Senior Reflections from the Chapel
In celebration of our sesquicentennial anniversary, students from the Class of 2022 are reflecting on their time at Elmhurst.
These reflections will be released on Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.
- Raven Rhone ’22
- Brielle Imana ’22
- Anna Hill ’22*
- Edith Mercado ’22*
- Sasha Graf ’22*
- And many more to come!
Fall 2021 Term
What it Means for Me to Be Hispanic
Edith Mercado ’22
Sept. 22, 2021
What does it mean to be Hispanic? Mexican-American to be exact. With Hispanic Heritage month happening Sept. 15–Oct. 15, I would like to shed light on this.
Being Hispanic means celebrating Noche Buena with a huge party in Mexico or in the U.S. Being Hispanic means being a personal translator for our parents. It means helping others understand their broken English and closing the language gap between professionals and English as Second Language citizens. Being Hispanic means growing up with little to no guidance on how to apply to college, scholarships, FAFSA and looking for information through others. Being Hispanic also means that we celebrate the 15th birthday of daughters entering womanhood and leaving girlhood behind with a huge party filled with family, food, and music. Being Hispanic means dancing cumbias, bachatas, banda, nortena and zapateado. Yes, this all is true but there is a different meaning to me.
Being Hispanic to ME means being the first in my family to achieve a degree in college—Biology at that. It means helping my family from the years of struggle to finally live comfortably. To me, it means having the intelligence to know two languages and to take that as an advantage. Being Hispanic means developing the perseverance that I have to combat social, economic and educational disadvantages. To me it means having a culture that I am proud about, embracing my parents’ culture as much as embracing American culture. Being Hispanic to me, means I am unique, filled with dreams and culture but also struggling with discrimination, being stereotyped, and having an educational disadvantage.
I am here today as Edith to prove to many that one can achieve their dreams no matter your income level, race, ethnicity, gender identity, etc. I always found and fought my way to get to where I am and you can, too. The world is changing and we are part of the change. Being Hispanic to me means being the positive future this world needs. Viva México y el mes de los Hispanos.
Edith Mercado is a biology major from Genoa, Ill.
Come back to this page each week for a new reflection from an Elmhurst senior!
On Yom Kippur, ‘The Day of Atonement’
As a Jewish woman, I observe the holiday of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is considered “The Day of Atonement,” spent with hours of prayer while fasting in order to ask for atonement for your sins. These high holy days are so vital to moving forward in life, even though the day is spent looking back in our past. Yom Kippur is a time where we recognize our sins, feel regret, and then we work to resolve the harm they caused to ourselves and to others. A unique time of prayer during Yom Kippur is the Viddui service, which means confession. In these prayers, the language is all plural, meaning that no one person is a sinner, yet we all are collectively responsible for the sins of the world.
Attending Elmhurst University these last few years has taught me a lot about myself. I have been given the blessed opportunity to grow and flourish here on campus. However, growth comes with lots of trial and error, as well as sinful behaviors. Making mistakes is all a part of the growth process, however, forgiveness is equally as important. If God can love and forgive us for our sins, then we can forgive ourselves. I ask if all of you, regardless of your religion, will take a day to really reflect and repent for your sins, for you too, will be forgiven.
Anna Hill is a psychology major from Country Club, Mo.
It’s Never Too Late to Change for the Better
When I look back at my time here at Elmhurst, one thing I see within myself and those around me is growth. We have all grown into new people since we were in high school and even just grown from our first semester to now.
What is beautiful about growth is that it is ever-changing and always occurring. In Judaism, we are given a time to start over spiritually, twice. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one time to start fresh and hope for a “sweet new year.” It is said that God inscribes names of the righteous in the “Book of Life,” and one has from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur to make teshuvah, or repentance, before the book is sealed. The Tanakh verse 7:18-19 talks about casting one’s sins into the sea and is a beautiful ceremony known as Tashlich.
You don’t need to be Jewish or perform Tashlich to have your own fresh start. You can make a change now. Reach out and make amends with that one friend or family member that you may have wronged, and never stop trying to evolve into the best person you can be going forward.
My hope for future Bluejays joining our university is that they will strive to be their best selves here at Elmhurst and continue to foster a welcoming community. As we finish today, the last day of Rosh Hashanah, what we can learn is that it is never too late to change our lives for the better.
Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His anger forever, for He desires loving-kindness. He shall return and grant us compassion; He shall hide our iniquities, and You shall cast into the depths of the sea all their sins.
Brielle Imana is a psychology major from Willowbrook, Ill.
Faith In Experience
Experiences are the best teachers. The good ones leave us with the best memories while the worst ones leave us with the best lessons. However, with faith, we can learn from and utilize them for a better future. When I was a freshman, I joined the Black Student Union (BSU) and I remember discussing with my friends that we should join the executive board the next year. The following year, we joined the board and we continued to have light-hearted conversations about one of us possibly becoming president. Continuously beginning our sentences with “If I was president, I would … ”
I, eventually, became president. I was elected shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic had started. Thinking we’d be back to normal by the next school year, I thought of so many ideas that I was ready to implement. From new ways to engage with and involve African-American students on campus to fun, educational, and innovative ways to spread culture and pride around campus amongst POC students and allies alike. However, all those plans dissipated when the COVID-19 pandemic failed to end as quickly as we all thought it would. This situation reminded me of the film Evan Almighty. In a particular scene, “God” says “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?” So, it begs the question … if you pray for the answer to a situation, do you think God gives us the answer? Or does he provide us the opportunity to either reflect or gain experience so that we know what to do moving forward?
My plans changed. Old doors closed and new ones opened. Did I get to do everything I wanted to do? … No. But, were different avenues explored to make the most out of it? … Yes. From using new and different platforms for outreach to group online events and movies.
I have been fortunate enough to have experienced many things at this school because I have seized the opportunity when it arose. Even if the decision was difficult and the outcome wasn’t what I expected. I’ve encountered countless situations and decisions and put faith in the opportunity unbeknownst of the outcome. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I can’t complain about the past four years because they’ve made me stronger. A person who perseveres by the courage of faith and experience. The future I dream for this school is that it continues to bring about change for its African American and minority students; creating individuals that persevere. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
By continuing to have faith in experience, I will definitely have more experiences to fill you in on soon. Until then, take care.
Raven Rhone is a biochemistry major from Austin, Texas.