By Caroline Huey
To a bright-eyed freshman, college seems like it will last forever, but time flies by quickly. Senior Christopher Winter, a 22-year-old accounting major, is experiencing this firsthand as he prepares to graduate from Rochester College in April.
People enjoy being around Chris because of his good-natured and funny personality. Chris’s good friend Matthew Sanders said, “I’ve never met a person more willing to drop what he is doing to help someone out. He is a great friend and one of the kindest people I know.”
Chris grew up in Ray Township, a small town about 30 minutes from Rochester. As a child he enjoyed playing outside. “We had a tree-house in my yard and I would always climb that,” he remembered, “and we had a little zip-line that went down to another tree, and I would zip down on that.” Chris also enjoyed swimming and annoying his older sister. His favorite games were strategy games, and he especially enjoyed Monopoly “because I like winning things and stealing peoples’ money and property,” he said. Drugs and alcohol did not tempt Chris, but he was a rebellious child in other ways.
Chris recalled a time when he stabbed a pencil into his mom’s bottom because he wanted to see if she would shoot up and hit the ceiling like a cartoon character. “She didn’t,” he said, “but she got really mad at me and broke the door…I don’t do that anymore.”
He was homeschooled from his preschool days all the way through high school. His mom taught him several subjects and he also attended a homeschool co-op, although not often since he was the oldest student there by eight years.
He remembered taking a government class, but that ended quickly after his teacher tried to force her opinion upon him. “She asked us to read the Pledge of Allegiance, and she said, ‘What’s that one word that you said there?’ ‘The republic for which we stand,’” they answered, “‘Exactly, the Republicans are the only things that matter.’” Chris was enrolled in that class a whole day before his mom took him out of it.
Math and science were the subjects that Chris enjoyed most in school. He attributes this to the fact that the science classes and books were really cool. He took anatomy in 10th grade, and he loved it, but it did not interest him as much as math did. He became so advanced in math that his mom was no longer able to teach him. He began to take video lessons, which he did not enjoy as much. Math and science continue to be Chris’s favorite school subjects, and he enjoys helping others study them as well.
Transferring from Homeschool to College
Transferring from homeschool to college was a big shift for Chris. Coming from a class of one to, Communication Basics, which had about 20 students, was a little overwhelming for Chris. “But it wasn’t as bad,” he explained, “because it is still a small environment, and me being able to slowly walk into that was good.”
The biggest struggle for Chris was making friends. When Chris moved onto campus, the only person he knew was his sister, who was a senior at that time. Getting to know people became easier when Kyle Crosson, a former student at RC, encouraged Chris to join Sigma Phi Delta Nu. Kyle kept encouraging him, and so he did. “No looking back,” Chris said.
Joining Sigma Phi Delta Nu
Being a part of this social club allowed Chris to form new friendships with people who he may have not talked to otherwise. “We are a very diverse group of people,” he said playing with the dog tags around his neck, “and I’ve just been able to go into something and make it bigger than who I am and sort of, as I’m graduating, hopefully pave the way for the future, for myself and the club.”
Sigma Phi Delta Nu helped Chris form life-long friendships, which seemed so hard to come by when he first got to campus.
Taking Bets for Money on Campus
Because Chris enjoyed playing Monopoly and making money growing up, he liked to do stupid things for a dollar. Between his freshman and sophomore year, Chris was working grounds on campus. “Elliott Kern dared me to drink water that was on the ground through a dirty PVC pipe, and I did it.”
This was not a good experience for Chris; however, because it turned out that the water had gasoline in it and the PVC pipe was filled with dirt and cobwebs. “It wasn’t very good,” he said, “but I made a dollar. It wasn’t worth it, but it was fun.”
Another instance where Chris took on a bet for money was at the Emmy’s his sophomore year, when he was dared to eat an onion for a dollar. “Dean [Candace] Cain tried to pay me $5 not to eat it, and then Chris Shields said, ‘I’ll give you $10 to eat it,’ and then Coleman [Yoakum] said ‘I’ll give you $20 to eat it.’” He did not end up finishing the onion, but he still earned a dollar for it.
Rochester College Chris's Home Away from Home
College has given Chris a home away from home, life-long friendships, opportunities to grow as a leader, “and hopefully it will give me a degree,” he said, “because if it didn’t that would kind of defeat the purpose.” After Chris graduates he plans to get a job in accounting. He also hopes to travel to Sweden and Ireland.
His major and his 3,000 hockey cards are not what define Chris. Instead he is a memorable RC student because he is so connected on campus. “Chris Winter is one of the kindest people I know,” said junior Mercedes Hostetler, “He makes working fun, he always takes care of his Sigma Phi sisters, and he will always go the extra mile to help someone of make their day a little better.”
Chris takes time to stop and talk to people, and genuinely wants to help them when they are struggling with something. Chris Winter may be leaving RC, but he will continue to be an encouragement wherever he chooses to go.