Family Transformation

Christopher “Kit” Schulz ’21 was alarmed: Wasn’t college supposed to be a laboratory for personal growth, intellectual discovery, new cultural experiences, and so on? 

About four years ago he was wandering through the suburban Georgia community college as if seeing it for the first time. Nearly all of its 13,000 students were middle class and white. Overcrowded classes were taught by professors that seemed almost universally aloof, distant, uncaring. Buildings and grounds reminded him of corporate town centers — architecturally and culturally divorced from the surrounding landscape and community. 

Kit Schulz graduated from MBU last May and joined its admissions team a month later.

The environment was so homogeneous, so bland, so run-of-the-mill, “I was starting to think of myself as a number,” said Schulz. He tried to escape the Kafkaesque rut by driving to Virginia to visit his younger sister, Caden ’22, then a freshman at Mary Baldwin University.  

The closer Kit got to Staunton the better he felt. He recalled childhood stays with his maternal grandparents, who’d called the city home for decades. Entering historic downtown he remembered sleigh riding with his three younger siblings in the MBU commons. 

“This deep calm came over me,” said Kit. It was like a fog of anxiety had lifted. Hanging out in his sister’s dorm and strolling through the main campus and city brought further clarity. 

Downtown was less than a block away and filled with historic architecture, gardens, small restaurants, bars, and mom-and-pop shops. It brimmed with people of all ages and walks of life, and seemed an ideal blend of metropolitan and small town culture.

“I grew up near Atlanta and this felt totally different,” said Kit. The pace was more relaxed; people were kinder, less emotionally distant.  

Meanwhile, MBU students came from so many different backgrounds, the campus was like a melting pot of cultural diversity. Its emphasis on a progressive education model aimed at inclusivity and individual empowerment fostered passionate intellectual discussion around everything from economic development, to gender politics, to social and environmental justice. Professors were like normal people — they routinely stopped to say hi and even sit-in on conversations. 

Kit was awestruck. The ethos, beautifully manicured grounds, and century-old buildings were like the beating heart of the city. An epiphany struck him with lightning-bolt force: 

“I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” he said. “This was home.”

Kit Schulz ’21 used to sleigh ride at MBU with siblings and cousins while visiting his grandparents in Staunton.

After transferring to MBU, Kit pursued a degree in liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies. Smaller classes proved a breeding ground for intellectual intrigue. He loved the way the curriculum pushed him to deeply explore so many different areas.  

“The [degree track] helped me discover new interests and follow them to see where they’d lead me,” said Kit. That turned academic study into an adventure. The effect was amplified by instructors who valued rigorous interaction with students over generic lectures. 

“You could tell they were passionate about the material,” said Kit. But that wasn’t all: Professors approached courses like crucibles for transformation. They urged students to dig into the material, critically process it, and test conclusions in classroom dialogues. 

“We pushed each other to think through really tough issues,” Kit said. Professors were like mentor-referees, guiding respectful discussions and pushing students to collectively arrive at “epiphanies that expanded our minds.”

The approach created an atmosphere of excitement that went beyond the classroom.

“You took new ideas home with you and talked about them with your friends,” said Kit. MBU’s underlying humanistic focus on social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion added layers to the conversations. Over time, “we became not only more confident in ourselves and in our abilities, but also much more compassionate, more caring, more empathetic toward others.”  

The change was so marked in Kit, it inspired his two younger brothers to follow in his and Caden’s footsteps. Last year, the four siblings could be spotted gathering in downtown coffee shops, or walking together across the campus grounds. 

“It was the coolest thing how we all were all studying different subjects, but having the same kind of core experience,” said Kit. He was watching his sister and brothers metamorphosize. “I’ve gotten to see them find their friend groups and blossom into even more amazing human beings than they already were.” 

The Schulz siblings, from left to right: Caden ’22, Carter ’24, cousin Alden, Kit ’21, and Cary ’23.

Kit felt inspired by his family’s academic journey. A desire to pay it forward evoked an interest in elementary education. He subsequently worked with advisors to complete a trio of teaching practicums with local schools and learning institutions in his junior and senior years. 

The experiences taught Kit much about himself — and led to a total change of plans. 

“I came to understand that I didn’t necessarily want to teach, so much as talk to people and find ways to help them,” he said. The realization was welcome, but it threw a monkey wrench in his career trajectory. Luckily, the interdisciplinary track positioned him for a pivot.  

“It wasn’t like I was studying coding and woke up one morning hating computers,” said Kit. “I’d studied so many different areas, I felt like I could change directions and do something else.”

Consulting MBU mentors brought an offer: His sociable personality, intimate knowledge of the school, and love of Staunton were particularly suited for the role of admissions counselor. Kit accepted a position last July after graduation. He’s since found the job to be incredibly fulfilling.   

“I know too well how important it is to find the right college,” Kit said. He talks to prospective students candidly, asking questions about their background, learning style, academic ambitions, and career goals. He then directs them to pertinent MBU programming, professors, clubs, student leaders, and so on.  

“I love my job because it lets me share my passion for this amazing, special school with others,” said Kit. When he sees a potential student resonating with MBU’s mission of inclusive personal empowerment, he knows the university will be a perfect fit.

“Their eyes light up and I know I’m witnessing the beginning of an awesome journey,” Kit continued. He thinks of what MBU has meant for himself and his brothers and sister, “and I just feel so happy to be able to help guide these [young students] to the starting line of their college adventure.”