This semester truly has been all about shaping a congruent life through reflection and also pressing forward. As our college careers are ending, many of us have tough choices to make about which paths to pursue and after taking this course, spending time reflecting on the choices we have made, many of us are better equipped to make those tough decisions. A heightened sense of self-awareness also raises one's self-esteem and I think is really important for being able to pursue any dream or goal. I believe confidence, not arrogance, is the key to pushing forward. As a believer sometimes I automatically equate confidence in God with faith. God has been so faithful to me my entire life but especially now. Things I never thought could happen for me or that I never thought I could achieve, God was faithful to me. He continued to seek me out drawing me closer to him.
I have had so many encounters with grace along this four year journey and especially during this course. The beautiful thing about St. John's is the diverse student body with all kinds of backgrounds which becomes an integral part of the classroom setting. We have such an interesting group of students as a part of the Dean's Fellowship Program that it really was fascinating to see my classmates' responses both to the questions or to one another. It was refreshing to see the different vantage points that many of the topics we discussed could be viewed and interpreted from. Some of my classmates' experiences that they shared of Paris, their time at St. John's, and really just life in general were very moving. I was really taken aback by how open and honest a number of the students were about personal struggles and experiences. I can be transparent but to a certain extent, without it being too terribly uncomfortable to me.
I think the oppenness required a degree of trust amongst all of us which I was shocked to see that we were able to develop so quickly. Within a matter of moments of us all meeting each other, we were comfortable enough to share some of our backgrounds and how we got to where we are now. I must admit that I am really glad to know that there is a group of ambitious young people with St. John's University's core values instilled in them and they are not afriad to put them into practice. TLROSE is actually incredibly important to me and I have seen it referenced indirectly in a number of my classmates reflections, some of them probably without even realizing it.
Truth is hard to find sometimes and even harder to deal with especially when it is the truth about ourselves. I learned that this semester really about one of my closest friends but also about myself. The truth about how one's outlook can really affect every experience and that something as simple as an attitude adjustment can really make all the difference. Not just the truth about people is important but the truth about poverty is important to me as well. I saw someone ask a question about the similarities of poverty between Paris and New York. Something I wish I had made clearer in our presentation is the difference between relative poverty and extreme poverty which would have answered that question. There are so many misconceptions that are being further perpetuated by theories like the "culture of poverty" which distorts what truly happens in the cycle of poverty.
Truth is so important as the first one of the core values because I think it connects all the others as it provides the opportunities for us to love and respect both ourselves and others. Knowing the truth about people, their situations, also realizing the truth about yourself, uncovering your inner beauty, in both cases truth may lead to love and respect whether it is of the self or others. The amount of reflection we did this semester really requires some introspection which hopefully for most of us uncovered some truth. Digging deep into why we made the choices we did and which mentors/advisors we chose to listen to reflects how we view ourselves.
The last components of the core values are so obvious but oftentimes forgotten: service and excellence. Each of us was definitely able to understand the service component as many of us were heavily involved in service prior to the program. Service is very important to me because I believe it's my opportunity to act as the hands of God serving his people. I really do not think a person can truly experience excellence without service. If a person has never served in some form or fashion, I think they are missing one of the key components they need to really excel. Excellence of course can be in many different aspects of life but overall, I think as social creatures we are bound to one another. We cannot achieve excellence if not striving towards making the world a better place for everyone. Self reflection leading to maintained self awareness and confidence ultimately prepares us to continue pushing forward avoiding complacency and achieving excellence.