Is it REALLY time for the Graduation Fair, ALREADY??

Yesterday I went to the graduation fair for seniors at Erskine. And it was weird.

After all, for years I have watched people go to the graduation fair. Even last year, I watched my friends order their caps and gowns, address graduation invitations, and plan their graduation outfits. I wondered at how they must feel about leaving Erskine and thought that I was sure glad that I was never going to be graduating!

You may think that I am crazy when you hear me say that I never thought I would graduate. After all, you must be asking, what do you think you came to college for?? To take a nap?!?!? Of course my END goal has always been to graduate on time, maybe even with honors! But when I am sitting down and planning my daily or monthly life, I simply never think about actually leaving Erskine. I have been here for so long that graduation feels like an impossibility! When I came to Erskine as a freshman, four years felt like the longest time on earth and I didn’t realize I would only have to blink once and the time would be over! So you can understand why attending the graduation fair was a bit strange!

The question that all of my professors have been asking me recently is: Do you feel prepared for life? They want to know if their four years of guidance and advice has helped me to grow and feel ready to conquer the world after I leave Erskine. Do I feel that my Erskine education has helped shaped a better and brighter future for my years ahead?

In some ways, this is an impossible question. After all, who knows what I would have done if I had not come to college, if I had not chosen to attend Erskine?? Do I look like the Lord Almighty, all-knowing and understanding not only of everything that is, but everything that could have been? Not hardly! But what I can tell them is this. Since my first day at Erskine, I have learned a lot of things. I have learned about grammar and writing and reading. I have studied history and theories of Biblical interpretation. I have learned a TON of statistics and ideas on human life through my double major in math and psychology. I have explored the world by studying abroad! Academically and socially, I am an entirely different (and in my opinion also more enjoyable, hilarious, interesting and definitely humble!) person than the girl who started college four years ago.

So am I ready for Erskine graduation? Not hardly yet! But I am much closer than I was three and a half years ago, and I still have three months to get ready!

Is Erskine a Christian College?

One thing that I get asked a lot by family, friends, and random people I meet on elevators is whether Erskine is truly a “Christian College.” (I will clarify that the people asking me on elevators are usually those curious sorts of people who have first asked me where I go to school and what I major in.) Does Erskine really offer a Christian education? Do they truly have a combination of faith and academics?

My answer has always been yes.

No, Erskine is not one of those colleges where students are required to sign a statement of faith before attending their first day of class. But the overwhelming majority of the professors are Christians and actively striving to incorporate that faith into their teaching. Some professors choose to do this by getting to know their students on a personal basis and spending quality time as mentors. Others ask students to think about how what we are learning could apply to a Christian’s walk with Christ. Several of my professors have prayed in class before tests or lectures. It is my personal opinion that at a Christian college, even if you are not directly speaking about a faith related topic, you will see more fruits of the Spirit in people then you might anywhere else.

At Erskine there are many opportunities for students to get involved in discipleship. Besides the actual discipleship movement (which just started this year), we have ministries such as Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and a whole host of other large and small groups that students can be a part of.

My favorite times of Christian fellowship are when we all meet spontaneously. When my friend Sarah comes to my room and when we decide to read the Bible together. The times when I see Lolly in Java City and end up walking around campus for an hour talking and praying together. When Heather and I go on runs and pray together. When my roommate, Victoria, decides to share something in her life with me, and we pray together.

One of my most treasured memories from Erskine will always be from the night before the 2013 graduation. This was the year of the class ahead of mine, and I had been in a sort of weepy mood all day because I knew most of closest friends were going to graduate the next day. That afternoon the seniors had a whole bunch of ceremonies and classes, and that night was baccalaureate. Everybody was busy running around and doing the last things they wanted to do before graduation the next morning. (For our friend group this was packing, since none of us had bothered to pack pretty much anything in our dorms before that night!!)

Late that night, before all of us went to bed, we met outside in the memorial gardens for one last night of worship. They are some wooden benches out there and we all sat in a circle. There were somewhere between fifteen and twenty of us there that night, I am not sure how many. It was not formal at all, a bunch of seniors had just decided that they wanted to worship together on their last night of college and just invited whoever they saw throughout the day. We sat in the dark and had a hymn sing; whoever felt the spirit lead them to a song or a Bible verse would just start singing or speaking, and everyone else would join in if they wanted to. One of the boys brought his guitars and strummed a few simple chords to each of the songs that we sang.

That night was one of the most sincere nights of worship I have ever experienced in my whole life. The group who came was random, we were not all friends and not all of us knew each other. No one was in charge, and no one had written a script. We all contributed what was on our hearts and minds, and worshiped the Lord together. I think it will always be one of my favorite Erskine memories.

