From McMurry to the Middle East…..

The Middle East

The journey after high school is exciting but scary.  I’m from a small but wonderful community in West Texas called Merkel where everyone knows your name and the majority of everything else about you. :)   When I arrived at McMurry as a freshman in the fall of 2009 I did not expect that I would be traveling across the world during my time here, but McMurry has opened doors for me that I would have never imagined.

In my three years at McMurry I have been given wonderful opportunities with the help of my professors in the History Department and especially Rev. Bill Libby.  Every professor on this campus works hard to push students to go beyond what they could have ever expected to achieve.  Rev. Libby has had a major impact on my life and other students as well.  I am the second student he has encouraged to travel to Israel and study.  Matt Bell, a religion major from Meadow, Texas also had the opportunity to stay for two weeks in January for a course on Religion in the Middle East.

McMurry first gave me an interest of the Middle East when I found out about the archaeological dig that they participate in with Gannon University and Lubbock Christian University. During the archaeological dig the three schools partner together and dig at a Bronze-Age site near the cities of Madaba and Dhiban, Jordan.  After finding out about this I went to Jordan and spent a month and was immersed in Middle Eastern culture.  I traveled to Petra (the ancient city where Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed), camped with Bedouins in the Wadi Rum desert, floated in the Dead Sea, swam in the Ma’in hot springs and during my time in Jordan I fell in love with this area and its history.

Because of Rev. Libby I am traveling to the Middle East again this summer and I get the opportunity to learn from Israeli and Palestinian professors. I will be studying History and Politics of the Middle East as well as traveling to the Dead Sea, Masada, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Because of McMurry and especially Rev. Bill Libby I get to study in the Middle East over the next few weeks and I will be sharing my adventures on this blog!


The Place I Call Home

By my senior year of high school I thought I had my life all planned out. Being a small town girl, I had always dreamed of getting out of West Texas and attending a college in New York.  I applied to and visited several different colleges and universities including McMurry Univiersity, but I pretty much had my mind set on a college in Rochester, New York.  I applied to the college in Rochester and two weeks later I received my acceptance letter. The next thing I knew I was on a plane by myself headed to Rochester, New York for a three day campus tour. The moment I arrived I knew I was in the wrong the place. McMurry was all that was on my mind the entire 3 days I spent in New York.  I kept thinking about my campus visit to McMurry and how at home I felt being there.  I couldn’t understand why God was telling me that Rochester wasn’t my home, but I knew and trusted that God was calling me to a place where He knew I would succeed and most of all enjoy. That place was McMurry. The place I will call home over the next four years.

I believe that getting involved is the key to success, so the following April after making my decision to attend McMurry, I tried out for the cheer squad. I made the team and everything continued to fall more and more into place. My first year at McMurry was without a doubt the best year of my life. During my freshman year I met such amazing people on campus and I found my true best friends. Making the cheer squad was only just part of the wonderful experience I had my freshman year.  I also pledged a social club and was introduced to an amazing group of young women in T.I.P. that I now proudly call my sisters.  At the end of my freshman year I also ran for a McMurry Student Government position as a Sophomore Senator for the 2012-2013 school year. I was elected and I now get the opportunity to represent my class and learn about student government and leadership.

Because of the smaller size of this University it has also allowed me to be more involved and build relationships with various people on campus that I normally would not have had the chance to. One of these is the Head Football Coach Hal Mumme. Although I am a nursing major, I have had the opportunity to report and assist with interviews for the War Hawk Talk, an athletics show produced by McM. This has given me experience outside of my major that I would not have gotten at most Universities.

To sum it all up…… My freshman year was full of exciting memories I will forever cherish. I now know why God lead me to McMurry and I cannot imagine calling any other place home.

– Jordyn  Oliphint 

I am going to India because…

I have decided to go to India… for a mission trip… this summer… YIKES. That’s incredibly scary to me. I mean, a mission trip out of the country: this isn’t what we did in seventh grade when our parents congratulated our choice and encouraged us to go. This is poverty-stricken, culturally-shocking, India. When I found out McMurry in Motion was taking a trip to the country, I decided to learn more about it. I got to chose a topic for an informative speech, and I chose India. I did a lot of research but there is one statistic that really impacted me. This is what I found out:

- According to the Confederation of Indian Industry, India has a youth population (under age 20) that makes up 47% of the overall population. That means the young generation makes up almost half of the country (population 1.1 Billion). In the United States, only 27.4% of the population falls into this category according to the US Census Bureau, making up only one third of the overall population.

