The one thing Austin Perry knows about his upcoming freshman year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is that it will be busy.
Perry, Shelbyville High School’s Class of 2021 salutatorian, has a major but no specialty. He will join the men’s tennis program but has no idea who returns for the 2022 season. And he will sing in the choir only because Rose-Hulman does not have a show choir like Synergy at Shelbyville.
Not surprisingly, Perry’s interests mimic his four-year career as a Golden Bear.
The son of Richard and Paula Perry will major in Engineering Design at the Terre Haute-based school which will allow him time to find his area of interest.
“It’s a four-year career path but the first two years you learn a little about everything,” said Perry. “Then you focus in your last two years. If I did something like Mechanical Engineering it would be all one career path.
“So I get a little taste of everything before I decide what I want to do.”
Perry played tennis at SHS because his mother did not want him getting hurt playing football. He was a strong No. 3 singles player for the Golden Bears as a senior.
“I’ve always been the athletic type but I never really started sports until middle school,” he said. “I wanted to play football but my mom was worried that I would get hurt. So I played tennis because my buddies were on the team.”
Rose-Hulman’s tennis program ended its season in mid-May with a 5-1 loss to Washington & Lee in the NCAA Division III Men’s Tennis Tournament Round of 32. The Engineers finished the spring season 7-4 and made its sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Perry comes from a musically-inclined family and he intends to keep performing while in college.
“My dad sings a lot and plays guitar and my sister did show choir too,” explained Perry. “I had the roots growing up so I took it on and it’s been fun.”
Along with singing, Perry can play the baritone ukulele.
“It’s like a smaller version of a guitar with four strings,” he said.
Perry, like many other students, did not enjoy virtual learning which became mandatory in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was fun at the start since you get a little break from school,” he recalled. “It was a little less work. Then it felt like forever. It got really boring and toilsome. I didn’t even want to sign in online.”
Perry’s senior year started in school, transitioned to a hybrid schedule where students split their week at home and in school and finished with all students back in the classrooms.
“It was not ideal but we took what we could get,” he said. “The masks got annoying, especially at the beginning of the year when we weren’t used to them yet, but it was good to be back in the building and see all your friends again.”
Rose-Hulman is preparing for students on campus this fall and in dormitories, according to Perry, who is excited for the transition.
“We will be in person but I don’t know yet about masks,” said Perry. “It feels like it will be a pretty normal year.”
There are no real summer plans in place for Perry other than a family camping trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. Once he returns, he will pack up and head to Rose-Hulman, the only school he considered for his educational track.
“My brother (Logan) went there so I already had some ties there,” he said. “And I saw he was challenged there. He was at the top of his class too, so if he was challenged then I feel like I will be challenged.”