Life changes so quickly.
In the space of two weeks, my life has been turned upside down. It’s been a crazy journey, but I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
This past week I withdrew from Ohio Northern University, and I will be enrolling at Bluffton University this week. I will move to Bluffton on January 10th, and begin classes the 11th.
There are several reasons, but I’ll make a painfully long story short and just share the two most important: programs and partying. The issue of programs was made obvious during my third day on campus at ONU, when I changed my major from Spanish & International Studies to Spanish & Religion; ONU’s International Studies program was just not a good match for my interests, goals, and passions. I loved the Religion program at ONU, but unfortunately that was not what I really wanted to study, it was simply the only other option at ONU. While I enjoyed my religion classes, I found myself wishing that I would be in program that would better prepare me to actually DO the ministry I have been called to do. Unfortunately, ONU is very much a pharmacy/science focused school, and that limited the program options for me.
Next, there was the partying. To state it simply, there was far more of it at ONU than I had anticipated and hoped. In most cases, the rules were either nonexistent or not enforced. Every weekend, I wished that I had chosen a stricter school. This was in NO way the deciding factor, but it did play a part in my decision.
Exactly two weeks ago, after hearing about these two frustrations, a friend suggested that I should check out Bluffton University. Bluffton is only 15 minutes from ONU, so that day I took a drive over to campus. I started looking into their programs online, and became really interested in their TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) and Peace & Conflict Studies minors. Bluffton also offers a very strong Spanish major, which of course is important to me! I called Bluffton the next day to schedule a campus visit.
During my campus visit, I got to sit in on three classes (two scheduled, then I got invited to a third class by a girl I met), meet with the directors of the TESOL and Peace & Conflict programs, go on a campus tour, have lunch in the dining hall, hang out with students…the usual. And I had a great day! The people there were extremely friendly (even the people who weren’t paid to be friendly), the classes were excellent, and I was VERY impressed with the interaction between the faculty and students. I loved the community feel of the campus.
But I’ve saved the best for last. During my meeting with the director of the Peace & Conflict Studies program, I heard two words that sealed the deal: individualized major. Yes. Individualized major. After hearing that I would come to Bluffton as a Spanish major with a double minor in TESOL and Peace & Conflict Studies, the professor said to me, “Why don’t you create an individualized major?” I had never heard of such a thing, but she went on to explain that I could work with faculty and build a major just for my needs, interests, and dreams. She suggested that I could use the TESOL program as the core of my second major, and I could add Peace & Conflict Studies classes, ministry classes, sociology classes, and even business classes (they have a specialty in church non-profit management!). This way, I could build a second major specializing in Hispanic ministry. So exciting! After searching and searching for a program that would be adequate, this opportunity to create the perfect program for me was a big surprise and an even bigger relief!
Also, Bluffton is a Christian college, so it has all of the opportunities and rules that come along with that. While I’m completely aware that no place is perfect, the partying and drinking is much less at Bluffton than at ONU. There are MUCH stricter rules, and fraternities and sororities are not permitted. And the Christian aspect of Bluffton, specifically the peace & justice oriented mission of the college, creates some exciting opportunities for me. For instance, the general education program starts and ends with classes that encourage students to apply their faith to everything they are learning. Also, there are TONS of Christian campus groups that I am excited about…there is even a Spanish worship team!
After I visited, I knew that I wanted to be a part of what I saw happening at Bluffton. Since I was in my second week of winter quarter at ONU and since Bluffton is on semesters, I told myself that I would just have to wait until fall 2010 to transfer. But the more I told myself and others, the more it just didn’t set well with me. The idea of staying at ONU and taking all general education classes spring quarter, just so the classes would transfer, sounded dreadful. I knew that God wanted me at Bluffton, but I didn’t know when. I spent a LOT of time praying and talking with lots of the important people in my life, and eventually decided that if it was possible for me to start at Bluffton for spring semester, I would go. Just three days after making this decision, after spending LOTS of time on the phone with Bluffton and LOTS of time getting paperwork in order, I withdrew from ONU and moved home. Things fell into place and happened EXTREMELY fast…the time between my first visit to Bluffton and when I withdrew from ONU? Exactly a week.
I got a call from Bluffton on Friday saying that all my paperwork had arrived, which was really exciting, since I needed official transcripts and transfer recommendations from three colleges and my high school, my FAFSA, and syllabi from all of the college classes I had taken. They told me that I would be accepted on Monday (tomorrow!), and I go down to campus on Tuesday to meet again with my transfer counselor, register for classes, get my financial aid package, and possibly even get my room assignment and roommate. I move to Bluffton on January 10th and I start classes on the 11th!
I will miss my friends at ONU, and I will especially miss my roomie! But I couldn’t stay there for those reasons. I know that God has amazing things in store for me; Bluffton is a place that will not only prepare me to do the ministry that I've been called to do, it is also a community that will support me as I become the servant of God that I was created to be! And what could be more exciting than that?!
“I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.”
-Jeremiah 29:11-13 [MSG]