Theme House Living Becomes Valuable Lesson for Students

Nebraska Wesleyan University junior Victoria Stahr and her 10 roommates aren’t planning careers in hair and nail care, but the time they spent pampering women and children at the Friendship Home is among their favorite memories this year.

The roommates joined the College of Hair Design in hopes of bringing some happiness and hope to the residents at Friendship Home, a Lincoln shelter that provides support for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Hope has been the roommates’ theme for the entire academic year — they have lived it and learned it through their experience living is one of the University’s two theme houses.

“When we came up with the idea, we had in mind that it is up to ourselves to make each day great,” said Stahr, who lives in the Hope House. “We know that things will go wrong, but life will go on.”

This is the second year the University has offered the theme house living option. Theme houses were created in an effort to fuse students’ academic and residential lives. Theme house residents are active both on campus and in the community.

Nineteen students live in the theme houses: 11 in the Hope House and nine in the Fit House.

“We’ve expanded our understanding of living healthy lives and being fit in the context of group environments,” junior Josh Aldridge said of the Fit House. “We believe this will be applicable to our future families and workplaces. It has helped us all understand the dynamic of maintaining both group and individual fitness.”

The Fit House, for example, organized a fun run this year with proceeds going toward the purchase of new workout equipment in the University’s Weary Center.

Theme house residents are selected through a formal proposal process. The housing option is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors who can best demonstrate a theme and their plans for learning from their experience. In their application, students are to propose at least two service projects that they will implement while living in the theme houses.

A committee then reviews the theme house applications. Once the themes are selected, a faculty advisor is assigned to each house.

“The application process is necessary because it is important for students to find a theme that they are interested in and to find people who share those common interests,” said Brandi Sestak, Director of Residential Education.

Applications are currently being accepted for next year’s theme housing.

“The goal is to find the perfect fit for every student so we can be positive that each individual is getting the most out of their experience, and making those connections between their academic and residential lives,” said Sestak.

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Hope House residents participated in the Friendship Home's Safe Quarters walk.
The Hope House is located on Madison Ave. across from campus.
The Fit House is located at 49th & St. Paul, just west of campus.