The Gratitude Project: Students Give Thanks for the Blessings in Their Lives



High Point University Gratitude projectHPU students documented what they are thankful for through The Gratitude Project during the Thanksgiving season. Below, junior Lillian Bijl takes the time to reflect on the blessings in her life and how her fellow students are expressing their gratitude.

I’m grateful for a lot of things at High Point University. I’m grateful for the big stuff – that I have access to renowned faculty and advisors who genuinely care about me and my future, that I have a strong and beautiful network of friends and sisters, and that my school has a stellar reputation that will follow me long after I graduate. I’m also thankful for the little things – like when my favorite study nook in Smith Library is free. I’m especially grateful for my incredible advisor, Dr. Ali Yanus, who works tirelessly to help me carve a path to success and refuses to let me entertain any doubts I may have about what I can accomplish. The support and encouragement I find in Dr. Yanus is present all around our campus, and I’m thankful for that.

Students on the HPU campus are thankful, too. Many take to social media to share with the world their gratitude. For avid Twitter and Facebook users, this is pretty easy. Whether you want to tweet about how great the customer service was at your favorite restaurant, or share a photo of the military to thank them for their dedication, the internet provides us with a wonderful and accessible platform for gratitude. But what about the things we’re grateful for that can’t be condensed into 140 characters or less? How do you express that kind of love?

High Point University Gratitude projectThe Gratitude Project recently made its reappearance on campus and gave students an opportunity to reflect, appreciate and share their thankfulness for so many different things. When I asked students what they were most grateful for, the most common answers revolved around relationships. Liz Gambel, sophomore, shared, “My favorite part is that it is an excuse for relatives who live far away to come into town. It’s so awesome to see my giant family come together, and I’m grateful for such a strong family unit.” I got the sense from everyone I talked to that students really just wanted to let their friends, family and the faculty and staff at HPU know that they were grateful for their presence and contributions to their lives during this formative time in college.

High Point University Gratitude projectEspecially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we are reminded of the importance of the people in our lives and the relative unimportance of the “stuff.” I see small towns in Pennsylvania sending aid to coastal New Jersey to help with restoring the shore, and I’m thankful for selflessness. I see students on HPU’s campus donating money, volunteering to be pied in the face, and getting hit with dodge balls to help raise relief funds, and I’m thankful for generosity. And then I see High Point University’s commitment to match dollar for dollar all of the money our students raise on campus, and I’m so incredibly thankful for the values-centered education we’re receiving here at HPU.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s remember the big stuff, the little stuff, and the people that make the hard stuff worth it.

-Lillian Bijl

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