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b2ap3_thumbnail_Karla-1.jpgPat Bristor, the associate dean of students at Waynesburg University, has watched Karla Lucilia Pet Diaz grow from a child into a young adult. She has learned, played, worshipped and laughed alongside her and has recently helped to facilitate a dream for both of them. 

After months of praying and planning, Karla visited the United States for the first time at the beginning of December 2013. While growing up in Patzun, Guatemala, at the Centro Nutricional y Hogar de Ninos, Karla looked forward to the Waynesburg University mission trips to the center each year. Since she was 14 years old, Karla has enjoyed Pat’s warm smile and looked forward to seeing her year after year. 

This year, Karla finished her studies and applied for a Visa to travel to the United States and visit Waynesburg – the place where so many familiar faces waited to see her. Waynesburg University faculty, staff and students paid for Karla’s plane tickets through the Guatemala project fund, an account bolstered by the fundraising of any student who has traveled to Patzun throughout the University’s 14 mission trips to the Center. 

“This is the first opportunity that one of the children from the center has been able to visit Waynesburg University. The opportunity is one of what we hope will be many,” Bristor said. “I know that she was meant to come here. We ran into many issues but it worked out.” 

From her arrival Tuesday, Dec. 3, to the beginning of the University’s Christmas break Saturday, Dec. 14, Karla spent as much time as possible with Waynesburg University students who have participated in the Guatemala mission in the past.  

With them, she practiced her English, attended the Waynesburg Christmas parade, participated in sled riding, watched movies, viewed the Oglebay Festival of Lights and completed community service at St. Ann’s soup kitchen. With great joy, Waynesburg students took her to campus events, introduced her to their friends and professors and invited her to attend game nights and dinners at the University.  

“The focus at the beginning of December was on the students she’s come to know and love. She wanted to spend time with them, and they with her, before many of them left campus for Christmas break,” Bristor said. “The remaining time was spent serving the community, meeting with alumni and participating in regional customs.” 

Pat arranged for Karla to either telephone or meet with a number of Waynesburg University alumni who visited Guatemala through the years. Karla also spent time with Brandon Szuminsky, instructor of communication at Waynesburg and his wife, Heidi Szuminsky, director of donor and alumni relations at the University, both of whom have led mission trips to Patzun multiple times. 

Tearing up, Pat explained that her passion for the Guatemala mission has been very evident, but that though her husband supported her, he didn’t always understand why she returned home each year with a heavy heart – missing the people of Patzun. 

“My husband didn’t understand that passion until he met Karla,” she said. “Now he understands why I love her and the mission so much. He is even interested in coming with us in the future. It’s been a wonderful experience for us to share our home. Having a child in our home who I have come to love has been a dream come true. The laughter fills the house.””

Indeed, as Pat and Karla spoke to each other using a translation app, gestures and slowed-speech, they generated quite a bit of infectious laughter. They both said that the language barrier has been an enjoyable and even helpful issue. 

“I don’t know much Spanish. She’s very good at English even though sometimes she’s too shy to admit it,” Bristor said. “But I think the barrier has been a blessing; if she were in a home that spoke fluent Spanish, Karla wouldn’t be as challenged to speak and learn English. It also forces me to learn Spanish, which I’ve wanted to do for years.”

In January, Pat will return to Patzun for the seventh time alongside a team of Waynesburg University students, staff, and, of course, Karla. Though the journey will be bittersweet, Pat knows that the new bridge of communication built at Waynesburg University will help them to communicate for a lifetime.  

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_1426734_644433955608244_957885172_n.jpgLast week, my husband and I, both proud 2012 alumni, jumped at the chance to attend a Young Alumni Event with Waynesburg University. For the first time, we experienced the magical atmosphere of Dave and Busters and the camaraderie of being surrounded by other young Waynesburg graduates. 

My experience was slightly unique in that I attended the event as both a representative of Waynesburg (I work as a graduate assistant in University Relations at my alma mater) and as a giddy participant. As I helped to register the more than 70 alumni in attendance, I tried to remember what classes I shared with some of them and how others left a memorable impact on the University even before I began as a freshman in 2009. In that moment, like many other moments before it, I felt so thankful for the small atmosphere of Waynesburg University, which allowed me to remember these names and faces and connect in a memorable way. 