*The reason this statistic is important? Because the youth population is so large that it becomes impossible to care for them all. Therefore, the children of India end up in orphanages (if they’re lucky) and on the streets or in slums (poverty exposed regions of living without access to sanitation, safety, and other physiological needs.)

This hit me… hard. How do I even begin to help with that? How do I start to believe I could possibly make a difference in a nation that big, with that many people, with that many kids.

*Reason this hit me so hard? We are going to help in one of those orphanages.

Okay, okay. Why am I telling you all of this? Because, if you do chose to go on a mission trip in college, which I think would be a GREAT CHOICE, you’ve got to know what you’re getting into. Really weigh the costs and understand that you’re not there to hang out with your friends, or to go on vacation to a different country; you are there to make a difference, just like you are wherever you are right now to make a difference.

I’m really excited about India. I’m really excited to see my friends grow closer to Christ as they reach out to help His people. I’m excited to witness God in an entirely different way. And I’m excited to be taken out of my comfort zone so that I may experience something completely radical and amazing.

I hope you go do missions when you are here and, to quote Tim Palmer in the McMurry in Motion video,

I hope that “… in the going… [your life may be] transformed.”

- Maggie Duke

Group Hug, everyone!!! Gather around…

College life is pretty awesome right now. Last night, in particular, was great. I did a devotional at Wylie Methodist College and Career Group, and I loved it. I loved sitting in front of people and telling them what I’ve learned from the Word. I loved the people sitting in front of me. I loved the jokes we made and the friends I had there. Most of all, I loved the acceptance there. The people at Wylie, or people anywhere, have no reason to listen to me. I mean, I’m really just this freshman kid. I’m just barely setting sail on this journey we call life, and I’m attempting to give a devotional to 18-25 year olds. Some of them have teaching jobs. Some are pastors. Many are more mature than I, both spiritually and mentally.

That didn’t stop them from listening.

The groups here in Abilene and here on the McMurry campus love with open arms. We are so inviting and inclusive here. I can honestly say that when I feel down or alone or maybe even confused, I know exactly where I can go to talk it over. Here’s another example: I last posted that I had declared a major, but did I happen to mention I got an email from the department head congratulating me on my decision!? He took time out of his day to tell me he was glad! And other Religion students congratulated me as well; they even gave me advice on which classes to take and helped me decide my schedule for next semester. It’s like I’ve been welcomed into a family.

That’s what college life has been, at least for me. I’ve experienced family after family after family. Groups accepting me into their mist and teaching me.

I’m not sure I could have survived in college if it hadn’t been for this. My advice? Get plugged into something in college, something that let’s you know you belong.

Okay, perspective students, know that I’m praying for you: your decisions about college and your decisions about life. Whichever college, university, technical school, or branch of the military you chose, I pray that you know you are wanted, and you are needed. The group or organization won’t be the same without you. I’m proud and confident in the decisions I’ve made. And it’s my hope that you can be confident in your decisions as well.

- Proud to be a War Hawk, proud to be a Religion major and proud to be Maggie Duke

Until Reality Starts: Week Three

So last weekend was Religious Life’s annual Fall Retreat. The simple way to explain it? It was amazing… I have never in my life been a part of something that was so insanely laid back, and at the same time so entirely awe inspiring! I made friends at this retreat that I know will last a lifetime, and I made some amazing memories. The first night was relaxed as we all settled into our bedrooms and got acclimated to the camp. Oh, side note: if you’re over five feet seven or eight inches tall, I recommend a sleeping bag and an air mattress, because you will NOT fit in the bunks at Camp Butman. I could talk to you about the worship and the sermons (which were AMAZING, by the way) but I really feel like I need to talk about my free time during the second day of retreat.

The second day was super laid back, after a group breakfast and some small group time, we had about six hours of free time. The Butman staff set up a huge rock climbing wall which kept all of us mature college students entertained for much, much longer than I myself might care to admit! (: After a few hours of rock climbing, and shooting hoops, myself and about eight other people decided that it was a good time to go for a “mild walk.” Well our “mild walk” started as just that, and turned into an intense few miles long hike. You see, when we first reached the area where the main walking trail dead ended and led off to three separate trails, we decided the Perimeter Trail sounded promising and like a good idea. It’s the perimeter, how rigorous could it be?

We were certainly in for a surprise when after about an hour we were still walking uphill. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a second of the hike; it was amazing bonding time, and actually super relaxing. We all just find it highly entertaining that it ended up being so long! As we neared what we thought to be the end of our hike, an armadillo made an appearance on our path! So of course, instead of leaving it alone, Matt Bell decided it would be a good idea to chase the creature. Needless to say, it escapes. If you didn’t already know this, grown armadillos are FAST, and our chase ended us up on another trail back in the woods. Finally, we reach this steep hill, and all of us agree that we’re too tired to hike up this cliff. As we begin to walk away, my friend Kirsten decides that we need to go up this cliff; so she just goes ahead on her own, knowing we won’t leave her, and leads the way up.

