Enduring Spirit of SPU

I don’t exactly know where to start. So much has happened since my last post. I apologize for the extensive absence of my blog. I want to make it a personal goal to post more regularly. In my almost year long silence from here, I have grown up a lot, gained confidence in myself and realized that God’s purpose for my life is bigger than I expected. The details of my freshman year of college at SPU and the many adventures it contained will come as I begin to post consistently again. Just a warning to the readers of this post; this will be long but I will try to be as concise as possible. I want to thank all of my readers for your patience and endless support. I am seriously in awe of the kindness and encouragement of all of you. It is truly a blessing to be able to share my journey with every one of you.

I seriously could not have asked for a better first year at SPU. Living on a floor of girls was definitely… a unique experience but I am so grateful for my wonderful, beautiful floor-mates and the fantastic PA who became my friend, momma, confidant and inspiration. I bonded especially with the girls I shared a nook with. A nook is a small lounge common area with two rooms and a bathroom on each side. I was able to grow closer to Sarah S, my lifelong best friend who happened to live just a few rooms down from me this year. I grew especially close to Ali (name and personality twin! seriously a remarkable person), Annalise (our fabulous fashionista with a laugh that brightens everyone’s day!), Sarah M (the crazy smart, hardworking big sister influence who I shared many study dates with), Marcie (my suite-mate with a beautiful loud personality and a heart full of compassion that blows my mind) and Stefanie (the rower with physical endurance of a mountain goat who always knows what to say to make me laugh). These girls are those who I lived closely with but the whole floor was filled with girls who continue to amaze me with their strength, conviction and positivity. In addition to my crazy girls, I am blessed with meeting and getting to know the one and only Kodi who lived on our brother floor and was adopted by our nook especially. His endless wit, wisdom, perspective and support were such a light.
On an academic level, I learned so much about economics, faith and the God given purpose of business. SPU’s School of Business and Economics is founded on the philosophy that there is “another way of doing business.” This perspective speaks life into the often passionless, cold world that business is often known for. I learned that business is not a forgotten avenue to do God’s work but is more the foundation of all work that can be done in our Lord’s name. Business is in everything and because of this, has one of the most powerful presences in the world. In my opinion, business is service and has the ability to touch countless lives. With being exposed to this novel way of thinking, my personal passion for business has grown monumentally. I know that no matter what I end up doing, business will be part of it.
Also, SPU’s core curriculum includes classes meant to enable students to experience the Christian message and learn about the foundation of the Christian belief. With these classes, I had the opportunity to learn from absolutely incredible professors about the faith that I call my home. I feel so much more educated about the fundamental beliefs that are my faith. I also had the experience of confronting my convictions through literature and film. I am so much more “on fire” for Jesus and have an increased desire to know Him more.
In terms of accommodations and disability support services, I am blown away with the resources extended to me. I was able to complete work through braille, electronic documents, audiobooks and personal scribes for exams and projects. My needs are met here in every way and I am so thankful to work with the awesome team I have at SPU.
For my sophomore year, I will be living in a brand new residence hall called Arnett Hall. Additionally, I will be serving on hall council as a senator for the new dorm and the dorm I lived in this year. Arnett and Emerson will work in joint government for this first year of Arnett’s existence on campus. My main girl Ali and the amazing Kodi will be serving on Arnett/Emerson hall council as well. As a team of nine members, we are motivated to create a foundation of acceptance and positivity for the new dorm while continuing to build the identity of Emerson. I am thrilled for this opportunity to make a difference on campus and strive to pave the way for students with disabilities in Arnett hall while providing a listening ear for every resident. My ideas include tactile art for Arnett, braille labeling for all appliances, set service dog relieving areas, dorm documents in a variety of accessible formats and events promoting awareness of all that makes us unique as individuals. We are going to do great things and I am so excited for next year!!

