Nyack Unfiltered: Melanie Cho

Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I, but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.

The next interview in the series is Melanie Cho. Melanie, known affectionately as Mel, is ready to walk down the aisle in a few weeks and never look back. She has a clear goal in mind and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m sure she will accomplish everything she has set out to do.

You’re a Communications major! Why?

Mel: When I started at Nyack I wanted to be a Communications major, but they didn’t have that degree here so I had to switch to Education. But then they finally got it, so I [switched]. My mom does television and radio, so I’ve just seen it a lot in my house, and I guess it inspired me. I really like the whole creative side of Communications.

Ah, I remember that my first year at Nyack was the first year they had Communications on this campus. [Melanie: Yep! That’s right.] Thank God you caught up [with your credits].

Mel: Yeah! I was able to CLEP a Spanish course.

If you weren’t a Communications major what would you be?

Mel: Well, I would probably still be with Education. It’s one of the major things I’ve been working on anyway. I tutor a lot of kids. I like kids, and I like teaching, but going for that Education degree I was just like, “No.” [Laughs]

So, your mom does television, but so do you! Tell me about your television show.

Mel: It’s with my little sister. It’s called Hit and Video. We talk about music – the five hits of the week, [and] we have music videos. Then at the end of every show, we give a message on a Christian topic. Sometimes we talk about letting God guide you, giving your problems to God, salvation, stuff like that.

How’d that start?

Mel: We are a part of a Communication ministry called Alerta Communications, and the head pastor, the founder of the ministry, asked me if me and my sister wanted to do it. The show had already been produced by two other pastors like 20 years ago, but of course [now] they are grown, so he wanted it to be renewed, refreshed, have new faces – so he asked me and my sister. At first I kind of resisted because I thought, ‘I have school, I have work, I have all this stuff,’ but I ended up just taking it, and I like it.

How long have you been doing it?

Mel: It’s going to be a year because we’re in April now.

Congratulations! Your anniversary!

Mel: Thank you!

Do you feel like your Communications degree has helped you with that (the television show) at all? Or do you see them as two separate things?

Mel: I guess both. I feel like the degree gives me a backup – like I have education [regarding] it, and I’m not just doing it. But I also feel like I gained a lot of experience just by doing the show. So I guess it balances out.

How did you pick Nyack?

Mel: [Laughs] I never wanted to come to Nyack. When I was in high school I went to Evangel Christian School and I went to a Christian middle school, so I was just tired of Christian schools. So I applied everywhere but Nyack, but my mom was like, “You should apply to Nyack just in case.” So I applied, and when I was deciding what school I wanted to go to I wanted Hofstra University because they were giving me a scholarship. So I went for the interview and when I got out I was like, “Mom, I don’t know what happened, but I started talking about God and I don’t know if they’re going to accept me!” But they did accept me, but then my dad updated my FAFSA, and they were like since your dad makes too much money, we had to remove the scholarship. So I was like, “Ok fine.” Then I went to Hofstra’s open house trying to feel the atmosphere, see if I really liked it, and I thought, “Ehh, ok.” Then I came to the open house at Nyack College and I just felt like this was where I was supposed to be. I felt really peaceful and after that everything just fell into place.

What is your ultimate goal for yourself? After you graduate what do you want to be doing?

Mel: I want to be… working in the field I studied! More specifically, film production, video editing, [and] I guess I can include in front camera action because I’m already doing that. Just doing hands-on work. I definitely want to be focused on what I came here to do. Right now I’m a tutor and I love that job and I love the kids, but I don’t want to get too comfortable in that job and not focus on what I actually came to study.

Do you have a favorite moment at Nyack?

Mel: …I don’t know! I haven’t thought back that far. It feels like I came here just yesterday and a lot has changed – people coming in and out and different experiences. But I cherish the moments that I was able to meet specific people, meet specific friends, and build friendships.
I wish you all the best in your future, Mel! You’re going to be great!

You Are Not Your Major

Lately,

I’ve been writing blogs about being an Education Major, what that means, ways to thrive and survive as this strange species who are filled with heart and hardcore motivation.

I’ve been writing blog after blog on this topic, which makes sense. It’s a college blog, right?

But.

Friends,

I need to share something with you. I can’t write all those blogs about succeeding in your major without mentioning this, and in fact this is something more important than all those blogs. It’s something that shakes my focus back to its rightful place on those days, those days when ambition and goals just don’t suffice, those days when dreams may or may not be there, the days when the learning curve makes you feel like you’re accomplishing nothing.

Friends,

What I have to tell you I do not whisper. What I have to tell you I scream. You are not your major. Let me repeat that…whether you are a Nursing, Business, Pastoral Ministry, Education, or Basket Weaving Major, you are not your major. It does not define you. You do not, you cannot wrap up your identity in what your college major is.

Let me explain why you cannot do this.

