During my senior year in high school, I decided to come to Cairn University because I wanted to attend a Christian college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so the First Year Programs seemed like the perfect option. Many incoming students don’t know which major to choose, and people frequently change their minds during their time in college. As an incoming freshman, I thought I might end up as a Social Work major. After my first year, I was interested in Counseling. Currently, I am a sophomore, and I am in the Education program. Although I’m not a 100% sure what I want to do in the future, I know that a Cairn education will prepare me for the workforce.
The First Year Programs are just one of the many ways students can use their interests to learn and mature before they decide on a major. I decided on the Israel and Archaeology program because I have always had a desire to learn more about the Bible and its history. However, if it were possible, I would have chosen to enroll in all of the four programs offered. Who wouldn’t want to travel to Italy and see ancient art in person? Who wouldn’t want to travel all around America hiking, climbing, kayaking, and exploring? Who wouldn’t want to visit cities, be surrounded by the various cultures, and learn how to do ministry in an urban context? All four programs offer something different and are specific to one’s interests.
[blockquote align=”right”]With the First Year Programs, you’re not just another person in a classroom—you’re a member of a family.[/blockquote] One of my favorite things about the program is the cohort dynamic. Before college, I didn’t have many Christian friends. The First Year Programs are set up so that you are always in community—you live together, you take classes together, and you eat meals together. Sometimes living in community is tough, and you go through a lot of struggles together, but I am grateful to have become best friends with the people in my hall. It is the biggest blessing to have found friends who helped me learn more about myself and held me accountable. It’s a rare thing for a group of about 40 people to love each other the way we ended up loving each other because loving is messy, but we managed to do it. Professor Hardesty wasn’t just our professor. We called him saba which means grandfather in Hebrew. He really adopted us into his family. With the First Year Programs, you’re not just another person in a classroom—you’re a member of a family.
As a Resident Assistant on campus, I have come to see the ways in which the First Year Programs have shaped me as a leader. The community living forced me out of my comfort zone, and the smaller group setting made me more confident in who I am. I began to see myself more as a daughter of the King. I was encouraged to be the change that I wanted to see on campus. During my time at Cairn, I really want to make a difference. I don’t just want to be here for school, but I want to glorify God wherever I am. I want to show people that I love them and through that, show them the love of God.
[framed_box]Rebecca Wessel is a sophomore pursuing a B.S. in Education: Elementary Early Childhood Education (PK-4), and serves as a Resident Assistant in Heritage Hall. She is an Israel & Archaeology First Year Program alumna. [/framed_box]