Tag Archives: senior

First Day, Last Day

First Day
I step out of my dorm into the stifling heat and humidity of the early morning, feeling suffocated by the water in the air. I set my face towards the building that I hope contains my first class, praying for strength and comfort. I pass no familiar faces.

I sit down for Greek in a dark, windowless room. We take turns telling why we wanted to take Greek, and we learn the alphabet. I’m excited by his promise of reading the New Testament, but I see few prospects of making friends in this class.

I pass through the BSB lobby. I see no one I know, for there’s no one to see.

I go to Pennington’s Honors Chemistry class, where I learn about significant figures. Again. (Little did I know how many of my friends-to-be sat through this same lecture.)

Chapel. Lunch. Who can I sit with? What should we talk about?

I enter my first BIC class, where I meet ten professors, throw around a beach ball of ideas, and giggle with joy at my reading assignments. I think, THIS is why learning was created!

I’m insanely excited for my classes. I’m not quite homesick. I call Tommy to see how his first day went. I call my mom.

I return to a little square room – in a city that will likely never feel quite like home – to write a blog entry.

Last Day
I step out of my apartment into the comforting warmth and humidity of the early morning, wrapping it around me like a blanket. I pray for comfort on my last day, and with thanksgiving for all it represents. I have 350 very important pages in my hands that have taken two years to make. I walk past my first dorm on my way to the engineering building. I pass faces I know and faces I don’t, on a campus where I can’t get lost.

My thesis advisor has signed my pages. I’m done! I lilt across campus, calling Greg and my mom, hoping to make it to the Honors office before the sky lets loose on my precious pages. I make it. The office is filled with students like me waiting to submit their hard-earned work and professors whom I’ve seen for four years.

I wait in the BSB lobby before my next (and final) class. I see no one I know. I flip through the Lariat, play with my phone, and regret not bringing my computer. I take in the atmosphere between classes: people chatting at the coffee counter, students waiting in line for the printers, people lounging in the chairs and windowsills, and good friends chatting about the last day of school.

I take my seat in Physics, my last undergraduate class. It is uneventful, and no tears flow.

A car waits for me outside. Three friends from Greek class go to lunch, chatting about school, the future, weddings, and our former professor.

I come home to work on a paper. I drive over to watch the engineers play ultimate frisbee, sitting on the “girlfriend/fiancee bench”, waving to people I know, celebrating my friend’s new job, rejoicing that my thesis is over, and trying to catch Greg leaping in the air on my camera.

I walk over to the library basement and plop in front of the familiar whiteboard with my math crew, beginning the epic stretch of studying for finals. We work and laugh and sing.

I meet up with Greg and friends again for an improv comedy show, laughing and enjoying the comfortable company of friends and acquaintances all around me. A friend re-introduces me to her boyfriend after the show. We told her, “Yeah, we’ve met. We had Pennington’s chemistry together.”

I come home to write a blog entry. And I hardly hesitate in writing home.

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In Defense of Tears

“So,” said Peter, “night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You’re not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?”
“Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia.”
… “It were no virtue, but great discourtesy, if we did not mourn.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

John writes, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).

On my last day at my beloved local church, I wept. It started as I walked up the stairs. My tears flowed freely during the music, I sniffled through the sermon, and I bawled uncontrollably the whole way home, finally collapsing in a muddled heap on my couch.

Many people offered words of comfort: “Don’t cry.” “You’ll be back.” “You will find a new church and new community.” “Something better is coming.”
While their words are true, I rebel at the command not to cry.

“Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.” – Albert Smith

As Tirian said, it is a “great discourtesy” not to mourn the ending of something beautiful, even if something better is coming. Jesus mourned for his friend Lazarus, even though He knew that Lazarus would live again. Each year during Lent we mourn and remember Jesus’s sacrifice, even though we know Easter is on its way. Mourning gives weightiness and value to something’s ending. Skipping the Passion directly for Easter glances over the sacrifice that makes Easter beautiful. Experiencing the emotions of deep sorrow and deep happiness make life real. Without tears, I would just skip like a rock across the surface of life, never allowing it to affect me. Tears show that I have been touched, that I have become attached, that I have loved.

And so I weep for the ending of beautiful things here at Baylor and at Highland. The faces, the places, the laughter, the difficulties, the music, the sounds, the smells, the hugs, even those darn college coffee pots: I will miss it all.

In the midst of tears, I cry with hope (1 Thessalonians 4), for I know God has great things planned. Ahead of me is a new city, a new school, a new church, a new life with which I can glorify God.

