11:00 am. Race day. I tighten the laces of my running shoes and try to keep my nerves under control. Breathe. I ran track in high school and am no stranger to road races, so this should be easy. A single mile. No need to set a personal record. I have one goal: keep track of a single seven-year-old…in a crowd of thousands. Piece of cake, right? Read more
Posts By Madeline Wenner
As I took my seat at the start of Ancient Political Philosophy, Abby smiled and opened her mouth to say something. I expected her to comment on the book in my hand (I like to read on my way to class), but instead she made a brushing motion on her forehead and said, “You know you have—is that for—?”
“For Ash Wednesday? Yeah,” I said, realizing she was looking at the sooty mark on my forehead. Read more
Somewhere between the slacker and the model student sits the procrastinator. Plagued with worries about a mountain of work and allured by the distractions of Facebook and Pinterest, the procrastinator rarely finishes a paper more than twenty-four hours before it is due.
Some are procrastinators by choice, others by necessity. I stand with a foot in each camp: because I work and go to school, I find myself in many last-minute scrambles; but I often waste free time when I get it. If I’m used to doing projects in crunch-time, why should I start them two weeks early? It becomes a vicious cycle, so while I get my snippets of free time, a full eight hours of sleep or an actual day off become increasingly rare. Read more
I went skiing for the first time in my life over Christmas break. It was a humbling experience; falling down and getting tangled up while six-year-olds zoomed past certainly deflated my ego a bit. I was truly fortunate in having my fiancé, Nate, with me the whole time. He was beyond patient with me. He smiled when I glared up from my powdery mess, helped me up, and gently corrected my posture, ski positions, and movement.
I realized that whether you are skiing for the first time or sitting in a college classroom, a good teacher will act with patience, humility, and a bit of good-humor.
A good teacher shows more patience than he feels, but there are some things he won’t let slide. Read more
On that first day of class, you have no idea what your professor will do.
Take Dr. Jayce O’Neal. For the first day of Public Speaking last year, he abandoned the lectern and sat in the back of the room, posing as a student. Though we all vehemently denied it afterwards, the ruse had us half-fooled, and we couldn’t help liking a professor who wasn’t above a practical joke.
The course was incredible. Dr. O’Neal discerned our personalities after just a few classes and pushed us out of our carefully constructed comfort zones. While teaching us to relate to audiences and argue properly, he instilled confidence in the shy and helped the proud realize their weaknesses. When the course ended, we weren’t just better public speakers; we were better individuals.
A few months later, Dr. O’Neal invited a group of students to meet about “an exciting new project” he hoped we’d be interested in. I assumed he meant a student club or a simple internship program. You know, something student-centric, something to influence our academic performance or build our résumés.
I was thinking small.
Dr. O’Neal was thinking big.
Church-sized, in fact. Several years of careful planning and guidance from mentors and pastors had gone into planting RED Church, and now he wanted students to help in the final months before the launch. After explaining its mission–reaching out to the unchurched and de-churched and emphasizing the Redemption, Encouragement, and Destiny of believers–Dr. O’Neal asked us if we were willing to commit. Nearly everyone signed on.
Seven months later, RED Church has been more than a feel-good volunteer opportunity. Dr. O’Neal wanted everyone involved to develop into a leader, a kingdom-builder. We’ve worked through three major fundraisers, attended training sessions, and helped with small groups. We’re preparing for the first preview service on October 27 and the official launch this winter.
Just as he had in Public Speaking, Dr. O’Neal has helped everyone involved discern our strengths then push us beyond them, out of our comfort zones, and into the area where faith and natural ability combine. Months before opening its doors, RED Church is already building new leaders.
I myself have had to listen to people who believe that English literature is unmarketable, even moribund. I’ve struggled to articulate my reasons for pursuing this degree. I know that God has a purpose for me with literature, but I’m always grateful for encouragement and affirmation. In a recent class discussion, I received just that.
On the first day of British Literature: Middle Ages Through the Eighteenth Century, Dr. Elam asked us why literature matters. To begin the discussion, he had us read Psalm 14:3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20, which remind us that we all suffer the consequences of the Fall. We have all sinned; we all live in a fallen (or post-lapsarian, for you sesquipedalian word lovers out there) world full of tragedies, with the greatest tragedy, sin, on our backs. The Fall goes beyond individual sin, too. All around us we see the “ought-is” problem: while the world is full of darkness, it ought to be full of light. Young children die of leukemia; hurricanes destroy whole towns. This should not be so. We know that things are not right, but we have not the power to set them right. In the profound words of one of my classmates, “Reality kind of sucks.”
Through literature, we can step back and experience reality, with its tragedies and victories, with much lower stakes. When we close the book, we are not in a war zone, mourning the death of a loved one, or going through a divorce—but in a way, we feel as though we are. We internalize the conflict, so we can learn from a cataclysmic life even without ever actually experiencing it. We see in ourselves that character, in our lives that situation, in our hearts that struggle, and we learn about human nature as it exists in us and in others.
