As soon as I set foot on campus during the fall of my senior year of high school, I knew Manchester was where I belonged. Four years later, I know I made the right decision. I’ve been blessed with the best of friends and opportunities I would not have received anywhere else. Even if I had never met them, I know I would miss Jessie and Katie and William and Kristen being a part of my life. I would have missed out working in the Chapel and designing The Oak Leaves and planning Peace Week and organizing floor programs. I’m proud to be a Spartan, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Of course, four years ago I didn’t know I would experience any of that. So why did I choose Manchester? The academics, of course. And I really didn’t want to be a number at a large university. And I have family in Wabash, which is really lovely because for the first time since I was a toddler, I was able to spend time with them. I spent weekends at my grandparents’ house. I watched my cousin Grant graduate kindergarten. I was here when my cousin Bailey was born. Family is important to me and it was great to re-establish relationships with the people I love.
And the fourth reason I chose Manchester is the college’s affiliation with the Church of the Brethren. Four years ago, I was new to the Church of the Brethren and eager to see where my faith journey would lead me. It led me to the Wabash Church of the Brethren, where I taught Sunday School classes with my friend Jane. It led me to my first lovefeast, hosted by Simply Brethren in Petersime Chapel. It led me to a summer internship with my home church in Manassas, Va.
I then worked more than three years as a Campus Ministry Assistant. Petersime is my “other” home, when I’m not in Helman or The Oak Leaves lab. I’m so glad I was able not only to be at Manchester when the Chapel was renovated and then re-dedicated, but to be part of the re-dedication service itself. I don’t know how big of an impact the Church will have on the rest of my life, but I do know that my faith is strong and the Lord will be with me wherever I go.
And where I am going? Well, God currently has me on hold. I don’t know what my future holds. I know that as much as I would like to live in the past, I can’t. It’s time for me to move on and I’m OK with that. I’m leaving Manchester with great memories. I won’t forget our Big Bang Theory viewing parties. Or Saturday nights playing Just Dance. Or our Oak Leaves quote cabinet. Or seeing Harry Potter at midnight. Or constantly meeting other Whovians. It’s been a blast and none of it would have been possible without God and the love and support of my parents.
My mom was initially hesitant to let me go to college out of state. But she knew that I was making the right choice. It hasn’t always been easy, being so far from home, but we’ve made it work. I never missed a holiday and we are constantly in communication with one another, even when Dad was in the middle of those … conversations. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you.
When we visited Oxford this past January, I bought a magnet with a quote by my favorite author, Oscar Wilde. This particular quote has always guided me throughout my time at Manchester. While I highly value academics and enjoyed my classes, I learned just as much outside the classroom. I learned about God and living a good life. I learned about friendship and the effects good people can have on one’s life. But most of all, I learned who I am.
And so I leave you with words from Oscar Wilde: “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”