ellenopinionsThe holidays are a time to be thankful—to count your many blessings. Recently, we’ve been so caught up in the sadness and/or anger triggered by the issues plaguing society and, in turn, our college. We’re always striving to improve our campus and its community, which is great, but sometimes I think we forget to acknowledge what is already wonderful about Concordia that separates us from other institutions. With that in mind, I’ve come up with five major characteristics that I think most students can agree make Concordia the incredible place it is.

The first, and perhaps most obvious benefit, is its class sizes. After attending a high school that averaged around 30 students per class, it’s been refreshing to attend classes where the student to faculty ratio sits around 12 to 1. As a freshman, I was shocked to learn that my professors actually care about who I am and how I’m doing. I’m willing to bet most of us have been invited to the home of a faculty member—not many college students can say that. In fact, not many college students can say their professors even know their name. With small class sizes comes recognition. When professors know who you are, they’re usually more than willing to go out of their way to connect you with research, internship and job opportunities that you might not have gotten elsewhere. That’s a pretty big deal.

You know what else is a big deal? Dining services. As one who is not terribly experienced in the kitchen, DS comes in clutch, especially since it’s been ranked in the top 25 best schools for food. Not only do they regularly offer satisfying main dishes like mashed potatoes and stuffed peppers, but they also make an effort to provide both vegetarian and varying ethnic options. If none of that suits your liking, there’s always the unchanging pasta bar, sandwich bar and all-day breakfast items. And, the buffet-style setup is a game-changer, especially for athletes like me with a big appetite! I think we grow so accustomed to DS that we forget we have it better than most other schools. And, let’s not forget about the wonderful staff that works in DS who are considered to be some of the nicest, most beloved people on campus. We’re lucky to have them.

Another important quality about Concordia is its community. You can go to nearly every event for free, whether that is an athletic event, a theater production or a club meeting, and you’re almost always guaranteed to know at least one person. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more fun supporting teams and organizations when I have a personal connection. Of course, sporting events at Big Ten schools are a big deal, and they’re really fun, but a majority of attendees don’t get to

cheer for a friend or a classmate. Sure, the crowds aren’t as big here, but most fans at big schools don’t get to feel that extra surge of excitement when a friend scores a goal or performs a beautiful solo at a music concert.

Concordia wouldn’t be Concordia without its emphasis on open-mindedness. I think such an accepting culture is pretty rare, even today. Although we’re traditionally a Lutheran school, we’re not forced to believe anything here. We’re given the tools and resources to decide for ourselves. We’re offered classes on different religions, sexuality, gender and race, among others. We’re certainly not perfect, but I think we have a better cultural dynamic than most schools. We’re encouraged to challenge our beliefs and partake in civil discussions about things we might not agree on. But, not only that—we’re encouraged to be well informed and educated about both world events and the reasons behind our own opinions.

Finally, I think it’s important to be thankful for Concordia’s legacy. It’s true—we haven’t yet experienced Concordia as post-graduates. In the course of a few years, or even a few months, we’ll begin to recog-nize that this institution has been working hard for years to establish a good reputation across the country. Because of that hard work, being a Concordia alum means something to people. It means we’re kind—that we have good moral compasses. It means we know how to cultivate a good community. It means we’re willing to work hard—to challenge ourselves and push toward an outstanding goal. It means we care.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exchange my time at Concordia for anything. Concordia has become home. And for that, I’m grateful.

Ellen Rethwisch

Ellen is a senior English-writing major and business minor at Concordia. In addition to writing for the Concordian, Ellen serves as an assistant captain for the Concordia women's hockey team as well as Vice President for Sigma Tau Delta. She hopes to pursue a career in writing and editing.

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