To Knox students, Galesburg often seems like a separate community. often with a negative reputation. However, those immersed in both the Knox and Galesburg community have the unique experience of seeing how these two overlap. Sophomores Kyran Blissett and Harper Colclasure grew up in Galesburg and loved it.
When Blissett was growing up, he was involved in the summer reading program at the library, watched plays at The Orpheum, went downtown and enjoyed the sense of community.
“It’s a really nice town. I know it has its faults and yeah, it’s small, but I like Galesburg a lot,” he said.
Colclasure’s grandfather was a professor and her mother was a student at Knox, so she grew up around family members who liked the college and wanted to build a stronger community between it and Galesburg. Blissett mentioned that some people in Galesburg see Knox students as “hippies,” but feels that, in recent years, communication between Galesburg and Knox has increased significantly.
Also having grown up in Galesburg, senior Danielle Diaz mentioned that her high school classmates often viewed Knox students as “weird” and thought the idea of attending a college in their hometown was unappealing. Despite having gone to school in Knoxville instead of Galesburg, Diaz felt that this was evident during her years of schooling.
“It was kind of like, Galesburg kids who grow up here don’t go to Knox,” Diaz said. “I don’t think that people in Galesburg understand that it’s an academically rigorous and good school. I feel like people in Galesburg, like myself, are wanting to get out of this small town.”
Diaz’s perception of Knox changed, however, when she was a senior in high school. Having older friends who attended Knox, Diaz found herself frequenting the campus and familiarizing herself with the culture. She mentioned that hearing her friend talk about the academic aspects of Knox shed a positive light on the school.
“The way she talked about it, all the professors seemed really intelligent and there was a lot of academic benefits that I don’t think people on the outside understand,” Diaz said. “I guess that was just looking on the outside. Galesburg, even though it’s diverse, is not that diverse, so I think Knox brings a lot of diversity that hasn’t been seen before in small towns like Galesburg.”
Blissett feels that though he didn’t completely believe how some citizens negatively viewed Knox, he also experienced a change in perspective upon visiting campus.
“Seeing how open the campus was and meeting all the different kinds of people, just how all of the different walks of life people come from was really cool, Blissett said. “The feel of being on campus was really awesome.”
Diaz mentioned that, while at first the difference between Knox and Galesburg culture was obvious, she feels the two have since blurred the seams of separation. For a while, however, she struggled with identifying herself as part of either the Knox or Galesburg community.
“There is that kind of Knox community and Galesburg community, so at first I felt sort of separated because I knew what kind of connotation Knox had to Galesburg and vice versa. So I was kind of struggling to fit in since I’m part of both,” she said.
The three agree that being closer to home and family is an advantage of growing up in Galesburg and attending Knox.
“I am really close to my family, which is really nice. And whenever my friends come to visit, we can hang out and see each other. So it’s like the best of both worlds,” Colclasure said.
Though the three are appreciative of their hometown experiences, they recognize some disadvantages. Blissett noted that at times there were a shortage of opportunities offered in Galesburg, and Colclasure expressed regret at staying too close to home and not expanding her horizons. Despite her regret, however, Colclasure is ultimately happy to be attending Knox.
Colclasure assures that, although Knox students from other areas of the world may sometimes feel a bit cooped up, she feels that Galesburg can be a wonderful place to live.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to do but there are a lot of different activities going on in town,” she said. “There’s a lot of ways to get involved in Galesburg through maybe volunteering on campus, and you can make connections in town.”
Colclasure feels that, while Galesburg may not have everything that a big city can offer, it does provide a home for a diverse group of interesting people that are worth getting to know better.
“I think when you have good people, it makes Galesburg really good,” Colclasure said.