Greenville University Blogs

Intentionality, Interterm, and Traveling Abroad with Alumni Josiah Mohr

2020_josiah_mohr1Q: Welcome, Josiah! 

A: Hey, Sid.


Q: It’s so nice to have you here.

A: Yeah. it’s good to be here.


Q: We’re just gonna start by introducing yourself. Tell us about who you are and what you do and your hobbies.

A: Yeah, so I am Josiah Mohr. I was at Greenville from 2015-2019. I graduated in December 2019. Just before everything went kinda crazy here. I was a ministry and business major. So I had two of them. Some of my roles on campus were serving as Vice President of the student body for 2 years. I had a great time doing that. Before that I was an RA, RC at the time in Janssen for a year. That was really fun. Other things I was involved in, I did a little bit with the Vista, the student magazine, I did some writing there. I did some editing for the GU Papyrus as well. 


Q: Cool. Josiah’s been my rock through the last year because of his experience as Vice President. He’s been a great person to call so thank you for that. 

A: No problem.


Q: So talk about your majors. They are an interesting combo. Why did you choose that combination?

A: Yeah, so ministry and business I think the idea there is to go into a nonprofit administration of some kind. It is a very unique combination. I’ll give you that. Not many people try it.  I really like the systems side of things, but I care about the people too. So I want the systems to serve the people as best as I possibly can.


Q: That’s awesome. I love your heart for that. Do you know your enneagram type?

A: I do. I’m a 1w2, so I’ve got that perfectionist that comes out in the form of helping people.


Q: That’s awesome. What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?

A: Free time, what’s free time? No for real though. I love playing board games, I play a lot of board games. I play guitar, not many people know that. So I do enjoy music quite a bit. And just books. I have a pretty large personal library. Many of them I have not read but some would say that’s an indication that I’m an intelligent person.


Q: They just there, someday you will get to them. I totally get that.

A: I have more to learn, that's what it says.


Q: That’s awesome. So we already talked about the major you chose and we already talked about what you were involved in on campus. We kind of accomplished a lot there right off the bat. What was your favorite class?

A: My favorite class, so I had to really think about this one. There are so many good classes at Greenville and so many good professors. I think my favorite one probably was Foundations of Christian Doctrine. It’s a senior-level ministry class. I had an opportunity to have it with Dr. Hartley and Mikey Ward both. Hartley taught some of the lectures, and Mikey led some of the discussions. That was a very impactful class on the way that I view the history of the church and Christianity and the ways that we can do ministry based off of that history. 


2020_josiah_mohr5Q: That’s really cool. So would you say that was your best professor experience?

A: I really appreciated Dr. Hartley in particular. He is one of the professors that really pushed me to be a better writer, and better at analyzing the text and the different books that we were reading. He just has a passion that comes out in the way he lectures. Like an hour goes by so fast. It’s like you start class and the next thing you know you are done. It’s so much information but he’s amazing in that way.


Q: I had the pleasure of meeting with him bi-weekly this semester so I got to know him really well. So I would agree. You can learn a lot from him. So that’s kinda where you were as a student but now you’re here. Let’s talk about now. So what are you up to?

A: So lots of things in my life tend to happen serendipitously and so now at this point this next year I am going to be serving as a graduate assistant here at Greenville for the wonderful dean of students, Ross Baker, and one of my good friends. I will be advising student government once again. So that will be really fun. On top of that, I will be taking seminary classes as well.


Q: And where are you taking those classes?

A: Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, so GATS is the acronym there. That’s up in Chicago, which will be really good. That’s a masters in public ministry.


Q: Wow, that’s really cool. I’m excited to see what you do with GSGA, and it’s a new role. 

A: It is, it is. Yes.


Q: So that’s going to be very interesting to see how that plays out. But you’re living here now.

A: I am.


Q: You just got back a couple weeks ago.

A: Yes, I’m actually living in a church currently. Sounds super weird, but it’s kinda cool. St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church, the church I attended when I was a student. They have a position called the sexton, which is essentially just hospitality and custodial work, and they let you live there for free as an exchange. I’ll take that deal. It’s kinda fun.


2020_josiah_mohr4Q: That’s awesome. I love it. So how do you feel like Greenville and your time here prepared you for life after? So a lot of people get stuck here and you know some people graduate and they move far away but you came back so your experience has to be somewhat good, I know it is, but for everyone listening how do you feel like your experience at Greenville helped prepare you for your future?

