The clock is ticking and my time at Goshen College is coming to an end. As I look back at the three years I spent here in retrospect, it’s not hard to list the progress I have made here, including, but not limited to, having all the core values memorized by my senior year and not mixing up “compassionate peacemaking” and “passionate learning” as “passionate lovemaking” and shouting that out in class with confidence. The following is a reflection on how much I have grown in this place.

A few years ago, I didn’t even know there was a denomination called Mennonites. Now I write papers on them while sipping some sweet Menno Tea. With all the hard work and dedication and help from my peers, I have come a long way from missing three consecutive 8 a.m. classes in my first year to only showing up six minutes late to my 11 a.m. classes this year.

Just three years ago, I was naively directing prospies to Newcomer when they asked me for directions to the Music Center because I did not know where the Music Center was. Now I am giving them campus tours and lying to them almost every day with confidence:

“Some of the easiest math classes you will take at GC are with David Housman.”

“John Mayer flew all the way from Los Angeles to record a song at the Sauder Concert Hall.”

“8:00 a.m. Wellness for Life class changed my life.”

“Java Junction has the best coffee in Indiana.”

“Social vaping? Yes, completely acceptable under community standards.”

“Parties? The only thing dry about this campus is the Rott’s rosemary pork chop.”

“Frats? Greek life is big on campus! We have Kulpa Sigma, Delta Delta Kratz and Yoder Gamma Rho.”

When I first came to Goshen, I did not know a single person here. And it’s natural to feel out of place when you go to ICC class and all the Yoders, Millers and Stoltzfuses in your class turn out to be either each other’s cousins, ex-couples from Bethany Christian Schools, or best friends from Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, and you just sit there with your unique last name, not related to anyone in the class.

But the “Menno Wall” is not hard to dismantle when you are friendly and curious and you master the art of social media stalking like me and have all the same exact interests like The Fray and things to talk about with them like that wonderful trip to Ireland that they took in 2005 with their family or the exciting high school J-term trip they took to Paraguay.

“Oh, I loved the pictures in Dublin with your Grandma. I hope her soul is resting in peace in Heaven now.”

“It’s really sad that you and your girlfriend broke up during your trip to Paraguay, but hey, at least you got to sing hymns at the Mennonite Brethren Church there.”

Believe me, if you are stressed during your first year over classes and social life, it won’t stay that way. You will find your place here, and you will be welcomed. Classes may be tough now, but by senior year, you will be playing Hangman with your professor while jamming to Kendrick Lamar in your senior Accounting class.

In fact, you will be close enough to challenge each other for a friendly but competitive volleyball match and trash talk as well. You may feel lonely now, but you’ll be sipping coffee and complaining about the obnoxious freshman class by the time you become an upperclassman.You will grow in Goshen, just like me. You’ll never be as awesome as I am. But you can always try.