Harding is primarily made of up those with a background with the church of Christ. This affiliation has supported Harding through the years. Darci Flatley, an English major from Jacksonville, Florida grew up in a devote catholic background. She did all the sacraments, got confirmed, but soon after became an atheist.
“It was something that I fought a lot growing up. We went to church every Thursday with school, we had youth group every Wednesday, and then we’d going to church every Sunday and I felt like I was so involved with the church that I hated it.”
A teacher from her high school was a Harding alumnus. He would tell her stories from his days in college. As a joke to her teacher, she applied to Harding.
“I researched Harding and I found out that they only had a $20 application fee. So I applied to Harding as a joke, got my acceptance letter. I then forgot about it, was going to keep going to school in Florida, but then a couple weeks later I got another letter from Harding and it was a scholarship offer.”
Her Harding experience was not love at first sight. She was an atheist in a predominantly conservative Christian atmosphere. Unhappy with Harding, her sophomore year she left for a semester. Since coming back, she has found a community of open minded individuals that accept her and desire for her to grow as a person.
Travelle McManus, a senior electronic media production major, is an African- American from a predominantly black neighborhood and upbringing. His childhood best friend came to Harding a few years before him and during a visit, he fell in love with the campus and the community. Five percent of Harding’s population is African-American.
“People try to make an extra effort to reach out to my because I do stand out, but as far as bad experiences, I’ve never really had anything. Throughout the Searcy community there have been moments at Walmart or walking around the neighborhood with friends, I can get the sense of people getting uncomfortable from being different from the majority of the community.”
Sasha claims Russia as home. She found out about Harding because of her uncle came as a student 21 years ago. When asked what her first impression of the Harding community was she said,
“Sometimes I thought it was of fake because people were too nice and smile a lot. But then I realized there are fake people everywhere. It’s comfortable for me to be here because people are so nice to me and they’re not fakely nice, they’re really nice to me.”
The biggest adjustment since being in the states is the food because it is different. Sasha believes that Harding does a great job integrating and giving opportunities international students into the community.