Three Business School Lessons

In my time at Nyack, I’ve spent over 2,000 hours in class. Yeah, really. When I graduate, I will have accumulated 128 credits. The amount of credits you get per class reflects the number of hours you spend in the classroom during the week. There are about 16 weeks in each semester, so I’ve spent over 2,000 hours in class over the past four years.

Since Nyack is a liberal arts college, those 2,000 hours combine history, english, Bible, and other general education courses. Those definitely taught me a lot, but the lessons I learned in my business classes are the ones that I hope to use most in the years to come as I move into the workforce. Here are three of the most influential lessons my business professors have taught me:

  1. From Professor English: over deliver. English always says, if you under-perform, you’ll get fired; if you do exactly what everyone expects, you’ll be overlooked; but, if you over deliver, you’ll get promoted. He has story after story of people who have gone above and beyond in the workplace and have went on to be extremely successful.
  2. From Professor Abadir: don’t sue anyone, it’s not worth it. This might sound like a silly thing, but years after taking Professor Abadir’s Business Law classes, I’ll never forget this point. We spend class time talking about the laws surrounding business, many which have to do with patents and protecting your ideas. What he emphasized over and over was that, most of the time, it’s not worth it to sue anyone, and lawsuits are usually more trouble than their worth. This advice came from a true place of humility. Abadir would always emphasize the importance of examining your motives and never doing anything for the sake of your pride.
  3. From Dr. Hartl: business and ethics do mix. A class that really taught me a lot was Business Ethics with Dr. Hartl. She opened the first day of class talking about how much she dislikes hearing people say that it’s impossible to act ethically and succeed in business. She went on to disprove this idea every class day for the rest of the semester. Hartl taught me, with real-life examples, the importance of doing what’s right and how it always pays off.

I’ve learned a lot of facts at Nyack College. I can go on about Porter’s Five Forces, the 4 P’s of Marketing, and the difference between stocks and bonds, but I’m sure the conceptual lessons are the ones that will take me far in the years to come. My time with the business professors at Nyack has taught me how to think like a CEO, act ethically, and work hard no matter what. These lessons will take me far in life, and it’s no lesson I ever could have learned from a textbook.

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Loving God, Serving People, and Learning Always: The Life of a Youth Intern

This summer, I will be working a few jobs. The one I am most excited for is my internship. God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to serve Him this summer as a youth intern for a Nyack alum, Justin Reese. Since I started this job just last week, I have been learning a great deal already; most recently in youth group Sunday school. This Sunday morning, God taught me two incredibly important things I will need in life, and particularly for my internship this summer.

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Me with my boss and role model, Justin Reese.

Since I go to Sunday school as a leader to these teens and pre-teens, the prominent goal in my mind is not to learn. I attend Sunday school to do my job– make relationships with this church’s students. We talk and joke around but when the lesson starts, it’s easy for me to block it all out with the mind set of “this doesn’t apply to me, it’s for the students”. But, this Sunday morning, God taught me quite the opposite.

As Justin got up to speak, and the students started to settle down, he grabbed our attention with the idea of a “God side” and a “people side” of our lives. He asked if, as believers, God will ever reject us. The students shook their heads in a corporate “no” since this answer seemed obvious enough. Next, Justin asked if people will ever reject us. The students nodded their heads “yes” wondering where exactly their youth pastor was going with this. “Is that why we spend most of our time trying to please people, and less time trying to please God? Because we feel like we have to earn people’s respect and love, but God’s will always be there?” This caused silence to fall over the room, because Justin had just brought up a serious truth. People– even believers– have the goal of pleasing people at the forefront of their mind most of the time. Justin then went on to make the point that, as Christians, our goal is to spend 100% of our time pleasing God, and 0% of it pleasing people. This doesn’t mean that we go around hating people and being bitter, but when we strive to please God, and only God, we will strive to please people too. The difference is that we will want to please our brothers and sisters, not to gain their approval, but rather out of our love for our Creator.

As I drove home from church that morning, I thought about how everything that God was trying to get through to me in that simple message. First of all, He made it incredibly clear that I will learn as much, if not more, from this internship than my students will. Beginning this job, I feel as if I am on the cusp of a very formative time in my life, and I need to be willing and ready to learn in all circumstances. Secondly, God also made it incredibly clear that my mission is to love and serve God this summer because that is when I will truly love my students and serve them to the best of my ability.

Part of This Good Breakfast!

Hello again everyone, It’s been a while! I’ve taken on some new life responsibilities (and said goodbye to a few as well), but I’ve been organizing and calculating, and I’ve concluded that blogging is something I would love to do this semester!