We can skip the uphill part, because really, my calves were screaming at me, and that’s about all I recall…But when we reached the top, I looked up and there in front of our group was a wooden cross, with paper hearts nailed all over it. It was really neat to get up close and personal and see these, so it made me not regret the torture my calves went through. After taking pictures, we realized we could see the tin roofs of our cabins from where we stood, so we attempted to make a straight line for them; however, the trail ended and we were left to trek through the wilderness and down a cliffside to get back to the cabins. An hour and a half and a few miles later, we were sore and sweaty, but more than that,  in overcoming the obstacles within the hike, we came out with strong friendships that can never be replaced. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I made friends that I might have never talked to, had I not been pushed out of my comfort zone, and gone on this trip. That’s what McMurry does for you, it pushes you, and in turn, it creates these amazing, almost indescribable feelings and friendships.

- Chanel Sharp

First Blog! Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

So several big things are happening in my life right now: First, I am starting this blog – hooray for my first blog ever! Wish me luck! Then, I am working on a group presentation due Friday at 8 AM and studying for a test I am taking at 10 AM the same day. Not to mention, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 just came out! So, in reality, I really need to buckle down and get some work done if I want to enjoy everything going on.

Oh! And I can’t forget about Greek Week! Let me give you then run-down on Greek Week: Basically the social clubs all get together and put on events to showcase Greek Life on campus at McMurry. All students are invited to come out to the festivities so they can learn more about the social clubs. On Monday, the guys held a Monday Night Football watching party with a hotdog eating contest, while the girls held a Zumbathon, where they all showed up and worked out to the popular Zumba dance routines. On Tuesday, the clubs attended chapel and donated canned foods and clothing to help with Mission Thanksgiving at Love and Care Ministries. Wednesday, we held the most outrageous, and typically the most popular event, known as the Greek Goddess Pageant. This mostly involves guys dressing up as beautiful women and competing to see who can impress the judges and take the crown. It’s always entertaining! Today, is the final event, known as the Greek Week Field Day. The clubs will compete in several events, such as a water balloon toss, dizzy bat race, etc. Overall, Greek Week is just a fun week for members of social clubs to do crazy, or helpful things, and to show what their clubs are all about.

Well, as you may have noticed at the top, I included a cartoon. I think it is important that no matter how busy or serious life gets, to always remember the little kid inside, and to not take ourselves too seriously. What better way to portray this than through cartoons? Thus, each blog I will feature a new cartoon as a reminder of this. For now, that is all.

Words of Wisdom: Live life and enjoy every second of it; because if you’re not, then something might need to change.

- Ryan Prince

Picture credit to

The First Step in My Life Plan

Oh my goodness! I’m so stoked! – We’re signing up for new classes for the coming semester. As a freshman, I hadn’t declared a major yet, but with the coming of a new semester, I’ve decided to declare RELIGION!

I’m so excited! I’ve had a semester to see which classes work for me and which ones really don’t. This was so good for me. I needed this time, because if I had declared a major before I knew what I was getting into, I wouldn’t have been as confident in my decision as I am. My suggestion to every perspective college student is this: take some time -real time- to allow yourself to not know your life plan. That is, admit that things change, we change, our plans change (or are changed for us) and admit to yourself that it’s perfectly acceptable. Then, when you’ve allowed your mindset to relax, you can look at things objectively and you can explore the world around you with curious eyes and an opened mind.

I love my major, but I know that if I had come to McMurry with this major without putting any critical thought to it, I would always be wondering what would happen if I chose something different. Don’t buy into the myth that you have to have everything planned by the time you come to college! Not true!

Here’s hoping you keep an open mind and heart to everything you are going to experience,

- Maggie Duke, Religion major :)

Pulling Hair and Creating Genius

School has been sped up three thousand light years since mid-term exams ended, which was last week for me. I thought theywere hard enough, having five different exams in two weeks’ time. Wow, that was definitely a new adventure. But now… now is the time when my professors make their speeches about “cracking-down” and understandably so. Allow me to explain: I have five papers due in the next four weeks – a three page book report, a five page literary analysis, a three page rewrite (I didn’t do so hot the first time), a three page speech outline, and a must-be-45-minutes-in-length presentation (at least this one is a group project). It sounds insane, and quite frankly, I have no idea how to even begin writing that much information.

