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Paul Petersen—running at full speed
By Abe Huyser-Honig

Paul Petersen doesn't do anything half-heartedly.

As a geology major, he's traveled to Ecuador, spent a summer interning in Arizona and worked on restoring a mastodon.

And as a cross-country and track athlete, he's competed at national championships in both sports, including earning an All-America berth in cross as part of Calvin's 2000 National Championship squad.

Suffice it to say he's thrown himself full speed into collegiate life while at Calvin.

Interestingly, Petersen, who was raised in Crawfordsville, Ind., had no real ties to Calvin prior to enrolling four years ago. Unlike many of his fellow freshmen he had neither family nor denominational connections to Calvin. He had "stumbled across Calvin" during his college search process and was impressed by the school's strong liberal arts curriculum and its Christian focus.

"Eventually," he said, "I came to know that this was where God wanted me to learn and grow for the next four years."

Petersen's love of science and the outdoors made geology a perfect major.

"The professors in the geology department have been awesome teachers, mentors and friends," he said, "and the other students have been tons of fun."

He also has found the major affords him plenty of real-world experience.

This past summer, he interned for a consulting company in Arizona that specialized in stream studies, particularly in urban and developing areas. The summer before he was part of Calvin's mastodon excavation project in which he and a team of students, faculty and volunteers uncovered the remains of a mastodon uncovered near Ada, Mich.

All the while he has nurtured not only his academic talents, but also his running abilities and, most importantly, his spiritual life.

"When I first came to Calvin, running was enjoyable primarily for the social and competitive aspects," he said. "But, over the years the concept of running to develop my talents to the utmost and to honor God has been instilled in me."

Being a part of Calvin's Christ-centered team, said Petersen, has taught him about commitment and discipline. It also has taught him about putting the common good ahead of his own desires.

"Most importantly," said Petersen, "the team has been a support group for me, they're my best friends, and it has been a big positive influence on my Christian walk."

This spring Petersen will tackle the challenges of his final track season. He will graduate in May 2001 and then hopes to go on to graduate school where he plans to study surficial processes with an eye to eventually working in the field of hazard assessment and/or stream restoration.

Whatever he does one can be assured that he will run the race at full speed.

 

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