Posts Tagged Taylor University

Reunion

Snapshots from Homecoming weekend

Last weekend I went back to Taylor University for my 5 year reunion. I hadn’t been on campus in at least three years, so I was excited to see all the new things they built and to see some old friends. I was a little sad that none of my close college friends were going to be back on campus, but Rachael, who was my roommate for three years, happens to live near Taylor still, so I at least got to see her. 🙂

My husband was on a 3-day overnight trip with the 5th graders at his school, so he was exhausted by the time he got home on Friday. He was still a good sport though and came with me to Indiana for Homecoming weekend. We got a later start leaving than I wanted, but I think that helped us miss rush hour traffic. I just didn’t like driving in the dark the entire time (country roads at night = pitch black) and arriving at 11:30 p.m.

I woke up early Saturday morning for the Homecoming 5k (I gave Gerald the option to sleep in, which he did). I never ran this race while I was in college because I hated running back then. I’m still amazed at what I’ve accomplished as a runner over the past three years. So it was fun to be able to come back and run a race on campus. The race was very low-key. They didn’t even have chip timing, but they did have a clock and you were supposed to pay attention to your own time as you crossed the finish line. Luckily for me, I had my trusty Garmin to help out too. The race started out too fast and I wasn’t able to keep the sub-8 pace, so I knew I wouldn’t get a PR. My final time was 24:36 (splits: 7:48, 8:07, 7:55, 0:44 for the last 0.11 miles). So not bad, but not my best. My training schedule hasn’t been working out too well for the Turkey Trot 8k either because of weather, schedules, etc…but that’s another story.

After the race, I went back to the hotel to get Gerald. We ate breakfast there and then headed back to campus to browse the

Heidi & me at the 5-Year Reunion Cookout

bookstore and explore the new science building. The science building is AMAZING. I wish it was there when I was a student! I wouldn’t have had many classes in there, but still. I love how they have all these verses and quotes on the walls. It’s very cool. Then we went to my 5 year reunion cookout at the President’s house. There weren’t a ton of people there from my class, but it was a good number. It’s weird seeing people there now with their spouses and kids. I guess we’re getting older! I even randomly ran into my friend Heidi. She wasn’t in my graduating class, but they let her come to the cookout anyway.We went to the football game (another activity I rarely did when I was in college except for once a year for the first game). Taylor has a nice new football field with artificial turf. Very impressive. I also wanted to see the new two-lane pool, which was closed, but it was still cool to see where it was.

The highlight of the weekend for me was getting to have dinner with my old roommate Rachael and her husband Chris. They’re expecting their first baby any day now, so whether we saw them or not was dependant on when their baby decided to make his arrival. Thankfully (for me), he’s holding off and we got to spend time with these precious friends. We ate at Thai Smile, which is where I first had Thai food. Gerald and I often had Thai food together while we were dating, so I really wanted to take him here. He’d been to Taylor before, but now I finally had time to take him out to Muncie to eat. It didn’t disappoint! 🙂

Chris, Rachael, me & Gerald at Thai Smile

Overall, the weekend was enjoyable and even a little relaxing (which was good for Gerald coming off his school trip). It reminded me why I love this school. Even as I walked to the race check-in in the cold, dark morning, a man made brief conversation with me. As I waited for the race to start, one of the older alums (who graduated over 25 years ago) came up to me and started chatting. I loved seeing my communications professor, Donna, and just how she wrapped me in a big hug when she saw me. It’s this community that drew me to the school in the first place, and I know it’s going to keep me coming back. Oh, I also loved that my husband wanted to buy a Taylor hoodie. He didn’t go there, but now he wishes he did. 🙂

Looking up from the center of the new science building

The mosaic at the center of the science building

Lots of spiral stairs!

Gerald & me outside the new football stadium

 

 

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How I Got into Publicity

Today I celebrate three years of working at Tyndale House Publishers. It’s amazing to think it has already been that long! So in honor of my Tyndale anniversary, I’m going to share the story of how I got into publicity and what led me to where I am today. *Warning–this is kind of long, but I love this story*

From a young age, I always loved reading. I would stay up late at night reading for pleasure with the closet light on. My mom told me that even before kindergarten I used to “read” Curious George books. In reality, I memorized the books after having them read to me all the time so it looked like I read them! My third grade teacher and other teachers told me I was a good writer and that’s where my love for English and writing began. I used to want to be a teacher (it seems like most little girls do), but once I got into high school, I knew I wanted to major in English. I tailored my senior schedule around that by deciding I didn’t need to take AP Calculus (you only needed three years of math to graduate, after all) and took Creative Writing and Intro to Journalism instead. I was also on my high school yearbook staff the last two years I was there.

