Twenty years ago, I walked through these doors for the first time as a student.
Fifteen years ago, I walked through these doors for the first time as a graduate student.
Three years ago, I walked through these doors to re-start my time as a graduate student.
Today, I walked through these doors for the last time as a student.
I have walked through these doors countless times. I have been changed in some way each time. When I first entered this building as a college freshman, I had no idea what my journey was going to look like. I had no idea where I would be going, what I would be doing, or what would happen along the way.
There have been people who welcomed me when I walked through these doors. People like Jim Mankin, my first academic advisor. Dr. Mankin guided me through my first few years a college student. I miss him greatly. People like David Wray, John Willis, Doug Foster, and so many others who spent time with an immature, naïve, 20 year old and taught me how to think, read, and write in way I never had before.
People like Tim Sensing , Mark Hamilton, and Melinda Thompson who worked with my strange, confusing, and unique degree path to make sure I could graduate. People like Jeff Childers, James Thompson, and Fred Aquino who not only taught my classes, but helped me work through my classes and deal with grief after my brother passed away.
People like Jaime Goff, Sara Blakeslee, and Dale Bertram who brought out of me that small flame of giving voice to the voiceless and fanned it into an all-out blaze. People like Teri Childers, Angie Merritt, and Barbara Wilson who made sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed so that our degrees would be completed.
And there so many other names that should be added to the list. Professors who were more than just teachers, they were spiritual guides: Randy Harris Jeanene Reese, Jerry Taylor, and Chris Flanders to name a few. Friends of mine who now teach and shape the current crop of college students: Houston Heflin, Brady Bryce, David Kneip, and Vic McCracken.
As I walk through the halls beyond these doors I read the names on the doors and I feel a sense of gratitude for each and every person there.
(And I have not even touched on the students who have impacted my life in numerous ways.)
I may be 20 years older, but I am light years removed from that young man who walked through these doors for the first time in 1993. I will be forever grateful to the women and men who have devoted a portion of their lives to spiritually forming people like me.
I love these doors. I will miss them. Yet I know others will be walking through them for the first time in just a few weeks. I pray their journeys are exactly what they need to be.
And I cannot wait to see what doors God leads me to in the future.