The Day the Earth Stood Still
June 5, 2014 is a day I will never ever forget. At about 3:30 PM, a young man armed with a gun entered Otto Miller Hall on SPU’s campus. He opened fire on a lobby full of students seriously wounding one and taking the life of another. While the shooter stopped to unload, a brave and heroic student, John, took action and subdued the shooter long enough for police to arrive, preventing harm to any other students. Our community is unbelievably grateful for John and his selfless actions. But we are also heart broken by the loss of Paul Lee, the young freshman whose life was cut much too short by an act of such senseless violence.
Before and during the shooting, I was in a meeting in my dorm with my team of hall council members for next year. We heard the sirens racing by us toward the science building and joked about the police being after one of us before we were informed via other students that something much more evil had happened. Quickly, the whole campus went into lock down, alerting students via text, email and phone calls. We were told to lock the door and get away from the giant window in front of us that faced the building where the shooting occurred. Rumors circulated sending all of us into shocked, confused, saddened, angry, prayerful silence. Occasionally new pieces of information reached us and we began to create a bigger picture of what had happened on our beloved SPU campus. Listening to the phone calls to family of my fellow hall council members and then hearing my mom and brother sobbing with relief as I called to inform them of my safety, made the reality hit hard. It wasn’t until later that evening, when the lockdown was lifted, that we all learned the identities of those affected. It all happened too quickly. Our world was flipped upside down. A heaviness fell on our campus. I had friends who were in the building when it all happened. Their accounts and the scenes they witnessed still leave me stunned. But the loss of Paul, a freshman from a spirited floor on campus; a fellow classmate; an adored son; a roommate; a young man with hopes and dreams… all I can say is that he will be so dearly missed. I did not personally know Paul but watching as my friends who sat next to him in class earlier that day or had him in other classes, grieved so deeply, broke my heart.
But SPU will not be broken. We are a community of faith and hope and we will love each other through this. Although we are hurting, Jesus is on this campus. Even in the hours after the shooting, God’s loving presence was evident in every student. A prayer service was quickly organized for that night and the attendance was so great that they had to open live streaming locations on campus for people to attend. In subsequent prayer services, the response was only greater. Prayer circles were scattered on every lawn, candle light vigils were organized by students, flowers blanketed the entrance to Otto Miller Hall, love consumed this place. Love not only for the victims, but love for the shooter and his family. I saw no sign of bitterness but only extended compassion and support for the man who sought to hurt and destroy. That is Jesus in every way. That is what it means to be a follower of Christ. And that is the enduring spirit of Seattle Pacific University.

Attached to this post is our faithful SpU President’s heartfelt reaction to the shooting. Affectionately known by students as “D Money,” Dr. Daniel Martin is an example of raw faith and compassion. His unfailing leadership is that of a sincere Christian man. Throughout the year, Dr Martin was present at all campus-wide functions and played an active roll in our campus culture and community. This tragedy was no different. He grieved and continues to heal alongside us. This university is immeasurably blessed to have his strength, care and humility as a guiding light through this process of grief and healing. This is true leadership in every way. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, “we will overcome.”

Please stay tuned for a following post about my summer adventure at the National Ability Center.SPU President Dr Daniel Martin’s Sincere Message After Campus Shooting

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Back Home

My week in Utah has come to a close. I have had the time of my life and have learned so much. Not just about therapeutic riding but about being self sufficient and taking risks where I may make mistakes. I’m proud of myself for working hard to push outside my comfort zone but still making sure I receive what I need. I am really sad to leave. I feel like I’ve made some great connections and I really feel at home at the National Ability Center. I am considering an internship at the NAC, specifically in the  equestrian program for next summer. I feel like I would really benefit.

This trip really was the perfect opportunity to realize my confidence to be independent before SPU. Going into the fall, I feel really ready to take on whatever life throws at me. I’ve really felt God’s presence with me this week. When I was insecure and uncomfortable he gave me the strength to keep trying and not shut down which, would be my instinct.

All in all, the best graduation present to myself ever!!! Retha and I are on our way to Seattle!

Back to Sea town!!!

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Update Utah

Another update from UT! I am getting really comfortable with my environment and am honestly surprised with my independence for only being here a few days. Retha is helping a ton too and has learned the different routes around the NAC campus.

Today I had the honor of riding in a lesson of instructors taught by my amazing mentor Marci. It felt so wonderful to be riding with her again. I rode a horse who goes a lot like Watchman so I was able to learn a lot. It took a bit to get used to things but I was able to put the pieces together for a great ride in the end. I know one of the biggest things I need to work on in my riding career is learning to adapt to different horses and  environments. It’s so crucial to be a well-rounded rider and to be able to ride any horse I’m on, effectively and confidently. Environments at horse shows are constantly different and I need to find stability and confidence in a place that is naturally uncomfortable and stressful.

I still continue to learn a ton from Marci and would really love to intern for her next summer or at some point in the future  It would just be details of finances and finding a place to stay. I know if it’s in God’s plan for me then somehow it will come together.

Looking forward to working with some new trial horses in the program today. And of course soaking up as much time as possible with my wonderful boyfriend.

Signing out!!!

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Howdy from the great state of Utah! I’ve had an absolutely incredible time so far and its only Tuesday! The whole traveling process went super well and I’m really proud of myself for doing it all on my own. And the funny thing is, I was not nervous or anxious at any point during travel! I just knew I had everything worked out and under control.

