Senior Spotlight : Tezira Abe

Hometown: Angleton, Texas

Post-Grad Plans: law school beginning the fall of 2017

Favorite Food: breakfast tacos! I could eat them every day.

Personal Motto/Anthem: I've never really thought about this but a while back, Lindsey Limbaugh told me not to ever do anything I didn't want to and it's a pretty great rule to live by.

A memory from the ESC: I have't been around long so I don't have a ton of memories to draw from but I'd say I just love the feeling of showing up for a late night study session and having a bunch of really supportive people around!

Pro-Tip to new members of the community: build relationships with everyone at the ESC, especially Beth and Hannah, they're some of the most kind and thoughtful people I've met at Texas.

Constant and Connected Community : a reflection by a student

Our own stories are a part of God’s story just as much as a story from the bible. 

 I’d like to share a piece of a poem by Leland B. Jacobs.

 “Storytelling, The Captor” 

See the child, there –

Wrapped in attention

So alone in the midst of others,

Engrossed,

Held spellbound,

Oblivious to immediate time and place,

Caught by words,

The words of a storyteller.

 A story is powerful. It has the ability to move and transform lives. We are engrossed by stories told by artists, comedians, authors and preachers; but so often we forget to recognize the greatest story of all, God’s story. And we forget that God is a storyteller.

God’s story is one huge encompassing story filled by many smaller stories. The beauty behind God’s story is that it is still ongoing inside each one of us. We are each granted the gift to be a character for God. We are asked to walk alongside Mary, Sara, Abraham and Peter. Doing just as they had done before us, living as Christians and representatives of Christ.

It is important for us to recognize and value our own stories with Christ because often times owning our own story and loving ourselves is pretty tough. Our stories are ugly, full of misdoings and failures. But our ability to share is sometimes the key to connection with others and the way for others to find God themselves.

On Wednesday nights the congregation gathers in the ESC to study the letters of Paul. A beautiful statement by Paul is “we are ambassadors for Christ... working together with God.”

The ESC is made up of a powerful group of students who each bring their own story.  Although incredibly diverse our stories and the ESC has become a community, a sanction and a refuge for all students who are connected through God’s story. 

  For me, the student center is a constant and connected community.   

Senior Spotlight: Cara Beth Nichols

Hometown: Lampasas, Texas

Post-Grad Plans: Moving to Scotland in the fall to pursue a MSc in Social and Economic History from the University of Glasgow

Favorite Food: Queso. Pad Thai. P Terry's. A good steak.

Quote to live by: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." --Maya Angelou

Daily mantra: Be happy. Be chic.

A memory from the ESC: Sophomore year, Beyoncé's new album had just dropped around Thanksgiving. During hell week and finals, a bunch of us stayed in the TV room listening to it over and over again to relieve stress from school and our then Program Associate, Sammi, came in to ask "Is this the study room?" to which someone responded, "This is the Beyoncé room."  

Pro-Tip to new members of the community: Don't be afraid to totally immerse yourself in this community. Let the student center be your constant throughout college in seeking relief in the liturgy and comfort in these friendships.

