Peter Shepherd will be the first one to admit that his identity isn't the same without Manchester University.
He's not afraid to share the love and respect he has for his collegiate home, either.
"I can't tell you how wonderful (Manchester University) has been for me," he said with a broad smile. "Sometimes I think we use the term community a little too much but honestly … here, that is what it's all about.
MU gives you the chance to do what you want … you can't ask much more than that," he added. "For this school to give me the tools to be able to create my future is tremendous. We, as students, are also able to talk about these passions … no matter where you go it always seems like you're running into a Manchester University alum or individual who has ties to the school. It's remarkable."
Those tools for the future that the Warsaw, Indiana native has in mind wouldn't go too far without a love of America's pastime and the German language added in. They've all intersected at North Manchester, a place his family is familiar with as his mom, Jennifer, is an alum and the former Director of Alumni Relations.
When asked about the German side of his experience, his eyes light up. His chance to go overseas and study and travel first hand in the Motherland wouldn't have occurred without an idea that gained fruition from a conversation with members of the school's language department.
"I met up with (English professor Dr.) Beate Gilliar and explained to her I wanted the opportunity to learn (German)," he reflected. "I said to her 'How do I do this? I can speak a little bit of German to get by.' She told me I had to meet with (professor and Director of Modern Languages) Janina Traxler, the registrar and so forth. It was a significant collaboration.
"You need to realize, before this, there wasn't the ability for students to go forward (with the German language)," he added. "Beginning German had not been offered in years since only students who studied the language before were able to enroll in advanced courses, and high schools stopped offering it thereby limiting adjunct teacher options. It was more about why you study the language, what's the best way to do so, introducing websites to work with by getting a study partner and working on it together, etc. Intermediate German was available due to the hard work of a former alum as well as Beate and Shane (Thomson, Visiting Professor of English), but many individuals still needed another option. After conversations and the collaboration to get the more intensive Beginning German study moving forward, we had to find ten students with interest. It was a hit, as we had 35 students the first semester."
The group that shared the vision allowed Shepherd a better understanding of German moving into his 2016 fall semester visit enabling him excellent opportunities.
"The importance and impact of fellow students of Beginning German and the curriculum finally hit me when I got back from my study abroad (in the spring 2017 semester)," Shepherd admitted. "I'd utilized so much of the passion I had for sales … selling myself and a new intensive study program with networking and on down the road to creating (the chance to go overseas). Because of that, I still talk with people I met (in Germany). Even something like the photography class I was taking over there which, in the beginning, was robust… I got to enjoy. All of those together made me realize what you need to do to create options in life.
My grandmother instilled the first love of German in me," he added. "She had a wonderful impact on me … opening up a whole new world. I hadn't been a part of another language before. I took a holiday trip during high school and solidified my passion for the country and its culture. I was able to contact some family that still lives in her hometown of Marburg and also met some of her neighbors. It was tremendous to speak German with them … an elegant experience."
Shepherd's hopeful his love of German can continue in the professional world.
"I'd love to work overseas … it would be fun to travel while I'm young," he said. "Every industry seems to have an international flavor, so the opportunity is there. It might not happen right after graduation, but I still have that in mind at some point."
As for baseball, his father gave him the appreciation of the "Grand Old Game" at a young age.
"Dad had a fairly successful American Legion career with a national title included," he reflected. "He went on to Butler University and played third base.
Baseball is the most excellent equalizer," he added. "You can't hide on a baseball field. It has empowered me to remain an athlete and meet some of my best friends. Those friendships go layers deep, too. Where else can you take a 'break from life' for an hour and a half and have that much fun?"
Peter Shepherd continues to equate and sell Manchester University's experiences wherever he goes … a lot like the campus does for many others.