After a delicious meal provided by the University, people departed, in groups of three, four and sometimes many more, for the arcade. 

My husband, roommate, Vikki and I set out for the games that would spill the most tickets. We played skee-ball and failed miserably next to a very accomplished 8-year-old boy, whose tickets quadrupled ours. 

At the end of the evening, we decided to go all out on a racing simulation game – each of us picking a different drivers’ seat and steering wheel. As we sped through checkered flags and rounded impossible turns, I thought about how nice it felt to goof off with my best friends, surrounded by a greater network of alumni who were enjoying themselves equally. 

After we all crossed the virtual finish line, we glanced down to collect our tickets hoping for enough to make a dent in the impressive arcade store gallery. None appeared. We somehow managed to choose the only arcade game that didn't reward its players – but the experience was enough. 

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If you’re a high school senior hoping to attend a college or university next fall, there’s a good chance it’s crunch time for you. Application deadlines or priority deadlines are looming, and you’re rushing (hopefully not too frantically…see No. 2) to get them all turned in. Here’s two handfuls of common mistakes to avoid in your haste…

10. Having mom and dad do it for you.  It’s OK to get some advice from your parents, but neither one of them should be filling out applications or writing essays for you. Colleges want to hear from YOU, not mom and dad. We know you’re busy, but you’re not that busy. (Just wait until you get to college—then you’ll realize how good you had it!)

9. Using your “clever” e-mail address and/or not checking it.  Listen up biebsbiggestfan@aim.com, we know you love the pop star, but that won’t win over most college admissions counselors. And whatever you put down as your e-mail, check it often. There may be pertinent information from your top choice waiting in your inbox.

8. Writing illegibly.  If your name, address, phone number and e-mail look more like hieroglyphics than standard English, the admissions office has no way of contacting you (whatever it guesses that your name might be).

7. Using the wrong college’s name in your essay.  Believe it or not, this happens more than you’d think. Admissions offices realize you may be re-using similar essays for similar prompts, but when you copy & paste, be sure to double check you’re using the correct college’s name.

6. Misspelling words and committing grammatical errors.  This is an easy one. Just proofread everything carefully before submitting or have someone do it for you, and you should be fine.

5. Forgetting your signature.  If an application calls for a signature, chances are the admissions office cannot process your application until they have that. Thus, if you forget your John Hancock, your application will most likely be put on hold.

4. Not sending your transcripts and test scores.  Again, in almost all cases, schools are going to need to see both your high school transcript and standardized test scores. Failure to submit these in support of your application will result in a lengthy wait for a decision.

3. Not answering optional questions.  Even though it may say optional, a university would not put a question or prompt on an application if they didn’t want students to complete that portion. Anything of the sort is an opportunity for you to separate yourself from the rest.

2. Waiting until last minute.  An admissions office is a whirlwind of a place—busy, busy, busy. Waiting until the absolute last second to turn in your application isn’t going to help your chances.

1. Lying!  If an admissions counselor discovers you’ve been untruthful in any way on your application, you can just about kiss your chances of acceptance goodbye.

Dave Floyd is an Admissions Counselor at Waynesburg University, whose travel territory includes Westmoreland County, Eastern Pennsylvania and the Northeast states. He is also a 2012 Waynesburg alumnus.

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Dear WU,

I recently registered for my last semester with you, and I can’t help but feel upset about this end to an important ritual of my college career. Somehow, I can’t picture myself anywhere but where I am now.

As you know, when I began looking at schools as a high school senior, you were on the list with two other Christian universities. I toured those other two schools, liking much of what I saw and even applied to them, thinking of how my future would be if I were to attend one of them.

I toured you last and there was an immediate change. Although I had my heart set on an equestrian school, I didn’t get the same feeling with those other schools because you were the one that made me feel as though I belonged.

There has been a lot of push and pull in our relationship throughout the years: classes I didn’t want to take, but ended up liking; class assignments that nearly pushed me over the edge, but I overcame; and exams that kept me up nights worrying over, but the end result always turned out better than I imagined.

I am now able to see that you only challenged me because you knew I could do it, no matter how many times I said I couldn’t, and I want to apologize for being so stubborn.

