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Transcript of Christa Salem's speech

The Importance of a Narrative

Chrissy Salem

In the Communication Arts Senior Capstone course this semester, we read a chapter in a book titled Every Good Endeavor. The author, Tim Keller, begins chapter nine with this statement: "People cannot make sense of anything without attaching it to a story line."

We understand things by applying it to a narrative. We express values through children's books and movies—such as The Chronicles of Narnia.

We see this in sermons that relate everyday life to biblical principles. Even Jesus uses narrative to answer questions in the gospels; known as the parables.

The way we understand the story of the world and our purpose in it will drastically affect our response to it. That is why, tonight, I'd like to share a brief part of my own narrative from my time here at Malone.

Throughout my four years at Malone, I've had eight part time jobs, applied to be a course assistance twice, traveled to Israel two times, and I've had five majors. This might make me seem like an indecisive person, but hopefully these experiences can help to describe my journey.

It's funny to see how things rarely go as planned. When I walked onto Malone's campus in the fall of 2009, I was positive that I would end up as a rich, Chief Marketing Officer for some large corporation—my life would include living in a loft apartment in some big city, I would wear suits all day, grabbing Starbucks on my way to work. However, things don't always go as we plan. Tomorrow, I'll be walking across that stage with a history degree, a passion for intercultural relations, and a different perspective of the world in which we live. But, I still have a love for coffee—so I guess not everything changes.

I could spend an hour discussing all of the things that I have learned in these four years; ranging from biblical exegesis in my general education classes, Arabic from my study abroad semester in Israel, or how the past can help us better understand the present from the multitude of history courses I've taken. However, while all of these things are important and interesting, I think the biggest thing that I've seen change is who I've become.

I've been challenged and changed at Malone. I've seen my values shape and form and reorganize. I've become a curious, enthusiastic, and compassionate person. By learning more about the world and about my own faith, I can see the narrative forming my worldview. In 2009, I bet many of you would have heard me complaining about my general education courses. It was my sophomore year and I found myself landing in one of those "stupid gen eds" again. Except, in this Gen Ed, I found my passion for history and culture, and decided to change my major. Since then, I've developed a respect for all disciplines. If I can better relate to a person by having a general knowledge of their field, then that Physical Science class will be worth it. That Philosophy class, that Theology class, that Psychology class. Fill in your own blank. But, as a result, we have become more well-rounded and relatable people. The girl who hated general education classes eventually became a woman that served as a Course Assistant for one of them. The girl who wanted to become rich and successful became a woman who spent three months abroad in a different culture to study and learn and grow. The girl who first walked onto this campus with walk across that stage tomorrow as a different person.

To conclude, I want you all to look around this room. Look at your friends, peers, and fellow students. We are about to end this part of our story and begin another chapter. But no matter where we end up—be it across the world, or down the street. A company CEO or an inner-city teacher. A pastor or a nurse. We all have different stories to uncover. Yet, one thing we have in common is that Malone is now a part of each of our narratives. Our time here has become a part of our story. And not only Malone, but each other. The faculty, staff, and students in this room have all had an impact on my story. We are changed because of the community here, and I'm thankful to walk across that stage tomorrow with this group of intelligent and inspiring people. Thank you.