By: Elizabeth Lapp
One day last February, while scrolling through Facebook, I happened to see a post in which my friend’s mom had been tagged; it was about something called Areté Academy. After reading the article and researching the program, I knew that I needed to apply – the only problem was that the application was due in two days.
When I told my mother about my plan to apply to a program that neither of us had ever heard of before, she was skeptical, to say the least. How could a week-long program in Arizona cover the cost of airfare, hotel, and food? The more research that I did, looking for that hidden catch, the more confident I became that God was calling me to be a part of this program. (Also, there is no catch.)
Knowing who Alliance Defending Freedom was, I expected the week to consist of a large group of undergraduate government students coming together to discuss conservative, Christian policy issues. My expectations were far surpassed, as the week was more than I could have anticipated.
The people that I met at Areté ranged from college students majoring in everything from business to fashion design and young professionals who had already started their careers. While some of the sessions did discuss public policy issues, they also focused on what it means to be a member of the body of Christ regardless of your denomination and how to use your vocation to advance His kingdom.
The week that I spent at Areté was one of the most enriching and beneficial of my entire college career. Since then, I have told so many people about the program and encouraged them to apply. Here are the top three reasons why:
1. You will be challenged.
After talking to some of the other Delegates I remember asking myself, “How did I get accepted to this program?” As the week progressed, I began to see that each one of us brought something different to the discussion and challenged one another in the process.
The speakers will also challenge you to think critically about what you believe and why, so that if anyone should question your faith, you are ready to make a defense.
2. You will be encouraged.
Over the course of the week, you will meet students and presenters who have had their faith challenged in their school and in their careers. While it can be disheartening to hear their stories of how faith is under attack, it can also be encouraging.
It was encouraging to hear how others were willing to take a stand for their faith. During the week, you will be in a room full of women and men who have each faced their own challenges in their walk with Christ. You will come away from that week feeling encouraged and empowered to face whatever challenges may come your way.
3. You will become part of an incredible community.
Areté may only last for a week, but the connections you make with fellow Delegates and mentors will last for so much longer. When I attended, I was in the middle of touring law schools, trying to decide where I wanted to attend. Getting to talk to the mentors about their experiences played a significant role in deciding where I wanted to go.
These mentors continued to communicate with me over my choice of school long after Areté ended. They gave me advice on what things to consider when choosing a school, how to navigate the application process, and even made time to meet with me when I visited their school.
Areté is not just an educational seminar that you will attend for a week. You become part of a life-changing network of amazing individuals that you will stay in touch with long after you return home.
Looking back, I have no doubt that God made sure I saw that Facebook post and led me to this amazing opportunity. Since seeing that article on Facebook and attending Areté, there have been so many doors that opened for me because of the Areté community.
In one week, Areté significantly impacted how I see the world and my place in it. It has changed how I see my chosen field and the ability that I have to make an impact on our culture. That is why, if you were to ask me if you should participate in Areté Academy, my answer would be a resounding yes.