Year in Review Feature: Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself
Now that their term has concluded, we asked the 2019-2020 student cabinet to share their reflections on the past academic year.
Photo above from left to right: Isaac Coston, Marisol Santana, Koby Jackson, Ava Grossmann, Madelynn Kaufmann, Rebekah Lambdin.
Each spring, the students of The King’s College elect a Student Body President for the coming year, who then chooses five fellow students to serve on the student cabinet. The 2019-20 cabinet consisted of Koby Jackson (HUM ’21) as Student Body President, Ava Grossmann (HUM ’20) as director of communications, Madelynn Kaufmann (RTS ’21) as director of student organizations, Marisol Santana (FIN ’21) as director of finance, Rebekah Lambdin (HUM ’20) as director of student events, and Isaac Coston (PPE ’20) as director of spiritual life. Now that their term has concluded, we asked them to share reflections on the past academic year.
Appreciation for one another was a recurring theme throughout their answers. Jackson said his proudest moment was “realizing that I picked the absolute best team.” At their first event of the year, Fall Retreat—attended by well over 300 members of the King’s community—Jackson observed how his team “came together in ways that I hadn’t even expected. . . I realized that they share a similar vision as I do for the student body, and they share the same spirit of love and intention for their fellow person in our King’s community.”
Kaufmann experienced a similar moment of gratitude during Fall Retreat. She described the countless hours of work that went into planning, noting that several team members pulled all-nighters leading up to the event to confirm rosters and coordinate logistics. “But as I watched everyone present their drama competition skits on the last night,” Kaufmann said, “I couldn’t help but feel such gratitude for my teammates. They selflessly served behind the scenes, but they never complained.”
Santana remembers, “My proudest moment was when we decided that, as a team, we would strive to do everything out of love. This not only helped us remain focused on caring for each other and the rest of the student body but also helped us rely on God as a team. This reinforced my understanding that the best way to approach any situation is out of love.”
Kaufmann said that this selfless attitude showed even at the end of the year when big events like Spring Formal were canceled due to COVID-19. “It was a hard year, but I am so proud of the fact that we did not let any of the difficulties we encountered define our time serving the student body.”
Grossmann said, “Our year ended much sooner than we had anticipated. I wish I could go back and tell myself to slow down and appreciate the intelligent and funny people I worked with each week!”
When asked about the lessons they took away from their experiences in leadership, they spoke about the complexities of working within a team. Coston said, “I tend to be a fly-solo, head-down-to-desk kind of guy so it was a new challenge learning how to communicate and serve my teammates.”
Grossmann said she learned the importance of compromise when team members agreed on the goals but disagreed on their approach. “The same problem or issue can be solved in a variety of ways. As a team you will not always agree on the path forward. However, it is important to remember that you all have the same goal in mind.”
But being open to others’ perspectives shouldn’t mean neglecting your own. Kaufmann pointed out, “I can’t serve others well if I am not willing to stick up for myself. In the past, I subscribed to the harmful mindset that neglecting my own needs makes me a better and stronger person and leader. While advocating and caring for others is important, I think this past year taught me that I am also worthy of respect and care.”
Lambdin said, “Without a doubt the greatest lesson I learned while on the cabinet is that relationships matter most. People matter most. It was hard some days being in school leadership but man it was so rewarding serving my classmates, professors, and friends, and on top of that with an amazing team.”
Jackson observed that he had to learn how to balance the voices of the student body. “King’s students don’t hold back when wanting to tell you their opinion, and being King’s students, they have good reasoning,” Jackson said. “I had to decipher how to take in all the information I was receiving and determine what was best.” That meant a lot of listening. It also meant taking time to discern what actions best aligned with his vision, the vision that the student body had elected him to pursue.
The main goal Jackson had expressed in his campaign was “encouraging others to care about themselves and others.” Now, at the conclusion of the year, Jackson reflected, “I posed it as something I knew I could never really gauge. I wanted it to be a call to action,” a reminder to “be humble with someone who has a different opinion than you.”
“The Bible says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’” Jackson continued. “I wanted to speak into that as Student Body President. I wanted it to be at the forefront of the decisions I was making.”
This story is a feature from the 2020 issue of Year in Review. The full magazine is available here.