Written By: Stacey Schuett (Upcoming Class of 2017)
I remember walking onto campus during a View Weekend — a time where high school students can experience Master’s life — thinking, “I don’t belong here. I won’t fit in.” I was almost 20 years old, and I figured I had my life put together. But really I was tearing at the seams.
It was at the department chair meet-and-greet that I realized there was something special about this place. Bob Dickson, the chair of the Communication Department, sat at the far end of EHC 100, smiling and laughing with prospective students. I knew who he was—I’d watched his video lectures in my online classes through The Master’s Online Program. “He taught me English Composition,” and I thought, “he probably wouldn’t even recognize my name.” I walked up to the table and started up a conversation with him, telling him my hopes and dreams of becoming a photographer for “National Geographic.” I thought he would laugh but he didn’t. He was genuinely interested in what I had to say. So I brought up the online class, and to my pleasant surprise, he knew exactly who I was and went on to say how glad he was I had decided to check out the school. I was shocked by his care and his joyful spirit. When I thought of a college professor, I thought of someone who was just there to teach, didn’t have much time for his students and handed out homework relentlessly. I never thought he could truly care about a reckless college student but Professor Dickson proved me wrong.
Fast-forward six months: I walked onto campus fully enrolled, took my student ID picture, moved into my new room and started a crazy ride. I met a crazy girl who taught me how to enjoy the life the Lord gave me, and experienced the crazy reality of true godly living. I went to chapel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and listened to crazy messages about the Lord’s crazy and scandalous love for me. Through it all, my roommate became my dearest friend. But the crazy wasn’t always good. I couldn’t shake the feeling that everyone could see the crazy guilt of a tainted past clearly visible on my face.
My first semester at Master’s, many would probably have described me as “the crazy girl from Wisconsin who has purple hair.” My first semester was a challenge; it was an adjustment I didn’t realize I would have to make––especially in the area of school. It had been two years since I took a class where I had to use my brain. And after taking a gap year to pursue my career in professional ballet, and then another year of working, I felt like my brain was a muscle that had atrophied after all the months remaining dormant. But for my first advising appointment, with none other than Professor Dickson, I expressed my desire to graduate in three years. Instead of hearing the doubt and discouragement I had become accustomed to in the ballet world, this is what he said to me: “I think you can do it, Stacey. It will be hard; you will be pushed and stretched, but I think you can do it.” He paused for a few seconds and then started again, “Three years down the road in May, I am going be sitting on the field, they are going to call your name, and I will get to say, ‘There she is, she did it.’”
Three years later, after being stretched to the limit and pushed over the edge, I will be walking across that stage to accept my diploma. But it wasn’t because I achieved the goal on my own. In fact, if I had tried to do it all by myself (and there were times when I did), I would probably not graduate for another three years. It was only through the love, guidance and support of my professors, friends, mentors, and above all, Christ.
I look around this campus and I know there is much more here than meets the eye. Anyone who comes here expecting a “typical” college experience will either be severely disappointed or utterly grateful and speechless, much like I am now. I cannot put into words the amount of gratitude I have for the people here who have chosen to hold the standard of Christ above all else. There have been many who have poured countless hours into preparing me for a life beyond college fully devoted to Him, without the accountability of required weekly church services and only eight approved chapel misses each semester (and, people, that’s a lot of chapel misses).
Some people call it a “bubble”; Dr. Joe Keller (Vice President of Student Life) calls it a “green house.” Whatever fancy word or phrase you choose to describe this place won’t change the fact that you will never find anything else like it. You may shrug your shoulders or purse your lips when you hear that statement but it is true. I have grown so much here. I will not only walk away with some of the most amazing friends, mentors, and a pretty great fiancé… but also with a solid biblical foundation. And I walk away with a desire to be held accountable to the same standards in the real world as I was so lovingly held to as a student of The Master’s University. Thank you, Prof D, for trusting God would bring a “crazy, purple-haired” student through three years of refinement, only to walk across the stage because of His love and great mercy towards me.