Written by Emily Shirley

Growing up, I felt a constant desire to take care of those around me. Oftentimes, this meant assisting my younger brother with anything and everything, but if he was not around, I would settle for just about anyone. Many members of my family termed this “mothering” and, in retrospect, I cannot say that I blame them. If someone was injured, I was the first to help him find a Band-Aid. If a young girl was crying, I immediately tried to console her. As I grew and this trait developed, I became a babysitter and nanny.

At the age of 15, I opened and managed a nursery at a local elementary school. Naturally, when considering a career path after graduation, I wanted it to somehow include taking care of others. I began reflecting on relationships that were influential in my childhood and remembered a certain physical therapist that nursed me back to health after a rock climbing injury. After speaking with mentors and those familiar with the field of physical therapy, I decided to study psychology.

As a naturally analytical person, I created in my mind a checklist of the requirements my college would have to meet. I decided that it should be a Christ-centered school, should incorporate the liberal arts, and should be moderately close to home, due to certain health conditions. In addition, it would ideally be near a rock climbing gym or, better yet, in the mountains. As I began surveying schools, most seemed to have a few of these elements, but I could not find a school that contained all of these elements.

Soon after coming to the realization that I would have to settle for a school that did not have all of these ingredients, my brother invited me to tag along on his visit to Montreat College. Feeling defeated and hopeless, I shrugged my shoulders and consented. Having neglected to research this school prior to my visit, I was shocked to realize upon arrival that this school was in the mountains. The banner inside the first building we went in said, in unreasonably large lettering, “Christ-centered.” I could not help but laugh at the fact that this school had met over half of my requirements within the first few minutes of my arrival. As the friendly staff directed us this way and that, I grew more and more attached to the school. The scenery of the mountains, the accommodating staff, and the Christ-centered curriculum all made this school incredibly appealing. There was still, however, one element missing: integration of the liberal arts. “Now, have you considered our honors program?” our tour guide asked. Inquiring about this program further, I learned that it incorporated many of my favorite authors, such as Dostoevsky, C.S. Lewis, and Plato. My brother gave me a look that seemed to say, “You owe me for introducing you to this school.”

My brother, who had arranged this visit for himself, decided on a different college path. However, I, who originally embarked on this college visit against my will, was captivated by the school and immediately applied. Needless to say, I was accepted and am currently in my first semester of my freshman year. The Christ-centered aspect of this college has helped me grow spiritually, the opportunities for rock climbing have grown me physically, and the integration of liberal arts has grown me intellectually. I am tremendously grateful that, in spite of my initial reluctance, my brother persuaded to visit Montreat.