We’ve made it to the end of the show. The final moments are upon us. We’ve cut through the “Red Tape” of international student visas in my first issue. We even did the big Hawaiian luau number reviewing “South Pacific,” and now it’s time for the curtain call. This is my last Oracle as the director of student media at ORU.
It’s a difficult thing to step away from something you’ve invested your life in. It’s even more difficult to separate yourself from people you’ve invested everything you have in. Certain questions come to mind: What am I leaving behind? What will my legacy be? Who will really care when I’m gone? I began to ponder the last three years as I sat down to write this goodbye. This job has provided many belly laughs and swelling pride over the successes of my students. It has also taken many sleepless nights, painful tears and some of my hair in the process.
I saw a young man change his major and his hairstyle from an afro to a Jheri curl (As Borges as it sounds, that man is handsome). He also found his God-given calling and the internship of his dreams covering White Sox baseball this summer. I watched a quiet, timid international student graduate with honors as a confident member of the American news media, after overcoming the language barriers in her writing. I got to watch a young woman come out of her “introverted shell” and become a leader to her peers and the youngest editor-in-chief in the history of the Oracle.
There are so many stories I don’t have room to mention them all, but I’m sure they loved me and hated me at times. I’m sure everyone questioned “what I was thinking” or “why I couldn’t just lighten up?” some days. Don’t think the same thoughts didn’t cross my mind from time to time. But a familiar phrase would ring through my heart – I am, therefore; I must. It was the theme paper of every class I taught at ORU. I’ve attempted to challenge you to seek God about your purpose in this life. I’ve challenged you even harder to set a standard for yourself of self-awareness, Spirit-led development and knowing what must be done (or never be done) in order to accomplish what God has for you.
I hope it sticks with you.
Raymond Chandler once wrote: “down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is a hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man, and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor – by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.”
There is a big world out there, and it gets smaller every day. It will challenge you to the very core. The majority of the world does not believe what you do, but if you know who you are, and what you believe, you can walk through it neither tarnished by it, nor afraid to be the person God has called you to be. It is a feat of heroism these days to have the character to stand for something, the compassion to feel the pain of another and the humility to allow others to see Christ in you. Act out what you believe until it becomes second nature. Live like the person you want to be, and you will instinctively become him (or her!). If you have to decide what you believe in the moment, it will always be too late. If you strive for excellence you will always be good enough in your world – and anyone else’s for that matter.
I’ve had a few professors in my lifetime who really stand out from the rest. It’s funny, but I don’t remember many of them. The ones I do remember aren’t the ones you might think. They were the toughest teachers I ever had. Drew McGukin made me rewrite every communications research assignment I ever turned in. His undergraduate course was harder than the grad school version I would take several years later. I hated this man, and he just kept smiling at me (sometimes through the gritted teeth of his own frustration) telling me to rewrite it on top of my next assignment. It would drive… me… nuts…, but he never gave in, or gave up on me. I got a “C” in his class, but I will never forget the lessons I learned from him.
I can only hope I was able to be your Dr. McGukin in some way when you look back on these years we’ve spent together. I can only pray you see how deeply I care about you, not just what you’ve learned. I can only trust God that I taught you to refuse to be ordinary, to think more deeply, to dig deeper rather than giving up on the toughest tasks and somewhere down the line, when you are faced with the most difficult moments you will stand up and say, “I AM, THEREFORE I MUST.”
Story by W. Jonathan Cyprowski