So, a couple of changes: As mentioned in my review of the 2011-2012 academic year, I was recently elected as S.G.A. President for the NYC Campus! That was no small feat considering all the hard work my opponent put into his campaign, but we got to know each other well during that period, and we now serve together on the team (he’s the upperclass rep, representing juniors and seniors). In the meantime, I’ve stepped down as Business Club Vice President to give due time to these new responsibilities and let more people have the opportunity to experience what I learned in that exciting role.

I’m a senior now, and coincidentally my classes are more challenging. I think it’s a senior thing. But I’m enjoying every minute of each one! I’ve also accepted new responsibilities at my job and in the music company I’ve worked with since 2008.

How do I do it all? through one fundamental change that makes it all possible: my eating habits! Yes, that’s right.

My breakfast went from a couple of grab-and-go foods (left) to a diverse assortment of nutritious breakfast items.

Now my frame is rather small (one of my professors jokingly replaces “enjoy the rest of your day” with “go eat something” in our conversations), so most people assume that I’m healthy and fit. However, both my biology course and my former feelings of excessive fatigue argued otherwise.

Dr. Wenbo Yan teaches biology and other science courses at Nyack College. He’s really passionate about his occupation, and he emphasizes the importance of eating healthy to take proper care of your body. He makes classes intriguing and engaging, and the students taking biology with him can truly say they know how their body works. Because of that, when he describes health implications of not eating, we get it.

“Big breakfast, nutritious lunch, small dinner,” Dr. Yan repeated on our first few classes, “but most Americans do the exact opposite.” Reflecting on my life, I realized I was a prime offender–I often woke up half an hour before leaving the house, grabbing some snacks and bolting out the door. Lunch would be anything I could find to stop my stomach from growling, and dinner? Oh, this would be the feast I anticipated upon coming home; surely it would make up for the meals I missed.

Sure we’ve seen plenty of ads about the no-breakfast fade, but I never really knew how it worked until now, like how your body relies on energy from nutrients we consume so that the mitochondria can produce ATP, our body’s universal energy currency. I also didn’t realize exactly how eating a large dinner and skipping breakfast leads to all sorts of health deficiencies and issues, like problems with your bladder. Yikes!

I once acknowledged the importance of a big breakfast, but I was less faithful when it wasn’t convenient. I’m now realizing that, similar to  connecting with God daily, breakfast is a vital requirement to a successful day. And yes, while going about my daily activities after doing both, I feel an extremely positive difference. Now that I know the facts, I’m all the more serious about eating healthy.

More about this later–healthy eating isn’t a topic you can fit into one blog post! Feel free to share your insights on healthy foods in the comment section. Have a great day (particularly contingent on your breakfast choice)!

Oh, and if you’re near the Nyack College NYC Campus this Tuesday around 5:15, you’re in for a treat: Dr. Yan is speaking during this week’s Nyack Experience about how physical health and spiritual health are related.

Comic Art and Ministry Come Together

In my last blog post, I discussed 6 Reasons to Join a Ministry. This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to participate in one as a temporary volunteer.

My home church’s children’s ministry hosted an annual carnival that journeys from the typical Sunday format and incorporates at least four times as many teachers. This year’s carnival featured pie tossing, face painting, a show in a fully glow-in-the-dark room, several games, and more.

Part of the “and-more” included a section where the children posed for a quick self-portrait of themselves. Because the carnival saw over 400 children attend over the course of two services, it became apparent that multiple artists were needed.

That’s where I came in! I was invited to sit along three other colleagues to use my talent in drawing to tackle the daunting yet extremely fun task of drawing these youth. I’ve drawn for fun since about six years old, albeit much less since I started college. After drawing a character for the missions ministry a several months ago, I was recommended to partake in the carnival.

The children had a blast! Excited about the possibility of getting their face painted without the hindrance of having to ask a guardian to shell out some cash, the 3-6 year olds lined up to receive a portrait in their likeness. Few actually held still the whole time, but who could blame them? Elsewhere about the room, other exciting activities raged on.

Using art skills to draw children caricatures last Sunday was a fun variation of ministry.

My colleagues included Linda, a professional artist who does illustration in corporate, freelance, ministry, and just-for-fun settings (and has her own website), as well as Jason and Lloyd, two comic art students from the Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in New Jersey. Needless to say, I was rather intimidated next to these comic art geniuses. However, they were all reassuring and non-patronizing, which was a relief.

They also taught me a great deal. Just by observing Linda at work, I picked up some techniques for getting a proportionate face shape and  realized that putting the same spare sheet under every artwork that I did would save a lot of papers from going to waste–my marker could bleed onto the same substitute sheet each instead of on fresh new ones.

