From preparation to presentation, from presentation to relaxation, relaxation to celebration. It seems as though the students at Impact 360 have a front row seat on a proverbial roller coaster. As tensions built leading up to our final presentations, several students (including myself) dreaded the podium at Chick-fil-A corporate, and rightfully so! Imagine all of your closest friends that you’ve been with for nine months intently listening to what you spent hours researching, thinking about and practicing, not to mention all the other spectators and staff who were also grading your work. No doubt, this was the biggest project I’ve worked on, and I’m sure some of my fellow students would second that notion.

But after all the hype, butterflies and tensions, we come out on the other side one step closer to being alumni. This week we are celebrating the year and all the memories we’ve shared. So, as students who are leaving this life-changing institution, we have two options. The first is that we can squander our time by simply choosing to disengage and filling our time with media. We can hide in our rooms every chance we get and go to sleep early and wake up late. The second is that we can choose to utilize the time we have for the purpose of building existing relationships based on a floor plan fitted to our lives post-Impact 360. As we’ve observed in class a few days ago, Mark Miller says, “Leadership always begins with a picture of the future.” I think that we should be trying to paint a picture of the future that is practical but still significant. I believe we as a class are choosing the second.

This celebration week has been a week of fun and gratitude for me. I’ve enjoyed being finished with projects and papers and being able to invest in the relationships I’ve built here. It is of dire importance to me, and I know to others as well, that we enjoy this week. This is the end of our Impact 360 experience but it is not the end of the friendships we’ve made and it certainly isn’t the end of our journey. It is definitely sad to say goodbye to everyone, but God has a plan for each one of us for something very much greater than being students at Impact 360. I don’t want to leave with a frown but with a smile. I want to know that I’ve spent the last nine months not in vain but in faith.

As we transition on to the next stage of life, we will miss Impact 360. We will miss the tight-knit community and close friendships that seem to be growing every day, the staff who so graciously invested countless hours in our education and personal growth, the guest professors who were kind enough to teach us and answer our pressing and non-pressing questions. We will miss the campus that we’ve grown to love and enjoy spending time at, the astounding love and service that Miss Suzie provided while feeding us daily, and the many hours playing ultimate frisbee and basketball. But most of all, I think, we will miss experiencing the presence of God together as a body.

(Written during Celebration Week 2015)