My GU Story with Christina Hardin: Coffee, Relationships, and the Process of Transferring

Q: Who are you?

A: My name’s Christina. I was a junior this last year at Greenville University, so this next year, I’ll be a senior. I’m a townie, so I’m from Greenville. And I actually asked Sid if I could tell everyone, is coffee a personality trait? Like, is that okay? Because that’s all that I am. I’m not 70% water, I’m just coffee. That’s all that I am on the inside. Another thing about me, I’m a little bit of a work-aolic. I’ve worked at 4 or 5 different establishments in Greenville, so in your free time, if you’re curious, please ask me. But right now, I’m at Shimoji coffee. I think that would lead into my enneagram type so people understand. I’m a 4 wing 3, the wing is very strong. Sometimes it’s overpowering. But yeah, those are some fun things about me. 

christina_photoQ: What are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in digital media, and I also have a business minor, so it goes hand-in-hand.

Q: Any hobbies or interesting facts about yourself?

A: Well, that’s a good question! It’s hard because coffee is everything. I do like cycling. I do like painting. I’m working on a lot of digital media projects for Shimoji right now, because that’s where my internship is this summer. So right now, hobbies are pretty just focused on work, but otherwise usually some more creatively-driven stuff. 

Q: You want to tell everybody about your mural that you’re working on?

A: I’m working on a mural for the tower apartments on the right side, where the girls are right now. That’s been a really cool project. It’s actually Jesus and I’m really excited for everyone to see it. 

Q: Why did you choose GU?

A: That’s actually a pretty interesting story. Initially, I had gone to a junior college for the first two years and had sworn off Greenville because I was a townie. I was like, “Man, I’m gonna explore the world and get out of here.” And then, I started working at Adam Brothers which was a coffee house downtown, and I met two amazing people out there that I can still say are my best friends today. They really influenced my decision to go here because they both had some really good things going and they both went to Greenville and kind of advocated for the community space that Greenville has. So after spending a lot of time with them, separately in their own apartments, but also on campus a little bit, that really influenced my decision and made me see this place is cool. 

Q: Talk about your program. Why did you choose digital media?

A: Originally, I was a digital media and marketing major, and the only reason I’m just a business minor is to graduate at a certain time. That’s still cool, because I still get involved in the business classes that I’m wanting but also still getting out this next spring. I chose the digital media program first, because it’s very personal. I get a lot of 1-1 time with Deloy if I need it, which is really nice. And even Jake Amundson, I have him for a couple of classes, and it’s just really nice to have that personal connection. The program is small enough to be able to explore things on your own time, but if you have questions you are able to connect with the professors about it which is just really nice. I would say that the digital media majors, I think there’s 17-20 just in my grade that extends that opportunity for personal teaching. There’s a lot of cool projects that you get to work on through the digital media program whether it’s just in classes or since everyone knows you're a digital media major they ask you to do things for them so it gives you more experience. 

Q: On average, how many students are in your classes?

A: I would say, just for digital media classes, it’s no more than 20 in each class. The basic, intro to digital media class had 30 or 35 just because several majors are required to have that class. It kind of mixes everyone together. 

Q: What’s been your favorite class so far?

A: That’s tough. I think probably type and image. I love that class with Jake Amundson. I was sad when we went online for that one because first of all Jake’s hilarious. I think he wears a different pair of classes every single day, and he dyed his eyebrows blue. That was really cool to work on those projects. 

Q: What have you been able to accomplish being a part of the program?

A: I recently went to a marketing conference with professor Jane Bell at the beginning of the spring semester in St. Louis, and there were a couple of speakers out there. One of the speakers specifically spoke about digital media and how to get connected and how to find your place in that world. I was able to go up to him and talk to him about how to make connections and even show him some of my work, which was really cool. He was like, “If you’re staying later be sure to go on this walk that we are all going on and we can connect more.” So, I would say when it comes to accomplishments, what you’re making in the classroom and the people that you’re building relationships with and knowing how to build those relationships, that is what has helped me accomplish things outside of the Greenville community. I wouldn’t have been able to do that at that marketing conference if first of all, I wouldn’t have been invited by the professor and second of all, if I hadn’t had the courage to go up and speak with him about these things. 


christina_photo_jpeg3Q: How was the process of transferring? 

