Richmond Freshman Challenges Peers to "Become"

Sept. 5, 2006

The Class of 2010, the most academically talented in Baylor's history, was issued a challenge before their arrival on campus.

Dub Oliver, vice president for student life, asked them to submit an essay that would "inspire you and your classmates about what the Baylor experience can mean to you, what you hope happens in your lives over the next four years, what discoveries you hope to make and how you hope to be changed by this journey."

The essays submitted were judged by a panel of faculty, staff and students, and Faith Ann Wardlaw, from Richmond, Texas, was chosen as this year's winner with her essay titled, "A Baylor Dream: Become." As the winner, Wardlaw's required textbooks will be purchased for the first and second semesters of this academic year, and the Baylor Alumni Association will provide her a senior ring when she becomes eligible. Wardlaw also presented her winning essay to her fellow freshman at the Welcome Week Kick-off and Convocation.

"Dub Oliver emailed me the Monday before Welcome Week to congratulate me," Wardlaw said. "When I read Dub's email, my jaw dropped. I was completely astonished - I couldn't realize for a few days that I was actually going to be able to speak to my entire freshman class.

"I think speaking in front of 3,000 of my peers was the scariest - but the most exciting - thing I have ever done. As I read my speech at the Ferrell Center, I remember thinking how amazing it was that I was actually speaking to my class - that I had, in a sense, become the representative of the freshman class."

Wardlaw, a piano performance and pre-med major with a minor in chemistry, decided to attend Baylor "because of its excellent science and pre-med programs and the high quality of the music school."

She currently plays in the Baylor Early Music Ensemble and has plans to participate in intramurals or some other sports club. As a pre-med, she also will volunteer at a nearby hospital this fall.

"Even if I hadn't won the competition, writing out my goals for my four years at college was a really good task for me - it helped me clarify precisely what I want to do with my college years," she said. "Especially now that I have read them to my class, I want to live up to my goals. I think writing down what I imagine the best college student to be has helped me as I try to 'become' the person I wrote about in my essay.

"Also, it has been really encouraging when freshmen I've never seen before walk up to me and tell me that my essay challenged them."

Wardlaw is the daughter of Eric and Tina Wardlaw of Richmond, and the granddaughter of Joyce Wardlaw of Bakersfield, Calif.

Below is Faith's winning essay:

A Baylor Dream: Become

"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Become. College is all about becoming who we were created to be. It's about learning about the world around us - learning knowledge to serve us in our careers - learning who we will become. College is about learning to reason and learning to determine the right paths in our lives. College is one of the ways God is making us worthy of His calling - and God's calling is greater than anything we can imagine. Yes, it will be hard; yes, it's a challenge. But never give up - rise to the challenge and become all that you can be.

Become. Maybe you were bored in high school, and the classes you took were easy. Perhaps you only studied to get good grades - but you never really learned anything in most of your classes. Become a better student: the best student that you can. Don't settle for "easy A" classes, or GPAs that just barely keep you in school. God has said that He will "fulfill every resolve for good... by His power." Resolve to take challenging classes, and to actually get up and go to class; resolve to study hard and learn all you can in each of your classes. If you pray that God will give you the strength to carry out your resolutions, He will give you strength, even more than you asked for.

Become. In high school, you had the group of friends you ate lunch with and hung out with after school every year for four years. You probably took some of the same classes, played in marching band together, and liked the same books. Now that you're at Baylor, you don't have the same old group to tie you down to what you know. Break out of your comfort zone! Meet people who aren't like you, and make friends with people who have completely different dreams for their lives. Join an organization or take a class that's completely different from things you already do. If you're an English major, join the cycling club. If you're a music major, take a few science classes. Become someone new through the friends you make and activities you enjoy.

Become. For those of us who are Christians, God has told us to be formed to His example of grace, sacrifice, and love. We need to become His ambassadors: His representatives. Don't just say you're a Christian - act like it! Pray that God will use you and those around you to glorify Him. God is willing to work His marvelous plan through us. He will give you the strength to be a great student and a great friend. He will give you the power to use all you learn for His glory. Even when you feel like you're at your weakest point, God will give you strength. Become the clay for the Master Potter. If we let Him mold us to His will, we will become more than we had ever dreamed of.

Don't put it off - become who you want to be now. Right now is the most important time, because it's the only time in which we can make a difference. So use your time here at Baylor wisely. Some say that the time we spend here at college will be the best time of our lives. It's certainly one of the most pivotal times of our lives - and in this time, God can use us to bring about great things - to bring about His calling and to glorify His name. Class of 2010, let's get out there and become the best class Baylor has ever had!

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