A: Yeah, I think a big part of it is just like the relationships that I had here. Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom during a lecture. I think it happens in your relationship with your professors and other mentors on campus, relationships with friends. So I think in that sense I really found myself growing as a holistic person in the way that I approached learning. Learning a lot of humility along the way to a willingness to say I don’t know that like I’m interested though. So I think GU really really is a good environment to learn how to learn well. And if you can learn how to learn it opens up so many possibilities moving forward. 


Q: That’s an interesting way to look at it. Reverse a little bit. What brought you to Greenville? You’re from pretty far away, you can talk about that. How did you find Greenville?

A: Yeah so I’m from Wisconsin, southern Wisconsin. So about a 5 hour drive depending on what speed you want to drive down here toward St. Louis. I actually came for an audio engineering degree, surprisingly. So, that’s a new fact about me. Shoutout to Chris Swed and Nathan Kriebel. Some of those guys were on a camp team when I was a senior in high school, and I met them and they were like, “Hey, you should come check out Greenville.” And I was like, “That sounds really cool!” I originally came for audio, but I’ve tried a class in just about every major except for biology. I knew biology was not the go. It really was a lot of exploring trying to figure out why am I here. I think it finally clicked. 


Q: How were you able to find your path? If you go to a junior college, you’re able to explore, but how was that process for you at Greenville?

A: Definitely if it’s financial, go the community route. But, I’m here to talk about Greenville. The first couple years I spent just getting to know people like people in the ministry department like Ben Wayman or Mikey or Lori [Gaffner]. At one time, I had actually declared as a political science history major like Richard Huston and some of his colleagues in the history department. Just getting to know different people and finding what teachers inspire you, what subjects inspire you. 


Q: I don’t know how you did it in four and a half years taking all those classes. 

A: Yeah, I had a few credits a semester.


Q: If you could go back and do anything differently what would you do differently?

A: I’ve actually thought about this question long before you asked it for this interview, but for me, I would do a communications major, because I think that would benefit me a lot more than the business major did. But, the business major has it’s advantages as well. There’s a lot of language and approaches that you learn to business in that sense. Other than that, man, I love my time at Greenville. I was involved in just about everything I possibly could. In that sense, I don’t have anything I think I would change. 


Q: Let’s talk about traditions at Greenville. What’s your favorite?

A: I don’t know if it's like...everybody says it's the ivy planting or something like that. I think mine’s a little bit more abstract. I just really appreciate the level of intentionality that faculty and professors have engaging students. That was one of the most encouraging things I saw over my four years, especially in conversations I had as part of student government. Faculty are really invested here, and that is an amazing tradition. I know we use the word community, like that’s the buzz word. I think the faculty that we have at Greenville are very integrated into the idea of what we call community here. That is a tradition, quote unquote, that I really enjoy. 


Q: What is a memory that you made at GU that you will never forget? Or maybe a couple if you have them. 

A: I mean, there’s plenty. I’m not very good at recalling things. I need different triggers to recall them. But, I think one big one was interterm or January term last year. That interterm was a big indicator of what it means to have a community in Greenville. I was living in tower (Nancy Blankenship apartments) and so, over these two weeks my friend group and I would have dinner every night during Interterm. It was just a wonderful experience. I was also taking a class at the time around games and culture with some of the old philosophy professors, so we were playing role playing games during the day and having dinner with friends at night, and so that’s just like the perfect day. If you want to create the perfect day for me, that’s like the perfect day right there. I love just interterm, in particular, the four or five that I’ve been a part of, I think they’ve all been a ton of fun. I think a lot of the memories that I recall now, they all involve doing something in community. It’s not something I just figured out. I’ll do this. Even like, I’ve taken a lot of classes internationally as well, Spain and Israel and some of those. And, those were really made into good experiences because of the people that I was hanging out with in those experiences. 


2020_josiah_mohr3Q: Let’s dive more into your travel abroad experiences. What was the process of choosing which country you would visit like?