As a small piece of advice to you prospective War Hawks, or any college bound student: be smart about time management when you get to college. It becomes very easy to waste your free time/homework time if you don’t have everything in perspective. My experience this semester is that after pledging, taking 18 hours, working two jobs, and going to the several awesome events offered to us, all I want to do is get my mind off of responsibilities; I’d like to just sleep, eat, hang out, watch movies, and listen to music, as well as get on Facebook and Pintrest. Not that I’m saying all of these are useless, I’m simply saying that there’s no fun in having all that extra “stuff” if you can’t get the basic responsibilities taken care of.

I sincerely hope that all of you do well in college!! I want you to have fun and I want you to succeed. Let me give you some additional tips that I think will aid you:

1.)    Don’t let orientation put you in the mindset that this is just an extended summer camp. It’s not – it’s college and it’s important.  Mom & Dad will not be too happy to hear that you’ve mastered the art of knot tying and yet are failing the history of art.

2.)    Don’t let senioritis carry over into your freshman year. You are not a senior – you are a freshman and you are starting anew.

3.)    Don’t make the mistake of listening to your sophomore friends when they use the excuse “it’s college….” Meaning, don’t listen when they say it to beg you to stay up until 2am, don’t listen when they say it to convince you not to do your homework, and definitely don’t listen when they say it to make a Wal-Mart run every five minutes – the lesson here is that you WILL spend your entire bank account in five weeks! Prioritize…

4.)    Don’t start off the semester by showing up to class late. Your professors will notice.

5.)    Do not stress yourself to death!! If nothing else, let it be for no other reason than the fact that stress wastes time.

6.)    Listen to your professors – they do know what they’re talking about.

7.)    Don’t come into the semester thinking you know it all. Trust me when I say that there is a lot to learn.

8.)    And, finally, have fun… make memories… take pictures… and don’t be afraid of change.

Let’s go future War Hawks!!!

- Maggie Duke

Photo credit to redvers

Until Reality Starts: Week Two

Hey everyone!
I hope your lives are treating you well, I know mine is going rather swell!  This week is shaping up to be super busy already! On Monday, I covered people’s shifts at the library, so after a full day of classes, I worked for six hours. After that? I went to my Freshman Leadership Challenge meeting, which lasted until about 10 o’clock. And then came my homework. So now it’s Tuesday as I begin typing this up, and I am looking at the rest of the week. Wednesday, I have classes until 2PM, a student tour beginning just after 2, and after that I have a meeting for the India Mission Trip next summer! The mission trip is going to cost quite a bit, and I am going to have to do a lot of fundraising and applying for scholarships to pay for it, but I feel called to go on this trip, and so I’ll do whatever it takes!

Anyways, after that meeting, I am going with Vanessa Roberts (the Dean of Students – isn’t that crazy? How many students can say that they’re friends with the Dean? Anyone at McMurry can!) and some other members of the Freshman Leadership Challenge, to buy supplies for Halloween at McMurry – an event where the students of McMurry get to dress up in costume and hand out candy to neighborhood kids who come through the residence halls. We’re also having a carnival of sorts where the kids can earn some more candy and prizes and things. It should be very, very fun and I can’t WAIT to dress up in my princess costume.

Thursday is the actual event Halloween at McMurry (along with tests in both of my classes that day, I should probably get to studying, eh?) and that night CAB rented out a theater at the local Cinemax and gave out free tickets to watch Paranormal Activity 3. I’ll admit, I’m going to be terrified and probably cling to the person closest to me, but it is going to be so much fun and so entertaining!

Friday is actually my free day of the week…which is convenient and kind of odd, but I’m okay with it!

Saturday is the first preview day of the year! Oh my goodness! Are you excited?! Because I definitely am! I hope to meet some of you readers at the preview days this year, and if you’re on campus and you happen to see me, be sure to introduce yourself! I am so excited to be able to share my excitement about McMurry with all of the prospective students! After the preview day, is the McMurry versus Hardin Simmons football game; which will be exciting for a multitude of reasons. One: they are our cross town rivals. Two: since we’re moving to NCAA DII next year, this will be our last game against them… It’s like the final showdown *dramatic music* :)

And then, after that, one of my lovely best friends has planned something for my birthday (which is Sunday!) and she won’t tell me what we’re doing, or what’s going on. So I’m kind of nervous, and kind of excited, and if it’s anything really spectacular, I’ll let you guys know next week!

I hope you all have a great week, and you’ll be hearing from me again soon!

- Chanel Sharp