by Noah Tang
Another commencement approaches. Graduating seniors prepare to enter the workforce, and begin reflecting on their time at Cedarville University. Each senior can look back and find areas of their lives that were affected by teachers and peers, and see how they have matured greatly from the four years prior. Now it is time to share the valuable life lessons they have learned with fellow students.
Jonny Gartner is graduating with a degree in political science. He is the chair of the AEI executive council at Cedarville. And his experience in college is instructive:
“I came into Cedarville generally thinking ‘I like politics’ and ‘I like history,’” Gartner said. “I had a general idea of what I should do in life but was not sure specifically. Through the D.C. semester, interaction with professors, and extracurriculars, I was able to figure out my direction in life. Those things taught me how to engage in politics as a Christian in the twenty-first century.”
Gartner encourages his fellow students to get involved on campus because you never know what passions you will find through those experiences.
“God has made you with passions and desires for a reason,” Gartner said. “The work of Christian life is to develop and refine your gifts for His glory. Life is applied theology—it should be driven by a living, working faith. I think that too many college students think God’s will is nebulous. But by knowing God through knowing His Word, we can discover His will for our lives (Romans 12:2).”
Because of his experiences at Cedarville, Gartner looks to the future with biblical optimism.
“I don’t have to be sad leaving here,” he says. “In fact, I can be thankful that I have been transformed from what I was four years ago. I have been equipped to share what’s happening here with the world, as per the Great Commission (Matthew 28).”
Benjamin Mays, also a political science major and AEI council member, also looks fondly at his four years at Cedarville. But Mays acknowledges that COVID made a mark on their class’s Cedarville experience.
“We had one semester in college that was normal, and then we had the pandemic,” Mays said. “I think that’s been the defining college experience for our class. The most important part was that it was unexpected.”
Mays’ overall experience was highly positive, especially with the help of Cedarville’s tight-knit community.
“As an H&G [History and Government] student, my interpersonal relationships within the department have been amazing—not just with other students, but also with my professors,” Mays said.
As he prepares to leave, Mays encourages fellow students to be flexible and always keep the future in mind.
“College will affect, challenge and grow you in a way that you didn’t expect,” Mays said. “Although college can be academically challenging, it doesn’t have to be if you take it seriously, manage your time well, ask advice, and not be afraid to go the extra mile. Think beyond Cedarville from the beginning, college will not last forever. Have your resume in your first year and choose your major early. Take the initiative to get to know your professors, and they will reach back out to you and form strong relationships with you as a student.”
Kaelan Everhart is another political science major and a self-described local Cedar Lake fisherman. In his freshman year, he didn’t have a specific major but knew he had a passion for politics.
“Throughout sophomore, junior, and senior years, that idea has become more focused as I worked through jobs, internships, and classes,” Everhart said.
The H&G faculty have greatly aided Everhart’s pursuit of his calling, an influence that his counsel to other students reflects.
“If you can find professors with professional experience in fields you want to go into, intentionally get to know them. You will receive much knowledge and experience many anecdotes secondhand,” Everhart said. “The History and Government Department has taught us to be humble, to not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), to recognize that the world is not simple, and to approach it with nuance and in humility; for it is too complex to be viewed with a simplistic mindset.”
Evelyn Black is a linguistics major with a minor in criminal justice. Through her time at Cedarville, Black has learned that the journey God has you on is always going to be an adventure, regardless of what the destination is.
She advises students to experiment with their passions and branch out because you’ll never know you like something until you try it.
“Try different activities. If you find you have different interests than what you originally came to Cedarville with, don’t be afraid to try classes in other areas,” Black said. “But prayerfully think about changing your major before you commit too much to it.”
Annaliese Miller is majoring in psychology and has a minor in Spanish for professionals. She has thrived in the environment of hands-on experience that Cedarville encourages and learned to be more open to the ideas of others.
“My time at Cedarville has very much challenged me to determine what I believe as an adult,” Miller said. “The culture of Cedarville is very different from that of Chicago, where I’m from. It was a struggle to figure out how I fit into a place where Christians can feel differently from how Christians in Chicago do.”
Miller eventually found her people: “One way that helped me feel like I belong in a community at Cedarville was being part of the Student Diversity Council and the Diversity Book Club. It’s sweet to unite with people who are passionate about a shared cause.”
If Miller could pass along one piece of advice to her peers she would caution against over-involving oneself during college.
“This time might seem like the time of your life, but you can’t do well if you’re burned out and overly stressed,” Miller said. “Choose a few things that you want to invest in and let those be your commitments.”
On seeking community, Miller advises, “Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you haven’t found your people until junior or senior years. It takes time to build relationships and find those people who are going to challenge you to grow, uplift you, and be there for you.”
Photo credit: Logan Howard
Noah Tang is a graduate student majoring in Biblical Leadership and a writer for Cedars. He likes to spend time with friends, ride his bike, and watch movies.