You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.
– Lord Digory, C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Kyle’s last sermon, on 1 Thessalonians 5, was a beautiful reminder of this truth: Jesus is coming, and He’s going to bring His own to their one true, final Home! In that Home, there will be no tears!
But until that time, I will have to face the passing of beautiful things, things that faintly echo the melody of that Home. And I will shed tears.

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Immortal Message

Today, I put on a gown, walked across a stage, and joined that good old Baylor line as a new Baylor alumna. I sat beside my math crew and behind one of my best friends. I smiled and laughed and congratulated. I celebrated with family and friends and professors, and watched the people who have had such a profound influence on me finally meet one another.

Commencement Address
Dr. Garland reminded us of what mother Baylor has taught us: Jesus alone can satisfy. We do not attend college to make more money; we attend college to better use the talents God has given us, in order that He might be glorified and His children be loved.
Dr. Garland compared Jesus’ baptism to our graduation. Though no dove descended in the arena, our parents were well pleased. Life is wonderful.
He then compared Jesus’ temptation in the desert to the challenges we will face as we enter the world.
Hunger. Suffering. Temptation.
We were reminded that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We were also reminded that however the devil attempts to twist Scripture, we were not promised that the Christian life would be easy. We do not have a right to or expectation of a good job, happy relationships, or even food to eat.
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Many students are encouraged to stay in college because it will allow them to make more money. As Christians, this is not our primary goal. Our goal is to obey God by being good stewards of the intellect we have been given, and prosperity is not a guaranteed reward of good stewardship.
At the end of the game, everything goes back in the box. Everything came from God and will return to God in the end. The devil cannot offer us something that is not already in God’s hands.
I am secure in the knowledge that God alone is God.

Immortal Message
Before he passed away, one of the most beloved Baylor presidents wrote his commencement speech to the class of 1931. Samuel Palmer Brooks’ words have become known as the “Immortal Message,” and have special meaning today as the torch is passed to me.

This, my message to the Senior Class of 1931, I address also to the seniors of all years, those seniors of the past and those seniors yet to be. This I do because I love them all equally even as I love all mankind regardless of station or creed, race or religion.

I stand on the border of mortal life but I face eternal life. I look backward to the years of the past to see all pettiness, all triviality shrink into nothing and disappear. Adverse criticism has no meaning now. Only the worthwhile things, the constructive things, the things that have built for the good of mankind and the glory of God count now. There is beauty, there is joy, and there is laughter in life–as there ought to be. But remember, all of you, not to regard lightly nor to ridicule the sacred things, those worthwhile things. Hold them dear, cherish them, for they alone will sustain you in the end; and remember too that only through work and ofttimes through hardships may they be attained. But the compensation of blessing and sweetness at the last will glorify every hour of work and every heartache from hardship.

Looking back now as I do, I see things with a better perspective than ever before and in truer proportions. More clearly do I recognize that God is love. More clearly do I understand the universal fatherhood of God. More clearly do I know the brotherhood of man.

Truths do not change. The truths of life which I learned as a student at Baylor have not varied, nor will they vary. I know now that life has been a summary of that which was taught me first as a student here. As my teachers have lived through me so I must live through you. You who are graduating today will go out into the world to discover that already you have touched much of what the future holds. You have learned the lessons which must fit you for the difficulties and the joys of the years to come. Then hold these college years close in your hearts and value them at their true worth.

Do not face the future with timidity nor with fear. Face it boldly, courageously, joyously. Have faith in what it holds. Sorrow as well as happiness must come with time. But know that only after sorrow’s hand has bowed your head will life become truly real to you, for only then will you acquire the noble spirituality which intensifies the reality of life. My own faith as I approach eternity grows stronger day by day. The faith I have had in life is projected into this vast future toward which I travel now. I know that I go to an all-powerful God wherever he may be. I know that he is a personality who created man in His image. Beyond that I have no knowledge–no fear–only faith.

Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past, because of what she will mean to you in the future, oh, my students, have a care for her. Build upon the foundations here the great school of which I have dreamed, so that she may touch and mold the lives of future generations and help to fit them for life here and hereafter. To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch. My love be unto you and my blessing be upon you.
–Samuel Palmer Brooks

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Senior Year, Part 3

Have I mentioned that senior year is rain? Lots and lots and lots of rain?

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Senior Year, Part 2

Nearly six months later, I return to the life of the senior. What is senior year?