I have not always liked you, especially on the days where I received nothing but papers scribbled over in red ink—slashes and lines through my creative thoughts like a connect-the-dot activity sheet. I cried over those days more times than I feel comfortable confessing to you. What I couldn’t see at the time, however, was how much all of those scribbles would allow me to grow into a much better writer.

So much has happened over these past four years, some of which has been life-altering. It’s difficult to think of where my life would be if I would not have chosen you. You helped to peel back the layers of my insecurities as a person, writer and Christian, giving me chances to grow beyond the expectations I had originally placed for myself. My whole self-concept has changed, thanks to you.

Do you remember when I went for my interview with the Admissions Department as a freshman for a Student Ambassador position? I walked into that interview like a typical freshman: naïve and irrational. I remember adamantly saying the words “I will do anything you need, but I will never give a tour” to the admissions counselor, fully knowing that was in the job description. She and you had a good laugh, I’m sure.

The first time I gave a tour, I was so nervous I couldn’t remember anything I had rehearsed, but I made it through. To my surprise, families even began to tell me they couldn’t believe I had ever been shy. I give you the credit for those statements. Had it not been for you, I would have quit and crawled back into my comfortable shell of invisibility.

Through you, I went from being an insecure introvert to a confident, somewhat more sociable young woman who is no longer afraid of people looking at her because she knows she is important.

They say coming to college is part of a transitional phase of life which helps set the foundations for our future goals and careers, but to me it has been so much more than that. Finding my way to you has been a type of reawakening in my life.

During these past four years, I’ve repeatedly lost and regained confidence in my abilities; I’ve had my heart broken and restored again (like so many my age); I’ve lost high school friendships and gained stronger, less selfish ones; I’ve lost sight of my faith only to find a stronger, more cognizant version; and most importantly, I’ve learned who I am as a person and who I want to become as I continue to grow.

My final registration signifies this chapter in my life is about to end and as I sit here writing this letter to you, I hate to think this journey is almost over. Like a friend, you have become close to my heart and I know, even once I’m gone, that is where you will remain.

Thank you for all you have done for me, both good and bad, for they have made me who I am today.

Sincerely,
Kayla Longstreth

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Kenya4194-handing-over-2.jpgSeveral hundred people in Kenya have access to clean water because of Alex Tenenbaum and his drive to positively affect those dying due to a lack of basic needs.

The junior information technology major at Waynesburg University led the EcoStewards Club in raising several thousand dollars for The Water Project in an effort to provide clean water to a primary school in Bukhaywa, located in western Kenya. With a population of 760 students, 18 teachers and three sub-ordinate staff, the school had previously gotten water from a stream.

Water collected from the stream was not clean, and it was two kilometers away.

The project involved the repair of a hand-dug well, which served the community and school from 1994 to 2006, when it was contaminated and later vandalized.

Co-sponsored by the EcoStewards Club, Tenenbaum and other members of the organization raised $5,050 within three months, and within three months from reaching their monetary goal, they had confirmation of project completion in pictures.

“The whole project was a challenge,” Tenenbaum said, “but I just kept in mind my goal. It was all about the kids there – not about me and the struggles I went through to make this happen. When I saw the pictures, the smiling faces of all those people over there, it really hit home.”

With one of those pictures now adorning the wall of his dorm room, Tenenbaum needs only to look at it for motivation for his new project – another well in another part of Africa. As he manages his busy schedule of classes, preparing to study abroad in Italy next semester, working ten hours a week and attending EcoStewards Club meetings, Tenebaum continues to reserve time for his passion, in hopes of funding the repair of another well by the end of this semester.

“When people ask me, ‘Who are you impacting?’ My first thought is the world.” Tenebaum said. “It might sound crazy, but we really did. We made a difference.”

Tenenbaum has hopes it will be easier for him this time around – he is enrolled in fundraising and environmental biology courses with the goal of learning more about how to reach his goal and of the effects his project could have.

“Plus, I can tell people, I did this before. I already raised $5,050 once. I can do it again,” he said.

One of Tenebaum’s life goals is to use his God given talents and the knowledge he gains at Waynesburg University through his information technology major and sociology minor to help the disadvantaged.

“I want to use technology to make a difference,” Tenebaum said. “I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out.”

Some would say he already has.

For more information, contact Tenebaum at ten6901@student.waynesburg.edu.

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