This time of year is always bittersweet. We experience the last week in chapel, the last baseball game, student project presentations and activities across the campus. We are so proud of our students, but we may never see some of them again. Some are graduating, some going on to other opportunities. At times I reminisce about close friendships I have formed with students and wonder what they are doing now. I often brag that we have the best students of any college. I miss all those whose paths have crossed mine over the years and appreciate what they have added to my life.
Today in the caf I sat with a basketball player. It was his first year here, although not his first year in college. I asked him about his experience here. His response overwhelmed me to an extent. He was honest and forthright and said that, when he first came he appeared engaged and confident, but it was all a facade. The genuineness of his friends and the people here broke through the facade and he went on to talk about how life has so much more to offer now than he thought it did. He pointed to another table in the caf where a group of students were sitting and laughing. They were not athletes, not like him and not involved in the same activities. He said, (I am paraphrasing) "I know all those people. I could go over right now and sit down at that table and be accepted as part of their group. I know their names and they know me. I have never felt that level of acceptance and lack of judgment before and it has changed me."
I love this place. When the job starts to wear on you, all you have to do is go across campus and talk to a student or eat in the caf and watch the interaction and you become energized.
This week we celebrated our school year with the All-College Banquet. A highlight for me is the Mr. and Ms. York College award. I’m not concerned about who wins, but I love the candidates’ perspectives about how York College has changed them and what the school means to them. For the sake of space I'll share just a few of their comments:
“First and foremost I am now a Christian and I was not before York. I think the way I handle situations now has drastically changed as I have grown. I think I am a more gracious person, at least I aim to be. I just want to show Christ in all that I do. He is still working on me.” Courtney
“My perspective has changed on life, relationships, and spirituality. I'm better now than when I first came to YC because I've learned to listen to the love that God has surrounded me with. Also I have learned to use my failures as stepping stones for a foundation for success. The people that I have been surrounded by and have grown to love have made me better, simply by being them.” Cameron
“Being here has opened my mind to different perspectives and ways of thinking. I've experienced Christ through so many people and things. Through the good times and the bad, I feel like I've experienced what it really means to love others as yourself through the people I've met here.” Jarrell
“My fellow students and friends never failed to surround me in times of need and struggle, showing me what it looks like to be a true community. Faculty and staff have taught me to fearlessly pursue excellence and to trust that God will lead me through my own ignorance. Thank you all for teaching me how to be more like our Father. That is a gift that can never be replaced. Even though the next phase of life must come, I know that I will always have a home here.” Delaney
“I now have a great relationship with God. I have become a better all-around person and try to live my life the way my parents and God would want me to. I also want to thank York College and Coach Diaz for allowing me to come back to school and change my life. I will be forever grateful and I truly love York College.” Jeff
I think their words sum up what we're all about and why we're here. I was the one privileged to read their words in chapel on Monday and it took all the control I had to master the emotions I felt. It is good to be a Panther.