When Randy Foreman ’17 thinks about his Calvin experience, two intersecting themes emerge: opportunity and challenge.
With each passing semester, Randy says he’s moved a little closer toward understanding himself and the beautiful, yet broken, world in which we live.
“It’s been difficult and eye-opening,” says Randy, a religion major with a minor in ministry leadership. “Each semester, each year, brought more and more of this eye opening for me.”
An important part of his journey: confronting stereotypes and learning to reach toward peace. "Being a black man has really influenced my experience here,” he says. “It really forced me to look at myself and realize, when I look in the mirror, I see one thing, but when other people look at me, it might be something different they’re seeing. And how can I love the me that I see in the mirror while taking into account that it may not be exactly what other people are seeing?”
He says he came to a realization: “I’ve been released from that stress of worrying about what other people are thinking. Part of that really comes from a security in Jesus and the way he’s made me.”
One person Randy says has been a big part of his growth is Austin Brown, resident director of Boer-Bennink Hall.
“She has played a great role in the development that I’ve been going through as a black man on campus,” he says. “I’ve never really had a role model who is a person of color who has worked to help me navigate the hardships of being a minority in a majority culture in college.
“She’s really helped me to look at the different behaviors that I have made habitual and question me, but also to encourage me and say, ‘You know you don’t have to do that,’ or ‘You know you can do that. This part of the world is open to you, too; this aspect of faith is open to you, too.’
“She’s been incredibly helpful and just worked to show me that there’s so much more to life and to faith than I had realized,” he says.
Based on his own experience, Randy offers this advice to incoming students: “Do something uncomfortable often,” he says. “It is—especially for majority students—easy to only put yourself in situations and environments where you don’t need to feel deeply or look out on the world or work to empathize.”
He thinks Calvin is a place where that empathy can grow. “I would most certainly encourage anyone to come here, because there are a lot of opportunities to learn about people who are unlike you.”