“Hi everyone, here’s the honors update for the week,” is how a typical email begins to a member of Eastern Michigan University’s Honors College from John Feldkamp. Feldkamp is the assistant director of the Honors College, which means he’s the guy who helps honors students figure out which general education classes they’ll take. Behind the man advising these students is a self-proclaimed sensitive man working off of his experiences, which include:
1) Feldkamp is old: Actually, he’s not all that old at all, as his 28th birthday is Oct. 26. However, when talking about his life experiences, Feldkamp said, “Once again, being an old man here … [I think about] what did I learn from that [event].” Having gone to EMU when he was an undergraduate, he said, “It’s funny because when you come back, you see so many students doing the same thing [you did].” It’s his way of viewing his life through the lessons he’s learned that he said helps him in his advising.
2) Feldkamp wanted to be a math teacher: “I guess the most concrete thing I wanted to be was a math teacher … when I graduated high school I had the full intention of being a high school math teacher.” Even when describing his talents, Feldkamp can only come up with, “[I] can do mental math pretty quickly.” Though as an advisor, his undergraduate degree in math education is not used everyday, he said. “The things I do specifically with math now, I have to be 100 percent dead on. The confidence I have from my math experience definitely helps me.”
3) Feldkamp had 600 pigs while growing up: “My family is a family of farmers … When I was a kid, we had pigs, 600 pigs … [And] a little less than 1,000 acres of land.” Though Feldkamp is not working on the family farm now, he did participate in 4-H for over 10 years, working with pigs and sheep at local fairs.
4) He performed “Phantom of the Opera” on the piano at age 10: Growing up, Feldkamp went through a Phantom phase, “I was ‘Phantom of the Opera’ one year [for Halloween], because I got the mask and I went and saw the performance.” The phase didn’t end the last night of October. “I actually performed in a talent show,” said Feldkamp. “I worked with my mom and my piano teacher and we put together a compilation of the different songs.”
5) He was in marching band and football: While it may seem like an unusual combination, in Feldkamp’s case, it worked out. “I was in marching band and football. When I was on [junior varsity], I would play football on Thursday nights and I would march with the marching band on Friday nights. I would go to marching band practice before school and football practice after school,” Feldkamp said. Though he isn’t a football star or musician, Feldkamp said he learned a lot from doing both. “I think in terms of working with students … knowing and understanding that there’s a huge commitment that comes with marching band … with athletics … just that ownership of something.“
6) He made and sold ceramics: It’s not very often that the music and sports kid also has a love of arts or crafts, but that’s who Feldkamp was. “I presented arts and crafts that I made … I was really young, probably six or seven. [I made] clay pots … little things like clip pens that you clip onto your shirt.”
7) He loves his family: Many people love their families, but in Feldkamp’s case, his love is also part of his love of EMU. “My sister, she’s also an EMU graduate. She’s older than me, and I think watching her and how involved she was in everything inspired me to get more involved,” he said. Feldkamp also appreciates his father as a role model. “The fond memories I like to think about now are about my dad … My dad and I would do a lot of practicing together in terms of sports. … I would go to school with him in the morning because he was a custodian.”
8) He rides his bike to work: As Feldkamp explained, “[My wife and I] only have one car … so sometimes I have to ride my bike through the snow … If you’re going to bike year round, you can’t be casual about it.” Luckily, because Feldkamp and his wife are so involved with EMU, he said, “We live in the neighborhood.”
9) He wrote a paper about the devil: No, Feldkamp is not interested in the devil for religious reasons, but he’s interested in the bad guys. Ever since he was a kid watching cartoons, he said, “As a kid, I was always very intrigued with stereotypical villains. From my observations … the good guy’s job is to save the day, and it is always the villain’s motive that changes.” Feldkamp kept this in mind when he grew up. “Creating my senior thesis, specifically, in literature really meant a lot … I guess my interest was the evil motive and if that makes them evil or if they were just led astray.”
10) He met his wife when he was a freshman at EMU: “We met here our freshman year … We’ve been happy ever since.” Back in college, Feldkamp and his wife Lauren bonded through the things they did together. “We did the new student orientation together, we did Leader-Shape, we did alternative breaks.” Feldkamp said “We travel together, we bike together, we got a house together, we got married together. We were super involved on campus.” Ultimately, Feldkamp said, “Lauren … she’s the most amazing person I know … I really think that helps me to be motivated in everything I do.”
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