Westminster College has all the qualities Zeke Elias was in search of—a great aviation program, western U.S., snow and a variety of undergraduate programs. After stumbling upon the university through a college-match survey, Zeke didn’t even have to look at another college. “It was really a perfect fit,” he says.
What further convinced him to attend Westminster were his parents. They "fell in love with the university"—the program, location and architecture. Though Westminster is more than 2,000 miles away from home, they are supportive and thrilled with his choice. Zeke laughs, saying, “He [my dad] is a Griffin.”
Zeke, freshman, is pursuing a major in flight operations and business management. While he has always wanted to become a pilot, the ability to branch out beyond aviation was important. He not only wanted to meet people outside the program, but have the option to take courses outside of it as well.
In addition to a double major, Zeke, who’s fluent in English and Spanish, is a French minor. “[I] took some French classes in high school, so I thought French was my next best choice,” he says.
Zeke wanted to become a pilot at an early age. While his flying experience as a pilot didn’t take place until Westminster, he has had plenty as a passenger—including moving a few times. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Zeke lived in Virginia for a short time and Mexico City for about eight years before relocating to Salt Lake.
When asked the difference with living here, he calls it “a breath of fresh air.” The people are nice and everything is nearby. Westminster, nestled in the Sugar House neighborhood, is minutes away from downtown and within an hour of the mountains. "I love waking up in the morning and looking up at the mountains and it's snowy," he says. Living within a grid system makes it impossible to get lost and it’s a relatively safe area as well. “I just love everything about it,” he says.
Relocating to an unfamiliar place was intimidating, but Zeke’s adventurous spirit has made for a smooth transition. Always willing and ready to try new things, there’s never a dull moment in his life. “Don’t be afraid to get out,” he says. “I do what I have to do and go that extra step all the time.”
What's great about Westminster is that finding something to do is never hard. Working at the Campus Concierge, Zeke is one of the first to know what’s happening on campus and in the city. “[Westminster] is so involved with the outside community that we found out about the events in many different ways,” he says.
Whether you're in Salt Lake, or a neighboring city, such as Park City—located 30 minutes from campus—you're bound to run into a few Griffins. The Westminster community is like a big family. “We’re small and we still find people everywhere,” he says.
In addition to class, work and new adventures, Zeke also stays involved on campus and in the community. He’s currently an Associated Students of Westminster (ASWC) aviation senator and a member of the Flight Team. He recently became an aviation advisor for the START Center and will be a Resident Advisor in the freshman dorms for the upcoming academic year. He also volunteers at the Humane Society of Utah and with Griffins for the Greater Good—a campus service club.
Zeke considers Westminster a lucky find and perfect fit—the campus, community, location and program are incomparable. Westminster’s discussion-based courses “actually engage you in the learning process,” he says. “It’s very active.” As pilot, you’re in a plane by the second day of class, getting hands-on training.
Whether it’s in the classroom or through a game of capture the flag during First Year Student Orientation—Westminster does an amazing job at engage students. For Zeke, Westminster has been the best decision of his life.