3rd Quarter, 2007
Dale E. Fridell Scholarship Winner
Because I plan to attend seminary after college, it would be very problematic if I graduated from college with significant debt. This scholarship could be one more link in the chain that will pull me up out of potential dept so that I can afford to go to be the first person in my family to attend any graduate school. Though it will be a great privilege to attend graduate school at all, if I can make it out of college with minimal debt, I should be able to go to graduate school full time and become a pastor, Bible translator, writer, philosopher (if I continue on in graduate education), judge (if I continue on to law school), or whatever I will be sooner and with less of a financial burden than I might have had. The earlier I enter my career, whatever it may be, the more time I will have to serve my fellow man through that career.
A Portion of Brett’s Winning Essay:
When most people think of college, they think of a place to learn what they need to know to get a good job. Now, I would not mind getting a good job, but to me, college is much more than that. College is an opportunity to learn about life. The lessons one receives in college are not limited to classroom instruction, nor is their application limited to the professional world. A good college educates the whole person and helps to prepare its students for the rest of their lives. I have found just such a school.
Completing my degree program here at Cedarville University will prepare me for the rest of my life by broadening my base of knowledge, honing my ability to think critically, and increasing my ability to serve my fellow man. It was not by accident that I chose a liberal arts school with an interdisciplinary Honors Program. The wider my base of knowledge, the higher the towers of understanding I can build upon it.
In my freshman year, most of my classes were devoted to meeting my general education requirements. Some of those classes dealt with philosophical history (a part of the Honors Program), speech, and writing. I have since continued that pattern (though I have long since satisfied the general education requirements), as this semester I am finishing a four-course sequence in the history of philosophy as a part of my philosophy major. I am also taking another speech class purely for the benefit of honing my communication skills.
The broader my knowledge in general, the more I can do, and the more clearly I can communicate, the more effective I will be in putting that knowledge to use in whatever I do. Critical thinking is of utmost importance, especially in today’s world. This is the Information Age. I find it interesting that I have never heard it called the Understanding Age. The world is at the fingertips of today’s student, but who can make sense of it all?
I personally believe that proper interpretation of the Bible is the key to understanding the world around us. Thus I am pursuing minors in both Bible and Biblical Greek. I also expect my major, Philosophy, to be helpful. In this major I am studying such concepts as logic and ethics in order to better understand the world around me and the world within me.
If anyone thinks critically, philosophers do. If one reads much contemporary philosophy, though, one will see that critical thinking based on nothing leads to no helpful conclusions. This is another reason why a minor in Bible will be helpful. From this solid foundation, I will be able to use critical thinking to make real sense of this world for myself and for others.
Before I move on to how college will increase my ability to serve others, I think it necessary to explain why I want to serve others. I could give the stock answer: “The Bible commands it.” This is true, and it should be enough. However, it would be dishonest for me to say that there is not more to it than that.
The importance of the Biblical mandate to put others above myself has appeared in many areas of life, including what others have done for me and what I have done for others.
My father died of complications brought about by his cancer when I was 13. I loved him like, well, a father, and his loss was tough. However, the Providence behind his premature death has since become very evident in the changes it has brought about in the way I view the world and my role in it. My mother took Dad’s death the worst of anybody. She lost the man she had loved for over 25 years. Suddenly, she felt alone and overwhelmed by the decisions she had never had to make before.
As the oldest male at home and later the oldest child at home, Mom needed me to grow up-fast. With her at work and the youngest of my five older siblings going off to college, responsibility for my two younger brothers fell on me.
Though decidedly unpleasant, my new roles as leader to my brothers and comforter to my mother forced me into a newfound maturity of character. I was still without a father though. All too often, children in single-parent homes become rebellious to authority because they feel abandoned and unloved. I have observed and definitely understand this.
I, however, was very fortunate. The men of Camden Baptist Church picked up where my father left off. The youth pastor at the time organized a boys’ discipleship group specifically for boys in one-parent homes. Other men have, I believe, watched for and jumped at opportunities to help me in any way they could.
One man shamed me into daily Bible study, which I continue six years later. Another man has advised me on dating, offering his own experience as support. Three other men have helped me fix my vehicles when they have broken down.
Still others have simply set a clear, Biblical example of what a man ought to be. If not for the men of Camden Baptist Church, I do not know what sort young man named Brett W. Smith would have graduated high school three years ago, but I am convinced he would not be making either of his fathers proud.
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