By Angela Twining
While BYU basketball fans were ecstatic over the team”s NCAA bid, students at the University of Maryland at College Park were doing the same for their own Maryland Terrapins.
“Basketball is huge. I”ve been on the front row for all the games,” said Jason Reddish, 20, a senior from Salisbury, Maryland, majoring in physiology and neurobiology at College Park. “We get there four-and-a-half hours early.”
Like BYU students journeying to Las Vegas for the MWC tournament, Reddish went to Atlanta where Maryland played in its conference tournament.
About 30,000 students go to the University of Maryland and they enjoy the sports and the top-notch education, Reddish said.
Reddish said one of his favorite things about campus life is the recreation center. There are 24 racquetball courts and a new Olympic-sized pool.
Utah isn”t the only state experiencing Olympic fever. Baltimore/Washington is bidding for the 2012 Olympics, so already “they”re using it as an excuse to renovate things,” Reddish said.
College Park is a 10-minute drive from Washington D.C. and 30 minutes from Baltimore.
Campus life at the University of Maryland can be especially hard for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said David Traxler, 21, a junior from Martinsburg, West Virginia, majoring in mechanical engineering.
Traxler lives off-campus because he wants to avoid college temptations, he said.
“I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I”d rather avoid it altogether,” he said.
Reddish said he lived on a substance-free honors dorm floor his freshman year. Students can volunteer to live on floors where they promise not to use drugs or alcohol, Reddish said.
Traxler said for him, making good Latter-day Saint friends is the key to having a great college experience.
“I have the best friends I”ve ever had in my entire life,” he said. “The members create a special bond and stick really close together.”
“I think the college experience can be great wherever you go, whether it”s BYU or the middle of Nebraska,” Traxler said. “It”s the people you associate with and their values and morals that matter.”
Bonny Busch, 18, a freshman at College Park from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in English, said the dating and social atmosphere consists of a lot of mini-golf and bowling with friends with high standards, whether members of the Church of Jesus Christ or not.
Her most cherished college experience is her opportunity for missionary work, Busch said.
She said the constant flow of new members and investigators add enthusiasm to the CES Institute program.
“One of the reasons I wanted to go to Maryland is to talk about the church, to be at a non-church school,” Busch said. “I”ve had the experience of telling so many people who I am and about the gospel.”