Q: Hello, Jantzen Michael! Welcome to the podcast!
A: Hi Sid, how are you?
Q: I’m great! How are you?
A: Good, good.
Q: We are just going to start by having you introduce yourself. I know you as the goat from high school and college. Or j-money, I shouldn’t have said the goat. J-money, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’ve known Sidney like since forever. My name is Janzten, like she said. I’m a 2019 graduate. I graduated in May 2019, so I’ve been graduated for a little over a year from GU with a biology degree and almost a chemistry degree, but I dropped that one at the last minute. I’m 23. I currently live in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines which is an island in the Caribbean. It’s like 40 miles away from Mystique, 100 miles away from Barbados, and 100 miles north of Venezuela. That kind of gives you some reference. Pretty far south, close to the equator, but I’m still in the northern hemisphere. About me, I’m enneagram type 3 wing 4. I love yoga. I like painting, drawing, and ceramics. I;m learning to surf, because I live on an island. I moved to an island,but it’s not ever a great surfing island, so that’s a little bit of a bummer, but I recently got my scuba certification so I can scuba dive. I’m going to get my advanced certification so I can scuba dive at night. I love being outdoors, hiking. There’s a volcano on the island, so I hiked it a couple months ago. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I like camping. I’m a coffee snob, 100%. I love coffee, but if it’s bad I don’t even drink it, don’t waste my time. I like cooking. I’ve always liked cooking but it’s become a new passion of mine mainly because I like food. The island I live on it’s huge as far as the restaurant industry. It’s very different here than it is in the U.S. I’m also a medical student, that’s why I’m on the island. I’m in school. I’m in medical school which we can get more into why I’m here and all those things. But, the restaurant industry is very different here. It will take 2 or 3 hours to go out to eat and I just don’t have the time, I’m in school. I’ve started cooking a lot more because I use it as a stress reliever and creative outlet to try new things. Fresh fruit is so readily available and fish. You can just go catch a tuna if you want. Pretty much anything outdoor I like. I like meeting new people, but mainly my friends.
Q: Why did you choose biology?
A: When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I thought about going into some sort of creative field like photography or videography. I liked my chemistry class. I liked my biology class. I was like you know what? I’ll just be a physician’s assistant. That sounds nice. Didn’t really know anything about it. I’m a 3 so that’s a pretty honorable career. I didn’t want to be a physician because I want a family. I thought that’s too much. Then I got into shadowing maybe like I should have been doing anyway, and I was like maybe I do want to be a physician because I like the influence. I like making decisions and having responsibilities. Also, I realized that the facade of being a workaholic physician, you can be a workaholic with anything. You can be a workaholic barista. You could be a workaholic teacher. You can be a workaholic anything. It depends on setting boundaries in your own personal space. What do I want to do? If I want a family, if I want a husband and things like that and I want to be a physician. I can balance all of those things because I can choose not to make work my number one priority. I can be a physician and they have a lot of influence not just in health care, but also in their community. I’m really interested in starting a nonprofit and I just felt like a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner, I would have to have a physician who would do that with me. But if I’m a physician I can navigate my own passions through that. That's kind of why I choose. That’s more of why I choose medicine, but you have to have a background in STEM, science, math, whatever. Biology was cool. I was also a chemistry major for the first three years of college and then I was like senior year, I wanted a break, I didn't need most of these classes to get into medical school, so as much as I loved the chemistry department, I hung my hat up on that one. It was a great decision and really opened a lot of doors my senior year because I was able to have more freedom and time, honestly.
Q: Talk about your experience at Greenville outside of that. What were you involved in other than just being a student going to classes?
A: I came to Greenville primarily because I was recruited for the basketball team. My recruiting visit there just really stood apart from any of my other visits that I had done.
Q: What stood out when you were visiting?