Class of 2007!

I went on to college and graduated from Taylor University with a B.A. in English/Writing and a minor in Mass Communications/Journalism. I wasn’t exactly sure what career I would go into, but all I knew is I wanted it to have something to do with writing. I was really into missions and going overseas after going on several international trips during my college years (to London, Scotland, France, China and Poland). So I sought out writing opportunities in missions. I was offered an opportunity to write for the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California before I graduated. I wanted to take it, but my parents didn’t think it was a good idea because I would have to raise support to live there (like a missionary), but I’d be living in the States. This was frustrating for me because I felt like they didn’t understand missions and how missionaries raising support is biblical, but I decided not to go.

So I had my degree and moved back home with no job prospects. I spent the summer after college devoting most of my time to serving as a leader for our college fellowship at church. I wasn’t working, but I was still busy. I was kind of searching for a job, but not being as proactive about that as I should’ve been. The most I’d done was post my resume on several different job sites and maybe apply to some of the jobs listed. It was hard because I didn’t have any experience and I had never done any internships in my field. Most entry-level jobs require 1-3 years of experience. Kinda hard to apply when you have zero years.

At the end of July, I received a call from the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune. He saw my resume on one of the websites and talked to me about a freelance communications specialist position he was hiring for. My resume said I’d done some freelance work, so I figured that’s why he called me. It was the Chicago Tribune, so of course I said I was interested! I sent him some writing samples and then left for the weekend to go on our college

The sign behind my desk in the Tribune Tower

group retreat.

This was a “no technology” retreat, so I didn’t have access to my cell phone or email all weekend. I came back late Sunday night, checked my email, and saw that the Tribune had emailed me wanting me to come in for an interview on Monday. Immediately I thought, “Oh no! That’s not going to work! I’m not even prepared!” Luckily, they were flexible and rescheduled it for Tuesday. To make a long story shorter, they called me a couple hours after the interview and hired me as the freelance communications specialist. That was my first introduction into the world of corporate communications and I learned a lot from the experience. I only took Intro to Public Relations in college and I always thought I’d be on the journalist side rather than the side of the public relations professional. My boss was fantastic too–he knew I was looking for a full-time job and kept extending the original three months I was supposed to work there, eventually telling me I could work there until I found a full-time position.

Soon after he told me this, I got a call from Tyndale House Publishers inviting me to come in for an interview for the

Sharon from Tyndale (left), author Becky Alonzo (center), & me at the International Christian Retail Show

publicity assistant position. Two interviews and less than a month later, I had my full-time job. 🙂 I learned a lot more about publishing and how to do book publicity (which is slightly different from corporate communications) and a little over a year ago I was promoted to full-time publicist when one of my colleagues left to be a stay at home mom. Now I’m still learning a lot about social media and other PR strategies to better promote our authors and products.

The fact that I found a full-time job in PR is not why I love this story. I love how this story demonstrates God’s hand in my life. I had one plan for my future and God brought me in a completely different direction. Of course, His plan was way better than my own. As I look back too, I know that God brought me to my job here at Tyndale and I can see how all the different pieces fell into place. They’re so intertwined that it’s hard NOT to miss the fact that God was in it all!

So this is not just a celebration of three years at Tyndale. It’s also a celebration of God’s faithfulnes in my life and a reminder to me of how I need to trust Him with my future. I may not know where I’m headed, but I know the One who does.

Are you noticing God’s fingerprints in your own life?

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Traditions

Even though I’ve been out of college for a few years, I always find myself thinking of Taylor University‘s famous Christmas traditions. Even these past few weeks, I’ve been telling different people about them. So it was a pleasant surprise to see a flurry of media hits about one of those traditions: Taylor’s annual Silent Night basketball game that takes place each December on the Friday before finals.

I’ll let this video from this year’s game show you what it’s all about:

On the last day of class during the fall semester, everyone would dress up in their pajamas and head over to Odle Arena for the Silent Night game. It was always PACKED. Everyone sits and is completely silent until Taylor scores 10 points. Then we all go crazy for the rest of the game! There were certain floors from the guys’ dorms that stood on the ends of the court–one floor, Broho, always dressed up as a nativity scene.

My roomie, Rachael, & me at the Christmas Fandango with Santa.

Then after the game we went to the dining commons for the Holipalooza (formerly Fandango), which was basically like a campus Christmas party. We decorated cookies, built gingerbread houses, and did other fun things. Then the university president always read Twas the Night Before Finals.

