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2018 seniors reflect on their college years

Graduates of the 2017 class celebrate after their graduation ceremony. Photo: BJU Marketing/Hal Cook

Graduation is fast approaching. At the end of each day, each senior breathes a collective sigh of relief: one day closer to the end of college and the beginning of a new place in life.

For the seniors especially, feelings of fulfillment, trepidation and excitement build. The end of a stage in their lives is almost come.

Andrew Carter, an engineering major, student ambassador and the men’s senior class representative, said he learned much in his four years at BJU.

Carter said many of the lessons he learned came from outside the classroom. According to Carter being a student ambassador was the defining point in his college career.

“Your circumstances are going to be used by God, somewhere and somehow,” Carter said. 

Carter encouraged underclassmen to get involved and try new things.

“You will grow in a lot of different ways the more you get involved with,” Carter said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, jump in  and make mistakes.”

He encouraged rising juniors to own their new role as upper classmen.

“Use the experiences you’ve had as a freshman and a sophomore to help reach down and shape upcoming students,” Carter said.

Carter challenged next year’s seniors to set the example on campus.

“People are looking up to you and you can either be an excuse or an example. Make sure you’re being an example,” Carter said.

Lauren Johnson, an elementary education major who has been a member of the Bruins volleyball team since its inaugural season, said relationships and her spiritual growth are the biggest things she will take with her after graduation.

She has profited from relationships within her society, on the Bruins team, classmates and in her local church.

Johnson encouraged students who still have time left in college to seek advice and wisdom from their parents while they are here.

“Call your parents. They just want to hear from you and have a lot to teach you,” Johnson said.

She also encouraged rising students to take advantage of what time they have left.

“Make your last time here mean something,” Johnson said.

Luis Saldias Rodriguez, a cinema productions major from Bolivia, was originally intended to attend BJU with his twin brother who decided not to attend, leaving Rodriguez to face the new country alone.

Rodriguez said he struggled with the English language and was a quiet student his first year because of his unsureness.

Rodriguez encouraged international students to enjoy their time studying abroad and to embrace learning the English language.

“It’s natural to feel scared and be afraid, but you’re not the only one; there are others like you and you will find them,” Rodriguez said.

“Take the risk to jump in and learn the language. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Lizzie Wilson, a biblical counseling major and Welcome Center ambassador,  said her biggest transformation came junior year.

Wilson said God convicted her to make a transformational change in her life to get outside of herself, reach out, love people and invest in them.

Recently, when her brother suffered a brain injury, the BJU community was there for her.

“We need communities; we can’t make it without each other,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she continues to learn through the trial. “I am overwhelmed at the people here and the love and support,” Wilson said.

Wilson encouraged underclassmen to focus on their relationship with God.

“Never, ever neglect your relationship with God with school as an excuse—He is a priority,”  Wilson said.

She also encouraged students with college timel left to embrace their place in life.

“Embrace where you are right now; the best is yet to come,” Wilson said.

She also encouraged next year’s upperclassmen to lead.

“Now is your time to be a leader,” Wilson said. “It’s your time to step up.”

All four seniors shared their gratitude for the faculty. Wilson thanked them for their sacrifice.

“Thank you for pouring your life into us. It is a huge sacrifice to be here,” Wilson said. “What you’re doing matters.”