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!