ERIC ZAYAS; Feature Editor: zayasen@plu.edu

Studying at a school for higher education like Pacific Lutheran University doesn’t just teach its students important tangible skills that help them succeed in the future; PLU can change people’s lives. If allowed it to, PLU can change students into who they want to be and create leaders for tomorrow.

PLU changed Jonathan Adams. An Senior Lute, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Social Work, Adams said PLU helped mold him into the leader he always wanted to be. Most students meet Adams when he speaks at Orientation or at events, now he’ll round out his career at PLU with one last speech at Commencement about his personal growth over the last four years here.

“I could have stayed ignorant and stayed in my mindset,” Adams said. “Whatever that was for myself. But I would say the patience with people working with me, that believe that I am gonna be somebody I guess. It sounds very rudimentary, but there’s something in me that I don’t see in myself.”

Over the course of his academic career, Adams lead Lute Nation, PLU’s step team, to promote love through dance. He is also a member of the Northwest Leadership Foundation and PLU’s Social Action and Leadership team to promote social justice and an understanding of cultural identity for the benefit of the community.

“And I think that is the most beautiful thing to have – someone that’s willing to  hold you and just like: ‘You’re fine. I’m gonna hold you and wait until you’re ready to fly on your own.’ And I think PLU, the cultivated space, allowed me to do that.”

Even though he hasn’t always had the confidence to make change, Adams realized how much impact he could truly have while he was a Resident Assistant for Foss Hall last year and he interacted with his residents

“Another way [I’ve impacted PLU] is the interactions with people,” Adams said. “Seeing the growth, that we can grow so much, is a level of hope and a level of peace that can be possible if the individual allows it to be possible.”

unnamedWorking with youth is a personal passion of Adams. He wants to inspire young people to learn who they are and find their purpose through self-discovery. It is a passion that comes from a place of personal introspection. When asked how PLU changed him, Adams thought back to who he was when he first arrived on campus, and how much he has changed the years he has been here. Not only did the university show Adams new ways of thinking that would lead him to change his focus from Chemistry to the study of Sociology, but the school and its people also guided him to find inner strength.

“And I think that is the most beautiful thing to have,” Adams said. “Someone that’s willing to  hold you and just like, it’s like patting you and it’s like: ‘You’re fine. I’m gonna hold you and wait until you’re ready to fly on your own.’ And I think PLU, the cultivated space, allowed me to do that.”

Thinking differently about the world and the human cultures within it are fundamental to Adams’ personal and academic evolution. During his Study Away class in Trinidad and Tobago titled: “Women and Work in the Global Economy,” Adams experienced an immense paradigm shift in his understanding of the world.

This lead him to assess his own life and how he affected the world through his actions. As a result, Adams made it his goal to work with communities in order to change their thinking to cause real, progressive change.

“I’m critically thinking X, Y, and Z, rather than sticking with: ‘The world’s okay,’ Adams said. “And I’m just really in tune to my thinking. I’m organized in my thinking now, rather than, like: ‘Wow. Why is this happening?’ But I’m able to now understand structures and systems like these different things.”

The future looks promising for Adams as he moves on to do great things beyond PLU. Adams’s goal is to create policies that aim to help struggling youth lead happier and healthier lives by working both for and with the community. Adams believes that it doesn’t matter what you look like or how you were born, we all have the potential to find our place in the world and make the world what we want it to be. ◼︎

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