The following is North alumnus Winston Delk’s response to our questions about his college decision process, the student life and culture at Case Western Reserve University, and more.
Delk graduated from North in 2016. He is a part of Case Western Reserve University’s class of 2020.
In short, I chose to come to Case Western Reserve University because I wanted to play basketball at one of the top research institutions in the country. My parents and coaches told me to choose a school that I would still like even if I stopped playing basketball. Another part of my criteria was going to a medium-sized school (5,000) with a diverse student body and a good business school in an urban environment.
I went on an overnight visit during their spring open house season and really loved the traditional campus feel surrounded by the large city of Cleveland. As Case Western Reserve University is an NCAA D3 school, there are no athletic scholarships; however, CWRU did offer me a great academic scholarship that helped my family financially. I remember talking with my guidance counselor at the time, Mr. Riley, and he reminded me not to put pressure on myself, and make the choice that was best for me in the long run. I made my decision by taking all of those factors into consideration.
Now, I’m getting ready to graduate and it has been some of the best four years of my life. I remember my senior year I put a lot of pressure on myself to make my college decision, and Mr. Riley would always tell me, “it’s not about where you go, it’s about what you do once you get there.” That was the best piece of advice I got.
I was getting recruited by some smaller D3 liberal arts schools for basketball (Dickinson, Kenyon, Hartwick, etc.), and while the Case coach never expressed interest in me, I chose to go there over the other schools because CWRU was a better academic institution. My freshman year I actually got cut when I tried to walk-on. It was a horrible feeling, realizing my dreams of college ball just got crushed; I wanted to transfer back home and get out of Ohio.
Then the coach offered me the student manager position. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the game, so I accepted it. I was at every practice and every home game that season, studied the team’s plays, developed an amazing relationship with the coaching staff, and became friends with the players. The summer after my freshman year I came back to WW-P and trained harder than ever. That fall I came back and tried out again. It was during my sophomore year that my dream finally came true; I made the team this time. By staying and not giving up on Case after a tough freshman year, I realized I made the right choice.
Photo Credit: commonapp.org
That year I also got involved with the Black Student Union (BSU) on campus and became the Treasurer. Being a part of that organization helped me extend my reach past campus limits and give back to the surrounding communities. One of my good friends in the BSU worked for the school newspaper and got me interested in joining.
During my junior year, the coaching staff left and many of my teammates left the program as well, on good terms. I stopped playing basketball, but fortunately, I considered that outcome before I chose the school.
That’s when I got deep into my position as a photojournalist at the newspaper and also became a campus tour guide. I still write articles for the paper, and now have my own photography business. I also still talk to prospective students during the quarantine, because I love it that much.
It’s funny, I wanted to transfer at one point my first year, and now I get paid to tell prospective students and families why I love the school so much and why they should come here too!
Photo Credit: case.edu
The winters in Cleveland can be a bit rougher than the winters in New Jersey, but even then I still don’t get homesick. I get to see my family during all of the holiday breaks, so it’s not bad at all. Once you start making friends in college and get a taste of that independence, you naturally don’t want to go back to your old ways.
One of the best parts about Case is that it’s in Cleveland, a large city with lots of other schools and things to do. We get free public transportation to go to and from the downtown area, and free admission with our student IDs into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, and more. My freshman year the Cavs had just won the 2016 NBA championship and the Indians made it to Game 7 of the MLB World Series. Lots of people go to Browns games to see Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckam Jr. too.
The hardest part about attending Case is the same as it was in WW-P: everyone wants to be great at what they do, including the professors, so school can be challenging academically. Like many research institutions, however, it’s very collaborative and we all help each other to do better in school. There are so many resources, for example, we have a 7-story, 55,000 sq. ft. innovation center called ThinkBox completely free and open to the public, the Career Services office puts on amazing job fairs where people get hired by awesome companies (including myself, I got my job at KeyBank from the job fair at school), and professors are extremely helpful. It’s a challenging school, but it’s way harder to fail than it is to succeed, and that’s because everyone wants to see everyone else shine. It’s awesome.
Remember that piece of advice I mentioned from Mr. Riley, “it’s not about where you go, it’s about what you do when you get there.” I had an amazing four years, but that’s only because I had interests and passions that I pursued through joining different clubs, organizations, sports teams, jobs, etc. Wherever you choose to go, chase your interests. That’s the only way to do college right.
Any students who are interested in learning more about CWRU, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I work for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a Campus Tour Guide and I can answer a lot more specific questions you might have and/or can easily put you in touch with any faculty, administration, or admissions. I would love to help fellow Knights!