Your identity needs to be in something unmoved, something stable,– something fixed. One semester you might be a Business Major wandering through Accounting 101 , but the next semester what if God calls you to study English? You cannot place your identity in something that can change.

You also might struggle through that major, even if it’s where God has called you. Your studies can be difficult, and the learning curve is real. There might be semesters when you aren’t the perfect Education Major (or fill-in-the-blank major). You cannot tangle up your identity in how well you are performing in your major. This doesn’t mean you don’t give 100%, doesn’t mean you don’t try, but it means you give yourself room to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow, but you cannot place your identity in something that can change.

Friends,

The only place you can place your identity, the only place you can anchor yourself, is in Christ, finally, truly in Christ. If you try to find your identity in what you are doing you will constantly be struggling with who you are, especially through college when majors, relationships, jobs, and everything else can change between the semester and the summer.

Do not define yourself by how well you are doing in life.

One semester you might be running, edging forward, winning, and then the next semester you may find yourself struggling. Define yourself by the constancy of the Living Word who is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever even through our twenty-somethings. 

God’s Always Got Your Back

As I write this, I stand on the Downtown 4 train headed to Union Square. I just remembered that I have a Discussion post for one of my classes due at 11:59 tonight. It’s a 2 part post and I already did part 1, so I’m not blaming this on procrastination (even though that is exactly what this is). I’m going to say that I simply forgot about it (because I did). I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t she just keep working after she wrote part 1 of the post and continue to write part 2 as well? That very good observation is beside the point, and if I take the time to really consider why I didn’t do that then I just might get off this train before my stop and scream my head off. So to avoid my having a public meltdown, we’re just not going to think about it. We are going to close our eyes and thank the Holy Spirit for reminding me of my homework in the first place. (I’m going to be real, y’all. I would not have made it this far in my academic career if it was not for God).

(9 hours later)

As I write this second paragraph, I am back on the train heading home after work and breathing a sigh of relief because I turned my Discussion post in at 11:57pm tonight when it was due, as you remember, at 11:59pm. I’m not saying that you should procrastinate majorly and turn all your homework and projects in at the last minute because that is irresponsible and not recommended. However, I am saying that God had my back tonight and I would just like to shout Him out for that. In fact, I would like to shout out the countless times He has had my back. Every time I slipped, tripped, and straight up fell on my face, He was there watching my back and catching me before I hit the pavement. The days that I let fly by without praying a word to Him or even cracking my Bible, He never left my side. He is always ready to listen to me even when I don’t take the time to listen to Him. I don’t deserve Him, and yet, He is still around. He says He is always going to be around and I believe Him because He has yet to fail me (and never will). I hope you take great comfort in the fact that no matter how bad you mess up, you will never be alone, my friend. When your earthly friends abandon you, He won’t. When you royally screw up and just want to curl up in a corner and cry, He uncurls you and sends His Holy Spirit to help you work out the problem. I could honestly go on about how much He does for us on a daily basis that we are not even aware of, but just know that He loves you. He loves you, He loves you, He loves you! And He’s always got your back.

Nyack Unfiltered: Noël Simoné Wippler

Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I, but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.

The next interview in the series is Noël Simoné Wippler. Noël is a musician who loves using her gift of music to bring the utmost glory to God. It was a pleasure interviewing her.

What’s your major?

Noël: My major is vocal performance.

What do you specialize in?

Noël: Jazz, R&B, Funk, Classical…

How did you hear about Nyack’s School of Music?

Noël: I heard about Nyack on Facebook, actually. A friend of mine shared a Facebook post from who I now know as Professor Damien Sneed who asked if anyone was interested in getting their degree in Music – and scholarships were available. So I responded and Damien Sneed told me to come to Nyack that day and bring sheet music if I had any. So I had my interview and an audition and they told me I got a full scholarship. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe…” [But] it was a Christian college so I was thinking to myself, ‘What is going to happen. My lifestyle right now is not Christian at all.’ [It’s] so funny how God just straight up blessed me abundantly and let me know that this is the next step. So I just took it, and I’m here today.

When was that?

Noël: That was 2013 Fall. And school had already started actually! It’s funny because at that same time I did an audition for a theater company in Florida, and they told me no so I was a little sad. So when I heard about this school I was like yeah okay, I’m gonna do it. And when I told the school yes, I literally got a phone call 10 minutes later from the stage director in Florida. He said, “Hey, we can’t get over your voice. We kept hearing you singing this part. We think you’d be great for this role. Would you be interested?” I was like, “Yeah, when is it?” He was like, “We’ll fly you down tomorrow. You have free housing and food.” And I was like, “I literally just signed my application to go to school to get my degree in 4 years. Literally like 10 minutes ago.” He was like, “Ah man! Only if I had called you 10 minutes earlier!” I was like, “Yeah [Laughs]! I would’ve been down there!” But [even after that] I still felt like [Nyack] was it.

So you had peace about it?