Jason also gave some helpful hints. He recommended comic art as a great fallback plan or side hobby even if someone isn’t pursuing it as their main career, and advised that people should always find a way to make progress in an activity that they enjoy.

These artists’ enthusiasm for drawing was catchy; I was greatly inspired to continue drawing regularly. Even if my art won’t bring in six figures, I know that it is beneficial for at least three things. Drawing is 1) a relaxing activity, 2) a great tool for exporting ideas from your mind on paper for others to see, and 3) a way to put smiles on children’s faces, as we did for over 400 last Sunday.

Interested in sharing your unique ministry experiences? Feel free to write on this site as a guest blogger! Click “register” on the life.nyack.edu homepage.

6 Reasons to Join a Ministry

During the Spring 2012 semester, several Nyack College students met Kurt, a bright, friendly man with a huge smile and loads of passion for what he does. Kurt seemed as if he could get along with every person he meets. While setting up a lit display in the NYC Campus student lounge, he explained his reason for visiting the school.

Kurt wasn’t selling gym memberships or recruiting students into the military. He invited Nyack College to join him at Inspire Sports Camp‘s Northeast location in New Jersey for the summer as counselors and coaches.

CTA button for Blog ATSThroughout the year, Kurt and millions of other people are excited to be a part of one unique genre of activity. This engagement encourages the use of your giftings, passions, and fields of expertise. There are few limits to its manifestations; as long as you have the ability, you can use it here. When executed correctly, this recreation is so fulfilling, rewarding, and, dare I say, fun, that you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next occasion each time you go.

I’m talking about ministry here!

In a general sense, ministry is an opportunity for you to help others while pointing them to God, whether in your family, work environment, church, et cetera. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss six reasons why you should get involved in an organized ministry–a group most often at (but not limited to) your church where you join others for a distinct cause–ASAP.

Quite a few Nyack College students will help out at Inspire Sports Camp–not for pay or incentives, but to invest into the lives of children.

1) You get to serve God in an organized setting. Is there anything in life that is not structured, maintained, and orderly, yet still successful? Don’t rack your brain too hard on that question, I didn’t–the majority of the time the answer is no. Ministries adhere to this law with no exception: lots of time, dedication, and prayer goes into ministries that wish to be effective. Like any other organization, they consist of leaders, members, resources, and a vision.

Participating in ministry makes you part of a team striving to accomplish the extraordinary, whether preserving the church property through housekeeping or persuading others to Christ with evangelism. You also receive mentorship from the ministry’s leaders, whether directly (you and the leader mutually recognize a mentor/mentee relationship) or indirectly (their behavior, decisions, and attitude affects your own as you analyze them in action). Seeing how a ministry works, you may even be encouraged to begin your own! With God’s help, of course.

2) You serve God and people, bringing your acquired skills, ideas, and experiences to the table. Love is a verb, right? It’s an action. We show love to God and people by our sacrifices, our time, and our zeal. To God, love is the biggest deal. As stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The love displayed when you place a helping of free food on a disadvantaged person’s plate, give medical attention to civilians from another country, or put sincere energy and feeling into your gifted performing art as people watch being left with an indelible mark on their hearts. This is surely augmented when you do it for the Lord, as suggested in Matthew 6:33–not a bad way to spend your time at all.

3) You gain fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is a big deal that few people purposely choose to live without. Many folk are willing to hang out with acquaintances who have compromising values, all for the sake of company. Why not bypass that option and get to know the wonderful people in your local community of believers? If you were to ask me the #1 way to get to know people in a church, whether large or small, I would conclude ministry without much of a second thought.

Check it out: you join a group of dedicated people who joined the same ministry with intent to use similar skills to pursue a shared goal. You work side by side with them, and most likely will recognize them outside of the ministry during service or even in your neighborhood. They might have some other like-minded friends who all want to hang out. Before you know it, you’ve fostered a whole new social circle. Voila! No need to pat yourself on the back; your new friends can do so for you.

4) You build on your skill sets. Looking to list work experience? Start with your ministry! Explain why serving as the graphics design, administrative assistant, or sound engineer at your church wouldn’t count as relevant experience on a resume? I learned acting, puppeteering, and child care skills at my church, and developed a myriad of other abilities both there and in other ministry venues. Colossians 3:23-25 states “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord,” right? You can live this out in ministry, all the while perfecting your craft and loving every minute of it.

I acted as a “nerd” with my church’s drama ministry. We performed this play circa 2007 for the church’s youth ministry. Good times!