My time at the NAC has been so enriching and I am realizing just how enthralled I am by the therapeutic riding concept and all that comes with it. I’ve had the opportunity to observe lessons, day-to-day interactions and meetings that offered a whole new perspective to me from a business stand point. I have realized that the job of a program manager can be stressful and exhausting but there are rewards of seeing progress in the riders and working with great staff and horses. I am honestly so captivated by learning all about this from an observer standpoint. My wonderful “boss” will be giving me a lesson tomorrow on one of the program horses. I am so excited to be able to be taught by her again. It brings back so many beautiful memories and just reminds me how much I adore her!

I’ll also be going to my first rodeo tomorrow night!  Yes, I know, this horse girl has never been, but I am really psyched to experience
something new and exciting! I’m sure there will be many more learning
opportunities to come this week and I just can’t wait to see what happens!

Retha is doing awesome although she got a bit sick today, most likely because of the heat. The chef here at the lodge was kind enough to give her some rice and chicken stock for dinner. We’re resting up for a busy day tomorrow! She’s definitely taking care of her momma as usual. Its been really awesome to be able to be completely independent on this trip. Makes me super pumped for SPU! I feel like its bringing out my confidence and outgoing advocacy that I’m a bit proud of myself.  Its been a long time coming but I feel ready to be independent.

I’m not afraid of the mistakes to come. I embrace them.

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“It’s my eyes dude……not my legs!”

I am writing this as I wait to take off from Sea-Tac. Everything went very well this morning. Retha was a champ as usual and took good care of her momma! I had an airport guide who spoke little english but he was so sweet and helpful. Even carried my giant pink backpack on his wheelchair which a strongly refused to use! Its my eyes dude….not my legs!!! Everyone has been so wonderful. Retha is tucked under the seat and already snoring! Poor Princess didn’t get her full beauty sleep! I know God’s hand is over me today. I feel a sense of peace that only He can provide. Taxiing to the runway and the flight attendants are telling me to turn off my cellular device! Much love from me and Retha! Many adventures to come this week!

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Utah Bound!

Everything is planned and ready for my trip to Utah! I have arranged everything completely on my own from buying the plane ticket to scheduling airport assistance and shuttle transportation! I will be traveling completely on my own for the first time. But I’ll of course have my loyal steed, the one and only Princess Retha! I should be a lot more nervous but I’m just really ready for this adventure.

I’ll be job shadowing a trainer I rode with for years at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center who now works at the National Ability Center as the program manager for adaptive horseback riding. The NAC is a nonprofit organization that provides all kinds of sports and outdoor activities for all abilities. They host many camps for children and adults with a variety of disabilities and also work with the Wounded Warriors Project. They have aquatic sports like kayaking and adaptive water skiing, cycling, rock climbing and lots more. During the winter they have an amazing skiing and snowboarding program too!

I’ve always been intrigued by therapeutic riding programs and how they run. From being involved in one, I have a lot of experience in the day-to-day things that happen in the barn and with the riders but this time I’ll be able to learn how things work from the business point of things. At some point in my life I would absolutely love to work for a program like Little Bit or the NAC but I don’t quite know where I’d fit in to the mix. I’m hoping my aspirations in massage will eventually lead me down the therapeutic riding trail in some way.

On this trip, I’ll also be able to spend time with my wonderful boyfriend. We are both really excited to be able to have this time together and we’re hoping to do a lot of hiking which I have minimal experience with but its one of his absolute favorite things to do. It’ll be some much-needed time for us and I’m sure we’ll enjoy every second.

I’ll be posting each day this week about what I learn from my shadowing. Really excited for what is in store for me! Get ready Park City! Retha and Ali are coming!

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My New Adventure!

New Adventure! I have a very big milestone coming up!!! Tonight I booked my flight (ok, like 12 days ago but I am just getting around to posting my blog posts from then!) to go to Utah to job shadow one of my favorite people. She is a program director at a therapeutic riding barn. But the big deal is… dramatic drum roll please…. I’m going on my own, just Retha and me. I decided that it was time to make some big leaps toward the trampoline of independence that is college life. I want to be a self-sufficient young adult in all ways. So I paid for my travel expenses with my own money, booked the flight myself and will be traveling with no assistance from family. I am booking a shuttle to take me to the airport and a Sea-Tac employee will walk me through checking my bag, security and finding my gate. From there, the flight attendant will help Retha and me get settled in our seat and we’ll be off!!! Can you tell I’m excited??? When I land, another employee will help me with baggage claim and walk me to my shuttle which will take me to the bunk house at the facility Where I’ll be staying. I will have my own room and I’ll be responsible for mine and Retha’s needs. I should be a lot more nervous but to be truthful… I’m totally ready for this. I know it will be tough at times but I’m not giving myself any opportunity to run from the unknown. As Helen Keller said, “never bend your head, hold it high, look the world straight in the eye.” Or in Ali’s words, Bring. It. On.

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