A: That was an exciting time. Initially, I had gone to a junior college because it was more financially affordable for myself and my family. It was also close to home, so I just stayed at home and saved money that way, as well. I would say the transition between being a student at a junior college and being a student at Greenville at first was a little difficult, because you don’t know people and it can be hard to get connected. Those two people that I had worked with before, that I had worked at Adam Bros with, had graduated the year before. At first it was difficult to make sure that I was involved in activities and that big “R” word, relationships, it’s kind of hard to start that initially when you don’t really know how. Since then, a couple of the things that helped me were the main campus activities like midnight breakfast, for example. There were a couple of people there this last fall that I was able to get close to by going to those types of activities with. It is hard. It is tough to transition, but also it’s up to you how much of the experience you’re going to get out of it and it’s up to you how much energy you’re going to put into it and that’s what you’re going to get back. I learned that pretty quickly. If you sulk back and get lost in yourself and you’re not willing to put in extra energy because you’re new and you haven’t been there for the first two years, you’re not going to get anything out of it. That’s also just relationship 101. You have to put in what you would like to receive back. 

Q: How has GU met or exceeded your expectations?

A: I honestly didn’t understand that option to have a personal connection with your professors right away. That was very exciting for me. That definitely exceeded my expectations, because I thought you had to make an appointment. I literally walk by Deloy’s office, and I can talk with him for 15 minutes about something super important. That part has definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s just the connection of people being readily available on campus. And then I would say the friendships also exceeded my expectations. That first semester I did choose the opposite way of what I had been advocating for and just hung out and waited for people to come to me. After learning that you have to invest in others as well as yourself, those friendships have exceeded my expectations. 

Q: Can you talk about your experience with faith growing up and how being a part of a faith-based community has helped you grow in your faith?

A: I grew up in a Christian household, so I’ve been going to church before I was born. I was in a youth group in high school and junior high. I would say going to a junior college that’s not Christian affiliated, I had to choose faith on my own, which was a very interesting growing experience. The nice thing about Greenville, this is actually one of the main reasons I chose Greenville, was to have a faith-based community that you’re surrounded by in the academic workspace. I think that you learn things that obviously further your career, but also that further your faith. It is a good type of challenge here as well, because there are available resources like small groups or going to chapel, which is a requirement. There’s conversations that come out of those types of opportunities that inspire you to learn more about your faith that you’ve been believing since birth. It gives things a type of depth that I don’t think I would have gotten if I have gone to a major state school. With my marketing class with Jane Bell this last semester we had these conversations about how to incorporate your Christian priorities and beliefs into the marketing workspace, which is something that a lot of people wouldn’t know how to do because it’s cut-throat and an intense environment. That’s not something I would have thought of before, like how to incorporate your Christian values into your work space. It’s been something that has been a challenge in a good way that I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. 

Q: What are your future aspirations and how do you feel like Greenville is preparing you to fulfill them?

A: what an exciting conversation! I love thinking about the future. I’m very future oriented. Everyone that’s listening, get a passion planner. It will inspire you to do so much for your future. Wow, future aspirations...it’s very broad, but I have my entire 3-5 year plan set out. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do immediately after I graduate, but long-term, I do want to have my own coffee shop, bakery type of restaurant. Which sounds cheesy and like every other white girl’s dream. No, but it’s a passion. I think that coffee, in order to sell it well you have to be passionate about it, and I would say that’s something I’m pretty passionate about, as well as incorporating community, which is something that people find in a coffee house. Again, key word, community and, as you mentioned earlier, networking, those are two huge things that I’ve learned at Greenville specifically and college as a whole. I think that it will help me incorporate making connections for my future business, because that isn’t established in one day. That’s something that I’m going to have to work towards for years and plan out and find the location and proper conversations for loans. There’s so many details inside of it, but the base of everything starts with your ability to communicate and your ability to network. That’s the biggest thing. I think that without learning that here, I would be at-a-loss to having a shop. There are so many crazy, wild opportunities that come up just from you talking to people. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and doing it all on your own, but it’s not bad to have those connections either. It opens up new doors for even bigger opportunities. 