Noël: Yeah, I do have peace about it. I was able to meet so many beautiful people. My life has completely changed, and I have a fullness in my life because of Christ.

Who were you before Nyack and has it changed you at all?

Noël: Yes… I wouldn’t say that I’m better or worse, but I would say that I’m more aware now. Aware of God, aware of my blessings, aware of time, aware of my actions. Before, when I started the school, I was drinking a lot. I wanted to be this superstar. I was thinking of different ways to get there, like shortcuts. I just knew when the school came about that it was to be fortifying for my soul. I knew it. I said, “This is a present [that] God has given me to strengthen my relationship [with Him]. My friend Curtis, Curtis Crum the 3rd, passed away a month and a day to this day. Curtis and so many other people at Nyack gave me salt. They gave me a passion to observe God more. Before, I was so rebellious. I didn’t want to be a Christian. I didn’t want to be in a Christian environment at all. I was like it’s fake, the people are hypocritical, they talk about you – which they do [Me: Yep, they do!] [But] I’m here, and I’m realizing that it’s not just a Christian environment. Being a part of this environment has made me realize how we should cherish each other. Even in Chorale when we’re singing the worship music, it’s just [a really loving environment.]

So, it’s affected your music?

Noël: Yes, my music has changed because I put Jesus in the front now. And I noticed how many people gravitate towards me because I did that. It was really surprising to me [because] when you make that decision in a secret place other people can sense it even if they’re not Christian.

You’re supposed to graduate in May. What do you want to do after?

Noël: Full-time musician. Be a professional, be a businesswoman. [I also want to] really push my music out and record.

Do you have any favorite memories at Nyack?

Noël: Yes, being in West Side Story, I was Anita. It was with Curtis. He played Bernardo. It was so great because it really challenged us. We thought, ‘How are we going to get into these characters?’ I’m really proud to have shared that experience with him and with everyone in the cast. PJ, Amanda, Bri, Betsaida, Amos… so many more people… Dana Talley and Dr. Turk… and my father did the artwork. He painted the whole set. Our orchestra, Prof. Margrit, Dr. Sue Talley, Darryl Jordan… also the kids that were in the show. It was just really great. Another moment was performing at Lincoln Center. That was really great because it has always been a dream of mine – just always seeing it growing up. I sang [there] with Chorale and did a solo.

Do you have a favorite class?

Noël: I have Acting for Musical Stage, that’s a favorite class. Then there’s Opera Theatre… Chorale… Jazz… I like all of my Ear Training… all of my Theory classes… all of my classes… they all challenge me to be better.

What’s one thing that you have learned from either a professor, a class, or a fellow student that you think helped you?

Noël: Well, for one thing I’m always late. I learned that in Chorale. It was always 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes [after class]. It would never be there when class started. Even if it was 2 minutes. Why am I always late? That challenged me. Time management. We have dominion over time. We shouldn’t let time run over us. And also, just being able to share moments with people, and just feeling rubbed spiritually. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Ew what’s that feeling, but it’s actually God just using other people to shape you. It’s actually better to feel like that than to feel alone. I’d rather be put into a position and feel like, ‘Ah, I’m being pushed. I’m being shaped into something’ than to feel like, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ And I feel like so many people at Nyack have really lifted me up to be the person I am today. It’s because of their kindness, and a lot of people pray for you. I’ve never been in an environment where so many people pray for you.

They just pray in general. Walking down the halls there are just groups of people praying.

Noël: Yeah! And praising. Like on the Music floor people are just singing or pulling out a guitar or stomping on the floor making mad noise. But yeah. Everything I’m learning right now, through my teachers and through my classmates, besides learning about timeliness and learning about how to love one another, I learned that I must love others – relentlessly, even if I don’t want to. And because of that I learned how to be patient with others.
Noël’s final message rings true for me, considering that I am currently on a journey learning how to actively love others and myself. So thank you Noël for that, and hopefully it rang true with someone else, too. Also, thank you Noël for letting me interview you!

Everybody Gets a Grace Period

This semester, a few of my professors gave the class a grace period. In the first week they gave us homework that could be done without the textbook, or they gave us an extra week to complete and turn in the work just in case some students didn’t yet have their books. I, personally, have never had a grace period for any class I have ever taken, so I was a little taken back (and oh so relieved because I had not ordered any of my books until the day AFTER classes had started – because I forgot).

I promise I won’t go on and on about the wonders of Nyack professors and how they’re better than other professors because they give us grace periods, pray before class, and have occasional in-class potlucks. I’m just saying that grace periods are always welcome in my book, both in class and in life. Whether we mess up, screw up, act up, or choke up, grace covers it all. Grace can either be defined as “courteous goodwill” or “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings” – according to Google Definitions.

