I did it!
On Saturday I strode across stage, completing the final “it’s official” moment in graduation. To be honest though, it felt somewhat anti-climatic as I had official graduated five months earlier and had been out-of-state for the previous four.
But returning to Cedarville forced me into reflection of both my college experience and the weight of my accomplishment.
For most of my life, there was never any doubt that I would graduate from college. As a child, I watched both of my brothers graduate from high school and college, be hired to jobs in their field, and more recently become home owners and parents. There was little doubt that I would follow in their footsteps.
But it is important for me to maintain a proper perspective–I am a first-generation college graduation. I’ve watched both friends and family drop-out of college or never enroll at all, and without the proper work ethic and support, I easily could have dropped out as well.
Here’s perspective: I’ve received an education superior to that of the majority of humanity. In any church I walk into, I will be more biblically informed than 95%+ of congregation.
Too often I muddled a huge accomplishment with the weight of frustration and disappointment. I lose that crucial perspective to my achievement.
I left Cedarville with regrets. I never got to work for SCAB, be an RA, be a discipleship leader, be part of a growing and successful ministry, go on refugee weekend, or see my cross country and track career to completion.
My friend group has changed drastically each year as close friends transferred semester to semester. The pictures I have with friends at graduation are dwarfed by the group pictures being taken around us.
I’ve watched Cedarville become a more narrow and divided community with the shift in administration and exclusion of many prior administration and faculty.
It would be very easy for me to focus on these disappointments and regrets and allow them to slow eat away my perspective and leave my accomplishment soured. Moving forward, I get to determine how I remember the past four years of academia and companionship.
I am choosing thankfulness.
I am thankful for the fantastic professors I had in Jeff Cook, TC Ham, Dr. Estes, Dr. Miller, Dr. Graves, Ambrose, Dixon, and Hutch.
I am thankful that I got to spend some of my life in the Cedarville of Dr. Brown, Pastor Rohm, and Carl Ruby.
I am thankful that I spent most of my Christian life in this “Christ-centered learning community.”
I am thankful for the groups of friends that I have had. I am thankful for Austin and Jesse, for all of my Brock friends, for all of my friends who have transferred, for my cross country friends, and for #YouthMinForTheWin.
And I am choosing to be thankful for the education I received. I am thankful for the transformational process of education that took place in my life in this time, for the worldview formed through it. Despite the differing directions that Cedarville and I have gone, and despite a rightful, soured opinion of Cedarville on a national level, no one can take away the education that I received.
Cedarville is not a perfect institution and I wholeheartedly disagree on much of their policy. My college experience was far from ideal.
But it was my experience, and I will move forward remembering Cedarville as a central piece of my education and development. And no person, policy, or disappointment can take that away from me.