A: First off, the coaches I really really really liked the coaches. They were invested in me personally. And I really liked the faith-based aspect. There were a couple Christian schools or faith-based schools I was looking at, but then I liked the way Greenville approached that from a basketball standpoint and the coaches. I came on my visit and the interaction with the players was the main thing. It was just so much more authentic and I had such better conversations. I felt like these girls could be my friends rather than other schools I didn’t connect as much. So, that was definitely my reason why I came to Greenville. So, I was part of the women’s basketball team for four year and that was a lot of fun. My junior year, I got involved in student government and then my senior year I transitioned as student body president. I was just like the president of student government. I worked at Adam Bro’s. I was in mosaic, that was awesome. I worked at chapel, I just passed out chapel cards. That was a fun job. That was actually one of my favorite jobs, because it was a nice way to interact with a lot of students. I kind of welcomed them. It’s a good time. I enjoyed that and it was easy. I worked at the Rec center. So I kind of had like a hodgepodge of things that I did on campus, but my main things were student government and women’s basketball. I did track my first year and then I got really hurt in basketball in my sophomore year towards the end of the season, so I wasn’t able to do track. And then junior year I took the MCAT to get into medical year and senior year I was like I haven't done this in three years like I’m not going to do it. But that was really awesome as well the year I did it, just to be a part of another team that was completely different than the basketball team.
Q: Out of all those things, what would you say is your favorite thing about GU student life? What about GU student life is different from those other colleges and universities that you had been looking at?
A: That’s a really good question. I think what makes it special is, I mean we’re small and we’re close-knit and there’s negatives to that, but there’s negatives to any situation if you want to look at it that way. The big positives were I felt really known at Greenville and I really discovered a lot of things about myself that I didn’t really known that I don’t think I would have ever really found out going to a large university or a school that wasn’t really focused on faith, where my faith grew and faith was challenged and new perspectives. I came from a Christian background, but just having it from an academic standpoint and then herding different perspectives of people who are still Christian but coming from different denominations or things like that. It really helped develop my theology and my community of believers. The things I learned about myself at Greenville, I don’t think I would have learned at other places, because I don’t think I would have had the connections and the friends and the faculty, the staff, the coaches, and just the school at large pouring into like my identity as much as I would have at another school.
Q: I think it’s so interesting having people from all different backgrounds coming to the same place, and that’s just college, but when you go to a big school you get people from all over the place, all different backgrounds, all sorts of diversity come to the same place, but it’s a lot bigger. But, when you have a diverse group of people coming to the little quaint Greenville you do know everyone. To some people, that can be very intimidating. We’re obviously from a small town, so we understand they know pretty much everything about me, that’s normal, but to some people that’s not. Why is that something that’s valuable? To be so known and to have the opportunity to find your identity instead of just being one in the crowd?
A: I think humanity is all about connections. Not connections to get yourself similar, but we live in a world that’s so interconnected and intertwined. I mean we’re in the middle of a pandemic right now. We’ve never been more separated and I think that makes us realize how connected we truly are and how interdependent we are in a good way. I think when you feel known, you’re allowing yourself to grow more and learn more about other people that shapes you. I don’t know if this makes sense.
Q: Yeah, the people around you influence you the most. That’s a good thing. To be known is a good thing because if people don’t know you, how are you supposed to live in a community healthily? Being able to be known by people and knowing other people makes, I think, the community flourish.
A: Right, and I think when you feel connected to where you’re at, the people near you know if you’re off. They know if you’re having a really good day and they can feed off of that or feed into that. They know if you go through a struggle. They are there to pick you up, and they’re there to help you have a good time too. I think being in a place where you feel known only brings out the good, and then the things that aren't good about yourself, maybe you have biases you didn’t know about, you’re in a place where they can call you out in a healthy place and you can grow from that. If you’re mental health is poor, but you don’t even realize that. Sometimes you don’t even know the one who’s aware, but someone who knows you and someone who is connected with you might be like, “Hey, maybe you should go see a counselor. Maybe you should go talk to a faculty member.” You’re cared for and I think it builds strong relationships and enhances your experience.
