As a phoenix dies and then is reborn from its ashes, so is my hope for you. My aspiration for you this year is that you would form from the ashes and rise to the occasion. In this, I am referring to your education.
As a student, you have the privilege of attending this university. Why not take advantage of it? I have been here for two years and I’ve noticed that many students at this institution don’t take their education seriously.
The average student here pays a little over $30,000 a year in tuition. Most students here don’t have the privilege of having a full-ride scholarship, having to pay for their education with scholarships and loans. Many are in debt, yet they don’t take advantage of pursuing an education.
I know what it’s like to feel hammered down by school work, crunching for time and not feeling able to give professors my best work. However, a lot of this has to do with intellectual laziness. Students would rather do it the easy way instead of the hard way. They prefer to take easy classes with easy instructors.
I’m going to expel a myth for you: there is no such thing as an easy class or an easy instructor because all of your classes are going to challenge you.
What makes JBU an excellent college is its high standard for academic excellence. The professors and the students here are what make this school great, but it is the professors that really make this school shine. They pour all their time and energy into you because they want to see you grow both spiritually and intellectually.
One professor that does an excellent job of this is Preston Jones. Since my freshman year, Jones has been my biggest mentor and counselor in my education. He opened my eyes to why it is important for us to pursue an education, and I don’t mean that piece of paper that we receive after we graduate. An education is the ability to have hours spent in the study-room and have it change your mind, your heart and your soul.
In Western Civilization we studied what it means to be a good person through reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Jones taught us two Greek words: arête (excellence) and telos (end point or goal). He taught us that every human action has a telos.
For example the telos of eating a hamburger is so that I don’t go hungry and eventually die of hunger. Like every human life, each human has their own telos. This means that before you die, you want to accomplish something with your life.
Jones often asked us, “What do you want to accomplish with your life?” He then introduced to us the word arête. He often told us that it is in our best interest to live excellent lives. “Hey class, how long have we been in this lecture? 15 . . . 45 minutes? We are that much closer to the grave. So, what are you going to do about it?” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.
What makes your life extraordinary is not what you have accomplished, but what you have learned to transform you for the better. This is why it is in your interest to pursue your education. You can have all the best grades and earn your diploma, but that piece of paper will be worthless to you unless you take the initiative to get a real education. It is what you learn or don’t learn from this life that defines who you are.