Sometimes folks just need a break, and I’m proud to say that I serve a God who is not only the King of kings, but the King of Grace. The unmerited favor He gives out is unending and ever-flowing. However, there is a catch. The catch is…. You don’t even have to ask for it. It’s free Grace that He gives to us because He loves us, not because we begged for it or even deserve it, but because He is that good. Another absolutely amazing thing about God’s Grace periods is that it’s not a period. It doesn’t have a start and end date. As previously said, it is unending and ever-flowing.

I’ve come to realize that not everyone is as well-off as they say they are. People are constantly hurting and tired, and would perk right up at the mere insinuation of a chunk of Grace falling into their lap. Well good news, everyone! This Grace period is upon you! *Oprah voice* You get Grace and you get Grace and you get Grace! Everybody gets Graaaaace! And if you feel like you can’t see the grace manifesting in your life, hold on and reread the definition of grace because you might not know what it is. Grace is God’s constant love, His constant care, His constant ability to protect you. It’s everywhere and it’s all the time, and trust me, it’s manifesting.

Nyack Unfiltered: Delsie Carter

Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.

The third interview in our series is Delsie Carter. Delsie is currently a Sophomore and is studying Psychology. In fact, my first encounter with Delsie was in an Introduction to Psychology course back in 2015. Delsie was one of my favorite people in that class because she was funny, interesting, asked good questions, and seemed to really love learning. Having a true desire to learn is a significant advantage not only in school, but in life, and Delsie’s desire will take her far.

 

Your major is Psychology. Why?

Delsie: Well, I’ve always been interested in the human mind and how it affects our behavior. Why people do what they do. I’ve always [been interested] since the time I was a kid. I [also] got into Psychology because I want to understand myself  better.

Has it helped you understand yourself better?

Delsie: Yes, yes, so much, so much.

What do you want to do with your degree?

Delsie: Well, right now I have an organization where I help young girls. I have a non-profit organization. I’ve had it for eight years now. I really want to open up a practice where I can actually offer psychological help to the children and their parents. I don’t know where else it will take me, but I also am a wellness coach. So [I am] helping people with their wellness by helping them understand why they do what they do, which is great. It helps them understand how their thoughts and their minds control their behavior and making certain decisions.

What’s your non-profit called?

Delsie: Higher Elevation Youth Enhancement Organization. heyeo.org.
If you could major in anything else, or even minor, what would it be?

Delsie: Well, right now I’m minoring in Business. That’s because I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve had a beauty salon for the last twenty years. So if I could minor in anything it would be Business Management, which I’m doing right now – to help me more successfully run my business. And ironically, this is my first semester of Business and I find that effectively running a business has a lot to do with psychology. Running a business is really about managing and getting people to do things, and you’re better at getting people to do things when you know what makes them do what they do. So it works hand in hand.

That’s true, I’ve never thought of that.
Why did you pick Nyack?

Delsie: Nyack was introduced to me a few years ago. I’ve always been like a leader in my church and I just wanted to be in an atmosphere where I felt like I might also learn more about God and my relationship with Him – and understand the Bible, not necessarily just from a pulpit point of view, but from a scholarly point of view and I had heard good things about Nyack.

So what’s your favorite thing [about Nyack]?

Delsie: I like the atmosphere. I like that no matter where you are in Nyack you cannot help but to overhear somebody’s conversation about God. I like to be around groups of people who are seeking a higher level of God – whether they’re doing it, whether they’re finding it or not, I just like the pursuit of it. It’s like a corporate pursuit of God. I like that.

I agree. So, since you’ve been in this environment for over a year now, do you feel like it has affected your [personal] pursuit of God at all?

Delsie: Being in this environment has actually changed the way I’m pursuing God.

How so?

Delsie: I’m not pursuing God religiously anymore. It’s not about how much I can do in the church. It’s not about what others say. My pursuit of God has changed in that I see God to be bigger than I had – I kind of put God in a box when I got to Nyack. God is this, He’s this, He’s that. But God can be and do whatever He wants to do. Sometimes we get locked into the perimeter of what we’ve been taught God is – from our parents, from our pastors, from our friends, from our cultures – this is what God is. So you deal with God on that basis, but you need to learn that God is… that’s what people have made Him to be. He’s much bigger than that! So I kind of unboxed God since I’ve been here and I said, “You know, God, be who you want to be to me and show me what you want to show me. It doesn’t have to be what I think you’re going to show me, I’m open to whatever you come to me with. Whatever it is, I’m open to it, Lord.” And even my prayer life has changed. I’m not asking God for anything. I’m not asking God and begging God because I’m realizing that there’s nothing that I really need to ask or beg Him for. My prayer has turned into a prayer of asking God to help me see what He’s already given me. Help me to line up what’s already been given to me. I don’t ask Him to open doors because I know that everything is open. Everything is already open for me, so it just changed me in a lot of ways.

