Luke Brenneman came to Huntington without a clear picture of what he wanted to do with his life. Four years later, he is joining Arizona State University’s prestigious communications Ph.D. program. He is just one of four students to ever be accepted to the program without a Master’s degree.
“Throughout my time at Huntington, I could see faculty, staff and administration working together to personalize my academic experience,” says Luke. “Every semester I realized how hard they were working to make my unique schedule possible.” Once Luke realized that his future was in cross-cultural communication, Huntington gave him opportunities for real-world experience, including living in Costa Rica for three months while he taught English, and a student-leadership position on a mission trip to India.
“My four years at Huntington were an amazingly well-rounded experience,” Luke remembers. “I learned so much from so many people – friends, faculty, staff, administration – every part of the college experience that should be there is there.”
Love India: In his own words
I entered Huntington University in 2008 expecting to be presented with opportunities to travel with fellow students to far-off places in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific. My expectation developed through hearing about my brother’s J-term trips with student groups to Southern Brazil and Uganda. I was really hoping for that kind of experience, and the chance finally came with India J-term trip. As the student leader, I continued to learn lessons that my time at Huntington has already introduced and instilled within me.
Many leaders do not feel confident in their decisions. They are facing many of their decisions for the first time, and while it may appear to others that they have solid rationale and experience backing their words and actions, they often do not. They just appear that way because of their status as decision makers and their need to appear confident much of the time.
I had never been to India, led students overseas, painted an exterior wall, been to an orphanage, made financial decisions for a group that size or led students through lively worship sessions in temples at Krishna’s birthplace.
The decisions I made and the way I made them, though, likely suggested I had all the answers in those situations. Clearly, I did not, which is an important lesson to remember when I am under others’ leadership. They will not have all the answers or feel confident about their decisions all the time, and this will help me perceive, help and interact with them in ways that best support them.
The full effects of the India trip on my life and my worldview probably cannot be interpreted yet. I am guessing they will be lived out in me for the rest of my life. However, I can say that my role as a student leader yielded invaluable lessons, relationships and ideas that will influence me for a long time.