's able to touch people.
“For me, it's kind of hard for me to take it all in but also lay back,” he said. “I take (the recognition) and just go into the future with it. I make sure I keep running and keep on the path. I know God is watching out for me, and I know He still has more for me.”
Millikin offered activities for students and parents alike, and Thornton's mom, Felicia, said she's supportive of his goals and feels comfortable with his choice of Millikin, though it's a long way from home.
“Parents are attending our Parents as Partners session, which helps them learn about the different resources available to students and parents,” said Shelby Baum, director of operations and events for Millikin.
The orientation is also a time for students to meet each other, and that's crucial, Baum said.
“This is oftentimes where students meet their roommate, or future friends that they'll already know when they get here in the fall,” she said. “It's a chance for students to feel part of the Millikin family before they get here in the fall.”
Tour guide Kelson Bauman, a sophomore musical theater major, joked that he tries to answer all the freshmen's questions, but when they major in something like science, he's at a bit of a loss. He can, however, tell them about residence halls and whether having a car on campus is a good idea, how to find classes and show them around.
“I think it's really good to get them to understand how many opportunities there are on campus,” he said.
Millikin is planning a return to normal operations in the fall, Baum said, with in-person classes and activities. The university is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccination for students to come back to campus, but is collecting information on how many students are fully vaccinated to help them plan.
“The plan is to be fully operational and open,” she said.
PHOTOS: Millikin celebrates Center for Theatre and Dance progress with beam signing ceremony
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Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter
Millikin University's President Jim Reynolds led the formal opening of the Center for Theatre and Dance on Saturday, but he didn't let anyone forget his predecessor, who sent a letter to be read in his absence from the festivities.