DC Immersion Trip Reflection by Katy Telling

    I packed for D.C. with all the sentimentality of a traveling business exec.
    Recently returned from visiting another cold-weather destination, I zipped open my fraying black suitcase and shoved a jumbled ball of long-sleeves and slate gray wool into the washing machine, patiently waiting for the dryer to ping “DONE” so I could re-stuff the jumbled ball back into the worn case.
    Fold. Pack. Fold. Pack. All the while, I kept pushing away the looming reality of opening myself up to the confusing mix of excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty squirming in my stomach, pushing away the looming reality of entering The Great Big Unknown. And D.C., the work and relationships that were waiting for me there, they were dictionary definition “unknown.”
    We settled first into the Church of the Epiphany, the service-oriented Episcopal Church nestled in downtown D.C. Over the next two days Josh, a Jesuit service leader who served the homeless community through Street Sense (produced and sold by D.C.’s homeless neighbors) newspaper, led us through difficult conversations and, afterwards, through filled to capacity parks known for being home (as best they could) to our D.C. neighbors.
    These first few days were difficult. Beyond any doubt, there was joy and gratitude and community and dense radical love among those we met, among those we broke bread with, those with whom we worshiped. And yet, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was an invader, a trespasser of sacred pain. How could I stand before our neighbors, before my brothers and sisters in Christ and in humanity, and face the pain and challenges they knew while I could never imagine a like experience? How could I even begin to help?
    Things began to change the next morning. I looked out at the congregation from the nave and saw a room full of neighbors laughing and praying and sighing and hugging and helping and just being in this sacred space. Sacred beings in a sacred space together. We weren’t there to make everything better. We weren’t there to assert “don’t worry, I’m here to help you!” Truly, there was something so utterly unifying about that morning’s service. Eucharist is a ritual of transformation, of turning humble bread and wine into something holy to sustain us beyond our earthly needs. In true Eucharistic fashion, this was a transformative morning. “Us” and “them” transformed into “we,” a transformation that persisted.
    Following our stay at Church of the Epiphany, we relocated to The Pilgrimage, a Presbyterian youth service hostel in DuPont Circle. There, we met with two members of the National Coalition for the Homeless, Karen and Robert, who shared stories of their personal experiences with homelessness and the work they had done, humanity stitched into every word they spoke. Following this, we sought relationship among our neighbors again while walking with homemade meals, trudging through the frigid D.C. cold (a bitter constant reminder of one of the many challenges our neighbors face) to enter into small powerful moments of connection. After one anecdote Karen told us of a neighbor who hadn’t heard his name in three years for lack of anyone asking, these moments of connection seemed to feel especially humbling.
    What followed was a series of eye-opening conversations, a group split between Capital Area food bank and a home for the elderly, and a sober walk through a neighborhood undergoing gentrification and facing the reality of economic disparities whilst we absorbed the guidance of activist, community leader, and force of nature Ms. Debra Fraser. Rounding out the trip was a final meal serving at Charlie’s Place, an Episcopal ministry dedicated to feeding and clothing D.C.’s homeless and bursting at the seams with warmth and welcome.
    I emerged from the trip overwhelmed with emotion. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I felt exhausted, overcome by who and what I had seen over the past five days. The relationships that had been built up throughout my time in D.C. left me with a sense of togetherness and community. And it was not only the relationships built with our leaders and neighbors that left me fulfilled, but also the relationships built even stronger within our own ESC community. Indeed, it was this ESC bond that sustained me throughout the entire journey. Now, returned to Austin, I feel encouraged and inspired to address the issues we have here at home, refusing to leave the experience back in D.C.
    One lesson in particular stayed with me long after I exited the return flight: we are all knit together in a common humanity. I cannot let this truism become a mere cliché. All of us, homeless neighbors, ESC members, leaders, the quiet, the bold, the weary, the ready, are in community, made whole through the promise of godly love. In this time of Lent, I seek to consciously honor that truth in all that I do. How grateful I am to have truly seen this truth play out before my very eyes in D.C.

Senior Spotlight: Alice Lazare

Hometown : Houston, TX!

Postgrad plans: Serving as a fellow with Life Together in Boston!! (An Episcopal Service Corps program... I couldn't get enough ESC in my life). Then grad school for clinical social work? Then a job? 

Favorite food: Pizza. Cake. Pasta. Almond milk. I really like food

Personal motto: "What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver 

ESC memory: The first time I spent time at the ESC ~socially~ we played apples to apples and I made a really stupid joke and people laughed at it and I felt all loved and happy. But I tried not to show it, because I had to be cool. But I was excited, and felt like I had friends at church!

Pro-tip for new members: Go hang out with Beth and Hannah, the best candy is by their office. And they are great. 

Senior Spotlight: Sara Cannon

Hometown: Arlington, TX

Post-grad plans: A job of some kind...somewhere...doing something? 

Favorite food: Queso! 

Personal Motto/Anthem: Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.

A memory from the ESC: It's the little things: tons of memories from late nights and weird afternoons, just hanging out and trying (or not really trying) to study. One time we raced on the rolling computer chairs; another time we had a dance party during finals week. Other memories: playing gnip-gnop, fruit snacks, pranking Beth and Hannah, and all the amazing trips we've taken.

Pro-tip to new members of the community: People really do hang out here all the time! Once I started showing up just for fun, that's when I really felt like I could make friendships and memories.

Senior Spotlight: Ali Sidoran

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Hometown: Seabrook, TX

Post-Grad Plans: The World Race! An 11 month mission trip to 11 different countries to remind people through hard work that God loves them. Eastern Europe-Southern Africa-Southeast Asia

Favorite Food: Coffee and sweet potato fries; just not together. 

Personal Motto: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken". 

A memory from the ESC: My very first time at the ESC church service on Sunday, I brought my friend Kendall. Halfway through the service, we look at each other and say, "This feels like home", and I've been coming ever since. 

Pro-Tip to new members of the community: Don't be afraid to be weird. We're probably even weirder than you. 

Senior Spotlight : Becca Rigby

Homewtown: Dallas

Post-Grad Plans: a job?? Preferably one that leads to sense of purpose, happiness, and financial independence...yeah that sounds good! 

Favorite Food: SWEET POTATOES!

Personal Motto: "A number does not define you." (stolen from my high school French teacher, Madame Ferrara)

A memory from the ESC: OMEGA, ginp-gonp during finals week, DC immersion trip, and spreading joy while suppressing stress via visits from River

Pro-Tip to new members of the community: You get back what you put in--so challenge yourself to be vulnerable. It can be super uncomfortable but the community it builds is one of trust, reliability, and of course humor because we all need laughter!