5) You enjoy purpose. So, you decided to dedicate a Saturday morning or weekday afternoon to participating in a God-ordained ministry? Ever grow tired and start to think that your effort is a waste? Unless the ministry has been sorely mismanaged, think again. Chances are you are exactly where God wants you to be, when God wants you there.

The fact that you selected that activity over all others (most likely as a volunteer) and you’re sticking to it is monumental. You’re absolutely filling a void and doing your part to assist in works for Christ, whether through charity, soul winning, or encouraging the brethren. Now that’s purpose. Remember, never get tired of doing good!

6) You can develop leadership skills. The ability to lead is cultivated–no one acquires it overnight. Ministry is a perfect place to develop leadership skills, and in every ministry, they are direly needed. Without people participating in ministry for the right reasons, things have a tendency to fall apart.

Be humble. Be diligent. Be thorough in every assignment you receive, whether exciting or monotonous. People will take notice, and when the timing is right, you may be given more responsibility.

There are all too many positive reasons to join or begin a ministry. Whether you aren’t employed or you’re holding down two jobs and a family, you can still dedicate some time to get involved. Opportunities abound at your church, your local organization, or from a God-imparted vision. Go for it!

Movies: Know Before You Go

So friends, how do you go about selecting which movie to watch in theatres?

If you’re like most people, you judge a film by its marketing campaign’s captivating graphic designs and stirring trailers, plus a brief glance at the MPAA rating.

If you’re like a growing number of people, you engage in steps 1 and 2, then promptly visit pluggedin.com to find out exactly what kind of scenes you’ll be spending money to expose yourself to for the next couple of hours. After all, you shouldn’t just watch anything, right?

Pluggedin.com, your #1 resource for media reviews from a non-secular perspective!

In the past several decades, the movie industry increasingly sees new films pushing new extremes–and we’re not just talking about Sasha Baron Cohen and Quentin Tarantino movies. When we embrace images that in the past would have made us run out of the auditorium, we live out a manifestation of the “boiling frog” syndrome: our disgust of inappropriate content is slowly whittled away by small, indistinguishable  increases of immorality, all during our simple pursuit of a good time. After all, we go to movies to escape from life’s stress, right?

Here’s an example: my then 12-year brother and I once sat down in front of the television for some bonding time, browsing through channels until we encountered a 1980s action flick. It was rated R, but again, it was 1980s. We enjoyed the storyline and fighting scenes without having to cover our eyes or clear our throats. Most of the moments that were supposed to leave us grimacing at the edge of our seats in shock actually led to sincere laughter. In the two scenes where blood was shown, we questioned jokingly if such blows even solicited bleeding. Good times!

Would I watch a choice R-rated movie with Charlie that debuted after 2005? Well yeah, we both thought Ip Man 1 and 2 were amazing. Would I randomly select a movie without knowing beforehand what kind of content is involved? No. Way.

Thankfully, that’s where thorough, content-based reviews come in handy! So what’s so good about PluggedIn, and what can it do for you?

The well-structured and aesthetically pleasing Focus on the Family subsidiary offers not only movie reviews, but also television, video game, and music evaluations. For movies, the site breaks each film into these categories: positive elements, spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content, and other negative elements, before giving readers a conclusion. The other media types follow suit in the form of articles.

As for its benefits, I’ll break them down into three categories:

  1. The website will give you all the red flags that the majority of other reviewers will overlook, letting you know straight up what you will encounter regardless of how enthralled you became with the plot. While other reviewers are focused mainly on special effects, camera angles, and replay value, PluggedIn’s sincere assessment points out what content will grieve you as a believer.
  2. It will also help you realize which entertainment you can and cannot absorb. Honestly, there are certain aspects of a movie that some enjoy while others would prefer to avoid. I personally can watch several PG-13 and a few R films over and over again for action and drama (e.g. Dark Knight), while movies and games with demoralizing profanity or objectification of women make me writhe in anguish.
  3. Finally, it will brace you for the influential, sometimes hidden, messages that certain films attempt to induce on unsuspecting minds. Maybe you saw contrary ideals coming in the alien movie Paul, but you’d be surprised at what Happy Feet 2 insinuates, using its cute animals and “G” rating as a green to access children when their values are rapidly developing.

Here’s a personal testimonial: PluggedIn has certainly helped preserve my relationship. I don’t watch movies often, and when I do, I try to watch them with mi novia. This wonderful woman has a low tolerance for inappropriate content, meaning I can’t sit through movies like Man on a Ledge without it becoming very awkward. This also keeps me in check, helping me guard my heart from subtle invasions.