Delsie’s final comments remind me of my first year at Nyack when I first caught wind of how heavily taught the New Covenant is in Nyack’s Bible and Theology classes. Once we have a firm grip on the concept of the New Covenant and completely understand that we are no longer living under the old covenant – true freedom is attained. We come to understand our authority under the Father and can start living our lives now equipped with a power and authority we didn’t even realize we had! It’s a great feeling that, as said best by Delsie, can change us in a lot of ways.

Thank you Delsie for letting me interview you!

Losing Your Grip

I’ve been thinking about what to write this week. I like ideas to sit in the back of my brain, marinate a while. That’s how I think through everything–lesson plans, major life decisions, and blog posts. I let my thoughts sit, marinate, deepen into what they need to be.

While those thoughts soaked in my brain, I realized that I have lost my grip.

Haven’t all writers and teachers? (That was a joke. Please, take yourself less seriously and laugh).

I realized that I have entirely lost my grip on my idea of what I thought Spring Semester of 2017 would look like.

“Laughing” I lost it all.

During this Spring Semester, the plan was to be a full-time graduate student. The paperwork was even signed for that.

During the Spring Semester, the plan was to continue working at my part-time job. I even had a to-do list of Spring projects recorded on sticky notes.

During the Spring Semester, I was supposed to spend 90% of my time in Nyack and start growing roots here. My schedule is now 80% of the time spent elsewhere, and I’d like to move closer to work.

During the Spring Semester, I was supposed to be asleep, blissful, and snoring at 5:30 a.m. Now, my alarm rings at the great tragedy of 5:20 a.m….

What happened was…an opportunity to teach in the city fell into my lap late last semester. Now, I’m here teaching an 8th Grade Reading class. I’m only taking one graduate class, and the place where I’m setting down roots is the city. It’s all incredibly bizarre to me. It’s also hilarious–in September I was stressing about ways to earn extra cash to pay rent. I even found a sketchy online tutoring place and was considering applying for a job. Honestly, it was all a little ridiculous.

During that entire process, God knew what I would be doing this semester, and I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I didn’t find out until late in the game is that God knows my natural tendency towards holding my grip. The Maker of Galaxies is insanely aware of our weaknesses. The Organizer of Galaxies knows that I try to organize, scheme and plan my way into success, grip a blue-printed life with white-knuckled hands.

The Artist of Galaxies, also knew I needed to learn to lose my grip on all of that–my plans, schedules, and blueprints, my idea for what I thought the next four months should be. It’s been wild ever since I was forced to do that. I’m still learning how to loosen my grip each day, learning to place the entirety of my being, the frailty of my soul, and anything regarding future days into His grip–after losing my own.

Friends, join me in the wildly bizarre and wildly beautiful process of losing your grip.

Finding Solid Study Habits

The sun brushes over the horizon, watching over the Hudson in the hush of a February morning on the Hillside. We are called into morning. I remember waking up to scenes like this my Junior Year of my time at Nyack. Junior Year was one of the most intense years of my college experience. Junior Year is like that for everyone. Classes and content are challenging every ounce of your being. Sometimes you don’t understand something until you’ve been challenged and forced into figuring it out for yourself. Junior Year was the year when I was forced to forge solid study habits to meet the challenges of that year. It took me a while to figure out a system, but here are some habits that worked for me.

I’d like to add a disclaimer, though. Everyone learns differently, it’s this extraordinary blessing called diversity that creates these differences, because God gave humanity diversity in order that we might enrich and renew one another. May these habits give you ideas to figure out your own systems as you cultivate solid study habits.

  1. Figure Out the Noise: You need to figure out what level of noise creates your best study environment. Some people are distracted by silence and need background noise, while others need silence that could be confused with prayer in church. If you need total quiet, the Silent Section in the Bailey Library is the best place on campus.
  1. Plan: Read that syllabus and chart out major due dates on a planner. Doing this for exams became a survival strategy for me. One semester I had a History exam that I realized would take 10 hours of study to pass. However, because I wrote down the date of the exam months in advance, I was able to plot out time 1-2 weeks before the test and pace my time spent studying. It might sound like a crazy idea, but I passed that test.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  2. Find a Strategy to Focus In Class: Taking notes was a strategy I used to keep me focused in class. I had a reputation for intense focus, but that was only because I took notes. Otherwise, my mind would have wandered into the pros and cons of dog sledding in Florida in July.
  1. “It Is Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness”: That’s a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, and it means that when faced with challenges it is better to work at fixing the problem and refuse to waste time complaining. We waste so much time moaning about the workload, professors, or our own inadequacies. Friends, I’ve been in all three of those places. I understand. Then I began to realize something. I began to realize that education was a gift offered into my own hands, and it was my task to strategize and fight for that gift. That meant figuring out how to manage my time, plan time to study, and try different strategies until I developed a system of solid study habits.

Friends, no matter what your experiences with study habits have been, you can do this. Start by adding one or two habits into your life a week. You’ll be amazed at how motivated you’ll feel, and how less stressed the middle and end of your semester will be. You completely, totally, and beautifully can do this.

