"Thank you for allowing my education to be like no other," said senior Blake Rogers as he wrapped up a speech to a group of EMU donors gathered at Homecoming 2013. (Photo by Jon Styer)

‘Why EMU is a Christian university like no other’

Senior Blake Rogers spoke the following words regarding his scholarly and personal transformation at a donor appreciation banquet on Oct. 11, 2013. He is a 2010 graduate of Turner Ashby High School and native of Hinton, Va.

Tonight, I want to reinforce that EMU is truly a Christian University like no other. Three and a half years ago, I was poised with making a life-altering decision: Where was I going to attend college? I had received acceptance from five universities. How was I going to choose? Which school would fit? Which school would provide me the best opportunities to excel?

Little did my 17-year-old self know how much of an impact that choice would make on the rest of my life. I stand before you to declare that I made the best decision – that this Christian University, like no other, has transformed me into not only a scholar, but into an individual like no other.

Multiple factors congealed to make EMU rise above Virginia Tech or UVa, in my eyes. First, my mother, the first in my family to receive a college education, had graduated a few years earlier from the Nursing ADCP [Adult Degree Completion Program]. She had shown me the core values of caring and compassion that EMU’s professors instill in the minds of their students. Second, my dream was to become a doctor and EMU’s biology department and pre-med program boasted medical school acceptance rates far beyond any public university I had considered. And, third, was the amount of financial support I would receive, making EMU more of a realistic possibility. EMU just seemed to fit.

The fit seemed more like home as I began my studies three years ago. As I reflect on my years burrowed deep inside the bowels of the Suter Science Center, I have had multiple defining experiences. While some of my cherished moments are of classes, most are of the connections I made with faculty and fellow students while learning. Whether I was discovering how to set up a silica-gel column in the organic chemistry lab, determining what distinguishes a mockernut from a pignut hickory, or dissecting in the cadaver lab, these defining moments could have never happened without the resources that EMU provides its students.

At this small private Christian university, I have had experiences that my high school classmates yearn for. Most have never sat down in a professor’s office to discuss not only class material but how the semester is going and what challenges they’re facing. Almost none has been provided the opportunity to dissect a cadaver as an undergraduate student.

If these highlights weren’t enough to set EMU and its science department apart, this summer I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Bolivia and the Galapagos Islands on an EMU sponsored cross-cultural. Under the guidance of EMU biology professor Doug Graber-Neufeld and his wife Christina, I had the opportunity to discover biology outside of a textbook. I was drenched by rain in a rainforest, I had a monkey steal my water bottle to drink from it, I swam in Lake Titicaca, I fed the Galapagos Island giant tortoises, I observed Darwin’s finches, and best of all I made connections and built friendships that will transcend generations.

Today an article was posted to my.emu, EMU’s intranet system, highlighting EMU’s graduating class of ’62 and their life experiences and accomplishments. From this article, it became evident that EMU, or EMC [in 1962], was a catalyst transforming each of these young minds to prepare them for the future. I can only hope that I can share the same sentiment when my 50th reunion from EMU occurs.

Without the contribution of donors, like everyone in the audience, my education and the education of future students would not be possible. Thank you for allowing my education to be like no other.