Letters to the Editor

The resilient spirit of Villanovans

To the editor:

During my four years here, I’ve enjoyed numerous Villanovan articles in which writers reflect on their experience at Villanova. The article “Time is short, but it’s not gone yet” reminded me of how quickly time has passed between my first day at Orientation and the upcoming Commencement.

Recently, I too have reflected on my experience at Villanova. I wrote a reflective speech that I would deliver to the Class of 2009 if I were the commencement speaker. I would like to share it with Villanova: “The Resilient Spirit of Villanovans”

At the beginning of this semester, my sociology professor asked our class, “What event do you think defines your generation?” 90 percent of the class responded, “9/11.” I’m sure that each one of you will never forget that day – the day that changed our world. 9/11 threatened our nation’s security. But, instead of retreating in fear, we demonstrated our resiliency by pouring love into our families and reaching out to help those who lost loved ones. We became people who bent our knees in prayer. Most of us were freshmen in high school at the time.

When we entered our freshman year at Villanova, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on our country’s Gulf Coast. Hundreds lost their lives. Millions lost their homes and possessions. Yet, Americans again were resilient. We gave of our time and treasures to help those in need. Our university enabled a number of Tulane students to join the Villanova community. We sent service trips to aid those devastated by the hurricane.

As seniors, we experienced the virtual collapse of the financial markets. Millions of Americans became unemployed. Some of us had job offers from firms that were sucked under by the stock market plunge. However, we will be resilient once more.

We recognize that the most important things in this life cannot be measured in any currency. Our true treasures are our faith, our family, and our friends.

Through these trials that we have faced as Americans and Villanovans, we are developing resilient spirits. The definition of resiliency is “the ability to bounce back from adversity or to remain positive in the face of ongoing pressure.”

The following personal story illustrates resilience. The most unforgettable moment of my college years happened at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while I participated with Villanova students in an Arts and Crafts day for young patients. What made this visit so memorable was that I too had been a patient at CHOP.

When I was 8 years old, I recovered there after being hit by a car. When I returned as a Villanova student, I had the opportunity to interact with a girl who was the same age that I was as a patient. I saw a room similar to the one I stayed in.

Twelve years later, God gave me the opportunity to come full circle. With support of my fellow Villanovans, I could be resilient.

Professor and sociologist Lisa McMinn describes the essence of resilience well when she writes, “Pain remind[s] us that we depend on the mercies of God for existence, that we can survive hardship and discomfort and grow stronger and deeper through them. The Scriptures speak of a humble acceptance of hardship, reminding us that we have an opportunity to move toward greater maturity.”

The Biblical writer James captures the link between resilience and maturity in James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

As Villanovans, through our times of testing, we have grown into resilient people who will change the world.

-Kelley Bergsma, Senior