Meet the Nyack College NYC Business Club!

Whether you’re a Business major or not, you probably know that business skills are an integral part of any career. As a Communications major, even I am taking Business Communications this semester. Well, for those at Nyack who have not selected Business as their official field of choice but still want to gain the knowledge and networking skills, there’s the Nyack College NYC Business Club!

The Business Club’s President Juliya Joseph says that, “The Business Club is mostly about networking and bringing Nyack students together. [We’re always thinking about] how we are going to do business as Christians? How are we going to be different?” The Business Club is the pride and joy of the school’s Business Department which in the words of Public Relations Officer Damali Cooper is a “quality degree with a Christian perspective.” They take great delight in being the go-to place for students to gain connections and insight about the business world. I recently attended the “Meet, Eat, and Greet” hosted by the Business Club and got to know their members and their mission a little bit better.
Upon first walking into the room, a cheery “Hey! Welcome!” was sent my way and instantly made me feel comfortable. The vibe of the room was all laughter and smiles (but, of course, that could have had something to do with the pizza and cookies that were promised.) After an icebreaker game, we went around the room saying our names and having the rest of the room respond, “Hey [insert name]. It was actually cute and helped build a camaraderie among the folks in the room.

After the ice breaker and introductions led by Vice President Yanick Dutes, the Club’s Secretary Franklin Zhumi said a few words about the Business Club, who they are, and what they do. He started off his segment by reading their mission statement, which states that: “The Nyack College Business Club is an opportunity for students to network and obtain organizational skills to receive jobs and internships and prepare for the business world in a Christ-centered environment.” He explained that both Business majors and non-Business majors are allowed to join the club regardless of race, gender, or class. The doors are open for anyone looking for internships, jobs, or help saving money. They are here to serve Nyack NYC’s needs, and they hold weekly meetings every Wednesday in the Pavilion from 5:15pm-6pm.

Front to Back: Public Relations Officer Damali Cooper, President Juliya Joseph, and Vice President Yanick Dutes

After Secretary Franklin, the Public Relations officer Damali Cooper took the microphone to explain the Business Club’s upcoming events. Damali began by asserting the ever-growing relevancy of business in the real world and subsequently the relevancy of the Business Club. In the words of Damali, “No matter how you plan to go out into the business world…it’s all business, and that’s why we’re here.” The Business Club recently hosted an event on Organization Structure in a Business with guest speaker Shawn Roseburgh. The engagement went into detail about levels of management in a business and what responsibilities each management position entails. More upcoming events include:

  1. Financial Aid Help and Information workshop
  2. Resume and Interview workshop
  3. Entrepreneurship and Networking workshop
  4. Financing, Budgeting, and Stock Market workshop

Students enjoying the pizza! (along with our Dean of Students, Dean Hammond)

After the meeting concluded, the “eat” part of “Meet, Eat, and Greet” commenced. Pizza, and cookies, and drinks! Oh, my! The pizza was being served by Vice President Yanick and Treasurer Omar Tlapanco. It was a great time of food and fellowship for the rest of the hour.

Nyack College Business Club is an opportunity for students to network and obtain organizational skills to receive jobs and internships and prepare for the business world in a Christ-centered environment. So if any Nyack NYC student feels the need to use any of the resources from the Business Club, feel free! It’s the perfect space to network with the right people and make beneficial connections. They’re positive, resourceful, have an open door policy, and are always here to help!

“Because We Are Not Alone In The Dark With Our Demons”

I had a comforting thought this week.

This week was the Mid-Winter Recess for the school I’m teaching at now. It’s been a time of breathing, of catching up on sleep, finishing online work for my grad class, and getting a chance to drink copious amounts of coffee and just sit and think.

One of the comforting thoughts I’ve had this week, is a thought that’s been tossing around in my brain for a few months. Sometimes these thoughts need time, time to find other ideas, and time to grow through experiences. This thought was like that. A couple months ago, I finished reading The Confessions of St. Augustine. I’m not telling you this to sound spiritual, actually, anyone who gains anything from reading Augustine’s Confessions is anything but spiritual. It’s a literal wade through the desert of the human soul, and the only way you gain anything from that text is if you find it relatable. The only way you find it relatable is if you are also a frail human, crossed with sins and mistakes, and wandering on this road of grace. Some people won’t get anything out of Augustine’s Confessions, because they’ll simply be beyond that point in their faith. As of yet, I haven’t reached that point, and the frailty of my own soul is rather apparent.

Why am I mentioning this? Let me explain. One of the major ideas in Augustine’s Confessions is that the Holy Spirit of God must change our very desires in order for us to follow Christ. I know that whole “transform your minds” thing, but Augustine showed that idea through the story of how Christ changed his own desires. This had to happen for Christ to heal Augustine’s diseases, diseases of self, lust, ambition, pride, shame, and everything else Augustine struggled with.

I found the idea that Christ must transform us in order to heal us rather profound.

