Arrived a canvas. Left a masterpiece.

Featured / September 2, 2014

The Story Behind the Six Word Story—in Her Own Words

By Katie Bouwkamp ’07
RESOLUTE Contributor
Life is like a blank canvas. It’s up to you how you want to paint it.

My story began at PLU the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I attended PLU’s Middle College—a six-week program designed for students who were capable of doing university-level work, but for whatever reason did not meet the qualifications for admission at top state universities.
During the majority of high school, I lacked the motivation to succeed and eventually got to the point where I was convinced I wasn’t capable. I just stopped trying all together.

Despite my aptitude, I managed to barely stay afloat with a subpar GPA.

When I first learned about Middle College my junior year, I had the classic life-changing “aha” moment—a sudden realization of the possibilities in front of me. It was my last chance, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.
Fast forward. I completed Middle College—a semester of classes fit into six weeks—with soaring colors, thanks to professors, mentors, and the self-confidence PLU instilled.

The “me” who walked into PLU that summer was a totally different person than the “me” who walked out.

I liked who I was becoming and decided to dedicate the next four years to PLU, seeing how my “canvas” would evolve.

What strikes me the most about my time at PLU was the support, and countless opportunities for personal growth and self-reflection.

In terms of personal growth, I was consistently challenged to look at my life and the life of those around me, and actively work on improvement through education, new knowledge and increased awareness. I was given opportunities to look at my belief system, and make changes in it.

While it wasn’t always an easy process, I discovered an identity that aligned with my natural core self—who I really am, what I’m really good at and naturally talented in and what I really want in life.

I was able to make an impact in the world around me through leadership roles, and to challenge others to do the same.

When it seemed no one else believed in me—including myself—PLU did, and I’m forever thankful.

During graduation, I wore two ribbons: One was for graduating magna cum laude; the other for being accepted into the Pinnacle Society—celebrating students who live lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care while empowering their peers to do the same.

At that moment, my PLU experience came full circle and, while I came in a blank canvas, unsure of who I was and what I was capable of, I left a masterpiece ready to leave my mark on the world.

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