Raider Nation

Three times a week this winter I make the trek to the Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse, which was built during my freshman year and continues to leave me in awe each time I visit.

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The first thing that catches my eye is the definition of the word “Raider” that is on the wall as you walk from the Rowenhorst Student Center into the Fieldhouse: “One who is fearless, confident and prepared to finish the task through discipline, sacrifice and the relentless pursuit of excellence.”

The Juffer has a great weight room, which the golf teams have been taking advantage of under the supervision of Northwestern’s awesome strength and conditioning coaches. Despite the exhaustion we might feel while we train, there’s such a cool sense of solidarity among different teams who are lifting at the same time. Athletes training are required to wear Northwestern-themed colors — red, black, gray or white — to create an atmosphere of unity and Raider pride.

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I might feel extra biased about how wonderful the Juffer facilities are because the golf teams have a separate training room specifically for us. The Van Der Weide Practice Room features hitting stations, a simulator where we can play against each other on real courses and a putting and chipping green.

While I love that the practice room allows us to make the most out of the cold Iowa winters, just looking around the place makes me feel so proud to be a Raider. I love seeing photos of the past GPAC championship teams up on the wall. I also love thinking about the many smiles and laughs that have been shared amidst our hard work in that room and of all the good times to come for future golfers.

I’m very grateful for the work that was put into the Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse, and for the effort and pride that I see there from athletes of all sports every day. It’s just one of the many places on campus that give me a sense of nostalgia as I embark on my last few months as a Raider athlete.

Embraced

One thing I love about Northwestern is how many opportunities they offer to build into our lives spiritually. A couple of weekends ago, I attended Northwestern’s annual women’s retreat with one of my wing mates. It was awesome. We arrived early Friday evening at President Greg and Michelle Christy’s home and enjoyed a really great meal of tacos from a local restaurant. We were divided into small groups with whom we ate and answered some ice breaker questions.

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Our first session followed the meal. A couple of students led worship, and then Michelle Christy shared a lesson with us about busyness. We had some personal reflection time and the opportunity to discuss the lesson with our small groups.              

The evening ended with warm cookies, popcorn and other snacks. Some of the women played games and some of us watched a movie. It was a blast.            

The next morning, Michelle led a session about Jesus examining our lives and our being intentional about sitting and worshiping at the feet of Jesus. This was followed by more personal reflection and small group discussion time, and a question-and-answer session with staff attending the retreat.

Our final session followed lunch. We worshiped together and Michelle led a discussion on encouragement. We then shared communion together and had more time for personal reflection.       

All too soon, it was time head back to campus. We all received mugs that were printed with our theme word, “Embrace.” My wing mate told me that this was our much needed “Sabbath” in the midst of all the busyness of the beginning of a new semester. She was right, and I’m already pumped about next year’s women’s retreat.

Campus family

One of the best things about Northwestern is the ability to find a second family right away. I found mine in the music department within the first few weeks of the semester. One of the best ways to get to know, or simply just meet others on campus, is by getting involved in extracurriculars with those who share the same interests in you. Every day, the members of Northwestern’s A cappella Choir show up, gather around couches, talk about their days, and then begin rehearsal at 3:20. While rehearsals are taken seriously, occasional jokes or moments of laughter sneak their way in.

My favorite part about being in the A cappella and Heritage Choirs is the immense amount of support I receive if I’m struggling to sight-read new music, but an equal amount of encouragement to continuously improve. In choir I am pushed to find pitches based off other parts, memorize a large selection of songs, learn foreign languages, and better my voice each day. My involvement in a collegiate-level choir takes time and effort, but there are plenty of advantages that come with it.

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My freshman year, the A cappella Choir went on tour, spending roughly 10 days and over 60 hours traveling with each other on a bus. We ventured to different states, churches, and schools around the northwest part of the United States. After spending so many hours in such close quarters with more than 40 students, I felt very close to not just a few, but almost all of my choirmates.

I also enjoy our home concerts. The two biggest performances of the year are the Homecoming Concert and our Christmas Vespers concert. People from all around the area and even family members from far away gather in watching us perform.

Finding a group that you belong in is an important part of any student’s college career. Northwestern has many options for every student. For me, that option was music. For others, it might be athletics, cheer/dance or theatre. The sense of community and belonging is evident in each extracurricular across campus. 

Community in academic departments

You probably hear the word “community” a lot when people are talking to you about Northwestern, but it really is true that community is one of the college’s strengths, particularly within each academic department. I am a writing and literature major, so what I’ll be referring to in this blog post comes from my experience in the English department. But from what I have heard from my friends in other departments, they have experienced similar things.

I think the biggest thing that helps contribute to the department community is that Northwestern is a small college. It’s easy to get to know everyone within your major. I tend to have most of the same people in my classes, so I have been able to get to know the people within my major really well and we have become good friends. It’s nice to know going into each semester that I will know people in my classes and know that we will be able to have good discussions, which adds a lot to the enjoyment of each class.

Another thing that adds to the community of the department is that we have English gatherings. This has included meeting at a professor’s house and having a bonfire while playing word games and getting to know the new students for the year, the English department book sale, and nights of playing games like Apples to Apples: Bible edition.

We also have a bulletin boards with all the English major’s pictures and one thing about them, black-out poetry, and a quote board. The care that the professors have for each of the students and their desire for community within the department also adds greatly to the environment in the department.

At Northwestern you will find community within whichever department you become a part of, and it will help you love Northwestern even more. Kepp Hall feels like another home and the English department is like a family. The department community definitely makes class more exciting and creates a great learning environment!

The start of a new semester

With the anticipation of a new semester upon us, I’ve included some thoughts below on what the new semester means:                 

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1. I give thanks to God that I have the opportunity to return to a college as great as Northwestern, where I have a welcoming wing, amazing friends, extracurricular activities to be a part of, and faculty and staff members who care about my future as well as my faith.  

2. I take one assignment, one class, and one day at a time. Syllabuses handed out and discussed, and it is easy to get overwhelmed when looking at all of the tasks I have to accomplish this semester. However, if I just look at what I have to accomplish in a single day and work my way through it, I feel less stressed.

3. I think about all of the fun campus activities I have to look forward to throughout the semester. I will be participating in Northwestern’s student dance performance, RUSH, where all students who audition get to perform various dances. Airband gives the whole campus “Lip Sync Battle” vibes, and it is just as much fun to watch as it is to compete in. Over spring break, I will be travelling to Mescalero, New Mexico, for a Spring Service Partnership with fellow students. 

4. I’m returning to a great work study position in the advancement office that allows me to be creative and work alongside some awesome individuals.