I have spent my entire life amidst the Eastern Christian community. From the time I first stepped into my preschool class wearing my favorite purple velour sweatsuit that my mother could not convince me to change out of, to the time I first stepped onto the high school campus with my hair elaborately curled and my braces shining, I have been a true EC student. Throughout my life, I have been raised in the arms of a community whose deep love and radical compassion has not only enabled me to understand my worth and value as a child of God, but has given me the same love and compassion towards the other children of God living in a broken world. I have been raised in the arms of a community where I have been cared for and celebrated and where my teachers have nurtured me academically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have been raised in the arms of a community that has looked at my terrifying battle against panic disorder and depression and yet has taken my hand and said “I will walk with you. You are not alone in this.” At EC, I have matured into a woman of faith and confidence, and I have stepped into my calling and my mission to shine God’s light onto a world living in such increasing darkness.
I have spent my entire life amidst the Eastern Christian community, but in September of 2017, I will be flying across the ocean and beginning my college life at the University of St. Andrews on the coast of Scotland. When I was that purple-velour preschool child, the idea of leaving my home, my community, was unimaginable. Even when I was that curly-hair-shiny-braces high school freshman, the severe struggle with my panic disorder made the idea of going to another country for college unthinkable. But my teachers and friends have equipped me with the knowledge that God has given me unimaginable, unthinkable strength to conquer any obstacles before me. They have reminded me that I am not alone, and that no matter how many oceans I cross, I will be followed and surrounded by the love and prayers of a little school in northern New Jersey.
EC has formed an intrinsic part of my identity, and there are no words to describe how thankful I am that God chose to place me in this community. As I venture into new territory this September, there are certainly uncertainties, questions, and fears. But my time at EC has given me the courage to step out in faith onto the path that God has set before me, and for that, I will be forever thankful.