Words of Praise

Britta Hansen, Student '07

There have been several experiences that have "made" my experience at Gustavus. When I take stock of those experiences, but a few did not come about without being touched by the Center for Vocational Reflection in some way. As a senior, moving into the world is both easier and harder because of the wonderful experiences that I have had with the CVR.

During January of 2004 I was privileged to be a part of "Changing the World," the CVR's interim experience offering. This class opened many doors, both by meeting wonderful friends, staff at Gustavus, and figures of the community. It also helped me to prepare myself to confront the many life-changing evaluations of personal morals that I would experience during a formative part of my life. I say that transitioning into the world is easier due to the CVR for the obvious reasons, it helped me to listen to my heart in my choice of a profession and it helped me to constantly evaluate my happiness, bringing me to a state of peace in my everyday life. During the Changing the World class we learned to be mindful of ourselves and our communities, and those lessons have come to direct my daily actions. However, I mentioned that transitioning into the world outside of Gustavus will be a bit harder due to my experience with the CVR. The same lessons that direct my daily actions affect me deeply, and seeing social problems from inside Gustavus is vastly different than immersing myself into a community in Chicago or Berkeley, CA where I will provide eye care to a vast population during my optometric education following Gustavus. The CVR will make my transition more difficult, but "harder" is not negative in these instances because it helped to strengthen morals about social change and equality for all people. It is hard to conduct your life in a deep and meaningful way, but ever so rewarding, and Changing the World encouraged these thoughts.

The CVR also provided scholarship money to me when I traveled to Tucson, AZ to conduct research, which paid for my plane ticket and made a large difference in being able to have an experience that helped to direct my future path. My career path has changed numerous times while at Gustavus. These changes all took place in the realm of the scientific community. My January term experience at the University of Arizona in Tucson was a great investigation into the prospect of a future career in laboratory research. In conjunction with the Career Center, my career exploration entailed keeping a daily journal and reflecting frequently upon my path. This journaling and reflection came easily for me due to the development of critical thinking in my high school years, but also due to the mindfulness practiced in all of our experiences in Changing the World in the January term previous.

The programming that the CVR provides has been educational, and also spiritually deep. When Esther Sternberg visited this fall, I was able to interact with a woman who helped me to solidify my interest in patient care, and the importance of overall well-being. When Terry Tempest Williams visited in 2005, I was able to hug a woman with so much fame, but also deep spirituality that reminded me that she was, indeed, a beautiful woman with very much love for her work and not solely a famous author. For the MAYDAY! Conference 2006, I enjoyed the company of Dr. Robert Gallo for a couple of lunches and one dinner. Being able to speak with a man who knows so much about science was more than intellectually stimulating. Interactions with the doctor helped me to solidify my interest in medicine and away from solely research.

All of these experiences have been life changing for me that have been connected to the CVR. Not to go unmentioned though, is my soul mate, who I met in deep listening during Changing the World. A beautiful friend, who shares my pain in the world's angst, strives for fulfillment through service, struggles with religion and vocation; we have connected deeply and challenged one another to evolve. Our individual evolutions began in Changing the World, and they continue to this day, and I have felt so blessed on so many occasions to have met this wonderful person. Our common interests directed us to meet, and our Interim Experience in 2004 was the vehicle through which we met.

I did not have much question when I visited Gustavus as a senior in high school whether Gustavus was the place for me. I felt at home immediately, but I attribute that to the fact that my soul knew what it would find here. Had I known about the CVR and all of the things that it would offer to me specifically during my time at Gustavus, I would have had even less question about attending Gustavus. The programming that the CVR provides is infinitely important to building mindful, conscientious Gusties, who will become citizens of a world that needs people with exactly those qualities.