Q: Do you have a location in mind?

A: Not necessarily. It depends on where life takes me. That part I like to leave open, because you never know about that. I’m so excited. Everyone come. I have no idea what it’s going to be called yet. 

Q: Are you going to have breakfast sandwiches? Because I’m there.

A: Duh! Guys, let me tell you, this is another part of my personality that I didn’t even say, avocado toast! Come at me! I have it every single day. Probably like twice a day. You think that’s gross? No, it’s so good and I love it every single time. Feta cheese, salt & pepper, 9-grain toast. 


Q: What’s the best thing about GU?

A: That’s hard! Is it bad if I say the “R” word again? I’m going to do it. Seriously though, there are people that I’ve become so close to that I never would have or had the opportunity to, had I not been here in this specific environment of faith incorporating conversations and also just being present. I think it’s easy to get caught up in a lot of crazy activities and be work oriented, which I can honestly say that from working four jobs last summer. I think that just taking the time to rest and realize how important the people around you are was the greatest gift that Greenville has given me. I also know that these relationships are not going to be...like obviously there’s casual relationships within your lifetime whether that’s relationships with work people or...but these relationships that I’ve made here will be life-lasting relationships. And these are people that I can rely on for years to come. 

Q: What do you like about college life?

A: Oh my gosh, the independence. Be present where you are. My freshman year of high school, I had this huge cardboard piece and I wrote out all the days counting down until my first day of college. Isn’t that ridiculous? Because I was so excited for independence, and I could just say, “I’m in college, and I can go to Aldi and get groceries if I want, and I can stay up past 11:30 and have avocado toast at 12!” That was a wild time. I was just really excited about being independent and making my own decisions and having the maturity to exist on my own a little bit. You really don’t know who you are until you need to do things by yourself. As an enneagram 4, authenticity is so important to me. I need to know the authenticity of myself and of the people around me. That’s probably one of the main reasons why I had that cardboard cut out with the days counting down until I have independence. But yeah, the independence, making my own decisions, and to decide how you spend your time. 

Q: What’s your advice for high school students and students looking to transfer?

A: First of all, there’s a lot of pressure for kids to go to college. I think it’s overwhelming and I am not one that cares much about going to a name brand place, but I still felt so much pressure my senior year about where I was going to go and what I was going to study. That was just overwhelming. Now looking back at it, that was a lot of wasted energy. First of all, if you’re a Christian, God is always in control, and you don’t need to worry about where you’re going to go. Thinking about those verses in Matthew, He made the flowers as beautiful as they are, and He provides birds with food to eat. What are you worried about? With that in mind, you are still the one making that final decision of where to go, and that is very overwhelming. Our culture has just made that a really big deal on where you go. My biggest encouragement would be do what is best for you and your family. It can be overwhelming to meet other people’s expectations for you and of you and the opinions of your friends, even your friends family or your grandparents, like I don’t know. Those people are very important to you, but also this is where you’re going, this is your education, this is your life, and also these are your finances. I think people are very excited about the experience that college is and don’t necessarily realize how much time and money it’s going to cost you. So just be okay with being realistic. I had to learn that, and that wasn’t a bad thing. junior college gave me so many amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I played tennis at Kaskaskia for two years. That’s not something that I would have had the time for or ability to do at a bigger college. Seriously, just do what’s best for you. I recommend taking the junior college route and then transferring to a four-year college, but also, that’s what was best for me. So, if that’s not what’s best for you, that’s okay. I think it just boils down to what is best for you and your family. Just sit down for a little bit in that college decision making process and taking a day where you’re just thinking. I like pros and cons lists. Those are my favorite. Of why you’re considering a place or what priorities you’re looking for in a college, just that sort of thing.

Q: Any last words?

A: Yeah, drink an espresso shot for me today!