Talk about not being able to judge a book by its cover. I must admit, after putting all negative assumptions about horse movies aside, I found War Horse to be phenomenal.

We’re known to spend 10 minutes in front of our local Redbox, even in the cold, looking at listings of available DVDs and scanning through their corresponding PluggedIn reviews. “Nope… nope… definitely not… alright fine, this one,” resembles our conversation as 90% of the movies I hoped to see are rejected, revealed as too compromising. Still, quality over quantity, right? In an attempt to avoid inappropriate content, we’ve actually selected great movies I otherwise wouldn’t have dreamed of watching.

Now for plenty of people, taking five minutes to read a media review from a Christian perspective may seem a bit crazy. But think about it for a second: the negative content we take into our eyegate has a serious effect on our view of life, our self-control, our motivations… harming us slowly but surely…

…just like a boiled frog.

Instead of choosing to be that frog, visit Pluggedin.com for your movie, music, television, and video game reviews, and choose your movies with confidence!

Nyack College Spring 2012 Collection

A new academic year with new developments naturally calls for a new t-shirt design!

During a brief visit to my admissions counselor, I was informed that a new Nyack tee was available. I requested one in medium, not too sure what I would find, but I wasn’t disappointed. Have a look at the new design:

Forgot Nyack College's core values? Take a look in the mirror!

The shirt references to “Miracle in Manhattan,” the now-fulfilled prayer for a new and improved campus New York City students and faculty can call home. After an exciting series of events, and, well, miracles, the New York City Campus is set to move after the Fall  2012 semester.

The shirt also features Nyack College’s core values! Save for one, at least on this edition–Academic Excellence is not in sight. Otherwise, it’s a great way to engrave these important values into the minds of incoming and returning students, helping them make Nyack College’s values their own.

So, whether you’re going to a Reach Records concert, your church’s young adults ministry, or just hitting up your favorite deli for some Tylenol and cream soda, you can proudly rep your institution in your new Nyack swag, available at your local admissions office.

Raise my Children on Hip-Hop

Recently I wondered, “How did I make it to age 15 practically oblivious of the cultural mandate to think of my female friends as objects?” Upon further meditation, I also recalled having a strangely solid confidence in heaven and hell’s existence and a clear understanding that I was in the world, but not of its ways.

Light reflection traced this assurance back to Sunday school and Bible club lessons, parental influence, and–yes–Hip-Hop.

Around my 12th year, I recall hearing a unique new sound playing from a music enthusiast’s car speakers as I sat by the windowsill. The music was rhythmic and attractive. Although my parents did a great job of shielding me from secular music, I absorbed this sound like a 16th century citizen would a lightbulb–curiously and excitedly.

Within the course of a few months, I heard another song while waiting in my front lobby for a ride. My interest piqued, I stepped farther outside, positioning myself as close to the car as I could. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the song was titled “Breathe” by Fabolous, and the song I heard months before was “High” by Styles P. Fabolous rapped about how people can’t breathe when they watch him enter a room, while Styles P rhymed about, well, getting high.

Not the best role models you say? Wait, I know this sounds bad so far, but stay with me!

Soon I had the opportunity to attend a Christian basketball camp in upstate New York, which back then was named “Hoop Heaven.” During one of the evening chapels, a rapper/evangelist called Mark J (J for his last name, Johnson) was invited to perform music before giving his message. One song described heaven creatively as “the place to rise to perfection,” “with no fights, no strife, no flirting, no gun busting, no cursing,” where Christ “scalps tickets at your heart’s door.” This was compelling music to our young, influential ears, especially when Mark J used crowd participation to get us involved. Needless to say, my friend and I copped the album and asked my parents to listen to it the entire ride home.

That was the first of several Hip-Hop performances I attended. Next year at the same camp, “Refuge” from Manhattan Grace Tabernacle came with several selections, including one with the chorus: “Be strong in the Lord and his mighty power / put on the full armor of God to withstand this hour / although I walk through the valley of the death / help me to keep my head up Lord so I won’t stress. Yes!” I didn’t post that from a lyrics website; those words are still engraved in my mind after listening to the CD several times eight years ago.

It wasn’t long before Nicky Cruz’s discipleship rap group Truce came to my church’s youth meetings. Then Cross Movement’s Da Truth, Then Storytellers (The video below is an excerpt of the night Storytellers came to the church). Soon enough, our youth group had its own rap ensembles.

