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"Keep the faith. Keep your word no matter how painful at times. Keep love in your heart."—Class of '52 

Programs

Inspiring Young Minds

When Jonathan Wilson drives underneath the new pedestrian bridge connecting the east and west campuses he sees more than an architectural structure. He sees a picture of his life and work, a picture that he's only now beginning to recognize. In retrospect it's clear to Wilson that major strokes of that picture were laid down during his five years at Calvin.

It was the Entrada program that brought Wilson from Chicago to Calvin in the summer of 1991. For four weeks he lived in a dorm on campus with 12 other pre-college minority students. Together the Entrada scholars took a college class for credit with already-enrolled Calvin students, learned college-level academic and time management skills, and, significantly for Wilson, sat together in large and small groups talking about what to expect from and what to work for at college.

"The RAs, who were Calvin juniors and seniors, were preparing you to be a minority at Calvin," Wilson remembers. "They made you see that though it could be difficult, it could be made into a strength."

Though Wilson's high school in a Chicago suburb was 95 percent white, he and the few other African-Americans there didn't cross the line into real friendships with whites. Entrada helped him realize that that kind of separation wouldn't work as well at Calvin.

"My freshman year was the time of the Rodney King trouble, and my white roommate from Hudsonville asked me what I thought about it. I decided to be frank and honest with him and tell him that up to a certain point I could understand the violence."

From that time on, Wilson allowed himself to be a sounding board for the African-American perspective, while at the same time pointing out that ten African-Americans in a room will have ten different views on the same subject. "I saw it as an opportunity to inform," he says.

Since graduating from Calvin in 1996 Wilson has gone on to work in a predominately white setting as a web designer for RBC Ministries in Grand Rapids. He also leads junior high youth groups in a Christian Reformed church that is 80 percent white.

"When I was working with Urban Young Life the director encouraged me in leadership. He said, I see you as a bridge builder.' I see now that God has been placing me in these settings, like Calvin, and placing me there not to stand in the back, but to be more of a leader, who is African-American, and brings that perspective—a leader who can be a bridge builder."

 

Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson
Chemistry laboratory in the old Theological School.
Chemistry laboratory in the old Theological School. The wooden floor readily absorbed spills as well as buckshot from one experiment gone awry.
 
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