Reflections on Another Semester Past

The semester isn’t entirely over – I still have three more finals to take (Curse you, finals schedule, for making me have two finals on Friday). Yet it pretty much is done, and with the minimal time that I have not spent studying, I’ve been sitting around and thinking about how much has changed since I was an itty-bitty freshman, and even how different I am than when I arrived earlier this year in August.

[I’ve added a ton of links to this post. Most of them are links to my own prior blog posts in which I discussed something I mention here, others are links to Hope pages for more information on an organization or program!]

My semester began very positively. I was an Orientation leader, and saw it as a great opportunity to try to make our group of freshmen feel welcome and at home. I’d say that it helped me kickstart a pretty good year.

I went into classes, and have done pretty well in them. I’ve strengthened relationships with people I knew before, and have made new ones as well. I went to, most likely, every SAC event held, reunited with the beautiful women in my bible study, and went apple AND pumpkin picking, among other things.

I came into this year thinking I wanted to continue with the education program, but toward the end of the semester I decided that it wasn’t for me. I wrote a novel in November, got accepted to the Vienna study-abroad program for this May, got offered to do research in June, got a new job, and now I’m just ready to go home.

But if I were to reflect on one major change in my life, despite everything that has happened semester, it would be the change in my faith. All of my life I have gone to church and been a Christian, but I was never challenged or pushed forward in my faith. Freshman year, I attended Chapel occasionally and only went to the Gathering a couple of times the entire year. This year, I decided to be intentional with my faith, and that choice has caused me to grow a massive amount in this area of my life. I’ve kept a journal to take notes in during Chapel and the Gathering, which has really helped.

I’m not done growing in my faith, not nearly to that point (And I wonder, do we ever reach that point?), but I’m much more satisfied with my relationship with God this semester than I have been all of my life. I owe that to Hope’s lovely Campus Ministries, and the freedom to have the choice in my religious practices here at Hope. Without the ability to decide for myself that my faith was something I wanted to pursue more deeply, I don’t think I would have come as far.

A lot has happened this semester. I’m sure a lot will happen next semester as well. All I know is that we keep on keeping on here at Hope; That train, blaring it’s horn outside your window, is still going, even in the dead of the night, at two in the morning when all you want is a little bit of decent shut-eye. Next semester, and the four more semesters after that, will be the same way.

Here’s a slideshow of some photos from my semester:

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I’m hoping to write more blog posts over break while I’m at home, but if things get busy or I forget, then I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and/or Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading,


Wrapping Up Senior Seminar

There’s officially 11 school days left in this academic year and I have quite a few mixed emotions about that. On the one hand, I’m so excited to be graduating and moving on to other schooling and adventures. However, I’m going to miss the comfort that Hope has provided me, as well as seeing all of the familiar faces I’ve grown accustomed to each day.

Senior Seminar is one class in particular that has allowed me to reflect on my time at Hope and made me analyze the past few years as well as my years prior to college. I had mentioned in a previous blog that I had to write a paper called “What Moves Me” for this class and the ideas and realizations I had from writing that paper allowed me to write my “Life View” paper. This past week I had to present this paper and discuss my life view with the rest of the class. I’m not much of a public speaker but this presentation was a lot easier than I had thought going into it. Everybody in my class is so comfortable with each other so anything I said or revealed was going to be supported and respected. Although I was able to find meaning in the experiences in my life thus far, I really enjoyed listening to my peers and their stories.

The remaining time we have left in the class is solely dedicated to presenting our own life views and I’m actually looking forward to it. So far I’ve listened to only a few and they are such a joy listening to because people really open up about what makes them who they are. Some people take a humorous angle while others discuss the losses and personal tragedies they have faced, presenting a wide range of life events that my peers have faced. I feel so fortunate that my classmates are willing to share such personal things and I have a greater understanding and respect for each person because I’ve been able to get to know them better. Some presentations have actually inspired me and have challenged me to see from different perspectives. It’s crazy how much you learn simply from your peers and see what different obstacles everybody has had to deal with and how they cope.

I found it so beneficial to take this specific course and take a step back to analyze my life. It seems like something that everybody should do occasionally and learn from oneself and one’s experiences. Without this class, I wouldn’t have been able to decipher why things really happened or didn’t happen to me and having this understanding really helped me grow and appreciate people, situations and events in my life. I’m sure I’ll stumble across this paper a decade from now and really enjoy reading my perspective as a young adult and see how much I have changed since writing it and if I can find even more meaning that I didn’t see this first go-around. I strongly encourage you to simply sit down and take the time to see what you value in people, relationships, friendships and yourself. For me, I gained a new perspective of myself and I’m very grateful that I have found meaning through my actions. Even if it’s just writing in a journal, keeping track of your thoughts will be interesting and beneficial in the future looking back. See if you can learn something new about yourself!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

Looking Back

As we enter into the last day of classes, right before we (Hope students) hit exam week, I have had a moment to breathe and thus this thought has hit me: “This semester, my 3rd semester in college, is coming to end.” What?!?! Wasn’t it just the other day that I got here as part of the orientation staff? How can this be? What have I even done? What have I accomplished? I realize though, that I have done a lot and accomplished stuff along the way. In this realization, I ask myself the question that I believe is a vital question in life: “What have I learned from this past time period?”


Well I have learned a lot of things, but the things that stick at to me the most is what I have learned about myself. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: So much of college is self-discovery. I thought I learned it all my freshman year; what else more to me was there to know? Maybe in a stagnant world, that would be true, but the world I live in is ever changing, so there is always something new for me to learn about myself. So what have I learned about myself this semester? Many things, but here are a few:

1). There is such a thing as being too busy. If you haven’t noticed, I love to stay busy with everything that I do and everything that I am involved with. Well, that “business” caught up to me this year. I know I am a being that easily gets restless, so staying busy is good for me. It is not good for me when I don’t have enough time to bring my soul to rest. When I am not able to do the things that I need in my life such as prayer time, exercise, true intentional time with others, then I become over-worn. That state of mind does not put me in a good place. Instead of business putting me in a good place, it can take over like a disease and really affect me. There is such a thing as being too busy.

2). The nature of doubt. I have gone through a lot  with doubt this semester, specifically speaking, with my faith life. I never disbelieved that Jesus was the Son of God and that He loved me and everybody, but everything in between that was very cloudy and unsteady. At first I had a lot of anxiety that I was so doubtful, but over time I came to embrace it and then discovered so much more about it. I discovered that I am a person whose faith is founded on doubt. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When I hear something, my first reaction is to question it, and thus begin a path to self learning and discovery. That can help me deeper enrich my faith. But you know what? It can be a bad thing, and I let it be that in my life. I was so full of doubt and so quick to do it, that I allowed no opportunity for something to make an impact. My doubt my me so closed hearted and unwilling to change. I let the doubt take control. But what I needed to do was learn to doubt my doubts. The nature of doubt is complex and beautiful, but it can become something that holds me down; it is a fine fine line.

3). It may be cliché, but… #blessed. Yep. I said it. I am so fortunate to go to the school that I go to, to have the friends and community that I have, and to constantly be swarmed with endless fulfilling opportunities. Though I can say this semester has had its challenges as it sometimes took a lot out of me as I was discovering “me,” I can by no means forget the blessings that have happened as well. Thank you, God, for this place and the people.

For more about me, follow me on twitter @hopejohnluke17 or on Instagram at johnlukehawkins. Until next time!