Friday, September 2, 2016

Rebekah Sheppard - Academic Award Winner

Greetings Kaléo 2017,
Well, you’re off!  Or nearly off anyway.  No matter how far from home your trip to Qwanoes takes you, you can be sure you’re in for an adventure, in pretty much every sense of the word.  And while adventure might be a large part of the allure of the Kaléo program, it is my privilege to address the academic component of your year at Qwanoes.  
My name is Rebekah Sheppard and I am last year’s Academic Award Winner.  If your year is anything like mine, academically you’ll run the gamut from those who finish their assignments 2 weeks early (and here I do not refer to myself, although I wish I did...), to those who fight the clock, madly structuring arguments, finding quotes, and composing sentences as precious seconds mercilessly tick away toward that ever-approaching deadline (I offer no comment as to whether I ever found myself in this situation ;) ).  In any case, I hope to offer some advice that will be helpful to you, no matter where you fall on the academic spectrum. 
Just Do It.  Whether the academic portion of the Kaléo program excites you or not, whether you’re a bookworm or you get your daily dose of literacy off the back of the cereal box, whether you’re a straight A student or you’re thrilled (or maybe worried) that a 2.0 GPA is needed to graduate, just do it.  Go to class.  Read your books.  Write your papers.  Like so many things in life, Briercrest academics are governed by that sensible, yet often pesky rule of “You get out of it what you put into it.”  So, if you put in an attentiveness during lectures that alternates between day dreaming and actual dreaming, quickly skim your books, and start studying for exams in the wee hours of the morning the day you have to write them, you’ll end up with a handful of fuzzy concepts, a grumpy yet passionate desire for coffee, and a mark that reflects your efforts (and if Ernst is there, a nerf dart to the face), when you could have had so much more.  That’s not to say that these things don’t happen, it’s college, they do, but please don’t let them be your modus operandi, your norm.  Strive for more.  And strive for more in whatever way works for you.  If you need to study alone, study alone.  If you need to study in groups, study in groups.  If you need a quite space to sit and read for hours, find it.  If you need to methodically wander the downstairs hallways, book in hand, headphones on and music blaring, occasionally crashing into people, all in an effort to stay awake while reading, do it.  Put the effort in in whatever way works for you, but put the effort in.  Go to class.  Read your books.  Write your papers.  Just do it.
Take Advantage.  No, this does not mean sleep in and take advantage of your roommates’ willingness to lend you their notes.  Take advantage of the opportunity you have to learn, and the assistance that is available to help you learn well.  While you may not have the pleasure of attending “Grammar with Lyann” (a highlight of my year) there will be academic workshops designed to help you get the most out of what you’re hearing and reading.  Go to them.  Additionally, you’ll be studying in a very small, unique environment, where your profs, your leaders, your interns, and your fellow students want to see you succeed.  Go to them.  Talk about concepts you don’t understand, ask your profs questions, get your papers edited, and volunteer to edit those of your classmates.  Also, use the time you’re given.  If there’s an open day on the schedule, chances are you have a book to read or a paper to write.  And because all the students operate on the same schedule, all your friends have work to do too.  Sure, take breaks and enjoy each other’s company, but don’t let yourself be overly distracted and don’t distract your classmates.  Yes, community is important, and I’ll let Danika enlighten you as to those benefits (of which there are many, trust me), but academics too form a vital component of your time at Qwanoes.    

Stay Focused. By this I mean keep the goals of your year in the Kaléo Program, the point of the academics, clear in your mind. As we were told countless times throughout the year, the purpose of the classes is not information, but transformation. This means that the marks you receive don't matter nearly as much as whether you come out of your classes more like Jesus. Academics are a great way to gain more knowledge, to really make you think about what you believe, to challenge and stretch you, to connect with your classmates, and to help you learn more about God, but they are a means, not an end. The goal is transformation. So, to those of you who struggle academically, who may not excel at essays or readings, please try your hardest, put effort in, but remember that the garden you receive are not the be all and the end all of your experience.  Don't be discouraged, be transformed. And to those of you who might have an aptitude for academics, to whom reading and learning comes easily, please put effort in, but don't become engrossed by a quest for high marks. God is more important. 

Don't be consumed, be transformed. 
In any case, you’ll soon be off on an amazing adventure, joining others, forming friendships, climbing mountains, reading books, ministering to those around you, and growing closer to God.  Be excited, you’re becoming a part of a program that has touched many lives, and you have the opportunity to make this year count.  So in whatever you do, in academics, in adventure, in leadership, in ministry, and in community, work at it with all your heart, put effort in.  Seek God and let him transform you.  
All the best and God bless,

Rebekah

1 comment:

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