Each new Christian artist I encountered used hot beats and sound lyrical flow to impart biblical truth and fundamental wisdom into my heart, whether I was immediately aware or not. If we’re honest, secular music does the same, although it less often gives truth and much less often edifies, as a writer from The Good Women Project observed in her own life (don’t ask me why I’ve read women blogs!). Who can really argue with that? Even society at large admits albiet hesitantly that objectification of women, living for self, and promoting illegal activity is a detriment to listeners.

Holy Hip-Hop flips the script. Artists have and still assert biblical principles in their verses, delivering truth through a powerful art form. Grits and Sarah Kelly chant, “We’re gon’ raise our kids, reach our goals, we’re gon’ walk hand and hand till the end of the road” in a song that speaks of love and lifetime monogamy. Tedashii and Flame delivered a pertinent anthem about making war against the flesh, which you can watch below. Trip Lee and Pro teach about having covenant eyes and console listeners that money, sex, and power aren’t evil, but that the Giver is to be worshipped, not the gifts. Listeners have left testimonies on these videos as comments about how they’ve been challenged to live for more. Not everyone in the world can say that about the music they listen to.

Before Hip-Hop, there was and still is spoken word, where people utter meaningful lyrics (that usually rhyme) to a specific tempo, mostly so others can follow along. This art did not originate in the 20th century when a group of musicians decided to try mixing certain elements together to create a hot new sound; no, rhyme has been used since biblical times, as people who can read the Bible in its original language are well aware. The art is portrayed with different instruments and technology as time progresses, but it’s up to the people behind the instruments–not the instruments themselves–to exalt God with or corrupt the genre they are gifted in.

We raise children with specific movies, television shows, clubs and programs, hobbies, et cetera, correct? Well as for the genre of music my kids will grow up bopping their heads and memorizing the lyrics to, alongside others I choose Christian Hip-Hop. As soon as they comprehend English, those soul-penetrating, life bringing lyrics will seep into their minds to counter the culture’s negative that tries to do the same…

…like the stuff playing out my window as I typed this sentence.

And if they recognize one day how it affected them the same way it affected me, I’m sure they’ll thank me for it.

 

2011-12 Academic Year in Review

Phew, that was a marathon! After having completed my final presentations, tests, and research papers, sent my community’s newspaper to print, helped host a corporate spotlight event with the Business Club and Aflac, persevered through a rigorous election campaign, and managed my relationships with God and people in the course of two weeks, it all came to a close. What ensued were long awaited 10-hour sleep nights and celebrations all around.

You can view the election results video below; this year featured a record turnout at the polls. Guess who will be Student Government President at Nyack College NYC? Special thanks to everyone who participated; they made this election an unforgettable experience.

After it was all said and done, we enjoyed quite a few celebrations. Brenda and I visited a local restaurant in light of the semester’s end; I spent some time in the city with some senior graduates, and my family even threw a dinner for me with relatives as guests.

Brenda and I enjoyed a dinner celebration at The Door Restaurant

Last year I listed a few lessons I learned about taking college classes. Here is a new list with equally relevant info:

  • Resolve in the beginning of your education that you want to aim for the valedictorian of your school, and let others know so they can keep you accountable! (If you’re entering Nyack College this upcoming semester, let’s talk! I’m on Twitter: @LelioAD)
  • In the fine balance between academics, student activities, work, ministry, social activity, and entertainment, always be willing to sacrifice entertainment and self-gratification first. You can receive gratification from doing well in school and enjoying the company of friends–and don’t forget sleeping after the semester’s over!
  • Working hard is (often) the consequence of not completing the work in a timely manner. Avoid procrastination and catch up by working smart, setting realistic goals, and completing your homework and other responsibilities on schedule! Then you can avoid late-night cramming and put quality into your homework efforts.

Celebrating the class of 2012 graduates

I’m especially proud of this year’s graduates, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to know personally. S.G.A. members were invited to serve at the baccalaureate banquet, a dinner held just days before the actual graduation. As a greeter, I had the opportunity to see many of them off one more time as official Nyack College NYC alumni. Of course we’ll meet again–some sooner than others, as certain students have considered taking job positions at the school.

Now, planning begins to make this summer the most worthwhile and productive one yet. Stay with us; there’s plenty to write about during the break. I’m surely not leaving campus either, as we intend to have S.G.A. meetings throughout the summer semester!

 

Change is on its Way (Inside and Out)

It’s election time at the NYC Campus!

Students are really getting into this one. First it was the flyers letting students know that Student Government applications were available in the library and at the Student Development office. Conversations broke out around the school between those who knew about the elections and those who were just finding out.

By the way, I’m definitely running for S.G.A. President for the upcoming 2012-2013 academic year! Wish me… uh, godspeed?

