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Xavier Magazine | March 25, 2017

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What I Learned

What a difference four years can make. How much can you grow in that time? How much can you learn? How much does your worldview change? Last May, representatives of the Class of 2009 participated in a forum in which they reflected on the personal transformations they experienced in their time at Xavier.  Their answers are insightful and honest—and perhaps more than a little reminiscent of
the thoughts of countless other Xavier graduates through the years. Here’s a little of what they said.

Chelesa Alexander
“One of the things I’ve learned is that everybody has this sense of, ‘OK, once I have a vital role in this organization, it’s time to say “How can we be better?” ’ Xavier kind of exemplifies that. Look at what is going on around campus. The campus has changed in the four years I’ve been here, and it seems that Xavier is always asking, ‘How can we be better?’ I’m going to have that mindset of ‘How can I be greater? How can I be better? How can I grow?’ ”

Matt Melon
“I think there are two things I’ve taken away from the Jesuit aspect of my education: recognition that we have a lot of privilege being a part of this institution, and what we can do with that privilege to help make the world a better place. We ended up changing the mission  statement for the Summer Service Internship from saying that we are aiming to be ‘men and women for others’ to ‘being men and women with others’ to signify solidarity and accompaniment, and show we are working with people rather than for people.”

Carrie Gilbert
“I think that, for me, the most important thing when I graduate is to not lose that hunger to know more. I think that college in its essence is about knowing and constantly asking questions, and I don’t know if that is so fostered outside a college institution. So I have to continually want to know more, even though I’m not being graded on it. I need to take that with me.”

Matt Robinson
“Just as you’re learning in the core curriculum and you’re learning to tie together all of these different aspects of living and being spiritually guided and a person driven for others, you can take that into an organization. I’ve seen that over the past three years—club discussions and growth, clubs reaching out to other clubs for help, and all sorts of different ideas. No club is an island, and no department is an island
We all tie in together and we can all draw strings from each other.”

Alex Allen-Tunsil
“My junior year, I was the president of an organization at Xavier called GOAL—Gentlemen Organized for Achievement and Leadership. It’s a small male support group run through the Office of Multicultural Affairs. That was pretty much my introduction into student leadership. One of the things I had to learn was that you put a lot of work into the programs we put on, you’d like for everybody to come, you’d like for everybody to love it. But the fact is that sometimes that just doesn’t happen. You have to learn to deal with that frustration.
To be a leader, you have to have some level of resilience …  you have to let it be a learning opportunity and a chance to continue to grow.”

Lydia Powell
“I think probably one of the toughest things for me—it’s gotten easier for me to handle in the past four years—as a leader and as a minority on campus is to realize that everyone’s experiences are different, that everyone is different. I think back on a few moments when some people have said something or did something that offended me. Over the years, I’ve really learned to not allow the actions or the sayings of other people to really get to me and make me that upset, but to use that moment as a learning experience or to educate them.”

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