This week, I came across another thought which gave Augustine’s idea more weight. I was in my kitchen listening to this folk band called the Oh Hellos. The Oh Hellos are a band of two siblings whose lyrics are often steeped in faith. They have an entire album inspired by a book by C.S. Lewis. They’re cool cats. Anyway, they have this song called “I Have Made Mistakes”. It’s gorgeous. Go listen to it. They understand this struggle of faith, this constant struggle with the sin of ourselves. They sing this line after they’ve mourned the intensity of this struggle, “Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”.

This was a profound idea to me.

You know how people say God is always with you?  

“Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”

Augustine’s idea is that for Christ to heal our diseases, He must heal our fallen desires. He must change the very core of our beings. He must heal our demons, and yet? We are not abandoned with those demons, as we are being redeemed. That thought radically comforted me, as I look at my own life and its often frail function of faith.

Friends,

Take courageous heart. Be open to the work to the work of Christ within you. “Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”.

Nyack Unfiltered: Ethan Hodge

Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.

The next interview in our series is Ethan Hodge. Ethan is a Senior who has big plans and a big heart to match. He knows virtually everyone on campus and makes it a point to greet all of them. His infectious attitude and desire to strive for greatness will take him far.

You’re a Psychology major. Why?

Ethan: I’m a Psychology major because I have a passion for people. I have a passion for building relationships and also aiding people to see the damage that they have emotionally, physically, or even verbally that they never really noticed.

Do you know where that passion came from?

Ethan: Well, being that I have a really big heart and I’m really caring, I started to really look at my life and I’ve noticed that a lot of my peers and even strangers [have] come up to me asking for advice and aid in what they should do next in certain situations and I see that I’m able to give appropriate advice to [help them] overcome whatever trials and tribulations they’re going through. I believe it’s really a gift that God has given to me. Not everyone has that gift where people will just come to you and become vulnerable before you and just lay everything out and trust that you will be able to aid them.

You never took that as a burden?

Ethan: Never. I never took it as a burden because, like I said, I have a big heart and I love to see people smile, I love to see people grow. That’s just part of me.

Why are you studying at Nyack?

Ethan: It’s actually a funny story. After high school, I was not considering going to college, but I was in a relationship at the time and I had just given my life to Christ in the eleventh grade. So, you know that first fire is just like, “Oh my gosh.” I was going hard for God, I was doing my thing. My life started to come together, and a lot of people started noticing that I’m pretty smart. My lady at the time wanted to go to school, so she applied to Nyack. She was like, “Apply for schools,” and I was like, “Nah, I don’t think I’m gonna get in.” [But] I applied, and Nyack and various other schools accepted me. I went up to Nyack for my interview, got accepted, and got a full scholarship which is the HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program). From then on I just continued to strive because they had seen something in me. They invested in me. That just gave me the ability to see that I am worth it.

What’s your favorite class – if you have one?

Ethan: I actually do have a favorite class, and that is Experimental Psychology. My professor sets an atmosphere where you can be free to ask questions, stop her, give your opinion, speak, it’s like a mature environment. The way I learn, I’m very interactive, I have to speak to you, you have to answer me, I have to ask questions until I just really understand it. And she gives me that opportunity to be vocal.

If you could minor in something, what would it be?

Ethan: I would minor in Business because I believe an understanding of and knowledge of Business, and a background in Business can take you really far because you know how to advertise yourself. You basically know how to promote yourself and put yourself out there to get funded. I believe funding is needed in everything. You need somebody to sponsor you. So if I have the appropriate knowledge, I’ll be good.

Do you want a Masters?

Ethan: Totally. I want a Masters in Mental Health Psychology. I believe that a Bachelors – nowadays, the way things are looking – Bachelors are going to be worth nothing. I want to be a cut above the rest. And I want to actually go for my Doctorate. I ultimately want to have my own practice. So I believe this is a stepping stone for me to get my Doctorate.

 

Is there anything that has happened in the past two years (that you were on this campus) that stands out to you about either this campus, the people on this campus, or about something that you’ve learned here?

Ethan: I got into a situation that could have resulted in me getting kicked out of school. Like terminated. And the director of the HEOP program for the city campus pulled me aside and asked me, “What is this?” To me, I didn’t do anything wrong. But if you really think about it, it could [have been]. So he got me out of that situation and that was really an eye opener. I really appreciated that because it helped me to grow. It helped me become the man I am right now, and I see that people really do care. It’s not like when everybody says, “Oh, you’re in college? You’re by yourself. Nobody cares about you.” No. If you show that you’re interested in learning and interested in going further, yeah, you might make mistakes along the way because you’re growing, but they will give you opportunities. Also, being that it’s a Christian school, you have to take that into consideration. They’re going to help you. That’s what stood out to me my two years here.

You received Christ about a year before you applied to the Rockland campus? [Ethan: Yeah.] How have the past four or five years helped your walk? Or has it helped?

