As I sit down to write my last opinions piece for The Concordian, reality is finally sinking in. This is it. I feel a mixture of jubilation and panic. I won’t be coming back to campus to start a new year in August. I won’t be taking any more classes from my favorite professors. I get caught wondering if I have done enough in my college years. I worry that I didn’t pay close enough attention in class or that I didn’t attend enough elective lectures. Regardless of whether or not I could have done more in my time here, I am confident that my time at Concordia has taught me some great lessons that will carry with me long after graduation.
Learning isn’t in the details. I have a hard time remembering facts, but my classroom experiences have given me the framework to understand the world. I don’t remember the years or names I learned in my history and political science courses, but when the revolution started in Egypt, the concepts I had learned in US Foreign Policy helped me understand the United States’ response. Although I couldn’t tell you any of the terms I learned in IOC 100, I know how to structure a speech so that my audience will listen. Plato’s six components of a theatrical production are only a shadow in my mind now and yet I still appreciate the intricacies of theatre much more than I did before.
Success comes in many forms. It’s a simple concept, but one that I really didn’t understand in high school. Back then, it seemed like the only kind of success that really mattered was academic. You could be involved in all sorts of things, but at the end of the day, GPA and test scores would make or break your college applications. That really isn’t true anymore. College is a great equalizer in the sense that it has given us all the chance to develop and excel in our own niches. Some have honed creative writing skills, others have immersed themselves in servant leadership, still others have gotten involved with a faculty member’s research. Whether through creative endeavors, through service, through ministry, through leadership, through athletics or through academics, we all set ourselves apart in some way during our college years.
We are the generation that will change the world. It’s cliche because it’s true. Every generation changes the world, and we’re no exception. We have the power to shape the future. I used to think that it didn’t really matter what I did, said or thought because ultimately other people make the decisions that direct the world, but we are the other people. If we collectively care enough to make the world a better place, it will happen. I saw so many examples of this in my time here. As a sophomore and junior when the Fargo-Moorhead area faced severe flooding, Concordia students showed up in hundreds to help sandbag. After their devastating earthquake last year, Dr. Peter Hovde’s Global Issues class immediately mobilized to raise money for Haiti. When the Student Environmental Alliance was told that the college couldn’t collect glass recyclables for liability reasons, members of the club took it upon themselves to collect and recycle glass. This year, when Steven Edwards was frustrated with the close-minded message included in a newsletter we get from a local church, he started a petition to ask the church to stop sending us their messages of intolerance. The examples abound; we can make a difference.
Looking back on four years in Cobberville, I may never know if I took all the right classes, participated in the most relevant experiences or attended enough evening lectures, but ultimately the lessons I’ve learned here are lessons that have prepared me for a lifetime of learning, challenging and impacting positive change.
Ayah Kamel is a senior Political Science and Global Studies major from Fargo. She has been verbally spouting opinions since she could talk and is happy to be able to write them down as a member of The Concordian’s opinion staff. Although Ayah does not yet know what the future holds for her, she has latent dreams of becoming the next Nicholas Kristof.