In January of 2004, when I first went to Acrofest at Highland Academy, I saw my first glimpse of Southern Adventist University. Of course, I had vaguely heard of the school before since my mom had spent three years attending, but it was just a name to me. Then, the Gym-Masters came to Acrofest to be the clinicians. I got my first real-life taste of Southern from them. Moving from station to station, I began admiring the Gym-Masters team. Not only for their incredible gymnastics skills, but being a little sixth grader, I looked up to the older kids, as most sixth graders do. I wanted to be like them! They were always helpful, nice, and very cool in my eyes, but most of what I remember is the awesome friendships they all seemed to have with each other. I wanted that! To be old and in college, meeting tons of cute boys, and having the time of my life! However, that wasn’t going to come for a while.
So, year after year the Gym-Masters came to Acrofest. And each time I would want to be one of them more and more! Then high school came. I entered as a freshman at Highland Academy and joined the Gymnix team where I continued to see the Gym-Masters at Acrofest. But then, my own friends began to graduate and headed off to Southern. This made me want to be there even more! But as I learned from the lives of my friends who headed off to Southern, some making it onto Gym-Masters and others heading to different directions, I saw that Southern was much more than just a cool team of athletes who were close to each other. There was a world far beyond that at Southern! I began to see Southern as a place for many different relationships with a huge variety of people, not just athletes. I saw it as a place to grow, not only mentally but more important, spiritually. I saw it as a place that offered so much to do, whether it was on-campus or off. I saw it as a place with boundless opportunities, from student missions, outreaches, and traveling abroad to elective classes, extra-curricular organizations, clubs, and so much more! I saw it as a place that could prepare me for what lies ahead in the future. And to top it all off, it wasn’t in some far off cold, desolate place; it was in my beautiful home state of Tennessee! I became hooked and I began to know exactly where I wanted to go.
I didn’t come to Southern because I wanted to be on Gym-Masters, or because my mom had come. I didn’t come just because most of my friends either were here or were coming. I came because I found out all of what Southern had to offer, and it fit!
Now here I am, miraculously, a freshman at Southern, the very college student figure I once looked up to! Only by the help of Jesus was my dream of coming to Southern able to be fulfilled. Through Him, I was able to receive enough scholarships to help pay my way here. I know that He has a plan for me while I’m at Southern Adventist University and beyond. I am so excited to see what God has in store for me during my time here and what He has planned past that! I know that whatever is coming ahead, God has brought me here to prepare me for the future. So, with anticipation and excitement, I’m stepping forward into a bright, unknown future, beginning here at Southern Adventist University!