By Paige Walker

Senior Austin Echols, a communication major, thought about leaving WMU his freshman year so he could be closer to home. But Echols soon dismissed the idea after realizing that Western was the perfect fit.

Click here to watch a short video interview of Echols.

“It was a nice community and the teachers were very involved, those were the things that made you want to stay in school,” he said.

The University of Virginia released “Perceptions of Classroom Belongingness Among African-American College Students”, a study in 2007 that showed that African-American students who actively participate in class often report higher levels of belongingness, increased motivation, and achievement.

WMU’s new president, Dr. Edward B. Montgomery, has a list of things he hopes to improve while president, including the 54 percent graduation rate.


Echols, 23, has loved his time at WMU and says he wouldn’t change a thing about his experience. “I got better as a person, as an intellectual, and as a man too.”

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