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Students standing outside of the Ayres building

Welcome to MAHE

Brett Borland in the LaRita Boren Campus Center.

A letter to future MAHE students from a MAHE graduate

After having graduated from MAHE in May 2019, I was able to get away to the Kentucky wilderness with some friends where I had time to look back on these past two years. The emotion I keep on coming back to is an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I have been so blessed by the experiences and relationships MAHE has afforded me and can pinpoint tangible ways I have changed. In my experience MAHE has been a safe place to take risks, find a calling, learn about myself, have hard conversations, rethink the ways I learn, develop friendships and so much more.

While this first paragraph is a fairly picturesque depiction of what is to come for you, for this to happen there are things you need to be prepared to fight against and to fight for. Let me be the first to tell you I have been far from perfect when it comes to these things I am about to list. Some of my most important lessons in MAHE have come from the ways I did not follow this advice. Regardless, I hope you take time to ponder these humble reflections, as I wholeheartedly believe they will enrich your experience.

  1. Fight against the feeling to compare yourself or your experience to others. You belong here! Comparison can sneakily undermine confidence and gratitude.
  2. Fight for making this a new experience. There are ways this will differ from undergrad or previous work. Take advantage of the fresh start and be flexible.
  3. Fight against the temptation to get by or just doing the bare minimum. Take full advantage of the learning opportunities and resources around you.
  4. Fight for knowing your cohort and others in MAHE outside of class. Go to coffee nights, take a random road trip, and share meals together.
  5. Fight against posturing yourself as one who has it figured out. Ask questions, approach others for help, take risks, and be willing to be vulnerable.
  6. Fight for ways to develop spiritual disciplines and habits. Developing rhythms and finding my church community was instrumental to my success during MAHE.
  7. Fight against withholding compliments, encouragement, and love. Speak them out loud. There are too many powerful and transforming words that don’t make it past our brain.
  8. Fight for the health and success of those around you. Show curiosity and care to both cohort mates and students. Don’t just assume people are doing well. Ask!

In the midst of transition or any challenging season, it is easy for us to lose perspective and disengage from the bigger picture of what the Lord is doing. If we do not consistently take time to step back, reflect, and seek the Lord’s guidance, our vision can become narrow and our days can pass without purpose or intentionality. I would like to end by sharing this quote from Henri Nouwen which I believe beautifully speaks to the challenge of staying engaged:

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

I pray that you would be open to challenges, joys, laughter, tears and a plethora of other experiences you will encounter in MAHE. While it may be tempting to avoid or not fully lean into some of them, my hope is you receive them all. Most of all I hope you will embrace them alongside a God who loves you and the people he has gifted for you in this season.

All the best,

Brett Borland (Cohort XI)