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Autumn sessioners enjoying time at Principia College. photo // Will Crowley

“It’s hard to imagine a prettier place to learn than Principia College, perched on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.”  This quote, taken directly from the Principia Adult Continuing Education (PACE) pamphlet, speaks to one of several reasons why many people participate in the Autumn Session here on campus.  The Autumn Session is a program put on by PACE that gives those people who want an opportunity to revisit college, or who simply want to experience college life here at Principia, a chance to do so.  Participants of the 2010 program spent twelve days, from October 16th to the 28th, living in the Guest House, attending classes taught especially for the program or sitting in on undergraduate classes, eating meals with students in the dining room, and attending activities across campus.

Principia College has been supporting the PACE (Principia Adult Continuing Education) program since 1985.  As Kim Howland, PACE Program Coordinator, said, “The main purpose of the program is to give [participants] a sense of what college life is like, to let them sit in on classes with students and to benefit from the wealth of faculty we have here.”  Howland said that the program inspires its participants, provides a focus on learning, broadens their horizons and helps them to find fellowship with other Christian Scientists.  The participants seem to agree with Howland.  Carol Rucks, one of the participants, said, “I’m impressed with the spiritual atmosphere… it’s nice to be here with the students and participate in some of the activities… my husband and I will come again.”  Some of the other participants also expressed their excitement at getting to be at the College and experience the activities and the daily lives of the college students.

Autumn sessioners eat together in the dinning room. photo // Will Crowley

This year, PACE had 17 participants come to the College. Most of them stayed in theGuest House on campus, although they also have the option of staying with friends in the area.  The participants took four classes taught by professors here at the College.  The classes offered were “Women in the Bible,” taught by Professor Kat Collins; “I Will Fight No More Forever,” a class about Native Americans and the expansion of the United States in the 19th Century, taught by John Lyon; “India: The Next Superpower,” a history class taught by Professor John Williams; and “Politics, Power and Propaganda: The Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome,” an art history class taught by Professor Heather Fulkerson.  Along with these classes, participants were able to sit in on classes that the undergraduate students are taking.

Participants of the PACE program also experienced a variety of different activities that the College offers.  They went to sporting events at the College, had discussions with some of the international students on campus, participated in Principia College’s Pan African Conference, attended CSO services in the chapel, met with the Solar Car team and had a question and answer session with College President Jonathan Palmer and his wife, Sue. Carol Rucks expressed appreciation for the students who answered questions for them and spoke to them during the discussion, saying the event was “very special to us.”  Another participant, Julie Merrill, said, “The Solar Car is fantastic… I was pleased to get to go to it.”  Jerry Ruck said, “I’m impressed with how thoroughly educated the professors are. If a question comes up, they always answer it.”

As Howland stated, Autumn Session allows its participants the unique opportunity to experience college life, and to get a sense of what the students’ lives are like here at Principia.  As Carol Rucks said, and other participants echoed, “I am very grateful to the Kims [Kim Howland and Kim Browning, PACE Directors] for making this possible… [they] put in a lot of time for us.”

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I am a junior at Principia College, English major and a staff writer for the Principia Pilot.