“Welcome brother.” Those were the first words to me upon arrival in Erie. These two words sum up my experience over the three years that I have spent at both Gannon University and St. Mark seminary – a place I have called home.
Coming to Gannon University as a transfer student from Cameroon and being a commuter from St. Mark Seminary, there was much for me to adapt to: the language (I spoke English but British English), the culture and the academic system.
From the very first day, Gannon was welcoming to me. I was scared of getting involved, but I was welcomed to partake in Model United Nations, which I participated in for two of my three years. I had to make the tough decision of stepping down from this organization, though, when I was asked to lead a new Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST) in my final year. In my first year I was slowly starting to take advantage of all the activities, experiences and opportunities placed at our disposal to give me a faith-filled and all-enriching experience.
During Gannon’s 2016 Commencement Ceremony, I heard the song “I Was Here” by Lady Antebellum and was moved. I asked myself, what can I do to leave a mark at Gannon? After pondering and prayer, I heard, “Michael, you can do as much on campus as you want, but if no lives are touched, it would all be in vain.”
Gannon’s travel programs are an opportunity all students should take advantage of. From my experiences, I developed relationships with fellow students and experienced a growth in my faith, sharing my talents with others and learning from those of others.
I went to Abingdon, Va. on the 2017 ABST under Habitat for Humanity. Later that year, I spent two weeks in Italy, with a long layover in Amsterdam, where we took the opportunity to explore the city. I started the fall semester this year with the knowledge that I was co-leading a trip to the Navajo Nation, with an amazing co-leader, Center for Social Concerns and my leadership professor, who’ve allowed me to develop my confidence and talent as a leader.
I have been honored to work with the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS) and the English as a Second Language (ESL) department on understanding the plight our international students may experience as they adapt to their new culture and academic milieu, and how they can be introduced to intellectual property. This was rewarding not only to the students, but to me as well.
These are just a few of the opportunities I have experienced, among many Gannon offers. In these years, I have also taken road trips with friends, to Canada, Buffalo and St. Mary’s, Pa., tutored French for my three years on campus, and served in different capacities within Gannon’s Campus Ministry.
I am glad I made as much of my time at Gannon as possible. Do not let stumbling blocks stop you, there are scholarships to help you pay, there are people to support and appreciate your gifts, talents and journey with you through the growth process and experiences. You just have to know that “everything you ever want, everything you ever need, they are here right in front of you, this is where you want to be,” as taken from the movie “The Greatest Showman.” There will be NO “I wish” from your lips. Stand up today and be a better you and make your neighbor a better them. I made brothers and sisters, so can you.