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January 2013

Jan 28, 2013

Recently the Enrollment Management team—Ryan Hoffmann, Kathy Van Duser, Angela Paviglianiti, Valerie Holloway, Karla Dawn Meier, Ronit Bezalel, and I—got together for a day-long staff retreat. We do this a couple times a year to schedule, strategize, and just plain get creative as we mull over ways to engage interest and communicate to potential students what a life-changing school CTU is.

Breakfast and lunch fed the scheduling and strategizing part. Twizzlers fed the creativity. I loved our “ice-breaker” exercise (thank you, Karla!). Each of us was asked to provide three clues to a favorite destination, and then name three people, living or dead, that we would invite to a dinner party at that location.

What a glorious exercise! It was a delightful conundrum to pinpoint that special place that our minds often wander back to because of the way its sheer beauty or meaning had imprinted itself upon us, and then try to select three people with whom we would share it.

Several different islands in the Caribbean emerged as a chosen spot, as did a mountain in Costa Rica, the northeast coast of Australia, and Jerusalem. Several of us were stymied with the dilemma of who to invite. Albert Einstein was a genius, but would he make for good dinner conversation? Picasso would be interesting but I’m not sure I’d like him.

Leaders, visionaries, and deceased loved ones were ultimately included in our little dinner parties. We giggled a lot, but I think each of us also honored that we were stepping “through the looking glass” both in imagining these unique get-togethers, but also in seeing the people and places that enriched, intrigued, or touched each one of our lives and imaginations. It was a lovely little mirror to look through on a Monday at CTU.

Me? I chose Jesus, Shakespeare, and Tina Fey for a wind-swept dinner at Warren Dunes in Michigan. I figured the conversation would be lively, intense, wise, colorful, and funny, and who doesn’t like a sunset at the Dunes? And if I didn’t get any eternally lingering questions answered? Well, Tina would, no doubt, keep me laughing uproariously for even thinking I would!

Jan 09, 2013

I love and dread the New Year’s season in equal parts. Love, because it’s a time to reflect on my life and to plan for the future. Dread, because it’s a time to reflect on my life and to plan for the future! You all know what I’m talking about! 

2013 feels like a major turning point for me. I’ve officially retired my student status and am out in the working world for the long haul. I’m no longer the child my family needs to take care of, but instead an adult who is contemplating having children of her own.  And I’m thinking about what meaningful things I can do for others, instead of what others can do for me.

It’s daunting to think about making this shift. But at the beginning of the year, I ran across this quote, which will sustain me.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Howard Thurman (1899-1981), an American author, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader spoke these words, and they completely flipped my future script. It’s not about figuring out what I’m “supposed” to do, it’s about continually discovering what I love to do, and then working with passion toward it.

After graduating from Morehouse College, Thurman served as the Dean of the Chapel at Howard University, among other prestigious posts. But in 1944, he left Howard to establish the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, Calif. It was the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. He followed his passion, and made a lasting impact in the process.

In the same way, I feel very fortunate at the start of 2013 to be a part the CTU community, which is building interreligious and intercultural bridges — one of my biggest passions — every day. One of my goals this year is to expand my limited view of the possibilities in my life. To try new things, to courageously make mistakes, and hopefully discover what makes me come alive. I am confident CTU will be a launching pad for this year of discovery.

Karla Dawn Meier, Marketing and Communications Assistant. Reach me at or 773.371.5416.