View from the Mountain Sky: An Odyssey Experience

As you may know, I have had quite the wild ride these past eight months. I went from a Computer Science student not sure of his career path to a Religious Studies student with a plan to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church as a communicator and technological advocate and educator, and all of this thanks, in part, to an amazing experience interning with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church (if you haven’t read any of my writings on that experience, click here). However, as I’ve continued to grapple with that internship, as well as my personal faith development in the context of being a minister as opposed to being a layperson, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot more that I want to learn and experience when it comes to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of people outside of my home state and region. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that Hendrix affords me, such as the Odyssey program, while I still have the opportunity to. Therefore, after much discussion with Rev. J.J. Whitney, Hendrix’s chaplain, and quite a few emails, I am very excited to announce that I have been approved to conduct an Odyssey project entitled “View From the Mountain Sky: Serving and Interning in the Mountain Sky Area of the United Methodist Church”.

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On The Topic Of The Sheridan Schools Millage Increase

I’d like to talk today about a subject that has gotten a lot of discussion recently: the millage increase for the Sheridan (Arkansas) School District. But before I begin, I’d like to introduce myself and why I have any interest in this subject.

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Hendrix College, Year One: A Review

Well. It’s come to this, the last day of freshman year at Hendrix College. And what a year it has been too, between the activities, classes, work, and general fun I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of. So without further ado, here’s a quick recap of the year:

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The Freshman 15 (Projects, Clubs, Organizations…)

I honestly believe that Hendrix College has been the place that I’ve been wanting to be a part of for so long. It’s a vibrant community where I can be a part of any type of organization from social activism to United Methodist student groups to clubs that just like what I like (film!), and where if you have an idea, well, you should go explore it! “Here,” the Hendrix Odyssey program says metaphorically, “here’s a professor or staff member that would love to sponsor you and see what you learn from this experience! Here’s some money to make your idea happen! Let us know how it goes!” The whole of Hendrix is just teeming with energy and ideas, and I proceeded to get involved in a list not quite a mile long, but pretty darn close.

And I’m not gonna lie, it might’ve looked like I was doing a belly-buster into a lake.

Visual representation of me doing a belly-buster into a lake.
Visual representation of me doing a belly-buster into a lake.

Which at first, maybe I was. I actually wanted to be a larger part in a lot more organizations. I had more and more ideas for projects that I’m now spacing out. I applied for two jobs on-campus (although I only wanted one) and to top it all off, I have five classes (four full-credit and one quarter-credit). And that seems like so much for a freshman in his first semester of college. But I felt like I was ready to take it all on.

And so far, I’m happy.

Between classes for my CompSci major/film studies minor; participation in COGS (Committee on Gender and Sexuality), SAGE (Students Advocating for Gender Equality, of which I am co-Media Chair), the UMYF (United Methodist Youth Fellowship) Scholars program, and hopefully soon the Hendrix Filmmakers; work on OdysseyOnline (my Odyssey project for the year); and everything else; I couldn’t be happier. I’m busy, but not so busy that I can’t socialize or I feel overwhelmed. I’ve met many cool upperclassmen/women and “freshers”, learned about new ideas and ways of thinking in both my classes and on campus, and have just generally been given the resources and tools to really follow my personal passions. And all of that put together has made all the difference.

And it hasn’t been nearly as painful as that belly-buster.

(To keep up with my college stuff, check out JT at College!)