Q: Even like, I mean our high school was similar in size to what Greenville was, but in the experience that I’ve had both at a smaller places and then experiencing even smaller places, being known, and like you said, people knowing if you’re having a good or bad day, that can be scary. Sometimes I just want to have a bad day. I don’t want anyone to know. I’m just in a bad mood. Leave me alone. It’s fine. The thing about here, when you’re having a bad day, yes it’s, “Okay, let’s talk about this. Are you okay?” and that can be intimidating, because you think when things are going wrong you think people are going to try to fix it. It’s like, “No, go away. I can do this on my own.” But, the thing about Greenville is like there’s so much grace and love in trying to help you find you are and being the best version of yourself that you can, so that when you go into the workplace and when you graduate, you’re just a better overall human in the workplace and in your church and in your home because you’ve already experienced people helping you in that helpful way. Now, you’re a little bit removed from the Greenville culture, how do you feel like your experience at Greenville in the biology department and just as a whole. Maybe you want to touch on the faith. How has that helped you transition into graduate school and life after college?
A: Like I kind of touched on earlier, I am in medical school. I’m in my first year, so it’s still pretty early, and I went abroad for a couple of reasons. I always wanted to live in a different country and I didn’t ever have that opportunity before and I thought this is my time, a fully accredited school, and to be honest, I got accepted. I’ve loved my experience here. I think it’s really been amazing. From an education standpoint, I do think my biology degree helped me. I think any medical school student from anywhere will tell you that it doesn’t really matter where you came from, medical school’s tough. More than an educational standpoint, I think Greenville prepared me to be more independent. It prepared me to make connections. It shaped me as a person and allowed, I’m more open and I see the world and different ways now and a lot of that has to do with conversations that started at Greenville that have kind of transitioned throughout my life into different categories in different ways. I think it prepared me academically to whatever extent that an undergraduate degree can prepare you for medical school. It prepared my mind. I think in my heart more so and the people I met like the faculty and like professors who kind of helped guide me along the path and the friends I made. You know I still talk to a lot of them a lot. Those kinds of things have helped me you know get through medical school.
Q: This goes into our conversation, but making it more pertaining to the world that we live in today with COVID. Students that are going to colleges right now during this weird time the debate of should you go to college or not is heightened because a lot of kids, I mean if I was going, if I was a senior in high school right now and I couldn't play basketball, if that wasn’t an option, because sport right now are just going to look different and I didn’t want that to happen, I’d honestly be like, “I’m just going to work at home and stay home for a year and see what happens.” Why should they still consider going to college even though - and you’ve experienced through the pandemic online learning as well - why should you do it? Or do you think you should still do it?
A: That’s a really good question. I’m going to have a medical degree which is one of the highest degrees you can get and I still don’t believe college is for everyone. It’s okay. That’s coming from someone who’s going to be in college for like eight years and then add residency that’s like 12. That’s a long time. I don’t think college is for everyone. Obviously, there’s trade schools or maybe family business or military. Everyone has different paths and that’s fine. If you just don’t know what you want to do, I would always recommend going to college, because some people would argue and say, “Well, that’s a lot of money to not know what you're going to do.” That’s true, but I found my passions in college and I know a lot of people that did too. I don’t just mean medicine. I’m not talking about wanting to be a physician. I’m talking about my passion for working with people who are less fortunate than I do, working with survivors of sexual assault, working with refugees. I would never have been exposed to a lot of those things had I not gone to college, had I not met people who were working in different ministries, people who were. My dad was a pastor and my mom was a high school teacher, so I knew about ministry and I knew about education and what those two jobs were, but I didn’t know what it meant to do marketing. I didn’t and I mean I still don’t, but I have a grasp. I would never have known. What just really opened my mind to the world of people’s interests and possibilities and talent. Obviously, you make connections in school. I learned so much about myself through my experience at college because you’re not living with your parents. You’re not at home. You’re not in your comfort zone. I mean talk about not being in your comfort zone, I like near the equator, on an island, by myself. I haven't been home in eight months because of the pandemic. Unless you have a grasp on why you don’t want to go to college, I recommend going to college. I understand we are in the midst of a pandemic. Your first term might be online, maybe even your second. I do believe that eventually, colleges will be back to campus culture and even if it’s not Greenville, I think going to college is important because I think it shapes you emotionally and mentally more than anything. More than an education almost. More than academically. I think those two areas of growth are so important. How much I grew emotionally in college, I personally would never have grown like that not attending a university. That’s why I would be a proponent of going to college, unless, obviously people are in different circumstances and there’s no shame in not going to college.
