Special topics classes

One of the things that I love about Northwestern is that a lot of departments offer special topics classes – classes like Women in the Bible, Topics in OT: Pentateuch, Land of Galilee, C.S. Philosophy, Science Fiction Philosophy, Fantasy Writing, and more. These classes are some of the best classes because the students in them are people who find the topics really interesting and are excited to delve in a deeper to the subject matter. This lends itself to amazing discussion.

2019-02-15_Vander Ploeg.jpg

I’m currently taking a special topics class in literature about J.R.R. Tolkien. This class has been so fun. All of the people in the class really like Tolkien and are excited to really take the text seriously and learn more about the world of Middle Earth. A typical day in this class includes conversations ranging from asking questions like “Where do Hobbits come from?” to talking about the friendship between C.S. Lewis and Tolkien to discovering what we can learn about Tolkien’s faith and God from the text. I always go to this class excited to learn.

Not only that, but I get to read things like “The Hobbit” for homework! It’s always a breath of fresh air when I finish all my other homework and get to work on my Tolkien homework, which means getting to read something I love and that I would read for fun anytime.

 This Tolkien class has been one of the best experiences I have had academically here at Northwestern, and I know people who have taken other special topics classes here would say the same thing about those classes. No matter who you are, there is probably a special topics class at Northwestern that is perfect for you and if you took it, it would add a lot to your experience at Northwestern.

Work-study benefits

It never hurts to have a little extra money, especially when you are a college student. Northwestern offers students the opportunity to work on campus and earn money through work-study positions. Students who hold these positions are required to work a minimum of five hours per week, so they’re a perfect for full time students who have busy schedules with classes and activities. There are a variety of positions available across campus in offices, academic departments and food services, just to name a few.

I have the privilege of holding a work-study position in Northwestern’s advancement office. I assist with event planning, sending gifts to donors, filing documents and other various office duties. The advancement office is in charge of planning and organizing homecoming in the fall and the Scholarship Auction in the winter. In preparation for these two events, I have the responsibility of alphabetizing name tags, assisting with sending invitations, putting posters up around campus, freshening-up decorations, photographing auction items, finalizing lists, helping with set up and lending a hand wherever I can on event days. When the time comes for these events to take place, it is really rewarding to see people enjoying the event I helped plan and set up.

Before this year, I did not know what the advancement office was or what the people who worked there did on a daily basis. My friend and wing mate, Lauren, has had a work-study position with the advancement office since her freshman year at Northwestern. When another position opened up, she recommended me to her work-study supervisor as someone to fill the position. I was contacted, interviewed and hired all within about a week. I was not quite sure what my responsibilities would be, but Lauren assured me that she truly enjoyed working in the office and with the people. After holding a position in the advancement office for six months, I can say that I could not agree more with her. I feel blessed that this position fell into my lap out of the blue. The work is easy to understand and accomplish, the environment is welcoming, I am able to use my creative skills and the people I get to work with always brighten my day.

While some work-study positions are directly related to students’ majors, others are a way to build work skills and earn some money. Either way, work-study positions fit well into students’ schedules and are a great way for students to get to know Northwestern from a different perspective.

Prayer time

Prayer never really played a massive role in my faith before Northwestern. I didn’t pray much in solitude and I was always uncomfortable and nervous when praying over a small group, such as my youth group. Prayer was something that I didn’t hold close to my heart. However, this has changed since I’ve been attending Northwestern.

I found out quickly that prayer was fundamental to NWC. The first time I was introduced to this was on a Red101 visit day. We were at Praise and Worship that Sunday evening and the worship team asked us to pray for the person beside us. Obviously with me being the shy person I am, I did not like this at all. In fact, in that moment, I didn’t even remember the name of the person who was hosting me. My prayer was kind of awkward and weak compared to others that were going on around us. Now looking back on that, I don’t know why I got so nervous about praying for others and amongst others. There was no need for that. Prayer is conversation between you and God. There’s no right or wrong way to pray as I had always believed. Prayer is the closet we can get to the presence of God without being in Heaven. It’s a wonderful and impactful part of our faith.

Looking back on it now, prayer has become a major influence on my spiritual journey. I love that in my dorm, North Suites, we have prayer time up in the second floor lounge at 10 every night. This is a great place of community and vulnerability as you can open up to the people you live amongst through prayer requests. Then there is always small group prayer after Discipleship groups on Tuesday nights and small group prayer after Praise and Worship on Sunday nights. It’s a great opportunity to grow amongst one another and pour into each other’s lives as we pray for one another.

2018-06-27-1844.jpg

One of my favorite things is the prayer labyrinth. I didn’t know about this until I experienced using one during Northwestern’s fall retreat. The prayer labyrinth is a big rug designed as a sort of maze that leads to the middle of the rug. The idea behind it is about clearing your mind and body of the commotion of your life and the world around you as you walk toward the middle. I’ve only done it a few times, and every time I have had an awesome experience of clarity and connection with God. All of these prayer opportunities being available to us is an amazing aspect of Northwestern.

I have grown so much spiritually here and what’s even better is that as I’m growing spiritually, I can see my friends and dormmates grow on their journey as well. Praying in small groups amongst your friends and praying over individuals is an amazing part of this community.

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.

2019-02-01_Perrenoud.jpeg

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.

2015-10-06.CD052.2303.jpg

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.

2019-01-30_Moody.jpg

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.