– Senior year is Thesis.
– Thesis is anxiously waiting for advisor’s emails.
– Thesis is trying again and again to make the data behave properly.
– Thesis is frustration.
– Thesis is telling people that hippotherapy involves neither hippopotomi nor the hippocampus.
– Thesis is smiling at the little boy and horse on my binder.
– Thesis is writing and commenting on witty Facebook statuses.
– Thesis is believing we will all graduate on time with Honors and completed theses.
– Senior year is late night homework parties at the RMR.
– Senior year is talking late into the night on the striped couch.
– Senior year is doing the macarena during Abstract.
– Senior year is CG discussions about church, the Holy Spirit, basketball, and weddings.
– Senior year is watching people struggle to stay upright in the Chair of Death.
– Senior year is going through all the Texas airports to get to graduate schools.
– Senior year is kumquats and starfruit and pomegranates and guavas.
– Senior year is getting out of class to throw snowballs.
– Senior year is waltzing in the snow.
– Senior year is crossing vectors.
– Senior year is glorifying God with acceptance letters and honors.
– Senior year is lunch with friends.
– Senior year is trying to talk over Moaning Myrtle, the dishwasher.
– Senior year is boldness to talk to strangers at church.
– Senior year is Bananagrams and Mexican Train and any excuse to have “the crew” over.
– Senior year is Skype phone tag with Hungary.
– Senior year is snow storms at home.
– Senior year is Wednesday morning breakfast.
– Senior year is laughter and learning at Leadership meeting.
– Senior year is when the word “graduation” is taboo.
– Senior year is game night and late night discussions at the College House.
– Senior year is delighting in new dishes.
– Senior year is ever-intensifying Baylor pride, and growing excitement for what comes next.

Senior year is wonderful.

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Mama Baylor

Rachel demanded a blog post of me.

I cling to my last months here in the comforting, challenging, nurturing, difficult, safe and demanding environment of Mama Baylor.
There is so much to take in on a bike ride home while campus prepares to welcome back former students like myself.
Boys toss a frisbee by the engineering building.
The library parking lot, for once, has emptied.
Puddles are drying from the interminable monsoon.
Couples walk hand in hand, probably hoping to find a swing. (Good luck.)
Fountain Mall is covered in sand to protect it from the upcoming bonfire.
Chamber dutifully sets up tents.
My bike is the only one on the rack in front of the SUB since the street will soon be cleared for the parade.
The bookstore is full of green and gold.
People yell across 5th street at one another, and I smile as I pass Lady and Joy.
I ride to Memorial over the grey bricks, quite satisfied at the squish-squish sound my wheels elicit.
Ah, Memorial food. The salad bar and taking as many apples as I can to feed Rachel’s crock pot.
Alexander is decorated for homecoming. (Maybe the HRC will win this year!)
I ride past people gathered for a Thursday afternoon chat on the Memorial porch.
Oh, my heart aches as I realize how soon I must leave this place!
Four years seems so short a time in this place of love, friendship, newness, tradition, and learning. It seems just weeks ago that my eyes first glanced on the towering columns of Memorial and the sweeping roof of the BSB. Why, o graduation, do you seem a curse?
Yet as I turn to leave the honors quad, Pat Neff rings out, “That Good Old Baylor Line.”
O, that good old Baylor Line.
We’ll march forever down the years, as long as stars shall shine.

The lessons I have learned here and the friendships I have made will not die. Though I sometimes feel like I’m burning the metaphorical candle with every wick I can find, I’m trying to live life to the fullest. As I write, Chris Rice sings, “Every day is a gift you’ve been given; make the most of the time every minute you’re living.”

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Senior Year

After I explained all of my plans for the next few days, my professor sighed and said, “Ah, the life of a senior.”

What is the life of a senior?

Senior year is having people over for dinner.
Senior year is trying to soak every bit of everything in.
Senior year is late night conversations with my roommate.
Senior year is hours upon hours in front of a whiteboard, half doing math and half making each other laugh.
Senior year is talking about the future and boys and men.
Senior year is everyone dreaming about how they want to change the world in graduate school or in a career.
Senior year is wondering where God wants us.
Senior year is praying in groups of three.
Senior year is bike rides to the library in the pouring rain.
Senior year is always intending to go to bed early, and never succeeding.
Senior year is 9 am Encounter.
Senior year is football fever.
Senior year is slowly decorating the apartment.
Senior year is talking about the Illiad with my freshmen.
Senior year is being surrounded by Rachels.
Senior year is liking Mondays better than Tuesdays.
Senior year is recharging on a Friday night.

Senior year is scary, and senior year is wonderful.

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