Heart of Worship

Post Graduation Thoughts

May 18, 2013 – my last day at Erskine College as a student…

It’s hard to believe that four years went by so quickly. It’s all so bittersweet. I guess the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” is accurate. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Erskine. Sure it started out a little rough, but over the years I grew quite fond of Erskine and the community there. I left Erskine with tears in my eyes because I realized just how blessed I have been. I received a fully funded college education. I made life-long friendships with students and faculty and staff. I traveled to Europe with the Choraleers. I traveled to China during J-Term with Dr. Grier and Dr. Chaney and students from various departments. I met outstanding alumni who helped me find internships and jobs. I further developed my talents and skills. I was given several opportunities to be a student leader.

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

– Luke 12:48

I was given four years at Erskine to grow academically and spiritually. I gave back to Erskine as much as I could. But all of my accomplishments and accolades aren’t of importance. Over the years, people will eventually forget what I’ve done. My only prayer is that I left a legacy that reflects back on Christ more than it reflects back on me.

As a student, there were times when I complained about Erskine and got tired of the school and church politics. I got caught up in the rumor mill. I talked about things I didn’t fully understand. But I implore current students to realize just how much of a blessing the Erskine community can truly be. It’s not a utopia of higher learning, but it is a fine institution. You will be pushed academically, but that will prepare you for your future endeavors. You will be nurtured spiritually, but that will help you define what you believe and why you believe it. You will be given opportunities to lead, but that will teach you how to deal with people from different backgrounds.

Above all, you will make friendships that will last a lifetime. You may meet your future spouse. If not, you’ll at least meet your future bridesmaids and groomsmen. You will meet professors that actually care about your well-being. They will push you to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life! We have a tight-knit community and many times it’s seen as a curse instead of a blessing.

Choose to see it as a blessing. Choose to focus on excelling academically, growing spiritually, and reaching out socially. Squeeze that Erskine education for all it’s worth! Then, when your day of commencement comes, you will be able to walk underneath the towers (I’m still a little bitter that I had to graduate in the gym…) with a smile on your face, knowing that you grew as a person and are adequately equipped to take on the world and impact the Kingdom.

Graduation Countdown: One Month

I realized quite suddenly this morning that my undergraduate career ends a month from tomorrow – much sooner than I thought.  In a way, of course, this is very exciting, because it is the motivation for going to college to begin with: walking across the stage after sitting through more speeches than we care to listen to in order to accept a diploma, the symbol of all the hard work, knowledge, stress, relationships, and growth that we have experienced and acquired through our (hopefully) four years.  While there is always the unknown factor, at least I know where I am headed for the next two years, and this is a great source of comfort.

I wrote at the beginning of the year how strange it was to be in my final year, because time has seemed to accelerate through my time at Erskine.  I remember thinking about how much more I had left to do and how distant graduation seemed, so much so that I didn’t “feel” like a senior.  Now, though my four years still seem like they flew by without stopping to be enjoyed, moving into Carnegie and being an awkward freshman seems like it was so long ago.  Everything seems very distinctive, really – the plays, concerts, tests, papers, formals, movies, Moffat meals, meetings, late nights – and I feel like college was maybe not so short.  (Don’t worry, I’m not going to barrage the blog readers with memories and anecdotes. . . at least today.)

My high school graduation - I'm looking forward to a much shorter ceremony at Erskine!

With all of these reflections, I have  what I assume is a range of normal emotions right now, from excitement to wistfulness, but overall I really just feel calm.  It’s not quite resignation, but also not apathy; I’m not sure what to call it.  I guess, overall, I’m just enjoying the feeling of approaching a pleasant end.  When I leave in May I will be a little sad, but I know that I can and will come back to visit, and that I have made the most out of my time.

All this being said, I am looking forward to graduation; yet, I am not wishing my last month away, because I am glad to have a little more time at my soon-to-be alma mater.

Saying Goodbye

So another year has come and gone like the blink of an eye. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was a freshman trying to figure out the college scene. Oh, how far I’ve come since freshman year. Ha. I’ve learned a lot since then–academically and most importantly, spiritually.

God used my various involvement in different organizations to teach me how to use my gifts and talents for His glory. I never would have thought that I could have handled being a praise and worship leader, a director for our business club, the new editor-in-chief of our student newspaper, a member of a volunteer based club, an officer for our choir, or a member of an additional choir, on top of 18 hours worth of classes. But by the grace of God, I did it and finished well.

Honestly, all that I just mentioned wasn’t even the hardest part about this year. No, the hardest part came earlier this week when I realized I had to say goodbye to people I truly care about.

Now, graduation is most certainly a joyous occasion, but at a school like Erskine it amazed me at how quickly I got so close to members of the senior class. I’ve made several friendships that I know I don’t ever want to see end. So it was difficult to say goodbye. Senior year of college isn’t like high school. This time around, your true friends are going all over the place. Wherever that job opportunity arises, or wherever that special someone wants to settle down, becomes your friend’s’ new home.

Certain goodbyes in particular were hard for me, but the truth is God brings people in and out of your life as He sees fit. Some are only meant to stay for a season. Others may go but come back. Either way, I’ve had to rest in the fact that God is still good and that if certain friendships are meant to last then they will.

True friendship can never be severed by distance.

The roomie, me, and Neely at Graduation

The roomie, me, and Neely at Graduation