Q: That’s good input. I always like asking that question, because you never know what you’re going to get. It’s very interesting. I think a thing about Greenville is even if I would have chosen to go somewhere else, Greenville still would have had an impact on me. As I was looking for colleges they were a place that was like, “We want to help you figure out what path you are meant to be on and we want to help you get to where you want to be. I didn’t ever feel like it was like, “WE WANT YOU TO GO HERE!” It was like, “What program do you want to go into? What student life activities are you wanting to be involved in?” Does Greenville have those for you? They helped me walk through the college decision-making process and I think that’s also something that sets us apart from. I had friends that looked at Greenville and didn’t come to Greenville and still tell me, “I didn’t go to your school, but I kind of feel like I’m a part of it because of going through the process of just looking at Greenville.” That’s kind of cool to me. If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
A: First off, I probably would have just been a biology major and I would have minored in like theology or Spanish. If I had any advice it’s learn another language because I go to a school now and a lot of people from other countries come to this school and I am by far the minority knowing one language. Many of my classmates- one girl knows five fluently, one knows three, there are literally people I know well. Knowing three languages is not uncommon here. Learn another language. I would have minored in Spanish. Coach Reinhard would be proud. What else would I have changed? Obviously, there are little things along the way, but as far as big decisions I still believe I would have gone to Greenville. Changing my major a little bit.
Q: That makes sense. Every time I ask this question I’m like, “No regrets, but what would you do differently?” The point of a question like this is that everything you did versus everything you would have done still leads you to where you are today. It’s just you could have done this or could have done that.
A: Yeah, there’s conversations that I would have approached differently, but big picture things, it’s hard to say. I don’t believe in coincidence. I think everything happened for a divine reason and God gives you choices and whichever choice you make he works through that. I think where I’m at right now in my life is where I’m supposed to be so to say I would change big parts it’s kind of like, “Well, would I be here then?” That’s why I’m hesitant to say I would change major aspects. My life in general, even the bad things, shaped me to who I am now. There’s good in that.
Q: What advice would you give for students looking into college or who are in college?
A: I would say the biggest thing is try to see the best in people and keep an open perspective. We live in a world right now that’s more polarized than it has ever been. It's more public through social media and all these things, and I think a lot of the time you can disagree with someone, but it’s about how you do and use college to have those difficult conversations. You may not agree with someone but people come with their opinion, with their perspective, with their life experiences. There’s value in someone's life experience. Whether you’ve had that life experience or not doesn't change their experience. And whether you agree with how they’ve interpreted that experience or the result of that experience, doesn’t really matter because it’s still what they have. My advice to the undergraduate students, I’m telling myself this now, is to always listen to people and hear their story because everyone comes from such a unique perspective. Even someone who you think is similar, like you and I have a lot of similarities with being from the same town, I’ve lived in your basement before, I know you very well, but your experiences are so different than mine. Even if we have the same experience, our interpretation is different. There’s value in that and that’s what makes humanity unique and also if you’re trying to live like Christ, Christ went to the marginalized. He went to the people like the woman at the well if probably my favorite Bible story and so that would be my advice to college students. Especially college students going to Greenville is think about that woman at the well and think about how Jesus acted towards the woman at the well and think about the woman at the well’s response. She was shocked but then she had such joy. How Jesus went out of his way to meet the woman at the well and to listen would be my advice. Just to think about how your perspectives are different than someone and that’s okay. It doesn’t separate you, but it can allow you to just see more of the world.
Q: I love that, Jantzen. We always have good convos, but people will be able to get a little bit of your intelligence and your sound theology and everything else. I really appreciate, I know you have to go study the human body and go surfing and have fun on your little island, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are someone who's just really poured into me and my college experience and I’m very thankful for our friendship and your mentor-ship and literally everything. I’m excited for everyone else to get to hear a little bit of your heart because it’s truly incredible.
A: Ah, thanks, Sid!