Then flyers started appearing for the new presidential candidate, Rolando Rozales. He started appearing in classrooms, sharing his vision for the school. Next thing you know, it was debate time! We had a healthy turnout as the two presidential candidates answered questions from the Dean of Student Life and the students.

Rolando (left) and I participate in the April 18th Presidential Debate. Exciting stuff!

Now here ‘s the thing: I’m not really the “talk about your ideas and accomplishments” person–at least I wasn’t before this election. I’m well accustomed to taking the background, having been Vice President of the Business Club, Vice President of S.G.A.,  Assistant Editor of my community newspaper, and Executive Assistant of a startup Christian music company. I’ve had the opportunity to serve in all sorts of ways, from folding chairs to piecing together large events.

Now, be the face of an organization? “Nah, I’ll pass,” I’d say, “(he or she)’s got that.”

But Nyack College’s President, Dr. Michael Scales, said something prominent during a past Nyack Experience that I still remember: “You don’t take a position because you want to, but because there’s a need.”

Deep, huh? It’s also true; because I’ve been given so many opportunities to practice leadership at Nyack College (I’m even taking classes on leadership development and organizational behavior), I know a lot about how to make a difference:

  • It starts with the organization. If your team is dissenting, you’ll make little to no progress.
  • You must have respect for everyone, not just those who can help you out.
  • Be a listener more than a talker. Always take opportunities to learn.
  • You can never have enough knowledge and wisdom to lead efficiently. Stay reading, especially the book of Proverbs!
  • It’s not about the position, but serving God through whatever position He gives you that counts.

I could go on and on about leadership–don’t get me started! But the one experience that really motivated me to speak, campaign, and maintain a vision was a conversation I had with a fellow, non-traditional student.

She shared how she was also a background person, until she realized the organization she volunteered in was in disorder. She had built relationships with people in that organization, knew the needs and the solution, and was ready that week to take up the mantle and become its president.

Although neither of us were seeking presidency (I wasn’t seeking Vice President of S.G.A. either, another good story for another time!), we were being redirected. “Sometimes He pushes you into the position,” she explained, “and you just have to be ready.”

So, may the best man win! Like Bill Clinton said in a 1992 interview, “I stayed in [the presidential race] because I thought I could be a force for change… and I wanted the voters to make up their mind. If the voters say, ‘Hey, we think some other person will be a better president,’ I will go home a happy man to the life that I’ve got, it’s a wonderful life. But I would have been a gutless wonder to quit… in the face of the convictions I have.”

Like Broadway, but Free!

Those three weeks leading up to April 3rd may have been some of the busiest (yet exciting) days in my life. Added to my responsibilities for homework, S.G.A. the Business Club, work, my relationships, etc. was rehearsal for the Brooklyn Tabernacle’s Drama, “The Story of Love.” I’m talking about rehearsals on Mondays, Thursdays, and all day Saturday in preparation for three exerting scenes. As disciples, we had no speaking roles; instead, we put forth the most sincere emotions, gestures, and facial expressions we could muster.

What is The Story of Love? It’s a play produced by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Drama Company annually, about, well, the story of love–God’s love for mankind. This play takes it back to the beginning, showing how events from creation to our current society relate.

As the title reads, BT decided to go all out with this production. It’s not mediocre by any means–with an amusing light show, detailed costumes for each individual, and live singers from the choir (plus much more), the play is a phenomenal work of art that gets better every year!

My friend Jason and I in our disciple attire.

After giving our all to the rehearsals and mustering as much quality into the play as we could–there was even a choreographed fight scene when the soldiers led Jesus out of the garden–it was time to go live. We performed five times between Tuesday April 3rd and Sunday April 8th, relying on God’s grace to portray the ghastly nature of the crucifixion and the rapture of witnessing Jesus’ subsequent return as best as we could.

The most important part for the cast and crew was the altar call. To see so many lives dedicated to God was a true blessing–the sole reason we put so much work into the play.

Next time the drama company has a production, I’ll be sure to blog about it before it takes place as incentive for you, the readers, to come through and enjoy it yourself. Don’t forget, each performance is totalmente gratis–absolutely free!

Reading Helps Your Soul Level Up

When reading and listening to music, opt for music without lyrics to focus on the book's content.

Lately I’ve had quite a few reasons to read books, mostly due to class assignments and certain people’s recommendations. Hence, I’m returning to my former ways as an avid reader. Up until last year, I assumed that I was too busy to read, but one of the leadership tips I received from a school seminar was to “never stop reading.”