A: Well, to say first, I don't have near as much experience as some others. I have other friends that have spent entire semesters, and I applaud them for that. That’s a little bit more ambitious than I think I was ready for at the time. I studied for three years during an interterm in Israel probably my sophomore or junior year. I don’t remember which year it was. And that was a really good experience just learning about the historical geography of the Bible. Traveling all over Israel, it was a ton of fun. And then this past January, I was in Spain with the amazing Ben Wayman taking a class on contextual theology, reading some Huesto-Gonzales along with it. That was a really good experience too, learning some of the history of Spain and the history of the church in Spain. I’m actually hoping to go back there this next summer. 


Q: And what are you doing there?

A: Camino de Santiago, specifically the French way, if you want to look that up. Hoping to hike all 500 miles of that within about six or seven weeks. We are still working on plans with that, but it is an idea that I can’t get out of my head. 


Q: Has Walkabout prepared you for that?

A: Well, they say it’s slightly different than Walkabout. But, the backpacking aspect, yes, absolutely. 


Q: So, if anyone doesn’t know what Walkabout is, Josiah has done it three years?

A: I’ve done it three years, yes. 


Q: So, if you’re going to be a student leader, it's like the training to be a student leader. It really has nothing to do with what you’re going to do, but at the same time it has everything to do with what you do throughout the year. But, it’s like a stimulus for being a leader. You lead one day on the trail, but you’re backpacking with five or six other people, so you get very close with them very quickly. I’ve gone two years, so the people that I went with both years I’ms till really good friends with. That’s been really nice having other connections, especially being in a sport, being friends with people outside that sport has really helped. You can probably say more about how that is and how it prepares you to be a student leader. 

A: It really is hyper-focused on that community. If you can do community well in that group, ideally, you should be able to do community well in student government and res life and any number of other student leadership positions.


2020_josiah_mohr2Q: Do you have any advice for students at Greenville right now?

A: Yeah, so I think two of the biggest lessons that I took from GU, now this is going to sound super paradoxical, so just stick with me here. Learn how to say yes, and learn how to say no. I think both of them can be applied to the same person, because I apply them to myself. So, learning to say yes, say yes to an adventure. Push your comfort zone a little bit. Don’t do something that’s going to scar you by any means, but push your comfort zone a little bit. You know, go on walkabout, travel abroad, go for a position that is going to push you. Maybe an RA is going to push you to be a better person. Maybe being in student government is going to push you to be a better person. Take those steps; say yes to those developments. But also, especially if you’re a busy person like me, and you like to please people, learn how to say no. Learn your boundaries. This can be applied to more than just college life, but college life especially, learn when you need to rest, learn when something maybe isn’t a good choice for you. Maybe you need to say no, so you can say yes to something else. 


Q: This is a really hard concept that I still have not been able to grasp, because everything, if it’s brought up by the right person in the right way, it sounds amazing. I have a really hard time saying no. You can’t see the future, so you don’t know what it’s going to be like in the middle of those opportunities. It’s hard. You really have to have good self-awareness to know when you need to say yes and when you need to say no.

A: And talk to your friends and professors and mentors on campus too, because that’s what they’re there for. They’re there to get to know you. You’re there to get to know them. Help each other out. Maybe you get an offer from one office on campus, but you have two or three friends that are like, “No, you need to do this other thing.” Trust your own instincts. Get to know your own instincts, and also live into that community with the people around you.


Q: And I think the important thing about that, like I said I need more practice with this whole when to say yes, when to say no thing, but I tend to take everyone’s opinion, not just the people that know me really well. You can have somebody saying “Do this, do this, do this,” because they have lived that experience and so they say oh, this is what you should do, but they don’t necessarily know you. Even if it was a good or bad experience for them, you could have a completely different experience. Do you want to give an example of how you navigated that decision making process?

A: Well, it’s definitely not something that there’s a silver bullet for or something that I have a system down for. I like having systems down for things, but there’s no easy system for this. I think there’s been a number of times, especially when I was an RA saying yes to going to something that each of my residents are at, trying to visit each of those, but I can’t get super involved in each of those things. It's good to go and have that experience with or for that person, because that does create another connection. And maybe you find something. Maybe I do find something that I can say yes to over and over again. 


Q: Well, thank you so much for being a part of the podcast! You are amazing, and I’ve really appreciated the way you’ve poured into me. I’m super excited for this to go live!

A: Thank you, Sid.


Q: Any last words?

A: Sid is an amazing person, and she’s doing some amazing things here at Greenville still. Thank you for having me on.