Monday, July 09, 2012

Small School to the Big World

By Adam Daniels '06
Daniels '06

I live in a world now surrounded by freeways.

Even though I now live about 16 hours from Forest Grove, Ore., I feel like it’s a foreign planet. I live in a world where the problem isn’t “Where is there a Target?” but rather “Which Target do you want to go to?” It’s a world where you see thousands of people in a day but no stranger will talk to you.

Welcome to Southern California. I currently live and work in Riverside, Calif., about an hour east of Los Angeles. It’s a very different life here than what I experienced growing up in Shady Cove, Ore. (pop. ~3,000) and going to Pacific University. But now I’ve had some time to reflect, there are many essential lessons I learned from Pacific that have helped me to flourish and adapt to this world. When I tell people that my undergrad school has just over 3,000 students (and it felt much smaller back in ’06), they give me a look of shock. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Pacific taught me “No” shouldn’t be in our vocabulary. The staff and faculty at Pacific were in the mindset of “Here’s how…” and taught me that life is about solutions, not problems. When I wanted to start a club that was a little unusual, Steve Klein could have said, “This is ridiculous. No.” But instead, he said, “Here’s how…” And that willingness opened up an experience that I’ll never forget (and ultimately led to my current career).

Pacific taught me that you should be excited about whatever you’re doing. For such a small school, I felt I was still getting the experience of a giant state university. Going to basketball games was a rush (we didn’t have football… womp womp). When we’d get a band to play at the volleyball pit, it didn’t matter that no one knew who the band was, we’d still show up in force and rock out like our lives depended on it. I think it’s easy to forget that lesson when you grow up. We need to be passionate about our job, we need to create adventures when we see the chance and we need to be excited for what comes next.

Daniels (middle) and others from '06 with Boxer.
Pacific was a place where I could walk into the UC and always see someone I knew. And I relished those moments to share stories and find out what made people unique. In the big world of Los Angeles, it’s easy to become lost in the daily bustle but Pacific taught me the importance of spending time to get to know people and how valuable those relationships can become. I want to emulate that experience in the bigger world. We should all find places where conversation is key, where friendships can be forged, and where you don’t feel so alone in the world.

And lastly, Pacific taught me that every subject had something to offer me. Every class opened up a new world and made me more excited to learn about it. I work at a research university now, where students may not get the chance to take a watercolor painting class just for kicks. I remember waking up for my 8 a.m. Abnormal Psychology class with Todd Schultz and I was just so excited to learn about a foreign topic. I still keep my copy of the DSM-IV close by. I remember taking a photography class with Jim Flory and learning how to develop film and learning the basics of composition. I spent a week taking pictures of trash I found scattered around campus, finding beauty even in those moments. The world is a fascinating place and there are so many fields we know nothing about, so try to expand your mind a little bit. I’ve found my outlet with TED Talks and the occasional History Channel or Discovery Channel special. But don’t forget that the world is vast and there are a thousand things you could be learning each day. Don’t stop learning.

When people ask me where I went to school, I say Pacific University. They look stumped. I say, “Not Azusa Pacific University. Not University of the Pacific. Not Pacific Lutheran. Not Warner Pacific. Not Seattle Pacific. THE Pacific University.” The place that taught me well and prepared me for the world and didn’t stop teaching me after four years, but still continues to impact me every day.
That Pacific University.

Daniels ’06 was a Creative Writing major and heavily involved with the theatre department. Daniels graduated from Azusa Pacific University in ’08 with a Master’s in College Student Affairs and currently works at the University of California, Riverside, advising student organizations and working with new student orientation. He currently keeps a blog focused on entertainment at  

No comments:

Post a Comment