Ethan: To be honest, I entered college very vulnerable. I understood that I was a Christian. I had given my life to Christ and my perspective on Christians was that they were perfect, they don’t make any mistakes, they’re different. Then I also took into consideration that this is a Christian school, which they really advertise. So I was like, “Everybody’s gonna be on fire for God. Let me just go there” – and man, that was an eye opener! Alarm, alarm, alarm! No. The first month there I had seen many, many things. Not pointing any fingers, everybody sins, but the way they would act in chapel and then the way [they would act] right after that was just ridiculous. So then my walk with Christ just took a downer. Like rapid downer. I became very bitter after awhile because I started seeing how people were jealous because you’re doing good, you’re black, you’re favored, you have grace, and people will get close to you just to harm you. So my faith went down. [When I] came back to Nyack, the city campus, I started really seeking God for myself. [I was] not really feeling pressured to have to go to chapel, and I feel like the two years here have grown me tremendously because I’m on my own. I’m able to make these choices on my own, and that is what made me grow as a man of God.

In 3 words, who were you before Nyack? 

Ethan: Ambitious, confident, loving.

In 3 words, who are you now?

Ethan: Determined, resilient, focused.

What’s your hope for the future? 

Ethan: Hopefully, I am wealthy – not rich – wealthy in knowledge and financially. I hope I’m comfortable. I hope I’m able to help my family, my parents most importantly, so [they can] stop working, and I can send them back to their homeland or whatever country of their choice. And that all the time they put into my me and siblings, it was good because now I am the man that I am today because of them. I want to be married. I hope that my wife is a woman of God as well and that she’s focused. I hope to have a couple of degrees under my belt. I hope to be well rounded with knowledge. I hope to be a psychologist, also a public speaker. I’m very passionate about speaking to people. I hope to have my own business, my own practice, and I also want to travel and speak to a vast amount of people and encourage them. I just hope to be that man that can be an example to other youth who came from the struggle that I came from. I also just want to be really, really focused.

20 years from now, what would you want to tell yourself now?

Ethan: Wow, you didn’t know nothing. You really thought you knew it, you didn’t know nothing. You’ve come a long way, and I see the growth in you, Ethan. You’ve been through a lot and look who you are today. You’re strong. You have a great relationship with God. You can really be an example, and you didn’t let what people said about you break you down and create some type of stagnancy. You kept pursuing your dreams and your goals and you know the man of God that you are, and look at you today. Be proud of it! I know your mistakes may be in certain people’s minds’, but it doesn’t matter what they say – it’s about who God says you are… and now you’re walking in it, Ethan.

Thank you for letting me interview you, Ethan! This is only the beginning for you!

How to Survive a Snowstorm

On my birthday February 8, 2016, it was 61 degrees in New York City (I obviously took this as a Happy Birthday from the Lord Himself). However, on February 9, 2016, a snowstorm hit the city and shut it down. Schools were canceled, meet-ups were postponed, and children all across the tri-state area rejoiced. The next day, February 10, the city regained its strength. New Yorkers woke up, dug around in their closets for their snow boots and gloves, and braved the wind and slush. Honestly how the temperature could drop so drastically in a matter of hours is beyond me, but I’m not a meteorologist and I digress.

During the 24-hour snowstorm, unless you walked, it was nearly impossible to make it across the city. New Yorkers were trapped this way and that. They had nowhere to go. [Disclaimer: I’m about to make a very cliche and probably predictable comparison between the snowstorm and our lives, but just bear with me.] Watching everyone pick up their lives where they left off two days ago reminds me of when we are trying to find peace again after a tumultuous snowstorm in our lives. When we feel like the world has shut us in and we can’t go anywhere, it can be really scary. It’s easy to feel alone and helpless. Watching the news and hearing the latest horror stories (or regular stories that the media attempts to blow up into horror stories) did not help us get over our cabin fever during the snow storm, just as listening to negative friends or family will not help you get out of your situation any quicker. In fact, it will most likely put a dent in your faith. It will slow the healing process and keep your mind locked up even longer. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. So prepare yourself for that joy! You can even start reveling in it in the middle of the night if you so wish. No need to wait until morning. Otherwise, you won’t be able to come out of the snowstorm stronger than before because you were not mentally prepared. A good percentage of strength is mental.

So my advice to anyone having a personal snowstorm right now is this:

1. Learn to dance in the snow
-You’ve probably heard the saying ‘Learn to dance in the rain.” This is the same principle. Even if everything is coming down around you, find the beauty in it.
2. Don’t be afraid to venture outside after the snow is over.
– Don’t let fear rule your life. Get back into the groove and keep doing what you did before, but this time do it bigger and better.
3. Thank God
– He brought you out of it. Thank Him for it. And even if your deliverance has not manifested yet. Thank Him for it. Call peace into your life and demand all upheaval and distress to leave. He has given us a sound mind, not a confused one.

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