This year, sophomore Symon Cater has found himself living in the same room as his former host during his 24 @ Taylor stay, junior Caleb Tiede.
Cater is a youth ministry and biblical literature major from Arlington, Virginia. During his freshman year, he lived on the second floor of Samuel Morris Hall (Sammy II). But a year before that, he was a prospective student who visited to see if Taylor was the next place in life for him.
“I heard about Taylor through a small group leader at my youth group and then applied and got in,” Cater said. “It was actually my last application that I put in, but because I thought I was going somewhere else senior year of high school. But I ended up visiting during spring break and meeting Jon Cavanagh by coincidence, who then told me about what Taylor was — the student life, all the traditions and whatnot. And then I decided to come back for a second visit a month later.”
During his stay on campus, Cater mostly spent time on the third floor of Morris Hall, more commonly known as the Brotherhood, which was where Tiede has lived throughout his three years.
Living in Virginia, Cater made a large transition toward a new home that was a nine-hour drive away. He believed that the journey was worth gaining a second opportunity to explore Taylor to make his college decision.
“It was kind of a big deal to go back for a second visit because it was pretty out of the way,” Cater said. “But I wanted to figure this out…there were no 24 @ Taylor’s left in the year because I was visiting in May.”
His second visit was not as traditional as most prospective students’ stays since he did not visit during a 24 @ Taylor this time. However, Cater was able to get to know Taylor in his own way through the students and professors that he got to meet and made him feel welcome.
One of the most influential people during his stay was his host, Caleb Tiede. Tiede is a junior in a three-year program that will allow him to graduate this year.
“Caleb saw an email about me being a potential prospective student who is interested in youth ministry and said, ‘Hey, there’s a ministry guy. I’ll host him,’” Cater said. “What’s wild is that he had never hosted a prospective student before that…I can only say God made that happen. But I ended up having a great time and decided to come into it.”
During Cater’s stay, he got to experience the residence life on Tiede’s floor.
He commended how the students on the floor made him feel welcome and were able to attend to any questions that he had.
Cater not only got to spend time in Morris Hall during his stay, but he also got to know professors of the ministry department. Some professors that he met include Philip Collins and Michael Severe.
Cater got to converse with the professors about what they taught and what their program was like. He then had to decide whether to major in Christian ministries or youth ministries.
During his stay, Cater saw Taylor as a brand-new experience, not having much prior knowledge. He had a thirty-minute conversation with former campus pastor Jon Cavanagh about the people who lived at Taylor and how they related to each other, which eventually drew him to become a student.
When Cater was at last a student at Taylor, he returned to Morris Hall, only to live in Sammy II for the duration of the year. Meanwhile, his former host, Tiede, still lived on the Brotherhood.
Yet, both still interacted with each other from time to time, to the point that they became close.
“When I came to Taylor, Caleb was kind of just like a person I would say hi to and whatnot,” Cater said. “It wasn’t like we were hanging out all the time. I mean, he was on a completely different floor…But then, second semester, we started hanging out more. And that was for a variety of reasons. But I think the main reason was because we were just both chasing after Jesus and ended up doing some events together, like (going) to the Asbury revival together.”
Although Sammy II and the Brotherhood are two different floors with different traditions, their respective cultures are quite alike, both floors being in the middle of Morris. Cater says that the biggest challenge about this transition was being surrounded by different people. However, he grew in the Brotherhood, and so did his friendship with Tiede.
Considering its impact on his journey to Taylor, Cater encourages all students to become hosts.
“I think a huge part of Taylor’s culture is just being welcoming to everyone,” Cater said. “To help others experience what we love so much just enhances the culture even more. Hosting people and being welcoming to high school students is an awesome experience and it makes you really appreciate what you actually have not just taken for granted.”