“In literature, tragically flawed characters reflect the recognition that you can’t escape from the Fall,” Dr. Elam told us. “Still, the things that ought to happen, happen. How many of you have read The Lord of the Rings?”
I sat a little straighter in my chair and raised my hand with the rest. It was one thing to talk abstractly about literature, but illustrating a point using my favorite trilogy? This professor was awesome.
“Okay, a few of you. Would you say that Frodo succeeds in his mission?” He paused. “No, Frodo fails miserably. Once he finally gets the ring to Mt. Doom, he decides to keep it and refuses to destroy it. Frodo fails his mission. But it’s still accomplished—the ring is still destroyed.”
I smiled to myself, remembering Gandalf’s words: “And that is an encouraging thought.”
Outside the Bible, literature portrays the Fall and reveals Redemption. God is at work, and even when we fail, He doesn’t. A work need not be explicitly Christian, or even Christian at all. A story can show us what’s wrong with the world, condemn our nature, promise a better land with the Greatest Being, and encourage us along our way. A nonbeliever who wouldn’t read the Bible might pick up Paradise Lost and feel homesick for a place they’ve never been, a place where God reigns.
The right book in the right hands can change the world, and Regent has a great English program to get you on that track.
Like most college students, I need to supplement my loans with extra money to pay for school—in this economy, everyone to some extent has to work to go to school. But, after all, I came to Regent to learn, and the challenging but edifying curriculum, along with my non-salaried internships, often left me wanting to relax, not job hunt. After sending out 10 applications that came to nothing, I asked God to send the perfect job my way.
He did. He knew I wanted more than money. I wanted to be challenged, energized and restored. I wanted my job to be both a learning experience and an environment to practice my education. So that’s what He gave me.
At this dream job, I am served five-course meals at a fancy restaurant. I become both evil stepmother and fairy godmother in a pantomime Cinderella, eat fluorescent ice cream made from Play-Doh, watch PBS Kids, and even have time after a few hours to read my Modern Literature assignment.
I am a babysitter. During the past year, I babysat eight kids ages nine months to 12 years. Most of their parents are Regent students and graduates. All of the children are sweet in their own way. Some are outgoing, some shy; some willingly listen, while others need persuading. The five-year-olds, with their active imaginations, create stories more brilliant and fantastical than any I read in my literature classes, while the babies’ wide-eyed smiles alone speak volumes.
I come from a big family, so I’ve been babysitting since I no longer needed a sitter myself, but coming to Regent changed the experience again.
Babysitting fights off homesickness. I was used to being around little siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors. At college, I was on ‘kid withdrawal” until I started babysitting. Twenty-year-olds are just too tame; I need some chaos to calm down.
It heals my stress. Nothing cures that midterm exhaustion like the wild, buoyant, infectious, untamable, scampering, choking, shrieking laughter of a toddler.
It changes my perspective. My own stress about living expenses and a heavy workload was caricatured in the personal gravity of one four-year-old girl. For her, every decision was important, from the doll she played with in the afternoon to the pajamas she picked out at bedtime. Every small moment was inflated with her immense appreciation, and I too could be grateful for misty mornings and warm cookies, for cold popsicles and sunny afternoons.
We play dolls and make-believe and pirates and trucks. The world becomes new again as old experiences are presented as if for the first time. When a two-year-old and I saw, right in the heart of suburbia, a small rabbit nosing in the grass, we shared a wide-eyed, wordless wonder.
Babysitting allows me to apply my lessons from Regent, too. In Communication and Popular Culture, we learned how to pitch a project or story idea to an employer in less than a minute. I had to do use the same technique, only faster, while babysitting. Creative executives may have short attention spans, but three-year-olds have no attention span at all.
I step away from the battle of grade-point-averages, textbooks and Blackboard posts and enter a different crusade. I learned logic in Philosophy, argumentation in Research & Academic Writing, and persuasion in Public Speaking, but this mighty arsenal of rhetoric failed to convince one charge to eat all her dinner. I used instead a mightier weapon that Regent arms every student with: prayer.
In this new world, child A is in a tattle-tale, child B is a possessive three-year-old, and child C still requires frequent diaper changes. So while A snitches on B for stealing A’s toy, you don’t have time to intervene and stop the ensuing fight before C remorsefully announces, “Poo-poo…”
But oh, what triumph when they settle down and play together nicely! I could hear triumphant fanfare when they cleaned their plates. I rejoiced when they fell asleep at bedtime. And when their parents came to drive me home, I was grateful for the job that paid more than money.
Babysitting strengthens me for college. Regent enriches the experience.
How do you coordinate school and work?