So far so good–I’ve read several books this semester, some alone and others along with my girlfriend. In this post I’d like to highlight some of my favorites. If you like what you read below, consider reading some of the books for yourself! The topics are very diverse, from love to leadership, so there’s a title here for everyone.

 

Ronald Takaki – A Different Mirror

Need a reference for solid, well-documented facts about U.S. History? Want to learn about the country from a quality, unbiased, and engaging source? Look no further than Dr. Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror. Takaki spent a lot of time collecting research and seeking primary sources backed up by historical evidence to piece together this thorough work. His purpose was to tell American history, not from what he calls “The Master Narrative” that casts the 400-year old country in a positive light from a majority perspective, but from “A Different Mirror.”

Many of us have observed people who haven’t quite fully assimilated to American culture and assumed they aren’t “from here.” Takaki seeks to help his audience recognize all United States citizens as “real Americans.” His book doesn’t hold back any punches either–it speaks of the atrocities that countless people suffered for this country to become a world power. If you’re looking for a horror story and a story of perseverance, you’ll soon realize that you won’t have to look any farther than unfiltered American history!

 

Ben Carson – Think Big

Francis Bacon observed that “worthy books are like mentors–available as companions and as solitude for refreshment.” This is one of those titles–Ben Carson lays out everything he learned that ushered him to achieve self-actualization. This includes the people who instilled into his life at crucial points, the lessons he learned from his experiences, and even his faith that grew while witnessing miracles at the medical center. Carson went from worst in his class during grade school to a world renowned brain surgeon, all because of faith and mentorship. I’ve learned all sorts of lessons reading the facts he lays out, particularly the ones he picked up from his mother’s wisdom.

According to Mr. Carson, you T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. when you: “T is for Talent/time: Recognize them as gifts. H Hope for good things and be honest.  I Insight from people and good books. N Be nice to all people. K Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living. B Books: Read them actively.  I In-depth learning skills: Develop them. G God. Never get too big for him!” So, are you ready to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G.?

 

John Maxwell – Developing the Leader Within You

John Maxwell reflects that God desires for all of us to be leaders. So why then do only 2% of our population shape our culture while the remaining 98% are “culture zombies?” Leadership is developed, not innate; like many characteristics, hard work, discipline, and mentorship will produce a capable leader. Maxwell describes leadership simply as “influence,” but the process of influencing others starts with personal growth. If you desire to achieve new heights and influence those around you to do the same, this book is for you!

I found this work particularly helpful with my life’s work ethic as well as my participation in Nyack College NYC’s Student Government Association. In fact, what I learned from this book I put to use right away. Chapters cover thought-provoking subjects like self-discipline and integrity–fields we can all use growth in. Now in S.G.A., we cover a chapter of this book at the beginning of our meetings. Simply put, I couldn’t recommend “Developing the Leader Within You” more.

 

Gary Chapman – The Five Love Languages

What I love about all the books I’ve listed in this post is that they will change you if you let them. This title is no exception. Dr. Gary Chapman examines relationship(s), gives a name to the specific desires that when met fulfill couples, and admonishes the reader to meet the significant other’s need on her terms (and vice versa). The five love languages couples speak and understand are gifts, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation. Not all of these languages are as straightforward as we think they are, but in this book we’re given the tools to learn and put them into practice.

The outcome of learning to “speak” your beloved’s primary love languages? Causing her or him to feel truly loved with a desire to reciprocate that love. When you go all out to appease the needs your spouse developed from childhood, you will have one bundle of joy on your hands. Fail to meet your lover’s needs, and, uh… well, Dr. Chapman is also an experienced counselor. But let’s choose the former, shall we?

 

God Inspired – English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible

Why am I blogging about the Bible, you may ask? This post isn’t so much about reading the Bible regularly as much as how a study Bible can augment your reading. My parents gave me a study Bible for my birthday in February with the intent to help me better understand the text. Mission success! Having a study Bible really makes the Word make sense, all the time. When we don’t understand what we’re reading, we tend to lose interest and miss out on the whole experience, right? This dilemma is a thing of the past when you use an ESV Study Bible to enhance your reading.

The study Bible comes with explanations for the chapters and verses, cross-referencing to show which verses are related, and a detailed summary of each book. Charts, maps, timelines–you name it, the study Bible has it. What are you waiting for? Get deep into the Word with a study Bible in your choice translation!

 

Each one of these books has mentored me in some form. I hope you accept the challenge to consider reading one or two; I can definitely testify that my mind has improved as a result of reading these books. Plus, how else will you be able to say that you’ve been mentored by Ben Carson, Gary Chapman, John Maxwell, and Paul the Apostle?

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