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Henri Stoeckermann | Faces of Midland


New Places, New Faces |

Imagine being thousands of miles away from home, going to a place you don’t know anyone, and facing a language barrier. Welcome to Henri Stoeckermann’s life when he arrived at Midland University in 2021. 

Henri came to Midland from Herrenberg, Germany, looking to pursue both an education and a chance to compete on the track and field team. But in the final moments before Henri made the near 5,000-mile trek, reality started to set in.

“I remember lying in bed the night before my flight and thinking, Wow, I’m basically leaving home to start a new life and leaving my friends and family behind. I’m going to be alone for the first time in my life, to a place where no one knows me, and I can’t speak the native language. It was really scary, but at the same time, exciting. I knew there would be lots of cool experiences, and I would benefit from that.”

As he nears the end of his sophomore year, Henri has no regrets about taking that leap of faith and is blessed with the many opportunities he’s been given during his time at Midland. One of those opportunities was the continuation of his track and field career, something he didn’t think was possible in high school. “I started running when I was 12, but the idea of competing in college didn’t become a reality until an agency in Germany, that provides support for athletes to get scholarships in the United States, reached out to me. I really liked the idea of competing and studying in a different country, so they sent my profile to a lot of different schools.

“I was able to visit with a lot of coaches, and when Coach (Daniel) Gerber reached out to me, I liked the idea of being at a smaller school and making an impact on the team. Coach connected me with some of the athletes and they all told me how Midland was like a big family. That was a huge selling point to me.”

Adjusting to life in college can be difficult, but getting used to a new country as well adds another layer. Henri quickly found out he had a strong support system in place to help him navigate through the tough times. “My roommate and my teammates were especially helpful early on. There were so many things new to me and so many differences; I’m glad I had a base of people to build on.”

Getting involved early on was a positive experience for Henri. Along with work-study positions in both the writing center and with student billing, Henri became an active member of Global Warriors. “Global Warriors has been very helpful to me. As an international student, there are so many little things you need to figure out, and it was helpful to be around other students who had gone through that process and were able to help.”

Henri is enjoying success both in the classroom and on the track. He recently qualified for the NAIA Indoor National Championships in the 1,000-meter run and placed himself in the top five for the school’s all-time indoor charts in the 800 and 1,000 runs. Henri is a Psychology major with a compressed major in Business Management. “I want to give myself options and not limit my opportunities. Right now, I’m probably looking at going into more of the Psychology direction, but there are so many opportunities out there; you never know what you might stumble upon.”

While Henri’s world has grown exponentially over the last two years, he is grateful he hasn’t been lost in the shuffle since arriving at Midland. “I love the smaller class sizes and the ability to have a close connection with professors. I have so many friends and have built a great network here. I’m so grateful for the people I have met and the opportunity to get an education and compete in my sport.”

Henri Stoeckermann is a sophomore Psychology major from Herrenberg, Germany. To share your story or nominate a friend, email or post using #FacesofMidland.

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