Those Silent Night games were the only basketball games I ever went to at Taylor, and I never missed them. Even when it was on my birthday one year! I feel so much Taylor pride to see this event getting press on ESPN (which says “prepare to love Taylor University”), SB Nation, Yahoo! Sports, and College Hoops Journal (so far). That’s awesome PR for the school, by the way. 🙂 It was just awesome to have our whole community come together during what is usually the most busy and stressful time for college students. The Taylor community is one of the biggest reasons why I chose the school.

If you don’t watch the entire video, I do think you should skip to the 2:30 mark to see all the students singing Silent Night while the game is coming to a close. The singing’s not all that great, but there’s just something so special about that moment.

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories or traditions? Did your college have any cool traditions?

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Week of Thankfulness: Faithfulness

As I take up my challenge to spend a week being thankful, I’ve reflected on the times when God has been faithful to provide in my life. It’s so easy to talk about trusting God to provide and to know that He has a great plan for my life, but it’s another thing to live like you believe that.

I remember first really worrying about my future when I was a senior in high school. It was around this time of year, actually. I only wanted to go to Taylor University in the fall for college, so I applied for early admission and didn’t apply anywhere else. My parents were okay with this, and so was I until I started getting nervous. I was supposed to find out in November if I got accepted or not and November was quickly coming to a close. I was pretty sure with my grades and ACT score that Taylor would accept me, but I kept asking myself, “What if…” I even started looking into possibly applying to Purdue as a backup school because their application was easy. I didn’t even want to go to Purdue and I knew nothing about their English program. I was trying to trust God about my future, but I wanted to be prepared just in case He didn’t come through.

That was the year I took up Jeremiah 29:11 as my “life verse.” Think what you want about life verses; I needed

Here's me as a little freshman in college! I'm sitting on my bed (on the right).

something to cling to while I waited. Sure enough, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a letter–more like a packet. The kind where you know you got accepted because they’re sending you a big packet of stuff instead of a little rejection letter. That was one of the greatest Thanksgivings ever because I knew I had something to be thankful for–God provided my college acceptance to Taylor in His own timing and I never had anything to worry about. I went to Taylor and God worked out more of His plan for my life throughout that time up until now.

There were other times where I didn’t trust God’s plan while in college. Going into sophomore year I almost didn’t want to go back because one of my good friends who was supposed to room with me and another girl transferred in the summer. I was scared I’d be alone and not have any close friends at school. Basically, I worried. Then we got a freshman as our third roommate (I was in a triple and we were hoping it’d be a double with the other roomie gone). I wasn’t sure how that would work out either. I should’ve trusted more in God’s plan because the three of us–Alicia, me, and our new roommate Rachael, became great friends. Rachael was my roommate for three years and I love her. Those last three years of college were even better than the first and I knew I was in the place God wanted me to be.

Rachael & me my sophomore yr & her freshman yr

There are a couple things I’ve learned from these past experiences:

1. God works on His own time, not mine. I continually have to remind myself of this. Whether it’s waiting to get a college acceptance letter, waiting for the day I’d have a boyfriend, waiting for those job interviews to pour in, or waiting for that engagement ring to come, I know that God will allow those things to happen on His timeline, not mine. If it were up to me, all those things would’ve happened sooner, but in making me wait and be patient, God has used that time to mature me and to draw me more to Him. As a senior in high school, I reminded myself that God’s timing is perfect–never early and never late. He knows what He’s doing.

2. God’s plans are way better than my plans. I’m a planner. I like to organize and plan events. I plan out my weeks and my days and I don’t like to get off schedule. It throws me off. I’m getting better at being flexible in this though. When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job lined up. So I just moved back home and sort of looked for jobs while enjoying the break from school. My resume was up on job sites and I wasn’t being too proactive about applying, but somehow God had the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a three-month freelance position. I interviewed later (though there’s more to this story) and ended up getting hired. After my three months, my boss kept adding another month, then another month, and finally he said I could stay until I found a full-time job. They even gave me a raise! Shortly after that, I got a call from Tyndale and ended up getting hired there soon after. Talk about God’s provision. I know having the Trib on my resume helped get me noticed, so when I look back, I can see how God provided all along.

So even now when I wonder what God’s doing with the timing of events in my life or what I’ll be doing in the next seven months, year, two years, or five years, I can think back on these moments when I’ve seen His faithful provision and perfect timing. Then I know I should “wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 NIV)

How has God shown you that He is faithful?

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